The career of Hugh Blair (1864–1932) was, by all accounts, an eventful one. Having studied the organ at Worcester Cathedral, he became organ scholar at Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1884 and then returned to Worcester in 1887 as assistant organist. He eventually succeeded Dr Done as organist of Worcester Cathedral in 1889, but was forced to resign in 1896, reputedly for drunkenness. Moving to London, he became organist of Holy Trinity, Marylebone, and conductor for Battersea Borough Council. From 1910 to 1915 he conducted the London Church Orchestral Society. The Evening Service in B minor, composed in 1887 for Worcester Cathedral, is the most familiar of Blair’s numerous settings. In its revised version of 1892 (edited by Ivor Atkins, Blair’s successor at Worcester), it is an elaborate and expansive setting, memorable for its rich chordal spacing, lyrical melodies and ethereal harmonic passages. The Nunc dimittis, written in a simple homophonic style, is a delicate and sustained evocation of the text.
from notes by Sarah Langdon © 1987