The Edinburgh Te Deum
was written in 1978 when MacMillan was an undergraduate at Edinburgh University and studying with Kenneth Leighton. He had formed a Schola (choir) for the Catholic Chaplaincy in the city at the invitation of Father Aidan Nichols OP, later to become one of the major Catholic writers in theology and liturgy. The Te Deum
is dedicated to Father Nichols; never performed at the time, it was finally given its premiere in Westminster Cathedral in November 2011. The Te Deum
is a large-scale setting intended for liturgical use. The whole of the first section is given to trebles (or sopranos), the cries of ‘Sanctus’ are given dramatic block chords punctuated by the organ. Here are the embryonic choral outbursts which we noted in the Tenebrae Responsories
and Seven Last Words from the Cross
. The ‘Tu, rex gloriae’ brings further drama before a slow bass solo for ‘Te ergo quaesumus’ leads into the gentle final section and a quiet ending.
from notes by Paul Spicer © 2013