Canticle 1: Magnificat My soul doth magnify the Lord
Canticle 2: Nunc dimittis Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace
Gray wrote a number of canticle settings and anthems as well as some orchestral cantatas, including Easter Ode (1892), Arethusa (1892), The Legend of the Rock Buoy Bell (1896) and A Song of Redemption (1898). The ultra-critical Edward Elgar did not hold back on his view of Gray’s attempts at large-scale writing:
I had a good rehearsal at Leeds with the chorus but it makes me, an artist, sick to see that fool Gray allowed as long to rehearse his blasted rot as I am who produce with all its many faults an attempt at something like a ‘work’ … (Letter Edward Elgar to A J Jaeger, 29 August 1898)
His Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in F minor (published in 1912) is, however, a masterpiece. Scored for double SATB choir it is a dramatic work with, at times, remarkable quasi-orchestral gestures. It is also one of the very few canticle settings both to start and end in a minor key.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2014