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Service in C major, Op 115

published by Stainer & Bell in 1909
author of text
Book of Common Prayer

The Service in C, Op 115 (published by Stainer & Bell in 1909), was Stanford’s last major setting of the Morning, Communion and Evening Canticles (there is a later unison setting in D major published by OUP in 1923 but this is, by comparison, of much slighter substance). It is also without doubt his most cohesive attempt in terms of thematic concentration and cyclic unity. The Te Deum introduces what are the three most important thematic germs of the entire Service: the first, an idea (‘We praise thee, O God’) that rises and falls conjunctly through a tetrachord (1); the second, a figure (‘The glorious company of the apostles’) marked ‘Alla marcia’ (2) in E flat that emulates the motion of (1); a third idea (3) forms the accompaniment to a section in A (‘When thou tookest upon thee’). The form of the Te Deum is also tightly knit in terms of tonal and thematic interaction. The first major paragraph, in C major, is ternary in design and the material of (1) frames a central presentation of (2) in E flat. A secondary paragraph, using (3), contrasts in A. This yields to a third section in E flat (‘We therefore pray thee’) where a new lyrical idea is initiated by the trebles. The tonal centre of E flat conveniently leads to a restatement of (2) but quickly this gives way, first to an allusion to A minor (‘O Lord, have mercy upon us’) and then to an expansive recapitulation of (1) as the final affirmation of faith.

The scherzo-like Jubilate has an ABA design in which the A sections are based on a broken arpeggio figure (‘O be joyful’). The whole movement is, however, virtually monothematic in its deployment of figure (3) from the Te Deum. The Benedictus is more thematically independent from the Te Deum but nevertheless bears a strong allusion through the tonal organization (C/E flat) of its two abundantly lyrical ideas. The character of a fanfare is assigned to the concluding Gloria (which shows an inventive use of the juxtaposition of root position chords) which also deploys the material of (1), first fragmented (‘world without end’) and finally as a whole (‘Amen’) in the last ecstatic utterance.

In the Magnificat Stanford contradicted his standard interpretation of the scherzo (as found in the Services in B flat, A and G) and replaced it with a slow movement (normally reserved for the Nunc dimittis). In addition Stanford chose to apply a quite different structural model. Instead of previous ternary or through-composed designs, the ten verses of the text (Luke 1: 46–55) are divided into four well-defined sections. The first (verses 46–47) acts effectively as a form of exposition in which the opening idea (1) (‘My soul doth magnify the Lord’) and closing ideas (2) (‘For he hath regarded the lowliness’) and (3) (‘of his handmaiden’) are presented. The second section (‘for behold, from henceforth’, verses 48–49), beginning and concluding in the same manner as the first, varies in its tonal treatment and thematic change. But it is in sections three and four that Stanford brings his more subtle techniques of variation to bear. In section three (verses 50–52) we begin with the characteristic organ gesture, a tonic chord of C, but the choral material (‘And his mercy is on them that fear him’) is altered. With additional text (three verses instead of two) the sense of tonal development is also more elaborate, shifting to the dominant of E flat. The link with sections one and two is, however, strongly maintained through the clear restatement of the closing ideas, though even here Stanford locates idea (2) in the Neapolitan (‘He hath put down the mighty from their seat’) before settling on C with the cadential refrain idea (3). The trend of refined variation continues in section four (verses 53–55). The familiar organ chord is sounded once again, but this time it is not the tonic of C but a first inversion of the flat submediant. This signals a departure to more remote tonal areas (‘He hath filled the hungry with good things’), the recovery from which is made precipitately with a sudden progression back onto the dominant of C as if to emphasize the Virgin’s affirmation (‘As he promised to our forefathers’). Furthermore, at this juncture, Stanford rounds off his elegant form with ideas (2) and (3) (‘Abraham and his seed for ever’) in a manner to correspond closely with that of the first section, thereby creating a sense of recapitulation.

The through-composed Nunc dimittis is essentially one seamless melody which depends principally on sequential treatment for its expansion. In addition to the opening thematic material, which also figures at its conclusion (‘of thy people Israel’), Stanford introduces a motif already familiar from the Te Deum and the Jubilate (‘For mine eyes have seen thy salvation’) which is absorbed into both the accompanimental and melodic fabric of the movement.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 1998

Si Sir Charles Villiers Stanford a énormément écrit, dans presque tous les genres musicaux, ce sont ses nombreuses contributions au répertoire choral anglican qui demeurent, peut-être, ses œuvres les plus célèbres, celles qui sont, assurément, le plus souvent jouées de nos jours. Le Service en ut (op. 115, daté de 1909), l’un de ses plus grandioses services, réunit des musiques pour la Communion, pour l’Evensong et pour Matins. Le Te Deum et le Benedictus forment un diptyque puissant, quoique contrasté. Le Te Deum s’ouvre juste sur un thème simple, par degrés conjoints, annoncé à l’unisson. Ce matériau est au cœur d’une grande partie de l’œuvre et Stanford agence la structure thématique avec une économie et une imagination remarquables. Pour mettre en musique le cantique de Zacharie (Benedictus), il recourt à un tout autre matériau thématique et traite ce magnifique texte avec lyrisme et sensibilité. La phrase «And thou, child» est confiée, de manière émouvante, aux seuls trebles, ce qui nous rappelle une section similaire du Te Deum («We therefore pray thee»). L’imposant Gloria final (également utilisée dans les deux cantiques vespéraux du service) fait un saisissant repoussoir à la dernière phrase placide du cantique («and to guide our feet into the way of peace»), où le compositeur revient de façon poignante à son matériau d’ouverture.

extrait des notes rédigées par James O'Donnell © 2006
Français: Hypérion

Unter dem enormen Œuvre in nahezu jedem musikalischenMedium von Sir Charles Villiers Stanford gehören seine Beiträge zum anglikanischen Chorrepertoire wohl zu seinen bestbekannten und sicherlich heute am häufigsten aufgeführten Werken. Der Service (Gottesdienst) in C (Op. 115) datiert von 1909. Er enthält Musik für Kommunionsgottesdienst, Abendandacht und Morgenandacht und bleibt eine seiner größten Errungenschaften in diesem Genre. Das Te Deum und Benedictus bilden ein überzeugendes, aber kontrastierendes Paar. Das Te Deum beginnt unkompliziert mit einem schlichten, stufenweise voranschreitenden Thema im Unisono. Dies ist das musikalische Keimmaterial für einen Großteil des Werkes, und Stanford organisiert das thematische Material mit bemerkenswerter Ökonomie und Phantasie. Für die Vertonung des Benedictus, dem Lobgesang des Sacharja, verwendet er im Wesentlichen anderes thematisches Material. Es ist eine lyrische und feinfühlige Behandlung des herrlichen Textes. Die Phrase „Und du, Kind“ wird rührend den Sopranisten allein übergeben, was an eine ähnliche Stelle im Te Deum („Wir bitten dich daher“) erinnert. Das imposante abschließende Gloria (das ebenfalls in den beiden Abend-Lobgesängen des Service verwendet wird) bildet ein dramatisches Gegenstück zur sanften Endphrase des Lobgesangs („und unsere Füße auf den Weg des Friedens zu leiten“), in der der Komponist ergreifend zu seinem Anfangsmaterial zurückkehrt.

aus dem Begleittext von James O'Donnell © 2006
Deutsch: Renate Wendel


Stanford: Choral Music
CDA6817430 June 2017 Release
Stanford: Sacred Choral Music
CDS44311/33CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
My soul doth magnify the Lord
The Feast of St Edward at Westminster Abbey
The Music of St Paul's Cathedral
SPCC2000Super-budget price sampler


Evening Canticle 1: Magnificat  My soul doth magnify the Lord
Track 1 on CDH55401 [5'36]
Track 15 on SPCC2000 [5'36] Super-budget price sampler
Track 1 on CDS44311/3 CD3 [5'38] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Evening Canticle 2: Nunc dimittis  Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace
Track 2 on CDH55401 [3'28]
Track 16 on SPCC2000 [3'28] Super-budget price sampler
Track 2 on CDS44311/3 CD3 [3'05] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Morning Canticle 1: Te Deum  We praise thee, O God
Track 2 on CDA68174 [7'45] 30 June 2017 Release
Track 4 on CDA67586 [8'03]
Track 15 on CDS44311/3 CD2 [7'29] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Morning Canticle 2: Benedictus  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
Track 7 on CDA68174 [5'31] 30 June 2017 Release
Track 5 on CDA67586 [5'35]
Track 16 on CDS44311/3 CD2 [5'32] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Morning Canticle 3: Jubilate  O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands
Track 9 on CDA68174 [3'34] 30 June 2017 Release
Track 17 on CDS44311/3 CD2 [3'21] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Track-specific metadata for CDS44311/3 disc 2 track 16

Morning Canticle 2: Benedictus
Recording date
1 January 1997
Recording venue
Winchester Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Stanford: Sacred Choral Music, Vol. 2 (CDA66965)
    Disc 1 Track 16
    Release date: February 1998
    Deletion date: May 2007
    Superseded by CDS44311/3
  2. Stanford: Sacred Choral Music (CDS44311/3)
    Disc 2 Track 16
    Release date: November 2012
    3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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