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Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in F minor

publishedin 1912; SATB SATB
author of text
Magnificat: Luke 1: 46-55; Nunc dimittis: Luke 2: 29-32

Stanford resigned from Trinity after disagreements about his attendance in May 1892 and was succeeded in 1893 by Alan Gray (1855–1935). Originally a very tall lawyer (he stood over 6'6"), he turned his attention to music, including study with EG Monk of York Minster, and became Director of Music at Wellington College in 1883. During 1892 his main rival for the Trinity post was Thomas Tertius Noble who was frustrated by Gray’s appointment which he attributed to Stanford changing his initial enthusiasm.

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


Canticles from St Paul's
Studio Master: CDA68058Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Canticle 1: Magnificat  My soul doth magnify the Lord
Track 6 on CDA68058 [4'58]
Canticle 2: Nunc dimittis  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace
Track 7 on CDA68058 [3'27]

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