This afternoon’s setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis come from Charles Wood’s setting he wrote for the choir of King’s College, Cambridge. A boy chorister at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Wood later formed part of the inaugural class at the Royal College of Music studying composition with Charles V. Stanford. He succeeded Stanford as Professor of Music at Cambridge in 1924; teaching marked his career and his noted students included Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells. Wood scored this canticle setting for double choir and organ. One of the simplest settings of the Nunc Dimittis, Wood’s sets a stunning melody from the 1549 French Psalter to sublime effect. In contrast the Gloria Patri boasts stalwart, full-blooded writing as the two choirs play musical tennis with the word “Glory” lobbing it back and forth culminating in a soaring “Amen” to close.
Sir Edward Bairstow spent his career in Yorkshire in the north of England and was for 33 years the Director of Music and Organist at York Minster. Infamous for his bluntness and cold wit he did not suffer fools lightly, which often resulted in frequent social outbursts and clumsiness. Despite his sporadic lack of social grace his music for the church often portrays a calm tenderness of heart. His sleepy evening anthem, Save us, O Lord, draws its text from the Antiphons of the Office of Compline and remains one of Bairstow’s most beloved anthems. It elegantly portrays his celebrated seamless style in where musical lines flow out from each other, and a glimpse into Bairstow’s inward gentleness.
Music in this service:
- Rejoice in the Lord alway by Anononymous
- Preces and Responses by Paul Spicer
- Psalms 114, 115
- Service in F (Collegium Regale) by Charles Wood
- Save us, O Lord by Edward Bairstow
- Hymn: O love, how deep, how broad, how high