Vocal score for sale

  • 22(obda)01/0300/timp(perc)/ch org/str
  • SATB
  • soprano, alto, tenor, bass
  • 34 min

Programme Note

The text of the Magnificat has understandably attracted many composers; its vivid language and clear structure making it eminently suitable for musical setting. However, for my own
part it was the confidence of Mary's affirmation of faith, and her joy at being chosen by God that primarily attracted me, and I have tried to convey some of the directness of her emotions
in this music which has clarity of texture and line, and which is unashamedly joyous in character.
The work is in five contrasted movements. The first, and longest, is for the most part vigorous, but contains two more reflective passages for the ladies (Quia respexit) and the men (Ecce enim). Movements two and three for the ladies and men respectively; "Et misericordia" is gentle and yearning, while "Fecit potentiam" is very much more forceful and rhythmic. The fourth movement, "Suscepit Israel", looks back in mood and musical ideas to the "Et misericordia", and is scored for unaccompanied chorus, interrupted occasionally by trumpets, oboe d'amore and bassoon. An orchestral interlude leads directly into the "Gloria", which returns to the music of the first movement, to end the work in a spirit of joy and conviction.
Between these choral movements are four settings for the soloists alone of English poems which in some way relate to the thought or mood of the preceding section. The first, for tenor, (part of Walt Whitman's "Passage to India"), is reflective and introvert in character, contrasting strongly with the second poem, a dramatic dialogue, for alto and bass, between a Soul and Christ. The third poem, Christina Rossetti's "Up-hill", is another dialogue, for soprano and tenor, between a Pilgrim Soul and an Angel. The fourth poem brings all four soloists together in Richard Chevenix Trench's meditation on the reality of God and Heaven.
The work was designed as a companion piece to Bach's incomparable setting, and uses the same vocal and instrumental resources. It is also constructed in such a way that the Latin Magnificat can be performed by itself without the additional English interpolations. "Magnificat" was written in the Summer and Autumn of last year especially for tonight's concert, and was commissioned by the St. Albans Chamber Choir with funds provided by the Eastern Arts Association.


1. Magnificat anima mea dominum,
et exultavit spiritus meus
in Deo salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem
ancilae suae.
Ecce enim ex hoc beatem me
dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens
est, et sanctum nomen ejus.

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
and my spirit hath rejoiced
in God my saviour.
For he hath regarded the lowliness
of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth, all
generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified
me, and holy is his name.

1a O we can wait no longer,
We too take ship O soul
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,
Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail,
Amid the wafting sands, (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul,)
Caroling free, singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.

O soul thou pleasest me, I thee,
Sailing these seas or on the hills, or waking in the night,
Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time and Space and Death, like waters flowing,
Bear me indeed as through the regions infinite,
Whose air I breathe, whose ripples hear, lave me all over,
Bathe me I God in thee, mounting to thee,
I an my soul to range in range of thee.

(from ‘Passage to India’ - Walt Whitman)

2. Et misericordia ejus a projenie
in progenies timentibus eum.

And his mercy is on them that fear
Him, throughout all generations.

2a Who is at my window, who?
Go from my window, go.
Who calls there, so like a stranger?
Go from my window, go.

(Lord, I am here, a wretched mortal
That for thy mercy does cry and call
Unto thee my Lord celestial)
See who is at my window, who?

Remember thy sin and also thy smart,
And als for thee what was my part:
Remember the spear that thirlit my heart,
And in at my door thou shall go.

I ask no thing of thee therefore
But love for love to lay in store.
Give me thy heart, I ask no more,
And in at my door thou shall go.

Who is at my window, who?
Go from my window, go.
Cry no more there, like a stranger,
But in at my door thou go.


3. Fecit potentiam in brachio suo;
Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede,
et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis,
et divites dimisit in anes.

He hath shewed strength with his arm:
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination on their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he hath sent empty away.

3a Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yes, beds for all who come.

(Up-hill - Christina Rossetti)

4. Suscepit Israel puerum suum,
recordatus misericordiae suae;
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros,
Abraham, et semini ejus in saecula.

He remembering his mercy hath
holpen his servant Israel;
As he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham, and his seed forever.

4a. If there had anywhere appeared in space
Another place of refuge, where to flee,
Our hearts had taken refuge in that place,
And not with Thee.

For we against creation’s bars had beat
Like prisoned eagles, through great worlds had sought
Though but a foot of ground to plant our feet,
Where Thou were not.

And only when we found in earth and air,
In heaven or hell, that such might nowhere be -
That we could not flee from Thee anywhere,
We fled to Thee.

(Richard Chevenix Trench)

5. Gloria Patri, et Filio,
et spiritui Sancto;
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc,
et semper et in saecula saeculorum.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now,
and ever shall be, world without end.