Page 22 - MacDonald Evening Service in A flat SATB
P. 22

Performance Notes
This set of canticles, originally written for treble voices for the St James Music Press Viva voce series, was designed to be used to teach sight-reading. Consequently there are plenty of simple tunes which reappear in various guises, particularly in the treble part. The soprano and organ parts in this SATB version are nearly identical to the original; the alto, tenor, and bass parts are derived from the organ accompaniment. It is intended as a joyful, tuneful, and singable setting, with the primary intention of enhancing the liturgy of Choral Evensong. I hope it is also uplifting for congregations to listen to, and straightforward for choirs of all levels, from parish to cathedral, to sing.
The opening of the Magnificat should be sung by a young treble
soloist if possible, ideally a girl. The tentative opening phrase,
which gradually grows in tempo and conviction, serves as a musical illustration of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s initial hesitation when Gabriel first proposed his rather improbable plan, increasing in confidence to her full acceptance of her role as God’s handmaiden.
Its notes echo the incipit of plainsong (specifically Tone VIII). This passage repeats at “He remembering his mercy” when the same soloist should be used, the texture, music, and soloist literally “remembering” the opening music and the mood of the start of the Magnificat.
In the Nunc dimittis, the solo at the beginning is given to a tenor, who depicts the aged Simeon. Although the music is very similar to that which features throughout the Magnificat, the Nunc’s marked change in tempo, mood, and dynamic represents the change of scene from the beginning of an adult life in the Magnificat (i.e., Mary’s) to the end of one (i.e., Simeon’s).
The Magnificat should be conducted in minims (half notes), and
it should move forward easily and confidently. The Nunc dimittis should be conducted in crotchets (quarter notes) at a slower, more contemplative pace. The tempo changes in the Nunc should feel natural and derived from the words, and there should be a return to a minim beat for the Gloria Patri. In both canticles, communal choral breaths should only be taken where indicated either by a rest, or by a breath mark in the score.

   20   21   22   23   24