for mixed voices (SATB) a cappella
Text: English (Ezekiel 36: 24–26, 28b, New Revised Standard Version)
Duration: 4 minutes
Commissioned by Merton College, Oxford, for the Merton Choirbook, a collection of choral music written in celebration of the College's 750th anniversary in 2014. A setting of verses from Ezekiel 36, forming in the Anglican lectionary a morning canticle for the days between Ascension and Pentecost. The choral writing is predominantly homophonic, with divisi in up to eight parts. The opening staccato chordal texture, with silences, gradually builds to an expressive legato. Subsequent dynamic contrasts occur, leading to two climaxes, after which the opening material returns, with resolution through a sustained pianissimo close.
Born in Scotland in 1959, James MacMillan studied at Edinburgh and Durham Universities and now lives in Glasgow. His early successes as a composer in the 1990s included The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, premiered at the BBC Proms, and the percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel written for Evelyn Glennie. MacMillan has a special interest in choral composition, ranging from simple liturgical settings for use in church services, to major works for choir and orchestra including Seven Last Words from the Cross, Quickening and St John Passion. His music has been championed and recorded by leading choirs and vocal groups including Cappella Nova, Polyphony, The Hilliard Ensemble, The Sixteen, Westminster Cathedral Choir and the Netherlands Chamber Choir. With their Gaelic inflections and characteristic mixing of ancient and modern, his works have also proved popular with amateur chamber choirs around the world.