Especially commissioned by the Dean & Chapter of Westminster
First performed at Westminster Abbey on 19 September 2022 at the Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by the Choirs of Westminster Abbey and His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace conducted by James O’Donnell.
I was deeply honoured to be invited to write a new anthem 'Who Shall Separate Us?' for the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a constant presence in my life and an inspiration to countless millions across the globe.
“Composer Sir James MacMillan’s anthem hits the right note… He joins a list of composers of royal funeral music stretching back to Henry Purcell and George Frideric Handel.”
“James MacMillan’s text, from the Epistle to the Romans, listed all those things that cannot separate us from the love of God, including ‘nor height nor depth’. That offered him a golden opportunity to start in gentle quietude and build to a height of expressive tension for the word ‘height’ before leading to a series of ecstatic Alleluias… full-blooded expressivity.”
“..upper voices hovering over a sustained bass drone, before the music escalates towards a sequence of ecstatic alleluias and comes to rest on a quiet Amen.”
“…the MacMillan – the final anthem – was something else. A low drone in the basses seemed to take the floor out from under us, plunging us into a space between worlds. Fanfares echoed before an ‘Alleluia’ shimmered out – music catching fire, burning out in a transcendent blaze of clashes and suspensions.”