Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (The ‘Blues’ Service)

for Choir and Organ

A setting of the Anglican canticles in a distinctly jazz style. The work is for SATB choir, upper voices or lower voices, generally in unison with occasional division in two parts. The melodic and harmonic material is strongly influenced by blues, and is also indebted to gospel and jazz. Of only moderate difficulty, the canticles are both fun and challenging.

This setting of the canticles was written in March 2012. It is subtitled the ‘Blues’ Service owing to the strong jazz element in the music. The Magnificat is predominantly positive and relaxed in mood, with an active and dramatic middle section. Unusually, the setting of the Nunc Dimittis is downbeat and bluesy, re-interpreting the text in a modern light. The ideal of a peaceful and glorious Israel seems unachievable and disillusioned. After a sombre opening,

the music builds to an angry climax, eventually collapsing into shocked murmurs.

Listen to performances of all three versions here:

Upper voices version:

Magnificat (5’00)

Nunc Dimittis (3’43)

Mens voices version:

Magnificat (5’16)

Nunc Dimittis (3’44)

SATB version:

Magnificat (4’46)

Nunc Dimittis (3’33)

Published by Boosey and Hawkes, available here.

Return to Compositions