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First Service (2004)

Girton & Clare Colleges, Cambridge
Choir, Organ, 8'

    1. Magnificat
    2. Nunc Dimittis

These canticles were first performed in November, 2004, at Girton College, Cambrdige, and then at Clare Collegeclarecollege.jpg, Cambridge. They were subsequently broadcast on the BBC 3’s Choral Evensong programme in February, 2005.

The Magnificat features an anxious two-note octave in the organ, nervously twitching in anticipation. The Nunc Dimittis (which is one of my favorite things written in the English language) starts slowly, and then focuses all of its energy towards the beginning of the Gloria Patri, a New Testament harmonic culling of everything that has come before it. ““ Nico Muhly

Many thanks to Judith Clurman for organizing the performances.

[audio:01 Magnificat.mp3]

[audio:01 Nunc Dimittis.mp3]
Nunc Dimittis

Clare College Choir
James McVinnie, organ
Tim Brown, conductor


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

He hath shewed strength with his arm.
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of 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.
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel
as he promised to our forefathers Abraham, and his seed forever.
Gloria Patri


Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace : according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen : thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared : before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles : and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Gloria Patri


The backside of King’s College Chapel, with Clare College at left


  • Thank you so much for your wonderful music. I was very moved by the choral piece Magnificat. Good luck in your future endeavors.

    I’m a 16 year old composition student at Mannes Precollege, I study with Eleanor Cory and am having a wonderful experience. I’ve begun looking at schools and am really interested in IU and the Jacobs School of Music, are you familliar with the school? I want to major in composition when I get older but I’m also interested in academics, history and english.. Sorry to bug you with all this information, I just really enjoyed your music and hope to keep in touch. Keep me posted! I read the piece about you in The New Yorker and looked you up on google.

  • It is so encouraging for someone my age (66) to find young people interested in this traditional music & keeping it alive, there is no richer or more wonderful tradition in human culture than the Anglican music & rituals. Please keep composing this muisic & keep it alive & well.

  • Wonderful work, Nico! Can’t wait to hear this in Los Angeles when the LA Master Chorale performs this!

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    I love.