The canticle "Nunc Dimittis" is one I’ll write about a few times in these postings. It’s known variously as the Song of Simeon, the Canticle of Simeon), or most often by the first two words of its Latin translation. In the English speaking world it’s sung every day as part of Compline in the Catholic Church and Evensong in Anglican Churches. While Bach’s free variation on the Nunc Dimittis "Ich Habe Genug" is well loved, so famous as to need no introduction, and often sung in the German Lutheran choral tradition following the reception of the Eucharist.
I’ve picked two performances of a setting of Nunc Dimittis by the modern English composer Geoffrey Burgon for this posting.
The series was very successful as was Burgon’s music which made a great impact. As Morrison puts it: "Who would have thought that a boy treble singing a biblical song would make the pop charts? Yet such ‘was the brilliance of Burgon’s imagination that the ‘Nunc Dimittis’ that the ‘Nunc Dimittis’ which ended the show struck a chord in a million hearts." British Cathedrals (or to be more precise British Choirmasters and Choristers) know good music when they hear it have been singing Burogon’s Nunc Dimittis ever since.
The first performance that I’ve picked is the original. The soloist is the treble Paul Phoenix who at the time was one of the Choristers at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London (he’s now the tenor with the King’s Singers). I’ve chosen Phoenix’s perfomance not because it’s the original but because Paul Phoenix was one of the best treble singers I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing :
The second recording that I’ve chosen is by the Wells Cathedral Choir. They’ve been around a while, (the first choirboys sang there in 909) and it’s a constant source of amazement to me that they’re not far far better known. The thirty six chorister (eighteen boys and eighteen girls) together with the twelve Vicars Choral (adult male choristers) are a world class choir who sing beautifully in what is one of the most spectacularly beautiful Cathedrals in England.
Their performance of Burgon’s piece is masterly, whenever I listen to it I enjoy listening to how they’ve taken Burgon’s music and turned it into a tapestry of sound with the bright threads of Catherine Hart’s and Frances Henderson’s treble solos running through.
Lyrics are between the two videos. Enjoy :-)