'Shrouded in Doubts and Fears': The Liturgical Music of James MacMillan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It may seem slightly incongruous to look specifically at the liturgical music of James MacMillan, a composer for whom the liturgy has had such bearing on his entire compositional ethos and personal philosophy. For the liturgy has provided the impulse for both MacMillan’s large corpus of sacred choral pieces, and the bulk of his instrumental works. However, this over-riding influence of the liturgy makes an in-depth look at the purely liturgical works all the more relevant: here we find the composer stripped of the myriad of allusions that characterise other works and find him working in a specifically explicit manner. The chapter looks at MacMillan’s extant Mass settings, though will focus mainly on the setting from 2000 as the most succinct appraisal of his assimilating of the vernacular. It will also look at his Magnificat (1999), Nunc Dimittis (2000), Jubilate Deo (2009) and Te Deum settings, showing some of the composer’s current pre-occupations with the borrowing and recycling of material and ideas relating to form and through-composition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJames MacMillan Studies
EditorsGeorge Parsons, Robert Sholl
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781108592154
ISBN (Print)9781108492539, 9781108716871
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2020


  • James MacMillan
  • James MacMillan's Mass
  • liturgy
  • sacred music
  • Jubilate Deo
  • Te Deum
  • musical borrowing


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