This is a festive setting and will make a welcome alternative to John Rutter’s ubiquitous setting for similar forces (Brass and Organ). MacMillan has, as always, been very practical in making a setting which is an impressive aural experience but which is manageable by competent forces.
Instrumentalists have to be agile, but the choirs are given music to sing which will be well within the range of most ambitious groups. There are some extended unaccompanied passages which need to be kept in tune to avoid embarrassment (à la Bruckner E minor Mass), particularly the ‘Qui sedes’ section. The most difficult moment is likely to be finding the cluster chord which is used for ‘garbled recitation’ of the ‘quoniam’ text just before the end. An exciting and effective new concert work which should be quickly picked up by many choirs.