Sid Richardson (b. 1987)

This setting of the Magnificat seeks to tap into the great joy inherent in this canticle, the Song of Mary from the Gospel according to Luke, which is itself a recapitulation of the Song of Hannah from the 1 Samuel: 2:1-10. Written with the express intent to be paired with J. S. Bach’s cantata BWV 186a, it is scheduled to be offered on the third Sunday of Advent at Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston. I found several intriguing parallels between the Magnificat and this cantata, which dates back to Bach’s time in Weimar. The latter contends with the dichotomy inherent in “God’s radiance and very image” being “concealed in the form of a servant.” Sung by a lowly woman, the Magnificat recounts a great reversal of fortune: the humble will be raised up, and the mighty brought low. It is a joyful message for the oppressed. Similar works of grace are echoed in the cantata, especially in the tenor and soprano arias. This motet, however, also contends with the more troubling question of asking which camp one falls into in this situation: “Is it I, Lord? Am I going to be sent away empty with the rich?Or will I be filled with good things?” As such, the work ends after the eighth verse without resolution. Commissioned by Emmanuel Music, this Magnificat will be premiered by the ensemble under the direction of Ryan Turner at Emmanuel Church on December 11, 2022.

©Sid Richardson

Back to Other Notes & Translations