These settings were composed by Peter Tranchell, Precentor (Director of Music) at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, for use by the chapel choir in the regular round of evening services. Although written three years apart and for a slightly different disposition of voices, Tranchell clearly saw them as a ‘set’ since they were recorded together in 1981 for private release on the LP recording ‘Music from Caius’ in 1985.

The composer’s note at the end of the manuscript reads: ‘‘The Virgoan Responses were composed late August* 1972 for ATBrBB unacc, revised 1976, re-written for SATBrBB unacc in late August 1987. P.A.T.’’ 

* the Virgoan period of the year.

1972 was when the Chapel Choir first included male altos in addition to the established Tenors, Baritones and Basses. This set has a number of companion settings, all for male voices with altos at the top, most named after signs of the astrological zodiac: Arian (1973), Libran (1972), Quintilian (1981) and Sagittarian (1981). As the Virgoan was the only set Tranchell revised for the Chapel Choir when sopranos joined, it might be assumed they were his favourite.