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 Magnificat was composed in 1975 for A.T.Br.B.B. & organ, the Nunc Dimittis in 1978 for AATTBrBB choir & organ.
In writing for the chapel choir, Peter Tranchell was responsive to the voices available at the time – and in the mid-to-late 1970s there were a number of male altos in the choir who were happy to sing top G. (The tenors at the time covered a ‘normal’ range – the Te Deum in B major of 1973 however took a tenor soloist up to top D...) Given the range expected, some conductors may prefer to augment the alto line where appropriate with sopranos/trebles.
The Magnificat has the altos rising to E flat, and an optional solo G, while the Nunc has Gs and Fs without options. Bottom Cs and D flats are asked of the second Basses in the Mag, though these could perhaps be missed without too much damage.