Listen: Since it was the day of Preparation

Since it was the day of Preparation ...

Excerpt from Part II, "The Appearance to Mary of Magdala,"

Since it was the day of Preparation ...

Excerpt from Part III, "Conclusion"

From a recording by the Hebrides Ensemble, Synergy Vocals, and Brindley Sherratt, bass, under the direction of William Conway. Music courtesy of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Limited.

The score is available for online viewing from Boosey and Hawkes.


For information on performing this work, please contact SDG.

A Word from the Composer

James MacMillan speaks about composing Since it was the day of Preparation...  in an interview with Chandler Branch, SDG's former President and CEO

Other SDG collaborations with James MacMillan

Alpha and Omega: World premiere at Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago, June 2011.

Since it was the day of Preparation... : World premiere at the Edinburgh Festival, August 2012;  U.S. premiere at St. Bartholomew's Church (New York), May 2014.

St. Luke Passion: world premiere at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, March 2014; U.S. premiere at the Duke University Chapel (Durham, North Carolina), April 2014.

James MacMillan also serves on the Advisory Board of Soli Deo Gloria.

About the composer

"...the most powerful voice in British music today - by a mile."
The Times [London]

James MacMillan is one of today’s most successful living composers. His prolific output has been performed and broadcast around the world, placing him in the front rank of today’s composers. He also enjoys a flourishing career as conductor of his own music alongside a range of contemporary and standard repertoire. Mr. MacMillan is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes. . (Click to read MacMillan's complete biography.)

Through worldwide performances and an extensive discography, MacMillan’s music, which is celebrated for its spiritual and emotional power, has achieved a broad following rare among modern composers. James MacMillan continually demonstrates, across the breadth of his compositions, his commitment to sacred music.

Since it was the day of Preparation - U.S. Premiere

James MacMillan
Since it was the day of Preparation...

Bass-baritone soloist, SATB chorus and
quintet (clarinet, horn, harp, theorbo, cello)
DURATION: 80 minutes
TEXT: The Gospel of John, chapters 19, 20, 21
with Latin liturgical texts from Easter and Pentecost.
A contemporary chamber setting of the Resurrection narrative.




U.S. Premiere
May 2014
Jeff Morrissey, bass baritone
St. Bartholomew's Chamber Singers and instrumental ensemble
William K. Trafka, conductor
St. Bartholomew's Church
New York


St. Bartholomew's Chamber Singers and ensemble

William Trafka with the St. Bartholomew's Chamber Singers and instrumental ensemble

As part of the culmination of Soli Deo Gloria's 20th Anniversary Season, SDG had the privilege of sponsoring the U.S. premiere of James MacMillan's Since it was the day of Preparation... at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York on May 5, 2014.

The program-length work, named for a passage in the Resurrection story from the Gospel of John, was conducted by William K. Trafka, Director of Music and Organist of St. Bartholomew's Church. Featured artists included bass-baritone Jeff Morrissey, the principal soloist who sang the words of Jesus; the St. Bartholomew’s Chamber Singers, outfitted with hand bells; and an ensemble of clarinet, horn, harp, theorbo, and cello. Choir soloists were Amanda Sidebottom, soprano; Eliza Bagg, alto; Christopher Carter, tenor; and Jason Whitfield, baritone.

Originally co-commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria and several British music organizations, Since it was the day of Preparation ... received its world premiere in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2012 and later earned MacMillan the 2013 British Composer Award in choral music. The Times of London called it “wonderfully rich in its musical tapestry.”

William Trakfa, with theorbo player
Conductor Trafka with theorbo player

In a video interview with Soli Deo Gloria (see sidebar), McMillan states that he conceived the work as “a smaller and much more intimate” sequel to his full-throated St. John Passion. MacMillan notes that composers from J. S. Bach onward have written monumental Passions fueled by the drama, conflict, and raw emotions of the biblical accounts of Jesus’s suffering and crucifixion. But the rest of the story has attracted less musical attention.

 “I think people are baffled by the Resurrection,” MacMillan says. “The Resurrection is more of a mystery” and “a shock to the whole human system.”

theorbo and cello players
David Walker, theorbo;
Frances Duffy, harp

Trafka observed that MacMillan’s use of the theorbo, a large lute, evokes sounds of an ancient world. “When one envisions a story being told in song almost 2000 years ago, one could imagine it would be accompanied by a stringed instrument like a lute or lyre,” he says. “It really does feel as if someone is narrating and singing from the year 33.”

Prior to the U.S. premiere, a pre-concert lecture about the MacMillan work was given by Johann Buis, associate professor of musicology at Wheaton College (Illinois). Buis is Soli Deo Gloria’s board chairman, a lecturer for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and a board member for the American Musicological Society

The concert was part of the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation’s Great Music at St. Bart’s series.

“A performance that matched the quality of the music: refined, assured, controlled and focused, with the sensation of indescribable expressive intensity and depth.” —

Photos © Sarah Shatz.