One of the great musical losses of our times concerns the many thousands of polyphonic Magnificat settings sung at Vespers. I’ve only directed one or two and had the chance to sing any in the proper liturgical context during the Vespers service at the Sacred Music Colloquium. The text alone is not easy for us today, even though every phrase was nearly part of the vernacular in the high middle ages.
It seems that one of the liturgical missions of the Benedict papacy has been to restore a place for sung Vespers. At least, that is my impression.
Here is an example from the Zagreb Cathedral, June 5, 2011. Apostolic Journey to Croatia for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. It is a Liturgy of Vespers with Bishops, Priests, Religious People, and Seminarians and prayer at the tomb of Blessed Alojzije Viktor Stepinac at the Cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to St. Stephen.
I find it particularly touching because of the ritual humility that is part of Vespers. The singing here reflects that. This isn’t the Tallis Scholars. It is the way this music would sound in a parish or small cathedral setting: warm, sincere, prayerful, touching.
Maybe someone can identify which setting of Magnificat they are singing.