James MacMillan (b. 1959)

Sir James MacMillan

James MacMillan is one of the pre-eminent living composers of sacred choral music. Born in Ayshire, he studied composition at Edinburgh and Durham Universities. In 1988, he moved to Glasgow where he worked for some time as music director in a parish church.

In his book Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (2007), Jeremy Begbie notes that reviews of James MacMillan’s music consistently identify quality of his works in terms of their lyricism, “raw energy,” “emotional directness,” “humanity,” and “accessible.” He quotes MacMillan’s description of his key influences: “My best teachers were [J. S.] Bach and Palestrina” because they commanded a “complexity of technique but in a way that expresses something that is deeply spiritual as well.”

For more about MacMillan’s understanding of the challenges presented to composers in a post-Christian culture, see “Echoes of glory.”


Works by James MacMillan in the
All Saints Choir repertoire
[† indicates a link
to a performance video]


†Benedicimus Deum caeli

†O Radiant Dawn