• John Tavener
  • The World is Burning (1993)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Monteverdi Choir for its 30th anniversary

  • tamtam
  • 10S6A6T6B
  • Solo voices from the choir
  • 20 min
  • John Tavener
  • Mother Thekla
  • English

Programme Note

Like a relentless Greek tragedy the world (main choir) makes its cosmic lamentation ‘the world is burning’, without any apparent sense of the transcendent presence.

Interspersed are prayers and reproaches crying out to God for help (solo group: counter tenor, tenor and bass). But, salvation is come. And though the world is crying for help, the world is already saved. Its "faith” (the voice of Christ), however miserably poor, has saved it. So, in a way – all is separate (salvation – damnation- agony). And all is one inside the Saviour.

In the final bars, it seems as if the message of Christ has finally permeated. ‘The world is burning’ is no longer a relentless Greek tragedy. The Transfiguration has happened, however briefly.

‘Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise’ (St Luke 23, 43).

John Tavener