Commissioned by the International Kodaly Society

1st performance with added Gloria 5 July 1986, Norwich Cathedral Choir / Michael Nicholas, conductor

  • SATB
  • 20 min

Programme Note

The Earth does not belong to man; man belongs to earth. All things are connected, like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself!

(Chief Seattle)

Every year the world spends $750 billion on weapon
Every year 40 million people die of hunger
Every year the UK alone spends over £200 million on slimming foods
Every sixty seconds 30 children die of hunger
One quartet of all food in the USA is thrown away uneaten
10% of all living species (including plants) are under threat of extinction by the year 2000**

**These figures are taken from The Gaia atlas of Planet Management, published in 1985 by Pan Books

The rich nations of the world, out of greed, insecurity and muddle, are starving the poor nations to death, destroying the genetic heritage which is the living foundation of our planet's future, and wasting its resources at a rate which is scarcely credible. In our age of unbelief we look to man to solve our problems, but this problem is vast, intractable, and self-imposed; man seems to have neither the wit or the will to tackle it. Some cannot even see there is a problem.

That is the background to this piece. It is a prayer for sanity, an appeal to a higher authority, a cry in the wilderness to a god who may or may not be there. It is emphatically not a conventionally Christian piece: Christianity long ago betrayed the name of Christ, and its record in history is dismal. But the form of the Mass has many resonances for me, many expressive (and Iconic) possibilities. There is, it will be noticed, no Credo.

Missa Tiburtina was begun in Tivoli, near Rome. The Latin name for Tivoli was Tibur - hence the title. While listening to it, it is worth reflecting that in course of the twenty minutes, six hundred children will have died (directly or indirectly) of starvation.

© Giles Swayne


Missa Tiburtina, Op. 40: Kyrie Eleison
Missa Tiburtina, Op. 40: Gloria
Missa Tiburtina, Op. 40: Sanctus
Missa Tiburtina, Op. 40: Benedictus
Missa Tiburtina, Op. 40: Agnus Dei
Missa Tiburtina, Op. 40: Dona Nobis Pacem


Score sample