Vocal score for sale

  • fl(pic)/hp.org/2vn.vc.db
  • SATB
  • countertenor, tenor, baritone
  • 26 min

Programme Note


God, having created the Angels, leaves Lucifer in charge while he goes to continue his work of creation. Despite warnings from the Angels, Lucifer (encouraged by Lightborne), falls to the temptation of power and attempts to assume God’s mantle. When, on his return, God discovers what they have done, he consigns both Lucifer and Lightborne to the torments of Hell.


The Fall of Lucifer was commissioned for the Silver Jubilee of the Tilford Bach Festival with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. The first performance was given on 13 May 1977.

God - Bass/Baritone
Lucifer - Countertenor
Lightbourne - Tenor
Chorus of Angels & Archangels

This work is a setting of the first play of the Chester Mystery Cycle, a cycle of 25 plays dating from the late 14th century. They were performed in the open air by the trade guilds and told the Bible story from the Fall of Lucifer through to the Last Judgement. They are essentially simple and direct, and have elements of comedy, pathos and drama. They also involved music and dancing.

In my setting, I have sought to retain the directness and simplicity of the original, and for this reason have kept the forces to a minimum. At the same time, I wanted to reflect (parody would be too strong a word) some stylistic aspects of opera, such as those found in Monteverdi, Purcell and early 19th century Italian composers. For instance, Lucifer can at times indulge discretely in some of the vocal excesses of Italian prima-donnas and all the performers should ‘act’ their parts as much as possible.

The piece was conceived as a music-theatre work for performance in church or concert hall, but it may also be performed simply in a concert version.

In Part One - ‘The Creation of Heaven’
God, Alpha and Omega, decrees that nine orders of angels shall have the charge, under him, of the universe he has created. Of these, the two principal angels are Lucifer - the light bearer and most beautiful - and Lightbourne. All praise him. He warns them that none shall sit on his throne without permission and that dire consequences will result from disobedience. He departs on important business, leaving Lucifer in charge.

Instantly Lucifer sets about supplanting him, urging the rest to agree that he should sit upon the throne itself - assuring them that he will surpass God not only in beauty but in wisdom also. But they will not be swayed - only Lightbourne joins him - arrogantly demanding reverence from the rest.

God returns and in anger and sorrow commits the rebels to the pit of hell.

Part Two ‘In Hell’
Lucifer and Lightbourne languish in darkness bemoaning their fate and each blaming the other for instigating the actions they took. Lucifer vows he will revenge himself by leading astray Man, his latest creation.

God, meanwhile, laments the necessity for the measures he has had to take, and the other angels ask for his grace and sing a song of thanksgiving.

In the Theatre

I envisage very simple scenery and props, in keeping with the way in which the mystery plays were originally performed, that is, in village squares from the backs of carts. For instance, at the beginning God could stand in a circle of light, before a black curtain, which is raised to reveal the chorus standing before a backdrop depicting Eden as painted by a medieval artist. The tree of knowledge could be a cardboard cut-out. The spot on which God first stands has to become significant, as it symbolises him when he is not there, and it is that place that Lucifer eventually usurps. It could even be an actual throne. When God returns, he could walk up an aisle through the audience, singing as he approaches.

Hell could simply be a curtain, which when drawn back, reveals red and yellow silk drapes symbolising flames. God’s ‘place’ should be situated so that is he above it looking down, to give more focus to the act of banishing Lucifer and Lightbourne there.

Costumes should again be based on the medieval idea of angelic and holy garb, although Lucifer’s should be an obviously ‘flashy’ version.

In a Church

Use should be made of the facilities offered by the particular building. A pulpit is the obvious place for God’s domain. If props and scenery are not available, then use different areas to suggest different places. Lucifer and Lightbourne take over the pulpit, and then, when God returns, they come down and stand in front of it whilst he chastises them. Lighting can also be used to suggest places and the changing moods of the story.

Concert Version

The performers should act their parts as much as possible, responding to each other where appropriate. God should leave the stage when he goes to create heaven, and come back singing when he returns. In general there should be as much movement and interaction amongst the protagonists as possible.


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