• John Tavener
  • Akathist of Thanksgiving (1987)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • timp.tbells[org]str
  • SATB (
  • 2 Altos, 2[+] Countertenors, Tenor, Baritone, 2 Basses
  • 1 hr 20 min
  • John Tavener
  • Arch-Priest Gregory Petrov, trans. Mother Thekla
  • English

Programme Note

The Akathist in the Orthodox church is a hymn of thanksgiving or supplication used on special occasions, and has a standard form comprising 13 sections, each one made up of a Kontakion and an Ikos.

This Akathist of Thanksgiving was written in the late 1940s by Archpriest Gregory Petrov, shortly before his death in a Siberian prison camp. He took as his inspiration the dying words of the martyr St John Chrysostom "Glory to God for everything", and created within the traditional set patterns of Kontakion and Ikos a soaring hymn of radiant faith, an ikon in words which at once illustrates the mortality of mankind and the fundamental Orthodox belief that all creation, great and small, stems from God.

I have set 11 sections of the poem: each is musically distinct, beginning with a chorus Glory to Thee, O God, and ending with a refrain of Amen, both sung in Slavonic. The intervening texts contain many allusions to the Feast Days of the Church, and here I have used the appropriate 'tones' from both Russian and Byzantine systems. The work is scored for a large choir, soloists (mainly countertenors and basses, who may be chosen from the choir), separate groups of solo voices, and a string orchestra with bells and timpani, placed at a distance from the other forces.

The text of the Akathist of Thanksgiving has been translated from the Russian by Mother Thekla, Abbess of the Orthodox Monastery of the Assumption, Normanby. I have composed my setting, a musical ikon to the glory of God, in celebration of the millenium of the Russian Orthodox Church.

John Tavener

View Score

Preview the score



More Info