• John Tavener
  • Let's Begin Again (1995)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Friends of Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Greenwich Festival, Musique Nouvelle en Liberté, Perth Festival (Australia)

  • 4rec.ob.cl/tpt.tbn.tba/perc/hp.pf[org]/str(
  • SATB (18 Voices)
  • 1 hr
  • Mother Thekla
  • English

Programme Note

'Let's begin again' is based on the story of the 'Dormition of the Mother of God', as recounted in the Apocryphal Gospel of St. John. First we encounter Mary, praying at the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem. The Angel Gabriel appears and tells her that she will soon 'go to her Son'. Next we see Mary praying to her Son, this time in Bethlehem. She asks for the apostles to be sent to her. She tells St. John that the Jews have sworn to burn her body. St. John tells her that her body will not see corruption. The rest of the apostles 'fly in' from all corners of the world.

Many miracles of healing are now witnessed at the house, amidst scenes of general rejoicing in heaven and on earth. Back in Jerusalem, the Jews demand that the governor send soldiers to Bethlehem to seize Mary and the Apostles. As at the trial of Christ, the governor washes his hands of the affair, and the soldiers and people march on to Bethlehem to the house where they believe Mary to be. The Holy Spirit has warned Mary and the Apostles, and by a miracle they are transported to Jerusalem. The soldiers march into the house and find no one there. Instead there are flames of fire. Many are burned, as they cry 'to Jerusalem! to Jerusalem!

In Jerusalem Mary hears the voice of her Son calling her. She makes her final earthly prayer for the world. The apostles take her body to Gethsemane. The funeral procession follows, and the apostles bid her farewell one by one. Finally, the body of Mary is raised to dwell in Paradise.

Because faith requires a constant 'beginning again', everyone joins in the last chorus of 'Let's begin again', a quotation from Plato. The whole series of events seems to be starting once more but the music fades beyond our ears.

John Tavener