John Tavener

At our Christmas Eve service of Lessons and Carols (6pm) we’ll be singing John Tavener’s ‘God is with us,’ his stunning evocation of the mystery of the incarnation, with the majestic baritone solo ‘The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light’ sung by Andrew Turner.

John Tavener (1944-2013) is one of the most original voices in late 20th and early 21st century composition. He was profoundly influenced by Russian and Greek Orthodox mysticism and musical practice, though later in life he moved away from this self-imposed stylistic austerity. His ‘Song for Athene’ was sung at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997, reaching an audience of some 2½ billion.

Here is the Choir of King’s College Cambridge singing perhaps his best-loved Christmas piece, his 1982 setting of ‘The Lamb’ by William Blake:

The Lamb
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek and he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name:
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake (1757-1827)

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