was written in 1981, and the first performance by The Tallis Scholars took place in Keble College, Oxford, as part of a programme that also included Russian medieval chant and which would shortly lead to a remarkable recording (‘Russian Orthodox Music’, Gimell CDGIM 002). It is a setting, both beautiful and austere, of words from the Orthodox service for the burial of priests, in the magnificent translation by Isabel Hapgood. The words are consolatory in tone, though they do not minimize the reality of death, the gateway to Paradise. Tavener’s music has its origins in Russian chant, though the harmonic progression for the ‘Alleluia’ refrain is distinctively his, particularly the penultimate chord.
from notes by Ivan Moody © 2014