The Hymn to the Mother of God
and Hymn for the Dormition
, both written in 1985, form a pair. The first sets a text taken from the Liturgy of St Basil, sung on the feast of St Basil and on all the Sundays of Great Lent. It speaks of the cosmic power of the Mother of God, in whom ‘all creation rejoices’. Tavener sets it as a brief but extremely intense canon between two choirs, in three sections: the incandescent music of the first is repeated after the central section which hails the Mother of God as ‘sanctified temple, mystical paradise’. The second Hymn uses a text for the Feast of the Dormition (that is, falling asleep) of the Mother of God: she asks the apostles to bury her body in Gethsemane, and Christ to receive her spirit. The text is simply repeated three times, the scoring being varied: the first time simply has the chant sung over a three-part drone; the second has it sung in fifths and with its inversion; and the third has a rich parallel-chord harmonization.
from notes by Ivan Moody © 1991