John Tavener: The Lamb

This is day 20 of the A-toZ Challenge in which I attempt to blog every day (excepting Sundays) during the month of April. During this month, I am curating a collection of “classical” music pieces, which are lesser known or by lesser known composers (to me at least).  Today’s composer is John Tavener (1944-2013)

There is another British composer named John Tavener (1490 – 1545) who was an important composer of his era.  Today’s John Tavener was a child prodigy who started out as a pianist, and who after hearing Stravinsky’s Canticum Sacrum decided he wanted to be a composer.  He also sang regularly in a BBC choir and that is probably what lead to his lifelong love of choral music.

After abandoning piano, he became an organist and choirmaster at the age of 17 at Saint John’s Presbyterian church in Kensington, London where he stayed for the next 14 years.  In 1968, he composed a piece called “The Whale,” based on the story of Jonah and the Whale.  It gained national recognition and Taverner’s reputation was cemented.  In the 1970s he converted to the Russian Orthodox faith and his choral work became more and more spiritual.

Taverner composed today’s piece, “The Lamb,” in a single afternoon as a birthday present for his nephew.   It is an arrangement of William Blake’s “The Lamb,” (lyrics below) for a four part choir.  Despite its brevity, it fills up one’s soul.

The Lamb

   Little lamb, who made thee?
Does 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?
Does thou know who made thee?

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;
Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is callèd 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 callèd by His name.
Little lamb, God bless thee!
Little lamb, God bless thee!


About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

5 Responses to John Tavener: The Lamb

  1. Hey great post! I loved the piece you chose to embed. A single afternoon – unbelievable. I hope you are enjoying the challenge of A-Z. Keep up the good stuff.


  2. tempestletrope says:

    This is lovely. We’re doing a similar thing on our music blog KHEL 666 though it is a variety of musical styles.


  3. jetgirlcos says:

    Absolutely beautiful. I love the unexpected chords and harmonies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: