Works

Triodion

1998

Scored for

mixed choir (SATB) a cappella

Duration

15 min

Short description

The a cappella choral work Triodion was composed in 1998 as a commission for the Lancing College in West Sussex. Twenty one years after finishing Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten the paths of the two composers, who never met in person, symbolically crossed again. Benjamin Britten had written a Christmas cantata, Saint Nicolas, for the 100th anniversary of the college in 1948, whereas Triodion was composed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lancing College. As Saint Nicholas is also the patron saint of the College, Pärt selected three prayers in English from the Orthodox Prayer Book – to Jesus Christ, to the Mother of God, and to Saint Nicholas.

The musical form of the piece follows the structure of the text: three parts prece…

The a cappella choral work Triodion was composed in 1998 as a commission for the Lancing College in West Sussex. Twenty one years after finishing Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten the paths of the two composers, who never met in person, symbolically crossed again. Benjamin Britten had written a Christmas cantata, Saint Nicolas, for the 100th anniversary of the college in 1948, whereas Triodion was composed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lancing College. As Saint Nicholas is also the patron saint of the College, Pärt selected three prayers in English from the Orthodox Prayer Book – to Jesus Christ, to the Mother of God, and to Saint Nicholas.

The musical form of the piece follows the structure of the text: three parts preceded by a short introduction, just like a gentle blessing of someone commencing their journey. The first song is based on the troparion of the first Sunday of the Great Lent – a Sunday of Orthodoxy. The second song is based on the troparion of the canon prayer to the Most Holy Birth-giver of God, whereas the third song is based on the troparion of the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Myra. The introduction and the coda form a clear framework around the piece, although both are marked ad libitum (‘at liberty’) by the composer.

The three songs have an homogenous nature; without confronting one another, they rather have the effect of silent speech, only rarely becoming louder than a prayer said with half voice. The culmination of each song is followed by a litany-like prayer, where long pauses carry the influence of words in silence – Jesus, Son of God, have mercy upon us; Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us; Holy Saint Nicholas, pray unto God for us!

While the melody of the first song mainly moves along the parts of male voices, the beginning of the middle song can be performed by both mixed and female choir. The culmination of the entire composition is in the third song with the words „that our souls may be saved“.

Triodion premiered on 30 April 1998 in London’s Westminster Abbey, performed by the Lancing College Choir conducted by Neil Cox.

World premiere

30.04.1998
Westminster Abbey, London, England, United Kingdom

Concert: Lancing College, Neil Cox

Choir of Lancing College , Neil Cox (conductor)

Parts

  • Introduction (ad lib.)
  • Ode I: O Jesus the Son of God, Have Mercy upon Us; Ode II: O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save Us;
  • Ode III: O Holy Saint Nicholas, Pray unto God for Us; Coda (ad lib.)

Completion year

1998

Commissioned by

Lancing College for their 150th anniversary

Scored for

mixed choir (SATB) a cappella

Duration

15 min

Publishers

Universal Edition

Language

English

Vocal text

Three prayers from orthodox prayer-book

INTRODUCTION
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

ODE I
O JESUS THE SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY UPON US
We do homage to Thy pure image, O Good One, entreating forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ our God: for of Thine own good will Thou wast graciously pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh, that Thou mightest deliv¬er from bondage to the enemy those whom Thou hadst fashioned. For which cause we cry aloud unto Thee with thanksgiving: With joy hast Thou filled all things, O our Saviour, in that Thou didst come to save the world.
O Jesus the Son of God, have mercy upon us.
O Jesus the Son of God, have mercy,
O Jesus the Son of God,
O Jesus,
O Jesus the Son of God,
O Jesus the Son of God, have mercy,
O Jesus the Son of God, have mercy upon us.

ODE II
O MOST HOLY BIRTH-G…
Three prayers from orthodox prayer-book

INTRODUCTION
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

ODE I
O JESUS THE SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY UPON US
We do homage to Thy pure image, O Good One, entreating forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ our God: for of Thine own good will Thou wast graciously pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh, that Thou mightest deliv¬er from bondage to the enemy those whom Thou hadst fashioned. For which cause we cry aloud unto Thee with thanksgiving: With joy hast Thou filled all things, O our Saviour, in that Thou didst come to save the world.
O Jesus the Son of God, have mercy upon us.
O Jesus the Son of God, have mercy,
O Jesus the Son of God,
O Jesus,
O Jesus the Son of God,
O Jesus the Son of God, have mercy,
O Jesus the Son of God, have mercy upon us.

ODE II
O MOST HOLY BIRTH-GIVER OF GOD, SAVE US
Unto the Birth-giver of God let us sinners and humble ones now diligently have recourse; and let us fall down in penitence exclaiming, from the bottom of our souls: O Sovereign Lady, help us, having compassion on us! Show zeal, for we perish with the multitude of our sins; turn not Thy servants away empty; for we have Thee as our only hope.
O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us.
O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us.
O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us.
O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us.
O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us.
O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us.
O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us.

ODE III
O HOLY SAINT NICHOLAS, PRAY UNTO GOD FOR US
A rule of faith and a model of meekness, a teacher of absti¬nence hath the reality shewn thee unto thy flock; there¬withal hast thou acquired: by humility – greatness, by poverty – riches; O Father hierarch Nicholas, intercede before Christ the God that our souls may be saved.

O Holy Saint Nicholas, pray unto God for us.
O Holy Saint Nicholas, pray unto God for us.
O Holy Saint Nicholas,
O Holy Saint Nicholas,
pray unto
God for us,
pray unto
God for us,
O Holy Saint Nicholas, pray unto God for us.

CODA
Glory to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
both now,
and ever
and unto ages of ages.
Amen.
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