Lament of the Mother of God (Tavener) — Winchester Cathedral Choir with Solveig Kringelborn

  • Published on:  8/10/2011
  • The Choir of Winchester Cathedral, under the direction of David Hill, perform John Tavener's 'Lament of the Mother of God', an Orthodox text chanted and sung on Great and Holy Friday to mark the death of Christ on the cross and remember the sorrows of His mother.

    Norwegian soprano Solveig Kringelborn solos here with the words of the grieving Mary in a stunning, ethereal setting by John Tavener that has been described as 'the Pietà in sound'.

    The text below is incomplete. Any corrections or additions would be very appreciated.

    [ Text: ]

    Woe is me, my Child!
    I see Thee, dearest and beloved Child,
    hanging upon the cross,
    and my heart is bitterly wounded.
    But in Thy love, speak some word to Thy handmaiden.

    Woe is me, my Child!
    I wish to take my son down from the wood
    and to hold Him in my arms
    as once I held Him when He was a little child;
    But alas, there is no-one to give Him to me.

    Woe is me, my Child!
    I see Thee bruised and wounded,
    without glory, stripped upon the cross.
    O my Child, and my heart burns.

    Woe is me, my Child!
    In my arms, I hold Thee as a corpse,
    O loving Lord, who has brought the dead back to life;
    Grievously is my heart wounded,
    and I long to die with Thee,
    for I cannot bear to look upon Thee lifeless and without breath.

    Woe is me, my Child!
    I reflect, O Master: how never again shall I hear Thy voice.
    Never again shall Thy handmaiden see the beauty of Thy face
    as in the past, for Thou, my Son,
    hast sunk down before mine eyes.

    Woe is me, my child!
    Where dost thou go, my Child?
    Why dost thou run so swiftly?
    Is there another wedding in Cana,
    and are thou hastening there to turn the water into wine?
    Shall I go with thee, my child,
    or shall I wait for thee?
    Speak some word to me, O Word;
    Do not pass me by in silence.
    Thou hast preserved my virginity,
    and thou art my Son and God.

    Woe is me, my child!
    Release me from agony
    and take me with Thee, O my Son and God.
    Let me also descend with Thee, O Master, into Hell.
    Leave me not to live alone,
    for I cannot bear to look upon Thee, my sweet Light.

    Woe is me, my child!
    Dost thou change my grief to gladness by Thy Resurrection?

    Rise, O God, and judge the Earth!
    Rise, O God, and judge the Earth!

    Woe is me, my Child.