This work for string ensemble was commissioned by the BT Scottish Ensemble, and was first performed in June 1996 at the Hellenic Centre, London, by the BT Scottish Ensemble with Clio Gould (violin).
Quoting Tavener: Tears of the Angels should be played at the extreme breaking point of 'tenderness'. In other words, totally beyond our compassion, and beyond our comprehension. Wrapped in a depth of inner silence of which we have no idea, a state of being, not an emotion, a tender light piercing the agonising darkness of the world. Also, a humility, of which we have no idea, because it is not rooted in a hypocritcal or contrived deprecation of self, but in the blinding vision of God Himself.
Since we are 'human' and not angels, the music can only be 'imagined' by us. All th strings are muted throughout, except for the part marked solo violin. The solo violin is 'the chief among the Angels', and the whole piece must sound 'serene' and 'seemless'.
Duration c. 17mins.