This work for soprano solo and SATB chorus was commissioned by the Norwich Festival of Contemporary Church Music.
Tavener:'In the Orthodox Church, the Lament of the Mother of God is normally sung on Holy and Great Friday. In its full length it lasts about half and hour, and it is intoned by the Priest or Bishop while the people venerate the Epitaphios (or Shroud of the Dead Christ), which is in the centre of the church and decorated with flowers.
The Lament must be sung with an ikon-like stillness and great purity. It grows in intensity as it climbs in tessitura, but without anything sudden or remotely melodramatic.
For the Orthodox Church there is never the sense of absolute desolation felt by the Western Church on Good Friday. Hence the cry of the Mother of God "Dost thou change my grief to gladness by thy Resurrection?", followed by the full forces: "Rise O God, and judge the earth."
Mother of God also features in the film Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and directed by Stephen Frears.