The composer’s note on this copy of the autograph score has the following directions: ‘Out of the Night was written to be played in order to ‘greet the dawn’ outside St Catherine’s Monastery Sinai’ and it is recommended that the work be played outside or in a church or building with some resonance. The sound is Middle Eastern, modal, invoking the Orthodox Church with the Greek pronunciation of the single word ‘Alleluia’.
Tavener was widely known as a composer of religious music and while this work does not fit any liturgical use, it communicates the sacredness of a new day.
Contemporary British composer John Tavener was that rare creature, a composer of serious music and serious religious music, who also achieved commercial success. He burst into the popular consciousness with the performance of his Song for Athene at the funeral of Princess Diana, but had been a highly respected and frequently performed composer since the premiere of his dramatic cantata The Whale in 1968.