This anthem, The Peace That Surpasseth Understanding, by John Tavener, was commissioned jointly by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster and the Ministry of Defence. It was first performed at a Service in Honour of the Passing of the World War One Generation, in Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 11th November 2009, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by James O’Donnell.
In this setting of Saint Paul’s great statement, I have tried in a simple and primordial manner to suggest majesty, solemnity and a radiance of peace and bliss. I have also given the music a ceremonial nature by inserting ‘Allelouias’ sounding from ‘Heaven’ (semi-chorus), gradually rising in pitch until they are answered by ‘Allelouias’ from ‘The World’ (main choir). The music forms a gradual crescendo reflecting the meaning of the words.
At the musical and spiritual climax, the full organ sounds four chords which represent The Four Angels before the Throne of God. The final chord then transforms into the sacred monosyllable OM, which hums around the building, representing the Peace and Beatitude of God’s Presence.
Duration: c. 4 minutes