Radio score

When published in 1990, the subtitle was 'Cantata for speaker(s), soprano and tenor soloists, chorus (SATB) timpani, organ and strings'.

Period of composition: 8 Aug - 22 Sep 1937
First performance: 29 Sep 1937 >>
Type of performance: Radio Broadcast
Location: BBC National
Performance details:

Felix Aylmer, Ian Dawson, Stewart Rome spkrs, Sophie Wyss sop, Peter Pears ten, BBC Chorus (Section B), BBC Orchestra (Section C), Trevor Harve cond

Genre: Incidental music
Text: Compiled by R. Ellis Roberts. See individual movements.
Performing forces:

Spkr(s), sop, ten, chorus (SATB) - timp - org - str


Incidental music for a radio feature, broadcast on the feast day of St Michael and All Angels. The musical numbers were linked with spoken texts.

On 15 October 1937 Britten notes in his diary that he discussed with Ellis Roberts how the score could be turned into a concert work, and Britten also considered its publication. The score was neither converted nor published by Britten. In the 1950s, Trevor Harvey - who had had in his possession the score of The company of heaven since the outbreak of World War II - put together a concert suite from the original score, which he conducted on 20 May 1956 on the BBC Home Service. A further concert performance score was edited and published in 1990.

Britten made a later arrangement of 'Christ, the fair glory' (no 4) for voice, cello and piano (see 'related works').


  • Part I - Before the Creation >>

    1 Chaos (orch)

    2 The morning stars (St Joseph the Hymographer, c810-883/886) (SATB, orch)

  • Part II - Angels in Scripture >>

    3a Jacob (SATB, org)

    3b Elisha (SATB, org)

    3c Hail, Mary! (sop, SATB, org)

    4 Christ the fair glory (Archbishop Rabanus Maurus, 9th century, tr Athelstan Riley) (sop, ten, SATB, orch)

    5 War in heaven (Revelation) (TB, orch)

  • Part III - Angels in Common Life and at our Death >>

    6 Heaven is here (unidentified) (sop, SATB, orch)

    7 A thousand, thousand gleaming fires (Emily Brontë, 1818-1848) (ten, orch)

    8 Funeral march for a boy (orch)

    9 Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the most High (Psalm 91, The Book of Common Prayer) (SSAATTBB)

    10 Lento maestoso (John Bunyan, 1628-1688) (spkr, orch)

    11 Ye watchers and ye holy ones (Athelstan Riley, 1848-1945) (sop, ten, SATB, orch)