Radio music

The score was published in 2001 and subtitled 'For soloists, speaker(s), chorus and orchestra'.

Period of composition: Apr - 24 May 1938
First performance: 5 Jun 1938 >>
Type of performance: Radio broadcast
Location: BBC National
Performance details:

Sophie Wyss sop, Anne Wood contr, Emlyn Bebb ten, Victor Harding bass, Felix Aylmer, Leo Genn, Robert Speaight spkrs, BBC Singers (Section B), BBC Orchestra (Section C), Trevor Harvey cond

Genre: Incidental music

In correspondence with the BBC Britten refers to The world of the spirit as an 'Oratorio'.

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

Sop, contr, ten, bass, 1 (or 2) spkr(s), SATB - 2 fl (II=picc), 2 ob, 2 cl in B flat and A, 2 bn - 4 hn, 2 tpt in C, 3 trbn, tuba - timp, perc (cymb, susp cymb, gong, sd, bd, tamb) - harp, org - str

Duration: 42'

With full texts


Written for a Whitsun programme of words and music, the second special feature devised by Ellis Roberts for which Britten composed a large-scale choral and orchestral score. See also The company of heaven (Sep 1937).

The plainsong 'Veni creator spiritus' (Vespers hymn for Whit Sunday) is used in the Prelude to Part I, nos 6a-c and 6f in Part II and as the conclusion to Part III. Britten made a further setting of Hopkins' 'The world is charged' as 'God's grandeur' in A.M.D.G. (Aug 1939).


  • Part I - Prologue >>

    1 Prelude (org, orch)

    2 O Thou that movest all (Mary Duclaux, 1857-1944) (SATB, orch)

    3 The sun, the moon, the stars (Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1802-1892) (ten, SA, orch)

    4a This is my commandment (John 13, 14) (ten, SATB, orch)

    4b With wide-embracing love (Emily Brontë, 1818-1848) (sop, contr, SATB, orch)

  • Part II - The Fruits of the Spirit >>

    5 O life, o love, now undivided (Mary Duclaux, 1857-1944) (sop, contr, SATB, orch)

    6a A voice within our souls hath spoken (contr, ten, bass, org)

    6b The fruit of the spirit is love (contr, org)

    6c The fruit of the spirit is faith (bass, org)

    6d The fruit of the spirit is goodness (contr, org)

    6e '@The fruit of the spirit is long-suffering'' (contr, org)

    6f The fruit of the spirit is joy (contr, ten, bass, org)

    7 The spirit of the lord (Antiphon for Whit Sunday) (sop, contr, ten, bass, SATB, org, orch)

  • Part III - Epilogue >>

    8 O knowing, glorious spirit! (Henry Vaughan, 1622-1695) (sop, fl, harp, vn)

    9 The world is charged (Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1889) (sop, SATB, org, orch)

    10 Come, o creator spirit, come (tr Robert Bridges) (sop, SATB, org, orch)