A specially commissioned anthem by David Matthews will be premiered at Westminster Abbey next week as part of a vigil remembering the outbreak of the First World War.
Entitled "To what God shall we chant our songs of battle?” Matthews’ work takes a bitter, disillusioned poem written in 1914 by Harold Monro and sets them alongside passages from the Book of Lamentations and Saint Luke's gospel. James O'Donnell, abbey organist and master of the choristers, commented that the work "leaves you standing on the edge of an abyss".
The anthem adds to the composer’s impressive body of a cappella choral works which also includes Aequam memento (2004), The Ship of Death (1989) and the carol Christ is Born of Maiden Fair (1968).
The specially devised vigil (to be broadcast live on BBC2) will begin at 10pm on Monday 4 August and will end with the chimes of Big Ben at 11pm – the moment when war was declared.