How Great, How Fall'n

Torre Abbey. Photo by Christopher Best

I was inspired to write this work after visiting Torre Abbey, an English monastery dating from 1196, which is now little more than a shell.

The heavily weathered stone plaque at Torre Abbey. Photo by Christopher Best

On the fractured arch of the chancel I found an eighteenth century stone plaque, a poem by the Reverend Joseph Reeve that pays homage to the abbey ruins. Over time, this plaque has itself become a ruin, so badly weathered down one side that only parts of the verse remain legible. The elements had somehow bridged the six hundred year divide between the observer and the observed, leaving me acutely aware that our own endeavours will all too soon be eroded to dust.

How Great, How Fall'n was composed in response to a call for works from the John Armitage Memorial Concert Trust. It was one of only three compositions selected for performance that year. The première took place at Church of St Brides, Fleet St, and was subsequently heard at Church of St Mary, Cambridge and Church of St Cuthbert, Edinburgh.

Rehearsing at the Church of St Brides, Fleet Street, London. Photo by Christopher Best

The recording included on this page is from the St Brides première on 18th March 2004, with the following forces:

Claire Seaton: Soprano

Andrew Watts: Alto

Dan Ludford-Thomas: Tenor

Michael Wallace: Baritone

Daniel Hyde: Organ

Onyx Brass

The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge

Sarah MacDonald: Conductor

Edward Armitage: Producer

Daniel Wiener: Recording Engineer

How Great, How Fall'n Sample Page
How to purchase 

Study Score available for FREE download. Supplementary score and performers' parts £10 via Paypal (COMING SOON)

c.11 mins
Words by 
Joseph Reeve
Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Choir SATB, 2 Trumpets, Horn, Trombone, Tuba, Tubular Bells

How Great, How Fall'n by Chrisbestmusic

Recording engineer: Daniel Wiener
First performance 
18th March 2004; Church of St Brides, Fleet St, London.
Commissioned by