Kyrie, Op.5

Additional Information


For a cappella SATB Double Choir, with SSA and SA Soloists:

SATB Choir 1: 2xS, 2xA, 2xT, 2xB (8) = min.2 voices per line for divisi (SSAATTBB)* (stage left side) +

SATB Choir 2: 2xS, 2xA, 2xT, 2xB (8) = min.2 voices per line for divisi (SSAATTBB)* (stage right side) +

Gallery/Offstage Soloists 1: 2xS (for divisi) + 1xA (3) (SSA) (at a distance or offstage, and set antiphonally to:)

Gallery/Offstage Soloists 2: 1xS + 1xA (2) (SA) (in a high and more distant gallery or offstage)

= 1. SSAATTBB + 2. SSAATTBB + 3. SSA + 4. SA; or minimum of 21 singers: 7 sopranos; 6 altos; 4 tenors, 4 basses

(* But ideally at least double these forces: 16 per choir, or 32 for the two choirs + 5 soloists = 37 singers)


This a cappella setting for SATB double choir and soloists of the first section of the traditional Latin Mass – “Kyrie eleison” – is based around permutations of one central motif.  The eight main vocal lines are sometimes further divided for fullness of texture and motivic completeness. At least 21 voices are required to perform the work (choir: SSAATTBB, SSAATTBB + soloists: SSA, SA).  The short central section of this ternary form composition (“Christe eleison”) features high C's in both treble parts, and requires extra soprano and alto soloists to be present offstage (or situated in a gallery), a little removed from the main body of the choir.

Kyrie was first sketched out in 1985 – and only completed, published, and recorded, two decades later. It was first performed in November 2005, during the historic Thomas Tallis 500th anniversary concerts held at Waltham Abbey, Essex (where Tallis worked) and St. Alfege, Greenwich (his burial place). It is appropriate, perhaps, that this work should first have been heard alongside such grand, 40-part polychoral motets as Tallis’s Spem in alium and Striggio’s Ecce beatam lucem.


Kyrie eleison.

     Christe eleison.

Kyrie eleison.





(1) TALLIS COMMEMORATION MEDAL 2005 (Bestowed by the Thomas Tallis Society Choir) (UK)


(3) "BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC RECORDING" NOMINATION – ROUNDGLASS GLOBAL MUSIC AWARDS 2018 (USA-INDIA), as recorded on the album, "Woefully Arrayed" (Navona NV6113, 2017)

* Included on Terpsichore and Other Works: A Record of the Year in Fanfare magazine (USA) ("Want List 2008")

* Reissued on Polyhymnia: "Album des Mes en RNA (Febrero 2012)" (Album of the Month in Reviews New Age, February 2012); Nomination for 'Mejor Álbum RNA de Año' (Best Album of the Year) (Spain)

* Collard Fellowship of The Worshipful Company of Musicians 2011 (UK)

* PRS for Music Foundation / Bliss Trust Composer Bursary 2012 (UK)



Fanfare (USA), Vol.36: No.1 (Sept-Oct 2012), pp.58-72 - Feature article (includes extensive interview with Martin Anderson, and reviews by Anderson, Canfield and Nockin), and Fanfare (USA), Vol.36: No.2 (Nov-Dec 2012)

Selected International Music Reviews

[emulates] the timeless qualities of early music ... In Kyrie, Opus 5, for 60-voice choir, he actually directs the extra soprano and alto soloists to play a crucial off-stage part – even ‘removed to a gallery’: perhaps a modern translation of Giovanni Gabrieli’s polyphonic exploitation of the rich internal architecture of St. Marks Basilica, Venice. – John Wheatley, Tempo, Vol.62: No.243 (Jan. 2008), pp.88-89 (UK)

“An inspired creation …. voluptuous sonorities … beautifully expansive” – Patric Standford, Music and Vision (16th May, 2009) (UK)

“very well crafted ... very effective” - Stephen Layton, Choral Conductor and Director of Music, Trinity College, Cambridge (October 2009) (UK)

‘Yet even this beauty is surpassed by the piece that concludes the album – “Kyrie, Op.5 (from Missa Temporis Perditi)”. Sixty ethereal voices of the Royal Peculiar Church of St. Alfege in Greenwich, in the United Kingdom, blend to create one of the finest vocal groups that I have ever heard. Without a doubt, from when the music starts, until it ends, there are magnificent and uplifting passages; the voices produce the most amazing, spine-tingling effect. There is just no adequate way to describe this work.’ – Alejandro Clavijo, in Reviews New Age (February, 2012) (SPAIN)

‘The notes quote one unnamed commentator as stating that the music is “completely novel, yet hauntingly familiar.” This seems a fair assessment, in that no other composer among the thousands whose music I’ve heard immediately comes to mind … Perhaps Górecki in certain of his more tonal works comes closest, although Little’s music is about seven notches above the quality of that of the Polish composer … The disc’s closing work, the Kyrie from Little’s Missa Temporis perditi, is my favorite on the CD. Soaring lines in the sopranos, taking them up to high C, suggest the majesty of the words of the Kyrie. … Harmonies shift around a good bit, but the direction of the work is never in doubt as it moves to its dramatic conclusion. The spacious acoustic of the recording venue adds to the otherworldly effect.’ David DeBoor Canfield, “Polyhymnia …”, in Fanfare, Vol.36, No.1 (Sept/Oct 2012) (USA)

“The highlight of this disc is the Kyrie from his Missa Temporis Perditi … It is an eloquent and expansive work sung here by the Thomas Tallis Chamber Choir, a large a cappella group from which conductor Philip Simms draws opulent sonorities. Little composes with a great array of technical skills and his works are both harmonically and contrapuntally pleasing. He knows how to bring out all the colors of the choral palette, and that is what makes the Kyrie such a fascinating piece. I want to hear the rest of the Mass.” Maria Nockin, “Polyhymnia …”, in Fanfare, Vol.36, No.1 (Sept/Oct 2012) (USA)




(from 'Missa Temporis Perditi')


Live performance with 60 voices
Date published
Date recorded
2005 (remastered 2011); Released 28.02.2012
Thomas Tallis Chamber Choir / Philip Simms
Recording format id
Record company
PARMA (Navona label, distributed by Naxos) NV5867 UPC896931000673
Polyhymnia: String, Orchestral and Choral Works of Jonathan Little
St. Alfege, Greenwich, UK