top of page
Facade Ensemble Lent Tour 2023

The Facade Ensemble celebrates Gavin Bryars' 80th birthday with a rare opportunity to hear his 1971 composition Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet. Known to move listeners to tears, it weaves live music around a recording of an unknown homeless man singing  a brief section of a song he could still half-remember. Alongside this will be Arvo Pärt's powerful Stabat Mater and a chance to hear what happens when John Cage gets his hands on a hymn book in Hymns and Variations.


Get                                       or read on to get involved




We’re on the look out for singers and instrumentalists to join us in performing  Bryars' phenomenal Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, at each stop on our tour. Our musical director - Benedict Collins Rice - will be running afternoon workshops on each concert date, for anyone who would like to take advantage of this opportunity to be part of this iconic piece and to perform alongside Facade's world-class musicians.


The piece is performed by looping layer upon layer of music on top of a recording first recorded for use in a documentary chronicling street life around Waterloo and Elephant and Castle. This focus on community, coupled with music that is accessible and deeply moving makes it a perfect opportunity for Facade to invite you to come and be involved - with something for everyone to play or sing. No need to bring anything apart from yourself and your voice or instrument - everything will be provided on the day.


Workshops will run for 2 hours, starting at 12pm in Bury St Edmunds and 2pm in Oxford, London and Ely. If you would like to join us for any or all of these with your voice or your instrument, please sign-up using the registration form linked below or alternatively drop an email to with any queries. 


Bryars says:


"When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. 


I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. 


When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping. I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's singing. 


This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp's nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism."

bottom of page