Be Still My Soul: the Tallis Fantasia

When I am anguished of mind and soul I consistently turn to a piece of music that speaks to my heart.  I have started to joke that it is my personal ctrl+alt+delete.  It provides a reset button that lets me regroup and move forward.  

The piece was written in 1910 by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Ideally, as in the video below, the Fantasia should be performed with a three part string orchestra–each separated from the other:  a full orchestra, a smaller orchestra representing each instrument, and a string quartet.  The original melody was written by Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis.

I am sharing it with you readers, with love, in hopes that when you need it, you can find some peace as well.



  1. emilyhgeddes says:

    Thank you for reminding me how much I love this piece, Karen.

  2. Stunning. Thank you.

  3. Gorgeous performance (and stunning videography!). Thank you. It’s nice to have a musical ctrl-alt-delete or two,

  4. Yes. Such a great piece!

  5. Fell in love with this piece when we played it in my high school orchestra. Whenever I hear it, I have to stop and listen for the whole piece. Brings me to tears every time.

  6. I find myself listening and singing the lyrics to the hymn be still my soul along to a different melody.

  7. Reaching for a Star says:

    This is also one of my favorites to bring peace to my soul. I first heard it in a German class (the professor said he thought it should be the soundtrack for a piece we were reading) and after class got out immediately went home to order a CD with the song. The videography on this particular performance is awesome as well. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I also love this piece. Whenever I listen to it, it makes me think of God appearing to Moses on the mountain and giving him the “big picture” vision.

  9. Several hymns are sung to this tune, but here’s a favorite:

    I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    “Come unto me and rest;
    lay down, O weary one, lay down
    your head upon my breast.”
    I came to Jesus as I was,
    so weary, worn, and sad;
    I found him in a resting place,
    and he has made me glad.

    I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    “Behold, I freely give
    the living water, thirsty one,
    stoop down and drink and live.”
    I came to Jesus, and I drank
    of that life-giving stream;
    my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
    and now I live in him.

    I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    “I am this dark world’s light;
    look unto me; your morn shall rise,
    and all your day be bright.”
    I looked to Jesus, and I found
    in him my star, my sun;
    and in that light of life I’ll walk
    till traveling days are done.

  10. Thank you! A synthesis of two of my favorites: Thomas Tallis and Ralph Vaughn Williams. Sublime. It’s amazing how music can say so much more than words. And these days I’m so weary of words! Yes, be still my soul, but also “Be still and know that I am God…” (Ps 46:10)

  11. Kristine, that is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing it. I was wondering how much of the Vaughan Williams was melody and how much was Fantasia.

  12. This is gorgeous. I was only familiar with Finlandia prior to this. I had no idea Vaughan Williams had his own derivative. Thank you!

  13. And… I commented before listening to the video. Tallis has no relation to Finlandia. Carry on.

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