Composed in 1990, and revised in 1991, for SATB Choir or soloists with organ accompaniment, Pärt's setting of The Beatitudes is one of only a handful of works ("Litany" and "And One of the Pharisees" also falling into that category) composed in English. Taken from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, as found in Matthew 5:3-12, The Beatitudes provide a fitting structure for Pärt's setting. Each verse states a godly quality and the blessing attached to it; all except the last verse begin with the word 'blessed'. The Beatitudes was premiered on 25 May 1990 at the Nathanaelkirche, Berlin, by the Theatre of Voices choir, conducted by Paul Hillier.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which before you.
The gospel according to St. Matthew, 5, 3 - 12