Welcome to God thru the Arts Holy Week Meditations
This week I will be exploring various music and art to direct our minds into a deeper experience of the events that surrounded Jesus during the week preceding his crucifixion. These works of art will represent diverse people, time and genres. Not intended as a newspaper report, these great works of art are instead meant to capture only a portion of the emotional tension in the atmosphere as the Christian world stops to observe the Passion of the Christ.
We will begin with J.S. Bach’s musical opening of his St. John Passion.
Like all great plays, we will start with a prologue, something that will set the scene and prepare our hearts for the action to come. Bach’s “Herr, unser Herrscher” or “Lord, thou our Master” from St. John’s Passion thrust us immediately into the feeling of a cosmic storm brewing on the horizon.
- Orchestra and chorus singing in German and written for a Good Friday Service
- Strikes a serious tone
- Bach brings us before the throne of God with music that is powerful
- It sounds like the music began long ago. He drops us right into the middle of moving string parts that sounds like a storm that has been brewing since the beginning of time.
- Plodding bass struggling towards the end of a journey
- Notice the Oboes holding dissonant chords to add tension
- Voices enter very powerfully and we are swept along by something out of control
The music just keeps barreling along…It seems that Bach is expressing that Jesus’ story began in the beginning of time.
Just as John’s Gospel reminds us “In the beginning was the word…”, Bach is capturing the power of all mighty God’s plan that has been put in motion since the beginning and now there is no stopping it.
Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on the cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
~Phil 2: 6-11