Fellowship~Passion Week

Descent from the Cross 1664, Rembrandt (1606-1669) oil on canvas, 62.2 x 46 inches. Hermitage Museum
Image Source

Rembrandt captures a moment in time and re-imagines all the faces and figures that stood around the foot of the cross as Christ’s body was released from his suffering.

Notice how Rembrandt illuminates Christ’s body with a very bright light and casts everything else in the shadows.

See the ladders on either side of the Cross

See also the whiteness of the shroud the drapes around the Cross

Imagine being one of those who tended to Jesus in the first moments after his death.

Feel the weight of his body as he is passed down the ladders.

What are the noises you hear?

There are two counter subjects that are often portrayed occurring during the descent. One the far left the soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ clothing and on the right you can observe Jesus’ mother Mary as she swoons under the intense emotional pain of the moment.

Many writers, painters, poets and song writers have tried to imagine how Mary felt in this moment.

Jacopone da Todi who lived 1228-1306 writes one of the most used verses called “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” or “The sorrowful mother stood”

At the Cross her station keeping,

Stood the mournful Mother weeping

Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing

All His bitter anguish bearing,

Now at length the sword has passed.

Christ above in torment hangs,                                                                                          

 she beneath beholds the pangs

of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,

whelmed in miseries so deep,

Christ’s Mother to behold?

O thou Mother! fount of  love!

Touch my spirit from above

Make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;

Make my soul to glow and melt

With the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! Pierce me through,

In my heart each wound renew

Of my Savior crucified.

There are many many different versions of the Start Mater. My favorite and the one I recommend the most is Pergolesi’s Start Mater: I. Start Mater dolorosa. You can find the complete performance by using the link below to go to Spotify. I have also provide a YouTube video of the first movement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.