Friday, April 10, 2009

The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross
1787, Franz Joseph Hadyn (1732-1809)

"I was requested by a canon of Cadiz [Spain] to compose instrumental music on the seven last words of our Savior on the Cross.  It was customary at the Cathedral of Cadiz to produce an oratorio every year during Lent, the effect of the performance being not a little enhanced by the following circumstances: The walls, windows, and pillars of the church were hung with black cloth, and only one large lamp hanging from the center of the roof broke the solemn darkness.  At midday, the doors were closed and the ceremony began.  After a short service the bishop ascended the pulpit, pronounced the first of the seven words and delivered a discourse thereon.  This ended, he left the pulpit and fell to his knees before the altar.  The interval was filled by music.  The bishop then in like manner pronounced the second word, then the third, and so on, the orchestra following on the conclusion of each discourse.  My composition was subject to these conditions."

-Joseph Hadyn

We've had a busy Holy Week and I have felt harried at times but a highlight was the performance of this piece of music at church for the tenebrae service on Wednesday.  There was childcare (hooray!) and the string quartet was performed by two parishioners and their friends.  In between each sonata, one of Christ's "words" (such as "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do") was read.  If you need any Good Friday music to listen to, I highly recommend it.

No comments: