by Kyle Osborne, St. Matthew’s Director of Music
Music for Holy Week
As we approach Holy Week, I wanted to share some music for meditation that may not be familiar but that I feel should be more well known.
The first piece I would share is “O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde groß” BWV 622 from the Orgelbuchlein (Little Organ Book) by J.S. Bach (1685-1750). This piece is an organ setting of the Lutheran Chorale by German theologian and hymn writer Sebald Heyden (1499-1561). O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde groß” is a Passiontide Hymn based on the Four Gospels and was originally 23 stanzas. Bach choose to set the first stanza as an ornamented chorale. Bach vividly depicts the chorale text with appoggiaturas, sighs, and striking chromaticism. The text and listening link are below.
O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde groß,
darum Christus sein’s Vaters Schoß
äußert und kam auf Erden.
Von einer Jungfrau zart und rein
für uns er hier geboren ward,
er wollt’ der Mittler werden.
O man, thy grievous sin bemoan,
For which Christ left His Father’s throne,
From highest heaven descending.
Of Virgin pure and undefiled
He here was born, our Saviour mild,
For sin to make atonement.
“Crucifixion” from Symphonie Passion by Marcel Dupre (1886–1971) is a programmatic organ work that was originally improvised during a recital on the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia. In this work you can hear Jesus walking to Calvary, falling along the way, the hammering, the anguish, and torment of being nailed to the cross, crying out to God before he breathes his last, his body being lowered and laid in his mother’s lap. Dupre ends quietly, in peaceful sorrow with the Stabat Mater chant.
Last year we recorded Stations of the Cross with organ interludes French organist and composer Cesar Franck (1822–1890). The results were very moving, and I would like to share them with you again this year. Here is the link.
I hope these works will enhance your Holy Week meditations.
Director of Music