A three movement orchestra composition depicting the Easter story.
For three years Jesus has preached his ministry throughout Judea and Galilee. two simple messages of loving God and loving your neighbour.
Jesus’ followers have steadily grown and a sense of expectation is building amongst the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah, the Chosen One from God who will save the Jewish people. At the same time Jesus has been critical of the Jewish leaders of the time for preaching and following the letter of the law more than the meaning and love within the law.
Jesus now arrives in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the holiest feast in the Jewish calendar. He is received into Jerusalem by crowds waving palm branches. Throughout the week tension mounts as he continues preaching his message of love and highlighting the faults of the Jewish leaders. The tension is overseen by the Romans who occupy and rule Holy Land.
The 3 pieces in the Easter Triduum (Gethsemane, Suffering Servant & Risen) tell the incredible story of what happens.
Sarah Jo Wood: The Lockdown Composer
With special thanks to:
David Seekola for his work on Orchestration, Transcription, Mastering & Mixing. www.davidseekolamusic.com
Gerald Seekola for playing the flute beautifully across all three pieces.
Evert van Niekerk for his stunning violin performance in Risen.
Oli Jozi for incredible artwork. www.instagram.com/olijozi
Jesus has commemorated the Passover with his 12 disciples. At the meal he has humbled himself by washing the feet of his disciples giving them a new commandment of ‘Loving One Another’. He has foretold that his Body & Blood will be given up for the forgiveness of sins and instigated the Eucharist as a memorial.
His ministry work is done. It is late at night, he retreats to the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples to pray, to reflect and to wait. He knows that Isaiah foretold how the Messiah would suffer and he is also probably aware that 2 robbers are scheduled to be executed tomorrow, by crucifixion.
The music tells of Jesus’ time in the garden. The piece starts in a light hearted mood with Jesus and his disciples enjoying each other’s company. Jesus then retreats to face his anguish at what is about to come; he knows he is the Son of God but he also knows that he is human and he understands human pain. He prays to God for strength, God listens, consoles and answers him. Jesus’ voice is played by the Flute as he talks to God and ultimately accepts his fate, ‘Do what you want with me’.
The piece build as Jesus’ anguish, realisation and acceptance grows. It climaxes with God’s response ‘Put your trust in me, Jesus will return’ before the arrival of the Jewish guards to arrest Jesus and the kiss of Judas that betrays him.
The piece has 3 sections: Jesus’ trial and sentencing to death, his walk with his cross to Golgotha to be crucified and finally, his time dying on the cross.
The first phase depicts the trial with the grandeur of a court but has the chaos of a mob rule with the crowd throughout baying ‘crucify him’. Jesus’ voice, the flute, is drowned by the false accusations as the verdict is read and Jesus is condemned to death. The Jewish Leaders have their way and Jesus joins the 2 robbers to be crucified on a cross.
Jesus has been flogged and the Roman guards have had their fun crowing Jesus with thorns. The second phase now depicts Jesus’ walk with his cross to be executed. Jesus’ laboured steps can be heard behind the ruthless efficiency of the Roman guards, they are executing a criminal. The piece builds as the journey continues and Jesus falls and is dragged ever onwards. Finally, they reach the execution point where the soldiers nail Jesus to the cross and raise the cross up. Jesus’ voice is silent throughout.
The final piece depicts Jesus’ time hanging on the cross; he is suffering, he is weak, the pain is unbearable and he is dying. The piece depicts Jesus looking down on his loved ones, those jeering him and the wider world he has come to save. He is also looking up towards God for strength. His voice is heard again as the Flute still talking of love and forgiveness to those that watch as he looks down on them from the height of the cross.
Jesus then turns to his Father, God, for strength. God can be heard comforting Jesus, saying ‘I hear your calling and I am with you’, ‘I feel your pain and I’m waiting for you’ and ‘Come back to me my Son your work on Earth is done and I will take your pain away’. This is Father & Son time, sharing the sacrifice.
Gradually the flute weakens and drops notes as Jesus loses strength and finally dies. The piece ends with the anger of God.
The piece starts in a dark, cold and damp tomb, it is night and the tomb is sealed. Jesus’ lifeless body lies in the tomb; dead, battered and bruised, and yet, there remains hope.
Suddenly the hope and mood builds, echoes can be heard of ‘Put your trust in God, Jesus will return’ as God enters the tomb. God breathes new life into Jesus. The flute returns as Jesus comes back to life, Father & Son together. The section ends as Jesus’ first footsteps are heard as he rises and leaves the tomb.
The mood changes again, it is now early morning and the women who have followed Jesus are returning to the tomb to anoint his dead body. They are sad and bewildered, they have not only lost the one who they thought was the Messiah but also their teacher, friend, brother, the man they loved. They arrive at the cave and find the stone to the tomb has been removed. They enter the cave. Alarm and panic spreads as they find it empty, his body is gone! What have they done with his body?
In the midst of the noise and panic the flute, Jesus, appears, but the women do not recognise him. He asks them what’s wrong and they say that they have taken Jesus’ body. The flute then plays a melody of Jesus from Gethsemane. The veil is finally lifted, their eyes opened and they recognise Jesus. Mary Magdalene ask in complete shock and disbelief ‘Teacher?’
The mood transforms to happiness, relief and understanding as the women and then the apostles are reunited with their Lord, brother and Mary’s son. The music builds and echoes with chords and melodies from Jesus’ journey as he explains his teachings and their minds are finally fully opened and they receive the Holy Spirit. The piece climaxes with Jesus ascending back to God.