In the final instalment of Bach’s passion, we reach Golgotha with its mocking and scourging and its crown of thorns. Jesus eschews the vinegar, and is exorted to save himself by both the elders and the robbers who were crucified alongside him. Upon Jesus’ death the curtain of the temple is torn in two and the earth shakes, inducing the soldiers to declare “truly, this was the Son of God”. And so the body of Jesus is taken to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, waited on by the two Marys. The chorus reminds us of Jesus promise to rise again.
Bach – Matthew Passion – section 5 (40mins)
Sanders – Reproaches
Dr John Sanders, long time organist of Gloucester Cathedral wrote this piece for the choir there, setting the antiphons and responses that tell of Christ’s challenge to the church, traditionally chanted on Good Friday. The setting here is powerful and hard-hitting, with striking dissonance in the harmony, giving extra force to the continual failings of the Christian people, for which Christ’s blood was shed.
Choir of Gloucester Cathedral, conducted by Dr John Sanders
Nystedt – Komm süsser Tod
This last piece is a meditation on a simple chorale by Bach, but cleverly developed by the composer who directs groups of singers to sing at different speeds. The result captures intense discomfort and tension, amidst moments of peaceful resolution. The German text translates thus:
Come, sweet death, come blessed rest!
Come lead me to peace
For I am weary of the world,
Oh come! I wait for you,
Come soon and lead me,
Close my eyes.
Come, blessed rest!