Music For Holy Week

Hear My Prayer–Felix Mendelssohn
When I read the gospel accounts of Christ’s last week in Jerusalem, I’m often struck more than anything by the intense loneliness that seems to be part of the torments he endured. Despite being surrounded by people who claimed, and even tried to love him, he was utterly alone. I once scandalized a congregation by making this poem part of an Easter program:

no time ago
or else a life
walking in the dark
i met Christ

jesus) my heart
flopped over
and lay still
while he passed (as

close I’m to you
yes closer
made of nothing
except loneliness

(e e cummings (of course))

This piece by Mendelssohn captures that sense of loneliness for me, with the soprano alone above the (largely superfluous) chorus, like the disciples trying to tag along, but not really ever getting it. Like much of the music I like, this is too treacly for your average music student to be enthusiastic about, but I think it’s beautiful and love it anyway. The text evokes, without quoting, many Psalms, but especially 39, and, I think, the plaintive lament of the Savior’s early ministry: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”


  1. I love this piece – thanks for prompting me to listen to it this morning. I used to like boy sopranos, but have become much less enthusiastic about them lately (it’s a little less treacly sung by a female soprano, I think). But it’s a beautiful piece either way.

    I’m looking forward to your Maundy Thursday and Good Friday posts.

  2. D. Fletcher says:

    Frustrated, once again, that the Church mostly ignores Easter.

    Since GC is on Easter this year, last Sunday we had Testimony Meeting, but I insisted on having my ward choir sing a special musical number.

    In Paradisum, from Faure Requiem.

  3. In Paradisum, from Durufle Requiem.

  4. Kristine says:

    We had a really great Easter service last week. A bit strange to have it on Palm Sunday, but I won’t complain. My choir did early American stuff–Billings’ Easter Anthem and Paul Christiansen’s arrangement of What Wondrous Love. D.–next year visit your sister and play our sweet pipe organ for Easter!!!

  5. Kristine says:

    And, also, D.–hello!!!! You know the whole reason I do these posts is to see if I can coax you out of lurkerdom :)

  6. D. Fletcher says:

    I like the Durufle OK, but not as much as Faure.

    P.S. Kristine, don’t you have really great organists up there?

  7. D. Fletcher says:

    er, Hello! I’ve had serious depression for a couple of years, and it seemed like every single post (two years ago) was about gay marriage, which got me into fights I kept losing.

  8. Kristine says:

    Yeah, we all keep losing those fights, D. Music chatter is definitely more productive.

  9. D., you’ve just described the last couple of years for the rest of us, too!

    Also, before you play organ for Kristine, I believe you promised to come play with Sumer and me in Seattle. Speaking of which, she’s in NYC next week. I’ll have her ping you (assuming the email you’ve used here is correct).