It has been said that “the only path to Easter is through the Cross.” We all know the story, we all know the glorious outcome. But year after year, there is a danger that our connections to these stories can dissipate. As a part of the Episcopal Church tradition of observing Holy Week, we are invited, encouraged, to walk the path to Easter together.
Starting on Palm Sunday, with the Blessing of the Palms and the enactment of Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem, through the dark night of the Last Supper and washing of feet on Maundy Thursday, staying and watching with Jesus during the Night Vigil and into the last hours of Christ on Good Friday, we await that moment when we see the sun rise and know the day of Resurrection is upon us.
This year, we take a different look at Good Friday with a dramatic presentation of St. John Passion, written by composer Bob Chilcott. This offering involves a mix of choir and congregational singing, instrumentation and visual representation of the Passion through dramatization.
Casey Slone, director of visual performance, explains, “We’re trying to strip it down, make it very simple. It’s Good Friday. People should not expect grand costumes or sets. It’s a dark day, but there is an element of hope.” While parishioners portray the four main parts of the Passion, soloists sing the text.
Rachel Root, Director of Music, shares another aspect of this service. Each soloist will have a viola and cello accompanying them, which will help the listener appreciate the scene. “That is a different sound,” she says. “It makes your mind grab onto that because something different is happening.”
Written by Bob Chilcott, the powerful music of St John Passion will transport the congregation to another time and emotionally carry them to the cross.
“What Bob Chilcott does is outstanding,” Rachel adds. “Where he shines is that he is able to express emotion deeply and richly through the music so that you are able to feel the impact of it. There is a lot of light and hope built in. You will be affected emotionally to your core, but having the hope to move on.”
St John Passion is a one-hour service, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Main Sanctuary on Good Friday.