Bearing the Cross
“He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.”—John 19:17
When composer Arvo Pärt left his homeland Estonia in 1980, he brought the first musical compositions for what became his St. John Passion. This was an important work for him, published soon after he arrived in the West.
As a Christian, Pärt left Estonia to have the freedom to write music like this. He was then able to express what was in his heart, writing about Jesus, His life and death, teachings, resurrection, and miracles.
Pärt’s Passion tells the story of Jesus’ death using the text from John’s Gospel. Those who dig deeper discover that the music itself helps tell the story. In subtle ways, musical elements link back to the story.
The character singing the part of Jesus always has the longest and lowest notes, in stark contrast with other characters. Pilate, like Christ, was accompanied only by the organ, singing in faster rhythmic values and with a higher range.
Pärt began his Passion with the denial by Peter and ended with the crucifixion. The most extended section is the confrontation between Jesus and Pilate, and the crowd’s calls for Jesus’ death.
The story of Jesus’ death has been told in many ways, in many styles and interpretations. It is a story that needs to be heard, studied, and pondered. Why did He die? What does His death mean for each of us?
What does His death mean for you?
Reflect on what Jesus’ death means to you.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for dying in my place. Help me to pick up my cross and follow You. In Your name, amen.
Today’s Bible Reading