Septem Verba Christi in Cruce (2008) a cappella SATB chorus

Thomas Oboe Lee

About this work:

Jane Ring Frank, music director

Sopranos: Emily Hindrichs , Brenna Wells , Teresa Wakim 

Altos: Jennifer Ashe, Carrie Cheron, Mary Gerbi 

Tenors: Owen McIntosh, David Scott, Mathew Anderson 

Basses: Bradford Gleim, Thann Scoggin, Marc DeMille, Darrick Yee 

Program note:

A former Boston College student of mine contacted me last summer and asked if I would write a choral work for her group in the Berkshires.

I was at the time completing the orchestration of my Symphony No. 7 ... Roman Holidays, and so was ready to do something new and different from a purely instrumental work.

Having been raised a Catholic and educated at parochial schools when I was a youngster in Hong Kong, and also bearing in mind that I now teach at BC, a Jesuit Institution, the idea of the passion of Christ is always in the back of my mind. As a matter of fact, I have always found religious choral music to be the ideal and most transcendent way to communicate God's words.

Septem Verba Christi in Cruce, or the Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross, has been done in a musical setting most famously by Franz Joseph Haydn in a wordless string quartet. Others settings include those of Heinrich Schütz, César Franck, Sofia Gubaidulina, and James McMillan.

Portion of the text can also be found in the sublime St. John Passion by J.S. Bach, and Passio by the contemporary Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt.

The complete text in Latin follows.

1. Pater, dimitte illis, quia nesciunt, quid faciunt.

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.

2. Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso.

This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.

3. Mulier, ecce filius tuus.

Woman, behold thy son.

4. Deus meus, Deus meus, utquid dereliquisti me?

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

5. Sitio.

I thirst.

6. Consummatum est.

It is finished.

7. In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum.

Into thine hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

This work is dedicated to my mother, May Lee Chang (1921-2008).

Year composed: 2008
Duration: 00:17:00
Ensemble type: Chorus, with or without Solo Voices:Chorus, Unaccompanied
Instrumentation: 1 S, 1 A, 1 T, 1 B
Instrumentation notes: SATB a cappella chorus

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