A Good Friday Concert

A Good Friday concert (on a Sunday!)

Today is  Good Friday  – the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Last Sunday my husband and I went to a remarkable concert.  The theme was Lamentations.  In the Catholic  church (of which I’m not a member, but whose attraction for me lies in its preservation of so much that has been lost in the Protestant denominations), the Lamentations of Jeremiah constitute an important part of Tenebrae, the service held on the Thursday night , the night before Good Friday, in which the suffering of Jesus is likened to that of Israel.  15 lighted candles are extinguished, one by one,  during the course of the night, leaving only darkness.  Finally a candle, which had been hidden under the altar, is brought out,  representing the risen Christ.  In this concert there were no candles, but we heard the starkly simple version of  the first and second “lessons”, sung by unaccompanied soloists (Lecons de Tenebre, by Couperin), then the  third by two sopranos, which I found wonderfully moving.  I am reminded of the New Guinea Highlander who, when asked about music in his culture, commented, that one flute by itself is beautiful, but two together, that is “something at which to shake the head in wonder”.

There were two sessions, one in the afternoon, and another from 6.30pm.   This session  continued the theme of Tenebrae,  culminating  in the performance of a new composition by the conductor, Paul Stanhope.  Brought in here were a viola da gamba (Jennifer Eriksson) and the Oud, (Joseph Tawadros)  It  described the ordeals of the Jewish people: the exile, the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and the more recent Nazi holocaust – sung by a young man, (Joel Nothman)  a tenor, who is  a cantor at a Sydney synagogue.   Then the composer, in a very natural way, broadens its scope by bringing in a Palestinian singer  (Lana Nesnas) singing a lament about the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of Israel – describing homelessness,  ceaseless wandering, hunger, desolation…..   Each sings their story – he, his lamentation, and she, hers.  Then, as an Epilogue,  they each sing a traditional song prayer of peace, the Jewish and Palestinian singers starting off at opposite ends of the stage.   The two songs,similar in structure, are then superimposed.   As they sing, the two singers gradually move  towards one another.    Finally, they stand together in the centre of the stage.


Peace upon you, ministering angels,

Messengers of the Most High

Of the Supreme King of Kings, the

Holy One, blessed be He.

Come in peace, messengers of peace,

Messengers of the Most High,

Of the Supreme King of Kings, the

Holy One, blessed be He.      (Traditional Hebrew)

God of peace, let peace fall on us like rain

God of peace, fill our hearts with peace   (Traditional Arabic)

We, the audience, were deeply moved.

About johanna11

Born in Holland in 1939, I came to Australia with my family at age 11. Educated mainly in Australia. Have travelled widely, love the human studies - psychology, philosophy, religion, mythology... Have been a bit of a loner, but there's some chance I am outgrowing that...
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3 Responses to A Good Friday Concert

  1. Michaela says:

    François Couperin -Leçons de Ténèbres – 3ieme (Lessons of Darkness) 1/2

  2. johanna11 says:

    Thank you, Michaela, for making this beautiful music available – and the wonderful depictions in art. Who is the artist?

    I would like to add here the name of the soloists in the first half, which I forgot to do. They were: Megan Cronin and Belinda Montgomery.

  3. Michaela says:

    Thank you, Johanna. The picture is ” Entombement by Giotto. (If you scroll over it with the cursor, it shows up)


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