Simple Seven Last Words
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    We have a tradition of singing the Seven Last Words at my parish. Up to now we've been using the rather awful version in the St. Gregory Hymnal. Last night's rehearsal was a very frustrating combination of inaccuracy and lugubrium.

    Please, is there a simple, beautiful SATB alternative?
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 747
    You are doing them in Latin?
  • Heath
    Posts: 895
    I seem to recall liking Gary Penkala's setting, published, of course, by Canticanova. They're in Latin, and only SAB, I think.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    In Latin if possible.

    However, Richard, if you happen to have an English setting I believe this would be fine--my choir sings your work very well. (If that's why you're asking!)

    I can look into Gary Penkala's setting for next year, thanks, Heath.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,845
    Kathy:

    I could compose a simple setting over the weekend. Are you looking for homophonic SATB in English? How long do you want each word to be in seconds?
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 747
    Here is my submission, which may or may not improve on M. Gounod.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    My goodness, what an embarassment of riches!

    Thanks a lot, guys! Richard, I'm 80% sure we will be able to use this. If anything can ungrip the choir from Gounod (a long-standing tradition), this is it.

    Francis, you are exceedingly kind as well.

    (Is this the way the Church is supposed to be?)
    Thanked by 1RedPop4
  • Kathy (and others), could you explain exactly when and how you use the Seven Last Words? That is, I've just never heard anyone explain how these famous verses can actually be used in a church as part of a liturgical or paraliturgical ceremony. I do not see any "room" in the existing Holy Week schedule. Would they simply be interludes for a preacher who was preaching on the Seven Last Words?
    Thanked by 1RedPop4
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,845
    Hi Professor Kwasniewski:

    Good to see you again on the forum.

    We are sponsoring a concert of sacred music on Wednesday of Holy Week. This has allowed us the opportunity to gather the wider Christian community into our church.

    As part of the concert, we will be able to deliver the Gospel through excellent music. I took various sections of the four passion narratives and created a musical libretto (included below). I utilized the RSV in this particular setting. The narrative will be read by the priest, not sung, although that is entirely possible.

    I have also seen the seven last words included on Good Friday during the 12noon -3pm time of meditation and prayer. I would also be curious to know how others have utilized these wonderful reflections.

    You are most likely far to busy to attend, and it is a bit of a drive, but I was planning on sending you a recording on CD as I have related to a number of your students who were here just last week or so. (BTW... when your students were here during Christmas, I had them sing from the PBC for Mass, and I stood there and joined right in with them. Those young adults are truly some special people to have the faculty and staff of your wonderful College. We are blessed to have you in our state!)

    Have a most blessed Holy Week and Easter season!

    ___

    The Seven Last Words
    (presented as a spoken narrative and original music for SATB choir and orchestra)

    I. Prelude : Ave Verum Corpus

    16 And they took Jesus, and led him forth. 17 And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha. (D)

    26 And the inscription of his cause was written over: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith: And with the wicked he was reputed. 29 And they that passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying: Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again; 30 Save thyself, coming down from the cross. 31 In like manner also the chief priests mocking, said with the scribes one to another: He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the king of Israel come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe. (B)

    II. Christus Rex

    23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh; but he took it not. 24 And crucifying him, they divided his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. (B)

    34 And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (C)

    III. Pater Dimitte

    39 And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation?
    41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. 42 And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. (C)

    IV. In Paradiso

    25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. 26 When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. 27 After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. (D)

    V. Mulier Mater

    45
    Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.
    46
    And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (A)

    VI. Deus Meus

    27 And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. 28 Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. (D)

    VII. Sitio

    29 Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. 30 Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. (D)

    VIII. Consumatum Est

    46 And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. (C)

    IX. In Manus Tuas

    38 And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. 39 And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost, said: Indeed this man was the son of God. (B)

    48 And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that were done, returned striking their breasts. (C)

    X. Postlude : Despectum In Novissimum
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    Professor,

    In order to accommodate working schedules, we have our Good Friday LIturgy in the evening. So between noon and 3, we have a service of the Seven Last Words. It is mostly a time of silence and watching. On every half hour, we sing one of the Words, and it is followed by a sermon on that Word. Then we have Stations at noon.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    Richard, they loved it!

    (Dick and Margaret say hi :) )
    Thanked by 1RedPop4
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    Oh, well if you like the one you have, I guess you won't be interested in my setting of:

    "WE NEVER DID IT THAT WAY BEFORE"

    (the 7 last words of Catholic choirs.....)

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,845
    G

    Please post! We would love to perform that work here!
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 747
    Kathy:

    My best to Dick and Margaret. About this time of year, I always think of Dick, and his (boisterous) responses during the reading of the Passion. (He always seemed amazingly adamant that they "Crucify him!")
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    ;)

    "Crucify" with a big hard "C" and a RRRRRRRRRRRRRRolling "R"!

    I'll give them your regards. I must say, I'm very touched by your generosity here, Richard.
  • RedPop4
    Posts: 42
    Friends, I hate to bump a twelve year-old thread, nay, nearly thirteen year-old thread, but here goes, anyway.
    Richard, thank you, thank you, thank you!! A little ensemble that was cobbled together almost on a whim a year ago, sang your Seven Last Words on Good Friday of 2021. We are basically a septet, now, and have been for the last year. Your arrangement is tremendous, and we were able to learn it over Lent and sing it a capella. We were surprised, ourselves, and may reprise it this coming Good Friday. They are already compassing me about, asking when we will sing again, and will we perform this service.

    Professor Kwasniewski:
    We "performed" this work at 6:00 p.m. after the parish's Veneration of the Cross liturgy at 3:00 and Way of the Cross at 5:30.
    We sang an opening hymn (O Sacred Head).
    My pastor then read the Gospel selection for the first word and we sang the first word. We did that for all 7 words.
    We then sang O Bone Jesu (misattributed to Palestrina,) followed by Lift High the Cross with the congregation.
    It was over in 40 minutes, we had about 75 people down in the nave.

    Are there any similar versions to Richard's? We can't do DuBois or Franck or Haydn.

    Thank y'all,
    Tommy

  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,813
    The Marier Pius X Hymnal has settings of the Seven Last Words set to 17th century German chorale tunes. Shouldn't be too difficult.
    Thanked by 1RedPop4
  • RedPop4
    Posts: 42
    I did not realize that was a Marier arrangement. It simply states Bamberg ,1628 which intrigues me to begin with.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,654
    Greetings all— I am grateful this thread was revived, and I’m also grateful to Richard for sharing his works which are lovely.

    I decided, in the heat of the moment, to ply my hand at it and wrote a setting of the third word: Woman, behold Thy son; son p, behold thy mother.”

    https://youtu.be/2BTsSlZ9u00

    I will be posting this on my website tomorrow.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,649
    Nice!
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,654
    This motet is now available on my website here:
    https://www.psallitedomino.com/store-1/p/mlier-ecce-flius-tuus-woman-behold-thy-son-from-the-seven-last-words-of-christ

    (I do ask a one-time fee of $5 but you can print as many copies as you need.)
    Thanked by 1RedPop4
  • RedPop4
    Posts: 42
    THAT is gorgeous and accessible. Is it the only movement you have, so far?
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,654
    Thank you! And yes— I've only just started the project yesterday. My intention is to set the rest, and then offer them as a complete set. We will see how far I get... But at least the first one is available.
  • RedPop4
    Posts: 42
    What a rotation this might turn out to be, over four years. I placed Richard's first since we've done it once. Depending upon the group's acceptance of the other three, I would then make decisions on the order. That's not a bad thing every five years (I think ahead about certain things) of course, this is not the order set in stone.
    1. Rice
    2. Marier
    3. Richardson
    4. Penkala.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,514
    I don't think Gounod is necessarily any slouch; the Unus autem de his qui pendebant has been our Christ the King year C anthem for a while.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,845
    wow... nice piece ServiamScores...
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,813
    Serviam, I'm hearing shades of Franck in your motet - like a minor version of Franck's "Dextera Domini", n'est-ce pas?