Stations of the Cross
  • lbowman
    Posts: 4
    As Lent is rapidly approaching, I was hoping to get some opinions on the Stations of the Cross. The usual mode at my current parish (unfortunately) is them using some light, very short, pieced-together version of the Stations that only takes about fifteen minutes to get through, with only the "At The Cross Her Station Keeping" single verse sung after every station. The content of the prayers and "meditations" in this version of the stations is iffy at best, and certainly nothing compared to the beautiful stations according to St. Alphonsus Ligouri.

    Please note: I'm not slamming all new versions of the stations; just this particular new one (dated around 1977, which probably explains a lot).

    Rather than trying to break the parish of the habit of using these stations entirely (which would probably get me shot, because of the usual "we've always done it this way"), I was thinking of proposing a one Friday during Lent only substitution, with the excuse that these are "super stations," with music sung by the choir included.

    Has anybody ever done anything like that with the Stations of the Cross? I don't want to overly-complicate anything, but the current version used by this parish is really bad. At the same time, the congregation is usually like a two-year-old with a security blanket; you can't change things like that without encountering some major opposition. But, if I could introduce them to, say, the St. Alphonsus Ligouri version while using the added music as a draw, it might stick. "Oh, those were so nice, can we do them again?" I'm always in favor of the "frog in boiling water" tactic.

    I was thinking some Lenten hymns as sort of a processional and recessional, the Stabat Mater in SATB instead of unison, maybe asking Father to also do exposition and benediction? Any thoughts or suggestions from the members would help a lot. Thank you!
  • CGM
    Posts: 559
    Our parish has the little St. Alphonsus Liguori Stations booklets, as well as the Ignatius Pew Missal (which contains a different translation of the same prayers). With that as our basic structure & text, we've incorporated Taizé-style chants for use as antiphons between the stations, to be sung by all while the celebrating cleric and crowd walk from one station to the next. (We sing a couple repetitions of each antiphon until everyone has gotten to his next spot.)

    — We printed up a flyer for the congregation containing seven sung antiphons, and then after each station, we'd announce "Antiphon number six [or whatever]" and begin singing.
    — For the choir I made a booklet containing all the prayer texts so that we could follow along each station and be ready to start each new antiphon right away. We'd typically sing a first pass through with everyone on the soprano melody, and then on repeats, we'd sing the simple 4-vc. harmony.

    Let me know if any of this would be of interest to you.
    Thanked by 1lbowman
  • lbowman
    Posts: 4
    CGM, sure I'd be interested. Were these for outdoor stations, or does your parish have everyone walk between stations indoors? Another parish I've worked at has statues of the Stations of the Cross in the cemetery, and they do stations out there every Lent. I only ask because it sounds like a lot of music for the short couple of steps it usually is between each station when they're indoors. Thank you for the help!
  • CGM
    Posts: 559
    The stations are indoors, but the church is pretty big (seats 650), a gothic revival building with lots of space, and it draws substantial attendance for this Lenten devotion, so there are lots of people shuffling from one station to the next. Plus our priests like to sing, so they didn't mind an "extra" repeat of an antiphon here and there.
    Thanked by 1lbowman
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,514
    The only choral Stations we've had so far were with Liszt's Via Crucis, S. 53, but I've thought about a plainchant booklet. Here's a modest start:
    Thanked by 1lbowman
  • I've done something along the lines of what you're thinking of, with my adult and children's choirs, at my prior parish. We basically paused 4-5 times during the Stations (between the reading and the prayer of a station) for a musical piece that was a reflection on that station.

    I'm at a different parish now, and when we're at full blast post-Covid we'll have an adult choir, a kids' choir, two Filipino choirs (which I schedule, but don't direct) and a handbell/choirchime choir, plus a cadre of good cantors. I'm definitely doing choral Stations next year, but working to spread the work among our ministries. Done properly and with the proper focus on the death of our Lord, it should be a very moving service.

    In other words: go for it.
    Thanked by 1lbowman
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,514
    And here's my plan; the worst of the Schlamperei als Tradition procedure in my eyes is its disregard for the Stabat's rhyme scheme.


    1. The royal banners forward go;
    The Cross shines forth in mystic glow
    Where He, by whom our flesh was made,
    In that same flesh our ransom paid.

    2. Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
    Life’s torrent rushing from His side
    To wash us in the precious flood
    Where flowed the water and the blood.

    3. Fulfilled is all that David told
    In true prophetic song of old:
    That God the nations’ King should be
    And reign in triumph from the tree.

    I Pilate condemns Jesus to die

    1. Thirty years among us dwelling,
    His appointed time fulfill'd,
    Born for this, He meets his Passion,
    For that this He freely will'd:
    On the Cross the Lamb is lifted,
    Where His life-blood shall be spilled.

    II Jesus accepts his cross

    2. Faithful Cross! above all other,
    One and only noble tree!
    None in foliage, none in blossom,
    None in fruit thy peers may be:
    Sweetest Wood, and sweetest Iron!
    Sweetest Weight is hung on thee.

    III Jesus falls for the first time

    3. Bend thy boughs, O Tree of Glory!
    Thy relaxing sinews bend;
    For awhile the ancient rigour,
    That thy birth bestowed, suspend;
    And the King of Heavenly Beauty
    On thy bosom gently tend!

    IV Jesus meets his mother, Mary

    1. At the Cross her station keeping,
    stood the mournful Mother weeping,
    close to Jesus to the last.
    Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
    all His bitter anguish bearing,
    now at length the sword has passed.

    V Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross

    2. O how sad and sore distressed
    was that Mother, highly blest,
    of the sole-begotten One.
    Christ above in torment hangs,
    she beneath beholds the pangs
    of her dying glorious Son.

    VI Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

    3. Is there one who would not weep,
    whelmed in miseries so deep,
    Christ's dear Mother to behold?
    Can the human heart refrain
    from partaking in her pain,
    in that Mother's pain untold?

    VII Jesus falls for the second time

    4. Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
    she beheld her tender Child
    All with bloody scourges rent:
    For the sins of His own nation,
    saw Him hang in desolation,
    Till His spirit forth He sent.

    VIII Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

    5. O thou Mother! fount of love!
    Touch my spirit from above,
    make my heart with thine accord:
    Make me feel as thou hast felt;
    make my soul to glow and melt
    with the love of Christ my Lord.

    IX Jesus falls for the third time

    6. Holy Mother! pierce me through,
    in my heart each wound renew
    of my Savior crucified:
    Let me share with thee His pain,
    who for all my sins was slain,
    who for me in torments died.

    X Jesus is stripped of his clothes

    7. Let me mingle tears with thee,
    mourning Him who mourned for me,
    all the days that I may live:
    By the Cross with thee to stay,
    there with thee to weep and pray,
    is all I ask of thee to give.

    XI Jesus is nailed to the cross

    8. Virgin of all virgins blest!,
    Listen to my fond request:
    let me share thy grief divine;
    Let me, to my latest breath,
    in my body bear the death
    of that dying Son of thine.

    XII Jesus dies on the cross

    9. Wounded with His every wound,
    steep my soul till it hath swooned,
    in His very Blood away;
    Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
    lest in flames I burn and die,
    in His awful Judgment Day.

    XIII Jesus is taken down from the cross

    10. Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
    by Thy Mother my defense,
    by Thy Cross my victory;
    While my body here decays,
    may my soul Thy goodness praise,
    safe in paradise with Thee.

    XIV Jesus is placed in the tomb

    O cross, our one reliance, hail!
    Still may thy power with us avail
    To save us sinners from our sin,
    God’s righteousness for all to win.

    Vexilla regis (tr. after Caswall)
    Pange lingua gloriosi (tr. John Mason Neale)
    Stabat mater (tr. Caswall)

    Thanked by 2lbowman CHGiffen
  • Bri
    Posts: 45
    At St. John Cantius in Chicago, the women's choir (Cantate Domino Choir) sings the Pergolesi Stabat Mater at Stations on the Friday before Palm Sunday.