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Musical Musings: Lent

Stations of the Cross:

A Devotion in Song

by Gary D. Penkala

The following was a devotional service presented at Our Lady of Victory Church, State College PA, in the evening of Palm Sunday 1987. It involved soprano Suzanne Roy (co-ordinator of the service), mezzo-soprano Janice Wilson, tenor Robert Long, and organist Gary Penkala. The congregation's booklet included the outline below, the hymns in which they were asked to participate, and the translations of the non-English vocal music. The cover bore an original modern woodcut of the Crucifixion by Sister Susan John of the contemplative Order of the Reconciliation in New York state.


Organ: "O Mensch' bewein dein Sunde gross" (J.S. Bach)
O Man, Bewail Thy Grievous Fall


by Msgr. Patrick V. Fleming, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Church

Musical Meditations on the Stations of the Cross

  1. Pilate condemns Jesus to death.
    "Jerusalem" from Elijah (Felix Mendelssohn)
  2. Jesus receives His Cross.
    "If with all your hearts" from Elijah (Felix Mendelssohn)
  3. Jesus falls beneath the Cross.
    "Woe unto them" from Elijah (Felix Mendelssohn)
  4. Jesus meets His mother Mary.
    "Blute nur" from Saint Matthew Passion (J.S. Bach)
    Bleed and break, thou loving heart.
  5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus lift the Cross.
    Congregational Hymn: "Take Up Thy Cross" [tune- Breslau]
  6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
    "He was despised" from Messiah (G.F. Handel)
  7. Jesus falls the second time.
    "Thy rebuke hath broken his heart" and
    "Behold and see" from Messiah (G.F. Handel)
  8. The holy women meet Jesus.
    "Song of Penitence" (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  9. Jesus falls the third time.
    "Recordare" from Manzoni Requiem (Giuseppe Verdi)
    Dear Jesus, recall that you took our suffering nature. Do not forsake my soul in weariness and suffering! Do not let Your labor be in vain. O Judge of justice, hear me, I pray. For pity take my sins away before the dreadful reckoning day.
  10. Jesus is stripped of His garments.
    Congregational Hymn & Offering:"O sacred head surrounded" [tune- Herzlich tut mich verlangen]
  11. Jesus is nailed to the Cross.
    "Crucifixion" from Hermit Songs (Samuel Barber)
  12. Jesus dies on the Cross.
    "O Divine Redeemer" (Charles Gounod )
  13. Mary receives the body of Jesus.
    "Quia respexit" from Magnificat in D (J.S. Bach)
    He has regarded the lowly estate of his handmaiden; henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.
    "Were you there?" (Spiritual)


Organ: "Andante" from Sonata VI (Felix Mendelssohn)
This type service is very flexible, and can easily be adapted to include choir(s) and other instrumentalists. It might even be accompanied by a tasteful display of art, perhaps crucifixes from parishioners' homes.

Index of CNP Music for Lent

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