Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but it’s own:
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.
“The Cross and Triumph of Christ”, a Lenten meditation and Easter reflection in music, lessons and prayer, was held on Palm Sunday, the 2nd of April 2023.
As another Lenten evening approached the Trinity College Chapel, the Choristers eagerly awaited the pealing of the chapel bell to bring in the remembrance of the selfless love Jesus showed by laying down his life for us through words of the Bible and works of music.
The choir processed from the West door singing the classic Palm Sunday hymn “Ride on Ride on in Majesty”, bearing palm leaves, connecting the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when people laid down palms and branches in front of him as a sign of honour.
“O thou Cross”, an adaptation by Richards Dubra, was sung as the first unaccompanied work which spoke of the meaning and sacrifice on the Cross, in the words of Isaiah and was followed by “O Love, How Deep” by Benjamin Webb, harmonised by J.S. Bach, which was sung with solemnity following the 2nd lesson. This hymn reflected on the story of salvation from the pure wonder and joy at the mystery of the Incarnation – a rare scope for a Hymn.
This year’s service was fortunate to welcome back Ms Dhilanthi Fernando, former Choirmistress (1973-1974). The third lesson was read by her and was followed by the singing of “The Servant King” by Graham Kendrick, accompanied by Piano, Guitar and Cello. Next, “Fling wide the gates” from John Stainer’s “The Crucifixion” was sung.
Above his head, they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
Jesus is crucified – St. Matthew 27:37-38
Reflecting on the fifth lesson, a well-known Afro-American Spiritual was sung a cappella by the choir. The first verse was sung as a Baritone solo, which questioned everyone soulfully in song: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” together with the choir.
The well-known motet, “Ave Verum Corpus” by W. A. Mozart, was sung in a manner to capture the essence of the sacred words and befitting music.
Following the Seventh lesson: Christ is risen from the dead, Ola Gjeilo’s “The Ground”, from one of his works, “Sunrise Mass.” was sung. Gjeilo describes this piece as a conclusion, and he “wanted to convey a sense of having ‘arrived’ at the end of the service; to have reached a kind of peace and grounded strength, after the long journey of the service, having gone through many different emotional landscapes.”
The Bishop Emeritus of Kurunegala delivered the final lesson, prayer and blessings, and the congregation joined the choir in the singing of the recessional hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns”, which was followed by G.F. Handel’s glorious “Hallelujah Chorus”, conducted by the Principal which triumphantly proclaimed the glory of the risen Lord of Lords and King of Kings, marking the conclusion of the evening’s worship.
Well-loved congregational hymns like “There is a green hill far away.”, “It is a thing most wonderful”, “When I survey the wondrous Cross”, and “In the Cross of Christ I glory” were sung in the meditation of the Cross and Triumph of Christ.
The centre of the service was meant to be found by those who would ‘go in heart and mind’ and consent to follow where the story led. The congregation was led through words of Meditation and Prayers following relevant Lessons and Music. The evening focused on the inner search for self and a solemn appreciation of God’s infinite grace to mankind by sending his one and only son who died on the Cross to redeem the world and Triumphantly rose again.
Review by Samiru Herath (Web Content Team)