Thursday, April 09, 2009

Good Friday

Dear Mary,

This lenten period I have been reminded of the various perspectives from which different people view the passion of Christ. This beautiful piece with it's strange lyrics remind me of your perspective of the crucifixion.

The Crucifixion
Samuel Barber

At the cry of the first bird they began to crucify Thee, O Swan!
Never shall lament cease because of that.
It was like the parting of day from night.
Ah, sore was the suffering borne by the body of Mary's Son,
But sorer still to Him was the grief which for His sake came upon His Mother.
—from the Hermit Songs, Op. 29

The birds began to cry.

Some birds have songs, I know, and those we all enjoy. But others have cries that cut the air. Hawks and eagles have piercing cries. And they are portentious. And that cry that cut the air, that cut day from night, was a sign of the grief that flooded your soul the day Christ died, for he was your Savior, too, and your baby boy.

The text for Barber's Crucifixion derives, I am told, from an ancient collection of Irish homilies known as The Speckled Book (Leabhar Breac). They were written partly in Latin and partly in Irish and constitute the most remarkable Irish ecclesiastical record of the period. An unknown Christian scribe wrote the vivid words of this passion scene sometime in the 12th century. The "cry of the first bird" is a musical motif throughout the brief composition.

And the heritage of this song reminds me again of perspectives, the Irish, the Romans, and the mutts of the world who look at this scene and who know that in their hearts, too, day is being cut from night, and we are lost, left standing at the place of the skull.
And it was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, the sun being obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. —Luke 23:44,45
Where I am, this morning in Tennessee, it is raining, and lightening is cutting through the sky and thunder is shaking the windows. And the sky, which otherwise would be brightening with rays of the sun, is still like night. It seems appropriate for Good Friday.


1 comment:

cadh 8 said...

AsDh and I talked about this very thing this morning. The way the sky was dark and the second round of bad weather was moving through here around lunch with thunder and lightening and tornados were touching down. That idea of nature itself crying out in protest to what they were doing to the King of Creation. It is powerful and so fitting for Good Friday.
The grief, the sorrow, the loss all building in the friends, family and followers of Jesus. It was truly a dark and tumultuous day.