Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lamb of God: Some Post-Performance Thoughts

During our Friday night performance

Our March 21 and 22 performances of Lamb of God are in the past, but I continue to listen to and ponder this Easter Oratorio.

It is hard to explain exactly why I am so drawn to this. Is it the narration, with its familiar lines drawn from the New Testament? The memorable orchestration? The harmonies in the chorus, the melodies of the soloists?

Lamb of God opens with the Feast of the Dedication, with the people wanting to know "plainly" if Jesus truly is the Christ. It tells of Lazarus' raising, and Judas' deal. It celebrates Christ's triumphal entrance in Jerusalem on the Sunday before passover - what we celebrate today as Palm Sunday.

The chorus sings of the Last Supper, and we hear Christ's declaration that one of the disciples will betray Him. There is a beautiful trio, with Peter, John, and Thomas each asking "is it me?"

The story moves to Gethsemane, with a mournful cello solo. The chorus sings Jesus' prayer, "Abba, Father, take away this cup from me: Nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt," ending with the plaintive "Oh Abba!"

There follow the betrayal and the chaos of that night; Peter's denial; Pilate's judgment; the crucifixion.

And then: the resurrection. Mary Magdalene sings the line that was so confusing to her and disciples, but which is so full of promise for us today:  
The sepulcher’s empty!
And the chorus sings this wonderful anthem of the disciples' joy:
Jesus, my Savior, Lord, and King,
What greater name could e’er I sing?
What greater joy than from Thee I know?
What greater debt than mine to owe?

O how my words in vain impart
What glows within my grateful heart.
No tongue could ever right declare
What tender love is written there.

Ten thousand gifts could I employ
To show my praise, my thanks, my joy!
All of my life, yea, all my days,
Still not enough to sing Thy praise!
In the finale, we see impetuous Peter, swimming to shore to greet his Lord. The narrator declares, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:35, 37). The chorus offers the final message:
Here is love unbounded,
Here is all compassion,
Here is mercy founded!
O Great Redeemer!
O Prince of Glory!
Here is Hope.
I'd love to see this performed in Kalamazoo again next year, but that will require an infusion of funds. Money from this year's ticket and CD sales is being funneled towards next year's production. (Do you still want a CD? Let me know, and I can help you get one locally, and generate still more money for next year's performance.) This year's organizers are pursuing grants and sponsors.

You can help, too, by donating through our Fundly site - but donate quickly, there are just 29 days left for this particular fundraiser:

(Of course, if you miss the Fundly deadline, we'll still have ways you can donate!)

BTW - Here's a piece of the above photo, showing where Jim and I stood in the chorus:

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