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Music for Wednesday of Lent IV

The seven last words of Christ have served as a focus for a number of composers for musical settings over the centuries.

  • Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
  • Today you will be with me in paradise.
  • Behold your son: behold your mother.
  • I thirst.
  • My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
  • It is finished.
  • Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

In that tradition, a hymn focuses on these seven last phrases of Our Lord on the cross: “Our Blessed Savior Seven Times Spoke” (The Lutheran Hymnal 177), or the more literal translation:

As Jesus hung upon the cross and His body was wounded with such bitter pain,

consider in your heart the seven words that He spoke there.

Author Johann Boschenstain (1472-1539/40) was a priest who was known as an expert in the Hebrew language, serving as professor in Wittenberg and Augsburg.  He was the author of a Hebrew grammar as well as four hymns.

The hymn was printed in 1515 in nine stanzas, and enlarged to ten for the 1646 Hanover Gesangbuch.

The PRELUDE is a setting (BWV 621) by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) from his Orgelbüchlein.  The opening notes of the pedal line are seen to look like the image of the cross, and the chains of syncopated rhythm representing Christ’s languishing on the cross.

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