It’s Holy Week, which means that, like church music directors everywhere, I am operating in overdrive. I’m pretty sure my hands were still conducting yesterday’s “Palm Sunday Procession” even while I was asleep. So, in lieu of a real blog post, I hope you will accept my humble gift of a song.
I wrote “The Seven Last Words of Christ” while I was in college, somewhere around 1999 or 2000, and the fact that I did so has never ceased to surprise me. Composition is definitely not my greatest strength, nor was this done as an assignment. However, for reasons best known to the Holy Spirit, it popped into my head that I should write a song using as the lyrics the seven last words of Christ in Aramaic, the language in which He actually spoke them… so I did.
In case you do not know, the “seven last words” are the seven phrases attributed to Jesus while He hung on the cross, compiled from all four Gospels. It was a little awkward to get them translated, since the only person on my university campus who knew Aramaic was a Jewish professor of religious studies who seemed a bit taken aback at being asked to translate the words of Jesus Christ. However, he was kind enough to oblige me, and he even met with me to tell me how to pronounce the words correctly.
I recorded this in 2006 as part of a fundraiser for my parish music program. Julie Cherry is on the piano and Chad Brouillette did the recording. I hope that, during this holiest week of the year, my song might help you enter more fully into the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus.
If this file does not play, scroll down and try the .wma at the bottom of the page.
“The Seven Last Words of Christ”
Eli, eli, lema sabbachthani?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34)
Abba, selach ‘ethon la nakhru mah h’mon pelalin.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)
Amen, ‘amar ‘ana lekhon, yo ma dena tihyu immi befardes.
Amen, I say to you, this day you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:42)
Abba, beyadkha natan ‘ana ruchi.
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23:46)
Ishaha, alu baraykh. Alu immakah.
Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother. (John 19:26)
I thirst. (John 19:28)
It is finished. (John 19:30)