In my role as a parish music director, one of my most important duties is to program music that draws the congregation more deeply into the mysteries of the Mass and the liturgical seasons. I always try to approach this with a sensibility that reflects God’s own beauty, “ever ancient, ever new,” present in all times, all seasons, all places and all peoples–although, of course, the resources are limited, and none of our musicians (including me) has any training outside of the Western musical tradition. Nevertheless, I try to let my choices reflect the depth and breadth of our great, transcendent God, always the same but always revealing new and brighter facets of Himself. I have tried to bring that same sensibility into this playlist, which I hope will accentuate and deepen your Lenten journey.
It is my hope that you will set aside a time to sit and meditate on all fourteen stations. The recordings total a little more than an hour. Feel free to close your eyes; the videos are only here to deliver the music.
The First Station – Jesus is Condemned to Death
The Road to Dark Gethsemane, lyrics by John Parker, music by Patti Drennan
A haunting portrayal of the crowds who left their Passover prayers to jeer at Jesus when He was arrested and condemned. The recording is the publisher’s demo (from Lorenz Music).
The Second Station – Jesus Carries His Cross
What Wondrous Love Is This, performed by Blue Highway
An a cappella bluegrass version
The Third Station – Jesus falls the first time
“Jesus fällt zum ersten Mal” by Franz Liszt, from Via Crucis
A brief snippet from Franz Liszt’s Way of the Cross that includes the traditional Stabat Mater.
The Fourth Station – Jesus meets his mother
Maria (sopra la Carpinese) by L’Arpeggiata, from the album Via Crucis
L’Arpeggiata’s Website (roughly translated) calls this album “a program of works evoking the Passion of Christ while keeping seventeenth century Italian and Corsican musical tradition alive.”
The Fifth Station – Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross
Simon din Cirene, composer unknown, sung in Romanian
A reflection on Simon of Cyrene’s enforced but nevertheless real sacrifice on behalf of Jesus.
The Sixth Station – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
“Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus,” Mvt. 3 by John Debney, from The Passion of the Christ Oratorio
The composer of the film score expanded his work into an oratorio.
The Seventh Station – Jesus falls the second time
Dies Irae, Gregorian chant
Because, when I contemplate Christ falling, I remember that he will rise up again to judge me for my sins that made Him stumble. (For the translation, click here.)
The Eighth Station – Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
God Will Take Care of You, performed by Aretha Franklin
Because, even when my sin causes Jesus to stumble and die, He does not forget me or love me any less.
The Ninth Station – Jesus falls a third time
Eram quasi agnus innocens by Carlo Gesualdo
Behold, I was like an innocent lamb; I was led to the slaughter, and I knew it not. My enemies have conspired together against me, saying: Come, let us put poison into his bread, And let us cut him off out of the land of the living. All my enemies have thought evil things about me; They have spoken evil words against me, saying: Come, let us put poison into his bread, And let us cut him off out of the land of the living.
The Tenth Station – Jesus is stripped of his clothes
Station X from Le Chemin de la Croix by Marcel Dupré, performed by Mario Verdicchio
Composed by the late master organist of Saint-Sulpice
The Eleventh Station – Jesus is nailed to the cross
The Crucifixion by Samuel Barber, sung by Barbara Bonney
The text is from a 12th century manuscript called The Speckled Book
The Twelfth Station – Jesus dies on the cross
How Deep the Father’s Love For Us by Stuart Townsend, performed by Refuge
Refuge is my parish’s contemporary band. They recorded this at my request.
The Thirteenth Station – The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross
Ave Verum Corpus by W.A. Mozart
Hail, true Body, born of the Virgin Mary, who having truly suffered, was sacrificed on the cross for mankind, whose pierced side flowed with water and blood: May it be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet] in the trial of death.
The Fourteenth Station – Jesus is laid in the tomb
Were You There performed by Leontyne Price
I was there. I was Judas who betrayed Him, Peter who denied Him, Pilate who washed his hands of His blood. I was Simon who walked beside Him, Veronica who wiped His face, Mary who wept at His feet. I was the soldier who drove the nails–and I was there in His sacred heart, the treasure He kept before His eyes, knowing that it was for me He joyfully bore the wounds.
Were you there?