Musical settings of The Seven Last Words of Christ
The Seven Last Words of Christ refers to the seven short phrases uttered by Jesus on the cross, as gathered from the four Christian Gospels. The Crucifixion of Jesus has served as inspiration to a great many visual artists and composers over the centuries. In particular, at least 16 composers have written musical settings of the Seven Last Words, for various combinations of voice and/or instruments.
The best known of these settings is probably the instrumental setting by Joseph Haydn (see below), who produced two different arrangements of his own work—one of them for choir—and approved a third.
Chronological list of settings
- Orlande de Lassus: Septem verba Domini Jesu Christi 5 voc.
- Heinrich Schütz: Die sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz, SWV 478 (1645), German cantata.
- Augustin Pfleger: Passio, sive Septem Verba Christi in cruce pendentis (c.1670)
- Pergolesi: Septem verba a Christo in cruce moriente prolata (attributed, 1730-1736)
- Christoph Graupner: Die sieben Worte des Heilands am Kreuz cantata cycle, Darmstadt (1743)
- Joseph Haydn: The Seven Last Words of Christ (1787), an instrumental meditation commissioned for Cadiz in Lent. Haydn later arranged it as an oratorio and for string quartet, and approved his publisher's arrangement for solo piano.
- Francisco Javier García Fajer: Septem ultima verba christi in cruce (1787), Latin oratorio
- Saverio Mercadante: Le sette ultime parole di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo (1838), oratorio
- Charles Gounod: Les Sept Paroles de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ sur la Croix (1855), choral work
- César Franck: Les Sept Paroles du Christ sur la Croix (1859), choral work
- Théodore Dubois: Les sept paroles du Christ (1867), choral work
- Fernand de La Tombelle: Les sept Paroles de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ
- José Alexandrino de Sousa: As Sete Palavras de N. S. Jesus Christo na Cruz
- Charles Tournemire Sept Chorals-Poèmes pour les sept Paroles du Christ for organ (1935)
- Knut Nystedt: "Jesu syv ord på korset", Motett-passion op. 47, for bl. kor a cappella. The Seven Words from the Cross (1961).
- Alan Ridout The Seven Last Words for organ (1965)
- "The Crucifixion" from Jesus Christ Superstar (1969), by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Douglas Allanbrook The Seven Last Words for mezzo-soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra (1970)
- Sofia Gubaidulina Sieben Worte for cello, bayan, and strings (1982)
- James MacMillan: Seven Last Words from the Cross, cantata for choir and strings (1993)
- Ruth Zechlin: Die sieben letzten Worte Jesu am Kreuz for organ (1996)
- Benedikt Burghardt The 7 Last Words for mixed choir, 2 violins, violoncello, double bass and organ (2004)
- Benjamin Cornelius-Bates The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross for SATB choir, baritone soloist, organ, string quartet and trumpet (2009)
- Jerome Malek: Seven Last Words, cantata for choir, five soloists and orchestra (2010)
- Tristan Murail: Les Sept Paroles for orchestra, chorus and electronics (2010)
- Gareth Wilson: Logos for unaccompanied choir (2010)
- Daan Manneke: The Seven Last Words Oratorio for chamber choir (2011)
- Daniel Elder Seven Last Words from the Cross for unaccompanied choir (2012)
- Fabrizio Bastianini Sette parole for SATB choir, mezzo-soprano, tenore, baritone and strings (2013)
- Paul Carr Seven Last Words from the Cross for soloist, choir and orchestra (2013)
- Stephen DeCesare The Seven Last Words of Christ for SATB choir, Solo (either male or female), Tenor Solo, Strings, Oboe, French Horn, Piano and Organ (2015)
- Church Music – 1973 – Page 10 "Eventually these settings of the Seven Words became a separate form of Passion music. Perhaps the most outstanding work in this genre in the Lutheran tradition is the work of Heinrich Schiitz.10 A number of composers in the first generations ..."
- Literature, Music, Fine Arts – 22-24 1989 p189-190 "Langrock, Klaus. Die sieben Worte Jesu am Kreuz. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Passionsmusik (Ph.D., Musicology, Bochum, 1987) ...The present book, a dissertation of the University of Bochum, deals with settings of the Seven Words on the Cross, which are ... France and Italy since 1500, published or unpublished, which are based on the text of all the Words on the Cross."
- Raymond Dittrich Die sieben letzten Worte Jesu in der Musik – 2001
- Carl Halter, Carl Schalk A Handbook of church music 1978- Page 167 "Examples of settings of the Seven Words appropriate for church use are: Nystedt, Knut. The Seven Words from the Cross. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. Setting for choir and soloist. Schuetz, Heinrich. The Seven Words of ..."
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