The Crucifixion (Stainer)

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The Crucifixion: A Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer is an oratorio composed by John Stainer in 1887. It is scored for a SATB choir and organ, and features solos for bass and tenor.[1] Stainer intended that piece would be within the scope of most parish church choirs; it includes five hymns for congregational participation.[2] The text was written by W J Sparrow Simpson, the librettist of Stainer's earlier cantata, Mary Magdalene.[3] The work is dedicated "to my pupil and friend W. Hodge and the choir of Marylebone Church", who first performed it on February 24, 1887, the day after Ash Wednesday.

Although the composer Ernest Walker dismissed the work, writing in 1924 that "Musicians today have no use for The Crucifixion", and even Stainer characterized his work as "rubbish,"[4] the work continues to be performed today. The oratorio has been recorded several times, including a well-known recording from RCA Victor in 1929, featuring Richard Crooks and Lawrence Tibbett. [5]

The oratorio consists of the following movements:[6]

  1. And They Came to a Place Named Gethsemane (tenor recitative)
  2. The Agony (tenor and bass solo and chorus)
  3. Processional to Calvary (organ solo) and "Fling Wide the Gates" (chorus and tenor solo)
  4. And When They Were Come (bass recitative)
  5. The Mystery of the Divine Humiliation (hymn)
  6. He Made Himself of No Reputation (bass recitative)
  7. The Majesty of the Divine Humiliation tenor solo
  8. And As Moses Lifted Up the Serpent (bass recitative)
  9. God So Loved the World (chorus or quartet a cappella)
  10. Litany of the Passion (hymn)
  11. Jesus Said, 'Father, Forgive Them' (tenor and male chorus recitative)
  12. So Thou Liftest Thy Divine Petition (tenor and bass solo duet)
  13. The Mystery of the Intercession (hymn)
  14. And One of the Malefactors (bass solo and male chorus)
  15. The Adoration of the Crucified (hymn)
  16. When Jesus Therefore Saw His Mother (tenor solo and male chorus)
  17. Is It Nothing to You? (bass solo)
  18. The Appeal of the Crucified (chorus)
  19. After This, Jesus Knowing That All Things Were Now Accomplished (tenor and male chorus recitative)
  20. For the Love of Jesus (hymn)

Stainer's work has in recent times been performed in an orchestrated version. For instance Craig Hawkins' arrangement of the work has been performed in the USA (2004 premiere, New York) and the UK (Norwich, 2010).


  1. ^ The Crucifixion (John Stainer) from the Choral Public Domain Library
  2. ^ British Choirs on the Net - The Crucifixion - John Stainer (1840 - 1901) by John Bawden
  3. ^ Janet Hopewell, Stainer's Librettist, W. J. Sparrow Simpson, The Musical Times, Vol. 124, No. 1682 (Apr., 1983), pp. 255-256 doi:10.2307/962069
  4. ^ Stainer: The Crucifixion, @
  5. ^ Barry Rose: "Not Another Crucifixion?" in The American Organist 37:4 (April 2003) on Rose's arrangement for orchestra (publ. Novello)
  6. ^ review of Naxos recording 8.557624

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