Monday, March 26, 2007

The Passion in Oban

Driving home from Oban yesterday, as the dusk fell after a wonderful sunset (pictured over Oban bay), we talked about Bach's Passion according to St John, a performance of which we had just heard. And it was a good performance, with the Glasgow Chamber Choir in fine form, an orchestra with some super players in it - that cello continuo! - and some moving solos. Martin's Christus was electrifying - real hair-raising moments - and in a way it was this compelling performance which made me think about the whole story of the passion.

You see, there is a good bit of music still to come after the final words of Jesus - "It is accomplished". (OK - it was in German, but I know the story). And for me, that was too much. It was an anti-climax. I wanted it to end there - maybe a chorale, softly, but nothing more. This is what always happens, and in a way, it's what happens in the Bible too. The Passion narrative is so gripping, so enormous, that what comes after is hard to deal with. And that's me now, 2,000 years on. What must it have been like at the time?

Of course, if the disciples had drifted off in tears after the crucifixion and had left it at that, I wouldn't be where I am now. None of us would. But whatever happened to them - and I don't know what happened any more than anyone else does, not really - it changed them. They were inspired to go out and tell the story, and the story's still being told. And it's that, rather than speculation about what became of the body of Jesus, which convinces me that the resurrection is real. Because otherwise the Holy Week events, the Passion, would be the end. We'd drift out, in silence.

But instead, the music goes on.

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