A Lament? At Easter?

By | April 5, 2015

The Three Marys at the Tomb by Adolphe William BouguereauOne aspect of the Resurrection story that is difficult for many of us to appreciate is the depth of the sorrow and grief that the followers of Jesus must have felt after His crucifixion. No doubt this would have amplified the confusion, disbelief, and ultimately the joy that they experienced upon hearing that He had risen from the dead.

There is a section at the beginning of Bach’s Easter Oratorio that poignantly captures this aspect of the story. After a festive and joyous opening, Bach composed a very slow lament featuring a soul-searching and plaintive solo for oboe. Upon first hearing, I wasn’t sure why Bach wrote this long lament into this work of great celebration and victory.

17_weeping-maryThen I realized: this lament is the women going to the tomb to anoint the body. This lament is the deep grief and utter shock of the disciples huddled in a home somewhere sleeping fitfully, fearfully waiting for the Roman and Jewish authorities to knock on the door and arrest them. This lament is Mary’s weeping in the garden thinking that the body of Jesus had been stolen. This lament is a pretty amazing rendition of that aspect of the story.

If you would like to listen to it, follow the link below or click here. The oboist in this performance is Jennet Ingle from South Bend, Indiana who has played with us for many years (see www.jennetingle.com). Thanks, Jennet, for sharing your wonderful gift with us.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Easter Oratorio, BWV 249  (June 11, 2011 – www.peoriabachfestival.org)