At first glance, this 5th movement of my Tenebrae cello composition may seem mismatched with its scripture. Why such beautiful, lilting music for story of the crucifixion?
First, you can only dramatize a story so far with music. The whole narrative of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion is gut wrenching. If each movement tries to push the drama further, it can quickly become cartoonish. Instead, I chose to focus on the crown of thorns and the phrase, “Hail, King of the Jews.” In both cases, what was meant as an insult, was in fact the truth. Jesus is the King of all creation, even when crowned with thorns. Like the last verse of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” I want to give beauty and dignity to the crown of thorns, weaving musical themes together like the strands of the crown.
If you want to verify my counterpoint, take a look at the score: PDF
The Shadow of Crucifixion: Matthew 27:27-37
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”