Published February 3, 2005
Throughout the ages, the Fridays of Lent have been a special time of fasting and reflection. And throughout the ages musicians have created some of the most extraordinary music ever written for the various celebrations of Lent. This year, on the five Fridays of Lent, the Cathedral of Christ the King will present a new series of Lenten musical meditations designed to deepen and enhance the impact and devotions of this season.
On Friday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m., the first of these special programs will feature a unique presentation of the Stations of the Cross, with poems by Paul Claudel and music by Marcel Dupre. Narrator Michael Main will recite the moving poems by Claudel and organist Richard McPherson will play Dupre’s monumental music.
During the concert the 14 poems of the Stations of the Cross by the French poet will be read each followed by a musical commentary. Dupre, the eminent French organist and composer, has placed himself before the drama of the Cross as a witness, and relates the story that unfolds before him through music. Tim Wissler, Cathedral organist, notes that “Dupre powerfully responds to the shattering events of the Cross and enables the listener to hear and I might even say feel the intense emotions of each Station.”
The devotional practice of the Stations is traced to the Holy Land. The route Christ traveled from his place of sentencing to Calvary has been marked since the earliest days of Christianity and pilgrimages began under Constantine in the fourth century. Gradually a tradition developed around the course of events. There is no direct evidence of a set form of devotion until the 17th century when the number of Stations was fixed at 14.
This combination of imposing text with masterful music was the primary reason Christ the King decided to start these Lenten musical meditations.
“The season of Lent, as reflected in the procession of readings and liturgies from Sunday to Sunday and week to week, has such a dramatic movement and pace,” said Kevin Culver, choirmaster at the Cathedral. “We wanted to capture some of this movement through emotional and liturgical time with these special Friday evening presentations. Each evening has a moving blend of word and sound, and each evening discovers a different focus and flavor to this reflective season.”
The other presentations include: on Feb. 18, the Cathedral’s Contemporary Ensemble will present a “Procession of Lenten Readings and Carols”; on Feb. 25, the Cathedral Choir of Christ the King will present “An Italian Lent,” a program featuring music for the season that the choir will sing during an upcoming pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Florence and Venice; on March 4, Ken and Elyn Macek will travel the Stations of the Cross; and on March 11 a Taizé Prayer Service will feature the unique music of the ecumenical French community that revolves around gentle litanies, profound silences and veneration of the Cross. The series culminates on Friday, March 18, with Mary Rogers’ “Journey to the Cross,” a powerful musical prayer service reflecting on Christ’s Passion and sacrifice. Over the years this beautiful and moving service has become an annual Cathedral tradition. All programs begin at 7:30 p.m.
“All of this music was created to serve a dramatic function within a liturgical framework and belongs in a holy space. We hope this series can bring this music, that is at the heart of the Lenten season, into the hearts of all those who come into contact with it,” Culver said.
The series is open to the public. There is no admission charge, but a freewill donation will be accepted at the door. The Cathedral is located at 2699 Peachtree Road, NE. Ample parking is available. For more information call (404) 233-2145, ext. 428.