Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Cathedral Choir To Present Stations In Sight, Sound

Published March 23, 2006

For centuries the Stations of the Cross has been one of the most popular Lenten Catholic devotions, and for centuries artists, both visual and musical, have responded to the power of the Stations through magnificent paintings and song.

On Friday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. the Cathedral Choir of Christ the King will offer a dramatic blending of sight and sound in their presentation of “Visions of the Cross, Meditations on the Way of the Cross.”

Kevin Culver, choirmaster, noted that “one of the objects of the Stations is to help the faithful make, in spirit, a pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death.”

The devotional practice of the Stations can be traced to the Holy Land. The route Christ traveled from the place of sentencing to Calvary has been marked since the earliest days of Christianity and has been the object of pilgrimage since the days of Constantine in the fourth century. Gradually a tradition developed around the course of events from Pilate’s house to Calvary. There is, however, no direct evidence of a set form of devotion until the 17th century, at which time the number of Stations was fixed at 14.

Christ the King’s meditation on the Stations will consist of a series of musical “illuminations” as well as large projections at each stop on the Way of the Cross. The projections for each of the 14 Stations are drawn from the works of Northern European Renaissance painters of the late 15th to early 16th century. Kelly Morris of the High Museum of Art, a frequent collaborator with the Cathedral Choir, has drawn together moving images of Christ’s journey to the cross.

“The powerful visions that have flowed from the brushes of such artists as Hieronymus Bosch, Hans Memling and Domenico Ghirlandaio not only decorate the walls of countless churches throughout Europe, but have the remarkable ability to flourish in our own imaginations,” Morris said. “These masterworks are among the greatest treasures of the church because of their timeless power to communicate the Passion of Christ.”

The music for the program reflects the varied and diverse qualities of Lenten music from simple ancient chants to starkly beautiful contemporary settings.

Culver notes that “it is a testament to the powerful imagery and impact of the Stations that settings as diverse as medieval chant, 16th and 17th century polyphony by Victoria and Lassus, 18th century Baroque masterpieces by Bach, and the imaginative sounds of 20th century contemporary composers the likes of Arvo Part and Alice Parker work together in this musical representation to create a timeless fabric of sound and emotion.”

This combination of imposing image and text with masterful music was the primary reason Christ the King decided to start Lenten musical meditations three years ago.

“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 Culver. “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, image and sound, and each evening discovers a different focus and flavor to this reflective season.”

This is the fifth program in the series, which culminates April 7 with Mary Rogers’ memorable 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 of this music was created to serve a dramatic function within a liturgical framework and belongs in a holy space,” Culver said. “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.”

The Friday series runs through April 7 and is open to the public. All programs begin at 7:30 p.m. and are preceded by simple Lenten suppers served between 6 and 7 p.m. in the parish hall. Donations will be accepted at the door. The Cathedral is located at 2699 Peachtree Road, NE. Ample parking is available.