"Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) The Seven Last Words of Christ (Oratorio), Hob.XX:2 (Remastered 2022)
The Seven Last Words of Christ (Oratorio), Hob.XX:2
04:58 I. Vater, vergieb ihnen, denn sei wissen nicht, was sietun
11:35 II. Fürwahr, ich sag es dir, Heute wirst du bei mir im Paradiesesein
17:34 III. Frau, hier siehe deinen Sohn, und du, siehe deine Mutter!
24:09 IV. Mein Gott, mein Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen?
36:23 V. Jesus rufet: 'Ach, mich dürstet!'
40:35 VI. Es ist vollbracht
45:07 VII. Vater, in deine Händ, empfehl' ich meinen Geist
52:51 Il Terremoto. Er ist nicht mehr
Soprano: Virginia Babikian
Soprano: Ina Dressel
Alto: Eunice Alberts
Tenor: John van Kesteren
Bass: Otto Wiener
Vienna Academy Chorus
Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Conductor: Hermann Scherchen
Recorded in 1962, at Vienna
New mastering in 2022 by AB for CMRR
Here is the structural plan as well as the biblical comments of the work:
Introduction. (maestoso ed adagio)
Sublime lyrical serenity and intense tonal drama permeate the pages of this Passion. The music is not the joy and exultation of the Creation, the sweetness of the Stabat Mater, or the emotionality of the masses. The underlying mood of Haydn's '7 Last Words' is one of profound personal tragedy. It is the suffering of man with and for the 'Son of Man.'
l. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do - St. Luke 23:34, (largo)
Jesus imitated His Father's love perfectly by being 'ready to forgive'. (Psalm 86:5.) Did he ask his Father to punish his tormentors when he was subjected to an infamous death, with his hands and feet pierced with nails? On the contrary, we note in his last words: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do'.
II. Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise. - St. Luke 23:43, (grave e cantabile)
This promise is different from the one he made to the apostles, that they would sit with him on thrones in the kingdom (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29, 30). This man, a Jew, may have heard of the earthly paradise where God had planned for Adam and Eve and their descendants to live. Now he can die with that hope set before him. (Apocalypse 21:3,4)
III. Woman, behold your son, and you, behold your mother! - St. John 19:26, 27, (serious)
Jesus thus entrusts his mother, apparently already a widow, to the apostle whom he particularly loves. He knows that his half-brothers, the other sons of Mary, do not yet have faith in him (Matthew 12:46-50; John 7:5). So he looks after both his mother's physical and spiritual needs.
IV. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? - St. Matthew 27:46, (largo)
When he cried out to his heavenly Father acknowledging him as his God, Jesus fulfilled Ps 22:1. Jesus' heart-rending cry may have reminded those who heard him of the many things that were prophesied about him in the rest of Ps 22: he would be mocked and derided, his hands and feet would be attacked, and his garments would be divided by lot (Ps 22:6-8, 16, 18). The chapter ends with a tribute to Jehovah, the God of Jews and Christians: 'For the kingdom belongs to Jehovah; he rules over the nations.'
V. I am thirsty. - St. John 19:28, (adagio)
This word also fulfills a messianic prophecy contained in Psalm 22:15 'My strength has dried up like a piece of pottery; My tongue sticks to my gums; (...)'.
VI. It has been accomplished! - St. John 19:30, (lento)
Indeed, he accomplished all that his Father asked him to do on earth: preach the Kingdom of God, teach the truth about the Father, heal the sick, feed the crowds, cast out demons, raise the dead, and offer his life as a sacrifice to save humanity from sin and death.
VII. Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit. - St Luke 23:46, (lento)
He thus entrusts his life to his Father, convinced that he will resurrect him. With unbroken trust in God, Christ bows his head and dies.
Terremoto, (presto e con tutta la forza)
At that moment, an earthquake takes place, splitting the rocks. When Jesus dies, the long and heavy curtain of the Temple, which separates the Holy from the Most Holy, is torn from top to bottom. This impressive event is a manifestation of God's anger against those who killed his Son. It also indicates that access to the Most Holy, i.e. heaven, is now possible (Hebrews 9:2, 3; 10:19, 20). The executing officer exclaims, 'This man was truly the Son of God' (Mark 15:39)."