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The Seven Last Words of Christ, JOSEPH HAYDN


About fifteen years ago I was requested by a prebendary of Cadiz Cathedral to compose instrumental music for the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross. At that time it was customary for an oratorio to be performed every year during Lent in the Cathedral of Cadiz, and its effect must certainly hare been considerably enhanced by the setting: the walls, windows and columns of the church were draped with black cloth and the holy gloom was illuminated by a single great lamp hanging in the middle.

At the hour of noon all the doors were closed, and now the music began. After an appropriate prelude the Bishop mounted the pulpit, read out one of the Seven Words and proceeded to a meditation upon it. When this was over he left the pulpit and prostrated himself before the altar. The ensuing pause was occupied by the music. The Bishop then mounted and left the pulpit for a second and third time, and so on, the orchestra playing an intermezzo between each of his meditations.