Brett Strader, Director of Music & Worship
Around this time last year I read Lauren Gully’s Easter sermon entitled “Should We Believe the Women?” wherein she imaginatively told the story of those who first witnessed Jesus’ resurrection, and described just how culturally significant it was that Scripture records the fact that it was not men who discovered the empty tomb. I was struck by the realization that in all my years of theological training this was never emphasized.
At the same time I began to imagine what program we might create for our Good Friday service this year, so I approached Lauren with the idea to collaborate on the creation of a new musical work, written from a much less patriarchal point of view than had traditionally been used in this form. What you hear today is the current realization of that idea.
Lauren’s libretto is full of vivid imagery. “Air thick. Tensions rising. Wine close to the edge of the table.” I’ve used a small ensemble of sopranos and altos to set up this scene with a static electric tone and combined it with the precarious percussiveness of a xylophone. Lauren chose to tell the story of Mary of Bethany in the third person, so I thought of writing the solo for Judy Clark in the character of someone who remembers the moment years later as a witness or perhaps even as Mary herself. Alas, Judy Clark was not feeling well that day, so her role was covered by Jessica Whitlatch.
While I’m no stranger to composing music, this is my first major concert work. I’m very grateful to Lauren and the LOPC community, and especially to the Festival Choir, for the opportunity to take a risk and create something new and adventurous. Soli Deo Gloria.
Lauren Gully, Pastor, Mission & Spiritual Formation
From the time that I was studying poetry as an undergraduate, I continued to be captivated by the possibility of the stories in the Bible. I’ve always thought that we should bring more creativity to help understand scripture, similar to the Jewish tradition of Midrash, I’ve employed creative thinking in how I have imagined Jesus’ life and final days. My goal is not to explain things exactly as they may have happened, but to experiment with the freedom that the gaps in scripture leaves to our imagination. In these lyrics, I invite you to explore these possibilities with me.
I’ve greatly enjoyed writing these lyrics. I have been inspired by the dream that Pilate’s wife might have had, imagining what was in the heart of the crowd that shouted “crucify,” as well as imagining the similarity of Mary’s thoughts while giving birth to Jesus and the same love that Jesus must have had for us as he hung on the cross.
My hope is that this work inspires your faith. But, perhaps most importantly, I hope that this work makes God smile knowing that in some small human way we have tried to imagine the unimaginable love of God.
IV. Pilate’s Dreaming Wife