While we are still unable to gather physically for worship, technology provides opportunities to come together in other ways. This Good Friday, Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria is offering a special liturgy in words and music that recreates an almost 250-year-old tradition.
The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross are drawn from all four of the biblical gospels. In the 1780s, Austrian composer Franz Josef Haydn was commissioned to create an orchestral work with that title, for use on Good Friday at a church in Cadiz, Spain. He later arranged the piece for string quartet. It consists of seven slow, meditative movements, preceded by an introduction and followed by a dramatic tone painting of the earthquake which the evangelist Matthew tells us shook Jerusalem after the death of Jesus. The music was designed to be heard in between spoken reflections on each of the Seven Last Words.
This Good Friday, we will replicate that original format in our online liturgy. The music will be played by the Emily Carr String Quartet, an award-winning professional ensemble founded in Victoria fifteen years ago. A quartet of Cathedral choral scholars will also sing Haydn’s settings of the scriptural texts.
Seven distinguished Canadian preachers will invite us to reflect with them on the traditional Seven Last Words of Christ. They include the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, National Indigenous Archbishop Mark MacDonald, and the National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Susan Johnson. Other homilists are: Bishop Michael Ingham (retired bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster), The Very Reverend Peter Elliott (former dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver), the Reverend Canon Cheryl Palmer (rector of Christ Church Deer Park in Toronto) and the Reverend Canon Dr. Dawna Wall (archdeacon of Selkirk Region in the Diocese of Islands and Inlets of BC).
The Seven Last Words will be livestreamed from Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria at 12:00 noon Pacific Daylight Time (3:00 pm Eastern Time) on Good Friday. Tune in on the cathedral website to watch the livestream. The recording will also be available to watch afterwards. We hope you can join us for this very special event.