Musical Musings from Joy
One of my greatest joys over the two years I served in Wexford was producing fully-staged, musical plays based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I inherited the project from an alumna of House of Brigid, (who happened to be a music, theatre, AND French classmate of mine at Saint Mary’s!), and it led to discovering a wonderful way of evangelizing the Irish.
My first year, they were fresh off of a “Passion Play”, so I was asked to do a “Resurrection Play.” While we may be used to hearing dramatic accounts of the Passion narrative, witnessing the Resurrection stories played out isn’t part of the norm. I pulled out my trusty Bible and began at the Acts of the Apostles to figure out what I was going to include!
I began the story at the Crucifixion and led it all the way through Pentecost; roughly, the 50 days of Easter. We included the account of the three Marys at the tomb and Jesus meeting the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. I also used historical documents, (though non-biblical,) to craft a sub-plot of Pontius Pilate trying to recapture Jesus.
The best part of this endeavor? Every piece of music was originally written for liturgical use! I purposely chose music with the intent of it becoming familiar to parishioners by the next Easter. Resurrection’s new song, I Send You Out, is one of those pieces!
The following year they asked me to go back to the traditional Passion story. Using my classmate’s original script, I reworked it to make the music entirely liturgical. I was also able to recreate a “real” River Jordan for Jesus’ baptism and change water into wine ONSTAGE. (How? I’ll never tell!)
On the whole, Irish culture stems from the oral/aural tradition of music and storytelling. Therefore, musical drama is a viable means of evangelization. Was this Mass? No. BUT, every element was liturgical in nature, whether it be the music or the singular use of the Bible as script material. The Gospel Message was still being spread, even in this non-direct way. My hope is that the Easter Season was a bit fuller for those who attended the plays. And, if they didn’t come to Mass beyond Easter Sunday, at least they still heard the Word proclaimed in an accessible way.
Hymnal Scavenger Hunt How’d you do with last week’s Hymnal Scavenger Hunt? It was Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise found in the green hymnal at #429 and the red hymnal at #468. Here’s this week’s clue: This Pentecost weekend, we celebrate the Spirit and call Him down to us. This text is based on the Veni Creator Spiritus.
Hint: This song may be found in both hymnals!