Arguably the most intimate and moving of all choral works, The Passion according to Saint John will be presented in Melrose Parish Church on Sunday, November 9.
Although Johann Sebastian Bach wrote at least four compositions based on different authors’ witness accounts of the trial and execution of Jesus, the only two known to have survived used the recorded words of Saint Matthew and Saint John.
On this occasion, The Abbey Consort renders the strikingly-dramatic version, based on the account written by Saint John, The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, which is less well known and less frequently performed, in part because it is difficult for a typically-large amateur choral society to create the intimate ambience essential for this uniquely-personal work.
For this rare event, The Abbey Consort brings its own renowned vocal and orchestral forces, teamed with some of the country’s finest soloists.
In Bach’s outstanding musical depiction, all the horror of mass hysteria, gratuitous cruelty and violence in the name of religion, hypocrisy, denial, betrayal, miscarriage of justice and the capitulation of officialdom is vividly portrayed.
This is contrasted with the superhuman, transparent selflessness of The King of The Jews and the agony that his mother endured.
Finally, bitter-sweet resolution-for-a-while comes with chorus Ruht Wohl – Rest in Peace – and concluding chorale prayer.
Yet, sadly, while bigoted and doggedly-sectarian humanity continues to settle its quarrels by force, each self-righteousness claiming the moral high ground, resting in peace during this life still seems as elusive as ever.
The Saint John Passion is hard-hitting and uncompromising.
However, with all its metaphors, portents and analogies for future events and cultures, it somehow never fails to cut direct from the heart of the composer to the hearts of today’s audiences.
Beginning at 7.30pm, tickets for the concert cost £10 and they can be purchased at the door or pre-booked by telephoning 01835 850208.