Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.


Jeni and I went and saw The Passion of the Christ tonight, and all in all I'd say the experience was well worth it. The movie received some bad press before it was released, mainly by people who were worried it would be anti-Semitic. Neither myself nor Jeni (who comes from a Jewish background) found this to be the case. Yes, the large majority of the Jews in the movie are depicted as blood-thirsty conspirators in the death of Jesus, but so are the large majority of non-Jews. This should serve to remind us that the blood of Jesus is on everyone's hands, not just the hands of the Jews who gave him up to be killed or the non-Jews who carried out his execution. On another note, I felt that the movie was not as gory as people have made it out to be. What is more disturbing is the sheer length of time spent on the suffering of Christ, but I think that is the point of this movie. The emphasis on the wounds of Jesus reflect the definitely Catholic background of the movie, but I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. If the Catholic tradition can be faulted with putting too much emphasis on the humanity of Christ, then the Protestant tradition can be faulted with devaluing Christ's human nature. This movie was good for me to see, coming from a protestant background, because it has turned my eyes and thoughts onto the more physical aspects of Christ's suffering and my own faith, whereas left to my own devices I am likely to view these things in a more abstract and spiritual manner.

Seeing this movie turned out to be an appropriate ending to my week. Much of my time this week was spent composing a 19th century style art song. An art song is a musical setting of a poetic text, performed by a solo singer with a piano accompaniment. The music of the song reflect the lyrics in the ways that the composer chooses the melody and harmonies. The text that I chose, with the help of Jeni the former english major, was the last section of John Donne's poem Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward. (By the way, as Jeni pointed out to me, west is away from the cross.) I'm posting the text here because even though it's a little long it is really worth reading, especially as we move further into Lent and closer to the day we remember Jesus' sacrifice. The part I set to music is the line "Though these things as I ride be from my eye," to the end. Ask me and I'll sing it for you sometime if you're interested.

by John Donne

LET man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th' intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl'd by it.
Hence is't, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul's form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul's, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg'd and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God's partner here, and furnish'd thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom'd us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They're present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look'st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang'st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I'll turn my face.

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