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Music of the Month: Good Friday Suite

Good Friday Suite features four hymns: “O Perfect Life of Love”; “Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle”; “The Royal Banners Forward Go”; and “O Darkest Woe.” The suite may be played from start to finish or each as an individual prelude. The suite is especially useful for a Tre Ore service.

Good Friday Suite

As the season of Lent quickly approaches, church musicians are gearing up for another busy time of the Church Year, when extra midweek services throughout the season and during Holy Week require more preparation and planning ahead.

A newly published collection of organ preludes for Lent and Holy Week is Jacob Weber’s Good Friday Suite. The composition contains preludes on four hymns appropriate throughout Lententide, but especially on Good Friday.

“I had a Tre Ore service to play for annually when I was serving in the parish, and I needed flexible organ settings to fill gaps,” Weber said. “Later, I compiled the settings and put them together as a suite, so my vision is that you can play it cover to cover or use the movements separately as service music or hymn introductions.”

The Tre Ore service is a service on Good Friday that spans the three hours Jesus hung in darkness on the cross—12:00 to 3:00 p.m. The service is usually divided into sections that focus on the seven last words of Christ on the cross, with various hymns and sermons devoted to each segment.

While the Good Friday Suite would certainly be a fitting piece for a Tre Ore service, the hymn tunes in the composition are appropriate throughout the season of Lent, as many congregations likely sing hymns on the tunes throughout the season.

Weber said he kept the full registration of the organ at his disposal when composing the suite.

“I was aiming for a musically balanced composition,” Weber said. “Everything from soft flutes and strings to combinations and reeds are used to portray the weight of Good Friday.”

Preparing for Lent

Weber said that when preparing music for a busy time like Lent, it’s important to plan ahead and stay organized to anticipate the amount of preparation required and the variety of music needed.

“Planning out the season from scratch is a lot of work,” Weber said. “I always kept a list of ideas that I’d refer back to each season. This was a great starting point come planning time, and I’d encourage those who don’t do this to give it a try.”

With many congregations still experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on their ability to gather in large numbers and prepare music, Weber said it is helpful to keep an open mind. Even the smallest ensembles can effectively contribute to services this Lent.

“With a majority of full choirs on hiatus, you can always have a soloist sing from the hymnal,” Weber said. “Hymns, canticles, and liturgical music are easy to learn and can be used throughout the Lenten season. Consider the Propers—the Introit, the Gradual—and find ways to be creative with these as well.”


To prepare for your Tre Ore service, or to have four beautiful preludes to play during the Lent season, order Good Friday Suite below. 

Order the music

 

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Written by

Nathan Grime

Nathan Grime is from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a 2020 graduate of Hillsdale College, where he studied rhetoric, public address, and journalism. Currently, Nathan is the organist and Kantor intern at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hillsdale, Michigan.

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