I hope that my hymn cycle based on Christ’s Seven Last Words helps you reflect on Good Friday and Easter this year. If you’re from a church tradition that doesn’t have a service observing the Seven Last Words (like mine), here is some background about these sayings. They aren’t “words” per se, but the sayings of Jesus from the cross, traditionally recognized by Christians as especially significant.
Each of these hymn lyrics, except for the Seventh Word, was written to an existing tune. Part of my love for hymns is their cross-cultural, cross-generational nature. Here’s just one example. My lyric, the Fifth Word, based on “I thirst,” was written to the tune “Love Unknown,” by early-20th-century composer John Ireland. But Ireland wrote his tune in order to fit a poem by Samuel Crossman (what a name!), written in 1664. It amazes me how the grace of Christ crosses over the centuries, and how I could take a part in this artistic conversation about the power of the cross.