Take Time to Listen: Masterworks for Holy Week and Easter


With Holy Week/Passion Week now firmly upon us, I wanted to offer some suggestions for intentional listening.  The selections that I will put forth here will require, and in some cases demand, time to be absorbed.  These selections are what are deemed “masterworks,” meaning they are considered “a great work of art.” (Merriam-Webster.com, “Masterwork”) As such they are larger works, both in scale (some are for choir, orchestra, or both) and time (some lasting as long as an hour or more).

The selections include works specific to Holy Week and Easter, along with some that can be listened to at any time, yet might seem to have a greater degree of profundity during this season.  NOTE: This list is by no means exhaustive.

J.S. Bach, Mass in B minor

J.S. Bach, St. John Passion

J.S. Bach, St. Matthew Passion

Gabriel Fauré, Requiem

George Frideric Handel, Messiah

Joseph Haydn, The Seven Last Words of Christ

John Leavitt, Requiem

James MacMillan, Seven Last Words from the Cross

Olivier Messiaen, Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time)

Arvo Pärt, Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem

Sergei Rachmaninoff, All-Night Vigil

John Rutter, Requiem

John Tavener, Lamentations and Praises (selections playlist)

In addition to these works, I’d also like to offer some Gregorian chant for this week too:

Lent/Holy Week (Gregorian Chant) – Benedictine Nuns of St. Cecilia’s Abbey

Gregorian Chant for Good Friday: Evangelium Passionis et mortis Domini: Passio Domini

Paschale Mysterium Gregorian Chant For Easter

While I realize most, if not all, of these selections may be outside of your normal field of listening, I hope that one of these masterworks catches your attention and enables you to enter more deeply into this season of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Lord be with you…

IMG_20150630_233759 cropBishop Ryan Mackey is a contributor for TalkingWorship.com.  Mackey is Professor of Music History and Technology at Central Christian College of Kansas and an Auxiliary Bishop in Province USA of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches.  His passions include teaching on and incorporating the historic traditions of the Church in contemporary practices.

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