It should be a Good Friday, not just an Okay Friday.
March 26, 2009 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a soprano/mezzo solo for an Episcopal Good Friday service!

I'm a subbing soprano soloist (more of a mezzo, but who's counting?) in an Episcopal church. I offered to do a solo any time before Easter, and I got the Good Friday service. Now I'm racking my brain trying to think of what to sing, as my usual B Minor Mass/Messiah solos won't cut it. Aside from Barber's "Crucifixion" or something from the St. Matthew Passion, what can I do? I can pick up just about anything quickly (I love a challenge), except the aforementioned Passions, and I have access to a ton of scores. The altar area, I am told, will be cleared of everything, so something very simple and solemn would fit the setting. This will be at noon.

posted by Madamina to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
How about the Pie Jesu from Fauré's Requiem? The text is not ideal, but the tone is fitting. It may be out of your range as written, but you could transpose it down to suit.
posted by jedicus at 9:32 PM on March 26, 2009

Depending on what you have backing you up (choir, piano or two, organ, strings?) the fifth movement of Brahms' German Requiem could work. Not overtly Easterish, but the theme of life after death and comfort would be appropriate. It also sounds perfectly good in English, if necessary.

On the (much) lower end of the scale, the fourth movement of Mahler's Symphony #2 would be a serious change of pace, slow and gorgeously meditative. I couldn't find it both with a female voice and piano accompaniment on youtube, but it can certainly be sung that way. Here's a nice version with orchestra, here's an example of the piano setting (sorry, interviews at the beginning).
posted by notquitemaryann at 9:51 PM on March 26, 2009

There's also Pie Jesu from Durufle's Requiem. (And this recording is of a soloist singing on Good Friday, too!)
posted by firei at 4:40 AM on March 27, 2009

No specific suggestion, but for any even vaguely church-related question (especially for Anglican/Episcopal things), the go-to place is the forums at Ship of Fools (which I recommend whole-heartedly, whatever your convictions, as very interesting to read). This question would go under the Ecclesiantics board. The folks there are extremely well-informed and eager to offer opinions.
posted by rustcellar at 5:49 AM on March 27, 2009

Are you restricted (or restricting yourself) to classical music only?
posted by LN at 7:39 AM on March 27, 2009

Reason I ask is, when I directed a church choir (for about seven years, ending about two years ago), I worked to make the music programming for Good Friday really showcase what an unaccompanied choir could do, vocally and in terms of repertoire. We did spirituals like "Were You There", and some more accessible stuff like this, on top of the mandated hymns like "Behold the Wood" (which we all hated, and called the "Gilligan's Island Hymn").

If your church will let you get away with it, some of Sally Deford's stuff might be worth checking out.

Another option is to go in a completely different direction - the Irish have a beautiful song called "The Lament of the Three Marys" which depicts the reaction of the women to Jesus' crucifixion.
posted by LN at 11:34 AM on March 27, 2009

A soprano aria from a setting of the Stabat Mater might also fit the bill-- it'd certainly have the merit of being topical, and most have the spare mournfulness you're going for. Pergolesi's is super-well-known, but there's also a Rossini and a Dvorak if you're more romantically inclined. This solo (from the Boccherini SM) strikes me as especially lovely.
posted by Bardolph at 5:27 PM on March 27, 2009

Backing up what LN said, my wife is a soprano and has sung many Good Friday services. She suggested two spirituals, "He never said a mumblin' word" and "Were you there when they crucified my Lord".
posted by Eddie Mars at 7:11 PM on March 27, 2009

I'm sure there are some great arangements of What Wondrous Love Is This in print. There are plenty more Good Friday ideas at
posted by Ranucci at 8:32 PM on March 27, 2009

Take My Mother Home.
posted by Ranucci at 8:37 PM on March 27, 2009

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