Opening with this antiphon, sung beautifully by a cappella choir, this setting of the Passion is powerful, tender and haunting, evoking all the pathos and drama of Jesus' suffering and death.
Reverent and emotionally immediate, the music is a very appropriate setting for St. John's telling of the story. It's simple without being spare, dramatic without being melodramatic. Arranged with parts for Jesus, organ, SATB choir, narrator, Pilate, Peter, a maid, a slave and a temple guard, Walker's Passion also involves the assembly, which sings easily memorized refrains that reflect on key moments in the Passion.
This innovative setting gives a new voice to a familiar text, placing the narrator's spoken part over keyboard accompaniment and giving dramatic crowd parts to the choir. Jesus sings in contrast to Pilate, who speaks. Based on three short melodies, the part of Jesus (included in the full score) can be learned quickly by a priest or deacon. All parts, in fact, are relatively easy to learn and perform, accessible to the resources of a good parish choir.
The beautifully recorded CD reveals the dramatic potential of this music. Divided into 17 tracks, one for each of the main sequences of the Passion, it makes an excellent preparation and rehearsal tool, in addition to being inspirational listening for Lent and any time we meditate on the sorrowful mysteries of the Passion.