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A Lamb Goes Forth: A Listening Guide

April, 2019

Musicians from congregations across southern Minnesota recently recorded an album, A Lamb Goes Forth, at the Elk River church, which is now available for purchase in congregation bookstores or on the LLC website. It is also available online wherever you buy or stream your digital albums, such as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, etc. 

This album includes excerpts of songs which take listeners on a journey through Christ’s suffering and death. The music reflects each stage of Passion Week. Aaron Wuollet explains the thought process behind the album order and song selection in the following Listening Guide.

Jessica Nikula

 

Tracks 1 & 2

The album’s first hymn introduces an air of personal contemplation. It presents the musical motif in gently swaying, lyrical melody. Moments of intense emotion punctuate an irresistible forward push, highlighting the intertwined threads of wrenching sorrow and tentative hope.

This collection outlines Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, and induces the listener to personally ponder their meaning. Starting in Gethsemane with Christ facing His ordeal, the music accentuates His willingness to sacrifice. The listener joins Christ in prayer and trembling as oboes pierce the melody like the spear pierces Christ’s side.

Tracks 3–5

We hear the accusers’ discordant approach in a noisy knot as Christ consents to His fate. A tenor duet reveals the Father preparing the Lamb for sacrifice. A solo flugelhorn floats above the chorus in a pensive descant recalling the Savior’s lonely grief.

A military fanfare announces the soldiers’ heavy treading march into the garden to arrest Jesus. The organ’s deep throb and dissonant chords add gravity to the moment. A musical respite gradually crescendos to the vindictive verdict before Pilate, climaxing with the chaotic crowd baying for blood.

Tracks 6 & 7

Through hymn, we observe—across the abyss of time—the procession to Golgotha. A poignant personal moment with Christ stands out as Jesus lifts His eyes to meet the listeners’ gaze in a personal appeal. A moment of musical relief allows the listener to contemplate the crucifixion as the organ pulses with the slow, somewhat irregular heartbeat of a tortured Christ drooping on the cross. Death descends with ominous darkness to hover nearby, not quite ready to claim his prize. The listener is left to pity—not only Christ, but more herself or himself—and to know the burden of his or her own sin weighing on the Savior.

Tracks 8–11

The message nevertheless exhorts us to hope. Swaying, lyrical strains inexorably press onward through the dark chords underpinning the uplifting message. A soprano/alto duet accentuates lonely introspection. An organ solo marks the mortal moment as Christ gives up the Ghost. On the cross, the beaten body of clay impels the believer to marvel at the inadequacy of thanks for personal salvation.

As the body is placed in the grave, the dissonance and juxtaposition of instrument and voice encapsulate the perplexing mix of sweet sorrow and melancholy joy. Persecution and suffering draw to a close with the nasal strains of oboe organ reeds in a hymn of personal contemplation. The choir recalls the wounds of Christ in the final phrase as tentative hope glimmers in the ultimate upbeat major chord.

Tracks 12–14

In the pre-dawn gloom of Easter morning, life begins to stir as resurrection approaches. Throughout one hymn, the musical tone transitions from somber self-reflection to rising jubilation. Easter dawns! The congregation welcomes His victory. Joy resonates. Music rings with life-affirming hope.

In the swelling warmth of the rising Son, the congregation joins in unison song. An exhausted Mary finds the empty tomb and rushes to share the good news: He is not here! He is risen! Bright beams scatter the darkness as victorious praises echo with thanksgiving.

Tracks 15–17

The broken tomb exposes the vacant grave. A triumphal trumpet heralds the gospel message. The congregation’s praises overflow with wonder at the resurrection mystery. The listener is left with a sense of fulfillment and release as the organ postlude brings a satisfying conclusion.

Hallelujahhhhhh!

Aaron Wuollet

 

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