The Seven Last Words was originally written for my Masters of Music, Sacred Music, Degree Recital (whew! that’s a lot to say). I chose to present the piece in a series of meditations on the Passion and the service was on the afternoon of Palm Sunday. It went something like this, There would be a reading, then a repertoire piece, followed by a meditation from one of the Passionist priests. The last part of the service was the Seven Last Words with the Monastery Choir, instruments, and me conducting. I have always felt that the piece, though an oratorio, works best as a meditation. The ending, for example, is a sigh, not a dramatic gesture.
The revisions that I have started doing are happening to again, make the piece more broadly available. The revision is going to encompass four areas: a new organ accompaniment, a new version with no solos and the choir singing all the words, and SAB and STB versions, also with no solos. The latter revisions are being done out of sheer practicality. Even my own small choir is better with the STB version right now than the full SATB. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of revising and even rewriting some of the piece is simply that I’m older and different and it has been a challenge to take myself back to a piece from a different time. Not all composers seem to struggle with this, but I certainly am! It will be a pleasure to share the revisions, hopefully next year, when they are done!