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Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

From Act III of Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal (1882), music and images to encourage meditation and reflection on this Good Friday, when all the world is renewed, and on Holy Saturday:

Scripture and another music video below the fold.

Matthew 27:32-66 (KJV):
And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on Him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear His cross.

And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink.

And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, "They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched Him there; and set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS

Then were there two thieves crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross."

Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'"  The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, "This man calleth for Elias."   And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink. The rest said, "Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him."

Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Now when the centurion, and they that were with Him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly This was the Son of God."

And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him: among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimath├Ža, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, "Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, 'He is risen from the dead': so the last error shall be worse than the first."

Pilate said unto them, "Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can."

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Isaiah 53:4-5 (KJV):
He is despised and rejected of men;
a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem Him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
and with His stripes we are healed.


  1. Excellent post.
    I'd like to suggest my take on
    "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
    May God continue to bless you on this and every day.

  2. Have a very good holiday .

    1. Not to be pernickety, but Easter is really NOT a "holiday." It is a HOLY day. The two terms may once have been synonymous, but increasing commercialization and secularization over the past century have created a distinct BIFURCATION in the way society acknowledges Christmas and Easter.

      There is little or no commonality among Bach's settings of the Passion, Wagner's Parsifal and such charming-but-distinctly irreligious musical phenomena such as Easter Parade and Here Comes Peter Cottontail Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail, et al. ;-)

      As I've said elsewhere --and often --, the culture has been hopelessly trivialized by militantly perverse philosophical and commercial forces craftily masquerading as benign influences.

  3. We worship a risen, living Lord AOW. One who loved us so much he GAVE his life for us, taking the punishment we deserve upon himself.

    A free gift that comes at a great price (to Him)

    Right Truth

    1. We worship a risen, living Lord


    2. Indeed, and I celebrate with you, but what does that really MEAN -- to either of you -- or anyone else interested in joining a possible discussion?

    3. Oh, it means a lot of things. First and foremost, if He lives, our sins are forgiven, and the door to Eternal Paradise opened for passing through when we leave this life. All of these elements mean that we should worship the Lord Who freely gave such gifts.

      Second, as closely as possible, we are to be "the face" of Jesus to the world. In other words, living testimonies of God's generosity and grace.

      Third, as closely as possible, we are to follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. His teachings are both simple and complex.

      Fourth, we are to search the Word so as to gain a greater understanding of an Infinite Being, an Infinite Being Whom we cannot fully comprehend because we are not on His plane. "Now we see through a glass darkly."

    4. Thank you for the comprehensive reply, AOW. It all makes perfect sense to me. I see it as more of a spiritual, metaphysical and intellectual kind of thing. Whether the virgin Birth and the Resurrection are the LITERAL Truthor not has never mattered much to me. Jesus lives on in the hearts and minds of those who love Him and seek to emulate Him. The very survival of His Holy Name and that fact of His being still a challenging, controversial, Revolutionary Figure as capable of making enemies as today as ever gives ample proof -- to me -- that He lives, indeed.

      He may never rule The World, but that doesn't matter. He was meant to rule our HEARTS.

    5. FT,
      I view both the Birth and the Resurrection as literal events -- and as symbolic of even more.

      Whether or not He rules the world -- I believe that such a day will come ("new heaven and new earth). In the meantime, His Kingdom lives in our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit.

  4. Wagner was so capable of building and sustaining the highest degree of serious musical contemplation imaginable. I still have never experienced Parsifal in its entirety, and after all the time that has already elapsed realize it may never happen, but I place Wagner among the greatest of the greats and revere him for his passion, devotion to the fullest possible realization of his genius, and for his unquestionable sincerity. Only God, Himself in the person of Christ Jesus gave the world more than the finest and noblest creative artists have given humanity.

    And, even as dwindling numbers even bother to pay lip service to His Sacrifice for our sake, so does the great bulk of the world's population fail to take proper notice and express appropriate gratitude for the glorious achievements of the small handful of men like the anonymous artists who painted the inside of caves in france aeons ago, those who designed and built the temple at Karnak, those who designed and built the Acropolis, Pericles, Plato, Aristotle, Phidias, Praxiteles, Socrates, Sophocles, those who conceived and built the great cathedrals, Gutenberg, Palladio, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Michelangelo, Christopher Wren, Shakespeare, Giotto, and on and on.

    Christ sacrificed Himself so that men of that high a quality could continue to develop and flourish, despite all the proud ignorance, stupidity, and hostility militating against them in every era, and thus bring light and joy to all with eyes to see and ears to hear.

    rarely is this point of view articulated, but the true artists are always in the avant garde -- far ahead of the crowd -- and it is THEY who function as the greatest missionaries -- the greatest bearers of holy Writ, -- because it is they who best shed light on the true nature of God who IS Life, Truth Love, Principle, Light, Beauty Spirit, Joy, Understanding, Compassion, Creativity and Intelligence.

    "Be ye transformed trough the renewing of your minds ..."

    Great Music, Art, Literature and Architecture speak directly to our souls, and reveal more of God's Essence than all the fear based teaching, preaching, admonition and pretensions to piety we've ever inflicted on each other and somehow managed to endure.


  5. As wonderful as this performance of the Wagner is, I much prefer Leopold Stokowski's more nuanced and deeply felt 1959 performance of Parsifal. "The Good Friday Spell," as this selection is still best known, under his baton is found at the following link:


    The difference in the two performances os palpable. However, Stokey's eloquent recording is not accompanied by the wonderful paintings found with the one you chose (Who IS the conductor by the way?), so it all evens out, I suppose.

    At any rate thanks for this beautiful presentation. I shall have to listen to the Handel later in.

    1. I considered the version that you cited above, but chose the one in the body of the blog post because of the accompanying images.

    2. As I said, dear AOW, these things tend to even themselves out. Only someone as fanatically devoted to serious music as I certainly am could be expected to listen to several different versions of the same piece on the same day in hope of learning more about the piece and the various ways it might be interpreted. I get a lot of pleasure out of that, but I can well understand how it might bore most people stiff.

      Nevertheless, the wholly negative orientation of most -- and the way most ignore the best our species has had to offer in favor of endless complaint and antagonism -- troubles me greatly, even though there isn't a blessed thing I could hope to do about it other than continue to support what I see as worthwhile.

      Paradoxically, I only complain about the mental climate of endless Complaint, Negative Criticism and Outright Condemnation the human race too much subjects itself to.

      So, I find myself in the absurd position of complaining about and condemning the Culture of Critique and Complaint [devised by Antoni Gramsci, then developed into a pernicious, corrosive political strategy by the The Frankfurt School] because of the degenerative effect it has had in Western Civilization.

      Not that we could ever get one of them to admit it, but the so-called "Progressives" have -- again paradoxically -- succeeded in HALTING or certainly CONSTIPATING the true and honest PROGRESS we were, indeed, making before these misguided malcontents and malefactors came to "help."

      ALL this depraved, illegitimate influence has managed to accomplish has been to supplant one form of stupid, suffocating ORtHODOXY with another equally bad and probably WORSE.

  6. Beautiful. God Bless and Happy Easter!

  7. If anyone is interested, we've posted a complete performance of Bach's setting of the The Passion According to Saint John conducted by John Eliot Gardiner at FreeThinke's blog. This work is not nearly as well known as Bach's setting of the Saint Matthew's account of Christ's entrance into Jerusalem and His subsequent betrayal, humiliation, suffering and death, but -- like virtually everything Bach produced -- it's well worth knowing in its own terms.

    America doesn't much favor sober contemplation of anything these days. Much to our detriment we have been transformed by Master Manipulators, who ardently serve Satan, into a frivolous, grossly materialistic, self-absorbed people obsessed with violence, endless antagonism, depressing, enervating, grotesquely unwholesome themes, and increasingly decadent behavior. In the main we have come to see endless self-indulgence as the Highest Good.

    Developing an understanding and appreciation of Christ's immense Sacrifice for OUR sake would do much to counteract the hideous influences that have been brought to bear on our once-vibrant, once-soaring, once wonderfully innovative and productive culture.

    To understand and appreciate the BEAUTY that may be found in SUFFERING is to make great strides toward fulfillment of our limitless God-given potential, which most of us barely tap into in our three-score-and-ten years.




    May you experience EXULTATION at the great triumph over mindless tradition, and temporal authority's inherent corruption and brutality that Easter is supposed to bring. We are NOT to feel HUMILIATED by the Story of Jesus, instead, we are supposed to SHARE in HIS VICTORY, and REJOICE.

    But, just as we must experience hunger and thrist before we can properly enjoy food and drink, we must learn to empathize with His Passion before we could hope to experience the JOY of HIS TRIUMPH.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Please confine your comments to the topic of the blog post. If you wish to address FT about the matter you mentioned, find another thread to which to post such comments.

    2. Thanks, AOW! I can only imagine what was said, but I'm certain it would quickly be jettisoned at my blog. I refuse to tolerate BOILERPLATE, and certainly not gratuitous insults born of ignorance or sheer nastiness whether directed at me or other visitors to my blog.

  9. Anti-Semitism is NOT Boilerplate . No way shape or form.

    1. Not in My name,
      Give it a rest. You're posting your comment to the wrong thread.

  10. Free Thinke, I am a Christian also. And I do believe that homosexuality is a sin. But do I judge anyone else who believes otherwise? NO! I do NOT believe that I or anyone else has the right to judge you, or anyone else in anyway. Let us not forget that God said, "Judgement is my saith the Lord". That's pretty plain and simple to understand. Jesus was non violent. Indeed he was, and Christianity is supposed to b about love and non judgement.
    That being said, I respectfully disagree with most of what you said. I believe that God helped this country to be born for a purpose. I believe He wanted us to become a super power so that we could standby/help Israel to get their country back. After that happened in 1948 God's plan for us changed. We began to turn against God and tried to take Him out of everything we were founded on.

    The major difference between Liberals and Conservatives is that we Conservatives are not trying to shove everything that we believe in down your throat. And The major difference between Christianity and Islam is that we Christians or the Jews for that matter are not trying to shove it down your throat. And to go even one step further, Christians and or jews for that matter do NOT behead people in the streets, nor do we stone people to death either. . But you will find that in Sharia Law followers. Hangings without trial, amputations, stoning, beatings, and who knows what else. Do you want this here in the U.S.? Make up your mind and make it up now before it’s too late. But remember if you are female, your life will be changed forever. No more driving, No more shopping, No more marrying for love, No more having your own brain with your own thoughts. Forgetabout it,

    Did you know that the Saudi’s denied a visa to Michael Wilner, a Jewish American citizen and a White House correspondent for the Jerusalem Post to cover President Obama’s visit to the Saudi kingdom last month!, Any journalist should be able to cover the president’s trip if they have the appropriate credentials to do so, and it certainly should not be the case that the affiliation of a journalist should in any way count against their ability to do their job, just because they work for the Jerusalem Post. But where was the outcry from the Leftist Media? There wasn’t any!

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    1. I direct you to guidelines for commenting here at this blog:

      We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. We will delete comments that include any of the following:
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    3. Come to Jesus, He will cleanse you of bitterness, dissolve your resentment and heal you of your anger. May the Joy of the Resurrection enter your heart and give you peace. God bless you, keep you, and make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. Happy Easter!

      Alison Wunderland

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