For Good Friday the Choir will sing The Reproaches, a piece from the 20th century English composer John Sanders, OBE (1933-2003).
During his time at Gloucester, Sanders acted as artistic director and festival conductor of the Three Choirs Festival on the nine occasions when the Cathedral hosted the festival.
The Reproaches, written in 1993, is a beautiful work. It’s lyrics are taken from the liturgy for Good Friday.
O my people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy immortal One, have mercy on us.
i. I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom, but you led your Saviour to the cross.
ii. For forty years I led you safely through the desert. I fed you with manna from heaven, and brought you to a land of plenty: but you led your Saviour to the cross.
iii. What more could I have done for you? I planted you as my fairest vine, but you yielded only bitterness: When I was thirsty you gave me vinegar to drink, and you pierced your Saviour’s side with a lance.
iv. I opened the sea before you, but you opened my side with a spear. I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud, but you led me to Pilate’s court.
v. I bore you up with manna in the desert, but you struck me down and scourged me. I gave you saving water from the rock, but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.
vi. I gave you a royal sceptre, but you gave me a crown of thorns. I raised you to the height of majesty, but you have raised me high on a cross.
The video is the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral London, directed by John Scott.
The Sanders Society, whose main aims are the promotion of the music of John Sanders; supporting choral music for the liturgy, and encouraging young composers to maintain the cathedral choral tradition, have a wealth of information about John Sanders.
In particular, they link to “a detailed and fascinatingly rigorous insight into the fastidious intellectual as well as the artistic processes which lay behind the composition of [The Reproaches]” by Douglas Mason, who was a chorister under Sanders at Gloucester.