This haunting anthem takes us to the foot of the cross as Christ hangs crucified. The text asks the title phrase as if in disbelief. Three musical sections define this anthem: stanza, refrain, and Kyrie response. An oscillating left-hand accompaniment underscores the simple flute introduction, outlining the opening melody. Unison women followed by unison men present stanza 1 with a brief division leading into the refrain. The refrain, “Lord, God have mercy” is a loose translation of the Greek “Kyrie” response. These two sections gradually rise as if pleading to heaven for mercy upon our souls. A key change moves the tonality from D minor into E-flat minor. Stanza 2 retains the soprano melody with homophonic part writing to complete the choral harmonic structure. The refrain and Kyrie return with slight alterations at the end to complete the setting.
The accompaniment is busy in regards to the oscillating pattern. The key change into six flats will definitely challenge many accompanists. All vocal ranges are suited to four-part mixed adult ensembles. The abundant use of 7th chords may require attention for intonation accuracy. The flute part is a comfortable range for the instrument. Key signature issues will require an accomplished flute player. A separate instrumental part is included in the score.
Performance options include singing the opening section as two solos with tutti choir entering at measure 35. The refrain, such as measures 43 to 52, may be used as a call to confession or prayer response.
Appropriate days: Lent and services in Holy Week, especially Good Friday.
Age Level 6-8
Difficulty of vocal parts 7
Difficulty of accompaniment 9