soul is overwhelmed to the point of death… Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me… – Jesus in the garden
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? – Psalm 22:1
O, Death, O, Death, O, Death
Won’t you spare me over and over
Well what is this that I can’t see
With ice cold hands takin’ hold of me?
Well I am Death and the end is here…
Not exactly the most cheerful song but the whole point of us doing this service is to remember that the stuff that happened on Good Friday actually happened. And it was not cheerful.
The gospel accounts of Jesus praying in the garden vary only slightly. Matthew and Mark refer to Jesus as being overcome with sorrow and falling to the ground in prayer. Luke is the one who refers to Jesus being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground
When God is gone and the Devil takes hold
Who’ll have mercy on your soul?
They say that the only certainty in life are death and taxes and while some have managed to find ways to cheat taxes, no one cheats death. Except Jesus – but he still had to go through it and what a horrible death it would be. Beaten, whipped, thorns rammed on his head and nailed to a piece of wood. And then there’s that separation from God, from himself. Forsaken. No mercy.
O Death is an old American folk song that also goes by the title Conversations with Death. Some will recognize it from the Ralph Stanley cover on the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. It was first recorded by country/blues banjo player Dock Boggs in the late 1920s. The original version is much longer than the Jen Titus adaptation we will be performing. We chose this version for a few reasons. I like the darkness of it, the growly bass voices and the anger in the instrumentation paired with the lonely, pleading voice. I think if you’re Jesus and you’re having a conversation with Death, Death is not going to be nice about it.
How do you imagine the voice of Death?