DON JOSÉ Sáenz de Santa María, the Archbishop of Cadiz, was preparing sermons for an Easter service and asked Joseph Haydn, the most celebrated composer of his day, to write music to accompany the words he was writing.
The result was The Seven Last Words of Christ, first performed on Good Friday, 1787, as part of the midday service at the Oratorio de la Santa Cueva. The cathedral’s walls, windows, and columns were clothed in black; the only light came from a single central lamp; and the huge cathedral doors were locked at the start of the service.
The Seven Last Words of Christ will be performed at the Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUI Galway, on Holy Thursday, March 29, at 8pm. For this performance, the archbishop’s sermons have been replaced by the poem, 'The Seven Last Words' by Pulitzer-prize winner Mark Strand. It will be read by writer and broadcaster Vincent Woods, with Haydn’s music performed by the ConTempo Quartet.