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Words are a powerful tool that can build people up and tear people down. Growing up, I was taught phrases like “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and “the pen is mightier than the sword”. I always knew that words were powerful enough to make or break a person’s day. Of course, that didn’t always stop me from putting my foot in my mouth – I still do! But it did instill an appreciation in me for the power of words.

As it turned out, I ended up with a job that allows me to use words a lot. Because of that, my relationship with words grows each day. Sometimes the words I write are decent enough to get the job done, and other times my words need a lot of grooming before they can pass muster.

But no matter what my words may accomplish on any given day, they cannot be compared to the impactful words of the Bible – and most importantly, the words spoken by Jesus.

The Bible has made a huge impact on our society through language, customs, and the law.  Even those who are not a part of the Christian faith have most likely heard and even used phrases that are direct or indirect references to Jesus’ words. But of all the words written in the Bible, perhaps the most impactful are the words that Jesus spoke on the cross at the time of his death.

Memorializing the Words of Christ

These powerful words that Jesus spoke have been memorialized through art and literature since the day they were uttered. They have offered hope, peace, and comfort to people all over the world. One of the newest and most beautiful memorials to Jesus’ words is Richard Burchard’s The Seven Last Words of Christ. As the title suggests, this piece is a beautiful depiction of the emotion and love behind the last words of Jesus during the crucifixion.

Phrases such as “It is finished” and “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” have changed lives, and they continue to do so today. In Richard Burchard’s brilliant composition, he uses emotional melodies and accompaniment that capture the listener’s attention and transport them back in time to Jesus’ death on the cross. Beginning with a musical prologue that sets the scene, each of the following seven movements is centered around one of the last phrases spoken by Jesus. Each movement’s musicality perfectly encapsulates the emotional meaning behind the words that were spoken.

This captivating piece is written for SATB voicing and string orchestra. For smaller churches or smaller choirs, an alternative orchestration of string quartet and organ reduction has been created. Both orchestrations of The Seven Last Words of Christ are also available to rent through rentals@hinshawmusic.com
In today’s chaotic society, we are often bombarded with words and advertisements designed to pique our interest. Ultimately, they fill our minds, but they do not offer anything to feed our souls. The right words, however, can pierce us to our very core and inspire us to do great things. Christ’s words are an excellent example of that. His motives and intentions behind every word He spoke were pure. When combined with the powerful tool of music, these words can open up to us a whole new world of possibilities. The Seven Last Words of Christ does exactly that. Upon hearing Burchard’s masterpiece, audiences will be able to relate to Christ’s words in a completely new and unique way. When we allow ourselves to be touched and inspired by great art, we allow ourselves to grow in a special way. Sharing the gifts of words and music is a way to bring people together, and it gives us all a chance to enjoy something that is greater than ourselves.