Tears are transformed, Christ is risen! Easter is the day when we are renewed in Christ through the holy spirit, when we are reminded on the fundament of our faith and can feel refreshed and inspired. As people who produce words and music inspired by our religious practice, we might wonder about the importance of this in times where in our day-to-day life suddenly nothing can be taken for granted. For many countries world-wide the future will be even more unforeseeable as for our countries, where other catastrophes of pandemic nature like the climate change are still not "urgent enough" to lead to necessary decisive consequences. What can we do as writers and composers and performers?

Jeremy Begbie, pianist, composer, and theologian insists on the key role that artists can play in these times in his Easter newsletter: ..."They help us imagine a future. A day will come when we can shake hands again, hug a friend, cheer in a crowd, and yes, worship in church buildings. But life won’t ever be the same again. What kind of society do we want when we get a chance to re-start? What might our economy look like? Could our political life be renewed? Artists can help us conceive that post-COVID future – “conceive” both in the sense of “imagine” and “bring about” something new.

If you get a chance, read Alan Jacobs’ remarkable book, The Year of our Lord 1943, a study of Christian thinkers during the Second World War who set themselves thinking about what that post-war world could look like: C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, Jacques Maritain, Simone Weil and W. H. Auden. They knew the Allies would win, but they weren’t prepared to sit back and let others decide what form the future should take. Notice that they were all either artists or deeply immersed in the arts.

Why do we need artists as we look ahead to the post-lockdown future? Because, of course, one of the most distinctive things artists do is envisage something that is not yet, something that could be, or should be: to offer vistas in sound and word, possibilities in stone and paint, evocations in story-telling, harbingers of a time to come that could make us re-think our desires, re-root our loyalties.






But typically, the arts do something else as well, just as relevant to this cultural moment. They work against our tendency to see everything in terms of its usefulness to me, right now, the technocratic mind set that sees everything – and everyone – as no more than tools to solve our immediate problems. According to Jacobs, that’s just what Lewis and others feared would emerge after the war: a society run by technocrats. Of course, few today deny the massive benefits of the technology that appeared during that period. (Just think of antiobiotics, not to mention virus detection and ventilators.) Yet the very expansion of technology can make us acutely aware of its limits and the dangers of the technocratic mindset. In the current epidemic, we’re being reminded that people are more than units to be managed, more than bodies to be cured, more than panic buyers. Hence all the talk of care, compassion, and empathy. Many who suddenly have time on their hands are being reminded that the natural world is more than mere stuff to exploit. There’s that tree at the bottom of the road we never really noticed before, the birdsong we never really heard.

The arts specialize in this “more than.” Artists press us to see the world and other people as infinitely more than anything we can control or manage or capture in statistics. A Bob Dylan song, an Annie Dillard poem, a Banksy graffiti, a Malick movie, a Rembrandt self-portrait – they speak of an inexhaustible richness to things that we can never fully grasp or control. It’s as if the arts are constantly saying: “there’s more here than you think”. It’s artists who can help us ensure the post-COVID future is far richer and more humane than it otherwise might be.

Of course, any talk of imagining and bringing about a better future can easily slide into naïve utopianism, or pander to the illusion of self-sufficiency. And artists are as prone to this as anyone else. That’s why they, and all of us, need Holy Week – its power delivered to us in a supreme art form, the Passion narrative. Easter Sunday holds out the promise of a dazzling future – resurrection life, no less – a life that can start here and now. 

But it’s just that, a promise, a divine promise, not a human achievement. What’s more, it’s forged out of a horrific execution. Golgotha is the place that unmasks and destroys all our pretensions to self-sufficiency, and just because of that, the place from which a glorious remaking of human life truly begins. It’s the Christian artist’s privilege to witness to that renewal and be part of it.... The arts matter, now more than ever."

JAZZ FOR EASTER

Tears Transforming

-> Tord Gustavsen Ensemble <-
with Tore Brunborg, Mats Eilertsen
and Jarle Vespestad
live from Kulturkirken Jakob,
October 2009.

Christ ist erstanden
-> Wolfgang Schoberth OUTSIDE 3 <-

Variations on "Christ ist Erstanden"
-> Wolfgang Sieber - Organ <-
Uwe Steinmetz - Saxophone
JUBAL MUSIC 2008

Touched once again
-> Janne Mark & Band <-
with
Nils Økland - Hardangfele
Henrik Gunde - Piano
Esben Eyermann - Bass
Jesper Uno Kofoed - Drums

Hymn to live
-> Albrecht Guendel-vom Hofe (comp., piano) <-
-> Kait Dunton - piano <-

Bleib bei uns, Herr
-> Michael Neff Group <-
from SEMPER REFORMANDA (2017)


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Tord Gustavsen Ensemble
Tore Brunborg / Tord Gustavsen / Mats Eilertsen / Jarle Vespestad

"Tears Transforming"
live from Kulturkirken Jakob, 
October 2009.

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Uwe Steinmetz & Wolfgang Sieber:
Variations on Christ ist Erstanden  (Wipo von Burgund, 1040)
JUBAL MUSIC 2008

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Touched once again
Janne Mark & Band

Touched once again and moved along,
your word assures, your spirit cures,
you hear and heal each sad lament
and lighten all our longing.
We sense new courage, feel new strength,
the dawn of hope is given.
You are in us and we in you-
a new world in the making.
English Translation: John Bell

Erneut berührst, bewegst du mich,
ein Wort von dir,
dein Geist in mir,
dein Trost in jedem Klagelied
bringt Licht in meine Tage.
Du gibst uns Mut, wir gehen los,
du machst uns leicht auf Erden,
wir sind von dir, du bist in uns,
in unserm Sein und Werden.
German Translation: Lothar Veit

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Hymn to Life
Albrecht Guendel-vom Hofe (comp., piano)
Kait Dunton (piano)

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bleib bei uns, Herr

Text: Marie Luise Kaschnitz
 
manchmal stehen wir auf
Stehen wir zur Auferstehung auf
Mitten am Tage
Mit unserem lebendigen Haar
Mit unserer atmenden Haut
 
Nur das Gewohnte ist um uns
Keine Fata Morgana von Palmen
Mit weidenden Löwen
Und sanften Wölfen
 
Die Weckuhren hören nicht auf zu ticken
Ihre Leuchtzeiger löschen nicht aus.
 
Und dennoch leicht
Und dennoch unverwundbar
Geordnet in geheimnisvolle Ordnung
Vorweggenommen in ein Haus aus Licht

https://www.michael-neff.ch/


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Oscar Peterson: EASTER SUITE (1984)

IX. He Has Risen