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Photos: thumbnail by Clinton Steeds, banner by NRK Kringkastingsorkestret 
Article by Nicholas E. Schmelter

First Congregational Church in downtown Saginaw, Michigan, will mark Good Friday with a musical offering of John Stainer’s oratorio The Crucifixion: A Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer. The twenty-movement work, which is free and open to the public, will be performed on Friday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m., in the congregation’s historic sanctuary. Composed in 1887 by one of Britain’s leaders in musical instructors and church music, The Crucifixion celebrates its one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary. Rev. J. Sparrow-Simpson selected the oratorio’s words earlier that year from the gospel narratives and several familiar Passion hymns.

Exultate Deo, the Saginaw Valley’s premier chamber choir specializing in sacred music, tenor Michael Huntress, and baritone David King will present the Victorian-era composition. Robert Sabourin will conduct the choir. Nicholas Schmelter will accompany the choir on the sanctuary organ.

“God So Loved the World,” the most recognizable and widely-performed choruses of the oratorio, is a favorite of choirs throughout the English-speaking world. Hymns from The Crucifixion are included in several denominational hymnals.

Friends of Music support the musical happenings of First Congregational Church; the support of Friends of Music patrons and free-will contributions of guests assists in underwriting the cost of all series events. Members are music enthusiasts from the congregation and/or community at large—members are aficionados of the pipe organ, choral music, chamber music, and the like. The church, which dates to 1868, is acoustically superb. The congregation is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and has recognized excellence and eclecticism in its musical offerings since the 1800s.

The congregation is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and has recognized excellence in musical outreach and community service since the 1800s. The Rev. Dr. Todd S. Farley, PhD, is the congregation’s Senior Minister. If you would like more information, please contact Nicholas Schmelter, Director of Music Ministries, at the church office center, (989) 754-6565.

© Nicholas E. Schmelter