Friday, 17 April 2009

"Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani"

As I said, I am just off to walk some more of the Compostela Way: this calvary stands by the Cathedral in Eauze, where we ended our pilgrimage walk in 2007.

This time a week ago, we had just returned from London where we heard the OAE St Matthew Passion in the Royal Festival Hall. A wonderful experience, musically, but the setting could have been more conducive to religious meditation, I found.

At the crucial phrase of Jesus on the cross, Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani, I became distracted by the fact that the singer, the excellent Roderick Williams, pronounced the last word "Asbachthani". It so happened that I was sitting opposite his neighbour at dinner afterwards. Do you know Jesus? I was able to ask her. Yes, she replied, and proceeded to introduce me; so I enquired whether or not his pronunciation was intentional. Indeed it was, he replied: an Aramaic-speaking friend had been his guide. So, is this another Mumpsimus perhaps?

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