• Hugi Gudmundsson
  • The Gospel of Mary (2020)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)

Commissioned by Hallgrimskirkja Friends of the Arts Society, Oslo International Church Music Festival & Aarhus Sinfonietta

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  • SATB
  • S
  • 1 hr

Programme Note

The Gospel of Mary is an oratorio based on the non-canonical text from a fifth century papyrus codex which is popularly known by the same name. The codex was only discovered in the late nineteenth century but since then two other fragments have been found. However, a large part of the gospel is still missing. It is easy to speculate that a text of this nature had deliberately been kept away from the early Christians as it presents a radical interpretation of Jesus' teachings as a path to inner spiritual knowledge and rejects the suffering and death as a path to eternal life. Furthermore it depicts the close relationship Mary Magdalene had to Jesus and that she indeed was an Apostle. A text that gives a woman an even higher status than the disciples would not have gone down well with the Church throughout the ages.

The oratorio uses parts of the text from the Gospel of Mary in an English translation by Karen L. King. It is supplemented by other non-canonical texts, texts by early female theologists and original choral verses by Niels Brunse and Nila Parly who have also compiled the whole libretto for the piece.

The role of Mary Magdalene is sung by a solo soprano while the choir takes on all other roles. A clear line through the piece is the interaction between Mary and the somewhat sceptical disciples who question the fact that Jesus appeared first to her after his resurrection. This line is interspersed with arias with more theological reflections on Mary, choral verses that reflect on the narrative and lastly short "meditations" by solo instruments that allow the audience to reflect on their own.




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