Music is Passion

In Christian music a Passion is a setting of the Passion of ChristLiturgically most Passions were intended to be performed as part of church services in the Holy Week.

Passion settings developed from intoned readings of the Gospel texts relating Christ’s Passion since Medieval times, to which later polyphonic settings were added. Passion Plays, another tradition that originated in the Middle Ages, could be provided with music such as hymns, contributing to Passion as a genre in music.

While in Catholicism the musical development of Tenebrae services became more pronounced than that of Passion settings, Passion cantatas, and later Passions in oratorio format, most often performed on Good Friday, became a focal point in Holy Week services in Protestantism. Its best known examples, such as Bach’s Passion settings, date from the first half of the 18th century.

Later musical settings of the Passion of Christ, such as the Jesus Christ Superstar Rock opera, or Arvo Pärt‘s Passio refer to these earlier Christian traditions in varying degree.

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