The Passion according to St John is traditionally sung on Good Friday. Many composers have set the text; some, like Victoria more suited to liturgical use, based on plainchant recitations of the dialogue, with a choir taking the role of the soldiers and the crowd. Others, like Bach, use the texts to create a substantial choral work with arias, choruses and chorales. This setting is very much in the style of the former. Most of the parts are recited to plainsong-style melodies – not the traditional tones, but original to this setting. An SATB choir takes on the role of Priests, Police, Crowd and Soldiers. Some of the roles are small, and should be sung by members of the choir, whereas others should be sung be soloists ideally stood apart from the choir.
Used in its full version, this is quite a substantial work. While I feel that this should be how it is used (if we can’t give an extra few minutes on Good Friday then when can we?) if a shorter version is required then, following the opening sentence, Part One could be cut and only Part Two (chapter 19) sung.
There are two editions available: The Full Score contains all parts; The Choir Score contains the SATB choir parts and the solo lines sung from the choir, all with cue lines to help entries. The narrator, Jesus and Pilate would all need a full score.