Erik-Peter Mortensen | A Pharisee Went Up

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A Pharisee Went Up

by Erik-Peter Mortensen

A consort anthem in the Elizabethan styles of Orlando Gibbons, William Byrd and John Dowland inspired by an unusual translation of the "Good Samaritan" parable's prologue from the Gospel of Luke 10:25-28.
Genre: Classical: Early Music
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1. A Pharisee Went Up
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Album Notes
About the Track

Many years ago, while a choir member of the United Broadway Church of Christ on Manhattan's Upper West Side, I was inspired to write an anthem based on a Gospel reading of Luke 10:25-28 that was printed on one particular Sunday's leaflet. Little did I realize that this particular translation is so unusual that I have not been able to find it ever since! However, the flow of the passage evoked a dramatic film dialog in my mind, in this case between a Pharisee (or expert in the law) and Jesus. It closely reminded me of a verse anthem set by Orlando Gibbons, "This is the Record of John" which described another dramatic dialog between ancient priests and levites and John the Baptist, according to another gospel account. I immediately made up my mind to write an anthem similar to Gibbon's style using a four part accompaniment and solo baritone voice (as I happen to be a baritone!). Although it was eventually performed with my organ mater accompanying me, the accompaniment proved rather difficult for a single organist, as most of the parts are continuously contrapuntal. As I re-examined this work recently, I've decided to re-orchestrate it for guitar (or lute ensemble) with a minimum of two to four guitarists (depending upon skill level). Although this accompaniment is virtually realized by me for this release, I foresee future performances of this anthem using various combinations of instruments for the accompaniment as an exciting possibility!

About the Consort Song

A consort song was a characteristic English song form of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, for solo voice or voices accompanied by a group of instruments, most commonly viols. Although usually in five parts, some early examples of four-part songs exist. It is considered to be the chief representative of a native musical tradition which resisted the onslaught of the italianate madrigal and the English lute ayre, and survived those forms' brilliant but short-lived ascendancy (Brett 2001).
In contemporary usage, the term was confined to a number of songs for four voices accompanied by the standard mixed consort of six instruments, found in Teares or Lamentacions of a sorrowfull Soule by William Leighton, published in 1614, but was first used in the modern sense by Thurston Dart (Brett 2001).
William Byrd is recognized as the composer whose adoption and development of the consort song established its musical importance. He regarded it as a standard means to set vernacular poetry (Brett 2001).

A consort anthem is a consort song with a sacred text, often adapted as a liturgical verse anthem with organ.

About the Text

As mentioned above, this is the unusual translation of Luke 10:25-28 that I read one day off a church leaflet. If anyone knows the source of this translation (or one very close to it) I'd love to know! For reference below it, I've included the same passage as well as the whole following parable of the "Good Samaritan" as found in the New International Version (NIV) translation online.

25 A Pharisee went up to question Jesus. "Master", he said, "what shall I do to gain eternal life?"
26 Jesus answered him, "What do the scriptures say? What is read there?"
27 And he said, "Love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, with all thy mind, and love thy neighbor as thyself."
28 Jesus answered him, "Thou hast spoken rightly. Do this and you shall live."

(Alternate translation):

Luke 10:25-37
New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”


Luke 10:27 Deut. 6:5
Luke 10:27 Lev. 19:18
Luke 10:35 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see Matt. 20:2).

About the Production

Vocal performance and virtual realization for guitar (or lute) ensemble by Erik-Peter Mortensen


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