The Shadows is a powerful exploration of Christ’s Passion in scripture and song.
Based on the ancient Tenebrae service, The Shadows features seven readings from the Gospel of Matthew that follow the deepening shadow of death as Jesus moves closer to the cross. After each reading is a musical interlude played by cello ensemble–first seven cellos, then six, then five, until only one cello remains. As each cellist leaves, another candle is extinguished, a vivid visual image of the depth of the darkness that engulfed Jesus. Each interlude holds a musical mirror to the passion of Jesus’ final hours–poignant and dark, but always with a glimmer of hope.
In ordinary times, The Shadows is led in person by its composer, Greg Scheer. These powerful Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services often begin with congregational singing, include sermon and scripture readers from the local church, and end with communion. In this pandemic year, however, the service will be virtual. And while it’s disappointing to have to cancel face-to-face Holy Week services featuring The Shadows, it also creates an opportunity for many more churches to take part.
Consider hosting The Shadows in your church’s Holy Week services this year. The service is flexible, allowing your church to simply play the video from start to finish or use seven separate files with your own scripture readers. The Shadows is about 30 minutes long, so some churches will choose to pair it with a sermon, congregational singing, or other service elements. To that end, the package includes congregational song videos and copy/paste liturgies.
As much as we would like to make this available for free, we need to pay seven cellists and a professional videographer. We are making The Shadows available to churches for $200. Email Meredith for access to a password-protected site where you can download the sections and formats your church chooses for its service.
We hope this virtual performance of The Shadows will be a fresh, artistic immersion into the Passion of Christ, drawing your congregation into the story with new ears and eyes.
The Seven Movements
The Shadow of Betrayal: Matthew 26:20-25
The Shadow of Desertion: Matthew 26:30-35
The Shadow of an Unshared Vigil: Matthew 26:36-46
The Shadow of Accusation: Matthew 27:11-14, 20-26
The Shadow of Crucifixion: Matthew 27:27-37
The Shadow of Death: Matthew 27:45-54
The Shadow of the Tomb: Matthew 27:57-60
What People are Saying:
The Shadows was wonderfully effective at our Good Friday service. The cellos emoted eloquently—beyond anything that words could express. (Mary Speyer, Fuller Ave Church)
The service was very moving and helped us focus on Christ’s passion and death. (Mary Bardolph, Calvin CRC)
Disturbing and amazing. (Ruth Van Stee, Fuller Ave Church)
“The Shadows” anchored a powerful Maundy Thursday evening worship service for our congregation. Greg and the ensemble of cellists led us well. The structure of the piece, with cellists leaving the room as the darkness deepened, brought the passion narrative alive for us in a new way. (Rebecca Jordan Heys, Pastor, Calvin CRC)