Three in the Afternoon:
for voice, organ, and percussion
Mark 15: 33-34, 37
At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Three in the Afternoon is a reflective piece of music composed for the Northern Michigan Drumheads. I knew Drumheads were going to perform at St. Mary Parish in Charlevoix (where I work as organist) for a concert. When I found out it was on Palm Sunday, however, immediately I had the idea of creating a Holy Week-related piece for the duo.
Using a unique blend of instrumentation — a baritone vocalist, pipe organ, and two percussionists — I had the true joy and challenge of thinking about how I wanted to texturally represent this passage from Mark’s Gospel. It’s a darker passage, where we witness the definitive moment at three o’clock when Jesus dies on the cross. So the music naturally reflects the power and the gravity of this life-changing event.
I approached the music in a way that represents how the crucifixion and death was a moment in time, but one that we often return to in scripture and in prayer. For example, the piece starts in a way that it feels it could be the “middle movement” of a larger work, but instead intentionally acts as a standalone piece of music. Life came before, and life continues after (including the resurrection), but the moment of His death is when everything changed. We Christians often reflect on that moment of His death throughout our whole lives. I hope that Three in the Afternoon is a meditative experience for you, reflecting on the death of Jesus Christ.
Premiered by Tony Manfredonia and Drumheads (Tim Mocny, Rob Kratz-Hahn) at St. Mary Parish in Charlevoix, MI, on March 28, 20201
Recording mixed and mastered by Michael Culler.