An Easter Play adapted from Medieval and Renaissance fragments of religious dramas by Peter Haworth.
Commission: CBC Television and Radio
Length: 33 min. (Original production, with full text, one hour)
Premiere: 1962-04-22/25, CBC Vancouver Chamber Orch., Hugh McLean (cond.), TV and Radio
Other: 1966-04-10, CBC Vancouver Chamber Orch., Hugh McLean (cond.)
[Anon.] “Easter Programs,” CBC Times, Vol. 12, No. 41 (April 21-27, 1962):
The Third Day, a play of the Resurrection from the 16th century with original music composed by Vancouver musician Dr. Robert Turner will be presented Easter Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m. on CBC-TV, and on CBC Wednesday Night on radio April 25 at 9 p.m. The television production will be broadcast from St. James Anglican church in Vancouver – the site of the first church to be established on Burrard Inlet. A cast of eleven Vancouver actors are featured together with a chorus of twenty voice, including five soloists, and a 16-piece orchestra conducted by Hugh McLean. The text has been arranged by Peter Haworth who worked from the four surviving fragments of the original play: The Resurrection of or Lord.
“The text has been treated with considerable freedom as to sequence and arrangement,” states Haworth, “but the language itself, although somewhat clumsy and still, is always vigorous and often powerful, and has been left virtually un-modernized. In the case of the lyrics for the songs which come almost entirely from the York-Wakefield cycles, some changes were necessary in order that they should blend with the spoken text which is much later in date.”
The Third Day is divided into three sections or movements which contain an equal balance between dialogue and music. The music for each section is based on a plain song for Easter and a 12-tone series or row derived from the plain song.
The prologue consists of the first three verses of William Dunbar`s Hymn to the Resurrection sung by the chorus. The music of the first section, The Setting of the Watch, is based on the Antiphon Surrexit Dominus de Sepulchro (Christ Rose from the Tomb) and features brass, wind instruments and low strings to underline the sombre and tragic mood. Annas and Caiaphas, the high priests, ask Pilate to set a guard on the Tomb of Christ. A centurion describes what he saw at the Crucifixion. Pilate gives his consent to the setting of the watch and the first section ends with the high priests bribing a soldier to guard the Tomb.
The second section is preceded by a musical interlude and a spoken description of the actual Resurrection by the soldier. The section proper opens with the scene of the three Marys – Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary Jacobi – coming to the Tomb to find it empty. They are told by an Angel that Christ has risen from the dead.
Mary Magdalene is left alone and there follows the scene between Mary Magdalene and Christ whom she mistakes for the gardener. The section ends with the three Marys reunited, setting out to find Peter. The music works in this section include a trio selection by the three Marys; the Angel’s chorus and two songs by Mary Magdalene. Music is based on the Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes (Praise to the Easter Victim).
The final section which is again preceded by a musical interlude and a spoken interlude is concerned with the forgiveness of Peter. The three Marys tell Peter that Christ has risen. At first because fo his sense of guilt over the betrayal, he is unwilling to believe them. But in the long scene with Christ, he believes and is absolved from his sin.
The work ends with an Epilogue for chorus and orchestra including a quintet of the five soloists which is based on the Antiphon Gaudete Populi (Rejoice Ye Peoples and Be Glad).
Mary Magdalene Audrey Farnell Mary Salome Winona Denyes Mary Jacobi Katherine Fearn Centurion Terence Penner Peter Donald Brown
Spoken Parts: Soldier, Caiaphas, Pilate, Annas, Angel, Jesus