Steven Kimbrough: baritone
Richard Kennedy: tenor
Mary K. Jackson: music
Charles Wesley: text
The Good Samaritan: Through the Eyes of the Victim
Steven Kimbrough and Mary Jackson
2. A certain man went down to Jerusalem
3. How desperate is the state of man
4. The thieves have robbed and stripped and bound
5. By chance there came down a certain priest
6. The venerable priest may see my wounds
7. The prophets, saints, and patriarchs old
8. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place
9. The Levite stern approaches nigh
10. The law commands: “Do this and live.”
11. But a certain Samaritan
12. But life I see in death appear
13. And he went to him, and bound up his wounds
14. Stranger unknown, thou art my God
15. On the morrow, when he departed
16. Thy patient in thy hands I lie
17. Thou, didst ascending up on high
18. Thou bidst the ministerial host
19. Jesus, united by thy grace
The series of poems based on the New Testament story of the Good Samaritan were left unpublished by Charles Wesley at the time of his death. They were published in 1990 in volume 2 of the three-volume series, The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley, edited by S T Kimbrough, Jr., and Oliver A. Beckerlegge (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1988, 1990, 1992). They were among over 800 poems by Charles Wesley on the four gospels and the Book of Acts that were not published during his lifetime.
The poems tell the story from a unique perspective, namely, that of the man who is attacked and left for dead by the side of the road. As was so often the case in his biblical interpretation, Charles Wesley internalizes the experience of biblical characters, and thus their emotions and thoughts become his own. The poems have been slightly reconfigured in the setting of the cantata so that the sections in the third person form a chorus of observers who see the story unfolding before them, as it is narrated by the Evangelist. This is in keeping with Charles Wesley’s own style of citing the gospel narrative and responding to it with poetical interpretation.
Wesley’s telling of the story remains timely, for he reminds us that victims of violence in every age deserve our care, love, and justice. Only in this way can violence be overcome.
Mary K. Jackson was commissioned in 1995 to compose The Good Samaritan cantata for the 110th anniversary of Wesley Methodist Church in Singapore, where the first performance took place at Victoria Concert Hall and subsequently at Wesley Methodist Church. It has been partially revised for this edition. It has since had a European premiere in Oxford, UK.