An Easter Meditation

Developed for the programmes “Blute Nur – Easter Lamentations” for the La Motte Concert Series and “Silent Mourning – Easter Meditation” at the Simonstown Methodist Church, April 2014

Lynelle Kenned – soprano

Albert Combrink – piano

Sally Minter – flute

Sarah Acres – cello

Albert Combrink

“Columba Aspexit” – A Feather on the Breath of God  
Hildegard. von Bingen (c.1058-c.1100)

This extraordinarily gifted woman, born c. 1058 in Bermersheim, Germany, was given to the church at the age of eight. The tenth child of Hildebert of Bermersheim and Mechthild of Merxheim, she was promised as a tithe to the church from her birth and was later to become an abbess. She was a polymath: a visionary, a theologian, a preacher, an early scientist and physician and a prodigious letter-writer who numbered kings, emperors and popes among her correspondents.

llumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary

llumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary

” Listen; there was once a king on his throne anointed with great honour. He sent forth his dove into the world, which dropped the tiniest feather from its wing. The king raised the feather, blew on it, and commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself, but because the air bore it along.

Thus am I: but a feather on the breath of God.”

Albert Combrink

“Sonatina de la Çantate “Actus Tragicus” en si bémol majeur, BWV 106″ arr Gyorgy Kurtag Arr. Combrink/Minter/Acres
J.S. Bach

One of Bach’s early Funeral Cantatas – Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (God’s time is the very best time) – was probably composed by the young organist in 1707 in Mühlhausen and is set to texts referring to the finite nature of life, the inevitability of death and the comfort to be found in belief in the here‐after.

Albert Combrink

À Chloris
R. Hahn (1874

Written in the midst of the horrors of World War 1, “À Chloris” is startling in its deliberate scorning of modernisms, a Baroque walking bass instantly transporting us to an imagined ancient place; a sculpture frozen in marble; another L’heure exquisse which Hahn was so brilliant at calling into existence with one delicate stroke of the brush.

 Albert Combrink

Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus, John 18:1-11 

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.


The Kiss of Judas, by Giotto di Bondone

“The Kiss of Judas”: Giotto di Bondone

So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.”

This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Albert Combrink

Blute nur, du liebes Herz (Matthäus-Passion: nr. 12: Soprano Aria)
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

It is unclear exactly how many Passion settings Bach actually wrote: as many as five, more possibly three or four. Only two survive today; the second of these, the St. Matthew Passion dates from 1729. The Passions – Biblical texts set as large‐scale musical works –  were performed on Good Friday and told the story of Christ’s Crucifixion, according to the Gospels. The St. Matthew Passion is a work very different in character from its extant predecessor, the St. John Passion: the former is deeply devotional, introspective, and meditative in character, while the latter is more intensely dramatic, with more action in its narrative.

Blute nur, du liebes Herz! Ach! Ein
Kind, das du erzogen,
Das an deiner Brust gesogen, Droht den Pfleger zu ermorder, Denn es ist zur Schlange worden.
Bleed on, dear heart. Ah, a child that thou raised, That sucked at thy breast, Threatens to murder its guardian, For it has become a serpent

Albert Combrink

Erbarme Dich ( Matthäus-Passion nr 47: Alto Aria Arr. Cello & Flute)
J.S. Bach (1685-1 750)

Erbarme dich, Mein Gott, um meiner Tränen willen!   Schaue hier, Herz
und Auge weint vor dir
Have mercy, My God, for my tears’ sake; Look hither, Heart and eyes weep before thee Bitterly.  


Albert Combrink

“Maria” – Elizabeth Eybers
’n Engel het dit self gebring, die vreugde‐boodskap – en jy het ’n lofsang tot Gods eer gesing, Maria,
nooi uit Nasaret!
Maar toe Josef van jou wou skei en bure-agterdog
jou pla, het jy kon dink eenmaal sou hý die hele wêreldskande dra?

Toe jy soms met ’n glimlag langs jou liggaam
stryk . . . die stilte instaar . . . wis jy met
hoeveel liefde en angs sou hý sy hellevaart aanvaar?

Die nag daar in die stal – geeneen om in jou nood
by jou te staan – het jy geweet dat hy alléén Getsemane sou binnegaan?

Toe vorste uit die Ooste kom om nederig hulde
te betoon, wis jy hoe die soldate hom tot
koning van die volk sou kroon?

En toe hy in jou arms lê, sy mondjie teen jou
volle bors, het jy geweet dat hy sou sê, toe dit
te laat was: Ek het dors!

Toe dit verby was en jy met sy vriend Johannes
huis toe gaan – Maria, vrou van smarte,
het jy tóé die boodskap goed verstaan?

Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus - Rubens

Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus – Rubens


 “Maria” – Elizabeth Eybers
Afrikaans poem translated into English: Albert Combrink

An Angel brought it himself, the joyful message – and you sang a Psalm in God’s honour,
Mary, maid from Nazareth!
But when Joseph wanted to divorce you, and neighbourly suspicions troubled you,
could you have thought one day that he would carry the guilt of the entire world?

When you smiled  sometimes, stroking along your body… staring into the silence…
did you sense with how much love and fear he would accept his journey to hell?

That night in the stable – no one to assist you in your need –
did you know that he would enter Gethsemane alone?

Then Emperors came from the East, humbly to pay their respects,
could you know how the soldiers would crown him king of the nation?

And when he lay in your arms, his little mouth against your full breast,
did you know that he would say, once it was too late: I have thirst!

When it was all over and you went home with his friend, John –
Mary, woman of sorrows, did you then understand the message?

Albert Combrink

Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben (Matthäus-Passion nr 58: Soprano Aria)
J.S. Bach (1685-1

Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben,
Von einer sunde weiss er nichts.
Dass das ewige Verderben
Und die Strafe des Gerichts
Nicht auf meiner Seele bliebe.
Out of love my Saviour is willing to die
Though he knows nothing of any sin,
So that eternal ruin
And the punishment of judgment
May not rest upon my soul.

 Albert Combrink

“Why Have You Forsaken Me?” Psalm 22:1-2, 6-7, 14-24

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet —I can count all my bones —they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

Albert Combrink

Flute Sonata in E-flat major, BWV 1031: Siciliana
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

The extent, if any, to which the Sonata in E-flat Major for flute and obbligato harpsichord, BWV1031, can be attributed to Bach remains in dispute. Probably dating from the early to mid‐1730s this immediately appealing music may well be a joint venture of Bach himself and one or other of his two elder sons, perhaps Carl Philipp Emanuel. What is indisputable, however, is the high quality of its craftsmanship and its expressive charm. A gentle rocking rhythm creates a soothing atmosphere, offering both human and spiritual comfort: at once a lullaby with an ingratiating human, fallible quality,  as well a glimpse into the infinite, the Almighty gently drawing a veil of grace over humanity.

Albert Combrink

The crucifixion of Jesus:  Psalm 69:19-21

You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonour; my foes are all known to you. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.


"El Expolio" - El Greco

“El Expolio” – El Greco


John 19:28-30

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said,

“It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 Albert Combrink

 “Silent Mourning” – a reflection on “Stabat Mater”
Steven van der Merwe

Dedicated to Haneli Rupert (First Performance: La Motte Concert Series)

From the composer: “Silent Mourning” was composed especially for today’s performance, following a request from Albert Combrink for a composition for flute, piano, soprano and cello. The Latin text is taken from selected passages from the “Stabat Mater” or Mother Standing, a medieval poem regarding Mary’s suffering at the time of the Crucifixion. The flute accompaniment is noted for its “gliding” technique in places, in an attempt to allow for an “Eastern” sense of solemnity. Note the heavily accented open fifths towards the end of the piece in the cello, depicting the nails being struck during the Crucifixion.

"The Curicifixion" Detail: El Greco

“The Curicifixion” Detail: El Greco

Dr Steven van der Merwe has been studying composition with Peter Louis van Dijk and was awarded the degree M. Mus. (Composition, cum laude) in 2013. He is also director/conductor of the Chamber Orchestra, Pro Musica Divina, which holds regular concerts in the Southern Peninsula. Steven’s composition “Eleven – a Requiem for a Parent” for choir and orchestra premiered at the St. George’s Cathedral in 2011 under his baton and with the talents of the UCT choir and the St. George’s Singers. He has composed various other works for cello sextet, cello and piano as well as works for string orchestra. Other compositions include his Blacksmith Mass” (for choir, organ and string quintet); Dans la Pluie” (for harp, flute and string orchestra, premiered by Liesl Stoltz and Jacqui Kerrod in 2012) and “Tantum Ergo”composed for the Herschel chorale.

“Silent Mourning” – a reflection on
“Stabat Mater” by
Steven van der Merwe

Stabat mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrymosa
Dum pendebat Filius

Quae morebat et dolebat
et tremebat cum videbat
Nati poenas inclyti

Quis est homo qui non fleret
Dum emisit spiritum.
Stabat mater

Silent Mourning” – a reflection on
“Stabat Mater” by
Steven van der Merwe

The mother stood sorrowing
by the cross, weeping
while her Son hung there

Who wept and grieved
and trembled to behold
the torment of her glorious child.

What man would not weep
as He gave up the spirit.
The mother stood


"Christ Cricufied" Domenikos Theotokopoulos El Greco

“Christ Cricufied” Domenikos Theotokopoulos El Greco

 Albert Combrink

Vidit Suum – Stabat Mater
F. Poulenc (1899-

Poulenc is remembered mainly as a gay boulevardier, but he also had a serious, deeply sincere religious side, expressed with austere beauty in his Stabat Mater. Poulenc wanted to write something in memory of a friend, painter Christian Bérard. Although he resisted writing a requiem, the slow movements of this work often call to mind the gentle Requiem of Gabriel Fauré, and structurally it adheres to the old motet patterns employed by Jean‐Baptiste Lully.

Vidit suum dulcem natum
Morientem desolatum,
Dum emisit spiritum.
She saw her sweet Son
dying, forsaken,
as He gave up the spirit.

Albert Combrink 

The Death of Jesus: Luke 23 : 44 ‐ 47

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “ Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “ Certainly this man was innocent!


Albert Combrink
Cello Sonata in G Minor Op. 19 iii Adagio 
S. Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata opens with a phrase which seems to call itself forth into being from some primordial mist and drive forward with immense energy and waves of power and passion, pausing in the third movement to reflect, gather itself around itself, and yes, meditate. It calls upon images of ancient ritual, and wisdom. Bells ring in the work, either by clear recognition of the sounds or simply by implication. Monks chant an ancient language once understood by all. A Russian bass intones a solid prayer and the piano and cello weave themselves around the strands of melody in a weightless dance of spiritual ecstasy.

 Albert Combrink

Jesus the only Way: John 11 : 25 ‐ 27

Jesus said to her, “ I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”


“Columba Aspexit” – A Feather on the Breath of God  
Hildegard von Bingen (c.1058-c.1100)

The dove peered in, through the lattices of the windows. You intercede for the people, who stretch towards the mirror of light to whom there is praise on high.
The king raised the feather, blew on it, and commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself, but because the air bore it along.

Thus am I: but a feather on the breath of God.


Lynelle Kenned (Soprano), Sarah Acres (Cellist in the City), Albert Combrink (Pianist), Sally Minter (Flute), Steven van der Merwe (Composer)

Lynelle Kenned (Soprano), Sarah Acres (Cellist in the City), Albert Combrink (Pianist), Sally Minter (Flute), Steven van der Merwe (Composer) Photographed at the première of “Silent Mourning” at the La Motte Concert Series


Lynelle Kenned (soprano)
is a star graduate of the UCT Opera School and a member of the award‐winning South African Sopranos. She has been entertaining audiences for years, from the local Baxter, Artscape and State theatres, to Brown University and even  the British Parliament. Lynelle became a beloved TV personality as the runner‐up in the Top Billing Presenter Search, subsequently joining Pasella as their latest presenter and expanding her skills by adding voice-over artist, MC and motivational speaker to her vast repertoire. Career highlights include performing with Katherine Jenkins and master classes with Juilliard’s Brian Zeger. This past year saw her making her debut in David Kramer’s musical “Blood Brothers” and collaborating with DJ Fresh’s Big Dawg Productions.

Albert Combrink (piano) completed his M.Mus. in Piano Performance at Natal University under Isabella Stengel, as well as three UNISA licentiates: Piano Performance, Piano Accompaniment and Teaching (cum laude). He took lessons from Bernd Goetzke in Hanover and Gerhard Oppitz in Munich. He made his concerto and recording debut with the NPO at 18. Since then he has performed regularly at major centres throughout the country, as soloist and accompanist, in both classical and popular music fields. He was finalist in the ATKV Music Competition and winner of the Young Natal Chamber Competition and UND Performer’s and Composer’s competitions, after which he was commissioned to write  his  first Afrikaans Catholic Mass. He has extensive recording experience and was repetiteur for the UCT Opera School as well as Cape Town Opera. His work with CT Tango Ensemble has featured in films such as “Tango Club” and “Visa/Vie” and has been nominated for a prestigious MTN SAMA Award (Best Instrumental Album). A highlight of his career was a tour of Germany, which included performing at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in 2011. He has worked with directors such as Janice Honeyman, Jaco Bouwer and Marthinus Basson. He was vocal coach for the Portabello Copmany, whose production of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” won a London Critics’ “Olivier Award” in 2008. Albert is co‐author of 3 Arts & Culture Textbooks which have sold over 100 000 copies. He is much sought after as an accompanist and vocal coach, having worked with international figures such as Katherine Jenkins, Neil Shicoff and Lesley Garrett on their South African tours. 2014 sees the release of his solo classical CD “Campanella” featuring works of Chopin and Liszt.

Sarah Acres (cello) was born in London and studied the cello with Michael Evans at the Royal College of Music. She won several RCM awards, including the Ivor James prize for her performance of the first Shostakovich Cello Concerto, and the Helen Just Recital prize, before graduating with a GRSM(Hons) degree and ARCM teaching diploma in 1983. She freelanced with many British orchestras before gaining a permanent post with the RTE Symphony Orchestra in Ireland. In 1985 she came to South Africa to join the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, where she became the co‐principal cellist. During this time she made several appearances as soloist with the NPO, made many recordings for the SABC and was a regular performer of chamber music. She moved to Cape Town in 1992 to join the CTSO, eventually leaving her post as sub‐principal cellist in 1998 in the newly formed CTPO to pursue a freelance career. In addition to teaching at Bishops, Springfield and Beau Soleil Music School, she coaches for both the annual Franschhoek Chamber Music Week and for the Amateur Chamber Music Players.

Sally Minter (flute) was born and raised in Cape Town, and first started learning the flute at the age of thirteen under Corvin Matei before moving to Bridget Rennie Salonen with whom she studied for eight years.  During her undergraduate degree at the University of Cape Town, Sally performed as a soloist with every major orchestra in the country, including the Cape Town, Johannesburg and KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestras.  She graduated in 2011 with distinction, receiving the class medal for three consecutive years as the highest performing student in her year.  She then moved to London where she recently graduated with a Master of Arts with merit from the Royal Academy of Music.  Studying under Paul Edmund-Davies and Patricia Morris, Sally performed in the Royal Academy of Music Concert Orchestra under such esteemed conductors as Marin Alsop and Semyon Bychkov.  During her time in London, Sally excelled in the competition circuit, performing in masterclasses for some of the most famous flautists in the world, including William Bennett, Emily Beynon and principal of the Berlin Philharmonic, Andreas Blau.

Sally won the Fine Music Radio Nussbaum Award in 2011.  Future concerts include performing with internationally renowned flautist, Paul Edmund-Davies.


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