Listen to Judas by Pepper Choplin
Choplin’s use of musical dynamics and harmonies effectively conveys the mood of each section of the song.
The song begins when Jesus finishes praying and tells Peter and the rest of those who were with him that “my betrayer is at hand.” and immediately, Judas arrives with a crowd to arrest Jesus.
Judas’s arrival prompts the first line of the song. “Where have you been tonight? We wonder where you might have gone. ” This line is sung by Soprano and Alto, with Tenor and Bass periodically interjecting with an accusatory calling out of Judas’s name.
Choplin paints a picture of the disciples wondering what Judas was feeling the moment he betrayed Jesus with a kiss. “What is that in your face?, we think we see a trace of guilt or disgrace. Is it shame or is it hate?” “O Judas, Judas,” they lament.
Judas has brought a crowd bearing torches and swords to arrest Jesus, and the disciples are asking (perhaps wondering) how Judas could betray his friend and master with a kiss. A kiss that was going to lead to Jesus’s death.
The second section takes place after Jesus has been killed. The question now is whether Judas can live with what he has done. He has betrayed and sent Jesus, whom he served, loved and lived for, to his death.
Judas could not live with what he had done. He returned the 30 pieces of silver and hanged himself.
Overall, “Judas” is a thought-provoking and moving piece of music that offers a unique perspective on one of the most significant events in Christian history.
There is a lot we can learn from Judas. Here are some lessons we can learn from Judas’s life.