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First slash: Jesus/Judas

Thank you for the lovely encouragement.

Title: The Man That Clothes Me
Summary: God the Father plays a trick on both Jesus and Judas.
Pairing: Jesus/Judas
Notes: Partially inspired by the 2000 version of Jesus Christ Superstar. The main plot point is inspired by the pseudoepigraphical Gospel of Barnabas, together with a few Gnostic ideas. The theology is due to Jorge Luis Borges.
Warning: Full of heresies. The notion that Jesus and Judas were in love is probably the mildest one among them. If such notions bother you, please be very, very wary of clicking the cut below.

1. Night. Garden.

He pulls away from the kiss, trembling, and lowers his head in shame. My hands hover in the empty air above his shoulders, powerless, trying to touch him, but the foot-and-half of space between us has turn into infinity. I stare at him, silently commanding him to look up and meet my gaze. He doesn't.

Then Judas staggers half a step forward and falls into my arms. In the contact something breaks. A black wave overwhelms me, perhaps remorse, his, mine, perhaps something more. I'm clinging onto him as if there's no tomorrow. There isn't. I squeeze my eyes shut. Just one more moment. I am not ready, Father. Just one moment longer--

Rough hands, several of them, yanking me backward, and the only thing I can think of is not letting go. This is it. This is the way it's happening. My eyes snap open. They're dragging Judas apart from me, a whole tangle of their cold talons all over his body, and he's staring straight at me now, struggling, an arm stretched out desperately toward mine. I, too, push forward against the tide, but they shove me back to the ground.

Judas opens his mouth as if to scream my name, but then--I see it all so clearly--his eyes widen, not quite with shock. He shakes his head at me, a very slight movement. And he does not scream my name. He does not say a word.

With a sickening crush of fear I realize it at last. It is not me they're taking away.

I clamber to my feet, reaching wildly, and manage to grab onto his hand again. They break us apart again. There's confusion everywhere around us. Out of the corner of my eye I catch Peter leaping up. A clash of blades.

"Stop!" yells Judas. But he's not looking at Peter.

I sense something else now, a presence, a strange acrid scent. Wasn't there before. It's stinging my nostrils and my eyes. I blink through the darkness and the tears, and finally--too late--I see it: the smoke of illusion thick as white veils across the air, lines and nets and tentacles of it, everywhere in the garden. It's obscuring all these people's sights, blinding them utterly. They can't tell.

"No," I cry out, and lift my hand.

Nothing happens.

"Put away your sword!" Judas's voice crackles like thunder above the melee. He draws himself straight, and for an instant the men almost back off. But he still does not spare any of them a single glance. When he speaks once more, he's pronouncing every syllable with a peculiar, terrifying care.

"For all they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword--"


Stumbling, I lift both hands, clawing at the shadows and the visions like a heavy fog swirling in the night. Fools, idiots! Every last one of them so easily deceived. Nothing, nothing. I cannot touch the lie. There is nothing I can feel.

"Over here!" I shout. "This is me, here! You've got the wrong man, you're wrong! I am--"

Amid the uproar I hear laughter. I hear someone call out in derision, Iscariot.

"No! This is not how it's supposed to happen!"

And another fist connects with my jaw.

2. Deeper night. High priest's palace.

What does he think he's doing? What the hell does he think he's going to accomplish here? Has he gone mad?

He's up front now, where I should to be, facing the council of priests with proudly upheld chin. And I'm down here, pushing through the crowd. More of them are coming, and keep coming; on every side they press and jolt, muttering, fighting for a better view. The guards drive them back. Then a hush falls, and I hear a blaring voice, solemn in its pretension.

"What do you say to these accusations? Tell us, are you the Christ, the Son of God?"

And Judas stands there. Without moving a muscle, and before he begins a word of reply, he's already thrown their rage straight back into their faces.

"Well, you said it, didn't you?"

That intonation, that contemptuous little smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth: that's him, pure Judas, not me. The crowd sucks in a sharp collective breath. Can none of them perceive the truth?

"I command you in the name of God, answer this: are you the Christ, the Son of God?"

"You're blind, every one of you!" I call out, elbowing aside a man in front of me.

"Shush, you!" cry several voices. The smirk vanishes from Judas's lips. But he does not turn his sight to seek me.

"That is what you say," he answers, not loudly but very clearly. "But I will tell you this: you will yet see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

A low growl erupts around me. In less than a heartbeat there're a hundred of them all babbling at the same time, and the entire council is up on its feet.

"Blasphemy!" bellows the high priest. He strides forward, and with a wave of his hand the guards close in upon the accused man. Even amid the confusion and the noise, I hear the thud as the first blow finds its mark.

"Hey!" I scream at the top of my lungs. "Over here! I am here! I am the one you want! You've been deceived! You've got the wrong man! He's not the Christ, I am! I am the Son of God!"

A shocked silence slices across the chaos like a knife, and even the guards spin around. Between them, down on the floor, I catch sight of Judas one more time. They've forced him to his knees, and his mouth is bleeding. Our gazes meet across the hall.

His lips move, but I cannot hear what he says.

"Judas Iscariot--" A shaky voice, female, vaguely familiar.

"That man's gone insane!" a hooded man near me yelps. "Throw him out!"

"Throw him out!" repeat a few others, then more. Someone ahead turns around, grabbing for me; without thinking, I land a solid right against his nose. He reels back, but already other hands are clutching at my arms. I'm flailing like mad now. Then my wrist gets caught in a grip like a metallic vise.

"I got him. I got him!" A cry of triumph booms out. I can only see the side of the man's head, obscured by a brown hood. With all the human strength given to me, I twist my arm against his hold. It is no use. He starts to haul me toward the doors.

"I'll get rid of him," grunts my captor. The heat and the tumult of voices are falling behind me. A wind hits my face. I yank and struggle, but he is heavier and physically stronger, unrelentingly so. Before I know it, the night spreads out around us. We are moving fast: by the dim light of the stars, I see that we are already at the mouth of a crooked little alley, across a wide empty square from the palace.

"C'mon now--"

The grip on my arm loosens. An instant later I jerk free, whirl around and charge at him. There must have been another brief scuffle, then I manage to get both my hands on his shoulders, and slam him roughly against the wall behind him. The hood slips back just as the clouds part overhead, spilling moonlight onto a pale face, and a pair of icy glittering eyes. The last time I saw this face was on a high rooftop above the city. An eyebrow arches.

"Well, what do you know." The supercilious drawl, too, is exactly as I remember from our previous meeting. "The shock's gone to your mind, has it, Judas Iscariot?"

"Mind who you're talking to, Satan!"

The corner of his mouth twitches. I know the epithet has pissed him off. It always does.

"This means you won't thank me for getting you safely out of there, I guess?"

"So this must be another test," I hiss through clenched teeth. "You tell Him I've had enough of tests. Stop this. Stop this right now."

"No." This time, his reply is terse, and he's using his real voice. The righteousness of it is far worse than any tempter's oil and slime.

"Do you honestly believe, Lucifer, that I have not the power to dispel your lies?"

"That part isn't me, all right? Duh! Obviously!" With an easy shrug, he throws me off. His tone is already veering back toward the old habit of mockery. "Why, you must be really getting desperate, Son of God. What makes you think I have the ability to make you helpless?"

"What is going on here, then? This is not how it should be!" My head whip around as I glance back at the palace's hunched form, a monster in the night with glowing eyes. "They're going to kill him!"

"Merely what he deserves." Calmly, my Father's most devoted servant contemplates my rising dread. "Poetic justice, isn't it? Wait, no wait," he steps aside deftly as I glower and go for him again, "no, seriously, actually God's real plan is a little different than what you've been informed. Sorry about that."

I do not like the sound of this. I really do not.

"Well, you see." Lucifer holds up both hands as if in some sort of conciliatory gesture. "That man back there," a wave in the direction behind me, "sinned against you. The most despicable, least redeemable sin of treason. So God, in His infinite justice, sees to it that his crime comes back and bites him on the--"

"Now you listen to me!"

"And sinning against you is sinning against God," continues the angel, raising his voice a notch. "So tomorrow? He'll be taking your place. But of course a night and day of hideous suffering and then death is far too good for someone like that, so there'll be more punishment in store for him afterwards, too. As is only appropriate, won't you agree?"

I feel ill to my stomach.

"No. I won't allow it."

"He's a sell-out. Thirty pieces of silver and you would have died. A cheap price for the Word of God."

"How about His idea of redeeming humanity, then?" I let out a slow breath, and tell myself to stay rational, stay cool. "I'm supposed to be the lamb on the altar, remember? I'm the only one who carries enough weight!"

"Well." He shrugs. "Maybe He wants to spare you the pain. Ever consider that?"


"Because your Father loves you," retorts Lucifer, matter-of-fact. "And oh, by the way, that reminds me, your work's here not done yet. Do make sure to stick around tomorrow, 'cause you'll still be needed for a little...oh, bodily assumption into heaven, let's say?"


"And we'll time everything just right. It'll have to be a small private event, I'm afraid, can't afford to ruin the illusion for the masses." For some reason he actually looks pleased as he begins to describe the bizarre plot. "But He's agreed to let you invite a few of your nearest and dearest friends; just say the names and I'll strip the illusion from their eyes. Tomorrow. It'll be quite an edifying spectacle--for the lucky few--won't it, and we'll make sure it happens exactly when your little human traitor..." He stretches out both arms and lolls his head sideways. "Down he goes; up you go. Everything balances out perfectly. Always big on symmetry, isn't He?"

"I will do nothing of the kind," I spit out, shaking with fury. I want to grab him by the neck. I don't know what they're doing to Judas inside the palace right now as we speak; I can guess only too well. And out here I'm wasting time. "You take away the deception from their sights, all of them. Get me inside and get Judas out of there. Now!"

"Sorry, no can do." Lucifer stiffens. A breeze flutters his cloak, turning the shadows into outstretched wings. "It is God's will."

This is impossible. This is simply not happening. I would have been certain this is a bad joke, except my Father has never been known for His jokes.


"All right. I'll tell you why." The angel folds his arms across his chest. "Because it is Man that disobeyed, get it? This mission of yours, coming to earth to do...what? Die for their sins? Does that even make sense to you? It'll take more than death to redeem mankind. It'll take more than a day of humiliation and suffering on a contraption of wood. Oh, it'll take infinitely longer than that." He rolls his tongue over the word with disgusting relish. "And it'll take more than the Word made flesh, but one of their own. A human soul--"

"Hasn't He got enough souls down there in eternal torment?"

"This is different. This is a sinful, miserable man, lowest of the low, who has tried to harm you. Perfect representative for humanity. Perfect Hell-fodder, really, but guess what, there'll be meaning to his everlasting pain. The Lord is merciful to have chosen him for the sacrifice."

"He is not, and this is the sickest idea I've ever heard."

"Don't blaspheme, Son of God!"

"But I'm the one who ought be there! And tomorrow--"

"What, you disappointed?"

"What about me?"

"What about you?" asks Lucifer, all of a sudden very quiet.

"What about God's promise? What about mankind? And Judas--" I raise a hand to my temple in frustration. "He does not deserve this, can't you see? He's only human..."

"What about you!" Abruptly Lucifer stalks two swift paces forward, eyes ablaze. "Look at yourself! God's only begotten Son, King of Kings, the Word Itself! Clad in mortal human flesh! You came all the way down here, limited yourself, imprisoned yourself, isn't that sacrifice enough? Isn't that precisely as far a fall as a man sinking to Hell? Why shouldn't mankind--a man--repay that, the only way it knows how? And now you're walking this earth, eating and drinking and pissing and shitting, touching them, defiled! You've got yourself up to the ears in them, their human crimes and suffering, human love, human lust--"

For a long moment, I am stunned speechless.

"So this is what it's about?" Eventually I hear my own voice, incredulous. "This is why it has to be Judas?"

"Thou shall not lie with mankind and all that, if you will kindly attempt to recall," huffs Lucifer. "Your Father's own laws and that means no exceptions. What d'you think people will say?"

"Then punish me, not him!"

"Very well. Fine. Let's try this one more time." A bony finger jabs at my chest. "He. Betrayed. You."

"He thought he had no choice."

"That's what they all say."

"He had no choice. You pushed him."

"He did it himself. Mostly. I gave him a few nudges. He could have refused."

"You preyed on him when he was vulnerable. And we both know how hard it is for a human being to fight you in your full powers! And I was..." My voice trails off. I haven't exactly been helpful where Judas's state of mind was concerned, these last days. And now he's in there before the council and the crowd, playing right into God's hands. My shoulders slump. Hear me, Lord. Hear my plea. This is not right.

You hear me, of course. You always do. But You are unmoved, and You do not reply. You didn't reply earlier in the garden, either. I prayed and prayed then, asking You all those questions, about me, what was going to happen to me, my mission, my sacrifice. I was so wrapped up in myself that I completely missed the most obvious truth.

"Stop this. Let me do what I'm here to do. I know you still can."

"No." Even for an angel he is remarkably obstinate. "Firstly, I can't. Secondly, I won't. God's will is--" He actually pauses for melodramatic effect here. "Mysterious. Inexorable."

"Let me see him."


"I need to see him. Just once. Just for a little while."


I stare at the figure before me, at the face which is not his own, not the one my Father made. Then I call him by name. His real name.

"I know that you, too, understand love..."

"How dare you!" Lucifer's roar drowns out the rest of my sentence. A fist rises to shoulder-height as if about to swing at my head; with a palpable effort of will, he lowers it again. "How dare you compare God thy Father to that--that--"

"Please," I whisper.

3. Before dawn. A dark cell.

In silence I approach the condemned man, who lies in a bloodied heap on the stony floor. Dropping to my knees, I loop an arm around his shoulders, and slowly lift the upper half of his body onto my lap. With a low grunt, he opens his eyes, and squints up at me through a gash and a purplish bruise.

"So...How's my acting?"

He's trying to smile. He's actually trying to smile.

I kiss his forehead and his face, and his torn-up lips.

"I'm sorry," mutters Judas, taking the words right out of my mouth. "I'm so sorry."

"I never imagined things would happen like this." I do not believe myself. How can I not have imagined it? I have so little time. "Believe me. Please believe me."

"I deceived myself. I was a coward and I imagined...And when you said to me that I..." He cannot finish.

"I was deceived. I am so sorry, Judas. I didn't know." How can I not have known? "I didn't think of you. Forgive me."

"I was blind. My own lies. I thought I could fight God for you. I didn't want you to--" Again he chokes. "I thought we could still get out of it."

"It doesn't matter now. We'll get you out of this."

He blinks up at me, brows furrowed as if finally hearing my replies for the first time. The next thing he says turns my insides to ice.

"God is just..."

"I will not have you despair," I begin, and have to stop again. The tips of my fingers brush against his wounds, and he winces. No human being is supposed to wince when I touch them. The lacerations and swellings are supposed to fade, the ragged skin heal, but now my hand merely comes away red. These wounds are going to get worse in the morning.

"This is not the way it's supposed to happen," I repeat helplessly.

"I think it is...It is right."

He is barely audible, yet for all the world it sounds like he's the teacher now, and I'm the one who has never seen the Light. My chest constricts with a renewed wave of horror.

"No, no, Judas, you don't understand." The words rush out of me in a panic. "It's not just them. It's not the priests and Herod and the Romans and the rest of them. It's not just tomorrow, not just death. It is my--"

He's no longer looking at my face, but past me, somewhere behind my shoulder, and all my hopeless explanations die in my throat. I turn my head, and see Lucifer already standing in the doorway, clothed as a guard. He tilts his head, and gestures for me to leave. I lean down again to Judas until my lips touch his ear.

"I will save you. I promise."

Gently, I lower him back onto the ground, then rise and walk out of the room.

A low hubbub of torches and voices, flowing and ebbing as Lucifer and I pass through the corridors; I catch the phrases Pontius Pilate and first light. A few turns, a side door, and we are beneath the stars once more, alone and unnoticed. Lucifer stands beside me, not meeting my eyes. In this form he appears even wearier than I feel, and a sudden surge of pity for the angel wells up within me. He gets stuck doing the jobs he does because he is the only one who can keep on doing them. Anyone else would have rebelled against my Father ages ago.

"So...I'll see you after sunrise?"

I've never heard him sound tentative before.

"Yes," I answer. He seems relieved.

"Will you watch over him for me until it is time?" I ask. "He may be the most degraded of sinners, but he is still the representative of Man, as you said. He is still God's sacrifice, and he will go to the altar without complaint. He shouldn't be alone the night--the little of night that is left--before he dies in agony."

For a while, Lucifer is motionless and silent. Then he lets out a small sardonic laugh.

"I'm hardly a comforting presence, am I?"

"Show him just small glimpse of what you truly are. You possess more knowledge of God's ineffable love than any other angel of heaven. Show him a shred of it, if only the faintest, because after tomorrow...After tomorrow he will not see it again for all eternity."

He sighs, and finally nods once, very quickly.

"Thank you," I say with sincere gratitude, and head away into the shadows.

4. Dawn. Before the Temple.

Thirty pieces of silver that I found in his pack, neatly collected in a small pouch of leather. Check.

Length of stout rope, neatly coiled and nestled like a serpent at my side. Check.

Lines I will speak, neatly composed and not a syllable to give away the truth. Check.

Forgive me, Judas, if I don't play you as well as you are playing me. I'm rather new at this whole deception business.

The Temple's walls loom before me. For a brief while, I stop and peer at the polished bronze pillar before the doors, in which my form is reflected. To my own sight I still appear just the same, clad in bedraggled white, the face I was born with, the eyes I was born with. A cut along the edge of my jaw where the soldier struck me earlier in the night.


Carefully, I tick off my human sins. Lust, anger, blasphemy. Deceit. Disobedience.

Suicide. That's always a biggie. Guaranteed one-way ticket to Hell.

For humans.

I have no intention of waiting until after sunrise. By reaching whatever tattered remnant of compassion for men that Lucifer still possesses, I may have kept him preoccupied for a while, but only he himself knows how long that will last. It's amazing that he hasn't caught on so far, come to think of it: he's the one they call Prince of Lies after all. And once the morning comes, he'll be all over the place, what with a crucifixion and a physical ascension to manage. And knowing my Father, there will probably be angelic hosts. Thunder and lightning, earthquakes, who knows what else. Which would definitely present a problem.

So I will simply have to make my way down a little ahead of time.

Forgive me, Judas, for you will not see me there for you in your hour of need. The knowledge of this is like a knife in my side, but I force myself not to think about it. I can see no other option, no other opportunity. I can do so little in this flesh.

"Your own laws, Lord," I murmur into the balmy spring air, sweet with the glow of dawn and thick with God's illusions. No exceptions, Father.

He won't be pleased, and there'll be trouble, that's for sure. What I'm about to do has never been attempted or conceived of by any earthly or divine power since Creation, and what's more, I don't have a plan. Not beyond the moment of my death, in any case. The death of the man that clothes me. All I know is that I'm going to go into Hell, then I'm going to get out of there again. And I'm going to get Judas out of there with me.

I'll think of something when I arrive.

Finis (for now)


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
HOLY CRAP. That was an amazingly original concept. (Clearly I need to read the Gospel of Barnabas, because I just love the whole premise of this). I am completely blown away, and really hope there will be more of this.

Edited at 2010-02-01 02:15 am (UTC)
Feb. 1st, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
*blushes like a beet*

Thank you!
Feb. 1st, 2010 03:52 am (UTC)
Here via a rec by norwich36. This is a really fantastic idea. The construction of the story is very strong and it flows beautifully. I really hope you continue this.
Feb. 1st, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you very much! I am really glad that you enjoyed it.

I really hope you continue this.

I think I will... ;)
Feb. 1st, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
That was absolutely bloody brilliant!!!!
Feb. 1st, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you, glad that you liked it! :D
Feb. 4th, 2010 01:46 am (UTC)
Absolutely AMAZING!!!!

Really, absolutely stunning.
Feb. 4th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! :D

I was also just reading some of your Jesus/Judas that I found on christ_slash, which I found wonderful. Especially "If We Go Too Far", that was definitely very sexy indeed! ;)
Feb. 12th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
Finally got round to clicking on the cut (you know how it is) - hm, interesting idea, although now I'm the one who is confused about all this son-of-God-not-son-of-God business raised by Barnabas, and its precise relation to your premise (which is that Jesus is the son of God but there is an illusion so they appear to have swapped appearances and Jesus is being mistaken for Judas and then goes and adopts the part instead of going directly back to Heaven and hangs himself like we all know Judas does? is that it? Sorry, I feel very dense - must be time of day and bad health. Should go to bed.).

Anyhow, nice writing! I like Lucifer. Is he Miltonic?

[ETA now you have me watching bits of the 2000 musical on youtube - yes, I can *definitely* see where you're coming from there... ;-)]

Edited at 2010-02-12 07:17 pm (UTC)
Feb. 12th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Ooh, thank you so much for reading, and the comments!

Sorry if it's a bit confusing...I guess, what I understand about the Gospel of Barnabas is that it may be an attempt to integrate Christian and Islamic ideas of Jesus. In Islam, Jesus is considered not the Son of God, but just a prophet, and that he was not crucified but raised bodily to heaven. I've also read that some Muslims believe that Judas was changed to his form and was crucified in his place as punishment. I think that is what the Gospel of Barnabas says, but--and I have to say I'm not sure about this, because I really didn't read the book, just took the one idea--I think it still says Jesus was the Son of God.

My idea was--sort of, I'm no theologian, obviously--is that God had Judas crucified (and sent to Hell) both in punishment for the sin of betraying Jesus, and paradoxically, also in expiation of all mankind's sins (as a representative). It was planned all along. I didn't get this idea through so clearly, I suspect. This Representative of Man idea is from Borges's first version of Judas--except Borges still have Jesus being the one crucified. The notion that other people also saw Jesus as Judas is, as far as I know, my own invention. Mostly on the justification that it would make no sense to have people see two Jesuses. (Oh gosh, erm, I have no idea how to make this word plural. Jesi? ;)) In the story, Jesus is definitely the Son of God, but God is possibly a bit...dubious. (The Gnostic influence, even though I think most Gnostics don't think Jesus is the Son of God, but something actually higher.) Judas is just a man. So yeah, it's probably rather confusing since it's a total combination of completely different ideas.

Jesus, in the end, does decide to go against his Father and do the Judas thing by committing suicide, with the intention of going to Hell and busting Judas out of there, come what may. There is that whole Harrowing of Hell business, after all. (And I am actually working on a sequel to this fic about that...)

I like Lucifer. Is he Miltonic?

Glad you think so! He's been a bit of a scene-stealer. But alas, here's where I break down and confess that I've never been able to get through all of Milton. *hangs head* Perhaps I, myself (and without claiming any author's privilege), would say that he's more Book of Job?

Sorry, that got long-winded. But you know how I love to babble at length about my own fics... ;)
Feb. 13th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC)
[Sorry about all these edits!]
I think it still says Jesus was the Son of God

No, that's what it apparently says he wasn't! Hence my confusion, but of course your version makes sense as it is in any case!

A propos of hanging - did I ever send you my music essentials mp3 compilation - I have a feeling I did! - check out Gesualdo's setting of Responsory 4 in the first night section - I think it's merely "track 04" but it is actually also the fourth track. The words ought to be:
Amicus meus osculi me tradidit signo: quem osculatus fuero, ipse est, tenete eum: hoc malum fecit signum, qui per osculum adimplevit homicidum: Infelix praetermisit pretium sanguinis, et in fine laqueo se suspendit.
Bonum erat ei, si natus non fuisset homo ille.

Transl. Responsory
My friend betrayed me by the token of a kiss: whom I shall kiss, that is he, hold him fast: that was the wicked token which he gave, who by a kiss accomplished murder: unhappy man, he relinquished the price of blood, and in the end hanged himself.
It had been good for that man, if he had never been born.

And see how beautifully he soars up on "se suspendit" which is part of the repeat section.

My idea was--sort of, I'm no theologian, obviously--is that God had Judas crucified (and sent to Hell) both in punishment for the sin of betraying Jesus, and paradoxically, also in expiation of all mankind's sins (as a representative). It was planned all along.

No, that idea you got across very well, I got that! Ineffable plans and all that (>> Gaiman/Pratchett: Good Omens). JCSuperstar:
"You're far too keen on where and how, and not so hot on why". Tim Rice rules.

that whole Harrowing of Hell business

Oooh, check out the Gesualdo setting for the descent into hell for your inspiration! (This is a different ensemble (Ensamble Vocal Européen) from the Hilliard I sent you (where it's track 26 or responsorium 8 in the III Nocturno section) and these use women sopranos I believe, hence a higher starting tone which means less deep bass rumblings than you get from Hilliard on "lacu" and "mortuos"; there is some general disagreement over accidentals in a lot of Gesualdo stuff and this youtube version uses a flat option for the (rather wishy-washyly performed, I must say) second tone of the descending scale on "liber". I prefer the sharp these days. Um, talk about babbling. ;-) )

Don't worry, I haven't read all of Paradise Lost either, only the bits that are relevant for Melville's satanic Claggart. It's carterhaugh who is your expert in the Milton department.

Edited at 2010-02-13 11:04 am (UTC)
Feb. 13th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
No, that's what it apparently says he wasn't!

Ah, my bad, then! That's what one gets for only scanning the information in the must cursory manner before speaking, I guess.

And see how beautifully he soars up on "se suspendit" which is part of the repeat section.

You did indeed send me the compilation! And I just took out the Gesualdo disks and listened to the Amicus meus part. Yes, indeed I see what you mean about the beautiful soaring, and I have to say it's giving me ideas about crucifixing and hanging and other acts of love. Then I wanted to look up the Hanged Man card in Tarot, then I saw (just on Wikipedia) that it's also called the Traitor in older decks...

Oooh, check out the Gesualdo setting for the descent into hell for your inspiration!

Thanks so much for this! It is inspirational indeed. I'm not so great at talking about the musical points, as you know, but I especially loved the starting section and the "inter mortuos". The text, needless to say, is pretty much perfect for what I'm hoping to imagine. And now I'm going back to listen to the whole Hillard version again... ;)

Feb. 14th, 2010 09:17 am (UTC)
Ah, good job you have the music, I thought for a moment yesterday that my memory'd played me a trick and that I'd sent you something else! (Usually remember sending *coff* stuff like that overseas for the stress it causes me in case I get nicked for it...)

Gesualdo, though odd (see readme.txt on CD) really is best in terms of word/music painting here; I checked out Victoria's setting of this responsory (the only setting of "Amicus meus" on youtube) and it's frankly boring apart from the empty fifths on "suspendit" (>> no thirds means no telling whether this is a major or minor chord, but that's probably a too-modern approach since a lot of stuff at that time ends on empty fifths, but usually for a reason nevertheless).
Yeeess, the opening "Aestimatus sum" is a popular musical "icon" which has been used e.g. in that excellent radioplay "Marlowe's Diaries" which I keep pimping around. Have fun with the Hilliard who, although they do scream somewhat occasionally, have the advantage of the "rumblier" deeper setting.

I think one of my favourites in the third set is the "Ecce quomodo moritur iustus", but with the Tallis Scholars rather than with Hilliard.
Feb. 14th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
Two things:
1. just did a bit of comparative listening between Hilliard Ensemble and Tallis Scholars, and for heaven's sake go and get the Tallis Scholars' recording (unfortunately not the complete settings only the third section (Saturday) ) - I now feel that the way Hilliard do it is pretty dreadful in parts, and the beauty of the "Ecce quomodo" for instance doesn't come out there at all! The "Jerusalem" from that CD is up on youtube - just so you can hear the difference... those Hilliard counters really get more and more dreadful to listen to what with all these really amazing quality high male voices we get these days. There is a King's Singers recording of the Thursday set; I'm not so sure about one of their tenor voices so haven't bought it. Better than Hilliard it seems to me these days.

2. of course the breaking of Hell is in the Sabbato Sancto section too; I'm afraid finding more lyrics is surprisingly difficult (they are on the CDs of course, only not the one I sent you obviously) - don't know how good your Latin is, ummm... quickly type those up:

Resp.4: Recessit pastor noster, fons aquae vitae, ad cuius transitum sol obscuratus est:
Nam et ille captus est qui captivum tenebat (!!! very beautiful caesura in Tallis Scholars version) primum hominem: hodie portas mortis et seras pariter Salvator noster disrupit.
V.: Destruxit quidem claustra inferni et subvertit potentias diaboli

Our shepherd, the fountain of living water, is gone, at whose departure the sun was darkened: For now even he is taken captive who held the first man captive: this day our Saviour broke open both the bolts and the gates of death.
He destroyed the dungeons of hell, and overthrew the powers of the devil.

Hoping this will be inspiration for your sequel,
yours sincerely,
Music!nut spes
Feb. 16th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
Gesualdo, though odd (see readme.txt on CD) really is best in terms of word/music painting here

Y'know, I was just listening to the Hilliard version of Amicus meus again, actually a couple of times, and I also looked up Victoria's setting on youtube, and I definitely have to agree with you there...I'm probably prejudiced by my own current weird Judas fangirlism, though. Perhaps in my mind, with something that deals with the relationship between Jesus and Judas, something, it feels like one needs something less conventional? (Or maybe I'm partially also falling prey to the usual angst-ridden mental image of Gesualdo.) For myself, I'm also finding just those two words, amicus meus, quite striking. And that "suspendit": I'm starting to read all sorts of crazy significance into it.

for heaven's sake go and get the Tallis Scholars' recording

Ooh! Thank you for telling me about this! I just made the order on Amazon.

don't know how good your Latin is, ummm... quickly type those up:

My Latin is rusty--or rather mostly consists of rust (from 2 years in high school). Thanks so much for typing this responsory for me, especially this line:

now even he is taken captive who held the first man captive

I'm more than ever feeling my utter deficiencies in these things--I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to the finer points of Christianity. Not to claim that my intentions for this fic are anywhere near Christian, but I definitely wanted to invoke the human side of things more than divine will and whatnot.

Hoping this will be inspiration for your sequel,

Oh, it is very, very inspirational indeed! I am now kicking myself a little for not thinking of Gesualdo myself...Of course I cannot say that I understand the musical points, but it does seem to me--and my very layperson's point of view--that he certainly is remarkable at the music/word painting, as you said, and to me it seems very much a painting of human anguish, while yet pointing to something else more mysterious happening just beyond...(Sorry if that's somewhat simple-minded. ;))
Feb. 17th, 2010 10:11 am (UTC)
So glad you're getting the Tallis Scholars recording - it's my current mental frame of reference for the Saturday responsories, I noticed that when I was listening to Hilliard, I was missing a lot of my auditory "touchstones" (e.g. the slight slowing-down on "qui captivum tenebat" which you will hopefully be hearing soon). It's a pity they don't seem to have recorded Thursday and Friday.
It seems unbelievable that Victoria and Gesualdo should have been contemporaries, doesn't it? But (apart from the fact that he's definitely looking forward into the 17th century and baroque word-painting) Gesualdo's musical weirdness is notorious - he breaks all the rules of orthodox musical setting and produces harmonic relations that you then don't really find again till Wagner.
Don't you worry about musical laicism though - I myself consider myself barely qualified to talk about musical setting technique and its laws. Never mind that I studied the subject, we never got any training beyond what I'd already learned at school; I don't know the nomenclature and I do no more than basic analysis of Britten and even there I'm deciphering rather than reading, and I stay clear of discussions of tonality. The proper musicians among my friends (particularly the Church musicians, but also some "laymen") are on a level of understanding that I'll never attain there - they can recognise parallel fifths (a very basic mistake) at a mere glance, whereas I usually don't notice when I produce them in counterpoint and so on.

I'm probably prejudiced by my own current weird Judas fangirlism

I'm already quite giddy by vicarious association! Plus, of course, Gesualdo. :-))) *hugs you*

I only learned Latin for a year at uni to get the mandatory certificate; my grammar is ok-ish (as long as future tense is not involved) but I don't have a great vocabulary.

especially this line:
now even he is taken captive who held the first man captive

Tee hee, thought you might find that to your taste...! :-) It's one of my favourites as well.
Feb. 26th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
Sorry I haven't replied to this earlier--I've actually been on a trip this week.

It's a pity they don't seem to have recorded Thursday and Friday.

Oh, indeed! I haven't received the Saturday set yet, but I'm really looking forward to it. I definitely wished they'd have done all three days.

Gesualdo's musical weirdness

I know what you mean, completely; he's definitely very... different. One could argue that unlike other musicians of his time, he didn't have to worry about things like patrons and the like, but still, it takes a certain kind of mind to come up with the kind of things he did.

Tee hee, thought you might find that to your taste...! :-)

Ah, you know me rather well there, I think... ;)

Feb. 27th, 2010 08:59 am (UTC)
No worries, I'm used to slow conversations!

Lack of patrons is a rather better theory than incompetence (which I believe was advanced at one point but may be wrong) - he's too good for that.

(Deleted comment)
Feb. 26th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you very much!
May. 20th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
Wow this is a great premise! I was just reading about the gospel of barnabas today and hhis ties in quite nicely indeed. The entire story flows great and it's really heartfelt, really loving it!
By any chance is there any more after this?
May. 27th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much for your comment! (Sorry I didn't see it until now...) I am so glad that you liked this.

I am definitely planning on a sequel, although it may not be completely immediate... ;)
Jun. 27th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
Bloody fantastic idea, I love it! And you write it really well! And I NEED the sequel :D
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Very belated reply
Thank you so much! I am glad that you liked the fic.

(I've just got the sequel outlined; hopefully it will come up...at some point! ;) )
Apr. 13th, 2011 08:52 am (UTC)
found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

Apr. 13th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
I’ve been into blogging for quite some time and this is definitely a great post.Cheers!

Nov. 19th, 2012 03:28 am (UTC)
this is backwards!
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