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St Nicholas Catholic Church Stabat Mater Dolorosa "Stood the Sorrowful Mother” – Returns for Second Annual Lenten Prayer Service

by: Andy Costello
Posted: March 19, 2018

LAGUNA WOODS...For the second year the St. Nicholas Catholic Church’s 9:00am choir under the direction of Emett Loera performed the solemn Lenten event Stabat Mater Dolorosa with accompanists: Brian O’Neill, Piano, and Joe & Laura Stone, Flute & Oboe.

The one hour choral presentation of the Way of The Cross was the St. Nicholas church’s performance of the original composition by St Alphonsus Liguori and opened with the impressive St. Nicholas forty-six voice choir’s singing “O Dearest Lord” by David Johnson.

The choir’s performances alternated with a prayer reading for each Station of the Cross by music director Emett Loera, and a short prayer response spoken and sung by the congregation. The choir then sang their hauntingly beautiful rendition of “The Road Home” by Stephen Paulus, words by Michael Dennis Browne. The choir’s arrangement featured a wonderful solo by soprano Sarah Thompson.

The outstanding “Ave Maria” (Franz Biebl) (abridged) was sung following the third and fourth Stations of the Cross. We are asked to consider how the Son met His Mother on His way to Calvary. “The Lord is my Shepherd”, a quiet and serene, yet stirring rendition of Psalm 23 composed by John Rutter was then performed by the choir and movingly accompanied by oboist Laura Stone, pianist Brian O’Neill, and flutist Joe Stone.

We contemplate Simon helping Jesus carry the cross and Veronica offering her veil to Jesus. “My Song in the Night” by Mack Wilberg, a gentle and intense setting of an American folk hymn followed Stations seven and eight. Consider the second fall of Jesus under His cross, and how the women wept with compassion seeing Jesus so distressed. The classic, a piece by Craig Courtney, which was commissioned by the Geneva Presbyterian Church Laguna Woods on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, was skillfully performed by the choir.

The evening’s service concluded with the choir’s two heart wrenching pieces “O Come and Mourn” arranged by David Johnson. Jesus, abandoning himself to the weight of his body, bows His head and dies. The soulful lyrics plead with us to join in the vigilance at the foot of the cross. The final piece “Were You There?” an American folk hymn arranged by Mitchell Wallace was artfully sung with a delicate touch of warmth and emotion…a fitting finale to a solemn hour of prayer, song and meditation.


Parishioners and guests from visiting congregations in attendance were visibly touched by the choral presentation. Following the service, one visitor expressed a feeling shared by many in attendance saying, “Tonight’s Stations of the Cross hit deep into my heart. As of tonight, everything has been put into perspective for me. The trivial experiences of life’s frustrations and disappointments became so minor for me tonight. Your choir’s rendition of Stations was a real eye-opener for me. Thank you…thank you SO very much.”

Throughout the service the large gathering listened in silent meditation to the choral performances, but erupted in a lasting standing ovation at evening’s end. St Nicholas Music Director Emett Loera said of the event, “This unique choral prayer service presented by our 9:00am choir has become a favorite Lenten spiritual event, attracting both Catholics and non-Catholics, and will definitely take place again next year.”

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