Lamb of God: the story behind the music played in churches and cathedrals across the world
SALT LAKE CITY–Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God has become an Easter tradition all over the world but when he first began presenting the sacred music in concert, music executives told him he would have a hard time expanding his audience.
“I think there’s a false belief in the industry, that people only like certain things,” said Gardner. “Audiences are way more intelligent and way more receptive and accepting of things if they’re done well. I don’t ever want to dumb something down for an audience.”
This weekend Gardner will conduct three performances of Lamb of God at Eccles Theater that are expected to sell-out. The idea to tell the story of the last week of Christ’s life through music came to Gardner while studying film scoring at University of Southern California a decade ago.
“It was the most inopportune time for it to happen because I was busy with school but I kind of thought in that moment, if I don’t do this now, maybe I will never do it,” Gardner explained.
Gardner dropped out of USC to finish the project and reached out to one of the greatest orchestras in the world to record it.
“I wanted to work with London Symphony Orchestra, that’s my professional goal. Me being me and somewhat naïve, maybe at the time, I went online and looked up their email address and emailed them and said, ‘Hey, I’m working on this project, and I’d like to record it with you are you available? Are you interested?’”
The London Symphony Orchestra replied back and said they would like to record with Gardner.
Gardner’s sacred oratorio is now performed in churches and cathedrals around the globe. During the pandemic he hosted a virtual world-wide sing-along on YouTube and released Lamb of God as a ground-breaking feature film.
“I would hope that whenever I write something that one, people feel a spectrum of emotions and then two, that they leave with more questions than answers to say, ‘Who is Thomas and who is Peter and who is Martha?’”, explained Gardner. “Questions are not a bad thing. Questions are an indication that we’re engaged and we’re searching for truth and then people feel something deeply because that’s what motivates action.”
Gardner recently composed and produced a new soundtrack for the world-renowned Mesa Easter Pageant performed on the grounds of the Mesa, Arizona Temple. “For me to get to be part of the pageant and compose the music that’s a huge honor that only a few people have had.”
The Easter pageant is a gift to the community from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and nearly everyone involved, including Gardner is a volunteer. More than 400 people are in the cast and this year 100,000 people are expected to attend performances scheduled through April 16th.
Steve West, Executive Director of Mesa Temple Events said the pageant is an opportunity “to link arms, to sit shoulder-to-shoulder together and be one in our love for the Savior and what he has done for the world.”
Gardner pulled all narration in the pageant straight from the King James Bible, incorporated some of the music from Lamb of God and also wrote new music. He said he spent hours searching through old hymns to find the lyrics.
“I came across a text that started, ‘there’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea.’ I’d never heard it said that way before. I’ve heard about God’s love being deep or all these things, but the word ‘wideness’ really hit me.”
The wideness of God’s love became a key theme of the soundtrack. “If there’s one thing, I want people to leave the pageant or Lamb of God with it’s that we are surrounded by love. We are surrounded by mercy and there are no limits.”
On a pageant stage, in film or at a concert venue—Gardner uses every element carefully to create a powerful and profound experience likely to stay with audiences long after the music fades.
The Lamb of God concert at Eccles theater this Friday and Saturday will feature performers from the film soundtrack, a full orchestra and BYU choir of 100 voices.
If you’d like to see that show and don’t already have tickets, KSL is giving away five family 5-packs to the Lamb of God Concert on April 15th. Visit KSLTV.com to enter to win.
FM100.3 will broadcast a special presentation of the Mesa Easter Pageant Soundtrack Jesus the Christ in its entirety Easter morning at 10:00 am. You can listen on the radio, online or on the FM100 app.
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