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  • Dean Thiessen

The Good Samaritan Suite : An Introduction

The parable of the Good Samaritan is maybe one of the most well known parables in the bible and is often referenced in our secular culture to exemplify the selfless acts of strangers in heroic scenarios. For the past 2 years, with many delays due to Covid, this project is finally in the last few stages of being realized. Here is my introduction to the project and the music I have put together.

Ferdinand Hodler The Good Samaritan 1885

In February of 2020 I was approached by Brian Fraser, the minister at Brentwood Presbyterian Church, about the opportunity to participate in one of their musical ministries known as 'Suite Sundays in the Sanctuary: Sacred Jazz Suites.' The main objective of this ministry is to champion composers, such as myself, to compose musical suites based on the parables of Jesus found throughout the New Testament of the Bible.

The Story

This parable is found in the book of Luke Chapter 10 verses 25 - 37.

It starts the same way many of the parables started: Jesus was being asked very 'tricky' questions by religious leader in their attempt to trap him in his own words so they could arrest him and kill him. The question was'

“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus let's the man answer his own question

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus agreed with the answer emphatically but the question is pushed a bit further,

“And who is my neighbor?”

To answer that question Jesus starts to tell the story that many of us have heard in one way or another. You can read the whole story here.

A man is beaten and robbed and left for dead. A Priest (religious leader) and a Levite (one of the 12 Israel responsible for temple duties from construction to singing) pass this man by. Why? Because touching a man who was hurt, bleeding, and/or dead would have meant they would be deemed 'unclean' to perform their duties for weeks or months. They could have lost their religious duties or tarnished their societal clout. There were serious negative repercussions for helping this injured man. We often paint these two people as the band guys in this story but I think we can all understand their feelings in this situation to some degree. Especially, in a time like the one we are living in now when so many social injustices are brought to our attention and we are called to change our lives and make sacrifices for others. There are many parallels to this story and to the society we currently find ourselves. I'm not a great writer so I trust you all to draw the connections yourself.

The Music

My great friends Thad Bailey-Mai on trumpet and Ben Parker on drums have been working with me on this music for just over a year and have been the perfect musical vehicle to express the themes and feelings I have uncovered for myself in this story. Cindy Dai-Thiessen will also be writing prose and poetry to help communicate and introduce the musical ideas and how they explore the themes in the Parable. As of now there are 8 movements that explore the many relationships that are explored in this parable.

1. Attack

A musical depiction of the severity of the mans injuries

2. Looking Up

When we are hurt and feel alone

3. The Priest and Levite

The relatable feeling and ugly truth of deciding to look the other way

4. To Know Someone Good

To be listened to and understood by another person

5. Take Me There

The journey to safety on the Samaritan's donkey

6. A Reliable Friend

The relationship between the Samaritan and the Inn Keeper

7. A Grateful Receiver

A 'thank you' to the people who help

8. Go And Do Likewise

These are Jesus' instructions at the end of the parable

The Project

Thanks to Brentwood Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian church of Canada this music will be recorded, both video and audio, and will be eventually programed in cross-denominational musical performances at churches around the lower mainland.

I am so excited to share this music with you and the way in which it has come together. The band has a few more rehearsals together before we record and I will share some behind the scenes video and audio for those who are on my email list. So if you want to hear more music like the soundcloud link I shared above make sure you are on my email list!

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