Fernando Ortega’s newest album, THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS, solemnly walks through the events of Holy Week. This 11-song labor of love and devotion to the passion of the Savior paints the heart of the Gospel, the way of sorrow Jesus traveled to redeem the world. THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS released on August 4.
Following the release of his 2006 album, THE SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS, Ortega became more interested in the Church calendar and historic liturgy. This newest album is borne from that mindset. As a part-time worship leader, Ortega began recording demos for Easter in 2016 when he had the idea to rewrite songs for Holy Week. What followed was a period of hardship—with physical ailments and life challenges—as he meditated on the events leading up to the crucifixion. Co-produced with Bernard Chadwick, a dear friend, musician, and professor at Providence Christian College in Pasadena, California, this is the most intentionally devotional project Ortega has ever released.
The album, interspersed with devotional and scriptural readings, begins with praise for the Savior, fitting for Palm Sunday, with “Blessed Be Our God Forever and Ever” and “Prepare The Way, O Zion.” Ortega’s favorite, “In My Father’s Kingdom,” is a communion hymn reflecting on the events of the Last Supper. “The followers and closest disciples of Jesus felt like he had gone too far, teaching that they must ‘eat his flesh and drink his blood’ (John 6:53). Today there is no less revulsion at the sight or concept of God on a cross. Yet this is the absolute core message of what Christianity offers to the world—that God became flesh, lived among us, died on a cross, and rose again,” Ortega explains.
Moving through the events following the Last Supper, “Stay With Me Here” and “Your Will Be Done” relay Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, while “O Great Love, O Love Beyond All Measure” and “Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended?” speak of Jesus’ suffering, the latter of which has the haunting lyrics of:
Who was the guilty
Who brought this upon you
It is my treason, Lord, that has undone you
‘Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied you
I crucified you
My favorites on this album continue the story. “My Song Is Love Unknown” essentially walks through the Holy Week, from praise of Jesus to the cries of “Crucify!” and ends with eternal praise for the Savior. The final song on the album, “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted,” tells of the grief and sorrow of Christ as He gives up His spirit and ends with the glorious hope that because of His death He remains our foundation.
With contemplative lyrics and hauntingly beautiful chords evocative of classical music, THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS is fit for both worship services and personal devotion. “Every aspect of our lives should be measured out by the narrative of Christ’s life,” Ortega says. “Year after year, through the journey of this Holy season, Christ’s ministry starts again and again.”