The poem, ‘The Crucifixion,’ is published as part of eight poems compilation, known as ‘God’s Trombones.’ written by James Weldon Johnson, of African-American origin, and is part of one of the two sets of notable works. The sequence of the poem is the sixth in his book, which follows the two ‘Let My People Go,’ and ‘The Judgment Day.’ The heartfelt narration of Jesus’s crucifixion story is widely popular and narrated in the sermon form with the preacher discussing the contexts of events in a poetic fashion.
The beginning stanzas of the poem highlight the story with three disciplines and Jesus sitting together (Weldon, lines 1-8) in the ‘Garden of Gethsemane.’ The particular instructions from Jesus at the time is to stay with ‘Him’ during the time of sorrow. In the third stanza of the poem, Jesus’ prayers mention that God’s Will is defined for the torture or pain, he is going to go through (Weldon, lines 17-24). The disciples fell asleep during the prayers of Jesus, and stanza four begins with betrayal of Jesus (Judas) leading the discussion towards the group of people who wants to crucify Jesus (Weldon, lines 25-32). Jesus at the time is praying in the garden and explains the way Jesus’s identity is being betrayed by Judas with a kiss. In the following stanza, Jesus is standing in front of the Roman Governor Pilate, and the crowd stands emotionally not on the side of Jesus, and is reflective of their ignorance (Weldon, lines 29-31). The poem ends with a detailed description in the form of story-telling, and ends with expression about the personal feeling of trembling of the preacher, and the way Jesus died, that is, ‘Sinners like you and me’ (Weldon, lines 38-40).
Johnson, James Weldon, et al. God’s trombones. Folkways Records, 1965.