This article deals with the St. Matthew Passion of the Norwegian composer Trond Kverno. The work reveals the composer’s awareness of the creative potential inherent in the tradition of European sacred music. Based on the gospel according to St. Matthew (chapters 26 and 27), its text contains biblical passages highlighting connections between the suffering of Jesus and events described in the Old Testament. Kverno’s Passion may thus be regarded as an exercise in typological exegesis, reaching back to the venerable tradition of Biblia pauperum. Aspects of Kverno’s melodic and harmonic writing are discussed with reference to Norwegian folk music, notably Draumkvedet. The author opines that Kverno’s Passion incorporates traits conducive to reflections on the function of creativity and memory, collective as well as individual.

Keywords: The passion according to St. Matthew, typological exegesis, Biblia pauperum, Draumkvedet, orality, memory, tradition