FAITHFUL churchgoers wandering into their usually genteel parish church for a spot of quiet Easter reflection are in for a shock this week.

The 800-year-old St Oswald’s Church, in Durham City, has been transformed into a Passion of the Christ-style soundscape, aimed at giving visitors an experience of how it felt to be Jesus in the week of His crucifixion.

The Gethsamane to Golgotha project is the brainchild of Durham University music student Matthew Warren.

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“I wanted to allow people to come and explore in their own minds some of the pain and betrayal that the Passion entails and so people are invited to come, engage with the sounds in their own way and in their own time to explore that story,” the 20-year-old, originally from Sheffield, said.

The moving experience begins in the church porch, continues round the nave, out a side door and ends in the ancient churchyard.

Mr Warren, a pianist, organist, accordionist, conductor and composer at Grey College, has based his work on the word rabbi, meaning teacher.

Through the journey, the word morphs into Barabas, the prisoner freed instead of Jesus.

Mr Warren said: “The word rabbi is a symbol of their trust and commitment to Him.

“The texture created using the word rabbi grows thinner along the path... until Christ is left, alone, on the cross with the sound of the wind and those cruel nails resounding into his mind.

“The piece finally moves into the tomb – a world in which the memories of the past sufferings agonisingly reverberate like dark spirits.

“There it emerges, to a careful listener, that the light of faith is not completely extinguished, but is gently calling out in the night.”

Mr Warren composed the piece as part of his university studies, wanting to use a modern electroacoustic sound to tell a traditional story.

“Whatever your beliefs, it’s an incredibly tragic story of betrayal,” he said.

The piece took three months to write and runs on a ten-minute loop.

Mr Warren said the church was “wonderfully keen” to host the installation. It will be open to the public on Tuesday (April 15) from 9am to 5pm and Wednesday from 9am to 4pm. Entry is free.

It will be in place but turned off during a Tuesday evening service and removed by Easter weekend.