A wonderful piece.
Some commentary from this site:
Many people regard the work as grave or emotionally cool, and I must confess I find myself in the opposite camp. The score is full of directions like animato, animando, cantabile, espressivo, and molto espressivo. In fact, I'm surprised there's no appassionato. It may begin small and fall back, but only to provide a place where it can turn up the intensity a notch or two. To me, it shares the structure of a great sermon, starting with daily life and leading you to heaven by degrees.
You might recognize the theme from the movies "Master & Commander" and "The Passion of the Christ."