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Cantata BWV 191
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of March 8, 2009

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 7, 2009):
Week of March 8, 2009: BWV 191, Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Week of March 8, 2009: BWV 191, Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Cantata for Christmas Day

BACKGROUND LINKS:

Links to texts, translations, scores, recordings and earlier discussions:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV191.htm

PERFORMANCE HISTORY:

Leipzig, 1733 or 1743-1746
1st performance: 1743-1746 - Leipzig

Gregory Butler, supported by John Butt and Robin Leaver, proposes that the cantata was performed at a special academic service of thanksgiving on Saturday, December 25, 1745 at the Paulinerkirche, the university church, to celebrate the Peace of Dresden at the conclusion of the 2nd Silesian War. Leipzig had been occupied by the Prussian troops of Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau.

Butler also proposes that Bach was the organist who ³preludised² at the service, that is introduced hymns and choral works with chorale-preludes (see Musical Sequence for Christmas Day below for prescribed times for preludes). Butler suggests that Bach revised the ³Fughetta super Allein Gott in Der Höhe² (BWV 677) to produce the large-scale fugal Chorale-prelude (BWV 547/), both of which were played at the service. ³Allein Gott² is the German chorale version of the Latin Gloria in Excelsis and had already been sung in the University Church service (musical sequence outlined in ³The Organ Music of J. S. Bach² by Peter Williams .)

(See below for links to online excerpts from Butt and Leaver who discuss the date of performance.)

LIBRETTO:

³Gloria in Excelsis² is the only Bach cantata in Latin, although Latin motets and settings of the mass ordinary were normative in all Bach¹s services: ³Puer Natus in Bethlehem² had already been sung as the Christmas Day introit (see Musical Sequence for Christmas Day below for Latin movements). If the work had a university performance, the use of Latin would make sense: the sermon was probably in Latin as well. In addition to the mass and Magnificat settings, Bach set Latin texts for the Christmas interpolations in the E flat version of the Magnificat (including the ³Gloria in excelsis² text.)

The odd thing about the libretto is that it repeats liturgical texts in a cantata: the opening verses of the ³Gloria in Excelsis² (the ³Greater Doxology²) had already been sung in concerted form in the service, and the ³Gloria Patri² (the ³Lesser Doxology²) which closed psalms and canticles in the daily office had also already been heard that Christmas morning at Matins. Bach seems to regard the first movement as a Latin version of the scriptural verses and thus the ³dictum² for the cantata, as he did in the German cantata 197a, ³Ehre sei Gott.² The use of the ³Gloria Patri² allowed the final ³Amen² to remain with little alteration in the parody adaptation.

The three-movement format is an oddity as well. It is more common in motets such as ³Singet dem Herrn² and ³Der Geist Hilft.² The sheer length of the opening movement may have shaped the decision. Bach divides the cantata into two halves after the opening movement, again a unique format in Bach, and again perhaps support for the proposal that this was a special university event. Was that service not a mass but a musical matrix for a stand-alone sermon? Bach¹s citation ³post orationem² may refer to ³after the prayer² which followed the sermon (³oratio² is a more common term for ³prayer² than ³sermon/oration²)

There are three-movement works for Catholic vespers music in the Dresden repertoire which may have suggested the format to Bach. Without suggesting a connection, the Vivaldi ³Deus in Adjutorium/Domine ad Adjuvandum² has a similar layout:

1. Chorus: ³Deus in Adjutorium/Domine ad Adjuvandum²
2. Solo: ³Gloria Patri²
3. Chorus: ³Sicut erat in Principio²

RELATIONSHIP TO MASS IN B MINOR:

All three movements are parodies from the Gloria of the 1733 Missa not the final Mass in B Minor (1748-49):

1. Chorus: ³Gloria in Excelsis² = Chorus: ³Gloria in Excelsis²
2. Duet: ³Gloria Patri² = Duet: ³Domine Deus²
3. Chorus: ³Sicut Erat in Principio² = Chorus: ³Cum Sancto Spiritu²

Butt proposes this sequence for the various versions:

1) Missa, Gloria (1733) ­ First version of Kyrie and Gloria, the so-called ³Lutheran Missa Brevis². (Both Stauffer and Butt point out that Catholic churches also performed missae breve with other settings of the Credo, Sanctus/Benedictus and Agnus Dei.)

2) Cantata 191, ³Gloria in Excelsis² (1745)

3) Mass in B Minor, Gloria, (1748-49)

INDIVIDUAL MOVEMENTS:

Mvt. 1: Chorus: ³Gloria in Excelsis²
This is one of the great Bach ³signature² movements. In performances of the Mass in B Minor, the appearance of the trumpets in D major after the long ³Kyrie² section is an electric Ocoup de theatre¹ comparable to the
OHallelujah Chorus¹ in OMessiah.¹ (In liturgical performances, the Gloria was preceded by the priest¹s chant intonation of ³Gloria in excelsis Deo² so the orchestral introduction served the purpose of an ³intonazione² )

The scoring is the traditional Big Bach Band expected for Christmas: 3 trumpets and timpani with flutes doubling oboes. Bach does not include the bassoon part that appears in the 1733 Missa and the BMM. The choir is in a festive 5 parts (SSATB), a voicing we see in the Credo of the BMM and the Magnificat. The vocal demands are prodigious and the sopranos are sent up to a symbolic high B natural ­ high A is Bach¹s usual limit.

The movement is cast as a gigantic prelude and fugue. In terms of tempo, do we assume that the dotted quarter of the ³Gloria² section equals a half note at ³Et in terra²? Or does the hemiola in the last 2 bars of the ³Gloria² create equal quarter notes across the time signature change? Many conductors do not maintain a prolational relationship between the sections. Was Bach attracted to the Missa as a source because of the great shouts of ³pax² in the closing pages? The music certainly has the quality of a great ³Te Deum² for a state occasion celebrating a peace treaty.

Mvt. 2 |: ³Gloria Patri
The duets here and in the BMM are remarkably consonant considering the differences in the word underlay of the two texts. Bach retains the muted strings and pizzicato bass, but scores the two flutes in unison rather than solo as in the BMM. There are a fair number of ornaments and articulations in the cantata that do not appear in the BMM: e.g. the second note of the flute part has a trill throughout. The ³Lombard² rhythms that Bach added to the BMM parts do not appear here. Because the cantata movement is not continuous with the following chorus as the duet is in the BMM (³Qui tollis²), Bach concludes the movement with the repeat of the opening introduction (bar 84 in the mass.)

Mvt. 3: ³Sicut Erat in Principio²
In the BMM, ³Cum Sancto Spiritu² begins Oex abrupto¹ at the end of the ³Quoniam² and there is no orchestral introduction. In the cantata, Bach brings the previous duet to a full close, and it is odd that he does not provide an orchestral introduction to this movement. He does however add new choral parts probably inspired by the trumpet fanfares in bar 3. The cantata and the mass versions provide a fascinating comparison of Bach¹s incomparable genius in scoring. In the mass, the flutes double the oboes until bar 111, but here they are given independent parts that can be heard quite prominently in the first bar and in the interlude at bar 64. In the mass, the fugue has only bass continuo support; here the flutes, oboes and strings provide delightful antiphonal accompaniment to the voices. The interlude at bar64 also has markings for solo cello that heighten the echo effects. I was disappointed that the flutes take over the flashing trumpet parts at bar 75, but the first trumpet does reclaim those dazzling final four bars. It is curious that Bach did not incorporate these scoring changes when he assembled the Mass in B Minor.

LINKS TO ONLINE EXCERPTS:

John Butt, Mass in B Minor, p.12
Part 1 < Part 2 > < Part 3 > < Part 4 >

Leaver, Cambridge Companion to Bach, p.116
Part 1 < Part 2 > < Part 3 > < Part 4 >

MUSICAL SEQUENCE FOR CHRISTMAS DAY:
Tower bells rung at 6 am and again at 7 am:
The 5200 kg bell ³Gloriosa² (1477) (pitched in A) was rung only on festivals
Candles lit at 7 am,
Archdeacon of Leipzig officiates as celebrant; Deacon assists Musicians must be in loft by final bell or be fined.

Organ Prelude on ³Puer Natus² (BWV 603 ­ Orgelbüchlein?)
Settings by Bach or other composers before all chorales & choral works
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Ein-Kind-geborn-zu-Bethlehem.htm )
Introit Hymn/Motet by Choir: ³Puer Natus In Bethlehem²
Settings by Praetorius or Schein are possible

Organ Prelude before Kyrie to establish key and cover tuning
Missa Brevis: Kyrie & Gloria (Plainsong Gloria intonation sung by Celebrant)
A concerted setting in Latin was sung from Christmas Day to Epiphany.
Bach¹s own missae breve are generally from his later tenure in Leipzig but may have been used with later performances of the cantata:
B minor (1733) ­ used in B Minor Mass [only missa brevis with brass]
BWV 233 - F major (1738)
based on Christmas cantata ³Dazu ist Erscheinen² ­ 2 horns
BWV 233a ­ Kyrie (1708-1712)
BWV 234 ­ A major (1738)
BWV 235 ­ G minor (1738)
BWV 236 ­ G Major (1738)

Collect/Prayer of Day sung in Latin plainsong by Celebrant
Choral Responses sung to four-part polyphony
from Vopelius collection ³Neue Leipziger Gesangbuch²

Epistle: Titus 2:11-14 (The grace of God has appeared)
sung by Deacon in German to plainsong
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Christmas.htm

Organ Prelude on ³Gelobet Seist Du² (BWV 314 or 604?)
Congregational Gradual Hymn of the Day (³de tempore¹,):
³Gelobet Seist Du, Jesu Christ ³
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Gelobet-seist-du.htm

Gospel choral responses sung in six-part polyphony from Vopelius collection
Gospel: Luke 2: 1-14 (Birth of Christ)
sung by Deacon in German to plainsong
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Christmas.htm

Organ Prelude on ³Wir Glauben All An Einen Gott² (BWV 1098?)
Congregational Creed Chorale:
³Wir Glauben All An Einen Gott² (Luther)

Organ Prelude before Cantata
First Cantata

Organ Prelude on ³Ein Kindelein So Löbelich² (BWV 719?)
Congregational Pulpit Hymn after the Cantata (Offertory)
³Ein Kindelein So Löbelich²

Sursum Corda sung in Latin in six-part polyphony
from Vopelius collection
Preface sung in Latin by Celebrant
Sanctus (without Benedictus)
A concerted setting was sung in Latin during Christmas week.
BWV 237 ­ C major
BWV 238 ­ D major
BWV 239 ­ D Minor
BWV 240 ­ G Major (arr?)
BWV 241 ­ D Major (Kerll?)
Hand bells rung at the altar at the end of the Sanctus
Verba (Words of Institution) sung in German plainsong by Celebrant

Second Cantata ³sub communione² during Communion?
Unknown if by Bach or other composer;
Bach¹s motet ³Lobet den Herrn² has a traditional Christmas text.

Other congregational hymns during Communion:
introduced by organ prelude:
³Ich Freue Mich In Dir² (Ziegler)
³Wir Christenleut² (Fuger)

Final Prayer & Benediction:
sung with 4 part polyphony from Vopelius

Organ Prelude on ³³Ein Kind Geborn zu Bethlehem²
Final Congregational Hymn: ³Ein Kind Geborn zu Bethlehem²
German repeat of Introit chorale

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 7, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] Doug, thanks for another magnificent piece of work. Frankly, your posts lately have made staying on this list an option for me, and the task of wading through the irrelevancies of the list more than worth it.

Neil Halliday wrote (March 8, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>The scoring is the traditional Big Bach Band expected for Christmas: 3 trumpets and timpani with flutes doubling oboes. Bach does not include the bassoon part that appears in the 1733 Missa and the BMM.<
Also on the question of bassoon, from Brian Robins (All Classical Guide Website, 1992-2001; previous discussions): "The first (movement) is the opening chorus of the Mass' Gloria, both text and scoring virtually unchanged except for the omission of the bassoons in the cantata." (Notice bassoons plural, see below)

But it seems unreasonable to omit a continuo bassoon in the cantata, given the large forces.

(According to his booklet, Rilling omits the bassoon in the cantata; OTOH, I think I can hear a continuo bassoon in Koopman's cantata sample, lending more 'presence' to the continuo line compared to Rilling - can anyone confirm this?).

Two points: the majority of cantata scores do not specify a bassoon, but I presume a bassoon is normally included, eg, Rilling usually has bassoon as a member of his continuo team; and as for the Mass, 'Fagotti', ie, two bassoons, are specified in the score (Robins also uses the plural, above). Therefore Bach, with a stronger than normal bassoon timbre, might wish to omit them from time to time in the score of the Mass (when smaller vocal and/or instrumental forces are sounding), which he does. OTOH, a single bassoon in the continuo of the cantata would reasonably be expected to play throughout as usual, in both large-scale choruses. And notice the quite different scoring in the exposition of the the fugue, in the final movement of the cantata, compared to the corresponding movement in the Mass; in the latter, Baat first reduces the instrumental forces considerably - to continuo alone - as the voices enter in fugal fashion, all of which probably explains the separate bassoon parts in the score of the Mass, but not in the cantata.

In concert performance, a long held final chord with drum roll, as with the first movement, seems more appropriate than the abrupt crotchet chord ending the final movement in the cantata score; perhaps this had something to do with the original liturgical setting of the cantata.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 9, 2009):
BWV 191, Gloria in Excelsis Deo - Final Notes

Neil Halliday wrote:
< In concert performance, a long held final chord with drum roll, as with the first movement, seems more appropriate than the abrupt crotchet chord ending the final movement in the cantata score; perhaps this had something to do with the original liturgical setting of the cantata. >
Thank you for pointing out this difference between what I'll call the "long" ending in the mass and the "short" ending in the cantata. Did Bach try the short ending in the cantata and not like it, so that he reinstated the "long" ending from the 1733 Missa? It seems a logical inference.

Do we have any contemporary records about how these "short" chords were performed? There are some other famous examples: the opening and closing movements of the Magnificat, and the "Et exspecto" in the Credo of the B Minor Mass.

Conductors take a variety of approaches:

1) No ritard in the final bars and short last note. The critics howled when Richter concluded the Credo in this "over-the-cliff" fashion.

2) Ritard in the final bars and a tenuto hold on the final chord which extends the note to something approximately twice its duration. No timpani roll on final note. This seems to be the modern preference.

3) Ritard in the final bar and fermata which fills the bar. Timpani roll. Not as common.

Some conductors also have a taste for the "Baroque sniff", a break or lift between the penultimate and final notes.

Neil Halliday wrote (March 11, 2009):
Following Brian Robins statement in 'All Classical Guide Website, 1992-2001': "The first (movement) is the opening chorus of the Mass' Gloria, both text and scoring virtually unchanged except for the omission of the bassoons in the cantata", I notice that, while the first two sections of the Mass (Kyrie and Gloria) have separate bassoon parts that mostly double the continuo (occasionally they double the vocal basses), there are no continuo bassoon parts at all in the score of the remainder of the Mass (Credo, Sanctus, Hosanna etc).

This raises a couple of interesting observations: the bassoon part shown in "Weinen, Klagen" from the early cantata BWV 12 is not in the Crucifixus of the Mass; and in the Mass itself, the music of "Gratias agimus" from the Gloria has a separate line for the bassoons, whereas the same music in the closing "Dona nobus pacem" does not.

Is it possible that Bach was avoiding the extra workload of writing a nearly identical bassoon line (to the continuo), when he compiled the last sections of the Mass?

John Pike wrote (March 11, 2009):
[To Neil Halliday] Fascinating observations. Thanks for pointing this out, Neil.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 11, 2009):
John Pike wrote:
< while the first two sections of the Mass (Kyrie and Gloria) have separate bassoon parts that mostly double the continuo (occasionally they double the vocal basses), there are no continuo bassoon parts at all in the score of the remainder of the Mass (Credo, Sanctus, Hosanna etc). >
And none at all for the same music in the parody Cantata BWV 191.

This isn't the first time that Bach's performance practice has been a mystery.

Neil asks, "Is it possible that Bach was avoiding the extra workload of writing a nearly identical bassoon line (to the continuo), when he compiled the last sections of the Mass?"

We've asked similar questions in the past:

* did the bassoon play from the same part as the cello or bass?

* did Bach have a consistent aesthetic regarding the use of the bassoon?

* does the absence of a bassoon indicate unavailability or inability?

I always have the uneasy feeling that the surviving parts aren't telling the whole story.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 12, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>I always have the uneasy feeling that the surviving parts aren't telling the whole story.<
I am always truly amazed at the amount of music my jazz and pop friends produce from a few scraps of paper, the merest hints of what to play. As the O*Bama (or simply post-Bush) exhuberance continues unabated, I would defy anyone to try to reconstruct a musical evening here in Salem, from the surviving parts.

Sometinmes, you just have to be there live. Apologies (yeah, sure) for the sacriligeous(?) analogy.

William Hoffman wrote (March 13, 2009):
BWV 191, Fugitive Notes

Contexts and Connections:

In a recent BCW posting, David Jones: Gardiner & BWV 126, says: "There is nothing like the sound of Lutherans going to war. Gardiner is often my first introduction to a particular cantata and I was absolutely stunned by BWV 126 and his interpretation of it. The cantata's stern, solemn words
"Uphold us, Lord, by thy Word and cast down the murderous Papists and Turks;
who would bring down Jesus Christ, thy Son, from His throne". . . .

There is a BCW continuing question about Bach's attitude towards war and, by implication, peace. I think much of it, overtly, is related to Lutheran theology, for example, Cantata BWV 126, presented on Seximageisma Sunday, 4 February 1725. It was one of Bach's last chorale cantatas in the second cycle, followed a weekly later by another Lent-directed cantata with high trumpet, BWV 127, and with three Passion chorales in the opening chorus. It is part of an intense pre-Lent focus as Bach considered his second Leipzig Oratorio Passion presentation and, possibly its connection with the victory of Easter Sunday Resurrection with a celebratory oratorio, BWV 249(c). In a greater sense, Bach was beginning to cease the weekly production of two consecutive church-year cantata cycles and to begin to formulate the concept of a Christological Cycle, as Erich Chafe puts it, that produces in the 1730s major works involving three Oratorio Passions set to John, Matthew and Mark; at least three Festive Oratorios for Christmas, Easter, and Ascension, and five Missa settings, BWV 232-236.

The best sense of Bach's attitude toward war and peace, conflict and resolution, need and gratitude is found in his vocal music treatment of biblical and theological concepts. Much seems metaphorical, like the Reformation contest against the "hordes of devils that fill the land"; Archangel Michael's Feast Day spiritual war against Satan and the forces of evil; or the Passion struggles against human sin and death. Through it all finally comes Bach's affirmation and thanks.

Turning to Cantata BWV 191, it is a pure canticle of thanks, Doxologies, a mini-Te Deum instead of a full-blow Praise and Thanksgiving to God, which I guess, like the Requiem Mass, was a bit too much Roman Catholicity even for Leipzig's clergy.

As to a special Thanksgiving service, Bach had presented other works for similar special celebrations of either Lutheran observance or the Saxon Court. We have the three-day festival for Observance of the 200th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, June 26-28, 1730, with parodies of Town-Council cantatas BWV 120a, BWV Anh. 4a, and BWV Anh. 3. Later, we have the Festive Service of Allegiance to August III, April 21, 1733, at the Thomas Church, possibly with BWV 232I, Kyrie-Gloria; and a Thanksgiving Service for the War of Polish Succession, July 6, 1734, at the Nikolas Church, possibly with BWV 248a, later parodied as BWV 248VI for Epiphany 1735.&#8232;

Christmas Cantata BWV 191 was his last documented Thanksgiving Service, in the mid-1740s, although he still did the annual service for the Installation of the Town Council in late August, as an acknowledgement ogratitude towards immediate, temporal authority. Here we have three annual cantatas in Bach's final years: BWV 137, 69, and 29, on 25 August 1749.

Now, to make a long story even longer, is Bach's personal attitude towards war and peace. There are no direct writings but various biographers and scholars have suggested that Bach, like all Germans, was thankful for the era of peace and progress after years of desolation through religious wars, famine, fire, and plague, still lingering and threatening.
The allegiance to Catholic Saxony came with the territory, literally, and Bach, like most, rendered unto both kings, Keiser and God, producing gorgeous music for both, sometimes intermingled.

Cantata BWV 191 was not just another Christmas and Thanksgiving piece, it was a bridge, a springboard, to Bach's last major work, the Great Catholic B-Minor Mass, which he took up soon after and completed. It appears that Bach was weary of the Saxon Court, especially the latest war which included the occupation of Leipzig. He no longer directed its resident ensemble, the Collegium musicum, or with them presented Saxon celebratory cantatas. He oldest son, Fridemann, moved on from Dresden to Halle; and son C.P.E., after law studies in Frankfurt, had taken up permanent residency at the Prussian Court, which Sebastian finally visited and to which he produced a tribute.

Still, Bach had some unfinished business. To the Kyrie and Gloria with its three uplifting movements transformed into canticles, he produced the central extended statement of belief, affirmation and allegiance to God, added the celebratory Sanctus of 1724-25 with an Osanna parody from the Saxon Court, produced another Lamb of God like his Passion music, and literally re-sounded a final, Grant Us Peace with entering trumpets and drums, previously sung as the "Gratias agimus tibi" in the Missa Gloria and the opening "We thank three, God," of Council Cantata BWV 29.

Thanks in part to Cantata BWV 191, Bach had come full circle, launching a mighty arrow into the modern world, at times a hell on earth, a paradise to be regained through struggle.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (March 13, 2009):
[To William Hoffman] Please tell us what "&#8232" means. please. These days with a few word substitutions the libretto could be updated to modern times.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 13, 2009):
BWV 191, Bach & Te DEUM

Ludwig (actually William Hoffman) wrote:
< a mini-Te Deum instead of a full-blow Praise and Thanksgiving to God, which I guess, like the Requiem Mass, was a bit too much Roman Catholicity even for Leipzig's clergy. >
The Te Deum was sung in Luther's adaptation of the Gregorian melody as "Herr Gott Wir Loben Dich" (Das Deutsche Tedeum) in pretty much the same way as in the Catholic liturgy: as a canticle at Matins and as a stand-alone piece on special occasions such as New Year's Day (BWV 16 uses the chorale) or civic celebrations. Bach wrote an elaborate 4-part choral setting (BWV 328), presumably for such occasions. The organ could also replace the choir for a Te Deum (an survival of the old medieval 'alternatim' practice of alternating plainsong verses with organ verses.) Bach's massive chorale-prelude (BWV 725) which includes all the liturgical repetitions could well have been written for a special thanksgiving.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 13, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
>Still, Bach had some unfinished business. To the Kyrie and Gloria with its three uplifting movements transformed into canticles, he produced the central extended statement of belief, affirmation and allegiance to God, added the celebratory Sanctus of 1724-25 with an Osanna parody from the Saxon Court, produced another Lamb of God like his Passion music, and literally re-sounded a final, Grant Us Peace with entering trumpets and drums, previously sung as the "Gratias agimus tibi" in the Missa Gloria and the opening "We thank three, God," of Council Cantata BWV 29.<
From a 21st C. (or 09 CEC) perspective, there is a certain irony that the fundamental Christian ceremony, the Mass, should conclude with <Dona Nobis Pacem>, after two millenia of almost constant warfare to enforce and extend the Faith (see Derek Wilson, <Charlemagne>, for an up to date, concise and readable summary).

It is difficult to ignore Bachs mature emphasis on the Biblical dictum: <Where there is music, there is God> as a simple and profound statement of his spiritual thinking. Has anyone ever gone to war over diagreements about music? Perhaps my resident mockingbird would be willing to give it a go.

Paul Farseth wrote (March 13, 2009):
Music, Bach, Civlity, and Peace

This responds to Ed and Will (attached below).

Readers who are interested in Ed and Will's thread about music, Bach, and peaceable life in a civil and civilized community might like to have a look at some of the poetry and essays of the (recently deceased) Bill Holm, a bigger-than-life Icelandic American poet, Bach lover, harpsichordist, and professor.? He loved both Bach and Haydn, wrote that "Whoever loves G Major loves God.", and visits Bach's and Haydn's music constantly in his poetry.? See especially his last book of poetry, PLAYING THE BLACK PIANO and his last book of essays THE WINDOWS OF BRIMNESS.??

Also relevant to the discussion are W.H. Auden's poems "The Composer" and "Luther".

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 13, 2009):
Paul Farseth wrote:
>Also relevant to the discussion are W.H. Auden's poems "The Composer" and "Luther".<
Thanks for this recommendation, as well as Bill Holms writings. I expect to get to these and post some thoughts, in due time (i.e., manana).

William Hoffman wrote (March 13, 2009):
Cantata 191: Responses et al

1. Doug Cowling: Thank you for the information on Luther's German Te Deum and Bach's wonderful music, as well as their vesper uses. I regret that Bach's setting is not found in Lutheran hymn books and the English translations not attributed (LBW, ELW). My favorite translation is from Handel's Dettingen Te Deum; the German and English fit the music perfectly: "Lord God, we praise thee: Herr, Gott. Dir sei Lob!" I can't find the text sources, in either Novello or Edition Peters scores.

2. To Ed Myskowski: I'm looking up the source of "Dona nobis pacem" to see if it pre-dates Charlemagne. Meanwhile, I am reminded of what jazz critic and writer Gene Lees said 50 years ago: "A cynic is an idealist with shattered dreams." No offense intended.

3. To Paul Farseth. There are some wonderful musical poets, especially Auden, who wrote canticles set by Britten. I'm sure there are many others and I will celebrate them as I encounter them. Also, there's a an extended essay, something about "Reflections at Night on Mahler's Ninth Symphony." I'm sure we've only scratched the surface, or rubbed it -- which I call foreplay!

4. To David Jones addendum on BVWV 126-Gardiner -- Right on, both of you! In fact, I just reread Uri Golomb's 2/27-28 postings on Multiple Approaches (foreplay?) to Bach: "Bach's most elaborate and complex works are often profoundly expressive, not despite their complexity but because of it. . . ." Your BWV 126 postings, Uri's thesis grounding, and my research on Bach's SMP led me to re-read last night Bruno Walter's essay "Notes on Bach's St. Matthew Passion" (general plan, interpretation, liberties, ornaments) in <Of Music and Music-Making> (Norton 1957/61). What insight, wisdom, and generosity of spirit -- from a Jew who treasured a most-Christian (?universal) work. I will try to summarize Walter's most salient thoughts and observations in my forthcoming BCW SMP annotated bibliography and remarks (fugitive notes) on the SMP's genesis and spiritual sources (lyrics and chorales). It's all about a half-century of contexts and connections, and I am still learning.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 13, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote [citing Gene Lees]
< "A cynic is an idealist with shattered dreams." No offense intended. >
No offense taken (intended or not). George Bernard Shaw wrote (I paraphrase): Those with keen powerof observation and analysis are called *cynics* by those lacking such powers.

Having just come from reading Derek Wilson on Charlemagne, I can almost imagine Pope Leo on Xmas Day, 800 AD, saying exactly that to Charles as he crowned him with the burden of *defending* the Church. I guess you had to be there.

William Hoffman wrote (March 18, 2009):
Cantata 191/126: Pacem

To Ed Myskowski: I'm looking up the source of "Dona nobis pacem" to see if it pre-dates Charlemagne -- 742 to 814.

Now, Wikipedia: Liturgy

"In the Mass of the Roman Rite and also in the Eucharist of the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Church, and the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church the Agnus Dei is the invocation to the Lamb of God sung or recited during the fraction of the Host.[1] It is said to have been introduced into the Mass by Pope Sergius I (687-701). "

So, Dona nobis pacem, the ending of the Agnus Dei, beat old Charlie by half a century.

Also, Wikipedia has numerous examples of musical settings of Dona nobis pacem, beginning with BWV 232. For me, there's the Missa Solemnis and Bernsetin's Mass (3 versions now), as well as Sam Barber's choral setting of his Adagio for Strings. I assume these responses may help to relieve us a little bit of old Charlie's burden, as well as the Crusades, the Spanish conquest of Latin America, etc. We keep trying, marching, holding candles.

For me, it's all about faith, not belief -- there's a distinction. In Bill Moyer's PBS series, Belief and Doubt, one of the speakers said: Belief without doubt is either nostalgia or obsession.
Amen.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 13, 2009):
On a personal note, with the intent of averting misunderstandings, I point out that in 1986 I chose the epitaph <Dona Nobis Pacem> for my mother-in-laws memorial stone. She was of no particular denomination, she communicated directly with God.

For a credible history of the Agnus Dei (including DNP), see: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01221a.htm

including the following, re musical treatments:

<The text of the Agnus Dei, triple in repetition, and, therefore, possessing its own rights of textual symmetry, was respected by the medieval composers; and the one facts which, in this respect, discriminates their forms of treatment from those of the master-composers of modern church music, is the absence of any separate treatment of the "Dona nobis pacem", that grand finale movement in which the moderns have been so accustomed to assemble all their energies of technique, voices, and instruments, and to which they assign a movement entirely different from the preceding one. Familiar examples of this are found in Bach's great Mass in B-minor, where the first two Agnus Deis are alto solos, followed by the "Dona" in four-part fugue.>

It is not much of a stretch to suggest that Bach saw his music as a force for peace among men, and his emphasis on DNP was an innovation.

As to whether the phrase DNP predates Charlemagne, I would suggest that the more relevant point is that the format of the mass was not standardized prior to 800 AD. Indeed, one of Charlemagnes spiritual objectives was just such standardization, in the nascent *European* Church. It is one of Derek Wilsons conclusions that Charlemagne effectively created the concept of Europe. It would be an interesting investigation to determine if Charlemagnes standard mass included the interpolation of DNP. Based on Wills report (via Wikipedia) of its introduction by Pope Sergius (687-701), the working hypothesis would be *yes*.

I stand by my original point re the irony of <Dona Nobis Pacem> and the history of European Christianity. As we used to say during the Vietnam *War* (unofficial, or illegal, take your pick): <Fighting for peace is like [rude word for sexual intercourse] for chastity.> Remains applicable in year 09 CEC.

 

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 3, 2010):
BWV 191, Fugitive Notes

William Hoffman wrote:
< Contexts and Connections:
In a recent BCW posting, David Jones: Gardiner &
BWV 126, says: "There is nothing like the sound of Lutherans going to war. Gardiner is often my first introduction to a particular cantata and I was absolutely stunned by BWV 126 and his interpretation of it. The cantata's stern, solemn words
"Uphold us, Lord, by thy Word and cast down the murderous Papists and Turks
who would bring down Jesus Christ, thy Son, from His throne". . . .
There is a BCW continuing question about Bach's attitude towards war and, by implication, peace. I think much of it, overtly, is related to Lutheran theology, for example, Cantata
BWV 126, presented on Seximageisma Sunday, 4 February 1725. It was one of Bach's last chorale cantatas in the second cycle, followed a weekly later by another Lent-directed cantata with high trumpet, BWV 127, and with three Passion chorales in the opening chorus. It is part of an intense pre-Lent focus as Bach considered his second Leipzig Oratorio Passion presentation and, possibly its connection with the victory of Easter Sunday Resurrection with a celebratory oratorio, BWV 249(c). In a greater sense, Bach was beginning to cease the weekly production of two consecutive church-year cantata cycles and to begin to formulate the concept of a Christological Cycle, as Erich Chafe puts it, that produces in the 1730s major works involving three Oratorio Passions set to John, Matthew and Mark; at least three Festive Oratorios for Christmas, Easter, and Ascension, and five Missa settings, BWV 232-236.
The best sense of Bach's attitude toward war and peace, conflict and resolution, need and gratitude is found in his vocal music treatment of biblical and theological concepts. Much seems metaphorical, like the Reformation contest against the "hordes of devils that fill the land"; Archangel Michael's Feast Day spiritual war against Satan and the forces of evil; or the Passion struggles against human sin and death. Through it all finally comes Bach's affirmation and thanks.
Turning to Cantata BWV 191, it is a pure canticle of thanks, Doxologies, a mini-Te Deum instead of a full-blow Praise and Thanksgiving to God, which I guess, like the Requiem Mass, was a bit too much Roman Catholicity even for
Leipzig's clergy. As to a special Thanksgiving service, Bach had presented other works for similar special celebrations of either Lutheran observance or the Saxon Court. We have the three-day festival for Observance of the 200th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, June 26-28, 1730, with parodies of Town-Council cantatas BWV 120a, BWV Anh. 4a, and BWV Anh. 3. Later, we have the Festive Service of Allegiance to August III, April 21, 1733, at the Thomas Church, possibly with BWV 232I, Kyrie-Gloria; and a Thanksgiving Service for the War of Polish Succession, July 6, 1734, at the Nikolas Church, possibly with BWV 248a, later parodied as BWV 248VI for Epiphany 1735.
Christmas Cantata BWV 191 was his last documented Thanksgiving Service, in the mid-1740s, although he still did the annual service for the Installation of the Town Council in late August, as an acknowledgement of gratitude towards immediate, temporal authority. Here we have three annual cantatas in Bach's final years: BWV 137, 69, and 29, on 25 August 1749.
Now, to make a long story even longer, is Bach's personal attitude towards war and peace. There are no direct writings but various biographers and scholars have suggested that Bach, like all Germans, was thankful for the era of peace and progress after years of desolation through religious wars, famine, fire, and plague, still lingering and threatening. The allegiance to Catholic Saxony came with the territory, literally, and Bach, like most, rendered unto both kings, Keiser and God, producing gorgeous music for both, sometimes intermingled.
Cantata BWV 191 was not just another Christmas and Thanksgiving piece, it was a bridge, a springboard, to Bach's last major work, the Great Catholic B-Minor Mass, which he took up soon after completed. It appears that Bach was weary of the Saxon Court, especially the latest war which included the occupation of
Leipzig. He no longer directed its resident ensemble, the Collegium musicum, or with them presented Saxon celebratory cantatas. He oldest son, Fridemann, moved on from Dresden to Halle; and son C.P.E., after law studies in Frankfurt, had taken up permanent residency at the Prussian Court, which Sebastian finally visited and to which he produced a tribute.
Still, Bach had some unfinished business. To the Kyrie and Gloria with its three uplifting movements transformed into canticles, he produced the central extended statement of belief, affirmation and allegiance to God, added the celebratory Sanctus of 1724-25 with an Osanna parody from the Saxon Court, produced another Lamb of God like his Passion music, and literally re-sounded a final, Grant Us Peace with entering trumpets and drums, previously sung as the "Gratias agimus tibi" in the Missa Gloria and the opening "We thank three, God," of Council Cantata BWV 29.
Thanks in part to Cantata BWV 191, Bach had come full circle, launching a mighty arrow into the modern world, at times a hell on earth, a paradise to be regained through struggle. >
Where are you getting the words "Papists" and "Turks". The opening chorus says nothing like this and I can not find these words anywhere in the librettot.

Evan Cortens wrote (July 4, 2010):
[To Ludwig]
The text of the opening chorus for BWV 126:
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort,
Und steur' des Papsts und Türken Mord,
Die Jesum Christum, deinen Sohn,
Stürzen wollen von seinem Thron.
(from http://webdocs.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/126.html)

Translated:
Maintain us, Lord, within thy word,
And fend off murd'rous Pope and Turk,
Who Jesus Christ, thy very Son,
Strive to bring down from his throne.
(from http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV126.html)

 

BWV 191 (SSATB)

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (November 24, 2010):
Dear Bach experts,

I am currently working on BWV 191 ("Gloria in excelsis Deo") which we will perform twice in December (together with BWV 120).

I have sung in a few dozens of cantatas and it is the first time (I think) that we have a score with five voices in the choir (SSATB).

This reminded me of the Magnificat (BWV 243). Is there a special link between the two (both in Latin, with a choir with two soprano voices)?

Thanks for any enlightment...

 

Cantata BWV 191: Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýSeptember 8, 2011 ý07:49:40