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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 200
Bekennen will ich seinen Namen
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of December 14, 2008

Terejia (Satoko Kodama) wrote (December 13, 2008):
Introduction to BWV 200 Bekennen will ich seinen Namen

It's Saturday night Japan time and I suppose that for most of the region, it may well be too early for introduction. However, since I am tied up all the day tomorrow(well...actually I'm going to perform BWV 654 and some Christmas/Advent related orgelbuechlein pieces...), please forgive for my early posting.

I’d like to change my modus operandi in introduction and firstly I give a link of recordings samples here :
http://www.kantate.info/old_recordings.htm#BWV200
http://www.emusic.com/search.html?mode=x&QT=BWV200&x=19&y=13

I would imagine it might well be convenient to have recording samples to hand, although I would also imagine there are those who have preference listening to CDs or maybe even LPs despite some inconvenience for searching.

Overall guidance for this work: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV200.htm

previous discussions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV200-D.htm

The link above contains most of the valuable information about the gem masterpiece, including comment on recordings, professional commentars.

After two weeks of joyous and merrily secular cantatas, it would be good to return to tranquil music with more familiar flavour to most of us about Bach.

This is an Alto aria with the accompany of as stoic as just 2 violins and continuo. Peaceful and calm atomosphere all in all. .I feel very uplifted and comforted when continuo plays diatonic ascending line, which is subsequently settled down and responded with descending three notes of upper instruments. I like cadenza part just before the entering of Alto voice and violin trill feels very peaceful and comforting-at least to my personal ears.

Probably some of you cannot help being reminded of BWV 53 (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV53.htm) Providing my ears faculty is not far off the wall, I hear it to be with the same key as BWV 53, another singled-out independent Alto Aria-(aside from controversy as to genuine work), i.e. E-dur…. Would anybody who have score like to volunteer speaking about the key of BWV200? Unfortunately, I do not have score nor I succeeded in finding one on the web. I am very curious as to the key.

Instrumental arrangement that BWV 53 added viola would be one of the main difference.

I'd rather let my humble pen cease here and let the music itself be more eloquent. Meanwhile I know many of you have far better pen than mine to describe the beauty of this gem so will you lend me the one please?

Julian Mincham wrote (December 13, 2008):
The key is E major, the same as that for the wonderful fantasia with which BWV 8, 'When, Lord, will I die?' commences.

The reaction of most listeners coming across this fine aria is likely to be one of great regret for the almost certain loss of the rest of the work. Dated at 1742 (Dürr p 665) this must have been one of Bach’s last works in this genre and its loss is keenly felt. Even its liturgical function is not certain; Dürr (ibid p 665-6) suggests the Purification and quotes various works which were adapted from other sources for presentation on this day e.g. Cantatas BWV 161, BWV 157 and BWV 158.

The text does, however, strike resonances with others of those written or adapted for this day----I confess the Name of the Lord from whom all are blest----death will not rob me of the certainty of His Light. For example a very similar sentiment, though differently expressed, may be found in the bass aria/recitative from Cantata BWV 157.

This aria, for alto, two violins and continuo has a quality of mellow assurance often to be found in works from Bach’s last decade. It is built on the ritornello principle with the familiar adaptation of ternary form There is an unmistakable A section ending in the cadence in the dominant key over bars 25-6 a contrasting second section passing through related keys. But there is no proper reprise, merely a few musical echoes of the original ideas. Long notes and melismas on certain key words aside, there is none of the obvious or graphic=20word painting from the earlier works. This is clearly Bach at his most mature and assured.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 13, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< This aria, for alto, two violins and continuo has a quality of mellow assurance often to be found in works from Bach¹s last decade. >
I assume (and hope) that there is no scholarly dispute about Bach's authorship of this wonderful aria (I was traumatized by the loss of "Schlage Doch" (BWV 53) as a teenager.) The orchestration of strings without viola is an old-fashioned 17th century configuration that might indicate a Bach arrangement of a pre-existing movement. Are there other solo movements in Bach which have this 2 violins and BC layout?

Is there any indication of how Bach performed other composers' cantatas? I'm thinking that this aria may not be an incomplete cantata but a pastiche insertion into someone else's Purification cantata, a work which had the old-fashioned string format.

Pure speculation ...

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 13, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Is there any indication of how Bach performed other composers' cantatas? >
Yes, Telemann (C.P.E.'s god-father), and Stölzel certainly.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 13, 2008):
Sorry Doug asked if we know how Bach performed other composers' cantatas, not if or who ;) I misread, then mistyped. My apologies.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 13, 2008):
Kim Patrick Klow wrote:
< Yes, Telemann (C.P.E.'s god-father), and Stölzel certainly. >
Did JSB "tinker" with the music or add movements?

Neil Halliday wrote (December 14, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>Are there other solo movements in Bach which have this 2 violins and BC layout?<
The penultimate movement of BWV 51 comes immediately to mind.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 14, 2008):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< The penultimate movement of BWV 51 comes immediately to mind. >
Interestingly, the two violin parts in that movement are marked 'solo' (the tutti strings with viola return for the closing "Alleluia". By coincidence, I was writing program notes today for Cantata #7, "Christ der Herr zum Jordan Kam" and noticed that the tenor aria has two violins marked "concertante" without viola.

I can't open the Capella file of the BGA full score of BWV 200. Are there any solo markings on the violin parts of this cantata?

William Hoffman wrote (December 14, 2008):
BWV 200: arias w/2 vns., Bc

According to Werner Neumann's final edition of Handbuch der Kantaten JSB, 1984, listed in the appendices, arias with 1 or 2 obligatto instruments (2 violins), p. 293: Soprano: BWV 17/3 in E Major, BWV 52/3 in d Minor; Alto, BWV 72/3 in d Minor, BWV 200 in E Major; Tenor; BWV 7/4 in a Minor, BWV 171/2 in A Major, BWV 248IV/6 in d Minor, BWV 249/6 in G Major; Bass, BWV 12/5 in Eb Major, BWV 42/6 in A major; and Tenor-Bass, BWV 125/4 in G Major.

Neil Halliday wrote (December 14, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>I can't open the Capella file of the BGA full score of BWV 200. Are thereany solo markings on the violin parts of this cantata?<
According to the OCC, only the NBA contains the score of BWV 200, not the BGA. Unfortunately my browser won't work with the the Capella software.

John Pike wrote (December 14, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] I agree. The first time I heard this sadly fragmentary piece of perfection itself was when I bought the Gardiner recording on DG many years ago. I listened to it umpteen times that day.

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 15, 2008):
BWV 200 Orchestration Indications

Here is what the NBA KB I/28.1 p. 117 indicates that the only evidence is in the form of an autograph score (from which cantata this may have been taken is still completely unknown). This score carries no indications about which voice or which instruments were intended (if the original parts had survived, they would have been clearly marked). Based on the watermark and Bach's handwriting, Kobayashi has determined that this Bach score originated circa 1742, more precisely after May 1742. For this reason February 2, 1742 (Mariae Reinigung) can be given with some reservations and February 2, 1743 with only slightly more confidence.

The movement is entitled 'Aria' from which it may be inferred that a solo vocal part is involved. The clef used makes it clear that an alto voice was intended. The similarities between the two obbligato instrument parts would signify that the instruments were of the same type or very similar. Based upon the range of notes employed and certain musical figures typical for string instruments (particularly beginning with m 44), the orchestration of this movement obviously points to the use of violins.

Ludwig Landshoff, who used this manuscript source in 1935 for the first edition of it as Edition Peters (Nr. 4209), indicated that it came from a private owner in Berlin. who found it among his father's possessions after the latter hat died in 1924. Nothing is known about its earlier provenance. It later belonged to Mrs. Franz Osborn (Lady Hutchinson, who had remarried) and subsequently her son, Christopher Osborn, sold it to the SBB in 1979.

William Hoffman wrote (December 15, 2008):
BWV 200: Fugitive Notes

Purification Cantatas:

Date(Cy.)

BWV

Title(Key)

Type

?2/2/16

BWV 158(a)

Welt, ade! ich bin deine müde(G,e)

SB solo

1724-35

[BWV Anh. 157]

Ich hab Lust zu Scheiden(G) TelemannVWV 1:833,4

(Chs.)

2/2/24(1)

BWV 83

Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde(F)

ATB solo

2/2/25(2)

BWV 125

Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin(e)

Cle. Chs.

2/2/26(a3)

[JLB 9]

Mache dich auf, werde Licht(C)

J.L. Bach

2/2/27

(BWV 83)

Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde

repeat

and(3)

BWV 82

Ich habe genung, ich ...Heiland(c)

B solo

?2/2/28(3a)

BWV 157

Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich(b,D)

TB solo

2/2/29(4)

deest(P16)

Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener

Text Only

?1730-31

(BWV 82)

Ich habe genung, ich habe die Heiland

repeat

2/2/35

(BWV 82a)

Ich habe genung, ich ...Heiland repeat(in e)

S solo

and(5)

BWV 161

Komm, du süße Todesstunde(C-a)

chorus, adapt

1736-39

(BWV 125)

Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin

repeat

?c1742 (5)

BWV 200

Bekennen will ich seinem Namen(E)

fragment

?1746-47

(BWV 82)

Ich habe genung, ich habe die Heiland

repeat

?1747-48

(BWV 82b)

Ich habe genung, ich ...Heiland

repeat(in c)A solo

According to my calculations, Bach was more active on this church date than any other. There are as many 10 cantatas (or portions) presented on at least 12 dates, including two double bills in 1727 and 1735. Bach originally composed perhaps five cantatas for this feast day, including the first in Weimar: BWV 158(a), BWV 83, BWV 125, and BWV 82. Bach made adaptations from two cantatas, BWV 157, originally a funeral work, Weimar Cantata BWV 161, originally for the 16th Sunday after Trinity, for the 1735 Candelmas double bill. Bach repeated his three repertory works: BWV 82 at least four times, and BWV 83 and BWV 125 at least once. Bach also presented the cantatas of composers Telemann (BWV Anh. 157, Bach autograph harpsichord part ? 1723-35) and J.L. Bach. Only the Picander 1729 text, "Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener in Frieden fahren" (Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace), survives, including the related chorale "Mit Fried und Freud," possibly BWV 382.

The-well regulated Bach not only presented Purification works consistently throughout his Leipzig tenure, but also adapted them for special usage. Giving weight to Doug Cowling's speculation about a possible pastiche, there are at least three other works, BWV 27/6, BWV 145 and BWV 231, with insertions of other composers. It also should be noted that Bach's Purification cantatas are generally intimate and simple, usually using a five-movement symmetry, alternating arias (or chorales) and recitatives. It would be easy to substitute or add an aria.

All of this, of course is related in context to the significance of the Purification observance, especially its Simeon Canticle. I will pursue the Calov Bible Commentary and Günther Stiller's book, unless it has been done as part of the BCW discussion of the other Candelmas cantatas.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 15, 2008):
[To William Hoffman, regarding Fugitive Notes] What an amazing lineup of works for a secondary weekday feast day. What made Bach return to the theme of holy death? He wasn't drawn to the Marian motifs in the readings. I suppose he is following the shift at the Reformation to the feast being an admonition to godly living rather than an celebration of the interior theological privileges of the Virgin.

By the way, did the feast day (Feb 2) have any significance in the civic calendar?

Terejia wrote (December 15, 2008):
Neil Halliday wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29470
< The penultimate movement of BWV 51 comes immediately to mind. >
Also, Tenor aria in Christmas Oratorio Part 4?

Terejia wrote (December 15, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29463
< The key is E major, the same as that for the wonderful fantasia with which BWVÂ 8, 'When, Lord, will I die?' commences. >
Thank you, I'm glad to confirm.

Also thank you for the reminding us another example.

Hmmm...ok, the same key as Violin Sonata No.3, too...

(..)
< This aria, for alto, two violins and continuo has a quality of mellow assurance often to be found in works from Bach's last decade. It is built on the ritornello principle with the familiar adaptation of ternary form There is an unmistakable A section ending in the cadence in the dominant key over bars 25-6 a contrasting second section passing through related keys. But there is no properreprise, merely a few musical echoes of the original ideas. Long notes and melismas on certain key words aside, there is none of the obvious or graphic=20word painting from the earlier works. This is clearly Bach at his most mature and assured. >
Thank you for this interesting commentar. I seem to have a lot of work to explore deeper into Bach's music in the future.

John Pike wrote (December 15, 2008):
[To Terejia] It's also the key of solo violin partita no. 3 and of one of the violin concertos, both magnificent pieces.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 15, 2008):
Terejia wrote:
< Thank you for this interesting commentar. I seem to have a lot of work to explore deeper into Bach's music in the future. >
Terejia? We all do!? No matter how well you think you know a piece of Bach there is always something new to find in it! I have found this to be true from the perspectives of the listener, researcher and performer. This is, perhaps, the main reason why we keep returning to his music.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 15, 2008):
[To John Pike] And several opening choruses from the cantatas, one flute sonata, the last French suite and one each of the violin and keyboard concerti. Four sharps (and four flats) were the most extreme keys generally used by Bach for the setting of works, excluding, of course , the WTC. And he would modulate into the most extreme keys in the course of certain movements for dramatic effect or for extreme chromatic contrasts of harmony.

I have always been rather intrigued by Bach's use of E major though, wondering what, if anything, he might have associated with a key which he used for both the most elegiac and extrovert of moods.

Terejia wrote (December 15, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote [Fugitive Notes]: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29484
(..)
< What made Bach return to the theme of holy death? >
(..)
Doug, I suppose your question is very profound and well worth exploring into. I suspect it might be something essential in Bach's cantata, if not that 100% of his music is related to the theme.

Terejia wrote (December 15, 2008):
Categorizing BWV 200 discussion by points so far

It's Monday night.

I wasn't able to access to the computer yesterday but I'm glad to see lively discussions going on. As I read along, I quickly categorized the posts as followings so far.

Orchestration of BWV 200
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29464
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29481

2 violins and bass continuo accompanies vocal solo
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29470
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29471

list of obligato solo instrument and solo vocal arias
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29473

if Bach performed another composerfs cantata
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29464
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29465
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29466
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29467

If it is fragmentary part of the cantata with the rest of the movement lost
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29475

I hope it could be of some use- may be for discussion leader on 3rd run?

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 16, 2008):
OT: Capella Reader in Vista


Someone had mentioned in a recent post having difficulty using Capella Reader with his browser. I installed Capella Reader into Windows Vista Home Premium this morning, and at first it would not work right because the program did not follow the directions given on the capella site. However, by right clicking, and then browsing for Capella.exe, and right clicking on it, the file for BWV 200 loaded perfectly.

I bring this to the attention of anyone having trouble with the program because there is so often a work-around.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 16, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote [Capella]:
< I bring this to the attention of anyone having trouble with the program because there is so often a work-around. >
What about MACs? (grin)

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 16, 2008):
[To Terejia] It seems to me that this refers to the Luke text for the day. Simeon has seen salvation (perhaps equivalent to a holy death here), and Bach seems to be completing this number based on the text.

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 16, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I have always been rather intrigued by Bach's use of E major though, wondering what, if anything, he might have associated with a key which he used for both the most elegiac and extrovert of moods. >
The key is interesting here, but also Bach's rhythmic patterns. Having a chance to look at the lovely Capella score was informative for me. Notable to my mind is the use of a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note
at or near the end of bars as well as in a few other places, and phrasings moved from part to part for rhythmic variety using this short rhythmic pattern. This is catchy, and perhaps might be seen as a technique for the
extroversion mentioned by Julian. On meines Lebens Licht, this rhythmic pattern is sequential, perhaps lending agreement to Deurr's point of view that Jesus as the Lord of all people's is the most recognizable focus of this work, rather than the focus on the redemptive death (loosely paraphrased from Deurr, p. 665).

A lovely, short and interesting work.

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 16, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding Capella] So, so, sad...my MAC died when the power company was working on the lines last summer. It was one of the first eMACs, with enhancements, but eight years was enough apparently. And when replacement time came I couldn't afford the MAC I wanted so I got an HP with Vista. If I had a MAC here I could experiment, but [?] at this point I'm of little use in the MAC category. Maybe the Capella site has a tech area that could be accessed...my only suggestion. Sorry.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 16, 2008):
Doug Cowling wrote:
>By the way, did the feast day (Feb 2) have any significance in the civic calendar?<
From a site documenting Catholic traditions, and with a welcome sense of humor: www.fisheaters.com

<Candlemas Day is also known as <Groundhog Day> in America, the day when, if the groundhog sees his shadow, there'll be 6 more weeks of Winter. All Europeans have a similar belief about how Candlemas weather portends the length of winter. The English have a saying, <If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year.> ...

German immigrants to the United States brought their Candlemas traditions with them when they settled in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Each year, a great to-do is made over the town's official groundhog, "Punxsutawney Phil," emerging from his den to predict the weather, said prediction being broadcast by all the major media in the U.S.A.> [end quote]

Not exactly a civic function, but I had no idea of the German origin of Groundhog Day.

From the same site, the official French Candlemas dish is the Crepe Suzette (recipe included). And finally:
<In Poland, the candles brought from home to be blessed are decorated with symbols and ribbons. There, the custom is to let a blessed burn all night tonight before an icon of Our Lady who, when the world still had forests, was relied upon to keep the wolves away during these cold nights. ... This tradition gives Candlemas its Polish name -- <Matka Boska Gromniczna,> or <Mother of God of the Blessed Thunder Candle.> [end quote]

Terejia wrote (December 16, 2008):
Raison d'etre of BCML?

Julian Mincham wrote:
< Terejia? We all do!? No matter how well you think you know a piece of Bach there is always something new to find in it! I have found this to be true from the perspectives of the listener, researcher and performer. This is, perhaps, the main reason why we keep returning to his music. >
What Julian said here may be the raison d'etre of this list, at least in my own understandings.

Bach's music has variety of aspects and I appreciate multiple viewpoints of subscribers. IMHO, probably what we Bach lovers all share in common would be upward vector, aspiration toward high things.

Terejia wrote (December 16, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29495
< The key is interesting here, but also Bach's rhythmic patterns. Having a > chance to look at the lovely Capella score was informative for me. Notable > to my mind is the use of a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note at or near the end of bars as well as in a few other places, and phrasings moved from part to part for rhythmic variety using this short rhythmic pattern. >
Thank you, Jean, for calling our attention on rhythmic pattern.

(..)
< A lovely, short and interesting work. >

Indeed. We seem to have wide variety of valid approaches to Bach's masterpiece. My approach tends to be instrumental, abstract these days,partly because Bach seems to have been instrumentally oriented composer in that his work seems to show instrumental construction in the front (at least to me...) and his vocal part often sounds to be too cruel for singers-other composers like Haendel sounds more natural for singing. I do have some experience in participating chorus dealing with Bach, Händel, Monteverdi, Parestlina masterpieces.

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29487
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29489

John's referring to other Bach works in E-dur and Julian's comment on E-dur is very insightful viewpoint.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 16, 2008):
BWV 200 - Candlemas

Yesterday I posted a few comments retrieved from the site www.fisheaters.com. I think the information was interesting and supportable, but I did not check it further.

I wish to emphasize that the site does not represent my spiritual position, and I do not believe it is endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church. While I found the site name (and some of the Candlemas material) humorous, I now realize that there are areas of the site which may be offensive to BCML participants. Apologies for any misunderstanding, I did not intend to endorse the site as anything but a source of info re Purification/Candlemas traditions.

I will follow up on the quality of the Crepes Suzette recipe.

Terejia wrote (December 17, 2008):
Cantata text and some personal list thoughts (was: BWV 200 - Candlemas)

Ed Myskowski wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29501
> Yesterday I posted a few comments retrieved from the site www.fisheaters.com. I think the information was interesting and supportable, but I did not check it further.<
I reread your post and I find it to be interesting. I haven't read the link. I find it to be civic in nature and related to Maria’s Purification. I am a Catholic myself but I am quite illiterate on this celebration so have no ability to respond. As simple as that.

> I wish to emphasize that the site does not represent my spiritual position, and I do not believe it is endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church. While I found the site name (and some of the Candlemas material) humorous, I now realize that there are areas of the site which may be offensive to BCML participants. Apologies for any misunderstanding, I did not intend to endorse the site as anything but a source of info re Purification/Candlemas traditions.>
(..)
Thank you, Ed, for your usual kind consideration toward others' sentiment.

I don't find it to be offensive at all nor I could think of anyway how it could be offensive to another but in case it SHOULD, which I strongly doubt, I would write even more offensive thing : WARNING IN ADVANCE !

Unlike instrumental works, text/liberetto is an essential part of vocal music and when it comes to sacred cantatas/mottets/oratorios, etc, we cannot avoid referring to the text and theology to some degree in order for our approach to be whole pictured although I strongly skeptical of the correctness of approach which is more than, say, 85% on text/theology.

This is a non-religious list and for me being non-religious means not imposing particular belief system upon others. It also could mean that refrain from overreactive against particular system. Non-religious could be a synonym to liberal. In other words, being adult toward each other and respect each other regardless of one's belief system including non-religious attitude.

My boss, who is a member of Buddhism sect Soka Gakkai, which is a rather hostile sect against Christianity, is going to celebrate Christmas with his non-Christian friends. He is quite an adult. Of course there may well be a criticism that being liberal/being an adult is synonym of "lurkwater". To the best of my understanding, this list prefers being liberal to being pious/faithful.

In Japan, Christmas is a rather civil event and celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike, with each on its own way. A friend of mine, who lives in St. Louis and who likes stocktrading, said stockmarket closes on Christmas Day.

Now, I learned that this list experienced trauma about Merry Christmas greetings. Even though I wasn't a member at that time and I myself didn't experience the trauma, it IS very heartbreaking to me. How about, if you allow me to say my humble opinion, not being overreactive against Merry Christmas, which is commonly accepted civil seasonal greeting even in a non-religious country like Japan? In Japan, in many occasions, I have to conform to the custom of another religions, esp. Shinto and Buddhism. Since Christmas has a widespread civil aspect (as well as sacred aspects for those who take it that way), I don't think it would be too unfair to request non-Christians not to be overreactive against Merry Christmas, when it has no imposing flavour behind the simple message.

Sometimes, it matters to me more with what motivation/with what flavour the particular message was sent rather than the word of the message itself.

Merely my personal opinion and feelings.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 17, 2008):
Terejia wrote:
< Unlike instrumental works, text/liberetto is an essential part of vocal music and when it comes to sacred cantatas/mottets/oratorios, etc, we cannot avoid referring to the text and theology to some degree in order for our approach to be whole pictured although I strongly skeptical of the correctness of approach which is more than, say, 85% on text/theology. >
Thankfully, this forum no longer has a firestorm when Bach's theological and liturgical context is discussed. My original question was really why Feb 2, the Purification, was such a big occasion in Bach's Leipzig. If Bach had gone to Dresden, he have seen the Catholic chapel royal engaged in a major celebration which featured a procession with hundreds of candles ("To be a light to lighten the Gentiles").

Luther abolished the candle procession, and the feast day should have atrophied back to a simple commemoration in the Lutheran calendar, yet in Leipzig the day was one of the very few saint's days which required the composition of a cantata. Bach certainly went the extra mile to write superlative music. Why Purification and not All Saints on Nov 1?

We've noted that St. Michael (Sept 29) was connected to a city fair. Was Purification connected with an event in the civic calendar? The beginning of a school term? An election? A quarter day for fiscal or legal terms? It was clearly a holiday when secular work was suspended and there was an expectation of attendance in church.

Julian Mincham wrote (December 17, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Thankfully, this forum no longer has a firestorm when Bach's theological and liturgical context is discussed. >
Hopefully to remain so. Though I wouldn't put any money on it!

Terejia wrote (December 18, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29503
(..)
< My original question was really why Feb 2, the
Purification, was such a big occasion in Bach's Leipzig. If Bach had > gone to Dresden, he would have seen the Catholic chapel royal engaged in a major celebration which featured a procession with hundreds of candles ("To > be a light to lighten the Gentiles").
Luther abolished the candle procession, and the feast day should have atrophied back to a simple commemoration in the Lutheran calendar, yet in Leipzig the day was one of the very few saint's days which required the composition of a cantata. Bach certainly went the extra mile to write superlative music. Why Purification and not All Saints on Nov 1? >
(..)
Interesting questions. I 'm not up to answer these questions but it would add another deeper insights into our appreciation, if these are answered.

In Orgelbuechlein, there is an organ piece whose thema is Purification of Maria.

Terejia wrote (December 18, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29504
< Thankfully, this forum no longer has a firestorm when Bach's theological and liturgical context is discussed.
Hopefully to remain so. >
(..)
Yes, indeed! This list seems to have "grown up" , so to speak??

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 18, 2008):
Terejia wrote
< Interesting questions. I 'm not up to answer these questions but it would add another deeper insights into our appreciation, if these are answered.
In Orgelbuechlein, there is an organ piece whose thema is
Purification of Maria. >
In a previous post when these questions arose, I brought forth some information after consulting my 100 year old Dad. Dad has his own views as a Pietist, but I thought his explanation made sense. He commented that even with the changes Luther instituted, popular festivals were not always disregarded, and his view was that Luther was not rigid on some of these issues so the popular practices could easily have continued. This isn't strictly academic stuff here, but I am also quite sure that deep, meaningful answers are not going to be possible. Luther changed the direction of the church, and had both his enemies and his friends. But there were also a good many other pastors who might have had differing views and continued celebrations. Perhaps in the same way Terejia ascribes Christmas as a civic holiday in Japan, Germany may have had a carry-over that was a time of communal celebration, and Bach may have been inspired.

An interesting aside to my mind is that I've encountered Eastern Orthodox scholars who believe the lack of regard for Mary under Luther's system may well have damaged the status of women. Bach, who was married and had many children may have had an appreciation of Mary that exceeded some standards of the day, and felt that some glorious music befitting the ancient festival was in order. This is speculation, but perhaps some of it has some merit. When I cannot know exactly what the composer might have been thinking since history doesn't record all, I just enjoy the piece for what it is...and that's really enough, especially when we are talking Bach.

Terejia wrote (December 18, 2008):
On Maria's Purification Festival (text topic on BWV 200)

Jean Laaninen wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29507
< In a previous post when these questions arose, I brought forth some information after consulting my 100 year old Dad. >
Oh, for whatever reasons I may have missed it, sorry, mea maxima culpa.

(..)
< Perhaps in the same way Terejia ascribes Christmas as a civic holiday in Japan, Germany may have had a carry-over that was a time of communal celebration, and Bach may have been inspired. >
Even though I'm in no position of judging the academic correctness of the statement, it makes much sense to me.

(..)
< When I cannot know exactly what the composer might have been thinking since history doesn't record all, I just enjoy the piece for what it is...and that's really enough, especially when we are talking Bach. >
I definitely concur with you on this. While information is useful, valuable, greatly helpful to assist appreciation, nothing could possibly substitute for music itself. Having said that I also realize appreciating music itself per se is much easier said than done in my case.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 18, 2008):
OT? BWV 200 - Candlemas

Jean Laaninen wrote:
>Luther changed the direction of the church, and had both his enemies and his friends.<
Or from the Catholic perspective, Luther simply started his own church? Thanks to Doug for pointing out the attempted elimination of Candlemas, by Luther.

I believe it was me who incorrectly started the association of BWV 210 with this thread, BWV 200 looks more appropriate.

In order to avoid controversy, I omitted some data I enjoy, re Candlemas. Not especially relevant to Bach and Luther, but perhaps of interest to others, nonetheless. In fact, the celebration of Feb. 2 predates both Luther and Christ, as the festival of the Roman goddess Februar, and likely even older pagan traditions. It has always been a <feminine> day, associated with increasing light, and the beginning of the end of winter (or not quite yet, depending on the groundhog or his prdecessors).

It is one of the eight major pagan festival days, which are important in every religion, and which were adopted in various ways by Christianity. The most familiar associations are Winter Solstice - Christmas, and Spring Equinox - Easter. Candlemas is the quarter-point day falling between those two. In very general terms, the four major calendar days, two solstices and two equinoxes are masculine, and the intermediate quarter-point days are feminine. I will point out calendar relations which interest me, as we spend the coming years discussing the Bach cantatas in relation to the Lutheran liturgical calendar.

Note that the connection between Christmas and the solstice is very direct, while that between Easter and the equinox became exceedingly complex, in order to dChristianity from all other religions, especially Judaism. We have discussed that at some length and interest (at least to me). In the process of establishing the calculation of the date for Easter, the already existing fragmentation of Christianity became cast in stone, a millenium and more prior to Luther.

William Hoffman wrote (December 19, 2008):
BWV 200: Luther, Catholics, Bach & Canticles

Re.: Martin Luther. Embattled as he was, Luther had his bad days. He railed not only against the Counter-Reformationists -- "hoards of devils (that) fill the land" ("Ein feste Burg" )-- he also opposed the peasants in their revolt against authority and expected Jews to see the light and become Christian. I don't think Bach was a "Mr. Smooth-It-Away", he simply found opportunities to celebrate the positive ideas fostered by Luther. I am doing a study of OT & NT Canticles and Bach's use of them, a Catholic concept related to Vespers -- spirtually and musically enriching, and reconciling. Stay tuned!

Jean Laaninen wrote (December 19, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] A fine textbook titled Mysteries of the Middle Ages is a recent acquisition here. The author is Thomas Cahill.

On pages 58-59 the history of the incorporation of pagan festivities with Christian events during the reign of Pope Gregory, who was known for his charitable and missionary work is documented. The well known Augustine was one of his missionaries, sent to the British Isles. Gregory had an interesting perspective in that he told Augustine not to prefer Roman customs to English--rather, to retain what was good about pagan customs in order to make the missionary message more palitable. "Nor was there any need to outlaw the old festivals or the customs that accompanied them. Just baptize them a bit." Herein we probably have the historical context, in my view, for the maintainance of those questionable festivals which Luther was not able to totally diminish--nor, do I suppose he even thought it always wise. Change is a real struggle for many people.

Additionally, some of my European family and friends, who are agnostic rather than Christian, still name seasons of the year in liturgical terms--this is especially true where a state church exists. I was fascinated when I asked our cousin Helvi when her dance classes would resume, and she said, after Epiphany.

So in light of history and the carry-over even today with defining times of the year, I imagine it is no stretch to think Bach followed the customs of his day.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 19, 2008):
Will wrote:
>Stay tuned!<
I can only hope the heading <Fugitive Notes> will continue, Whittaker must be smiling!

Fugaciously yours (and Aloha for the Solstice season), Ed Myskowski

Peter Smaill wrote (December 19, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Gunther Stiller has a lot to say on the rich liturgical life of Leipzig, specifically:

"These circumstances in any case demonstrate th prominence still given to the three Marian festivals, which since the Reformation were celebrated as festivals of Christ. This may also be clearly seen from Johann Sebastian Bach's rather significant Cantatas for these festivals, e.g. BWV 1 and BWV 147. At any rate , the feast of the Annunciation was so highly regarded that it was always observed on Palm Sunday if it fell on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Easter."

Stiller, quoting Rost, notes that in 1724 the feast day of the apostle James was observed in Leipzig (25 July) which is odd in that Luther loathed the Book of James because of its support of the doctrine of Justification by works.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 19, 2008):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Stiller, quoting Rost, notes that in 1724 the feast day of the apostle James was observed in Leipzig (25 July) which is odd in that Luther loathed the Book of James because of its support of the doctrine of Justification by works. >
"Throw Jimmy on the fire" was Luther's quip.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 19, 2008):
>"Throw Jimmy on the fire" was Luther's quip.<
I suspected that Doug might be pulling our collective leg (that is, having a joke at our expense), so I googled the phrase in quotes, and received exactly one hit. a site called <theology and a pub>, which is in agreement with Dougs comments.

I am home, at last.

Terejia wrote (December 19, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29509
(..)
> Note that the connection between Christmas and the solstice is very direct,<
Yes, I've been aware of that. I am by no means calendar specialist but personally it makes perfect sense to me we have a big celebration when we have the longest night in the year to have a hope for light- for those living in northern hemisphere.

There seems to be a speculation that actual day when Christ was born may not have been December 25th. They say that Nazareth is too cold for sheperds to be watching outside in winter. If so, probably Christmas Day was determined so that it could serve best for Roman churches in northern hemisphere.

< while that (Terejia insert commentar : 'that' refers to connection) between Easter and the equinox became exceedingly complex, in order to distinguish Christianity from all other religions, especially Judaism. We have discussed that at some length and interest (at least to me). In the process of establishing the calculation of the date for Easter, the already existing fragmentation of Christianity became cast in stone, a millenium and more prior to Luther. >
In Japan, Easter is much less commonly celebrated than Christmas. However, Easter is also the day when New York stockmarket closes. So a friend of mine who likes stocktrading and who is non-relisioug concerns to know the date of Easter.

I've heard that Eastern egg is originated from entirely different root than Christian Churches. Also I've learned that Tannenbaum, which is commonly associated with Christmas, has nothing to do with Christmas and implanted from Germanic people's custom. I suspect many parts of major events in Christian church liturgy which are considered to be indispensable are not really originated in primary Christian church but were actually taken from folk customs adopted by church for convenience or for whatsoever.

Whatever the history might be, in today's world, church calendar/events is as it is, as culture. Cultural aspect of church is beautiful, although it is not always perfect.

To go back to Bach to some degree, the circumstances of music is so much different today. Bach wouldn't have imagined that his music could be enjoyed in all over the world. Without change of the world, we would not be enjoying Bach as we are today.Afterall, we live in today's world.

Terejia wrote (December 19, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] Oh, unwittingly, I wrote my previous message before reading your post but I learned the same on my canonical study before being baptized in Catholic.

For me personally, aethetic has independent elements from any time, location, culture surrounded the musician/artist (radical speculation /imagination: Bach would have been still great composer of sacred music had he be born and grown up in SokaGakkai culture ) but there might be other elements in aethetic which are inspired by particular time, location, occasion, culture, etc-there may well be part of Bach that wouldn't have been born without German Lurtherian church, culture around 1685~.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 19, 2008):
Terejia wrote:
< There seems to be a speculation that actual day when Christ was born may not have been December 25th. They say that Nazareth is too cold for sheperds to be watchioutside in winter. If so, probably Christmas Day was determined so that it could serve best for Roman churches in northern hemisphere. >
That's purely speculation and a lot that particular theory is based on current climatology. The Middle East and Northern Africa had a much different climate 2000 years ago, never mind weather patterns can have a great deal of variables happening year to year (e.g. snow in Las Vegas Nevada just a few days ago).

There are some interesting discoveries involving archaeology and a lot of research, entirely too lengthy to get into here, but I will provide some links at the end of my reply.

Dr. Michael Molnar has discovered gold coins from Antioch dated to 6 B.C. By using ancient astrological sources from the period (that explain the symbolisms on coins), and using astrological charts and combining that with the story as it's presented in the New Testament, ad using computer models of the astronomical events (essentially running them backwards) Dr. Molnar determined there were three times when such a "star" would have appeared: April 17 (when the "star" appeared in the "east"), August 23, and drumroll December 18th for several days (when the account in the gospels describe "stood over").

Dr. Robert Drier (a professor of archaeology American Egyptologist specializing in paleopathology) has a television special on TLC (The Learning Channel) as part of his Mummy Series dealing with the magi and the star of Bethlehem called "The 3 Kings." It's fascinating stuff: Drier uses iconography, art work and historical accounts to discuss the Magi. After looking at many legends about the magi and the surviving evidence, Drier finds compelling evidence suggests that the remains of the 3 magi are in fact in Cologne Cathedral today, which he points out is the only cathedral in the world that has uses a star on it's crown, and not a cross or crucifix. There is an extensive segement on this show also discussing Dr. Molnar's pinning down of the astronomical event of the star of Bethlehem. Drier's program is available on DVD from TLC I believe.

Some links:
http://www.liu.edu/cwis/CWP/pr/press/2004/122.html
(press release from Long Island University about Dr. Brier's findings.

http://www.eclipse.net/~molnar/index.html
Dr. Molnar's research about the Star of Bethlehem

Terejia wrote (December 19, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/29514
(..)
< I don't think Bach was a "Mr. Smooth-It-Away", he simply found opportunities to celebrate the positive ideas fostered by
Luther. >
I simply like the idea that Bach took the benefit of Lutherian church culture in order to amplify the aethetic effect of his music.

(..)
>> Stay tuned!<<
Indeed ! Great to see harmonious and fruitful discussions going on.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 19, 2008):
OT? BWV 200 - Bach & History

Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< There are some interesting discoveries involving archaeology and a lot of research, entirely too lengthy to get into here, but I will provide some links at the end of my reply. >
I think we need to be cautious in bringing popular archaeology and scholarship into the mix. Most mainstream scholars would agree that the historicity of the Infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke are irretrievable to investigation. Even the New Testament writers vary in their approach to the questions. Neither Mark nor John have birth narratives, and the letters of Paul, the earliest strata of the New Testament, merely comment that Jesus was "born of a woman."

The best modern commentary is "The Birth of the Messiah" by Raymond Brown (Doubleday, 1977). He later wrote "The Death of the Messiah" on the Passion narratives. Ironically, it is modern scholars' skepticism of the historicity which brings us closer to Bach. Brown assembles a vast background of allusions to OT passages. When I was reading "The Birth of the Messiah", I was struck how many correspondences there were to the libretto of the "Christmas Oratorio." Scriptural allusions which most listeners do not catch are certainly there in Bach's text.

Bach never doubted the historicity of the narratives but his real creative interest is in the theology. If theology rather than history is the focus, we can make some sense of Bach's seemingly "undramatic" handling of narrative in the oratorios and Passions. The constant interruption of the scene of the Shepherds and Angels in Part II is a classic instance.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 200: Details & Complete Recordings | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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