Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Lutheran Church Year: Main Page and Explanation | LCY - Event Table | LCY 2000-2005 | LCY 2006-2010 | LCY 2011-2015
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of Bach’s Vocal Works
Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event | Motets & Chorales for Events in the LCY
Discussions: Events in the Lutheran Church Year: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Readings from the Bible

Events in the Church Year
Part 2

Continue from Part 1

ST Michael Feast

Daniel Michel wrote (January 13, 2005):
I do not see in the Lutheran Year schedule the mention of St Michael Feast September 29th.). Can anyone tell me why this Feast was so important in the Lutherian Liturgy that JSB composed at least 3 cantatas (BWV 19, BWV 130, BWV 149) and possibly more (BWV 50?)? Many thanks.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 14, 2005):
[To Daniel Michel] St. Michael's Day is one of the "Lesser Festivals". It is regarded with the same piety in Evangelical (Lutheran) circles as St. John the Baptist's Day and any other Saint's Day.

It is odd, though, that the one that is emphasized most (even more than Jesus in some ways) is Mary, the mother of Jesus. After all She has at least two canticles and three days (The Purification (Mariae Reinigung)--2 February, the Annunciation (Mariae Verkuendigung, which this year falls on Good Friday)--25 March, the Assumption into Heaven (Mariae Heimsuchung)--2 July).

John Pike wrote (January 14, 2005):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Just out of interest, Cantata BWV 182 "Himmelskönig, sei willkommen" was written for a day when Palm Sunday coincided with the "Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary"

 

27. Sonntag nach Trinitatis

Kristian Stemmler wrote (February 27, 2005):
I only have one question: How often did Bach have in his life the opportunity to perform the Cantata for the 27. Sonntag nach Trinitatis "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" (BWV 140) on a real 27. Sonntag nach Trinitatis?

Greetings from the Nordheide, Germany
Sunday Oculi in den Fasten

Satofumi wrote (February 27, 2005):
[To Kristian Stemmler] You mean the dates, if any, of real 27. Sonntage nach Trinitatis after 1731?

If so, I have a small computer program for answering this. However I cannot touch the computer which carries the needed files until Mar 1 (Tue.). I will respond then. Someone may answer the question earlier..

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 27, 2005):
[To Kristian Stemmler] During Bach's tenure in Leipzig, this 27th Sunday after Trinity occurred only in 1731 and 1742. The original performance date (this cantata could not have been performed before this date), according to Alfred Dürr's proof was definitely on November 25, 1731. The NBA KB I/27, p. 147 states that this date can be assumed with reasonable accuracy. A repeat performance could be assumed for 1742, but what is truly remarkable is that the original parts show no sign whatsoever of a 2nd performance (usually there are additions, corrections, emendations when a cantata is performed for a 2nd or 3rd time.) Based upon the evidence as it stands now, this cantata was performed only once in Bach's lifetime: on November 25, 1731.

Satofumi wrote (March 1, 2005):
The 27. Sonntag nach Trinitatis (1700~1750

[To Kristian Stemmler] Acording to my calculation (based mainly on "Calendrical Calculations: The Millennium Edition" by Edward M. Reingold, Nachum Dershowitz, Cambridge U.P., 2001), the 27th Sundays after Trinity of the years between 1700 (Gregorian conversion) and 1750 are as follows..

(The Year 1704..
Easter Sunday; Sunday, 23 March 1704
Trinity: Sunday, 18 May 1704
Sunday, 23 November 1704 was the 27th Sunday before Advent)

The Year 1731..
Easter Sunday; Sunday, 25 March 1731
Trinity: Sunday, 20 May 1731
Sunday, 25 November 1731 was the 27th Sunday before Advent

The Year 1742..
Easter Sunday; Sunday, 25 March 1742
Trinity: Sunday, 20 May 1742
Sunday, 25 November 1742 was the 27th Sunday before Advent

Lutheran Church Year - Update

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 15, 2006):
Dr. Thomas Jaenicke provided the Lutehran Church Year (LCY) for the years 2007 to 2012.
I had to spilt the LCY into several pages:

Explanation of the LCY: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm
LCY 2000-2005: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/Lutheran-2000-2005.htm
LCY 2006-2010: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/Lutheran-2006-2010.htm
LCY 2011-2015: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/Lutheran-2011-2015.htm

The Readings for each event in the LCY, provided by Francis Browne:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/index.htm

I hope you will find this info useful.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 16, 2006):
Aryeh Oron wrote:
< Dr. Thomas Jaenicke provided the Lutehran Church Year (LCY) for the years 2007 to 2012. I had to spilt the LCY into several pages: >
I know this is a huge request, but I would love to see lists of the Lutheran Church Year from 1685 - 1750 showing the dates of variable feasts such as Easter and the weekdays upon which fixed feasts such as Christmas fell.

This would be an invaluable resource in determining Bach's compositional calendar. For example in some years, depending on the day of the week which Christmas fell on, Bach might write a cantata for the Sunday after Christmas or one for the Sunday after Circumcision/New Year. Or the number of cantatas required between Epiphany and Lent or between Trinity Sunday and the last Sunday after Epiphany (the six parts of the Christmas Oratorio clearly reflect the weekday pattern of Dec 25 to Jan 6 in a particular year).

One of the first steps in Bach's cantata composition would have been to look at the entire year and see where concerted music was required. I believe that too much has been made of Bach's "hurried" method of Monday to Saturday cantata composition. Bach clearly had the whole year in mind when approaching the daunting task of providing cantatas -- his printing of the cantata librettos is an important piece of evidence.

Question to the Lutheran liturgists out there ... Was there a printed liturgical almanac or ordo which Bach might have referred to when planning the year? Printed Catholic missals and Anglican Prayer Books had tables listing when feast days fell in a particular year. Are there comparable lists in the Lutheran tradition.

Iman de Zwarte wrote (January 16, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I know this is a huge request, but I would love to see lists of the Lutheran Church Year from 1685 - 1750 showing the dates of variable feasts such as Easter and the weekdays upon which fixed feasts such as Christmas fell. >
A challenge for those who like mathematics!
http://www.punctum.com/interest/caltime/calend.de.htm
and
http://www.datumsrechner.de/

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 16, 2006):
[To Iman de Zwarte] Fascinating!

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 16, 2006):
[To Iman de Zwarte] Complicating the problem, the historical calendar changes also have to be reckoned into that. During most of Bach's lifetime, Christianized Europe had several different calendars going at once. This was split not only across national and other political boundaries, but also Protestant/Catholic divisions. That is, Easter and some of the other major church-year days happened several times per year in different places, where it might be relevant.

With regard to Bach, most notably there were 10 days lopped out when he was 15 years old, in an attempt to reconcile some of this. See some of the earlier discussion (March 2004) at "March 21, 1685" on the page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Life-2.htm

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Bach Composing - Part 4 [General Topics]

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 20, 2006):
If any member would like to build tables of LCY for the years 1685-1750, I shall be happy to host them at the BCW.

Any volunteers?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 2, 2006):
[To Aryeh Oron] It's a project close to my heart, but I will have to research what calendar reference materials are out there. I'd be happy to collaborate with someone.

 

Transfiguration of Our Lord ... Bach Cantata?

Paul T. McCain wrote (February 4, 2006):
Did J.S. Bach write a Cantata for the Transfiguration of Christ? And is so....what was it?

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 4, 2006):
[To Paul T. McCain] It appears that a cantata was not required on August 6 for the Transfiguration, but then I've never read anything about which feast days in the Lutheran calendar were observed with music in Bach's churches.

Outside of Sundays which of course fall on a different date every year, Bach seems to have written cantatas for the following feast days which fall on fixed dates and thus most often on a weekday:

The church year runs from Advent 1 to the Last Sunday after Trinity.

Temporal Cycle:

Dec 25 - Christmas Day
Dec 26 - Second Day of Christmas (St. Stephen)
Dec 27 - Third Day of Christmas (St. John the Evangelist)
Jan 1 - Circumcision/New Year's day
Jan 6 - Epiphany

Sanctoral Cycle (Saints' Days):

Feb 2 - Purification of the Blessed Virgin MAry
Mar 25 - Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
June 24 - St. John the Baptist
July 2 - Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sept 29 - St. Michael

I don't know if Bach was required to provide concerted music on any other fixed-date saints' days.

I have a vague recollection that the scriptural account of the Transfiguration appears as the Gospel reading for one of the Sundays after Trinity although it may include the healing of the epileptic which is part of the pericope at least in Matthew 12:1-20. You might check the various Gospel narratives against the list of Gospel readings for Sundays after Trinity on this site and see if there is a cantata which uses the episode.

Bill Kerrick wrote (February 4, 2006):
[To Paul T. McCain] Hi! I'm Bill Kerrick, a retired Lutheran pastor and Bach fan. I retired early and did some music study with a Master's thesis on the hermeneutic (theological meaning) of Cantata BWV 105 -- but more about that at a later time. In regard to the Transfiguration, it did not appear in Reformation calendars on August 6. The Service Book and Hymnal of 1958 used that date -- but the Lutheran practice had been to celebrate the Transfiguration on the last Sunday after the Epiphany, which could vary according to the year. (The SBH also appointed the Transfig. propers for the 6th Sun. after the Epiph., when it appears, or as alternate readings for the Last Sun. after Epiph. if there were more than one Sun. after Epiph.) Remember that the Epiph. season is an "accordion" season like the Trin. season, depending on the date of Easter. Find the last Sun.after Epiph. in the various Bach cycles and you may find a Transfiguration cantata.

I have been following the discussions on performance practice of the various recordings with great interest. My study was narrower, basically one cantata with the hermeneutic aspect, and I am not generally familiar with many cantatas. I hope to keep on learning.

Thank you!

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 4, 2006):
Paul McCain asked:
"Did J.S. Bach write a Cantata for the Transfiguration of Christ?"

Douglas Cowling gave an excellent response to this question.

McCain's question, formulated differently, raised another question in my mind: "Did Bach even have any references at all in his sacred works to the Transfiguration?

Checking Lucia Haselböck's "Bach Textlexikon" [Bärenreiter, 2004], I find very little indeed about any reference to the Transfiguration and whatever does appear seems somewhat remote from the actual biblical account and can only be understood as symbolic references:

Haselböck has an entry under the heading "Kleid" ("garment, clothing, dress") "Das Kleid des verklärten Christus" ("The garment worn by the transfigured Christ"): in the Easter cantata "Der Himmel lacht, die Erde jubilieret" BWV 31/3 "Der sein Gewand blutrot besprützt in seinen bittern Leiden, will heute sich mit Schmuck und Ehren kleiden." ("The One [Christ] whose clothing was spattered with blood in his bitter suffering, wants to dress Himself with the finest decorations [jewelry, etc.] and honors today [upon his resurrection]")

Another image/symbol of Transfiguration is found in the Easter chorale "Christ lag in Todesbanden" BWV 4/7, where Christ becomes the Sun: "Er [Christus] ist selber die Sonne, der durch seiner Gnaden Glanz erleuchtet unsre Herzen ganz" ("He [Christ] is Himself the Sun, who/(which) through the splendor of his mercy fills our hearts completely with light.")

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 4, 2006):
Bill Kerrick wrote:
< Hi! I'm Bill Kerrick, a retired Lutheran pastor and Bach fan. I retired early and did some music study with a Master's thesis on the hermeneutic (theological meaning) of Cantata BWV 105 -- but more about that at a later time. >
Bill, I was wondering if you might have some bibliography on 18th century Lutheran calendars which Bach might have had in front of him when he planned the church year. Obviously, modern ordos and lectionaries are not much help here. I'm curious about how liturgical occurrence and transference were handled in the period. It impacts on how Bach wrote his cantatas.

For instance, when Annunciation on March 25 collided with Palm Sunday, it gave us Cantata BWV 182, "Himmelskönig Sei Willkommmen". The six parts of the Christmas Oratorio reflect a specfic year's Sundays and weekdays. Does that mean Bach never intended to perform the work again? Or would he have revised the work if in another year there was a Sunday after Christmas rather than a Sunday after New Year?

We tend to view the cantatas as free-floating concert works rather than the strictly circumscribed litrugical pieces they were for Bach.

Paul T. McCain wrote (February 6, 2006):
By way of follow up....experts in the historic Lutheran chuch year have informed me that in fact Transfiguration was not observed, or celebrated, in Lutheran churches until recent years. Bach would not have written a Cantata for it because it was never observed in Lutheranism in his time. Thanks for all the comments and interesting observations and information.

Thomas Jaenicke wrote (February 6, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I don't know if Bach was required to provide concerted music on any other fixed-date saints' days. >
You forgot the day of reformation, a central day of rememberance for the Lutheran congregations, for which Bach provided several cantatas.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 6, 2006):
[To Thomas Jaenicke] Was that always observed on a fixed day or on the last Sunday of October?

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (February 6, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] I believe the answer to the question, at least here in Poland, is 'both': it is theoretically on the last day of October, as I recall, but in practice it is observed on the last Sunday of the month.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 7, 2006):
< Was that always observed on a fixed day or on the last Sunday of October? >>
Early on the Day of Reformation was celebrated according to the date the reformation was introduced in the different protestant countries. In 1667, Johann Georg II. of Saxony put up the day of the "Thesenanschlag" (posting of the theses) i.e. 31 October as the date of the introduction of the reformation in the German speaking countries. The Reformationstag was for many years THE protestant holiday second only to Good Friday.

 

Cantata for planetary demotion?

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 24, 2006):
Our solar system now has fewer planets than it did yesterday. What's the most appropriate Bach cantata for such an occasion? http://news.google.com/news?q=pluto+planet

Wait, they're not really Bach "cantatas" either, but more usually "concerto" or other designation.....

Stephen Benson wrote (August 24, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] It's a good thing Holst didn't show any interein adding to The Planets a movement entitled "Pluto" after it was discovered in 1930. What would we have done with THAT movement?

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 24, 2006):
[To Stephen Benson] Well, I listened to Colin Matthews's "Pluto" addition this afternoon, in its honor anyway.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 24, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Our solar system now has fewer planets than it did yesterday. What's the most appropriate Bach cantata for such an occasion?<<
The astronomers have launched a preemptive strike in weakening the status of Pluto known mythologically as the ruler of the physical and spiritual underworld. Pluto is an alternate name or counterpart for Hades in Greek and Roman mythology generally speaking. (The distinctions deserve a better treatment for which there is no time or space here.) In Christian religion, Satan/Devil can be loosely equated with Pluto even after considering cross-cultural differences. It is with this in mind that the following bass arias from two Bach cantatas can be singled out and suggested for this occasion:

Bass Aria BWV 149/2
Kraft und Stärke sei gesungen
Strength and might be sung

Gott, dem Lamme,das bezwungen
to God, to the Lamb, who conquered

Und den Satanas verjagt,
and drove away Satan

Der uns Tag und Nacht verklagt.
who accused us day and night.

Bass Aria BWV 175/6

Jesus hat euch zugeschworen,
Jesus has sworn to you

Daß er Teufel, Tod erlegt.
that he will vanquish the devil and death.

{Francis Browne’s interlinear translation)

In both excerpts it is Christ who has driven away Satan [Pluto] from his throne. The second excerpt promises that Jesus Christ will, in the future, completely demote, subjugate and annihilate Satan’s (Pluto’s) power, in particular, the power over death which has been Satan’s prerogative until now. We should be thankful to the astronomers for showing how easy it is to bring about a major change in the definition of Pluto. This is a first step in the right direction.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (August 25, 2006):
[To Stephen Benson] But why did he not include Earth? Didn't he consider Earth a planet?

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 25, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] That's easy: the Peasant cantata (BWV 212) because messing around with the planets is only going to confuse the peasants - like me. Don't people pay astronomers a salary to search for the unknown or go places no man has gone or something like that? Why do they want to throw my beloved 5th grade teacher into the dustbin of educational history? Pretty soon they're going to want the USA to go metric.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 26, 2006):
They tried to shift the USA in the direction of the metric system in the 1970's. I think it is evident with what results. They're just an Imperialist lot, I guess ;-) (OK, OK, I'm a US citizen myself - but I haven't maintained a permanent residence there in nearly 15 years now...)

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 28, 2006):
[To Stephen Benson] One less planet makes Earth just a bit more important? No? Check my math.

I would suggest BWV 76, one of the few which celebrates Earth (as opposed to Jesus, Heaven, etc.), for example:

The land brings forth fruit and improves
Your word prospers [...]
May the whole world honor Him.

You might think He would also have enjoyed being honored by Pluto, but those are the mysteries of the Cosmos. C'est la vie.

Rick Canyon wrote (August 28, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< This is a first step in the right direction. >
Ah...but I live in Flagstaff where Pluto was discovered.
"Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not", then.
("Sighing, weeping, sorrow, care")

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 29, 2006):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Hey, who is this *they*? Is that the same guys who screwed up my Reply function?

I am reliably informed that the USA has been on the metric system (SI) since 1993, by Act of Congress. I think it is evident with what results. The 2 L Coca Cola has been a huge success. The 750 ml bottle of wine is standard (but it was before). So is the 1/2 Gal.

I have long maintained that USA kids would score better at math if we had a rational, universal, measuring system from the beginning (birth, approximately). Or even just learning to hear and divide music, as Bach did (official BCML connection).

Before I joined BCML, I scrolled through some of the archives, to see who was around. The Cara P &T story came up. We need more of that.

And while you're at it, bring back Pluto! Unless you like the slightly greater Earth theory (difficult, I know). Try BWV 76.

 

Purification

Julian Mincham wrote (September 6, 2006):
I have just been looking at some of the cantatas in a contextural context and found that the five which exist for the Purification (Feb 2nd) BWV 125, BWV 158, BWV 83, BWV 82 and BWV 157 all seem to have a preponderance of lower voices (bass and tenor) in the solo roles. One, BWV 82, is for bass only and elsewhere bass and tenor predominate. Not exclusively, there is one alto recit in BWV 125 and an alto aria and recit in BWV 83.

However there are no solos for sopranos in any of the five listed the choral section of sopranos just the chorale in a bass aria of BWV 158.

Is this a coincidence? Or may there be some other symbolic reason? Does anyone have any light to throw on this? It is unlikely to be a matter of unavailability of soprano soloists at the time as the five cantatas range from the Weimar years to 1727.

Douglas Cowling wrote (September 6, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Is this a coincidence? Or may there be some other symbolic reason? Does anyone have any light to throw on this? It is unlikely to be a matter of unavailability of soprano soloists at the time as the five cantatas range from the Weimar years to 1727. >
I'd have to go bqack and look at the Purification cantatas more closely, but on first thought I would assume that bibilical narrative which describes the aged Simeon receiving the Christ Child in the Temple and saying the "Nunc Dimittis" might have influenced the preponderance of male voices in the cantatas.

Julian Mincham wrote (September 6, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< but on first thought I would assume that bibilical narrative which describes the aged Simeon receiving the Christ Child in the Temple and saying the "Nunc Dimittis" might have influenced the preponderance of male voices in the cantatas. >
Yes I thought it might be soemthing along these lines but have been unable to pin it down further. Would be interested in any other thoughts or references.

 

Lutheran Church Year

Paul T. McCain wrote (November 22, 2006):
It has been quite some time since I've posted here, but I have kept up with the interesting conversations. I though this group might be interested to know that the Lutheran Church Year, around which Bach's life revolved, is still alive and well. Just this morning I finished going through the newly published one year lectionary published with our church's new hymnal. I printed out the resource available from the Cantata web site, the charts for the Church Year and the reading, and without exception each Gospel reading is identical to the one used in Bach's day for every Sunday in the Church Year. I did notice however that now we refer to the Sundays of Easter, instead of after Easter. If anyone is interested in purchasing a church lectionary providing the very same readings that Bach used, you can visit the following web site: http://www.cph.org/lsb.

I noticed that one of the charts on the cantata site begins with Jan. 1, when in fact the Church Year begins with the First Sunday in Advent, which is on December 3 this year.

 

Feast of the Immaculate Concep

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 9, 2006):
I have always thought the Holy Ghost had the toughest job in X-tos mythoilogy. It appears he was the one who had to impregnate her without compromising her virginity, and then he was stuck with giving her the news. If it were up to me, I would probably done the whole thing at once, but that is not my understanding. Or at least my understanding from my RC youth.

I now wonder if the Feast of the Visitation, which Lutherans celebrate does no in fact commemorate both the impregnation and announcement, more or less simultaneious. And the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which Lutherans do not (?) celebrate refers not to the conception of Jesus, but to the conception of Mary (conceived without [original] sin).

Can anyone provide insight on the Lutheran position on the Immaculate Conception, which feast we celebrate today (Dec. 8, 2006)

 

Short Introduction - Georg Fischer from Black Forest / Germany - liturgical names of Sundays 1685-1750

Georg Fischer wrote (January 30, 2007):
when searching for websites linking to my site at www.punctum.com, I found a reference to my calendar program which was posted by Douglas Cowling in this group.

I'm 59, a computer consultant, and still working at a major German bank in Frankfurt am Main. My knowledge of music, even of scores, is rather limited, though I'm singing (Bass) once per week in the evangelic church choir at my home town in southern Germany, in a small choir in Frankfurt, and sometimes in the local catholic church choir (they also sing J.S.Bach sometimes). During the years I sung BWV 79, BWV 93, BWV 106, BWV 140, BWV 182.
-------
I've now listed the Sundays in Bach's lifetime with their liturgical (lutheran/protestant) names on: http://gfis.dataway.ch/teherba.de/bach/index.htm

If you klick on a year, you can see the Sundays, and if you klick on a Sunday name there, you will see all years where that Sunday occurred.

Please do not hesitate to email me directly if you find any inconsistencies with your dates.

I adhere to the hypothesis that Bach would have planned his cantatas along the annual lists of bible texts to be used during the service ("Perikopen" in German). At least now, these are fixed for all Evangelic (Lutheran/Reformed/United) churchs in Germany, and they repeat after 6 years. They probably existed also at Bach's time, but I did not yet find out whether they were common in a town or region.
-------
Moreover I can offer reading of the old German handwriting script, since I'm used to it (to some extent) from genealogical research for other (mainly American) people.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 30, 2007):
Georg Fischer wrote:
< I've now listed the Sundays in Bach's lifetime with their liturgical (lutheran/protestant) names on: http://gfis.dataway.ch/teherba.de/bach/index.htm
If you klick on a year, you can see the Sundays, and if you klick on a Sunday name there, you will see all years where that Sunday occurred. >
This is a terrific resource which should be permanently on the website. It gives us the chrononlogical sequences so we can see how the cantata cycles worked each year.

How about it, Aryeh?

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 31, 2007):
Georg Fischer wrote:
>>I've now listed the Sundays in Bach's lifetime with their liturgical (lutheran/protestant) names on:
http://gfis.dataway.ch/teherba.de/bach/index.htm >
Although not as critical as the above list, is there calendar list from the time of Bach's tenure in Leipzig that displays the correct Saint's name for a particular date of the year? In the so-called German name-day (most are saints but some are not) calendars, there can be 2 or 3 names for the same day and many days for the same name:

August 2nd: Eusebius, Adriana, Julian

Gregor: January 2 and 10; February 11, 12; May 25; August 25, 26; September 3 and November 17

Practical example:

The Thomaner choir boys had specific times when they as Currende went out 'caroling' primarily during the weeks of Christmas and 2 to 3 weeks after New Year's. However, they also went out on (St.)Gregor's Day and on (St.) Martin's Day. Obviously the Thomaner did not go out on all the days listed for Gregor as given above from a modern German 'Name-Day' calendar. Which specific day of the year is referred to here. Bach had to be very concerned about have his best choir members singing themselves hoarse on the streets until late at night. It would be interesting to know if Gregor's or Martin's Day was near any particular Sunday or moveable feast day and whether this might have affected his choice of music (solo soprano arias being omitted, use of a solo bass cantata, etc.)

In Bach literature and sources we have occasional references to days like Michaelmas and Gregor's Day. It would be great to have a calendar which would show all the fixed days of the calendar in relation to your changing calendar.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 31, 2007):
[To Thomas Braatz] This is obviously Part Two of a Bach calendar, and is sometimes crucial for Bach's muisc. For example, the day of the week on which Christmas fell determined which six feast days had a Part in the Christmas Oratorio. If Christmas had fallen on another weekday, the oratorio might have had seven or eight parts. The way in which the sanctoral calendar (the fixed saints' days) interacted with the temporal calendar (Sundays) allowed Bach to reuse "Himmelskonig Sei Willkommen" when Palm Sunday and the feast of the Annunciation fell on the same day (March 25)

The ultimate Bach calendar of course would be a 365 day calendar from 1685 to 1750 which also included all the documented events in Bach's life and in the wider world which may have influenced him.

Viel Dank to Georg for providing this resource. I hope it finds a permanent home on theis website.

 

Bach and the Calendar

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 3, 2007):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< Or perhaps they used a 5-year lectionary back then? (Nowadays, at least in Poland, they use a 6-year lectionary, the idea being to preach through (more or less) the entire Bible in 6 years >
The Lutheran Chuch continued to use the 1-year Roman lectionary for mass after the Reformation (as did the Anglican Church). It is only in the 1970s that the three churches moved to a three-year lectionary which systematically reads through the entire New Testament.

Even with the predicatability of an annual cycle of readings, there were often unusual occurrences which Bach had to watch out for. For instance, in 1724, the feast of the Annunciation (with its narrative from the Christmas story) fell on Palm Sunday which normally didn't have a cantata in Leipzig. Bach's melding of the themes of the Infancy and Passion is masterful.

I've often mentioned how the occurrence of the Christmas festivals in 1734 dictated the shape of the Christmas Oratorio. In another year, there could well have been a Sunday between the Third Day of Christmas and January 1, or in another no Sunday between Jan 1 and Epiphany. If Bach had chosen to perform it again, he would have had to wait until a year with the same Calendar as 1734 or undertake a massive rewriting.

Stephen Benson wrote (March 3, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Not just mentioned, Doug, but back on January 9, 2005, you wrote an exhaustive analysis of all the awkward possibilities that could arise with respect to scheduling the 6 parts of the Christmas Oratorio. That analysis, well worth revisiting, can be found at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/Events.htm

 

Bach's Calendar & Purim (was: current cantata)

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 3, 2007):
Chris Kern wrote:
< The lyrics, once again, talk abouhow you need not fear death, because if you have faith in God you will be saved. >
Yes, indeed, that seems to sum up what most of the cantata texts say. It's about as profound as turning on any radio preacher. Of course there is Bach's music. And of course we don't all follow Bach's calendar. Tonight, the 14th of Adar A. M. being Purim, I for one shall avoid Bach and listen to Handel's oratorio Esther. Handel seems to provide an oratorio for almost every Jewish holiday whilst the Johannes-Passion only present its Juden or Jüden as the enemy of God Himself and the essence of Evil. It's a hard fact to live with and should be for Christians perhaps more than for Jews.

The author of the John Gospel simply was a person who saw the Jews as the incarnation of the Evil force against God. I am pretty sure that whatever historical Jesus existed would have had a difficult time with this John. He was the forerunner of St. Augustine who wrote of Peter being the paradigmatic Christian and Judas being the Paradigmatic Jew. Say what? There is something wrong here.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 3, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< And of course we don't all follow Bach's calendar. Tonight, the 14th of Adar A. M. being Purim, I for one shall avoid Bach and listen to Handel's oratorio Esther. Handel seems to provide an oratorio for almost every Jewish holiday whilst the Johannes-Passion only present its Juden or Jüden as the enemy of God Himself and the essence of Evil. >
I think there is a historical method for discussing these questions and this is not the way to proceed. I often wonder why you bother to listen to Bach.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (March 3, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< The author of the John Gospel simply was a person who saw the Jews as the incarnation of the Evil force against God. I am pretty sure that whatever historical Jesus existed would have had a difficult time with this John. He was the forerunner of St. Augustine who wrote of Peter being the paradigmatic Christian and Judas being the Paradigmatic Jew. Say what? There is something wrong here. >
I just don't see this anti-Jewish thing in any of the gospels (including John). Now, if Augustine chose to read that into John, then preach it to the general public, which then took his word for it instead of reading it for themselves... well, that might explain why this idea is still knocking about to this day.

Shabtai Atlow wrote (March 4, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] With all due respect, I have to differ about John.

And, credit where credit is due, wht single out Augustine? John Crysostom, maybe 100 years before Augustine gets plenty of credit.

Tomorrow, back to Bach - today busy delivering sweets to the neighbors because of Purim.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 4, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Nope, not knocking about at all any longer. Stone cold dead in the market. Pope John Paul II decided that it was time to declare that the 'Jews' are innocent of Jesus' crucifixion. Since he speaks for God (according to the men of the RC church) on such matters, that is the final word. This is the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

It is truly amazing that the idea could persist for so long, given that whatever your notion of Jesus divinity might be, in his humanity he was a Jew. And a liberal. Some (well, me, at least) would go so far as to say he was a 'radical Jew'.

That's my final word on the subject.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (March 4, 2007):
[To Shabtai Atlow] Chag Sameach to everyone who is observing holidays today. Maybe you could e-mail us some sweets? ;;)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 4, 2007):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< I just don't see this anti-Jewish thing in any of the gospels (including John). >
Really? Most modern biblical scholars see it, and especially John's gospel. You should pick up a copy of Who Killed Jesus?: Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus by John Dominic Crossan (of the famous "Jesus" project years ago).

Good luck

Shabtai Atlow wrote (March 4, 2007):
[To Cara Emily Thornton] Thank you. I have, on your request, downloaded cookies to your computer. (This close to Passover, I'd gladly send the real stuff too!)

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (March 5, 2007):
[To Shabtai Atlow] You mean, to get rid of your hametz? That actually sounds kind of interesting - besides being something of a cookie monster (185 cm/90 kg), I've never played the role of Passover goy before...

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (March 5, 2007):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I don't quite have the Gospel of John memorized, but... My take on the matter is more or less as follows: people will see anti-Jewish sentiments behind every bush if they are so inclined. I am not ;;)

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 5, 2007):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< I don't quite have the Gospel of John memorized, but... My take on the matter is more or less as follows: people will see anti-Jewish sentiments behind every bush if they are so inclined. I am not ;;) >
No need to memorize, you can look it up. The crucial (!) verses are:

John 19: 6-7; When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, 'Crucify him, crucify him!' Pilate said to them, 'Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him!' The Jews answered him, 'We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.' (RSV version)

Pope John Paul II decided (infallibly speaking for God), nearly 2000 years later, that it was all a silly misunderstanding. I am not certain if he included the possibility of mistranslation. In any case, it is all over now. Jews are OK again (or for the first time?).

I am unclear on that detail as well. Since the Bible did not get assembled until Constantine, after 300 CE (4,569,998,300 EC), perhaps that is when the actual guilt began, rather than at the crucifixion of Jesus itself? For example, in the USA, if you murder someone, you are not actually guilty until convicted by a court of law. This can be a long time, or never, after the event. Don't get any weird ideas.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (March 5, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< No need to memorize, you can look it up. The crucial (!) verses are:
John 19: 6-7; When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, 'Crucify him, crucify him!' Pilate said to them, 'Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him!' The Jews answered him, 'We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.' (RSV version) >
I fail to see anything anti-Jewish in that. The Hebrew Bible teaches very clearly (Leviticus 24:10-16) that the penalty for blasphemy is death - by stoning, but nonetheless... And unless what Jesus said about himself is actually true, then it is indeed blasphemy. So the Jews' reaction of striving to have Jesus executed (even if by means other than those prescribed by the letter of the law, which would have been impractical under Roman occupation) was entirely reasonable, perfectly in accordance with the best of their knowledge and belief, as informed by the Law they had at their disposal.

Then there is the question of whether one should view the gospels as separate documents. I come down on the side of not doing so, assuming that the source of their inspiration is one and the same, i.e. I consider the Bible as ultimately one document. So that I feel free to fill in any gaps in the account of the crucifixion given in the Gospel of John, by looking at the other gospels. And in Luke 23:34, Jesus explicitly acquits his executors of blame, on the basis that they were not knowingly doing wrong. Again, I fail to see anything anti-Jewish in that. Quite the contrary - I see a person who loved his people and wanted the best for them.

Chris Kern wrote (March 5, 2007):
< Pope John Paul II decided (infallibly speaking for God), nearly 2000 years later, that it was all a silly misunderstanding. >
I'm not going to get into the larger debate, but just to correct a misconception here -- he was not speaking ex cathedra at that point (ex cathedra statements are very rare), and thus he was not speaking infallibly for God.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 5, 2007):
[To Chris Kern] Thanks for the clarification, Chris. I probably should not have mentioned it, in any case. As long as I need to write again, I would also like to note that I agree with Cara's summary of the sociologic issues raised in the Gospel of John, so that to attribute guilt to the Jews for the Crucifixion of Jesus is a silly misunderstanding.

I agree with Doug Cowling, we are straying far from relevance to Bach, and I also agree with his encouragement to Cara for her posts!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 6, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Nope, not knocking about at all any longer. Stone cold dead in the market. Pope John Paul II decided that it was time to declare that the 'Jews' are innocent of Jesus' crucifixion. Since he speaks for God (according to the men of the RC church) on such matters, that is the final word. This is the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. >
I don't know whether this was responded to yet, Ed. John XXIII was the Pope at the 2nd Vatican Council who exculpated us of the matter. Credit where credit is due.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 6, 2007):
Shabtai Atlow wrote:
< And, credit where credit is due, wht single out Augustine? John Crysostom, maybe 100 years before Augustine gets plenty of credit. >
Well, the Golden-Mouthed is the Patron Saint of this subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom
Sad story,

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 6, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I don't know whether this was responded to yet, Ed. John XXIII was the Pope at the 2nd Vatican Council who exculpated us of the matter. Credit where credit is due. >
Yes, it was responded to. There is good news and bad news. I will try to be concise.

The good news is, we didn't have to wait for a Polish Pope to get the job done.

The bad news is, when it happened the Pope did not speak 'ex cathedra', contrary to my statement (send questions to Chris Kern).

In plain language, I guess he (John XXIII ) was just expressing his personal opinion, not speaking for God.

So you may still be guilty or not, it's up to yourself.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 6, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] I don't think it was like that. As far as I understand (and I don't pretend to fully understand all the technical terms of the Catholic Church) this decision was a decision of the Church in full council, the 2nd Vatican Council and it not a matter of Papal Infallibility or the lack thereof.

Amongst other things prayers "for the perfidious Jews" were removed from the prayer book. Also, on a separate matter the liturgy was deemed more appropriate in the vernacular and Latin sort of went south. Other reforms sort of came to an end with the short reign of John XXIII who was already an old man when he succeeded the Germanophile Pope Pius XII. John XIII was deeply beloved by many persons including many Jews not only for these reforms but for his personal behavior in Bulgaria during the Holocaust where he often disobeyed the Vatican and did all in his power to save Jews. He should not be forgotten.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 6, 2007):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I don't think it was like that. As far as I understand (and I don't pretend to fully understand all the technical terms of the Catholic Church) this decision was a decision of the Church in full council, the 2nd Vatican Council and it not a matter of Papal Infallibility or the lack thereof. >
Yes, I wrote too casually. I was only trying to correct my earlier error, as noted by Chris Kern.

< Amongst other things prayers "for the perfidious Jews" were removed from the prayer book. >
I doubt that anyone who gives it a moment's thought would question the anti-Semitic strains in Western (read Christian, according to Eric, Julian, and me) culture. Your respect for John XXIII is admirable. Although I no longer practice any specific religion, I share that respect. So did his successors, John Paul I and II.

Better late than never!

Julian Mincham wrote (March 6, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I doubt that anyone who gives it a moment's thought would question the anti-Semitic strains in Western (read Christian, according to Eric, Julian, and me) culture. >
No Ed I do not call it'Christian Culture' and I an not a christian either. But I recognise the influences, good and bad, which Christianity has had upon this culture. Just as I recognise the influence the gravity of the moon has
on terrestial tides.

But I don't call the moon a 'gravitational asteroid' as a consequence.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 6, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< No Ed I do not call it'Christian Culture' and I an not a christian either. But I recognise the influences, good and bad, which Christianity has had upon this culture. >
Apologies for any misunderstanding. It was you and Eric who convinced me that Western culture and Christianity are intertwined . . .

< Just as I recognise the influence the gravity of the moon has on terrestial tides. But I don't call the moon a 'gravitational asteroid' as a consequence. >
but not in any manner similar to gravity and the Earth, or the Earth and Moon.

Incidentally, the Moon is a satellite, a particular class of Solar System bodies. Others are asteroids, dwarf planets (led by Pluto), and classical planets, including Earth. The dwarf planets are related to Snow White only by coincidence, as best I can tell .

Speaking precisely, Moon is only applicable to the Earth's satellite, although we often encounter incorrect references to, for example, the moons of Jupiter.

I'll bet you are glad to know all of that.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 7, 2007):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
JM: << But I don't call the moon a 'gravitational asteroid' as a consequence. >>
EM: < Incidentally, the Moon is a satellite, >
JM: and that's my other reason for not calling it that!

 

Stunning revelations

Julian Mincham wrote (March 22, 2007):
Clearly April 1st comes earlier in some parts of the world than others.

Fits withe the theory that I was about to release that Bach wrote no cantatas at all!! They were faked by Salieri.

 

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