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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 4

Continue from Part 3

Epiphany

Julian Mincham wrote (August 7, 2007):
I wonder if anyone more intimately acquainted with Lutheran theoloy than I can throw some light on these questions.

1 apart from the general idea of revelation, particularly of the Divine Child, does the celebratpion of epiphany have any special or particular meaning for Lutherans?

2 Why are so many Sundays after epiphany named and music written for them?

3 Apart from the general matter of reflecting upon the Divine Child in the Sundays after Epiphany, do any of them have special significance; bearing in mind that they cover around half of the church year? What I mean is this; particularly in Lutheran doctrine, would there be particular aspects of the Child that one might be particularly advised to reflect upon on , say on the 10th Sunday after E as opposed to the 12th or 14th? e.g. His sacrifice, His lowliness, His blessings, His powers of salvation etc etc.

Thanks in advance to ant who can thow some light on these issues.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 7, 2007):
Apologies--a brain storm. I temporarily confused Epiphany with Trinity--of course there are fewer Dates after the former than the latter. Sorry about that.

However the basic question still stands, and having made a cockup, it occurred to me that similar questions could also be asked about the many more Sundays after Trinity as well.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 7, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< 2 Why are so many Sundays after epiphany named and music written for them?
3 Apart from the general matter of reflecting upon the Divine Child in the Sundays after Epiphany, do any of them have special significance; bearing in mind that they cover around half of the church year? What I mean is this; particularly in Lutheran doctrine, would there be particular aspects of the Child that one might be particularly advised to reflect upon on , say on the 10th Sunday after E as opposed to the 12th or 14th? e.g. His sacrifice, His lowliness, His blessings, His powers of salvation etc etc. >
The church year had two principal seasons:

1) the Christmas cycle which ran from Advent (Dec.) through Christmas and concluded on Epiphany (Jan 6),

2) the Passion/Easter cycle which ran from Lent (Feb/Mar) through Holy Week, Easter and concluded with Pentecost and Trinity Sunday (May/June).

The remaining Sundays were conventionally called "Sundays after Epiphany" (4-7 weeks in Jan - Feb) and "Sundays after Trinity" (up to 27 weeks in June-Nov). They are not related thematically to the Christmas or Easter cycles. In general, the Gospels are more or less a continuous reading from the ministry of Christ (parables, sermons, healings) -- the early church read through the complete Gospels over three years. Thus, after Epiphany and Trinity Sunday there are abrupt shifts in the chronology of the narratives in the life of Christ.

In Leipzig, Bach marked the two principal seasons in two ways: the introductory times of Advent and Lent had no cantatas (except for Advent 1) and the conclusions of the seasons on Epiphany and Trinity Sunday were announced with large-scale festive music with brass.

Epiphany 1-7 and Trinity 1-27 were essentially separate Sundays with no thematic progression or connection with Christmas or Easter. That's not to say that the themes of Incarnation and Atonement are not always foremost in Bach's theology.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 7, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thanks Doug

Are you coming out of 'lurking mode' then?

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 7, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Doug has given a very articulate presentation here--welcome back! This morning turned out to be my library research day that I have been awaiting, and I decided to look at Stiller to find out what the ancient resources were for the seasons of the church year. The Stadtgeschichtliches Museum has a book titled: Leipziger Kirchen-Andachtgen from 1694 that details the worship year, and in 1710 the Leipziger Kirchen-Statt also provides pertinent information, this one to be found at Halle University Library. If I can read my writing correctly, Rost, who was sexton at St. Thomas' from 1716-1739 kept a memorandum book, followed by Rothe from 1744-1752. These are the principle sources, but speaking generally, as Christianity began to formalize from its inception, and as functional congregations developed structure, the format upon which the Lutheran Church year is based came down from the Roman program. I do not know exactly when the Roman Catholic defnitions took place, but no doubt it was a process. Another book was mentioned: Historie der Kirchen Ceremonium in Sachsen, 1732, by Christian Gerber.

Epiphany is supposed to be a season of light, and to my recollection teachings and so on during that time would be reflective of that element. I will leave it to others to spell this out or comment. Advent as a season is a time of preparation, and Trinity in some sense, though it follows what Doug mentioned, to my thinking also deals with the God Head in a Trinitarian manner. Others may wish to comment as to whether these observations fit with their experiences or what they know about the history of the liturgical year. So Sunday's are named as the second, third and so on, after Trinity or Epiphany to define the season that is being observed.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 8, 2007):
Epiphany/Trinity

[To Julian Mincham] Following Doug and Jean responses, you might find Marie Jansen's explanation of the Lutheran Church Year (LCY) helpful.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm
As well as Francis Browne's presentations of the Readings associated with
each event in the LCY.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/index.htm

Julian Mincham wrote (August 8, 2007):
[To Aryeh Oron] Many thanks Aryeh.

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 8, 2007):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you, Aryeh,

Due to the contributions on the list I am becoming even more aware of the functioning of the Lutheran Church Year Calendar than in the past.

I also enjoyed the writing style in the first segment--well put.

Paul T. McCain wrote (August 10, 2007):
Permit me to add a bit of insight into the Lutheran Church Year's season of Epiphany.

The word "Epiphany" comes from two Greek words:
epi
phaneo

And means, "To shine forth"

The Scripture lessons, particularly the Gospel lessons, are intended to underscore the divine nature of Christ, shining through the human nature. This prepares the congregation to experience the season of Lent in which the suffering and passion of Christ for our salvation is the focus.

It's length varies, depending on the beginning of Lent, but it always begins on Jan. 6, the day set aside to celebrate the visitation of the Magi, revealing Christ as the Savior of both the Jews and Gentiles.

In recent years, the season has shifted a bit to have Transfiguration as the last Sunday in Epiphany, an appropriate change, in my opinion, since from the mount of transfiguration where the full glory of Christ as God was revealed, He heads back down the mountain and sets his face toward his final days in Jerusalem.

Some additional insight, of a more theological nature.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 10, 2007):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
< The word "Epiphany" comes from two Greek words:
epi
phaneo
And means, "To shine forth" >
Many thanks to all who responded helpfully to my questions. I am wading through the suggested references at the moment.

Haven't found an answer to a related question which is why did Bach, having written cantatas for the day of Epiphany Jan 6th in the first two cycles there is no one for the third. This seems even more odd when it it noted that it fell on a Sunday in 1726. It also seem unlikely that he would have used a cantata for another composer for this unlikely event. Can anyone throw any light on this one?

On another matter, Peter's comments on the Glyndbourne reminds me of two things 1, the film made some years ago by Jonathan Miller as tfirst attempt to produce the work in a mores popularist and semi-operatic manner. Worth seeing if you can get hold of a copy.

Secondly for some years i went to every Glyndbourne production as my first wife was a member of the company and I got a free seat for dress rehearsals or, on the day, for unsold seats. this was in the 'old' theatre and I remember that that, at ff--- moments the bats were disturbed and flew around above the singers.

Maybe Peter can report oif this happens in the new theatre??

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 - General Discussions Part 13 [Other Vocal Works]

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 10, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Haven't found an answer to a related question which is why did Bach, having written cantatas for the day of Epiphany Jan 6th in the first two cycles there is no one for the third. This seems even more odd when it it noted that it fell on a Sunday in 1726. It also seem unlikely that he would have used a cantata for another composer for this unlikely event. Can anyone throw any light on this one? >
Wolff points out that the third cycle (1725-27) marks a change in Bach's working method and that he never again went at cantata composition with the intensity of Cycles 1 and 2. The third cycle stretched over two years and in 1726 he performed at least 18 cantatas by his cousin Johann Ludwig Bach. Wolff thinks that the missing cantatas may have been works by other composers or actual lost cantatas (the libretto booklets indicate the latter in some cases). Without any documentary evidence, Wolff suggests that the change of pace allowed him time to work on the St. Matthew Passion (1727). Does Dürr identify the Epiphany cantata as a lost work?

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 8, 2007):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thanks, Paul, for the additional comments. Having the church year context helps gain a deeper understanding of the setting.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 10, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Dürr describes the cantatas from the first and second cycles but I haven't been able to find anything he may have written for the thrir.

Wolff's comments don't help much True he mentions the 18 cantatas by JL Bach given from Purification to 13th Sunday after Trinity. But Bach was still composing cantatas of this cycle pretty regularly up to this time particularly the block from Christmas Day to the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany--but none for Epiphany itselfdespite the fact that it fell on the Sunday.

It just seems odd that there is this important omission and noone appears to have an explanation for it.

Peter Smaill wrote (August 10, 2007):
It is a puzzle as to why we only have BWV 65, "Sie werden aus saba alle kommen", for Epiphany (6 Jan 1724) and BWV 123 "Liebster Immanuel", for the same feast on 6 January 1725, although there is of course also the final part of the Christmas Oratorio for 6 January 1736

Now here is a curious insight.. In Stiller we have listed communion attendance figures for Epiphany 1729 - only 10 communicants at St Nicholas and 32 at St Thomas.Habitually in 1728/29 there are between 100 and 200 in each church on a typical Sunday, slightly more generally at St N than St T.

Exhaustion after all the Christmas services suggest to me that there may have been no Epiphany Cantata in those years where the Sunday after New Year was close to 6 January ( 60/44 communicants in 1729). Because of calendarian changes I cannot work this out from the English Whittaker's Almanack but others may be able to do so from German tables of days and dates.

Curioser still is Trinity 7 (BWV186, very long at 40 minutes; 11 July 1723; and BWV107, half the length;23 July 1724). In 1729 Stiller notes 421 communicants at St N, and 364 at St T. I wondered if the Leipzig trade Fairs might be involved in swelling the footfall, but they occur around Jubilate Sunday (in the month after Easter) and Michaelmas, late in Trinity, and anyhow where attendances appear quite poor, under 100 in each church.

Even by the next series of records in 1742 ,Trinity 7 is much busier than nearly all other Sundays. Why this July fixture was so churchy, and Epiphany so quiet, is a mystery- any theories out there?

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 10, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< It just seems odd that there is this important omission and noone appears to have an explanation for it. >
Bach's compositions for the summer and fall of 1725 are very spotty: only cantatas for Trinity 9, 12, 13 & Reformation. He comes back online for the Christmas season, but it is very odd that he didn't round out the week with a work for Epiphany -- is there a printed libretto? At the end of January 1726, he stops composing cantatas and performs 18 cantatas of Johann Ludwig.

It looks circumstantially that he worked on the St. Matthew Passion in the summer and fall, resumed composition of new works for Christmas and January and then worked on the Passion until April. That would mean roughly six months' work to compose the Passion. Given his prodigious working method, six months seems about right.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 10, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Now here is a curious insight.. In Stiller we have listed communion attendance figures for Epiphany 1729 - only 10 communicants at St Nicholas and 32 at St Thomas.Habitually in 1728/29 there are between 100 and 200 in each church on a typical Sunday, slightly more generally at St N than St T.
Exhaustion after all the Christmas services suggest to me that there may have been no Epiphany Cantata in those years where the Sunday after New Year was close to 6 January ( 60/44 communicants in 1729). >
I still don't' buy the Christmas Exhaustion Theory. If anything, Bach suspended his cantata sabbatical (and by implcation the composition of the SMP) to write 5 cantatas for Christmas week. He knew the work was coming. It would have been a dereliction of duty to not provide music for Epiphany.

The sudden drop off in attendance is intriguing: pestilence? heavy snow? One of the problems in discussing the historical context of the cantatas is that we never correlate other events: weather ... war .... fairs .. deaths ... distinguished visitors.

Peter Smaill wrote (August 10, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] There are as you say but few contextual, environmental clues to the Cantatas.

Ruth Tatlow in her excellent notes for JEG can sometimes detect a particular intensity in Cantatas dealing with longing for death and the concurrence with illness of children in the family.However, even in the early Orgelbuchlein we find the young Bach setting hymns for the dying as lullabies ("Alle menschen mussen sterben").

It is possible that BWV 18, "Gleichwie der regen und schnee vom Himmel Faellt", ("Just as the rain and snow fall from the heaven...." for 19 February 1713 hints at the weather, but as the related Parable of the Sower is the Gospel for the day anyhow it must be a tentative link

There was the so-called Refugee Cantata BWV 39, "Brich den hungrigen dein bort" ("Break your bread with the hungry") attributed to the influx of the banished Protestants of Salzburg in 1732 but as the work has been redated to 1726 this now appears unlikely. The history of the myth is set out in Schulze's work on the Cantatas. He attributes the story to Wustmann in 1899 and sees the misunderstanding as an attempt to politicise ("politische") the work.

Finally there is the controversial linking by Helga Thoene of the Partitia BWV 1004 to the death of Bach's firts wife maria Barbara

Other than the obvious festal and funeral backgrounds I cannot think of other inferences but would be interested if anyone else can.

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 10, 2007):
Epiphany/Trinity/executions

< The sudden drop off in attendance is intriguing: pestilence? heavy snow?One of the problems in discussing the historical context of the cantatas is that we never correlate other events: weather ... war .... fairs .. deaths ... distinguished visitors. >
Pick up all the free back issues (PDF) of _Bach Notes_ here: http://www.americanbachsociety.org/bachnotes.htm
There's an interesting article in there correlating Bach's passions with his duties to public executions.

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 10, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] Lutherans have a major tendency to check out for a few weeks after Christmas, even today. Our music director (when I was a bit younger) always asked me to sing for one of the services in the few weeks after Christmas, because a lot of the musicians were gone, and until I decided to step aside for younger people for added performance time for them, I devoted December to singing and flute playing for services. I can attest to the small attendances following Christmas, and from periods in years before, but in those days they could count on me. Christmas exhaustion musically is still traditional in numerous Lutheran churches. One Christmas Eve I played the flute at four out of five services. One to three flutes and a few other instruments even accompanied all the hymns, sometimes the offertory and/or the the prelude or postlude. Afterwards I did not do much on Christmas day, but was ready to help out for the following weeks. I think attendance generally picked up around the third week in January. Then I would take it easy for a while, so I know how this functions. But as to Bach slacking off, I can't imagine it.

Stephen Benson wrote (August 10, 2007):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Other than the obvious festal and funeral backgrounds I cannot think of other inferences but would be interested if anyone else can. >
Being one who celebrates his birthday on Epiphany, I've always felt that Bach composed Part VI of the Christmas Oratorio specifically for me. (The fact that my birth was delayed for more than two hundred years is a minor detail.) Every January 6, I start the day by cranking up the volume and filling the house with that glorious music! I've been following the related discussion with great interest, and I found particularly enlightening (pun intended) the etymological derivation of the word "epiphany" from the Greek as meaning "to shine forth".

Now, if only next January three distinguished gentlemen would appear at my front door bearing gold, frankincense, and myrhh! (Actually, I could do without the frankincense and myrhh.)

Shabtai Atlow wrote (August 12, 2007):
[To Stephen Benson] Birth delayed for nearly 200 years - your poor mother!

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (August 12, 2007):
[To Shabtai Atlow] A Messiah Complex huh? Well first of all the Church calender has it all wrong. Christ was not born in December but March possibly April according to the Roman Calender. Frankinscense is not all that bad. Rather a pleasant heavy sultry smell and difficult to get natural resin these days these days since it comes from trees that will only grow in Somalia or Oman and a few other places and will not reproduce from cuttings as many other planst do. Frankinscence is the dried resin ("blood") of the Tree. The most prized is from Boswellia sacra. It is used by Christians, Moslems, and Jews alike and these days by those not so religious. The best quality comes as white "pearls".

Frankinsence trees have become endangered because they are being bled just too often according to Professor Frans Bongers, of Wageningen University, who has been studying Boswellia ecosystems for years and the ecosystems are being destroyed. Once upon a time one could find forests of Boswelia not today---one often sees lone trees surrounded by many square miles of desert sand. So if the ancients thought Frankinscense was expensive---it will again soon cost a kings ransom to get it. The supply has already been shut off in recent memory due to the war in Somalia etc.

 

off or on topic holidays and holy days

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 19, 2008):
odd thing this week. Monday was St. Patrick's Day, where I grew up, an inter-religious and inter-ethnic holiday but this week moved by some dioceses as coming within holy week. Thurs is Iranic (Kurds included) and irrespective of religion, Muslim, Bahai, and any other kind of Iranic peoples (not only Iranian proper), Thurs is also our Spring and Friday is Jewish and Jewish Jesus's Purim while Christian "Good" Friday. Of course Jesus celebrated Jewish and not Christian holidays or holidays, something that is self-evident.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 19, 2008):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Interesting overlap.

 

Holy Week & Easter Week

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 20, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< I have noticed that others have been writing about the Passions also this week, and that's most appropriate. I had to wonder why BWV 82 was the chosen text for what we call Easter week >
To be a little more precise, the week from Palm Sunday to the Saturday before Easter is called Holy Week. Bach had services on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Easter week is the week after Easter Day. Bach had services on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. A small point but there is a huge musical shift between the two weeks on Easter Day.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 20, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] I concur with you that Holy Week is where we are now. And, yes, liturgically Easter week is what follows. Yes--the musical shift is considerable.

I'm still hoping to get some additional feedback on BWV 82...maybe Peter or one of the other well-read theologians in the group will bring out the parallels in more detail.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Any thoughts on why there was no service on Maundy Thursday?

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] Perhaps Paul McCain might have some insights here.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 21, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< I'm still hoping to get some additional feedback on BWV 82...maybe Peter or one of the other well-read theologians in the group will bring out the parallels in more detail. >
The discussions here are proceeding chronologically through the cantatas, not according to the church year.

Cantata BWV 82 was written for the Feast of the Purificaction, a feast in the sanctoral cycle (fixed Saints' Days) not the temporal cycle (which varied according to the date of Easter). It was always celebrated on Feb 2 regardless what day of the week it fell on and with no connection to the Lent/Easter Cycle. Bach's five versions/performances were all performed on Feb 2 but the day of the week was different in each year:

1727 - Sun
1731 - Fri
1735 - Wed
1746 - Wed
1747 - Thu

The fact that the Purification displaced the regular Sunday after Epiphany in 1727 may be a clue to why such a spectacular cantata was written for an occasion when a popular holyday was celebrated on Sunday.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 21, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Cantata BWV 82 was witten for the Feast of the Purification, a feast in the sanctoral cycle (fixed Saints' Days) not the temporal cycle (which varied according to the date of Easter). It was always celebrated on Feb 2 regardless what day of the week it fell on and with no connection to the Lent/Easter Cycle. >
--Yes, I can see that liturgically the divisions would fall naturally, and I didn't have it in mind to connect BWV 82 with the Passions indiscriminately. I don't have a problem with the church year which I tend to think of in terms of the big events, rather than to automatically remember all the historical smaller events that sometimes are fitted in between. I once met a woman in a nursing home in Michigan who had been schooled from early childhood to know every element of the church year in detail--but, she was the only one I ever met who thought along those lines, and she did her devotional reading according to every last detail.

I think my point earlier on was that the threads that run between Biblical stories and cantatas are not so exclusive that some connections can be made--though perhaps not according to the church year, or perhaps not to a particular event for which Bach composed certain works. The whole of Christian thought allows one to see connections and possibilities for deeper understanding, while still giving credence to a particular story or event. The celebration of the Feast of Purification places some of the emphasis on Mary, while still centralizing the child Jesus, and one who had awaited him with the hope of salvation in mind. I don't want to get into the cantata for next week just yet, but it ties very closely to this theme, also.

Thanks for your additional details given below:

< Bach's five versions/performanc es were all performed on Feb 2 but the day of the week was different in each year:
1727 - Sun
1731 - Fri
1735 - Wed
1746 - Wed
1747 - Thu
The fact that the Purification displaced the regular Sunday after Epiphany in 1727 may be a clue to why such a spectacular cantata was written for an occasion when a popular holyday was celebrated on Sunday. >

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 21, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< I think my point earlier on was that the threads that run between Biblical stories and cantatas are not so exclusive that some connections can be made--though perhaps not according to the church year, or perhaps not to a particular event for which Bach composed certain works. The whole of Christian thought allows one to see connections and possibilities for deeper understanding, while still giving credence to a particular story or event. The celebration of the Feast of Purification places some of the emphasis on Mary, while still centralizing the child Jesus, and one who had awaited him with the hope of salvation in mind. >
The interesting thing about Bach's Purification cantatas is that they don't really take Mary as a focus at all, rather using the aged Simeon as an exemplum of the Good Death, which is a constant theme in Bach's cantatas.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] You're right, Doug. The cantatas do not place emphasis on Mary--that would be an element from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox side--implicit in the name of the festival day, but not developed by Bach. Your point, I think, reinforces my broader take on significant elements in the whole of salvation history, and from childhood I have always loved the story of Simeon, and the story of Jesus in the temple as a youth.

In Lutheranism Mary was placed in the background a good share of the time, and I have heard the argument that this was in some ways detrimental to the well-being of women throughout Protestant history. Because I did not know this level of respect for Mary until I participated in Orthodox morning prayers at Fuller I did not realize that something was missing.

Mary was more like a picture on a Christmas card to me, than a real flesh and blood person. I am not a flaming feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but I was pleased later in life to discover that a tradition that respects Mary in some manner, also helps to bring dignity to women. We know that in the Lutheran society of Bach's day women had a secondary role, and this may have entered into Bach's compositional thought process.

Simeon as an example of the good death, however, does tie meaningfully into Holy Week, in my view.

Thanks for adding your thoughts.

 

Calculating Easter

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 20, 2008):
< I have noticed that others have been writing about the Passions also this week, and that's most appropriate. I had to wonder why BWV 82 was the chosen text for what we call Easter week, when it then occurred to me that Easter does not always fall on the same day (or in the same week). Right off hand I do not remember how the date is set, but I am sure someone on-list does. >
http://www.assa.org.au/edm.htm

This year Easter is the earliest it will ever be in my lifetime...and I haven't yet picked what I'm playing at the midnight service Saturday, yikes. Better go do that.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 20, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] Keep it moving, Brad.

Dave Harman wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] For those interested, Easter is calculated as the First Sunday after The first Full Moon closest to the First day of Spring

This year Friday March 21st is the Full Moon so Sunday, March 23 is Easter.

This calculation was part of pagan "Rites of Spring" when people rejoiced at being liberated from the bonds of "Death" (winter)

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To Dave Harman] Thanks, Dave.

We also have a short spring...and it feels like summer today in Arizona.

William Hoffman wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] Re. Cantata BWV 82, there is never enough to say about it, to respond to the intensely personal music and message. It goes beyond any cycle, any time or occasion, and should be labeled "per ogni tempo." It goes to the heart and soul of what Bach is all about for all times.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To Dave Harman] Here's a fuller discussion of the date of Easter: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/easter.php

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] Thanks you for these comments, William.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 21, 2008):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] Thank you James. There is a great deal of material at the link you have provided that I have never seen before. Very interesting...

 

Easter Calculation [was: Bach's Birthday]

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 22, 2008):
Those of you following this brief discussion may enjoy the following detail.

From: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/easter.php

<The ecclesiastical rules are:
* Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox;
* this particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and
* the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21.
resulting in that Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25>

From: http://www.assa.org.au/edm.htm#Method

<Historically, references to March 21 have caused mistakes in calculating Easter Sunday dates. March 20 has become the important date in recent Easter dating methods. Despite frequent references to March 21, this date has no special significance to any recent Easter dating methods.>

Note that only one of these can be correct. I wonder if anyone knows whether the vernal equinox (northern hemisphere), or better stated, March equinox (worldwide? Gregorian?), by ecclesiastic definition, is March 20 or March 21?

According to the Oz site, there is historical precedent from ca. 325 CE (AD), for the March 20 date. On the other hand (OTOH), the importance in recent (sic) dating methods is emphasized. Is this some sort of deep Oz humor, that 325 CE is recent?

As it turns out, the date of Easter is not affected. In one method the Paschal (ecclesiastic) full moon is on or after the equinox, in the other it is after (but not on), as in the familiar definition of Easter dating: the Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox. Either way, the earliest Paschal full moon is March 21, and earliest Easter is March 22.

I was about to make a comment about western Easter versus eastern (Orthodox?) Easter, which happens to be a month from now, this particular year (2008). I thought better of it.

Personally, I think the Oz site may have it right, but not a good time to confront the US Navel Observers.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 22, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Thanks for the contrasting link, Ed.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 22, 2008):
< * the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21.
<Historically, references to March 21 have caused mistakes in calculating Easter Sunday dates. March 20 has becthe important date in recent Easter dating methods. Despite frequent references to March 21, this date has no special significance to any recent Easter dating methods.>
Note that only one of these can be correct. I wonder if anyone knows whether the vernal equinox (northern hemisphere), or better stated, March equinox (worldwide? Gregorian?), by ecclesiastic definition, is March 20 or March 21? <
The equinox not a fixed date. It's a TIME when the earth has reached the appropriate point in its orbit around the sun. Whichever date that moment happens to fall on, which is most often the 20th in GMT, gets the celebration. This year it happened to be on the 20th at about 6:00 a.m., Greenwich Mean Time.

(Explained to me last week by a retired professor who taught physics and helped to run an observatory.)

Take a look at the calculated table that comes up here: http://aom.giss.nasa.gov/srver4x3.htm
for a range of years. The equinox is most often on the 20th, Greenwich Mean Time (or UTC), but those of us in North America have to subtract five to eight hours from that, while our friends living east of the UK have to add some hours (and therefore they'll get March 21st more often than we do).

This year, for somebody on the west coast of the US, the equinox really happened in the late hours of March 19...although the calendar on his/her wall (perhaps printed farther east?) says it should be celebrated on the 20th.

And note that in the US it's also influenced by the revised Daylight Saving Time laws that went into effect last year, such that we've "sprung ahead" some weeks earlier in the year than we used to.

Obligatory musical content: today I dug out an old LP of BWV 82 performed by the Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra directed by Fritz Werner, and sung by bass Barry McDaniel. Didn't like the orchestral playing much, but I'll listen to it again sometime soon.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 22, 2008):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks for these added distinctions, Brad.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 22, 2008):
< Note that only one of these can be correct. I wonder if anyone knows whether the vernal equinox (northern hemisphere), or better stated, March equinox (worldwide? Gregorian?), by ecclesiastic definition, is March 20 or March 21? >
The equinox not a fixed date. It's a TIME when the earth has reached the appropriate point in its orbit around the sun. Whichever date that moment happens to fall on, which is most often the 20th in GMT, gets the celebration. This year it happened to be on the 20th at about 6:00 a.m., Greenwich Mean Time.

________________
The above is precisely correct for the astronomical equinox. The confusion enters, because Easter is determined in relation to the ecclesiastic equinox, a fixed date, rather than the astronomical equinox. Even more confusing, the two web sources cited give a different ecclesiastic date. They do agree that the earliest Paschal full moon is March 21, either on, or the day after, the ecclesiastic equinox. Easter is the next Sunday after the Paschal full moon.

Terejia wrote (March 26, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski]
A friend of mine who is an atheist cares much to know about Easter Date Calculation, because as I heard from him, Easter affects stock trading market in his area(U.S.A). He is an avid stock trader, something I have zero interests in. (I wouldn't forward this message to the outsider, though.)

Now back to on-topic, BWV 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden by Karl Richter was my first acquaintance with Bach cantatas.

 

Church Year and Easter Dates

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 22, 2008):
I've tried to catch up reading here, and in skimming over the various articles,I think I noticed something I want to comment on. The dates of the historic Western Church year are not determined by the date of Easter (that is a variable date, for the reasons mentioned here). The Christian Church year's dates are fixed according to when the first Sunday of Advent occurs. That is the first "day," if you will, in the Church Year, and then all the rest follows, with other days in the Church Year determined then by when Easter falls.

It's all, frankly, a bit confusing.

My vote, by the way, is that a Cantata Cycle be dealt with according to the Church Year. That would make a lot of sense to me, since it was how Bach wrote them, and the purpose for which they were composed.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 22, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thanks, Paul. I appreciate your input.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 22, 2008):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
< My vote, by the way, is that a Cantata Cycle be dealt with according to the Church Year. That would make a lot of sense to me, since it was how Bach wrote them, and the purpose for which they were composed. >
I vote for working through the cantatas by Sunday: all the easter cantatas, all the reformtion cantatas. I think we would discover commonalities.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 22, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Looks like I started a debate. BWV 82 has seven web pages of material. That led to few contributions so far this time around making me wonder if another approach would promote more discussion. I think it would be possible to combine the idea of following the liturgical calendar with a comparable Sunday feature where one exists. The Sunday's alone don't seem all that interesting to me because I still would not develop a full idea of the liturgical calendar, and the full historical context. But I can certainly see where the Sunday concept would interest a music director.

Following the liturgical year, perhaps a different format could be used for the secular cantatas. But if there is a format change I believe we are a full year plus away from having one as this three part cycle is already set.

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 22, 2008):
I just thinking working through the Church Cantatas by the weeks in the Church Year for which they were written makes a lot of sense to aid comprehension and understanding of them. Regardless of whether or not a person believes a word that is sung in in the Cantatas, seems only to make sense to study them in the historical and liturgical context for which they were prepared. I guess you could say it would be a "historically informed study" and would be, in some ways, comparable to using period instruments to perform them.

Can't imagine how it would not be helpful for a good study of Bach's Cantatas.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 22, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thanks again, Paul. As a person who has learned the academic side of writing, and historical progression from the source of documents being studied I find some satisfaction in the present discussions, but never-the-less there is a gap. Chronology without the primary source--the church year calendar, is the academic issue as I see it. I hope when we finish the chronology we will switch to something new that allows a tighter presentation of the primary source. Having helped student for over thirty years with notes, and paper development and some editing from time to time, I think such a study would renew interest and perhaps more people would write, making the list an even more interesting place to be.

Dave Harman wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] I read your post a couple of times, but I don't get the points you want to make.

I agree with Paul that the Cantatas should be presented in the order they were composed to go along with the Church year. It seems to me that would give us a "historical progression from the source documents" without a gap.

I don't know what a "tighter presentation of the primary source" would be. Certainly I don't think there is any lack of interest on this list - after all, our subject is always Bach, Bach and more Bach. And as to "making the list an even more interesting place to be", speaking for myself, I feel no secret desire to make this list "more interesting"

Another part of your post "Chronology without the primary source --the church year calendar, is the academic issue" just escapes me.

Skip Jennings wrote (March 23, 2008):
[ToDave Harman] I don't participate in the discussions, but I do enjoy reading the posts and learning.

My preference would be to have the discussions follow the Church year. I have taught a couple of classes on Bach's cantatas in the adult Sunday school at my church. The first one was on the Epiphany and Pre-Lenten season cantatas. The second was on the mid-late Trinity cantatas. This fall I will be doing a class on the late Trinity and Advent cantatas. In the Spring of 2009 I will cover the Easter to Pentecost cantatas. The classes usually consist of me giving a brief introduction on the background for that week's cantatas (including the Biblical texts), then listening to several recordings of the cantatas. The information available through the Bach Cantatas Website, including the archived prior discussions on the various cantatas, has been extremely valuable in putting together these classes.

Thanks,

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To Dave Harman] Sure, I'll expand my views to try to clarify. I suppose this was a little terse.

The chronology seems to me like history without the details of the church year as it flows from beginning to end. I think my idea is that in setting the church year and the texts at the forefront, we would experience the flow as Bach did in his work. This is a different historical progression than the chronological order. This view comes out of my experience working with students as they prepare graduate papers. Most of the professors are happy to allow students to explore chosen aspects to place a special emphasis on their thesis statement, but they also generally require the nitty-gritty of the origins before getting into comparison and contrast. That's the element that I think is missing or fragmented to some degree. Incidentally, I only came to this point of view yesterday. Now...

For example, the history of a given day in the church year could be expanded under a different approach. Then there would be a little deeper probing of the liturgical texts. (I for one, would be very interested in what the Jewish scholars on the forum would have to say about texts from Genesis.)

Following on, there would be a little study related to the intertwining of texts for the day if such is the case and then the texts for the cantatas would get a viewing. A person who has done Greek exegesis as I did at one time sees the richness of laying this kind of a foundation. Not everyone would care--but without trying something like this, one does not know for sure that it would not be interesting.

If we were to use Doug's suggestion, the next step might be to see which cantatas (as of course are sometimes mentioned in the intros - I have done this in some cases) might be chosen for a given Sunday. One type of question that could be addressed is whether or not one of say five possible selections for a given day might in terms of text be the most representative for the occasion, or possibly one would want to discuss the musical/melodic structural elements and why one cantata might have it over the other four in some manner related to the church year. Or perhaps two out of three might be more appealing than say a third. It also might be interesting to compare the general structure of say five different cantatas written for a particular festival...though that would take a lot of work and maybe multiple contributors in a given week. Multiple contributors for a week could be a very positive thing...I think.

One of the tasks that takes place in putting together documents or writings with new content is to create a different approach. Personally, I don't think this has a lot to do with attitude--but from differing foundations, different questions and answers will spring. Variety is the spice of life.

Just to expand my point, Harry Crosby from our list has written an amazing historical documentary on the mission settlements of the Baja Penninsula. This book is a tome, and well worth a good read by anyone who loves history. Harry does not as he has told me he personally subscribe to the Roman Catholic faith, but his knowledge of the views and procedures and land grants, etc. is simply more than remarkable. I found it difficult to put this book down.

Right off the top of my head this three inch thick book (apx.) is chronological, but takes into account mandates from Spain for the settlement of land and conversion practices of the native populations. His work is comprehensive. There is much more than I can mention here.

Harry did not start with the liturgical year, but he was not put off by a difference in belief/ideas that prohibited him from exploring a path that he had not yet traveled.

Personally, even though you don't feel a concern about making the list a more interesting place, there is a possibility a change in methodology would bring forth new material that would eventually interest you. I'm not putting you on the spot, but I just like to think about alternative methods of learning because sometimes initially what we could care less about ends up being one of the most interesting journeys a person can ever take. And things don't have to turn out my way, either for them to be interesting. But as I have helped students mainly at my own time and expense over decades I have learned that the pathways to knowledge are very diverse and delightfully interesting.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To : Skip Jennings] Thanks for sharing, Skip.

William Hoffman wrote (March 23, 2008):
Church Year, Voices, Recordings

William Hoffman replies:
1. Church Year. Two reasons: 1. Bach's calling in 1709 for a well-ordered church (year) music (by event), bound by cycles; 2. Bach's cantatas manuscripts (score and parts) were stored in cabinets in his work room by church year events (from Advent 1), as was the organization of CPE's collection of his inheritance of his father's cantatas, as documented in his estate catalog.
2. Voices: Whatever the guise, the music travels well, whether in space or time. Take the "Arioso" Sinfonia to Cantata BWV 156, whether on the harpsichord, violin, flute, or oboe -- each sounds idomatic for that instrument. The same, I think, is true with voices, regardless of age or gender; immature, mature, falsetto, whatever.
3. I appreciate all the efforts at systematic recordings of the Bach Cantatas, especially the latest round since 2000 with Rilling, Koopman, & Suzuki, giving us alternate versions, fragments, even an occasional parts "reconstructed." Leaving the boys aside in the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt "Complete Cantatas," the billing of "complete" is what bothers me. Take Vol. 44, where are cantatas 190, 191, and 193? There in the NBA. We have come a long way in a short time!

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] Thanks, William. Your point number one is exceptionally well stated. Scripture and the church year are the foundation of the cantatas. Sometimes on-list we have gotten into each other's hair a bit over what 'primary sources' might be. Some people take the view that only modern writings with such methods as late text criticism/deconstruction and carbon dating methods qualify. Others subscribe to a neutral-nonreligious ground and still others look at the score. But to my mind, and in my opinion the foundation is scripture and the church year, and when we finish the chronological cycle I'd be very interested in new methodology because I think there are new avenues of discussion that could be exceptionally fruitful. Such methodology would also build on all past discussions and every recording that has been made available--perhaps even some we have not been able to hear yet.

Dave Harman wrote (March 23, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< Sure, I'll expand my views to try to clarify. I suppose this was a little terse. >
OK - without the "details of the Church Year", what would the chronology be like ? Without the orderly sequence of the Church Year - which guided Bach's weekly output, in what order would you like to present the cantatas?

Your method seems to focus a lot on the "liturgical texts" - but what about the music? It seems we would spend a lot oftime studying the "intertwining of texts", applying Greek exegesis and consulting scholars about the texts in Genesis - but what happened to the music?

And as for seeing which cantatas might be chosen for a given Sunday, without the Church year and the theme for each Sunday - which Bach's text authors provided him - I'm not sure how you would do that.

I'm glad you enjoyed Harry Crosby's book, but it doesn't seem to me a history of the church settlements of Baja California would need to be concerned with the liturgical year and one doesn't have to be a Catholic to write about Padre Kino or Junipero Serra.

To me, the cantatas were composed to be used within a structure - the Liturgical Year. I know the cantatas can be listened to in any order and within any structure you or I might devise, but to me, the Church Year is as good as any Chronology available as a guide and occasion to access them. To me the music is the glory - it's the reason I spent the money to collect them and every week I go onto the Bach site to see what Cantatas were composed for the Sunday or Feast Day at hand and that's my guide to what Cantatas I'm going to listen to. I also listen to the Cantata being discussed.

It doesn't appeal to me to study texts like you suggest - I want to hear the music.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 23, 2008):
Dave Harmon wrote:
< To me, the cantatas were composed to be used within a structure - the Liturgical Year. >
Yes -- I agree 100%. which is why I am saying a different approach seems useful to me eventually. Not just historical chronology, but the chronology of the church year.

< I know the cantatas can be listened to in any order and within any structure you or I might devise, but to me, the Church Year is as good as any Chronology available as a guide and occasion to access them. >
That's exactly my point. The Church Year is great, and that's why I thought about discussions following it pretty much exactly. I don't think we are really in disagreement, except that you like things as they are, and I'm suggesting that eventually a change might produce more response, and even more listening. But, as I said, it doesn't have to be my way.

< To me the music is the glory - it's the reason I spent the money to collect them and every week I go onto the Bach site to see what Cantatas were composed for the Sunday or Feast Day at hand and that's my guide to what Cantatas I'm going to listen to. >
No one would argue with you on this point.--What could be better? You might be fairly unique in this regard, but I do not know.

< I also listen to the Cantata being discussed. Good for you--you are unquestionably devoted to your interest and admirably so.
It doesn't appeal to me to study texts like you suggest - I want to hear the music >
That's fine--but some of us like to get the whole picture - such as the church year spelled out in chronological order so that we can learn some of the elements that are missing for us. It need not be as complex as I imagined...but I am pretty certain if we had this pattern eventually it would produce new observations and more listening.

And I don't think text studies take away from listening, but rather I believe they educate the mind and the ear. I am not insisting on my own way, mind you - merely noting after this length of time preparing introductions and fielding responses that I feel the underlying foundation is a little weak. That's probably not so much attitude as personality, and no one has ever accused me of being a weak personality. Life is a banquet--and books and text studies and the Church Year calendar are the table on which much of what is lovely is served. I like to go for all that can be learned when I am in pursuit of knowledge--both intellectually and musically.

It's a thought.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] I agree with Doug. I like the idea of the undoubted commonalities, of Bach shedding light on Bach.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] Thanks, James for sharing your view. I agree this could be quite stimulating both in terms of thought and listening.

Sam Sawatzky wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] I have not been an active participant in this list very often, but I so enjoy the commentary every week. That being said, my preference would be along these lines. The cantatas being put in a historical, liturgical, and textual context is very intriguing to me.

Thanks

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To Sam Sawatzky] Thanks, Sam, for sharing your preferences with us.

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 23, 2008):
Perhaps this list might consider studying a Cantata cycle, following the Church year, either beginning with Pentecost Sunday, this year, or beginning it with the beginning of Advent next Fall?

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 23, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thanks for presenting this idea. I know that assignments for the year have been made, I believe, up toward the beginning of Advent. The answer might in part depend upon those persons who have committed their time already, if they have already been preparing their introductions. But I do think a switch at some point to following the liturgical year makes sense in so many ways. There seems to be a great deal of interest in taking an approach that could yield deeper knowledge, fresh perspectives and the involvement of comment from more of the list. I particular liked William Hoffman's comment about following Bach in his work flow.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen & Paul T. McCain] As far as I can see here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2008.htm
I am the last one to have an assignment this year (from October 19th to November 23rd).

I would not mind at all if this was modified. I took the charge to answer Aryeh's request, as I appreciate his work and I am very grateful for all the resources he provides. But I have not started to write the introductions yet, and to be frank, I do not picture myself as a "discussion leader" - this is not at all in my character. Additionnally, English is not my mother tongue. So all in all, although I took it as an honour and would make all possible efforts do do it well, I would be rather relieved if I did not have to lead the discussions next Fall.

Personnally I am more interested in the music than in the text-related discussions - although I am a convinced Catholic - but I would not mind the Church Year order. The only problem I see with that is for the secular cantatas. In my assignment there are two such cantatas. This means that they would not be discussed this year and probably not before a long time.

Anyway I will wait for Aryeh's opinion, as he is the one who asked me.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (March 24, 2008):
Sorry, I probably wrote this too quickly, as I see that the first Sunday of Advent 2008 is November 30st. Thus there is no incompatibility between my assignment and a new order starting on that date.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] Thank you for your flexibility in this discussion Thérèse. The final decision, of course, rests with Aryeh.

Having said that, there are a few things I'd like to add to the mix.

A new order of discussion with a text-first (but not text only) approach would still differ from one contributor to another. I imagine a text-first liturgical presentation would incorporate two new paragraphs into the introduction, or if a contributor did not feel qualified or interested in those paragraphs they could be added by others in the group during a given week. Those two paragraphs could (1) discuss the nature of the specific calendar day, and (2) identify which text or texts were used for the development of the cantata--expanding on them as a given writer might feel qualified to do. I imagine that other contributors would enrich or comment on these elements. From that point on, I see the discussion following along similar lines to what various writers already offer--the main difference being that we would be on-calendar instead of off-calendar.

If we also incorporated Doug's suggestisome weeks there might be four or five cantatas. The host could perhaps discuss one of his/her choice, while other members assigned or not, could go into the details of the other cantatas for a given Sunday or festival. For listeners, such an experience could be a feast. We would still then have only one host--but could conceivably involve many more people in the discussion. I see that possibility as highly desirable.

I also believe we would encounter numerous texts written to facilitate an understanding of the calendar year--adding more to the mix of the discussion and to the Bach bibliography.

In this manner we would lose no sacred cantatas, but...in order not to lose the secular cantatas (though they seem to generate less discussion as a rule) some of them could be set up to also be included in some of the weeks during the calendar year if anyone wanted to study them and continue to include them. So, I do not see that they need to be eliminated, but just mixed into the schedule every so often for the potential for more discussion. Others might want to comment on this idea.

I do not believe this kind of approach needs to distract from those who place music first. If anything, under a different discussion format, there would be opportunities to comment on why one recording seems to fit with the cantata of the day, more than others. An observation regarding use of the texts would also be available--i.e. was the same text used for each instance of the cantata for a given Sunday? Given a little attention to the texts scripturally and to the texts of the cantatas elements of speed or expression in listening might give the ear some new work, and a new way to listen.

Sometimes when I have helped students with papers they think it quite awful that they have to go through such detailed examination of material--but in the end they know the music far better than they did at the beginning and I enjoy seeing them move from trepidation to good pride.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 24, 2008):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Personnally I am more interested in the music than in the text-related discussions >
One of the advantages of discussing all the cantatas for a particular Sunday or holyday is that we might discover musical patterns which guided Bach's working method. For instance, we've never discussed why a minor holiday
like St. Michael's Day on Sept 29 was given such spectacular cantatas. If size of orchestra is an indicator of importance then the occasion is equal to Christmas and Easter.

Interestingly, four of the five cantatas open with a large festive chorus not based on chorales. Four of them have 3 trumpets and timpani, but more intringuingly, three of them have 3 oboes. Why? Is there a tradition for Bach of 3+3+3 (winds+brass+strings) to symbolize the nine orders of angels? He certainly used it in the Sanctus which became part of the B Minor Mass.

And are there chorales which Bach consistently associates with particular Sundays? The German Nunc Dimittis "Mit Fried und Freud" has very strong associations of death for Bach. Does it appear in any groups of cantatas?

I don't believe there is any intrinsic value in following the church year except where it illuminates the music. Earlier this year, we noticed that Bach had written a series of solo cantatas each beginnng with a bass solo for the Easter season.

I think there are all kinds of patterns which were both conventional for Lutheran composers and particular for Bach. I'd vote for clustering the cantatas by Sunday. That would generally mean a month's discussion on 3-5
cantatas.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thanks for your comments, Doug. I think you are right that musical discoveries are possible by the method you suggest, but I would love to go through the church liturgical year at least once to experience it as Bach did. I don't agree that there is nothing to be gained by such an experience--what comes is knowing the church year musically as Bach did, and as he worked with it.

I could easily see shifting to the specific Sundays for further studies after having gone through the chronology of the church year one time. In my opinion in order to keep participation high on a list, changes do need to take place from time to time. But to my mind logically one trip through the liturgical year, and a good record of that on the web would create a better foundation for the kind of discussion you suggest.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 24, 2008):
After sending what you can read below a few more thoughts occurred to me. If we went to the idea of specific Sunday's only we might lose some list participation due to the sophistication of what might transpire.

So, what I think might work were we to expand what we are doing into new frontiers would be a separate list for those interested in Sunday's only--like the musicology list, or the musicology list could be used for a Sunday's only discussion. I think such a discussion might become more technical than the average person on the list might follow.

The liturgical year, however, is broad and perhaps could be used on the mail BC list. I don't really want to lose any of the cantatas at all.

Anyone who also might want to do Sunday's only, too, could join the other list besides. That would keep the membership together, but would perhaps make better use of maybe the musicology list--in fact Doug's proposal really sounds like a musicology issue, and were it to make the musicology list might enliven that list considerably. At the present time that list is rarely used.

All this ultimately of course relates to Aryeh and his preferences--we are just sharing ideas now.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] I'm in complete agreement with Doug about this. Such an approach might well result in insights found nowhere in the literature; certainly his comments about St Michael's Day suggest an approach that I've not been able to find anywhere else.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] I might mention here that earlier in her message Thérèse mentions being in favor of the liturgical year. Her comment was text as opposed to music, not as opposed to the liturgical calendar.

And, I think Doug's idea is unique, but more of those who have responded to this thread have been in favor of the liturgical year than Doug's idea. And I think Doug's idea should be pursued for sure--but my thinking is that it would be better in the musicology area...on a separate list.

However, we do have a cantata of the week BWV 157 and I hope there will be additional comments on this work. We seem to have moved far afield. I suggest that perhaps we should each write to Aryeh directly with our ideas on routes the list might take in the future and he can evaluate what he reads as he chooses and get back to the group later. We have many months to go before a change could take place.

Meanwhile...hoping to hear some comments on our current work.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] Sorry to go further off topic... but something must have escaped me, as I do not clearly see the difference between the two proposals.

For me focusing on Sundays does not contradict following the order of the liturgical year. What I find interesting is the possibility to compare works that have been witten for the same occasion, and to do that in an order which follows their order in the liturgical year, giving consistency to the whole approach (even though this may extend on more than one year, as it seems reasonable to allow more time than a week for each Sunday). I have no problems if we discuss Easter cantatas in November!

I like Doug's idea about tracking common elements such as chorals.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 24, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
>That would keep the membership together, but would perhaps make better use of maybe the musicology list--in fact Doug's proposal really sounds like a musicology issue, and were it to make the musicology list might enliven that list considerably. At the present time that list is rarely used.<
If the musicology list is rused, perhaps it is better to just let it expire, and have the posts fold back into the appropriate vocal (BCML) or instrumental (BRML) list? That seems to be what happens anyway, and from my perspective, is preferable. I am tempted to say: One Earth, One Bach (at least the Old Dude), One List. No longer tempted, I said it.

I do not think Dougs idea sounds specific to musicology at all. Almost the opposite, it would encourage us to think about how the underlying theology for a specific day cuts across the various musical expressions, or in some cases, why there was so little musical expression.

Just as an example of little expression, consider the Sundays in Advent, 2 through 4. Which leads to my next thought, if we really want to explore Bachs relation to the liturgical calendar, we should consider starting, as Bach himself did in Leipzig, with first Sunday after Trinty. That is the beginning of the second half of the church year, with continuous music, deferring discussion of the Advent and Lent complexities until the discussion is well under way.

I find the idea interesting, to devote a calendar year for discussion, with formal introductions and leadership, of all the sacred cantatas in liturgical context. The scope of work is a bit intimidating. The amount of music we are now spending almost four years discussing will need to be compressed into a single year. For one thing, that would compromise any meaningful comparative evaluation and discussion of recordings over that year, a consideration not to be taken lightly.

Also, it is difficult to see what is gained by cutting off, or overlapping, the ongoing chronologic discussion. It would seem that sometime in 2009, either Trinity 1 or Advent 1, would be the earliest reasonable beginning for a formal program.

Not to be tedious with the point, but informal discussion can begin anytime, as soon as Easter Monday (today, March 24, we will never see it earlier in our lifetimes). That would coincide with the actual calendar. Alternatively, we could back up to the Feast of the Purification, Feb. 2, including BWV 82 for the discussion week just ended. Actually ongoing, for me, to listen to the numerous recordings of just one cantata for the week. Note that, according to Durr, there are three other works specific to the day: BWV 83, BWV 125, BWV 200, and three others which Bach performed on the Feast of the Purification from time to time: BWV 161, BWV 157, BWV 158 (older version). There is probably a graduate level dissertation lurking in there, let alone a weeks worth of work. I would certainly enjoy learning (even helping with) the results; organizing the work is the challenge.

>All this ultimately of course relates to Aryeh and his preferences--we are just sharing ideas now.<
Another point which cannot be emphasized too often.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] I think we are in agreement.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] You've made some good points Ed.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 24, 2008):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] Well, since we are going to continue on this topic then I guess I will contribute again. As long as we were to follow the liturgical calendar (something I'd like to fix in my own mind a little better) then using Doug's idea would have more merit in my mind. If we do that, however, will we eliminate some of the sacred cantatas, or would they all be included?

William Hoffman wrote (March 25, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] William Hoffman replies: Major, recent publication sources for the cantatas give us a blueprint: Both the Bach Compendium and the monumental Dürr study go by Sundays, followed by calendar dates. These give more clarity than the only other major study I know, Whittaker's two volumes, divided by musicological cantata-type, although a rough examination of each event shows similar types, especially for major festival days.

I would favor a one-year (liturgical) grounding as a springboard. Sundays could include the nearest calendar date service for the current liturgical year. Sparse times (Lent, Advent, and later Trinity and post-Epiphany, could be filled in with special studies of the Passions and music of mourning at post-Epiphany and Lent; and the wedding cantatas and those without occasion at Late Trinity and Advent.

Besides looking at such topics as chorale use and the textual message, the church year blurprint allows us to examine liturgical seasonal and feast-special themes (part of Bach's concept of well-regulated church music), which often relate to cantata-type; his emphasis on shifts of religious message (including chorale selection); adaptation to a different poet; and his chronological creative process in a comparative way. Just a cursory examination of the Purification cantatas, as Ed did recently, shows seven works, including double duty (BWV 161, BWV 157) and variants of BWV 82. We see Bach as the great weaver and reweaver, never exhausting what he has to say and sound. Unity through diversity, or verse-visa, a time to mourn while dancing.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 25, 2008):
[To William Hoffman] Thank you, William. You make some excellent suggestions I believe.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 2, 2008):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
<< My vote, by the way, is that a Cantata Cycle be dealt with according to the Church Year. That would make a lot of sense to me, since it was how Bach wrote them, and the purpose for which they were composed. >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I vote for working through the cantatas by Sunday: all the easter cantatas, all the reformtion cantatas. I think we would discover commonalities. >
Dear all??? I've just returned to about 300 unread emails after a couple of weeks away from the computer in Africa, so I am rather behind on the issues.

However I picked up on this point re the next round of discussions and I completely agree with Doug. Personally I can't see what more perspective i could gain from an Easter? or St Michael's cantata if I heard it on the day for which it was written rather than on another day of the year. Such a round of discussions would add (as far as i can see) little or nothing to those which have arisen from the present chronological listing.

However a contextual presentation of the cantatas in the groups for the particular days on which they were written could be most illuminative and bring forth numerous points of interest and comparison not likely to emerge from any form of chronological examination of the works. There is good internal evidence suggesting that when Bach came to compose a cantata for, say the 5th Sunday after Trinity (let alone the really big significant celebrations) ?he looked back over the scores of those he had previously written for that day. There are numerous examples where an observation from one work is illuminative of those which followed or preceded it. As there are mostly only three or four extant works written for any particular church day, they resolve themselves into easily handle-able groups ideal for comparative study---I think, from memory that five is about the maximum of extant works existing for a particular day and sometimes there are only two. Introductions could be organised to that the full group (of say 4 cantatas) were introduced together and that week and the following three could be devoted to general discussion. I think that this approach would be much more fertile than the one of going through by the church year. However I think that Aryeh intends to start a consultation on this later this year as we approach the end of the current cycle of discussions.

Anyway, cantatas aside for the moment. I'm off tonight to the Barbican to hear a concert consisting of the Easter and Ascension Oratorios and the Magnificat.?

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 2, 2008):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< However a contextual presenof the cantatas in the groups for the particular days on which they were written could be most illuminative and bring forth numerous points of interest and comparison not likely to emerge from any form of chronological examination of the works. There is good internal evidence suggesting that when Bach came to compose a cantata for, say the 5th Sunday after Trinity (let alone the really big significant celebrations) ?he looked back over the scores of those he had previously written for that day >
It's worth noting in this respect that when the new Bach Ausgabe published the cantatas, it grouped them according to liturgical day. Thus all the Reformation Day or Easter Day cantatas are found in the same volumes.

There's no advantage to discussing the cantatas during the actual week in the church year when they were performed. Even those of us who are practical church musicians are using modern lectionaries which only occasionally correspond to Bach's. Christmas week in Toronto doesn't bear much resemblance to Christmas in Leipzig.

It would be much more fruitful to ask, for instance, why both Bach and his uncle/cousin chose the text "Es erhub sich ein Streit" for St. Michael's Day. I think there is a whole realm of traditional conventions in texts, chorales and scoring on particular days which would leap out at us if we discussed all of the Michelmas cantatas consecutively.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 2, 2008):
[To Julian Mincham] Thanks for sharing your view, Julian.

Jean Laaninen wrote (April 2, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thanks for the explanation.

Continue of this discussion, see: BCML: BCML - Year 2008 [General Topics]

 

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Last update: ýFebruary 25, 2009 ý14:22:15