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 5

Continue from Part 4

Trinity and Bach

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 117 - Discussions Part 2

Peter Smaill wrote (May 27, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] One of my recent pastimes has been to observe the treatment of the Doxology in the Cantatas, which occur from time to time but are rarely the perfunctory affairs which Anglicans experience. The doctrine clearly meant a great deal to Bach: in the "Magnificat", as Robin Leaver has observed, he goes so far as to derive the representation of the Holy Spirit from the close canon of the Gloria phrase representing Father and Son, thus delineating the procession of the Holy Spirit from both.

Finally?I ?have come to BWV 69, for the inauguration of the Town Council in Autumn 1748. I may be wrong but I think therefore that the setting of the chorale then created , "Es danke Gott, und lobe dich" is the very last setting of a Chorale for?choir/orchestra??use made by him. By spring 1749 Bach's health was failing. (The keyboard work, the so-called "Sterb-chorale" is a different matter).

Hardly anyone seems to notice that Bach thus, if I am right, closes?his life-work in the ?genre of orchestrally-elaborated Chorales with an utterly brilliant setting in which the three trumpets? enter in full force at the Doxology , "Und segne Vater und der Sohn/Uns segne Gott,der Heilge geist" , with the upper trumpet trilling for over a minim. The Chorale, though basically in?D major, starts in F sharp major- all sharps- and modulates through adjacent keys. Quite unusually the timpani have a lively independent part accentuating what has been called the sense of? God "triumphant and glorious".

The beginning of the Leipzig Cantata sequence has the Trinity 1 Cantata BWV 75 in which the unique purely orchestral setting of "Was Gott Tut" for trumpet, and the chorale interspersions, are another high point in Bach's oeuvre and I find thus a wonderful symmetry in his Cantata writing?with Trinitarian references. Beginning and ending are illustrating the combination of the earthly chorus with the oversailing ethereal trumpet in two settings of especial exuberance even for Bach.

BWV 69 is rather neglected due to the existence of the earlier BWV 69a (which has a powerful Chorus) but is worth hearing for?its stunning Chorale alone.

Jean Laaninen wrote (May 28, 2008):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< One of my recent pastimes has been to observe the treatment of the Doxology in the Cantatas, which occur from time to time but are rarely the perfunctory affairs which Anglicans experience. The doctrine clearly meant a great deal to Bach: in the "Magnificat", as Robin Leaver has observed, he goes so far as to derive the representation of the Holy Spirit from the close canon of the Gloria phrase representing Father and Son, thus delineating the procession of the Holy Spirit from both. >
Although I have not made a study of the Doxology elements as you are doing, Peter, I have taken notice of Bach's incorporation of this doctrine from time to time. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

 

Bach's 12 Days of Christmas

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 23, 2009):
I neglected to add Bach's working schedule for Christmas which was the most rigorous of the year. Below are Bach's schedules for the Christmas season for the three cantatas we've discussed so far.

The weekdays on which Christmas Day, New Year's Day (the Octave Day of Christmas) and Epiphany varied from year to year and dictated whether Christmas would be followed by Sunday after Christmas (or two) or a Sunday would occur between New Year's and Epiphany. As we will see, the schedule of a particular year dictated the shape of the Christmas Oratorio.

In addition to the first three days of Christmas, Bach faced back-to-back cantatas around New Year's in most years. Whether Bach considered these groups of cantatas as mini-cycles with connections really hasn't been discussed. Was the Christmas Oratorio really the first time that a composer created a Cantata Cycle for the Twelve Days of Christmas?

* Christmas Season 1723-24

NOTE: New Year's Day this year is a Saturday so there are two back-to-back cantatas.

Sat, Dec 25 ­ 1st Day of Christmas
Cantata BWV 63: ³Christen Ätzet²
Sun, Dec 26 ­ 2nd Day of Christmas (St. Stephenıs)
Cantata BWV 40, ³Dazu ist Erschienen²
Mon, Dec 27 ­ 3rd Day of Christmas
Cantata BWV 64, ²Sehet Welch eine Liebe²
Sat, Jan 1 ­ New Yearıs/Circumcision
Cantata BWV 190, ³Singet dem Herrn²
Sun, Jan 2 ­ Sunday after New Yearıs
Cantata BWV 153, ³Schau, lieber Gott²
Thu, Jan 6 - Epiphany
Cantata BWV 65, ³Sie Werden aus Saba²

* Christmas Season 1724-25

NOTE: This year Christmas falls on a Monday so there is an extra Sunday before New Year's Day which didn't occur the previous year. Back-to back cantatas on Dec 31 & Jan 1, and Jan 6 & 7

Mon, Dec 25 ­ 1st Day of Christmas
Cantata BWV 91, ³Gelobet seist du²
Tue, Dec 26 ­ 2nd Day of Christmas (St. Stephenıs)
Cantata BWV 121, ³Christum wie sollen²
Wed, Dec 27 ­ 3rd Day of Christmas
Cantata BWV 133, ³Ich freue mich
Sun, Dec 31, Sunday after Christmas
Cantata BWV 122 ³Das neugeborne Kindelein²
Mon 1, Jan 1 ­ New Yearıs/Circumcision
Cantata BWV 41, ³Jesu nun gepreiset²
Sat, Jan 6 - Epiphany
Cantata BWV 123, ³Liebster Emmanuel²

* Christmas Season 1725-26

NOTE: Epiphany falls on a Sunday this year, yet Bach didn't provide a cantata. Do scholars suggest a lost cantata or a repeat of an existing work?

Tue, Dec 25 ­ 1st Day of Christmas
Cantata BWV 110, ³Unser Mund²
Wed, Dec 26 ­ 2nd Day of Christmas (St. Stephenıs)
Cantata BWV 57, ³Selig ist der Mann²
Thu, Dec 27 ­ 3rd Day of Christmas
Cantata BWV 151, ³Süsser Trost²
Sun, Dec 30, Sunday after Christmas
Cantata BWV 28, ³Gottlob nun geht²
Tue, Jan 1 ­ New Yearıs/Circumcision
Cantata BWV 16, ³Herr Gott, dich loben²
Sun, Jan 6 - Epiphany
Cantata ?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (February 23, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] Actually, I would argue that the Easter season would be as busy if not busier than Christmas season. After all, Bach was responsible for music for only 5 days out of the twelve (the Christmas season ends on 5 January), whereas with the Easter season, Bach was not only responsible for the music of Easter Sunday, he was responsible for the music for Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, Quasimodogeniti Sunday, Misericordias Domini Sunday, Jubilate Sunday, Cantate Sunday, Rogate Sunday, Ascension Day, and Exaudi Sunday. Plus, he was responsible for the music for both Palm Sunday and Good Friday, which would have been counted as part of Holy Week (which Easter concludes).

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 23, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Actually, I would argue that the Easter season would be as busy if not busier than Christmas season. >
Some clarification is necessary here. Bach did not have to write a cantata for Palm Sunday or any of the other days of Holy Week. The only statutory requirement was the Passion music on Good Friday -- which we can all agree was a monumental task.

Easter week had three successive cantatas but then then the schedule returned to weekly offerings. All of the Sundays which you list were spread out over the next 6 or 7 weeks until Pentecost, the end of the Easter season.

Suffice to say that Bach's year revolved around the two festivals and he worked damn hard to provide superlative music for them.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 23, 2009):
>Suffice to say that Ba's year revolved around the two festivals and he worked damn hard to provide superlative music for them.<
(1) Grammatically, should it not be damned hard?

(2) Spiritually, would not very hard (or equivalent) be more appropriate?

A paradox for all you boys out there: It is not as hard as it seems.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (February 24, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] Actually, Doug, Bach did have to write a cantata for Palmarum. The Tempus clausum periods were the 2nd-4th Sundays of Advent and Invocativ Sunday-Judica Sunday.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (February 24, 2009):
[To [David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Glenn, I'm curious to know your source for your assertion that Bach had to write a cantata for Palm Sunday (I'm assuming you're talking about the Leipzig period).

My understanding is that Bach wrote only one cantata for Palm Sunday (BWV 182) and that it was a product of the Weimar period (though it was later used in Leipzig as an Annunciation cantata).

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 24, 2009):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< My understanding is that Bach wrote only one cantata for Palm Sunday (BWV 182) and that it was a product of the Weimar period (though it was later used in Leipzig as an Annunciation cantata). >
Bach performed "Himmelskönig sei Willkommen" in the year that Palm Sunday and Annunciation fell on the same day, March 25. It's a brilliant intertwining of the two themes. But there are no other Palm Sunday
cantatas.

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 24, 2009):
>Actually, Doug, Bach did have to write a cantata for Palmarum.<
Presumably, Palmarum is what is more familiarly known as Palm Sunday?

According to Durr (Duerr), the only cantata for Palm Sunday, BWV 182, was written at Weimar, 1714.

John Pike wrote (February 24, 2009):
BWV 182 [was: Bach's 12 Days of Christmas]

[Douglas Cowling] think I am right in saying that he presented it at least 4 times altogether, one of the most performed cantatas according to the records we have; fully understandable given what a splendid piece it is. It is also my wife's favourite cantata.

 

greyzone topic Bach in Christmas season, Japanese music in New Year season...

Terejia wrote (January 7, 2009):
In Japan, the date Decemver 26th is a kind of "dividing line " when our souls feel as if traveling from West to East.

From the November to December 25th, the entire street is in Christmas mode. From the beginning of November, not from the Advent Sunday on, because in Japan, Christmas is more a civic festival for department stores than Christian liturgy event.

For me Christmas isn't Christmas at all without BWV 243a in particular( while other masterpieces, even BWV 248, even though I COULD somehow manage to do without them for Christmas season..). My first encountering of BWV 243a was when I was in junior highschool. I didn't understand latin nor German, I had no idea what Christmas was really about except that the entire street was somehow in festive mood, I had not been to church back then, but special atomosphere of Christmas felt very palpable from the music itself from the very beginning of delightful opening ritornello. Whenever I hear that joyous 1/16 notes in D-dur key I feel Christmas.

Later I learned there are some other masterpieces for Christmas like BWV 61 and of course BWV 248. I like Charpantier's Messe de Minuit pour Noel and Christmas Story of Heinrich Schütz, for Christmas, too.

However, on December 26th, even though it is still Christmas in Church liturgy calendar, the pendlum of my soul swings back to Eastern culture mood.

These are the type of music I would love to listen to after December 26th to new year season and after all these are the ones deeply ingrained into my soul(no Bach! ):
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=X0OYz3qz28A&feature=related
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=4N2wqp2CInM&feature=related

entirely different from BWV 248 Part 4-6 or New Year Concert's Johann Straus. (Hence I listen to entire BWV 248 before December 25th instead of reserving Part 4-6 for new year). The music in these video are not dodecaphonic,probably not suitable to compose contrapunct out of it, if my understanding is correct.

Oh, by the way, there is one more shift from East to West on December 31th night, which is 9th Symphony by Beethoven, which became deeply rooted in Japanese culture somehow.

However odd it might seem, I enjoy my Christmas-New Year season the way it is.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 8, 2009):
Terejia wrote:
>For me Christmas isn't Christmas at all without BWV 243a in particular<
Although I have known the Magnificat, BWV 243, almost all my life, this is the first year I have paid special attention to the Christmas interpolations of BWV 243a. It was a very happy coincidence that your leading the discussion of BWV 191 was about the same time as a radio broadcast of BWV 243a, and all at the appropriate Christmas Season. I especially enjoyed our discusssion of the Latin, BWV 243a and BWV 191/1,: Gloria in excelsis Deo, Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.

I ran across one analyis which justifies the translation:

Glory to God in the highest,
Peace on Earth,
Goodwill to men

based on the three part rhetoric, parallel structure. It seems to me, that breaks down if we go back to the Latin, especially if the text from Durr is precise, and there is no comma after <terra pax>

Either way, no increased abundance of goodwill for those who need it, nor peace for those of us who practice goodwill, whichever way one prefers the translation and the logic.

At the last minute, I recall that I overlooked the availability of Francis Browne on BCW, BWV 191/English 3:

No commma after <terra pax>, <men of goodwill> rather than <goodwill to men>. I found my way back, <longest way round is the shortest way home> (James Joyce, Ulysses). I had a lot of fun and a few laughs getting there.

I also enjoyed Terejias comments on the transition from West to East, for her, at Christmas. At some point I believe I made an analogy bewtween the two parts of the liturgical year, Advent to Trinity, and Sundays after Trinity, and the Asian Yin/Yang symbol. Slightly different calendar specifics, but the same idea and feeling.

 

Information about the different Sundays

Richard Burdick wrote (May 11, 2009):
Greetings, I not educated into the meaning or reason for the different names of the services such as this coming Sunday is:
Rogate (5th Sunday after Easter)
Is there a reference where I can find out more about what "Rogate" and the others all mean?

Thanks

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 11, 2009):
Richard Burdick wrote:
< Rogate (5th Sunday after Easter)
Is there a reference where I can find out more about what "Rogate" and the others all mean? >
The Latin title of a Sunday is taken from the first word of the Gregorian chant introit which accompanied the entrance of the clergy at the beginning of mass in both the Roman and Lutheran rites. It came a convenient identifier as singers flipped through their music books to find the proper introit for a particular Sunday. In the 'Hunchback of Notre Dame', Victor Hugo gives the foundling child the name, Quasimodo,because the introit on that day was "Quasi modo geniti."

Luther expected that choirs with music schools such as Leipzig would sing either the proper melismatic introit or a simpler Latin psalm. At the principal service in Bach's time, the choir replaced the chant introit with a seasonal polyphonic motet from the Bodenschatz collection of 16th and 17th century works. Large-scale double-choir motets by Schütz and Gabrieli were normal fare.

The Latin titles of Sundays in the Lutheran rite can be found on the BCML website at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/index.htm

The complete introit texts and translations can be found at any online edition of the Roman missal. The Musica Sacra website has online copies of the music of many historic chant books: http://www.musicasacra.com/sacred-music/

There are a few difference between the Lutheran and Roman chants because German pre-Reformation use differed somewhat from the Tridentine rite codified at the end of the 16th century.

 

Bach to music (well sort of) & St. Michael

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 13, 2009):
Recently, Bach's music for the feast day of St. Michael was topic for few threads, with questions about the nature of the feast and it's importance in Baroque German sacred music.

In an effort to provide some context to that, I wished to point out that a new edition and recording of a long lost Telemann oratorio was recently published,"Der aus der Löwengrube erettete Daniel.". Steffen Voss, a German baroque specialist (mostly in Handel, Telemann), discovered the music and edited in a new performing edition. The liner notes are full of information about St. Michael's feast and apparently it was the 2nd most important feast day for Hamburg churches. The music dates from the late 1720s "oratorio" cantata cycle (large works were the trademark of this cycle apparently).

You can listen to sound clips on the CPO website here: JPC

Naxos of America will distribute the CD in the United States at the end of August or the first part of Sept.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 13, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< In an effort to provide some context to that, I wished to point out that a new edition and recording of a long lost Telemann oratorio was recently published,"Der aus der Löwengrube erettete Daniel.".
You can listen to sound clips on the CPO website here:
JPC >
Thanks for this terrific link. Everyone should take the opportunity to listen through the audio clips here. It's an impressive work in a first-rate performance. What I found most interesting is that Telemann was Bach's principal rival and yet I heard very little which reminded me of Bach.

Lots of echoes of Handel and Vivaldi. The opening with its widely-spaced chords resembles the opening of the Utrecht Te Deum. The duet in Tract 25 uses the same violin figure without bass as "And suddenly there was with the angel" in Messiah! Track 3 had all the harmonic drive of a Vivaldi concerto movement.

And certainly matters of taste. The big bomba aria in Track 10 has a rafter-rattling riternello which sets up a huge expectation for the soloist. He launches into a coloratura aria which would have electrified an opera house with its bravura. Bach's electricity is no less impressive but it isn't so self-conscious (is that the word I want?)

And some very galant passages. The chorus in Track 20 sounds like Mozart.

In the final analysis, it was only the final chorus in Track 33 which reminded me of similar movements by Bach, and then only the closing homage choruses in the secular cantatas such as "Schleicht Spielenden Wellen".

I'm curious what other people thought.

I will be passing on the link to practical church musicians so they can hear the splendid setting of the chorale "Nun Lobt" in Track 16. Telemann sets the same version of the tune which is known as "Old 100th" and sung in all churches as "All People That On Earth Do Dwell". Very unusual to hear a chorale that is popular outside the Lutheran tradition.

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 13, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I will be passing on the link to practical church musicians so they can hear the splendid setting of the chorale "Nun Lobt" in Track 16. Telemann sets the same version of the tune which is known as "Old 100th" and sung in all churches as "All People That On Earth Do Dwell". Very unusual to hear a chorale that is popular outside the Lutheran tradition. >
FWIW, there's a nice setting of that by Pachelbel: three-part texture for organ (with the melody in the middle played by both thumbs!), or for more fun, have a tenor sing that part as a solo.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 13, 2009):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< FWIW, there's a nice setting of that by Pachelbel: three-part texture for organ (with the melody in the middle played by both thumbs!), or for more fun, have a tenor sing that part as a solo. >
Brad, do you know if it's online? It's not in any of my Pachelbel collections. Any chance you could scan it and send it to me? I need a REAL EEZEE anthem for my men. Thanks.

 

Liturgical correctness, Oct 30, 2009

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 31, 2009):
Larry King just began his nightly CNN show this way:

<Tonight is All Hallows Eve, tomorrow will be Halloween>

Not exactly, mon ami. CNN is no longer USA only, it is now international, non?

I think I will just put on my pig-snout costume (?!) and go for another stroll in downtown Salem (officially, The Witch City), where this Holiday approaches (slowly, but surely) Mardi Gras proportions.

For the Bach-ish (and/or Lutheran) crowd, Sunday Nov. 1 will be both All Saints Day (the day after All Hallows Eve, or Halloween) and the 21st Sunday after Trinity.

For Mexicans (and other simpatico souls, including me and my Cuban spouse), Mon., Nov. 2 (All Souls Day) is Dia de los Muertos.

Sounds like just another excuse for a four-day weekend to me. I will spare you OT posts, other than a recovery (or not) report. Input from the correspondents who are also directors of music at churches especially invited.

Aloha, Ed Myskowski (aka dED Pig & Whistle)

Ed Myskowski wrote (October 31, 2009):
I received a post off-list suggesting a New York City performance of BWV 106, on Nov. 1, for weekend enjoyment. In fact, there is also a Boston performance of BWV 77 the same day. These events, along with many other opportunities, are detailed on BCW: http://bach-cantatas.com/Concerts/Concert-2009-USA.htm

I am taking the trouble to post again because I overlooked the distinction of the Lutheran calendar (Oct. 31, Reformation Day) from the rest of Christianity (Oct 31, All Hallows Eve or Halloween; Nov. 1, All Saints Day; Nov. 2, All Souls Day or Dia de los Muertos).

Corrections invited, as always. One thing I am certain of: beginning yesterday, Friday, Oct. 30 (which is not All Hallows Eve, however, as I pointed out, correctly I believe), it is a four-day party this year, here in Salem MA, USA (officially and affectionately, The Witch City).

Does Oct. 30, the Eve of Reformation Day, have a designation in the Lutheran calendar?

Mary Vinquist wrote (November 1, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] The LuChurch calendar this year celebrated Reformation Sunday on October 25. The church in question did "Ein feste Burg" as the cantata of the day at their Bach Vespers service -- beautifully, I might add.

The BWV 106 is for remembrance of all who have died -- All Saints and All Souls. I'm going and will report back.

Mary Vinquist wrote (November 1, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] Today, Nov. 1, is All Saints Day in the Roman and Anglican traditions.
All Hallows (which became Halloween) is October 31 and that is the day Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. A replica of same is still there (the church having burned down and been rebuilt in the 19th Century). I was part of a group that sang "Ein feste Burg" lustily from the choir loft of that church last October.

Mary Vinquist wrote (November 1, 2009):
CORRECTION: October 31 is the Eve of All Hallows, All Hallows also being a name for All Saints.

William Hoffman wrote (November 21, 2009):
A reminder:

William Hoffman wrote (November 10, 2008):
Reformation Observances: All-Souls Day Cantata

Kalmus Vocal Score 6940, Cantata BWV 198, "Lass, Hoechster; new text by Wilhelm Rust, for All Souls Day, based on Gottsched's original text, English translation A. Kalisch; arrangement of Philipp Wolfrum, piano reduction Otto Taubmann; with Wolfrum's footnotes and Rust's footnotes and chorale interpolations: No. 3a, B&H No. 361 (BWV 248/59), "Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit"; No. 4a, BWV 179/6, "Ich armer Mensch; No. 7a, "Ich hab in Gottes Herz," BWV 92/6; No. 8a, "O wie selig," BWV 406; No. 10a, "Auf, mein Herz," BWV 145a. I beieve there is a recent editon from either B&H or Baerenreiter.

Cantata BWV 106

This afteroon at St. Francis Auditorium, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, Canticus Nova will perform an All-Souls Day concert of Cantata BWV 106, Faure's Requiem, Greene's Anthem, and Schubert's Song of the Spirits. It appears that Dia del Muerte south of the border has spread north.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 1, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< A reminder:
William Hoffman wrote (November 10, 2008):
Reformation Observances: All-Souls Day Cantata
Kalmus Vocal Score 6940, Cantata
BWV 198, "Lass, Hoechster; new text by Wilhelm Rust, for All Souls Day, based on Gottsched's original text >
Thanks for the reminder, I had overlooked the significance at the time. In fact, it was only the error on the CNN broadcast on Oct. 30 (now Halloween Eve, I suppose) which caught my attention. However, it does seem a significant detail in the interpretation of Bachs music in relation to the liturgic calendar, and the prior and subsequent evolution of the Lutheran sect of Christianity.

To be very brief, I infer that Luther abandoned observance of All Saints/Souls because of the connection with the commerce in indulgences, and this remained the case for Bach. In fact, Luther specifically chose Oct. 31 to hammer this point home (indeed, to nail it to the door)! Subsequently, this condition has relaxed somewhat. BWV 198 was later adapted for All Souls Day, which is now observed by at least some Lutherans, as well as All Saints Day.

WH:
< It appears that Dia del Muerte south of the border has spread north. >
EM:
First off, let me say, that is a good thing, IMO. It is a very respecful tradition in honor and memory of the departed, in my experience. I did try to be careful with my Spanish, so I checked Dia del Muerte with my consultant, who opined <That is not Spanish!. Perhaps New Mexican?> Whatever, it is not convenient for me to disagree with her. The meaning is perfectly clear to me.

 

OT: Bach compositions during Lent

Bruce Simonson wrote (November 30, 2009):
I'm working on my program notes for our upcoming concert, with BWV 1 and BWV 61. BWV 1 (Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern) was composed for the Annunciation (March 25). This falls squarely during Lent.

On the website, I found the following note:

"At Bach's time instrumental music was not allowed in the church during Lent with a few exceptions" (Marie Jensen), as part of her write-up on the Lutheran Church year at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/index.htm

This rings true to me. However, is not BWV 54 (Widerstehe die Stunde) for Oculi (the third sunday in Lent)? Why is there a composition for Oculi, in "no music in Lent" was the rule?

Anyone have any thoughts on why BWV 1 was "allowed", other than it's a special festival, with a fixed date, that happens during Lent? I'm wondering if there's a connection with Palm Sunday, for example? (March 25 was Palm Sunday in 1725). I think I read some thoughts on this somewhere, possibly on the website, but I welcome refreshers to this. BWV 1 is, of course, an important and extremely "musical" cantata to be sure, and not of the "give it up for Lent type".

Evan Cortens wrote (November 30, 2009):
[To Bruce Simonson] You raise some interesting questions! The answer I'm sure is more complicated than this, but I'm writing off the top of my head for the most part.

First, BWV 1 is a composition for the Annunciation, a feast that always falls on March 25th. Some years, as in 1725, this was a couple of days before Easter (which was on April 1 that year), and thus still technically a part of Lent; others, it fell a couple of days after. It would seem then that the normal "tempus clausum" principles didn't apply for this particular day.

Your other question about BWV 54 is a little trickier. Basically, and again I don't have all the info at hand, the exact conditions of the tempus clausum varied from municipality to municipality. For instance, in Hamburg, Telemann wrote all sorts of cantatas for the Sundays in Lent. BWV 54 was written and performed first in Weimar, where music was allowed on Oculi Sunday (Lent 3), unlike Leipzig. Bach also wrote the first version of BWV 80 (so-called BWV 80a) for performance on this Sunday in Weimar. So far as can be told, BWV 54 wasn't reperformed in Leipzig, but of course BWV 80 was, at least twice. On both occasions, it was reconfigured to work for a different day, most famously for the feast of the reformation. The Weimar to Leipzig situation is similar for Advent as well: in Weimar, cantatas were required for all the Sundays, but in Leipzig, music was allowed only on the first. So, for example, BWV 70 originally for Advent 2, is reconfigured to work for Trinity 26.

Hope this helps,

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 30, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< Basically, and again I don't have all the info at hand, the exact conditions of the tempus clausum varied from municipality to municipality. For instance, in Hamburg, Telemann wrote all sorts of cantatas for the Sundays in Lent >
There doesn't appear to have been a lot of scholarly work done on the variety of liturgical calendars in Lutheran Germany. In researching the Tallis Choir of Toronto's recent concert reconsof a Bach Christmas Mass, I asked a Lutheran historian about the differences. He suggested that the variety of approaches may reflect pre-Reformation practice in cathedral, parish, collegiate and monastic churches, all of which had variations on the basis Latin rite.

The Leipzig calendar has a number of particular traditions which set the pattern for Bach's compositions:

1) The four Sundays of Advent before Christmas were a "closed" season when instruments were prohibited. The organ was supposed to be included in the prohibition but was never silenced. The ban on instruments did not preclude complex music: the motet repertoire for Advent was especially rich and demanding. A double-choir work such as Palestrina's "Surge Illuminare" has a very Germanic feel to it. The second Kyrie of the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) gives us some idea of the music sung during Advent. Leipzig was peculiar in that it sang a concerted cantata on the First Sunday of Advent alone. Other cities such as Weimar performed concerted music on all the Sundays. Perhaps Leipzig was considered more conservative and was only grudgingly adopting the current fashion. There were no saints' days which fell during Advent which might alter the Sunday pattern.

2) The five Sundays of Lent before Easter were the premier "closed" season of the year and the prohibition was more rigorously maintained and there were no Lenten cantatas. Again, other cities did not have the ban and performed cantatas throughout Lent. The most bizarre feature of the Leipzig calendar is the handling of the feast of the Annunciation on March 25 which nearly always falls during Lent. Considering that saints days were almost wholly expunged from the church calendar by Luther, it is odd that this Marian festival was always treated as a festival with a cantata even when it fell in Holy Week. It breaks every liturgical rule that the Annunciation was celebrated when it fell on Palm Sunday. In the Catholic, Anglican and most Lutheran calendars, the Annunciation was transfered to a date after Easter if it fell in the two weeks before Easter. Yet Bach dutifully wrote a masterpiece, "Himmelskönig sei Willkommen" when this rare convergence occurred. The feast must have had a strong social significance in Leipzig to trump Palm Sunday (in some places, the legal year began on March 25)

3) The use of concerted music on Good Friday also violated the "closed" season tradition which was especially strict in Holy Week. In some places, the Passion was sung only as a narrative chorale. There must have been a strong impetus to be "modern" in Leipzig for the Holy Week ban to be lifted on Palm Sunday and not during the previous Lenten period.

Although these calendar features may be mind-numbingly boring to many, it is clear that Bach's compositional process, indeed his whole practical career, was determined by this schedule.

 

Christmas in Leipzig
Epiphany

Continue of discussion from: Members of the Bach Mailing Lists - Year 2009 [General Topics]

Paul Johnson wrote (December 27, 2009):
[To Neil Halliday] We are quite snowed in. But, as you say, it offers some good listening opportunities. I listened to all the cantatas for the Third Day of Christmas this morning. I am listening mostly to Gardiner, but also to Harnoncourt.

Trying to listen on 'proper' days poses a problem this year: there is no Sunday after Christmas! When am I supposed to listen to the cantatas for that day? It looks like 2011 is the next opportunity. :-)

Best to Oz.

Peter Smaill wrote (December 27, 2009):
[To Paul Johnson] Sundays after Christmas.... well there is part 3 of the Christmas Oratorio for the third day of Christmas; also BWV 152, "Tritt aus die Glaubensbahn" from 30 December 1714; and "Das neugeborne Kindelein" from 31 December 1724. All these reflect the birth of Jesus; BWV 28, "Gottlob! Nun geht das jahre zu Ende", from 30 December 1725, contemplates the end of the old year and the beginning of the next.

Here is snowbound Scotland the New Year is still considered by many, thanks to historic Calvinist attitudes, to be more important than Christmas but it would seem that Lutherans found significance in both; very exhausting for Bach and his choir(s) as has been noted here before.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 27, 2009):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Here is snowbound Scotland the New Year is still considered by many, thanks to historic Calvinist attitudes, to be more important than Christmas but it would seem that Lutherans found significance in both; very exhausting for Bach and his choir(s) as has been noted here before. >
I read somewhere that Christmas wasn't a statutory holiday in Scotland until the 1950s. Historically, New Year's Day and Epiphany were much bigger social occasions than Christmas in both Catholic and Protestant cultures. The Honours List of titles and awards is still proclaimed at New Year's in England. The Queen's representative still presents gold and frankincense in the Chapel Royal on Epiphany. I suspect the same kinds of ceremonial may have been traditional with the Leipzig Council and and the Saxon Court. Certainly, the singing of the Te Deum was an important annual civic event.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (December 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< [...] Historically, New Year's Day and Epiphany were much bigger social occasions than Christmas in both Catholic and Protestant cultures. >
This surprises me concerning Catholic culture.

In our (Catholic) culture, I have always heard of Christmas as a much bigger occasion than Epiphany. There is a long and festive mass at midnight (or at least late at night), and many traditions (such as welcoming poor or lonely people for the family meal). There are also "nativity scenes" everywhere, even living ones, and music (choirs which sing Christmas carols, many concerts,...).

Epiphany is only the day where you eat the "galette des Rois" (cake of the Kings).

This is maybe a difference between Protestant and Catholic cultures?

On the other hand, I have never heard of any religious dimension in New Year's Day, but it seems it had such dimension for Bach and his context. Is this still true for Protestants today?

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The Queen's representative still presents gold and frankincense in the Chapel Royal on Epiphany. >
According to the Gospels of Thomas and Phillip(sp?), both suppressed, myrrh was the incense of choice for spiritual liberation. Hope that tidbit of data gets us back on track to spirited discussion.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 28, 2009):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Epiphany is only the day where you eat the "galette des Rois" (cake of the Kings).
This is maybe a difference between Protestant and Catholic cultures? >
Or perhaps North vs. South? In my household, dominated by Hispano-Cuban tradition (not me!), we are on our way to Twelfth Night (sunset, Jan 5, leading to Three Kings Day). Le Jour de Trois Rois? This eveining on my block, Dec. 27, we are just beginning Third Night. If you disagree by a day either way, direct complaints to my spouse, c/o me.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 28, 2009):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< On the other hand, I have never heard of any religious dimension in New Year's Day, but it seems it had such dimension for Bach and his context. Is this still true for Protestants today? >
I'm really referring to the 16th - 18th centuries. We have to be careful in projecting our modern holiday customs, Catholic, Protestant or secular, back into Bach's time. For instance, Midnight Mass was not a popular liturgy for Catholics until late in the 19th century. We all have a very hazy picture of how Bach's civic/religious calendar was celebrated. I couldn't tell you the schedule or nature of domestic Chcelebrations in the Bach household.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm really referring to the 16th - 18th centuries. >
I don't know if you have seen "The Tudors," but last season showed extensive Christmas celebrations at the court of Henry VIII during Jane Seymour's reign as Queen, it was quite nice eye candy, and something I've never seen before in Tudor dramatizations. If you get a chance, watch the DVDs.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 28, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I don't know if you have seen "The Tudors," but last season showed extensive Christmas celebrations at the court of Henry VIII during Jane Seymour's reign as Queen, it was quite nice eye candy, and something I've never seen before in Tudor dramatizations. If you get a chance, watch the DVDs. >
"The Tudors" is Melrose Place in tights. It's an avalanche of historical inaccurancies -- Cardinal Wolsey commits suicide! -- although it was amusing to see the great Tudor composer, Thomas Tallis, appearing as a secondary character. He was portrayed a promiscuous bisexual but at least we got to hear a bit of his music.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< "The Tudors" is Melrose Place in tights. It's an avalanche of historical inaccurancies. >
Yeah, and VERY nice tights too. :-)

The Tudor's is a drama, not a documentary. That said, the extensive coverage of the "Pilgrimage of Grace" in the 3rd season (Henry VIII was nearly deposed) was the first time I've seen that topic covered in any significant manner for a dramatization, and the coverage of Reginald Pole and Henry's murder of his family was extremely poignant and accurate.

But like I said before, the renaissance Christmas sets in Tudor England were gorgeous and worth seeing ;)

Peter Smaill wrote (December 28, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] In the village south of Edinburgh where I live as late as the 1880's school was held on Christmas Day; but in a strange imitation of the Roman Saturnalia, on the shortest day the tradition then was for the schoolchildren to lock out the master!

Leipzig was very different. According to Stiller, Christmas was a three day observance ,the second and third being observed as the days of the Protomartyr St Stephen (26) and as the day of St John, apostle and Evangelist (27). "BWV 40 and BWV 57 are fully intelligible only in relation to St Stephen."

Epiphany is called "the great New Year or Feast day of the Three Kings or of the Revelation of Christ". On the eve of the feast there was the festive ringing of all the bells, and the festival was inaugurated with solemn Vespers immediately thereafter.

The Christmas season lasted until the Feast of the Purification of Mary. Christmas hymns were sung on all these feast days as an extension of Christmas, with the Christmas preface read out on each day. "A liturgical observance of New Year's Eve as we now have it did not exist in Bach's time (Rost)", by which I think is meant that the Christmas aspect remained the theme, rather than reflection and emphasis on the subtext of the dying year as in the Orgelbuchlein chorale, "Das alte Jahr vergangen ist" BWV 614.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 28, 2009):
Christmas in Leipzig

Peter Smaill wrote:
< Leipzig was very different. According to Stiller, Christmas was a three day observance >
I've never been able to find a reason why the first three days of Christmas were treated as full festivals requiring cantatas. Is it a peculiarly German pre-Reformation practice which survived Luther's revision of the calendar? And why wasn't the popular feast of Holy Innocents on Dec 28 included with St. Stephen (Dec 26) and St.John the Evangelist (Dec 27)? A Bach cantata on the Massacre of the Innocents would have been delicious! And why wasn't Midnight Mass retained on Christmas Eve?

I'm also curious about the social customs of Christmas that Bach observed during the 12 Days of Christmas. Was there gift-giving and when? Was there a festal dinner? What was the menu? Were there acts of charity to the poor? Was there visiting of friends and family? Was the Bach apartment decorated? Garlands? Christmas tree? Was St. Nicholas celebrated on Dec 6?

Lutherans were not puritans. It would be fun to see some scholarship on Christmas with the Bachs.

Happy New Year all.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 28, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Lutherans were not puritans. It would be fun to see some scholarship on Christmas with the Bachs. >
Perhaps a pointer in that direction, from a few years post-Bach: George Washington chose Christmas (ca. 1777) to cross the Delaware River and attack the German mercenaries encamped near Trenton NJ, because he expected that they would be celebrating the holiday, and easily surprised. He was correct, if also more than a bit lucky. The boatmen were of puritan stock, Glovers Regiment from Marblehead MA, so Dougs distinction may be relevant.

Richards Mix wrote (December 29, 2009):
Epiphany

Thérèse Hanquet wrote to Douglas Cowling:
< This surprises me concerning Catholic culture.
In our (Catholic) culture, I have always heard of Christmas as a much bigger occasion than Epiphany. There is a long and festive mass at midnight (or at least late at night), and many traditions (such as welcoming poor or lonely people for the family meal). There are also "nativity scenes" everywhere, even living ones, and music (choirs which sing Christmas carols, many concerts,... ).
Epiphany is only the day where you eat the "galette des Rois" (cake of the Kings).
This is maybe a difference between Protestant and Catholic cultures? >
It's really not a denominational difference but, as Doug points out, a temporal one, and also geographic/cultural. I grew up in California tagging along to church with both Protestant and Catholic relatives and never encountered the word "epiphany" till I read Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I was however aware that my Mexican friends did not open their presents till Jan. 6.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (December 29, 2009):
[To Richard Mix] Fascinating.

I wonder which links can me made with the social and cultural "guidelines" (for example importance of the public sphere vs the private sphere).
The importance of Epiphany could mean that the private event (birth of Christ) has become a public event (acknowledgement by the Kings of his future public destiny).

Martin Diers wrote (December 29, 2009):
[To Richard Mix] Historically, Epiphany was the chief celebration in the Church, and was also the day on which the birth of Christ was observed liturgically, the whole festival being focused on the manifestation of Christ. Thus on this day, the following events were commonly celebrated: His birth, baptism, and first miracle at Cana.

In the Fourth Century, when Julius I (bishop of Rome), established a date for the birth of Christ on December 25th, the observance of Christmas was split from the observance of Epiphany, and thus the 12 days of Christmas were born.

It slowly picked up steam from there, but it took a while before the Christmas celebration eclipsed Epiphany.

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (December 29, 2009):
Maybe I was not quite clear: the importance given to Epiphany in a given culture could mean that for this culture the public sphere is more important than the private sphere. But it is surely an oversimplification...

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 29, 2009):
Martin Diers wrote:
< Historically, Epiphany was the chief celebration in the Church, and was also the day on which the birth of Christ was observed liturgically, the whole festival being focused on the manifestation of Christ. Thus on this day, the following events were commonly celebrated: His birth, baptism, and first miracle at Cana. >
I wonder what is meant by the word commonly, referring to the first three centuries CE?

MD:
< In the Fourth Century, when Julius I (bishop of Rome), established a date for the birth of Christ on December 25th >
EM:
Not coincidentally, the day to celebrate the [re]birth of the Roman Sun God, Sol Invictus.

< observance of Christmas was split from the observance of Epiphany, and thus the 12 days of Christmas were born. It slowly picked up steam from there, but it took a while before the Christmas celebration eclipsed Epiphany. >
Really? The Twelve Days of Christmas were born, just like that, in the 4th CE.? My understanding from some superficial (by scholarly standards) readings last year, at this very season, on this very topic, is that, among other issues, it was a debate which extended over many centuries. Indeed, it was not until Charlemagne (Carlos Magnus?) was drafted by the Pope (one of the Leos) on Christmas Day (!) 800 CE to create Europe (i.e., unify, if not exactly pacify, what are now France, Germany, and Italy) that there was even a modest semblance of agreement in Northwestern Christendom. Not to slight the Copts and Orthodox varieties, major differences ongoing. Twenty centuries later, three churches, three popes, plus a spectrum of anti-Papists (bring in the snake-like riffs, according to Bach, as analyized by John Harbison).

One of the genuine early schisms seems to be whether Jan. 1 should be celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision, or just Happy New Year. Note that the circumcision on Jan. 1 is in the correct liturgic relation (7 days) to birth on Dec. 25, according to OT strictures. Not to belabor that point, which is not especially spiritual (nor comforting) for some of us, fast forward to Epiphany, Jan. 6.

This does indeed seem to be the Big Day, the Wise Men (oxymoron?) show up with gifts, following a previously unknown star. A couple interseting details omitted from the commentary (at least this years, the current), of which I am reminded by a throwaway article in my local weekly, Salem Gazette, <12 days of global music>:

(1) Paul McCreesh chose the Epiphany Mass for his exposition of a complete Bach service. Worth revisiting, despite the fact that (it almost goes without saying) it is out of print. Seek and ye shall find.

(2) I neglected to provide the Spanish for Jan. 6, when I wondered if the French is Le Jour de Trois Rois. I see a note referencing a Golden Record, V.1 Los Tres Reyes. My Spanish consultant indicates this is correct, but Los Tres Magos is more familiar to her. No other info on the record (CD?), other an obscurely long amazon.com address printed in a newspaper. The opportunities for typos boggle the mind (this easily boggled one, anyway). More to come, if appropriate.

Gifts of the Magi, in my best American English. Counting down the days. Thanks to Therese, Doug, Richard, and everyone who has input to this perennially interesting topic.

There is a humorous economic index based on the cost of the gifts for the 12 days of Xmas. It was down this year, presumably because the lords a leaping or the maids a milking are willing to work for a bit less in tough times.

Not me, you could not pay me enough to write this stuff.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 30, 2009):
EM :
< Not coincidentally, the day to celebrate the [re]birth of the Roman Sun God, Sol Invictus. >
Not coincidentally, the early church believed that Creation occurred on March 25, and that was the date of conception of Jesus (Sextus Julius Africanus), doing the basic math, you end up with Jesus' birth date as December 25th. The Egyptian church celebrated Jesus' birthdate on May 20 (!). But the early church considered birthday celebrations to be pagan in nature, so they didn't really care about the date that much; and there wasn't any record of celebrating Christmas until the 4th century.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 30, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Not coincidentally, the early church believed that Creation occurred on March 25, and that was the date of conception of Jesus (Sextus Julius Africanus), doing the basic math, you end up with Jesus' birth date as December 25th. >
(1) What is the early church?

(2) Doing the math the other way, I come up with March 25 as the Conception/Creation, once Dec. 25 is established as the birth date. What came first, the chicken or the egg?

My proposed chronology:
Soltice (Dec. 21 now), certainly pre-Christian. Pre-Hebrew?
Sun-God rebirth, soon after solstice (Dec. 25), also pre-Christian.
Roman Christianity (4th CE) hooks up with older traditions, for convenience, but more important, to be sure to supersede the pagan associations!

Of course, if we really want to relate Chirstmas, the birth of Jesus, to the calendar, it would need to be the Hebrew calendar (not Roman) of twenty centuries ago, since Jesus was born a Jew, and Christianity was a Jewish sect until Constantine made it officially Roman in the 4th CE.

KPC:
< The Egyptian church celebrated Jesus' birthdate on May 20 (!). >
EM:
Perhaps they were correct? Closer to the source, for sure. I have not looked into Coptic traditions at all, from the perspective of their liturgic calendar. What do they celebrate now? Incidentally, if the early church ignored birth date celebrations, what was the Egyptian church? Late Christian? Seems to me the Copts have a strong claim to be closest to the source, Luther and Bach notwithstanding.

Paul Johnson wrote (December 30, 2009):
< (1) Paul McCreesh chose the Epiphany Mass for his exposition of a complete Bach service. Worth revisiting, despite the fact that (it almost goes without saying) it is out of print. Seek and ye shall find. >
A wonderful and imaginative record. What a shame it's out of print - what is wrong with DG (they only released it in 1998).

Martin Diers wrote (December 30, 2009):
Martin Diers wrote:
<< Historically, Epiphany was the chief celebration in the Church, and was also the day on which the birth of Christ was observed liturgically, the whole festival being focused on the manifestation of Christ. Thus on this day, the following events were commonly celebrated: His birth, baptism, and first miracle at Cana. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I wonder what is meant by the word commonly, referring to the first three centuries CE? >
I think you will find that there was general agreement on the date of Epiphany as far back as we have records of any specific date for the festival, whether you are talking East or West. The date of Epiphany in the Eastern Orthodox world did not diverge from the West until the implementation of the Gregorian calendar.

By "chief celebration" I meant to say one of the"big three", the other two being Easter and Pentecost. Pentecost is THE chief celebration in the early church, bearing somewhat the same relationship to Easter as Epiphany does to Christmas, although the Easter celebration became common at a very early date. Epiphany followed much later, Christmas later still.

And by "early church" I mean that which we know from the extant writings of the early church fathers, as well as any secular histories.

MD:
<< In the Fourth Century, when Julius I (bishop of Rome), established a date for the birth of Christ on December 25th >>
EM:
< Not coincidentally, the day to celebrate the [re]birth of the Roman Sun God, Sol Invictus. >
Whether it is coincidence or not cannot really be determined. Modern scholarship places the origin of the Sol Invictus festival in approximately the same time period as the earliest references to the December 25th date for the Nativity. That being the case, it is unlikely that one festival influenced the other, but it is also unlikely that any consensus on the matter will ever be reached. This much is documented however: Christians of that era were well known for accepting martyrdom rather than participate in the pagan festivals.

<< the observance of Christmas was split from the observance of Epiphany, and thus the 12 days of Christmas were born. It slowly picked up steam from there, but it took a while before the Christmas celebration eclipsed Epiphany. >>
< Really? The Twelve Days of Christmas were born, just like that, in the 4th CE.? My understanding from some superficial (by scholarly standards) readings last year, at this very season, on this very topic, is that, among other issues, it was a debate which extended over many centuries. Indeed, it was not until Charlemagne (Carlos Magnus?) wdrafted by the Pope (one of the Leos) on Christmas Day (!) 800 CE to create Europe (i.e., unify, if not exactly pacify, what are now France, Germany, and Italy) that there was even a modest semblance of agreement in Northwestern Christendom. Not to slight the Copts and Orthodox varieties, major differences ongoing. Twenty centuries later, three churches, three popes, plus a spectrum of anti-Papists (bring in the snake-like riffs, according to Bach, as analyized by John Harbison).
One of the genuine early schisms seems to be whether Jan. 1 should be celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision, or just Happy New Year. Note that the circumcision on Jan. 1 is in the correct liturgic relation (7 days) to birth on Dec. 25, according to OT strictures. Not to belabor that point, which is not especially spiritual (nor comforting) for some of us, fast forward to Epiphany, Jan. 6. >
I did not say it was "just like that". The ascendancy of the Roman See itself did not take place until the 7th century. The observance of Christmas did not become anything like universal until the after the 8th century. But no matter how you slice it, you can trace the 12 days of Christmas back to Julius I. The same goes for the date of the Circumcision of Christ, arising naturally from the date of Christmas, as you note.

As for the song, well, you got me there. Julius I definitely did not write it. :)

< This does indeed seem to be the Big Day, the Wise Men (oxymoron?) show up with gifts, following a previously unknown star. A couple interseting details omitted from the commentary (at least this years, the current), of which I am reminded by a throwaway article in my local weekly, Salem Gazette, <12 days of global music:
(1) Paul McCreesh chose the Epiphany Mass for his exposition of a complete Bach service. Worth revisiting, despite the fact that (it almost goes without saying) it is out of print. Seek and ye shall find.
(2) I neglected to provide the Spanish for Jan. 6, when I wondered if the French is Le Jour de Trois Rois. I see a note referencing a Golden Record, V.1 Los Tres Reyes. My Spanish consultant indicates this is correct, but Los Tres Magos is more familiar to her. No other info on the record (CD?), other an obscurely long amazon.com address printed in a newspaper. The opportunities for typos boggle the mind (this easily boggled one, anyway). More to come, if appropriate.
Gifts of the Magi, in my best American English. Counting down the days. Thanks to Therese, Doug, Richard, and everyone who has input to this perennially interesting topic.
There is a humorous economic index based on the cost of the gifts for the 12 days of Xmas. It was down this year, presumably because the lords a leaping or the maids a milking are willing to work for a bit less in tough times.
Not me, you could not pay me enough to write this stuff. >

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 30, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< (1) What is the early church? >
Early Christianity is commonly known as the Christianity of the roughly three centuries (1st, 2nd, 3rd, early 4th) between the Crucifixion of Jesus (c.26-36) and the First Council of Nicaea in 325.

ED:
< (2) Doing the math the other way, I come up with March 25 as the Conception/Creation, once Dec. 25 is established as the birth date. What came first, the chicken or the egg? >
The March 25th date came first: Sextus Julius Africanus (220 A.D.) was using the notion of the date of conception and creation as the focal point, long before Christmas was defined in the West as December 25th and with no connection (at least in his mind) to the pagan holiday. The connection later was a happy coincidence as you stated earlier.
Of course, if we really want to relate Chirstmas, the birth of Jesus, to the calendar, it would need to be the Hebrew calendar (not Roman) of twenty centuries ago, since Jesus was born a Jew, and Christianity was a Jewish sect until Constantine made it officially Roman in the 4th CE. >
Not really, Christianity and Judaism were formally split long before that (some cite the Council of Jamnia as the event), but the relatives of Jesus held some positions of honor in the Eastern churches for many years in the 2nd century. But even within the New Testament, there is a growing sense of separation just within the Epistles of John, The Gospel of John and even Matthew.

KPC:
<< The Egyptian church celebrated Jesus' birthdate on May 20 (!). >>
EM:
< Perhaps they were correct? Closer to the source, for sure. I have not looked into Coptic traditions at all, from the perspective of their liturgic calendar. What do they celebrate now? Incidentally, if the early church ignored birth date celebrations, what was the Egyptian church? Late Christian? Seems to me the Copts have a strong claim to be closest to the source, Luther and Bach notwithstanding. >
There were several "Egyptian" churches-- some were gnostic, some were Arian, some were what we would call orthodox Trinitarians. The May 20th date was mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, and even then he mentioned that only a group of Egyptians used the May 20th date, it wasn't representative of the region. The Coptic Church uses the December 25th date as the celebration, but due to the switchover in the West from the Julian calendar, the date has moved to January 8th in 2010.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 30, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
<< (1) What is the early church? >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Early Christianity is commonly known as the Christianity of the roughly three centuries (1st, 2nd, 3rd, early 4th) between the Crucifixion of Jesus (c.26-36) and the First Council of Nicaea in 325. >
I believe that period is now more commonly referred to as Late Antiquity, in scholarly circles. Corrections invited.

KPC:
< The March 25th date came first: Sextus Julius Africanus (220 A.D.) >
EM:
My point was that the the Solstice and associated pagan (Earth related) festivals predated Jesus.

KPC:
< Not really, Christianity and Judaism were formally split long before that >
EM:
There are formal splits, within and between Judaism and Christianity, ongoing. All based on the same books. Certainly all interpreatations are not correct. Perhaps they are all wrong?

KPC:
< There were several "Egyptian" churches-- some were gnostic, some were Arian, some were what we would call orthodox Trinitarians. The May 20th date was mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, and even then he mentioned that only a group of Egyptians used the May 20th date, it wasn't representative of the region. >
EM:
I was not the one who brought it up, although I confess I am intrigued.

KPC:
< The Coptic Church uses the December 25th date as the celebration, but due to the switchover in the West from the Julian calendar, the date has moved to January 8th in 2010. >
EM:
Pity. Just too late for Epiphany!

It is perhaps not easy for all to comprehend, but the Holy Day discussions have actually been getting more civil in my few years of experience on BCML. As I perceive them, at least, and no thanks to me, I am quite certain.

Happy Fifth Night (by my count),

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 30, 2009):
Ed Myskowski
<< (1) Paul McCreesh chose the Epiphany Mass for his exposition of a complete Bach service. Worth revisiting, despite the fact that (it almost goes without saying) it is out of print. Seek and ye shall find. >>
Paul Johnson wrote:
< A wonderful and imaginative record. What a shame it's out of print - what is wrong with DG (they only released it in 1998). >
Thanks for sharing the frustration. One is tempted to blame the consumers (us) for lack of support, but it is probably not even quite that simple. However, a nice things about records since the dawn of CDs, is that they are more durable than LPs. On my block, there is an ongoing market even for LPs, so CDs are likely to remain available to the adept shopper for the remainder of my time on Earth. I found the McCreesh Epiphany Mass within the past year for under US$20; it was always readily available, but for about double that amount. I have not checked since I found a copy, I expect it is still around.

From time to time, folks have posted available notices on BCML. In a few instances, that has resulted in either quick rise in price and/or product unavailability. Other times, sharing the info has resulted in lasting on-line friendships. My advice: get your copy in hand first, share info second.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 30, 2009):
Epiphany [McCreesh CD]

Ed Myskowski
<< (1) Paul McCreesh chose the Epiphany Mass for his exposition of a complete Bach service. Worth revisiting, despite the fact that (it almost goes without saying) it is out of print. Seek and ye shall find. >>
Paul Johnson wrote:
< A wonderful and imaginative record. What a shame it's out of print - what is wrong with DG (they only released it in 1998). >
Apologies for the verbosity, I hope the thread is clear.

In fact, there are eight copies of the McCreesh Epihpnay Mass listed on amazon.com, ranging from about US$45 to over US$200. The original DG issue probably listed at over US$30, so the low end is not egregious.

Full disclosure: I got my copy for under US$20 from an amazon.com vendor who lowered his price. I had clicked on it numerous times, in passing, without buying it. I wonder if he got the message?

The low price used copy now is listed by mikesjazz. Sounds like soft negotiation to me.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (December 30, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I believe that period is now more commonly referred to as Late Antiquity, in scholarly circles. Corrections invited. >
Well, I'm uncommon. As Aryeh has mentioned several times, BCL isn't a scholarly journal: it's a conversational E-mail group; and even if it wasn't, I've seen "Early church" used in scholarly circles a lot.

EM:
< My point was that the the Solstice and associated pagan (Earth related) festivals predated Jesus. >
Ah. But December 25 isn't the Solstice though. BesidesI was just bringing up another theory that explained the date of Christmas, which has some actual basis in material from the Early Church. There's not one scrap of evidence the date was picked because of its connection to a pagan holiday: just conjecture. This theory the date of December 25 and its connnection with pagan holidays is a recent one.

EM:
< There are formal splits, within and between Judaism and Christianity, ongoing. All based on the same books. Certainly all interpreatations are not correct. Perhaps they are all wrong? >
Well, even if there is disagreement, that doesn't change the fact your original statement (i.e. "Christianity was a Jewish sect until Constantine made it officially Roman in the 4th CE.") was wrong.

EM:
< I was not the one who brought it up, although I confess I am intrigued. >
I'm great for that. I like doing it.

EM:
< Pity. Just too late for Epiphany! >
The Copts are ok with the date; and if they're happy, I'm happy.

< It is perhaps not easy for all to comprehend, but the Holy Day discussions have actually been getting more civil in my few years of experience on BCML. As I perceive them, at least, and no thanks to me, I am quite certain. >
Maybe it's Santa instead, but no worries: Merry Christmas!

wink

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 30, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
EM:
<< My point was that the the Solstice and associated pagan (Earth related) festivals predated Jesus. >>
KPC
< Ah. But December 25 isn't the Solstice though. >
EM:
Close enough for government work. In fact, that is the point: Dec. 25 is the first day that you can measure, with primitive astronomical devices (if you consider Stonehenge, for example, primitive) that the sun is in fact heading north again.

[EM original]":
<< There are formal splits, within and between Judaism and Christianity, ongoing. All based on the same books. Certainly all interpreatations are not correct. Perhaps they are all wrong? >>
KPC replies:
< Well, even if there is disagreement, that doesn't change the fact your original statement (i.e. "Christianity was a Jewish sect until Constantine made it officially Roman in the 4th CE.") was wrong. >
Perhaps a bit overstated, not exactly wrong. The followers of Jesus were a group of Jewish sects throughout the period of the writing of the Gospels (as much as first couple hundred years CE). The period of Late Antiquity up until official Christianity in the 4th CE is a matter of ongoing research. I rely on Elaine Pagels for enlightenment and thoughtful language. There are no precise answers. The split between Judaism and Christianity is perhaps better viewed as a wound, still looking for healing?

Paul Johnson wrote (December 30, 2009):
< Full disclosure: I got my copy for under US$20 from an amazon.com vendor who lowered his price. I had clicked on it numerous times, in passing, without buying it. I wonder if he got the message?
I bought my copy when it was released, in a shop (how quaint!). >
I saw McCreesh the other night, in The Sage Gateshead (UK), doing a programme of music on the theme of The Virgin. Like the other times I've seen him, I really enjoyed the performance. But I have stopped buying records by him because I feel that he has gone the way of so many artists on the mainstream classical labels, producing 'crowd pleasing' discs that can be marketed on Classic FM and then are out of print the following year. I prefer the approach adopted by a label like ECM, where the artists' work is seen as a development and everything stays in print. In my short time of buying classical music (about 15 years) I've seen great labels like Decca and DG fall apart. What a shame it all is. Still, at least we have the possibility of new discs of Bach cantatas by Katherine Jenkins and Russell 'The Voice' Watson :-)

 

Continue on Part 6

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

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ŭFebruary 22, 2010 ŭ07:54:26