Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Chorales in Bach's Vocal Works

Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Peter Smaill wrote (March 16, 2005):
I am intrigued by this correspondence on the chorale, since my music teachers assured me that the closing chorale at least was sung congregationally; and that the tempo in Bach's day was much slower therefore ; and that we moderns find the Cantatas weak in impact exactly because we do not experience the thrill of participation in the Chorale, an act of collective assent by the congregation.

It does appear for reasons of pitch, harmonic complexity and limited distribution of texts to reading members of the congregation that this traditional view has been highly questionable -if not palpably a musico-folk-myth!

Nevertheless, St Pauls Cathedral in London did I recall for many years put on the SJP with the congregation invited to sing - including the final chorale - it can be done but only, might it be suggested, if the congregation really know the chorales already as to pitch and words, with singing voices capable of ascending the register. A tall order and overall I much doubt that Bach would have allowed his delicate harmonisations to be wrecked by voices singing the top line at the octave or double octave below.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 16, 2005):
Peter Smaill wrote: < I am intrigued by this correspondence on the chorale, since my music teachers assured me that the closing chorale at least was sung congregationally; and that the tempo in Bach's day was much slower therefore ; and that we moderns find the Cantatas weak in impact exactly because we do not experience the thrill of participation in the Chorale, an act of collective assent by the congregation.
It does appear for reasons of pitch, harmonic complexity and limited distribution of texts to reading members of the congregation that this traditional view has been highly questionable -if not palpably a musico-folk-myth! >
It is fascinating how these myths accumulate in the history of a composer. The myth that Bach was a great composer stuck in a provincial backwater fighting against philistines is another. Modern scholarship has shown that Leipzig was a university city with a vigorous intellectual and cultural life. St. Thomas' was not a little church but rather a large musical establishment more like a college with a long and distinguished choral tradition. Romantic myths die hard.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 16, 2005):
[To Hans-Joachim Reh] They would have, though.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 16, 2005):
[To Hans-Joachim Reh & David Glenn Lebut] Time to bring this string to a close. I appreciated a good exchange on this important performance question.
<snip?

Hans-Joachim Reh wrote (March 16, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] I do agree 100%.

Tom Dent wrote (March 16, 2005):
Congregational chorales?

[To Hans-Joachim Reh] I disagree. No-one has so far presented conclusive historical evidence bearing directly on the Leipzig situation. (I am happy to be corrected...) And with one notable exception no-one has reported the actual musical result of congregational participation.

Also, there remains the possibility that some of the chorales in some subsection of the works were congregational, but not all. For example, one might hold that closing chorales of small-scale cantatas written simply on four staves would be congregational.

If I might venture one observation, it would not be impossible for some church official to make a gesture or announcement to communicate the fact that a chorale was imminent just as in the case of a regular (non-cantata) hymn.

I recall that it was part of the Leipzig authorities' complaints about Bach that he would accompany hymns with strange unfamiliar harmonies and figures on the organ, therefore it is not impossible that the harmonic effect of the usual hymns would be similar to the chorales written in the cantatas and Passions. If you say now that 'Bach chorales do not make good congregational hymns', you may be on the side of the Leipzig authorities.

However none of this gives us a definitive answer.

To widen the field of debate, I think I saw it written somewhere that Bach's grand ceremonial organ 'prelude' In Dulci Jubilo was intended to accompany congregational singing. This does make a certain amount of sense given that the lines of the hymn tune are in simple block harmonies and all the complex unfamiliar figures are in between.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 16, 2005):
Tom Dent wrote: < To widen the field of debate, I think I saw it written somewhere that Bach's grand ceremonial organ 'prelude' In Dulci Jubilo was intended to accompany congregational singing. This does make a certain amount of sense given that the lines of the hymn tune are in simple block harmonies and all the complex unfamiliar figures are in between. >
I think general opinion among musical and liturgical scholars would agree that chorales were sung in a least four ways:

1) In unison without any accompaniment.

2) In unison with organ accompaniment,

3) In harmony with organ doubling

4) In unison with organ accompaniment with improvised flourishes between the lined. This practice is reflected in that glorious setting of "In Dulci Jubilo". There are a couple of other examples ("Wer Nur den Lieben Gott" ??) in Bach's oeuvre.

The McCreesh "Epiphany Mass" CD models each of the methods and they are all quite distinctive especially when the texts run on to 12 or more verses. I particularly liked the sound of hundreds of people singing a chorale in unison with no accompaniment.

Boyd Pehrson wrote (March 17, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] Thanks for your reply. You wrote:
< The first is that the cantata, like the organ prelude, is not an integral part of the Lutheran mass but a glorious adornment. What I mean by "integral" is that it was not a mandated item in the liturgical ordo. >
Yes, the Cantatas are (and remain) "a glorious adornment." No, Cantatas were not mandated by liturgical ordinance. But Gunter Stiller's argument is that the very existence of the JSB cantata in orthodox Leipzig in 18thC means Bach's cantatas had to fit the static Liturgical ordinance.

In part, you also argued:
< The more compelling argument against congregational participation in the chorales comes from the music itself. Bach's harmonizations are like no other chorale settings. If you look back at the cantoral collections of chorales by composers such as Schein, you will see strictly block harmonies with none of the incomparable inner part-writing which is so uniquely characteristic of Bach. >
I agree with the uniqueness of Bach. He is fabulous. Yes, obviously, polyphonic music progressed through the Baroque era. J.H. Schein was 100 years before Bach. Bach's congregation would be more understanding of J.S. Bach's use of polyphony. We wouldn't want to say that people in Bizet or Saint-Saens' time wouldn't be able to cope with Bizet or Saint-Saens' innovations because they were used to J.S. Bach. I don't believe difficulty or distaste are compelling argument against congregational participation in J.S. Bach cantata chorales. I am not arguing the congregation participated in all the chorales. Certainly there are those intended for performance due to their complexity.

There are other problems though. Firstly, Bach wrote the bulk of his cantatas early in his career according to recognized authorities. This bulk occurred in the very early years from 1723-1727. This means the congregation had another 23 years of Bach's re-use of his cantatas. Second, the instrumental music in chorales arranged by Bach was re-used. OVPP relies on the "surprise" equation argument, that J.S. Bach launched surprises upon choir and congregation each week. Well, if J.S. Bach did, it was only in his first few years as Thomas Cantor. The remaining 23 years seem to have provided a steady flow of mere adjustments to his original compositions. When the congregation joined a chorale they were not "performing" part of a cantata.

If we take thaOVPP argument and apply it to today, then I agree that such a "cacophony" can result, as it does each Christmastide in the Anglican Church tradition. The glory that is the King's College Chapel Cambridge, and their Ceremony of Nine Lessons and Carols, demonstrates this. Who would think that arrangements by Willcocks, Ledger or Cleobury may be sung by an unmusical and poorly qualified set of singers such as the congregation; this in the extremely unique environment of King's College Chapel? Maybe 200 years from now people will say it is impossible, ugly and unimaginable. Yet people do it each year. Now "cacophony" is a relative term. Yes, descants from the choir are not clearly heard at the time the congregation at King's College Chapel joins in "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." The congregation does not participate on the inner voices, nor in any of the descants. Yet the congregations do sing, and all this is part of the traditional Service.

Thanks to all, I have enjoyed the discussion.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 17, 2005):
Here is a short excerpt from an article on choirs and choral singing that expresses an idea already suggested on this list on numerous occasions. The editor of the MGG I, by the way, was Friedrich Blume, who, I am certain, would certainly have questioned Blankenburg's statement if there was real evidence to the contrary.

Walter Blankenburg in his article "Chor" in the MGG I [Bärenreiter, 1986] writes as follows concerning the use of a choir as a proxy for the congregation in a Bach cantata - he also touches upon the OVPP issue at the end: [Translation follows]

>>Zu unterscheiden ist in der Kantate zu Bachs Zeit, gelegentlich auch schon früher, ebenso wie im Oratorium und in der oratorischen Passion, zwischen Chor und Choral. Der schlichte, vom Chor gesungene und von den Instr. colla parte mitgespielte Choralsatz wurde von Bach niemals mit Chor, sondern stets mit Choral im Unterschied zu den großen Chorsätzen bezeichnet. Chor hieß daher in der Kantate wiederum wie in der Oper und im Oratorium: Chor mit gewöhnlich selbständigen Instrument-Stimmen, d.h. mit Orchester-Partitur. Aus der Menge verschiedener Chorverwendung in der Kantate ragen nach dem frühen Beispiel des Complement-Prinzips zwei Formen besonders hervor: die abschließende Amen-Fuge aus der Buxtehude-Generation, mit der noch Bach seinen actus tragicus beschloß, und der großangelegte fugierte Einleitungssatz, wie ihn Bach vor allem in seinen ersten Leipziger Jahren pflegte. In Verbindung mit dem Willen zu einer durchgeformten musikalischen Architektur, die für das Hochbarock so kennzeichnend ist, trat der Chor hier als Stimme der Verkündigung oder der jubelnden, aber auch aus menschlicher Tiefe rufenden Gemeinde besonders eindrucksvoll hervor. Welche Symbolhaftigkeit Bachschen Chören anhaften konnte, zeigen über seine Oratorien, Passionen und Kantaten hinaus seine Motetten, das Magnificat und (in einmaliger Sinnbildlichkeit einer Großform) die h-moll-Messe, in der (ähnlich dem Zahlenverhältnis der genannten Händelschen Beispiele) 3 Duette und 6 Arien 16 Chören gegenüberstehen. Besonders zu erwähnen ist noch der im Zeitalter des Hochbarocks in der englischen Cathedral Music allmählich sich vollziehende Übergang von der rein vokalen, motettischen Figuralmusik zur konzerthaften Kantatenform, wobei das Anthem allein schon von seiner wichtigen liturgischen Bestimmung her die erste Stelle einnahm. Die Anthems von H. Purcell und vor allem G. Fr. Händel bildeten in dieser Entwicklung den Höhepunkt; in den Anthems dieser Meister finden sich (besonders beliebt an Schlüssen) mancherlei mächtige Chöre (im Sprachgebrauch der Kantate, d.h. mit voller Orchester-Begleitung), die das Gegenstück zu den entsprechenden Werken Bachs bilden. - Hinzuweisen ist für die gesamte Barockzeit noch auf die Diskrepanz von Kammer- und sogenanntem Chorton, der zumeist höher stand als jener, was für die Erforschung des rechten Klangbildes von einiger Wichtigkeit ist. Die Stärke der Chöre hielt sich vom 16. bis 18. Jahrhundert, gemessen an den Maßstäben einer späteren Zeit, noch immer in sehr mäßigen Grenzen. H. Schützens Kantorei weist auf dem Conradschen Stich mit ihm selbst 26 Glieder auf. Bach hatte bestenfalls 30 Sänger für eine Kirche zur Verfügung. Nur in vereinzelten Fällen begegnen wir größeren Chören, wie in der Münchener Hofkapelle zu Lassos Zeiten oder in London bei den Aufführungen von Händels Oratorien.<<

["It is important to distinguish regarding the cantata in Bach's time, and sometimes even a bit earlier, just as it is also the case with the oratorio and the oratorio-like Passion, between the choral mvts. And the chorale per se. Bach always distinguished the latter from the former {the simple chorale from the larger mvts. for chorus} by never naming the plain/simple chorale sung by the choir and accompanied colla parte by the instruments of the orchestra 'Chor' as he did with larger choral mvts., but rather giving it the title 'Chorale.' For this reason, just as was the case in the opera or in an oratorio, 'Chor' meant a chorus usually accompanied by instrumental parts, i.e., a score including instrumental parts. Out of the various ways in which a choir can be used in a cantata, according to the early example of the complementary principle [discussed earlier in the article], there are two forms which are particularly prominent: the concluding 'Amen'-fugue from the Buxtehude generation of composers, the type with which Bach concludes his "Actus tragicus" and the large-scale, fugal introductory choral mvt. which Bach employed particularly during his first years in Leipzig. Coupled with the strong notion of supplying a well-structured musical architecture which typifies the High/Late Baroque, the choir appears here {referring to the chorale cantata with a chorale richly figured in the 1st mvt. and as a simpler, 4-pt. chorale at the end} quite impressively as the voice of prophecy/announcement/spreading the Word or as the jubilant congregation, but also a congregation crying out of the depths of a human condition. The use of symbolism in Bach's choral mvts. is apparent in his oratorios, Passions, and cantatas as well as in his motets, the Magnificat and in a unique representation of symbols in a large format, the B minor Mass, in which (similar to the number relationships mentioned earlier in the examples from Händel's oeuvre) 3 duets, 6 arias, and 16 choruses face each other (or confront each other.) It is worth mentioning especially that even as late as the High Baroque, English cathedral music was gradually undergoing a change from purely vocal, motet-like figural music to a concerted (one with instruments added) cantata form, in which the anthem assumed the most important role simply because of the predetermined, important liturgical role which it had always played. The anthems by Henry Purcell and particularly by George Frederick Händel form the high point of this development. Among the anthems of these masters (they prefer to place them at the end) are quite a number of powerful choruses (in the language of cantatas this means with full orchestral accompaniment), which are a counterpart to the corresponding final chorales in Bach's cantatas. - It is important to point out here also the discrepancy that existed between Cammerton and Chorton throughout the entire Baroque period. The Chorton pitch is usually higher than the former, a issue which is of some importance for determining the proper sound {that a choir would have as opposed to the pitch for the congregation if it were singing along.} The strength of the choirs (the number of singers in these choirs) compared to the standards of later periods, was kept within rather moderate limits. Heinrich Schütz' church choir (on the engraving by Conrad) shows 26 members. Bach had available to him for a specific church 30 singers at the most. Only in a few instances do we encounter larger choirs as in the Court Chapel of Munich during the time of Orlando di Lasso or in London during performances of Händel's ."]

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 18, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: >>Actually, the opposite was and is true. The whole nature of the Choral was to be sung by everyone (Congregation as well as Choir and Soloists). The idea that only the Choir sang the Choraele, therefore, is not only preposterous, but also sacreligious and (at least to me) also demonstrates a lack of knowledge (or at least understanding) about the nature of the Choral or of Evangelical Liturgy.<<
Based on what I could find out in the MGG I (an article by Hans Römhild) [Bärenreiter, 1986] and the Grove Music Online [Oxford University Press, 2004, acc. 3/17/05] in an article by George J. Buelow, there is an example of a St. Matthew Passion which was composed and performed by a contemporary of Bach, Johann Theodor Römhild, born on September 23, 1684 in Salzungen (south of Eisenach) and died on 26. Okt. 1756 in Merseburg (located on the Saale River.)

Römhild was an almost exact contemporary of J. S. Bach. Römhild first studied under Johann Jacob Bach in Ruhla. He attended St. Thomas School in Leipzig along with Graupner and Heinichen, all of whom where pupils under Schelle and Kuhnau, Bach's immediate predecessors in Leipzig. Römhild studied philosophy at the University of Leipzig and received his first position as Cantor in Spremberg (in the Lausitz region) in 1714, where he moved up to the position of Superintendent and Chapel Conductor, but then took a position as Music Director and Cantor at a newly built church in Freystadt (Silesia). In 1726 he returned to Spremberg as Court Conductor in the court of Duke Heinrich (1661-1738). In 1731 he assumed a position as Court Conductor at the court of the Duke of Saxony-Merseburg. After the death of the Duke, he lost his position and took G. F. Kauffmann's position as organist at the Merseburg Cathedral (Merseburg is south of Halle.) Römhild's St. Matthew Passion was composed in 1736 and was still being performed from 1752 to 1754 in St. Catherine's Church in Danzig (where the music was found).

What is remarkable about this Passion is that the congregation participated in this Passion and did they ever participate! They sang no less than 34 chorales during this Passion. There were no inclusions (reflective, large-scale choruses, ariosos, arias, turbae, etc.), only the text from St. Matthew (with no interpolations from other Gospels!) and this unbelievable number of chorales which the congregation sang!

Römhild (the author of the MGG article) describes the style of music of this SMP as an amalgamation of a dissipating, degenerating Baroque style and that of the Age of Sentimentality with the first signs of Early Classicism.

Buelow states the following:

>>Römhild's St Matthew Passion (described in some detail by H. Römhild) remains an important example of a late Baroque setting of the Passion text, without free poetic insertions for arias or ariosos, but with chorales common to a tradition found in and around Danzig.<<

It is left up to the imagination of the reader just what this type of Passion performance must have been like, but certainly it would have to be a far cry from that which most listeners would expect after having heard performances of Bach's SMP. I see no way that any reasonable person would conclude that Römhild's SMP offers evidence that Bach's SMP would be performed with the participation of the congregation wherever the chorales appear.

Johan van Veen wrote (March 18, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Interestingly there is a St Matthew Passion by Telemann, composed for Danzig in 1754, which is following exactly the same pattern: no arias, but a large number of chorales, which are expected to be sung by the congregation. Telemann only gives the incipit of the text, no melodies.Therefore it seems this was a local practice.

It was recorded by the Capella Savaria (New Classical Adventure MA 95 03 806).

Doug Cowling wrote (March 18, 2005):
[To Johan van Veen] It is significant that the Chorale-Passions used the familiar form of the hymns with dozens of verses. If Bach had wanted the congregation to sing the chorales in his concerted Passions, he would have just noted an incipit. It should also be noted that the orchestra did not normally accompany the hymn-singing in St. Thomas. Indirect evidence to be sure, but another argument against any congregational participation in the passions or cantatas.

We should also note that there is a third type of Passion, the Motet-Passion in which the narrative and dialogue are set in motet style for the choir alone. I'm assuming that smaller churches without the resources of St, Thomas' may have continued the genre.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 19, 2005):
Rudolf Eller in his article detailing the musical history of Leipzig in the MGG I [Bärenreiter, 1986] comments as follows [this is a condensation/summary of the German original]:

Bach's organ works have a special place in the musical history of Leipzig. The organ, however, played a relatively subordinate role in church life although there were some good instruments available in the Leipzig churches. There were no regular organ recitals as in the tradition established in North Germany {Buxtehude in Lübeck, for instance.} Only during the main church services did it assume a somewhat more
important role. The main duties of the organist at such times were to provide the preludes and to bridge the gap between the choir and the congregation as they alternated in singing the verses of hymns, the singing of which took place without any accompaniment until late into the 18th century. The position of an organist in one of the Leipzig churches remained one of secondary importance and was rather poorly paid. This explains why among all the names of those holding a position of organist in Leipzig during the 17th and 18th century [names like G. Preisensin, J. Weckmann (a son of M. Weckmann), V. Albrici, G. Kühnel, and after Kuhnau there were C. Gräbner and since 1730 J. G. Görner; at St. Nicholas Church after Krieger there were W. Fabricius, D. Vetter and Bach's student J. Schneider who served until 1788] none of these with the exception of a collection of organ pieces by Vetter and several chorale preludes by Kuhnau, produced compositions of which there is any record. So, in essence, there really was no body of organ music until the appearance of J. S. Bach, and of those composed by Bach, a number of his compositions went way beyond the established framework of organ pieces that would be usable during a church services, even the great chorale preludes of Klavierübung III do not conform for the most part to the needs/restrictions of these services. The development of church music in Germany, and specifically in Leipzig, had been fostered and supported by Protestant-Lutheran philosophy regarding the role of music in church services for over 200 years and reached its culmination in the Bach's church-music compositions which embraced all the important musical trends and styles of the earlier generations. It was with Bach's immediate successor, Johann Gottlob Harrer, "that the great wave of music which was continuing to flood Germany finally overwhelmed even the music in the Leipzig churches" [latter quote by Arnold Schering.] The fact that Harrer's cantabile-style music found such a good reception in Leipzig is documented in Riemer's report about the performance of Harrer's audition cantata in 1749: it is significant that this audition did not take place in any of the Leipzig churches, but rather in the public venue provided by the 'Drei-Schwanen-Konzert,' a concert agency paid for by the businessmen of Leipzig who had provided monies for concerts to take place in the "Three Swans Inn." This was the immediate cause for the abrupt demise to the Leipzig Collegium Musicum which was under Görner's leadership at the time.

Soon after Harrer's death (1755) and the beginning of J. F. Doles' tenure, the Seven-Years-War oppressed life in Leipzig considerably, so much so that the continued existence of St. Thomas School was becoming questionable. Doles' efforts as Thomaskantor (until 1789) was a time of transition which stood in great contrast to the traditional forms of church music which had existed hitherto. His style was influenced by the spirit of 'Empfindsamkeit' [Empfindsamkeit (a sub-current of the time known as the Enlightenment.) Some important representatives of this musical style are C.P.E. Bach, J. Christian Bach, and Michael Haydn.] The compositions by Doles fluctuated indecisively between the traditional and the progressive. Doles' main concerns were the easy understandability of his music and the edification of the congregation, and for these reasons he rejected fugues for church music and replaced the cantata entirely with chorales (the so-called 'spiritual odes') which were accompanied by an orchestra and which the congregation also sang (along with.) The only works of Bach which Doles performed were his motets, of which one was performed for Mozart in 1789. In 1785 Doles published a 4-part hymnbook, a collection of 215 chorales for organ or other keyboard instrument, a collection which provided the basis for the first time for the introduction, during the 1780s of organ accompaniment to the chorales sung by the congregation. Based upon Doles' collection, J. A. Hiller, 8 years later, published a 'General Collection of Chorale Melodies' ["Allgemeine Choral-Melodien-Buch."] Hiller, who had begun substituting for Doles beginning in 1789, had already made a name for himself for decades in Leipzig's concerts outside of the churches and, based upon his observations concerning the changing situation in the churches, drew his own conclusions from this. It was during his tenure as Thomaskantor that liturgical reforms were initiated. Speaking rather critically about the Bodenschatz motets ["lateinischer Singsang, den Meister Bodenschatz zusammengeschleppt hat" = 'the monotonous Latin songs which Master Bodenschatz dragged together from somewhere'] which Bach had used extensively during his tenure in Leipzig, Hiller personally assisted in replacing all Latin motets with German ones, keeping only a few Latin compositions for special 'high' holidays. He was the first Cantor of St. Thomas who did not see his most important duties as providing compositions of his own, but rather attempted to provide a great variety of older and, above all, recent/new compositions by other composers. Instead of cantatas, the churches of Leipzig resounded with arias, choruses from oratorios, among which were works by Händel, Hasse, Graun (whose "Tod Jesu" held a secure place during Holy Week), Pergolesi, Jommelli, Haydn and Mozart. The content of these compositions related primarily to the sermon and only infrequently to the Epistle or Gospel readings for a given Sunday.

[What should become apparent from the above is the rapidly changing traditions in church music in the 18th century:

1. The organ did not play a very important role in the church service: relatively short preludes after which the congregation sang unaccompanied or perhaps to fill the short gaps between the alternate singing of verses between choir and congregation. There probably was no time for Bach to perform the extensive chorale preludes (commonly called the 'Great Leipzig Organ Chorales.') There were not even organ recitals in the churches, a fact that is quite remarkable in that Leipzig hosted the Leipzig Fair which attracted visitors from far and wide. We know that Bach composed compositions which were performed by the Collegium Musicum outside the churches of Leipzig. These certainly were attended by visitors to the Fair as well as by the citizens of Leipzig. We know that there are newspaper reports of Bach performing organ recitals in Dresden and Berlin. Why are there no reports of any of his organ recitals in Leipzig? Certainly some visitors would have reported this or the local newspaper would have been proud to include a report that the great Johann Sebastian Bach had performed a recital of his own organ works at 4 pm in one of the Leipzig churches.

2. After the Bach's death the dam of non-fugal music [Friedrich Erhard Niedt was one of the early proponents of the galant style/Empfindsamkeit/Enlightenment] finally broke and the ensuing flood inundated the music in the churches of Leipzig. Everything had to be simple and singable. Church music became more secularized (Harrer's audition not even taking place in a church setting.) Doles provided the coup de grâce by removing all of Bach's music except the motets.

3. Under Doles the organ began accompanying the congregation in the singing of the chorales and almost all of the Latin compositions that were traditionally performed in the churches by the choirs and orchestra were removed.

4. One can not assume from reading reports on the church music traditions immediately following Bach's death that the same traditions that Bach experienced were also upheld by subsequent cantors or organists in the Leipzig churches.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 19, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< 2. After the Bach's death the dam of non-fugal music [Friedrich Erhard Niedt was one of the early proponents of the galant style/Empfindsamkeit/Enlightenment] finally broke and the ensuing flood inundated the music in the churches of
Leipzig. Everything had to be simple and singable. Church music became more secularized (Harrer's audition not even taking place in a church setting.) Doles provided the coup de grâce by removing all of Bach's music except the motets.
3. Under Doles the organ began accompanying the congregation in the singing of the chorales and almost > all of the Latin compositions that were traditionally > performed in the churches by the choirs and orchestra > were removed.
4. One can not assume from reading reports on the church music traditions immediately following Bach's death that the same traditions that Bach experienced were also upheld by subsequent cantors or organists in the
Leipzig churches >
This is a fascinating summary and reveals how easily we project contemporary hymn-singing back into the 18th century. Our expereince of large conregations accompanied by full-throated organs was not Bach's. The organ was in fact an addition to the liturgy which was primarily vocal and unaccompanied. This takes us back in pedigree to the Renaissance when the organ did not accompany plainsong but rather alternated with unaccompanied chanting.

The summary also shows that the tension between congregational participation and concert choir music was always present and in fact triumphed. Luther's provviosns for choir music in effect were neglected in preference for the metrical paraphrases of the "German Mass". Thus, the "Gloria" and "Sanctus" which Bach compiled for the B Minor Mass were no longer heard, and "Allein Gott in der Hohe" and the "Teutscher Sanctus" were sung by the whole congregation.

Peter Bloemendaal wrote (March 19, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote: < Rudolf Eller in his article detailing the musical history of Leipzig in the MGG I [Bärenreiter, 1986] comments as follows [this is a condensation/of the German original]:
Bach's organ works have a special place in the musical history of
Leipzig. The organ, however, played a relatively subordinate role in church life although there were some good instruments available in the Leipzig churches. There were no regular organ recitals as in the tradition established in North Germany {Buxtehude in Lübeck, for instance.} Only during the main church services did it assume a somewhat more important role. The main duties of the organist at such times were to provide the preludes and to bridge the gap between the choir and the congregation as they alternated in singing the verses of hymns, the singing of which took place without any accompaniment until late into the 18th century. The position of an organist in one of the Leipzig churches remained one of secondary importance and was rather poorly paid. >
Very interesting.

Did the organist play an interlude between the stanzas? How else could the congregation keep their tone. Unaccompanied, non-professional singers tend to go flat in no time. Especially when there was a considerable amount of stanzas to be sung even the basses and baritons would reach their bottom sooner or later, I would think.

Tom Dent wrote (March 19, 2005):
Chorales and Chorales

Tom Dent wrote: << To widen the field of debate, I think I saw it written somewhere that Bach's grand ceremonial organ 'prelude' In Dulci Jubilo was intended to accompany congregational singing. This does make a certain amount of sense given that the lines of the hymn tune are in simple block harmonies and all the complex unfamiliar figures are in between. >>
Doug Cowling wrote: < I think general opinion among musical and liturgical scholars would agree that chorales were sung in a least four ways:
1) In unison without any accompaniment.
2) In unison with organ accompaniment,
3) In harmony with organ doubling
4) In unison with organ accompaniment with improvised flourishes between the lined. This practice is reflected in that glorious setting of "In Dulci Jubilo". There are a couple of other examples ("Wer Nur den Lieben Gott" ??) in Bach's oeuvre.
The McCreesh "Epiphany Mass" CD (...) >
Then the situation is even more complicated... Actually on relistening to BWV 729 only the first few lines are set according to the model of no.4 (plain harmony interspersed with flourishes) - it soon becomes more complicated. Therefore probably Bach was recalling this method of congregational singing rather than requiring it.

The Passions have chorales some of which are new words set to well known melodies, but occasionally we find 'Eigene Melodie' : that is, the text is the one traditionally known for the tune, e.g. 'Christus der uns selig macht' in the St. John.

Given the fact that most hymn texts ran to several verses whereas the Passion and Cantata chorales are one or two, the two practices are differentiated even for the 'Eigene Melodie' chorales.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Is there a recording of this work? As you probably know by now, I am a big Passion fan, and one of my deppest desires is to own recordings (good, if not authoritative) of all Passion and Passiontide music before 1940.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
[To Johan van Veen] Amazon.de has it (and most other Telemann Passions).

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling]
Three points:

1.) Bach did in the 1727/1729 version use incipits (at least in the first movement).

2.) The Orchestra certainly did accompany Congregational singing in Leipzig.

3.) The Thomaskirche zu Leipzig was one of the larger of the city's churches, and therfore had more resources than you seem to think. Also, the "Motet Passion" was not at all Protestant. It was Catholic and only utilized in early manuscripts in France, Italy, southern Germany, and the Netherlands.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 20, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< 1.) Bach did in the 1727/1729 version use incipits (at least in the first movement). >
* The first movement of the Matthew is fully written out, including the ripieno "O Lamm Gottes". Where in the scores of either Passion is there a chorale which is identified only by an incipit and not fully scored by Bach?

< 2.) The Orchestra certainly did accompany Congregational singing in Leipzig. >
* Where are the parts?

< 3.) The Thomaskirche zu Leipzig was one of the larger of the city's churches, and therfore had more resources than you seem to think. Also, the "Motet Passion" was not at all Protestant. It was Catholic and only utilized in early manuscripts in France, Italy, southern Germany, and the Netherlands. >
* Once again you have misread what I have written. I said that St. Thomas was NOT a small church but rather a large collegiate foundation with extensive musical resources.

As to the motet Passion, you are mixing up two genres.

The Catholic Passions were sung to plainsong formula and the crowd "turba" sections were sung to small motet-style movements. The most famous was Victoria's which is still sung in many Catholic and Anglican churches. (Mendelssohn, fresh from his performances of the SMP, was taken hear the Victoria Passion setting. He sniffed and said, "Pretty tame Jews!") The settings of Lassus are notable for setting the speeches of the characters like Pilate and Christ as two-voice polyphony.

The Protestant motet-passion was not dramatic in the sense of the choir singing the part of the crowd with soloists as the narrator and biblical characters. Rather the choir sang the entire text, narrative and speeches in continous block harmony without any "free" poetry or chorale interpolations. The motet passion was popular in the 17th century in north Germany. I've never heard one in performance but they look awfully dull.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 20, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: >> 2.) The Orchestra certainly did accompany Congregational singing in Leipzig.<<
Now let's narrow this down to Bach's Leipzig tenure and the statement suddenly becomes untrue, unless, of course, you can produce some solid evidence (original sources from that time - Bach's Leipzig period) to the contrary. Thus far you have produced nothing of the type of evidence required to persuade more critical listeners and musicologists that your opinion on this matter is anything more than wild speculation on your part.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 20, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: >>1.) Bach did in the 1727/1729 version use incipits(at least in the first movement).<<
Is this a reference to BWV 244b, a copy made by Farlau after 1755? Normally the use of incipits is rather common with Bach's final 4-pt. chorales: Bach often simply writes only the incipit in his score (this indicates which verse is to be sung and saves time by not writing out the rest. This is left to the copyists of the parts to fill in or even on occasion for the vocalists/choir members who knew all the important chorales from memory. There are even some final 4-pt. chorales for which Bach supplied nothing at all, causing editors to guess at just what Bach may have wanted.

It does not make much sense to infer from the copy work of a possibly only 15-year-old Farlau, that Bach is signifying something important here by leaving out the rest of a single verse of a chorale. Farlau may simply have begun printing out the chorale text in Fraktur! and gave up on this time-consuming task. Farlau uses regular German long-hand script elsewhere in this copy.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 20, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote: < Is this a reference to BWV 244b, a copy made by Farlau after 1755? Normally the use of incipits is rather common with Bach's final 4-pt. chorales: Bach often simply writes only the incipit in his score (this indicates which verse is to be sung and saves tby not writing out the rest. This is left to the copyists of the parts to fill in or even on occasion for the vocalists/choir members who knew all the important chorales from memory. There are even some final 4-pt. chorales for which Bach supplied nothing at all, causing editors to guess at just what Bach may have wanted. >
Do we have a percentage of concluding chorales whose harmonies are drawn from pre-existing chorales as opposed to chorales for which Bach supplies an original harmonization?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
<< 1.) Bach did in the 1727/1729 version use incipits (at least in the first movement). >>
Doug Cowling wrote: < * The first movement of the Matthew is fully written out, including the ripieno "O Lamm Gottes". Where in the scores of either Passion is there a chorale which is identified only by an incipit and not fully scored by Bach? >
Actually, what Gloeckner did in the NBA II/5b is not correct according to research. Bach never wrote out the Choral. He only had it in the Soprano voice in the Organs.

DGL: << 2.) The Orchestra certainly did accompany Congregational singing in Leipzig. >>
DC: < * Where are the parts? >
Every part we have of the Vocal works.

DGL: << 3.) The Thomaskirche zu Leipzig was one of the larger of the city's churches, and therfore had more resources than you seem to think. Also, the "Motet Passion" was not at all Protestant. It was Catholic and only utilized in early manuscripts in France, Italy, southern Germany, and the Netherlands. >>
dc: < * Once again you have misread what I have written. I said that St. Thomas was NOT a small church but rather a large collegiate foundation with extensive musical resources. >
Again, though, it is you that missed the point. Yes, it did have plenty of resources, but it was not collegiate. The Petruskirche (also known as the Universitaetskirche) was the collegiate church.

DC: <As to the motet Passion, you are mixing up two genres.
The Catholic Passions were sung to plainsong formula and the crowd "turba" sections were sung to small motet-style movements. The most famous was Victoria's which is still sung in many Catholic and Anglican churches. (Mendelssohn, fresh from his performances of the SMP, was taken hear the Victoria Passion setting. He sniffed and said, "Pretty tame Jews!") The settings of Lassus are notable for setting the speeches of the characters like Pilate and Christ as two-voice polyphony.
The Protestant motet-passion was not dramatic in the sense of the choir singing the part of the crowd with soloists as the narrator and biblical characters. Rather the choir sang the entire text, narrative and speeches in continous block harmony without any "free" poetry or chorale interpolations. The motet passion was popular in the 17th century in north Germany. I've never heard one in performance but they look awfully dull. >
Read the New Grove article on "Passion". The Motet Passion was uniquely Catholic and used primarily in pre-1600s Spain, Italy, France, Bavaria, the Low Countries, and England.
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: >> 2.) The Orchestra certainly did accompany Congregational singing in Leipzig.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote: < Now let's narrow this down to Bach's
Leipzig tenure and the statement suddenly becomes untrue, unless, of course, you can produce some solid evidence (original sources from that time - Bach's Leipzig period) to the contrary. Thus far you have produced nothing of the type of evidence required to persuade more critical listeners and musicologists that your opinion on this matter is anything more than wild speculation on your part. >
Then why is it that the modern version (which is based primarily on the parts of the 1736 version, with the additional 1742 and 1743/1748 corrections) have the Choraele accompanied by the Orchestras?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: >>1.) Bach did in the 1727/1729 version use incipits(at least in the first movement).<<
Thomas Braatz wrote: < Is this a reference to BWV 244b, a copy made by Farlau after 1755? Normally the use of incipits is rather common with Bach's final 4-pt. chorales: Bach often simply writes only the incipit in his score (this indicates which verse is to be sung and saves time by not writing out the rest. This is left to the copyists of the parts to fill in or even on occasion for the vocalists/choir members who knew all the important chorales from memory. There are even some final 4-pt. chorales for which Bach supplied nothing at all, causing editors to guess at just what Bach may have wanted.
It does not make much sense to infer from the copy work of a possibly only 15-year-old Farlau, that Bach is signifying something important here by leaving out the rest of a single verse of a chorale. Farlau may simply have begun printing out the chorale text in Fraktur! and gave up on this time-consuming task. Farlau uses regular German long-hand script elsewhere in this copy. >
Yes, I refer to BWV 244b. However, according to research (which includes not the Furlau but rather the Altnickol manuscript), Bach did write the setting of "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig" as an incipit played by the Soprano voices in the two Organs.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 20, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote: << Is this a reference to BWV 244b, a copy made by Farlau after 1755? Normally the use of incipits is rather common with Bach's final 4-pt. chorales: Bach often simply writes only the incipit in his score (this indicates which verse is to be sung and saves time by not writing out the rest. This is left to the copyists of the parts to fill in or even on occasion for the vocalists/choir members who knew all the important chorales from memory. There are even some final 4-pt. chorales for which Bach supplied nothing at all, causing editors to guess at just what Bach may have wanted. >>
Doug Cowling wrote: < Do we have a percentage of concluding chorales whose harmonies are drawn from pre-existing chorales as opposed to chorales for which Bach supplies an original harmonization? >
Actually, Bach supplied all harmonizations himself. That being said, however, the settings BWV 253 onward come closer than those of the larger works to the truer harmonies of the Choraele. The one notable exception is "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott", which he never set as Luther did. He always set it rhythmically rather than isorhythmically.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 20, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: >>Yes, I refer to BWV 244b. However, according to research (which includes not the Furlau but rather the Altnickol manuscript....<<
Your research references are outdated! Farlau replaces Altnickol as per Peter Wollny "Tennstedt, Leipzig, Naumburg, Halle - Neuerkenntnisse zur Bach-Überlieferung in Mitteldeutschland" [Bach Jahrbuch, 2002] pp. 36-47. By careful handwriting analysis, Wollny has determined that a number of copies of Bach's music attributed to Altnickol are really not by him but rather Johann Christoph Farlau. BWV 244b is a copy in Farlau's handwriting.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 20, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: >>Then why is it that the modern version (which is based primarily on the parts of the 1736 version, with the additional 1742 and 1743/1748 corrections) have the Choraele accompanied by the Orchestras?<<
Are you trying to say that the early (Farlau - BWV244b) version did not have the chorales accompanied by the orchestras?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 21, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] My question was about the parts, not the score. The argument was that the concept of Choral accompanyment by the Orchestra was not supported by te Orchestral parts.

Also, as you know, there are actually two manuscripts for BWV 244b. One is the one you mentioned. The other was possessed by Bach's student and son-law Altnickol, and this one has been used more than the other for research purposes. This one has no ripieno Soprano chorus in Movement I and Movement XXIX, but does have the Choral interprolation played by the Soprano vvoice of the Organs. It also has Movement XVII missing.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 21, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: < My question was about the parts, not the score. The argument was that the concept of Choral accompanyment by the Orchestra was not supported by te Orchestral parts. >
No, my question regarded the existence of orchestral parts for chorale singing OTHER than the cantata or passion. For instance, are there any orchestral parts for the appointed weekly Choral "in tempore"? I dont think that hymn was ever accompanied by the orchestra.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 21, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: >>My question was about the parts, not the score. The argument was that the concept of Choral accompanyment by the Orchestra was not supported by te Orchestral parts.<<
No original parts or score have ever been found for BWV 244b.

>>Also, as you know, there are actually two manuscripts for BWV 244b. One is the one you mentioned. The other was possessed by Bach's student and son-in-law Altnickol, and this one has been used more than the other for research purposes.<<
Ah yes!

1. The copy of the 'Frühfassung' BWV 244b that was originally and incorrectly attributed to Altnickol has been determined not to be in his handwriting, but rather that of Johann Christoph Farlau. Farlau's manuscript copy came into Altnickol's possession by 1774, the Kirnberger owned it for a while. Altnickol never made a copy of BWV 244b!

2. There is a fragment copy by Johann Friedrich Agricola which is identical to Farlau's. It is listed among C.P.E Bach's musical manuscripts after his death as: "Eine Paßion nach dem Matthäus, 'incomplet'" Agricola's fragmentary copy shows that he was working very quickly and leaving out things here and there, even entire mvts! This is the reason why a facsimile of Agricola's incompletely recorded chorale XXIX (NBA KB II/5 p. 67 shows only a soprano line with only a line or two of text without the other parts. We do, however, have Farlau's earlier copy from which Agricola most likely was copying his incomplete manuscript. Farlau's of this chorale is complete in every way with a text incipit even shorter than Agricola's. [Bach commonly did this in his scores for chorales where the texts were commonly known to the copyists who would copy out the parts from the score.] Agricola, in his copy, would frequently write out only the text for the Evangelist without recording any of the music! How about that! Luckily, however, we have Farlau's copy.

>>This one has no ripieno Soprano chorus in Movement I and Movement XXIX, but does have the Choral interprolation played by the Soprano vvoice of the Organs. It also has Movement XVII missing.<<
In light of the above, we need to be more careful about reading too much into these things. The fact that Farlau's (only reasonably dependable) copy of BWV 244b does not have a soprano in ripieno part specifically indicated may mean either

1. Bach wanted only the organ to play the chorale, a chorale which the congregation would have no difficulty in discerning. He did this in a number of cantata mvts. (having an instrument play the chorale so that the members of the congregation would think and reflect on the words as they heard wordlessly the notes already so familiar to them.

2. Bach did not designate the use of sopranos, but intended to use them anyway. The organo part, once copied out, could also be used by a few sopranos who would look on with the organist to 'get their notes and entries' the text of which would be firmly planted in their memories from having sung this chorale many times before.

See article: Congregational Singing



Continue on Part 3


Chorales BWV 250-438
Recordings | General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Chorales in Bach's Vocal Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Hidden Chorale Melody Allusions | Passion Chorale
Individual Recordings:
Hilliard - Morimur | Chorales - Matt | Chorales - Rilling | Preludi ai Corali - Quartetto Italiani di Viola Da Gamba
References:
Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales 301-350 | Chorales 351-400 | Chorales 401-438
Texts & English Translations of Chorales:
Sorted by Title
Chorale Melodies:
Sorted by Title
MIDI files of the Chorales:
Cantatas BWV 1-197 | Other Vocal Works BWV 225-248 | Chorales BWV 250-438
Articles:
The Origin of the Texts of the Chorales | The Origin of the Melodies of the Chorales | The Chorale in the Church Service
Hymnals used by Bach | Abbreviations used for the Chorales | Links to other Sites about the Chorales

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: ýJanuary 31, 2006 ý09:21:12