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Chorales in Bach's Vocal Works
Discussions - Part 1

Prominent chorale in Bach cantatas

David McKay wrote (July 6, 2001):
I am a newcomer to Bach's cantatas, and am going through the Harnoncourt/Leonhardt set. A few chorales are heard over and over. The one I hear the most occurs in one of the last cantatas, and also many others. I know it as the tune for the hymn "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee"

Does anyone know why Bach used it so frequently?

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 6, 2001):
[To David McKay] I assume that you are referring to "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten."

BWV 84/5 (read: 5th mvt. of Cantata BWV 84); BWV 88/7; BWV 93 (The chorale cantata);
BWV 179/6; BWV 197/10; BWV 434 (a 4-pt. harmonization, probably from a lost cantata)

Also quoted in BWV 27; BWV 166;

There are four organ preludes: BWV 642, BWV 647, BWV 690, BWV 691

An ornamented version in the Clavierbüchlein for Anna Magdalena Bach

It is evident that this melody (with its text) was a favorite of Bach's. The author Georg Neumark (1621-1681) composed the text and music for this hymn after being robbed as a student (1641) on the way to the university and after having had a very difficult winter (without anything) until he found a job as a tutor the following spring. Is it possible that Bach identified with this situation and found comfort in these words as he took upon himself the heavy burdens placed upon him during his first years in Leipzig? You guess is as good as mine.

 

"In Dir Ist Freude"

Will Stoner wrote (February 9, 2004):
Could someone tell me which (if any) of the cantatas contain the harmonized setting of "In Dir Ist Freude?" I want to resequence my MIDI copy of the chorale prelude with the tune in a separate staff.

Thanks--

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 9, 2004):
[To Will Stoner] I am unable to find any such harmonized setting of this chorale by Bach.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 9, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] BWV 615 (Orgelbuechlein). If you want a harmonized setting in four parts, perhaps you could go back to this tune's roots (by G. Gastoldi)? A simple setting for congregational singing is readily available in The Mennonite Hymnal and Hymnal: A Worship Book among others. There is also a somewhat more contrapuntal setting of it in the Lutheran Book of Worship.

The tune is #8537 in Johannes Zahn's collection of chorale melodies. Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder aus Quellen geschoepft und mitgeteilt, 6 volumes, 1889-1893. That is a wonderful resource for serious research in hymnology.

Hope this helps,

Will Stoner wrote (February 9, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thank you Bradley. I'll look in this direction.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (February 10, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] That is because it isn't. The only place I have seen it harmonized is in the Choräle and the Orgelbüchlein.

Jason Marmaras wrote (February 10, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks, Brad
(Anyone ever felt a bit saner suddenly? =) )

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 10, 2004):
[To Will Stoner] To those interested in this chorale melody:

At: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/files/
I have uploaded the file "Lehman-In_dir_ist_Freude.mp3"...one of my compositions for organ from 1984, with a trumpet solo added for a concert tour in Germany (1997).

Here is a MIDI rendition of the middle section of it, the 1984 part: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/midi/in-dir3.mid
(probably also reverse-engineerable as a score). One of the sins of my youth, that brief flirtation with minimalism and mixed meters.

In the 1997 version I added the first and third sections, playing (mostly) the Mennonite Hymnal harmonization and composing the new trumpet part; and of course we both improvised on it some as well, making the piece different every time we played it. [Normal procedure....]

Will, if you're looking for a very straightforward presentation of the tune, there it is there in the first section, in the trumpet.

 

BWV 172 - Congregational chorales?

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 172 - Discussions Part 3

Doug Cowling wrote (March 14, 2005):
Peter Bloemendaal wrote:
>> But I would rather give the last word to the congregation, singing out loud with the choir...<<
Thomas Bratz wrote: < This personal preference on your part certainly was not the tradition when Bach performed his cantatas, or can you provide evidence to the contrary? >
What evidence is there that Bach's congregation EVER sang the concluding chorales? I simply don't believe that Bach's congregation sang, for instance, the concluding chorales of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) or Wachet Auf. They both have symbolically celestial tessiaturas which would have made a sing-along grotesque.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 14, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] The evidence is that the Congregation sang all Choräle, whether beginning, middle, or concluding.

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 14, 2005):
It seems to me that the purpose of the inclusion of the chorales in the Cantatas and Passions was not to involve the congregation in singing them, per se, but to anchor the works in the church's hymnody and liturgical life. Singing chorales well known to the congregation accomplished this purpose. The chorales were, for the most part, performed as part of the church's liturgy on the appointed Sunday or Feast Day in the Lutheran Church Year. The chorales in the various pieces are, in effect, the congregation's response, the choir singing/speaking for the congreation at those points.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 14, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
>>The evidence is that the Congregation sang all
Choräle, whether beginning, middle, or concluding.<<
For those who are less enlightened than you are regarding this, please share the evidence from Bach's time which confirms your assertion.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 15, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< The evidence is that the Congregation sang all Choräle, whether beginning, middle, or concluding. >
A cute response --- but there is no evidence that the congregation sang the chorales in the cantatas or the passions, even though they had the texts in front of them in the libretto booklets. From a purely musical view, Bach often sets the chorales in very high keys which would have prevented sing-along performances. And the congregation did not have the harmonies in front of them so the complex settings would be lost as the chorale was sung doubled at both lower octaves. As editors of hymn books have found, Bach harmonizations do not make good congregational settings. They are simple too difficult for average choirs. In order to give sufficent support, the intricate part-writing is lost in a barrage of organ accompaniment. In fact, what converted to me to the OVPP idea was the wonderful transparency of the chorales.

John Reese wrote (March 15, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
< What evidence is there that Bach's congregation EVER sang the concluding chorales? I simply don't believe that Bach's congregation sang, for instance, the concluding chorales of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) or Wachet Auf. They both have symbolically celestial tessiaturas which would have made a sing-along grotesque. >
My church choir once sang a Bach chorale -- I think it was "Wachet Auf" -- from the balcony. The director forgot his pitch pipe, so he hummed the notes to the best of his recollection -- and the tessiatura was unintentionally much more "celestial" than it should have been. The sopranos were singing high Bb's instead of G's. Afterwards he said, "Sorry. But it did have a certain sonority, didn't it?"

PS -- this discussion interests me because I am in the middle of reconstructing a lost cantata of Bach, a second version of the German Magnificat (BWV 10 was the first). After the line, "Abraham und seinem Saamen ewiglich", the text reads, "Chorus repetatur ab initio". It's good to have some idea of what was specifically meant by this.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 15, 2005):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
< It seems to me that the purpose of the inclusion of the chorales in the Cantatas and Passions was not to involve the congregation in singing them, per se, but to anchor the works in the church's hymnody and liturgical life. Singing chorales well known to the congregation accomplished this purpose. The chorales were, for the most part, performed as part of the church's liturgy on the appointed Sunday or Feast Day in the Lutheran Church Year. The chorales in the various pieces are, in effect, the congregation's response, the choir singing/speaking for the congreation at those points. >
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 Choräle, 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.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 15, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
>>The evidence is that the Congregation sang all Choraele, whether beginning, middle, or concluding.<<
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< For those who are less enlightened than you are regarding this, please share the evidence from Bach's time which confirms your assertion. >
Firstly, Luther's own writings on the subject.

Secondly, every Church Ordinance on Liturgy in the Evangelical Church.

Thirdly, any treatise written on Evangelical Church Music (including Friedrich Blume's book Protestant Church Music).

The list goes on and on..................................

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 15, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
<< The evidence is that the Congregation sang all Choräle, whether beginning, middle, or concluding. >>
Doug Cowling wrote:
< A cute response --- but there is no evidence that the congregation sang the chorales in the cantatas or the passions, even though they had the texts in front of them in the libretto booklets. From a purely musical view, Bach often sets the chorales in very high keys which would have prevented sing-along performances. And the congregation did not have the harmonies in front of them so the complex settings would be lost as the chorale was sung doubled at both lower octaves. As editors of hymn books have found, Bach harmonizations do not make good congregational settings. They are simple too difficult for average choirs. In order to give sufficent support, the intricate part-writing is lost in a barrage of organ accompaniment. In fact, what converted to me to the OVPP idea was the wonderful transparency of the chorales. >
Actually, the opposite is true. There is plenty of evidence that they, in fact, did sing the Choräle. As to which level, they followed (as was customary) the Soprano line.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 15, 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 Choräle, 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. >
You are misinformed as to the order of the Lutheran liturgy. Look at the "Order of Mass" (p.256) and the "Order of Vespers" (p.259) which Wolff outlines in "Bach: The Learned Musician". The cantata not an integral part of the Lutheran mass -- it could hardly be, as the form did not exist in Luther's time -- but rather a commentary on the readings, essentially a musical sermon.

And it falls again to me to advise you that the tone of your postings is offensive and has no place in this forum. If you want to argue the question of the role of the congregation in the Lutheran liturgy do so with specific evidence and some measure of civility. At the moment, you lack both.

Dale Gedcke wrote (March 15, 2005):
RE: The postings above (David Glenn Lebut to Paul T. McCain]:

I am not a Luthern, but I have attended a few Luthern services. What I noted is that the format incorporates a lot of leader vs. congregation responses. For example, the pastor reads a sentence and the congregation responds by reading the next sentence or two in the liturgy. This sometimes extends to the congregation singing a standard liturgy as a response or conclusion to a sequence.

I have not describe this process as accurately as a true Luthern probably could. But, it occurs to me that this current convention may be underlying David Lebut's comments.

Is that format a recent invention of the Luthern Church, or was it also common in Bach's era?

Doug Cowling wrote (March 15, 2005):
[To Dale Gedcke] It is always best to exercise caution in assuming contemporary services in the "liturgical" churches, the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican, are identical with those in the 16th or 18th century. In the case of the Lutheran church, there are very few churches -- perhaps none -- which use Latin or have as much concerted music as Bach's Sunday mass did. All three of those churches have seen significant liturgical change in the last 30 years in increased congregational participation in both texts and music. The shape of the liturgy hasn't changed, but the details have.

Eric Bergerud wrote (March 15, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling, regarding his message to David Glenn Lebut Jr.]
I admit to being a little confused here. I couldn't possibly give a source (maybe a liner, maybe something on-line) but I too read that the congregation joined in with the chorus at the conclusion of cantatas. The books I do have appear to concur with Doug Cowling and Mr. Braatz in arguing that this was not the case. I certainly agree with Doug that no congregation I've ever sat with could sing the chorales in some of the cantatas. Others, however, I'm not so sure. But this might have been more a question of established practice than musical quality. (Unless I misread John Butt some musicologists have guessed that Bach's music might have sounded pretty bad when originally performed. If that was the case, one wonders why he wrote it the way he did. But, as maddening as it is, that is one question we will never answer.)

As for the place in the service of the choral, wasn't that the whole point of "concerted music" - that it was something that added to but did not displace older forms of service? (And because of the expense involved, probably had something to do with local status. That would explain why Pietists were wary of it.) I have the McCreesh Epiphany Mass. Although I can't really accept someone trying to recreate a Leipzig service without any boys, McCreesh has the congregation sing hymns and the trained musicians do the "concerted music" - two cantatas as I recall. Maybe that's the way it was done. Obviously the cantata as Bach knew it never became established in Lutheran tradition - it hasn't been part of general service for centuries. (One wonders if it ever was. I wonder how many Lutheran churches in 18th Century Saxony could obtain financial support for, in effect, professional musicians. Leipzig was the local Paris after all. Bet things looked different in the rural villages forty kilometers distant.) But the congregation continues to sing away, although in least at one Lutheran church in St. Paul Minnesota the good parishioners leave the "heavy lifting" to a pretty decent church choir for one hymn. (Accompanied by a piano, despite having paid real money foran organ twenty years ago. Can't figure that one - very un-Norwegian not to use something that cost money.)

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 15, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] However, the Choral was and is.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 15, 2005):
[To Dale Gedcke] Actually, the Leader vs. Congregation format is as old as the Evangelical Church itself. The leader (minister) leads in the prayers, to which the entire Congregation responds. The same goes in the music.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 15, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] In the case of the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church, however, there is no assumption to be made. The same general form of worship is common amongst all churches at all times, and has not changed since 1526 (when Luther issued his "German Order of Worship" and subsequently the "German Mass"). The only difference between those on the Continent and those across the pond are that the only forms of music employed today in our worship services are either Chorales or contemporary worship songs, whereas in Leipzig (which could, arguably, be used as a model for Continental Evangelical churches) they include a motet, a contata, and Choraele (escpet during most of the Lenten season, when large-scale religious music is usually curtailed and usually only the Choraele are used). They do have Kantaten, but only at the morning services, not at the Vespers services during Lent.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 15, 2005):
[To Eric Bergerud] Actually, the Choral was meant for all. That means that the Congregation sang as well. The difference is that not all people could sing the lines as written in all parts. That is one reason why, if one looks at the American Edition of Luther's Works (for example), the Choraele are written in only one staff (the Soprano). This is the cue for the Congregation as to what they were to sing.

Another was the Organ. If one looks at both the earlier (1727/1729) and later (1736, 1742, 1743/1748) versions of the Matthäuspassion BWV 244, one could see that the Organ (Trebble Clef) was the indication of what the Congregation was to sing (and the Ripieno Choir in the 1742 and 1743/1748 versions also functioned in this mode).

Even in the naming of the highest-level voice is a clue. For a long time, the trebble voice was called the "Cantus", which was inteded to lead the others in the singing of music. The Evangelicals took over this practice. Thus, when the name was changed to Soprano, the function remained the same. The Soprano line has the Choral tune in it (usually).

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 15, 2005):
In the Lutheran Church in the USA, as well as in most other historic liturgical churches, there are trends to displace the historic liturgy with what is often referred to as "contemporary worship services" or "praise services" or other such nomenclature.

That being said, the historic liturgy is practiced in many Lutheran churches in a manner that is quite remarkably similar to how it was done in Luther's time. The historic shape and pattern of the liturgy can be traced well back into the first couple hundred years of the Christian church history.

The standard "mass" form has been used in Lutheranism since the time of the Reformation, and similarly also for the standard Order of Matins and Vespers. Lutherans prefer to refer to the Mass as the "Hauptgottesdienst" or "Chief Divine Service" ... here in this country it of most commonly simply called "The Communion Service" or "The Divine Service"

Doug Cowling wrote (March 16, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Another was the Organ. If one looks at both the earlier (1727/1729) and later (1736, 1742, 1743/1748) versions of the Matthaeuspassion BWV 244, one could see that the Organ (Trebble Clef) was the indication of what the Congregation was to sing (and the Ripieno Choir in the 1742 and 1743/1748 versions also functioned in this mode). >
Are you seriously suggesting that the congregation sang "O Mensch Bewein" in
the opening chorus of the SMP (BWV 244)?

Doug Cowling wrote (March 16, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< In the case of the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church, however, there is no assumption to be made. The same general form of worship is common amongst all churches at all times, and has not changed since 1526 (when Luther issued his "German Order of Worship" and subsequently the "German Mass"). The only difference between those on the Continent and those across the pond are that the only forms of music employed today in our worship services are either Chorales or contemporary worship songs, whereas in Leipzig (which could, arguably, be used as a model for Continental Evangelical churches) they include a motet, a contata, and Choräle (escpet during most of the Lenten season, when large-scale religious music is usually curtailed and usually only the Choraele are used). They do have Kantaten, but only at the morning services, not at the Vespers services during Lent. >
Luther actually produced two forms of the mass: the "German Mass" for small parish churches where the congregation sang metrical versions of the Ordinary (Gloria, Credo, etc.) in German, and collegiate and cathedral churches (such as St, Thomas. Leipzig) where there was a residential choir school and a long tradition of singing elaborate polyphonic and concerted music in Latin and German.

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 16, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] Would you mind citing your source for your assertion that Luther wrote two Mass forms, one for "small churches" and one for large collegiate settings.

Actually, in Wittenberg the city church, St. Mary, was no "small parish church" but had upwards of 1,000 people in services. The Deutsche Masse was used there.

Boyd Pehrson wrote (March 16, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] The chorales of J.S. Bach's Cantatas were often derived from well known Lutheran Hymns. Performances contemporary to Bach certainly may have included congregational participation. What evidence you ask? Well, the obvious needs little statement. The reason Bach used these hymns is considered to be obvious. As you pointed out the congregations were supplied with texts of the cantata (Reference Gunter Stiller). Today performance of JSB Cantatas does not include any "audience participation." Chorales are in German and today most people prefer not to ruin modern performances by participating. However, many modern Lutherans still know these tunes from TLH (The Lutheran Hymnal). Gunter Stiller points out that such polyphonic music at points in the service was only possible outside festival days because it was designed to be integrated into the service of Word and Sacrament (see Gunter Stiller's "J.S. Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig" Edited by Robin A. Leaver, 1984, Concordia Publishing, chapter 2, p.96ff.). The burden of proof is on OVPP. (Your assertion of OVPP proving anything by performance is merely subjective, and serves as a double edged sword. QED on OVPP has already negated its arguments in the minds of many, as we have recently read.)

The position of J.S. Bach as Kantor in Leipzig combined with the nature of Leipzig's worship explains itself. Your position from lack of evidences establishes nothing. In light of 18th C Leipzig worship practices you need from OVPP advocates a positive assertion contemporary to Bach which eliminates congregational participation. Ironically that is what does not exist.

Also, in light of Gunther Stiller's work, I offer an explanation I wrote over four years ago touching this topic:

Bach's choir was made of traditional Lutheran choir resources. One needs to mentally reconstruct a choir from Lutheran church practice descriptions of the time. For instance, Luther describes a Lutheran service (LW Vol.43, Page 231) where Luther distinguishes two boy soloists from the "whole choir" for singing antiphons (prayers). Luther also describes how several choir boys may be used to enter the congregation in order to help the congregation sing any new hymns that the congregation may not yet know (LW). This would tell us that a normal Lutheran "choir" was a choir in the Traditional sense of several voices per part, as the presence of several boys would indicate. One Voice Per Part advocate Andrew Parrott ridicules those who he says "blindly" hold to traditional notions of a choir of many voices, traditions that he says were "established quickly after Bach's death," thus obscuring somehow our true understanding of Bach's choir as being merely a quartet of singers. Parrott's view of a Lutheran Bach choir as such is completely contrary to Lutheran Church practice. BUT, Bach's Cantata solo and Chorus form is completely complimentary to Luther's descriptions of church services of the Reformation era! There are many other references to how Lutheran Choirs conducted themselves, and how they were constructed, from Luther to Bach and afterward. These simply follow the pattern of cathedral choirs of the times. One of the most outstanding examples was Orlando Di Lasso's "legendary" choir of 22 men and boys. Orlando Di Lasso's famous choir is hardly anything resembling "One Voice Per Part." There is a reason that people view choirs in the traditional sense, and it has nothing to do with blind notions, and everything to do with historical practice.

P.S. In Bach's own hand, he noted in his (Calov) Bible that 1 Chronicles 25 describes a true foundation for God-pleasing church music. (Robin Leaver) In that Bible chapter, the musical forces number 288 persons. Interesting in note.

Doug Cowling wrote (March 16, 2005):
[To Boyd Pehrson] I think the case against congregational participation rests on two arguments.

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.

A worshipper arriving on an ordinary Sunday at St. Thomas' expected to sing six chorales: before the Gospel (de tempore), the Creed, after the Sermon, before the Sanctus, during the Communion and after the Benediction.

They expected the choir to sing the Ordinary of the mass -- Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, etc -- either in motet or concerted style. In parishes without a choral tradition, the people would have sung the metrical paraphrases of the "German Mass" (e,g. "Allein Gott in der Höhe" for the Gloria). This is the brilliant provision which Luther formulated, a solution to encourage music where there was no endowed choir school.

Wealthier members of the parish may have bought a libretto with the cantata text, but the vast majority of people in the pews would have had no idea what music was about to emerge from the choir loft. There wasn't even a standard form to the cantatas: they didn't all end with a chorale. And even when they did, there was never more than one verse. A congregational chorale was more likely to have a dozen verses.

Unlike the predictable occurrence of the chorales listed above, a chorale could occur anywhere in a cantata. I'm sure this list could point out examples of chorales in just about every imaginable sequence.

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. And difficult as well: the chorales of the SMP are not simple hymns, they are superbly challenging miniatures.

Bach also sets the chorales in extremely high keys, far above what would have been chosen for congregational singing. The final chorale of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) is a good example. The closing bars require the voices to rise into their highest registers, the sopranos going up to a high Ab. Even good choirs find this an extraordinarily demanding piece. There is no possible way that a congregation could have managed such a line. And if the men worshippers were singing the melody an octave lower, the melody line would have dropped beneath the true bass line of the setting.

And what of those chorales which were provided with interludes? Did the congregation sing along with "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" or the closing movement of the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248)? I can't imagine the cacophony of several hundred people trying to sing along with a setting they had never heard before.

I think the point I'm trying to make is that Bach's cantata was not a predictable part of the service. Like the sermon, it was a creative moment when the congregation expected the composer to say something new and encouraging about the readings which they had heard so many times before.

Eric Bergerud wrote (March 16, 2005):
[To Boyd Pehrson] I'm not sure that I think Mr. Pherson's argument holds together. Mr. Cowling was discussing the role of the congregation when a Bach cantata was played, not its role in traditional Lutheran liturgy. I don't think that it takes a PhD in Renaissance history to realize that a small parish in rural Germany in the mid-16th century might have very different resources available than large churches in a major city in the mid-18th Century. Luther was not a peasant by any stretch of the imagination, but his faith was endorsed by exactly this class in Northern Europe. No doubt the princes helped things along, but the deep appeal of the Reformation scared the daylights out of Mother Church and precipitated a major movement of Catholic reform. And time was of the essence - Rome very nearly lost Austria and Bohemia-Moravia.

I don't think it follows at all that the "obvious needs little statement." If Bach's congregation, libretto at hand, tried to sing along with every choral movement the result would have been something resembling chaos. Indeed, if "concerted music" was not intended to be performed either all or in the greatest part by a small group of skilled musicians, why have it at all? If the good parishioners came to service, there might have been 2,000 people there - forces even Beecham might have had trouble with. As previously noted, the cantata in the form produced by Bach did not have a long life span. In any case the "average" follower of the Reformation lived in a small rural village and spent very little time in a city the size of Leipzig. I rather doubt my 18th Century ancestors attending no doubt very modest churches near Oslo or Bergen would have recognized the kind of service Bach participated in. Nor would have my grandfather whose lovely church outside Fergus Falls MN can hold 200 people at the max. (They have a choir though.) What I am suggesting is that Bach's world was not the norm and should not be confused as such. And who knows, maybe the congregation didn't like the Bach style cantata - it died out in Europe before Lutherans could carry it to America.

I certainly don't think any examples drawn from earlier centuries do much to solve the OVPP debate. As far as evidence goes, Rifkin and company do have an argument. If destroying this argument was as simple as Mr. Pherson argues, I can't imagine why it is still going on. And I certainly can't imagine why the OVPP advocates are, for the moment, and for better or ill, winning. My views are not partisan on this issue - I hope Rifkin is proven wrong because I fear OVPspells doom for boys in Bach cantatas. But hoping isn't proving.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 16, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
< Are you seriously suggesting that the congregation sang "O Mensch Bewein" in the opening chorus of the SMP? >
Yes. However, in the Matthäuspassion (1736, 1742, and 1743/1748 versions--it was excluded in the 1727/1729 versions), the Choralphantasie "O Mensch, bewein' dein' Suende gross" was the conclusion, not the beginning. The beginning Choral interpolation in the first movement ("Kommt, ihr Toechter, helft mir klagen") was from the elaborated German "Agnus Dei" "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig". In the 1727/1729 and 1736 versions, this was intonated by the Trebble part of the Organ. In the 1742 and 1743/1748 version, this was sung the Ripieno Soprano Choir. In both cases, however, the Congregation sang as well.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 16, 2005):
[To Boyd Pehrson] I wholeheartedly support your argument. There is one problem, however. When you mention the Lutheran Hymnal, which one do you refer to? The one that is currently used in the US contains only 1/4 true German Evangelical Choraele. The rest are either Anglican, Danish/Scandinavian, Slavic, or (good heavens!!!!!!!!!!;););)) Catholic (Roman or French). They do not include any except the most popular of the traditional (that is, pre-1750) Choraele (the ones Bach would have known).

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 16, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
< Luther actually produced two forms of the mass: the "German Mass" for small parish churches where the congregation sang metrical versions of the Ordinary (Gloria, Credo, etc.) in German, and collegiate and cathedral churches (such as St, Thomas. Leipzig) where there was a residential choir school and a long tradition of singing elaborate polyphonic and concerted music in Latin and German. >
Except for the Choräle. These were performed by everyone.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (March 16, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
< I think the case against congregational participation rests on two arguments.
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. >
This, Doug, shows that you do not know what you discuss. The Organ Prelude (which was usually a Choralvorspiel) was indeed integral, as it gave the Congregation the essential notes of what they were about to sing. As to the Kantate, it had been for at least a century before Bach became Thomaskantor an integral part of Leipzig Gottesdienst, as was the Motett. These were the part of the service called the "Kasualien".

< A worshipper arriving on an ordinary Sunday at St. Thomas' expected to sing six chorales: before the Gospel (de tempore), the Creed, after the Sermon, before the Sanctus, during the Communion and after the Benediction.
They expected the choir to sing the Ordinary of the mass -- Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, etc -- either in motet or concerted style. In parishes without a choral tradition, the people would have sung the metrical paraphrases of the "German Mass" (e,g. "Allein Gott in der Höhe" for the Gloria). This is the brilliant provision which
Luther formulated, a solution to encourage music where there was no endowed choir school. >
Two problems here:

In the Evangelical service (as outlined by Luther himself), the Ordinary of the Mass only consisted of two parts: the Kyrie and the Gloria. The rest were substitued by hymns he himself wrote. That is why when, in 1733, Bach presented as his audition for the post of Hofkompositeur to the Electoral court in Dresden only the Kyrie and Gloria of what would become the Messe h-Moll (BWV 232).

Problem No. 2: Luther had outlined that the Congregation was to be involved in all parts of the service. That is why he (and/or his ofttime collaborater Johann Walter) wrote the German versions of the parts of the Roman Mass: Kyrie, Gott Vater im Ewigkeit, Christe, der alles Welt Trost, Kyrie, Gott Vater Heiliger Geist (the tripartite Kyrie), Allein Gott in der hoeh' sei Ehr'(the Gloria), Wir glauben all' an einen Gott (German Credo, also a Cathechism Hymn), Jesaja, der Prophet, das geschah' (German Sanctus), and Christe, du Lamm Gottes (German Agnus Dei). He also included in it (between the Gloria and the Credo) the Cathechism Hymn Dies sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot' (on the Ten Commandments), between the Credo and the Sanctus the Cathechism Hymn Vater unser im Himmelreich (German Pater noster or Lord's Prayer), and after the Agnus Dei the three Cathechism Hymns on the Sacraments Christ, unser Herr, zu Jordan kamm (Baptism), Aus tiefer Not schrei' ich zu dir (Penitence), and (most famous of all Mass Hymns) Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der von uns den Zorn Gottes wand' (sub Communione). He also rewrote the Great Liturgy (parts of which could be found in BWV 246). For Luther, the Liturgy and Gottesdienst was to be fully participated in by the Congregation. This was (outside of the use of the vernacular) the chief issue he had with the Romanist celebration. In their Liturgy, the priest and Choir did everything, and all the Congregation did was say "Amen".

Hans-Joachim Reh wrote (March 16, 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 Choräle, 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. >
Actually, I bet the congregation did never sing the final choral of a cantata.

How could anyone, any choir leader or conductor expect a congregation to sing a tune never heard before and no music at hand. No one is able to know ahaed what JSB made out of the tune usually sung by the congregation.

Take for example - Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern - Now look at the cantus familiar to the congregation, then take BWV 1/CHORAL and then, for a change, BWV 36/4.

How could one possibly expect a human being to sing along? How could you expect a congregation to sing "Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein" as the finale of the SJP. I would say: No way!

Doug Cowling wrote (March 16, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< The beginning Choral interpolation in the first movement ("Kommt, ihr Toechter, helft mir klagen") was from the elaborated German "Agnus Dei" "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig". In the 1727/1729 and 1736 versions, this was intonated by the Trebble part of the Organ. In the 1742 and 1743/1748 version, this was sung the Ripieno Soprano Choir. In both cases, however, the Congregation sang as well. >
I think you would require specific evidence to support that claim. On a practical side, even a modern audience which contained people who knew the opening chorus and "O Mensch Bewein" would find it nearly impossible to sing it properly. This argument is tantamount to saying that the congregation sang the chorale in any chorale-based movement: "Wachet Auf" with its high G's?

Doug Cowling wrote (March 16, 2005):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< This, Doug, shows that you do not know what you discuss. The Organ Prelude (which was usually a Choralvorspiel) was indeed integral, as it gave the Congregation the essential notes of what they were about to sing. As to the Kantate, it had been for at least a century before Bach became Thomaskantor an integral part of Leipzig Gottesdienst, as was the Motett. These were the part of the service called the "Kasualien". >
When I say "not integral", I mean that the cand the organ preludes were not part of Luther's order and indeed do not appear in the official ordos which governed the Lutheran service. They were practical and devotional additions which emerged and developed over 200 years. The Lutheran mass in 1540, 1640 and 1740 had the same ordo but the musical forms used were very different. In the sixteenth century, an organist more likely improvised a short "Intonation" (as we see later in Gabrieli) in the appropriate key or mode (they too have the sustained notes allowing the instruments to tune.) The development of the chorale prelude was a later phenonmenon.

For those who are interested in the liturgical context of Bach's works, it is an instructive and enjoyable experience to compare Paul McCreesh's recreation of a 17th century Lutheran mass with the music of Praetorius and the same service in the 18th century with the music of Bach. The same liturgical ordo but very different music.

A general article on Bach's liturgy:

Simulating Mr. Bach's Sunday Morning Service by BERNARD D. SHERMAN: http://www.bsherman.org/mccreesh.html

Bach Epiphany Mass: Amazon.com

Praetorius Mass: http://shop.store.yahoo.com/discerning/prmaforchmom.html

It would interesting to have recordings of the history of the Lutheran lliturgy posted on the cantata website.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 16, 2005):
Doug wrote wrote:
>>The Lutheran mass in 1540, 1640 and 1740 had the same ordo but the musical forms used were very different.<<
I think this is the most important point that has been brought up in this particular discussion. The historical focus has become blurred with assumptions that one historical period with its special emphases upon certain styles and manner of doing things can be equated with another period before or after the one that is being highlighted. The worst assumption is that "If it was done this way during Luther's time and according to what Luther prescribed, then it must have been done exactly the same way during Bach's time."

It is indeed absolutely necessary to separate what Praetorius recommended or reported (as in the McCreesh recording that Doug refers to) as the current way of integrating figural music with congregational singing from that which Bach must have experienced during his Leipzig tenure well over a century later.

So far David has produced no hard evidence (exact quotations from scholars who specifically refer to the Leipzig congregations as singing along with the chorales in Bach's figural music (cantatas, etc.) and who provide their original sources (hopefully in the original German) on which they base their opinions.

I also find many of the reasons that have been suggested as to why the congregation did not sing along in Bach's cantatas, passions, etc. to be quite reasonable, but some additional confirmation from noted musicologists would indeed be very helpful. I think I may have found something that I have been looking for, but since I am working on another project right now, it may still be a day or two before I can translate and/or summarize a rather lengthy article that touches on this subject.

 

Continue on Part 2

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 | Part 6 | 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 BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438
Texts & English Translations of Chorales:
Sorted by Title
Chorale Melodies:
Sorted by Title | 371 4-Part Chorales sorted by Breitkopf Number | Explanation
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 [Schweitzer] | The Origin of the Melodies of the Chorales [Schweitzer] | The Chorale in the Church Service [Schweitzer] | Choral / Chorale [Terry] | The History of the Breitkopf Collection of J. S. Bach’s Four-Part Chorales [Braatz] | Chorale Melody Allusions in Bach's Vocal Works [Braatz]
Hymnals used by Bach | Abbreviations used for the Chorales | Links to other Sites about the Chorales

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Last update: ýFebruary 20, 2008 ý15:54:29