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Liturgical performance

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen [St. John's Lutheran Church, Northfield, Minnesota, USA] wrote (February 3, 2005):
Hello! I'm a Lutheran pastor in the US who found this yahoo group on a Google search. I hope you don't mind me joining. I'm looking for some advice and/or help. Periodically our senior choir (adults) does a Bach cantata at worship. They haven't done it for several years now, but are proposing to do BWV 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden, on 3 Easter (April 10.) Now, I realize that an adult choir with a small chamber orchestra likely is not an authentic original performance, especially since they won't use boy sopranos of course. But in many ways their performance will be in the spirit of Bach's original need/use of these cantatas, as an integral part of worship, and that's why your group discussion intrigued me.

What I'm wondering is whether there is a resource that any of you know of that shows how Bach originally used these liturgically? In other words, were they one, straight-through performance, or were they woven into the liturgy, broken up by readings of scripture or other parts of the liturgy? When would the sermon have been done? You see what I mean. Even a basic order of service from Leipzig that showed how these cantatas were used would be helpful.

Thanks for your time, and for allowing me into this group.

Rodrigo Campelo wrote (February 3, 2005):
[To Pr. Joseph G. Crippen] Here I transcribe the text written by Ottfried Jordahn "The position of the Cantata in the Protestant church service" in the booklet of Teldec LP Complete Cantatas v.16 that explains the Leipzig liturgy at Bach's times.The order of the service is almost the same written by Bach's own hand on the first Sunday in Advent when he was in Leipzig in 1714 :

"The service began around seven o'clock with the bell ringing. The beginning was taken up by prayers. Following the organ prelude,during which the officiating priests donned the chasubles in the liturgical colour of the day, the choir sang the introit in the form of a polyphonic Latin motet from a collection containing countless German and Italian masters, or -- on certain feast days --the prescribed Latin hymn as had been handed down from the mediaeval church.This was followed by the kyrie eleison (Lord,have mercy)in the extended Greek or Latin text sung by the choir. On festive occasions it was frequently "musicalized", i.e.,performed polyphonically and with instruments. The priest performing the liturgy, the archdeacon, now moved to the altar and intoned in Latin gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory be to God on high); the choir continued this either with the Latin et in terra pax etc. -- on festive occasions "musicalized" as with the kyrie -- or with all four verses of the German gloria hymn
"allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr". Standing before the altar the priest sang the Salutatio in Latin: dominus vobiscum (The Lord be with you).Thr choir responded with: Et cum spiritu tuo (and with your spirit).The priest sang theLatin collect for the day,the congregation holding German texts for silent worship.

The verbal part of the service now began.The assistent priest,the sub-deacon, read from the lectern the epistle of the day in accordance with the established order passed on in the mediaeval tradition taken over almost unchanged by the Reformation. In some instances the congregation played an active part for the first time only after the lesson reading with the main song firmly established for the Sundays or feast days. The archdeacon then sang the applicable section of the gospel.Following this (except on a few specific ecclesiastical seasons) the cantata was performed, which at that time was the most modern liturgical element of the church service. With the aid text leaflets applying to several Sundays and published in advance,the congregation was in the position to follow the wording exactly. The congregation responded with Luther's htmn "Wir glauben all an einen Gott", the German rewording of the Nicene Creed. In the meantime it was around eight o'clock.During the last verse of the hymn
the preacher approached the pulpit. After the pulpit greeting, an exhortation to prayer,accepted by the congregation with a set hymn for the appropriate church season, the silently rendered Lord's Prayer and a further reading from the gospel, the sermon began,usually lasting about one hour. The next stage,still from the pulpit, was a richly strustured complex with various prayers, thanksgiving,intercessions and notices as well as a repetition of the Lord's Prayer and the pulpit blessing. The hymn after the sermon,or occasionally also the second part of the Cantata (Bach composed several Cantatas in two parts),led on to the subsequent climax of the divine service,the sacramental office."

"During communion, which frequently lasted an hour or more, the congregation sang hymns of communion and repetance. At this satge chuch music also had on opportunity of rich development: motets,parts of the cantatas, and even complete cantatas which had originally been composed for the sermon section were again performed. The three to foru-hour church service ended with the German final collect sung at the altar and the blessing of the priest as well as the concluding hymn sung by the congregation (on feast days this was the German version of the hymn sung by the choir at the beginning in Latin). The Cantata therefor occupied a firm place at two points of the main church service : as sermon music during the verbal part between the gospel and hymn of faith (occasionally the second part of the cantata after the sermon), and as communion music in the sacrament part during dispensing of Holy Communion."

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen wrote (February 3, 2005):
[To Rodrigo Campelo] Thank you very much! This was incredibly helpful.

Boyd Pherson wrote (February 4, 2005):
[To Pr. Joseph G. Crippen] Luther D. Reed noted Ludwig Schoeberlein's work "Schatz des Liturgischen Chor-und Gemiendegesangs" (Vol. 2, 1865-72) regarding this subject. In English I recommend Gunther Stiller's work on "Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig," translated by Dr. Robin Leaver. Also in English, Carl Schalk's book on "Music in Early Lutheranism" provides early Baroque background as well as primary and secondary source listings regarding Lutheran Church music from Praetorius to Schütz.

It seems Bach's Cantatas were probably sung in the Service of Word and Sacrament at the point of the Gradual, and halved, the remainder performed after the sermon. There is some indication that maybe the Cantatas were divided further throughout parts of the liturgy. Bach's intention was to adorn and showcase the Service of Word and Sacrament musically, and not merely to entertain. Bach's Chorales were created from hymns that would have been well-known, and possibly beloved by his congregation. The Cantata may not have been the only music used by Bach for one church service. Organ preludes and chorales, and a motet may have rounded out a service!

Reed's Lutheran Liturgy contains a wonderful quote: "...Johann Sebastian Bach in Leipzig continued to exemplify the Lutheran Church Year and to proclaim with unexampled force and beauty the typical Lutheran doctrines of sin and grace and personal communion with Christ in agolden flood of Cantatas, Passions, and compositions for organ."

Welcome to this group, and please keep us posted on your progress.

Johan van Veen wrote (February 4, 2005):
[To Joseph Crippen] Welcome to this list. I hope someone here can answer your question. You should also have a look at this site: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/
You will find there information about single cantatas as well as about the Lutheran liturgical year. In fact, Cantata BWV 4 was discussed on the mailing list which is associated with the site (another list than this one). Yowill find the contributions to the discussion on the right of the homepage (Works for discussion).

Johan van Veen wrote (February 4, 2005):
After sending this mail I noticed that two of our members have already answered your questions. I thank Rodrigo and Boyd for their replies.

 

Bach's Week: Schedule

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 17, 2006):
________________________________________________________

Choir Week in Leipzig in Bach¹s Time
________________________________________________________

SUNDAY Week I

* Festivals occurring on weekdays are celebrated as if a Sunday New Year¹s (Jan 1), Epiphany Jan 6), Purification (Feb 2), Annunciation (Mar 25), Ascension, St. John (June 24), Visitation (July 2), St. Michael (Sept 29), Reformation (Oct 31)
* Three Days of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost & Reformation Day are each celebrated as if a Sunday
* Week II ­ Choir I & II reverse attendance at two churches

ST. THOMAS ST. NICHOLAS

5:00 am Matins Bell
5:30 am Matins [choir]

7:00 am Bells Bells
7:00 am Early Service (Mass) Early Service (Mass)
- 11:00 am with Cantata, Sermon with Sermon & Communion,
Communion [Choir I] no cantata [Choir II]

11:30 am Week I: Bells Week II: Bells
11:45 am Week I: Noonday Service Week II: Noonday Service
- 1:00 pm [choir] [choir]

1:00 pm Bells Bells
1:15 pm Vespers Vespers
with Sermon with Sermon & cantata
no cantata- [Choir II] [Choir I]

4:00 pm Baptisms Baptisms

5:00 pm Weddings Weddings
a) full ­ [Choir I?] a) half [Choir II?]
b) half ­ [choir] b) quarter [choir]
________________________________________________________

MONDAY

6:30 am Early Service
(Matins) [choir]
with Preaching

2:00 pm Short Prayer Service
(Vespers) [choir]
& Exhortation to Penitence

3:00 pm Baptisms Baptisms

4:00 pm Weddings: Weddings:
a) full [Choir I?] a) full [Choir I?]
b) half [Choir II?] b) half [Choir II?]
c) quarter [choir] c) quarter [choir]
________________________________________________________

TUESDAY

6:30 am Short Prayer Service
(Matins) [choir]
& Sermon

2:00 pm Catechism Major Prayer Service
(Vespers) [choir]
with Private Confession

3:00 pm Baptisms Baptisms
________________________________________________________

WEDNESDAY

5:30 am [Matins? ­ choir]

6:30 am Early Service (Mass)
with Sermon
& Communion [choir]

2:00 pm Minor Prayer Service Catechism
(Vespers) [choir]
with Private Confession

3:00 pm Baptisms Baptisms
________________________________________________________

THURSDAY

5:30 am [Matins? ­ choir]

6:30 am Early Service (Mass)
with Sermon
& Communion [choir]
(Bach takes communion)

2:00 pm Minor Prayer Service
(Vespers)
with Exhortation to Penitence

3:00 pm Baptisms Baptisms
________________________________________________________

FRIDAY

6:30 am Penitential Service
(Matins)
[choir] with Sermon

2:00 pm Major Prayer Service
(Vespers) [choir]

3:00 pm Baptisms Baptisms

________________________________________________________

SATURDAY

6:30 am [Matins? - choir]

1:30 pm Vespers [choir] Vespers [choir]
& Sermon & Sermon

3:00 pm Baptisms Baptisms
________________________________________________________

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 17, 2006):
Bach's Week: Comments

I've recently been researching for a recreation of a Bach mass and plowing though the dense information of Günther Stiller's "Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig". I've been struck by the enormous amount of music which went on all through the week under Bach's tenure, so I abstracted the table which I just posted to the site.

The first myth that needs to be debunked is that Bach was a choirmaster in a little church in some small provincial town. The musical establishment was huge and more like a Catholic or Anglican cathedral or collegiate church. In fact, the pastor of St. Thomas was the "superintendant" of Leipzig, the Lutheran equiavalent of a bishop (the same cleric held the office for Bach's whole time in Leipzig)

Rather than one cathedral church, the rota of weekly services was shared by the two principal churches, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. We are familiar with the pattern of Bach's First and Second Choirs alternating the cantata, but if you look at the schedule, you will see that the daily morning and evening services (Matins and Vespers) atlternate consistently between the two churches (the other small parish churches of the city are not included in the table but they too had more modest services which had to have musical accompaniment)

MATINS & VESPERS:
The weekly services were sung with a mix of Latin Gregorian chant, German chorales, and Latin motets. For instance, Sunday Matins which was sung by 10 students consisted of:

1-3 Latin psalms to chant with antiphons proper to day of year Old testament reading Benedictus with proper antiphon Collect/Prayer - intoned German Te Deum

Although we tend to dismiss services which did not have a cantata as having "just chant" and "just motets", the musical demands of a melsimatic Gregorian melody or an eight-part motet by Lassus are extremely high. It appears that various "choirs" were always heading out from the school to one of the two churches throughout the day. It isn't clear how many of these weekly services were directed by Bach. He probably directed the Sunday and Festival music, leaving his four prefects and sub-organists to rehearse and direct the choirs.

WEEKDAY MASSES:

Full Communion Services without cantata were celebrated on Wednesday and Thursday which would have been major musical occasions although without cantata or Latin ordinary. Bach evidently took his Communion at the Thursday mass, rather than on Sunday when he was busy with the music.

CONFESSION:
Lutherans still made private confessions before receiving the weekly Sacrament and all the churches had confessional booths. Tuesday and Wednesday were the principal days for confession.. Bach undoubtedly knelt in one of these confessionals regularly (weekly or monthly) to make his confession.

BAPTISMS:
The rapid growth in the population meant that by Bach's time, every day of the week at 3:00 pm was set aside for baptising children, usually on the third day after their births. Someone would have to research to see if the Bach family had a favoured day for baptisms when other musicians in the extended family could come.

WEDDINGS:
Weddings were held on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. They were classified in three categories, "full", "half" and "quarter" depending on the degree of music used. "Full" weddings had a cantata and were extremely rare. There were only 31 full weddings during Bach's time in Leipzig.

FUNERALS:
Although funerals were not held in the church, the choirs had to sing from the deceased home to the grave where the service took place. For people of high status, the Sunday cantata could be replaced by an elegaic cantata or motet (e.g. Komm, Jesu Komm)

GATES:
We can't underestimate how closely the rhtymn of the city followed the rhythm of the churches. On Sundays and Festivals, the city gates were shut which prevent cart and carriage traffic. Near the churches, chains blocked the streets turning the entire city into a quiet pedestrial mall.

A veritable musico-industrial complex!

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 17, 2006):
< I've recently been researching for a recreation of a Bach mass and plowing though the dense information of Günther Stiller's "Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig". I've been struck by the enormous amount of music which went on all through the week under Bach's tenure, so I abstracted the table which I just posted to the site. >
Thanks for sharing that summary of Bach's typical week schedule. I haven't seen that Stiller book (1984) yet....

You might want to check also Martin Petzoldt's article "Liturgie und Musik in den Leipziger Hauptkirchen" (1999) to see if there are any corrections/additions in the intervening 15 years since Stiller:
http://homepages.bw.edu/bachbib/script/bach1c.pl?4=[ce]WeltBachKantaten&5=3&7=1999

....in this book: Die Welt der Bach-Kantaten, III, ed. Wolff. Bärenreiter/Metzler, 1999. 264p.

I remember enjoying that Petzoldt article last summer, and found it useful enough that I photocopied the whole thing for a conductor friend who puts together a Leipzig-style service each year. Kept a copy for my own poorly-organized files, too. Somewhere. As I recall there were even more things crammed into the week, and I wondered when there was time for anybody to do serious organ practice in those buildings.

Rick Canyon wrote (July 18, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Choir Week in Leipzig in Bach¹s Time >
Many thanks for this! It's fascinating.

A question regarding the Matins:
in winter I believe the students were given an extra hour of sleep--6 AM vs 5 AM. Would the timings for Matins possibly be moved back an hour in winter; or, would the students who were to sing at the Matins simply have to get up earlier? Do I get the impression that there may have been some rotation of Matins' singing duties among the choirs?

Your posts were terrifically interesting.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 18, 2006):
Brad Lehman wrote:
<< I've recently been researching for a recreation of a Bach mass and plowing though the dense information of Günther Stiller's "Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig". I've been struck by the enormous amount of music which went on all through the week under Bach's tenure, so I abstracted the table which I just posted to the site. >>
< Thanks for sharing that summary of Bach's typical week schedule >
I join in the thanks to Doug Cowling. Interesting even to those of us who only spectate on the serious research, history, and musicology. I repeat my mantra (first time this month): too much information is preferable to the alternative.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 18, 2006):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< A question regarding the Matins:
in winter I believe the students were given an extra hour of sleep--6 AM vs 5 AM. Would the timings for Matins possibly be moved back an hour in winter; or, would the students who were to sing at the Matins simply have to get up earlier? Do I get the impression that there may have been some rotation of Matins' singing duties among the choirs? >

I wondered that myself. Stiller covers an enormous amount of material but leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I would love to know how many services Bach himself directed and played. Was he just at the Sunday and Festival services? Were the four choirs with their prefect-directors on a specific rota to cover all the services? Was Choir I exempt from routine weekly services beacuse they had the difficult concerted music to prepare? And were the motets assigned to Choir II and III on the basis of difficulty? An eight voice motet by Lassus or Schütz would have taken as much ability as the opening chorus in a Bach cantata.

The logistics of being responsible for the music every day in all four churches is mind-boggling. The four prefects must have been expert assistant choir directors as well as knowing the Lutheran liturgy extremely well. Otherwise, Bach would have been swamped with administrivia.

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 18, 2006):
< I wondered that myself. Stiller covers an enormous amount of material but leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I would love to know how many services Bach himself directed and played. Was he just at the Sunday and Festival services? Were the four choirs with their prefect-directors on a specific rota to cover all the services? >
Some of these issues (responsibilities of the various vocal ensembles, types of repertoire, etc) are also covered well within Andrew Parrott's and Joshua Rifkin's books, which see....

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 19, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Some of these issues (responsibilities of the various vocal ensembles, types of repertoire, etc) are also covered well within Andrew Parrott's and Joshua Rifkin's books, which see.... >
I reread Parrott's book recently, and like most Bach scholars, only really deals with the arrangements for concerted music. It's remarkable how little interest people have in placing Bach's music in its practical context and within a large and diverse repertoire which ranged from difficult Gregorian chant and challenging Renaissance polyphony.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 25, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It's remarkable how little interest people have in placing Bach's music in its practical context and within a large and diverse repertoire which ranged from difficult Gregorian chant and challenging Renaissance polyphony. >
Administrivia was a new word to me (a neologism?), in an earlier post, just to complicate the musical challenges. Very interesting ideas, even from the bleacher seats.

 

Bach the Administrator

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 20, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Administrivia was a new word to me (a neologism?), in an earlier post, just to complicate the musical challenges. Very interesting ideas, even from the bleacher seats. >
Perhaps it's just me projecting my own situation, but I have a profound admiration for Bach the administrator. The weekly services in Leipzig demanded literally hundreds of decisions about choices of hymns, organ works, motets, not to mention coordinating personnel. Even in a well-oiled machine like the Leipzig Cantorate where many choices were prescribed, how did the "Staff" function?

Did Bach meet weekly with the clerical staff to survey the days or seasons ahead?

"The Electress is looking poorly. Herr Bach, perhaps we should be prudent and start planning her memorial service" ... "The postmaster's wife just died. Herr Bach, can we have a memorial motet in place of the cantata on Sunday" ... "Yes, this latest influenza is quite severe. Perhaps we should plan for simpler motets to reduce the boys' rehearsal time" ... "Herr Bach, there seems to be quite a bit of tardiness among the boys. I would like to speak to them all later this week."

And did Bach meet weekly with his four prefects to discuss their plans for repertoire and rehearsals?

"The Reformation Festival is in two weeks and I need to see your rehearsal schedules for the three days that have cantatas ... Fritz, young Georg is doing very well in Choir I but I'm not sure he's ready for three cantatas in three days. Perhaps days one and three. Walther, how is that new boy, Karl, doing in Choir II? Perhaps he would be able to move up for day two. Run through the big aria with him and let me know.

Wolfgang, the pastor at the New Church complained that the boys in Choir IV did not have the right chorales ready last Sunday. I know they're all very young and inexperienced, but it is your job to make sure sure that they have marked al the hymns before they go into the church. Herinrich, I see that Choir III is singing the Schütz, "Jauchzet den Herrn" on Sunday. Watch that shift from duple to triple time at the end. I may drop by the rehearsal to see how they're doing.

And looking farther ahead. I will be away for three weeks in November for the inauguration of the new Silbermann organ -- I wish you could all go with me. It promises to be the finest instrument in Saxony. But I will be depending on you four to maintain the schedule. Fritz will be my commissar as usual, but I expect to hear good reports when I return."

We have no written minutes or repertoire lists. Was the week's repertoire and hymn lists posted on four chalkboards in the school? In the choir lofts?

I get a headache just thinking about how much organization and delegation was required.

Julian Mincham wrote (July 20, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< but I have a profound admiration for Bach the administrator. >
Yes, I have often wondered--did the man have the normal human being's need for sleep? Because goodness knows when he got it!

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 20, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>"The Electress is looking poorly. Herr Bach, perhaps we should be prudent and start planning her memorial service" <<
This opinion will probanot stand up to closer scutiny. I believe this has been covered before in regard to the fascinating background to BWV 198. Also see pp. 314-316 of Wolff's "The Learned Musician". Here, once again, is the sequence of events preceding the performance of BWV 198 as determined by actual records to which some reasonable conjectures must be attached [NBA KB I/18 pp. 126-127] Here Bach was certainly involved with "administrivia" with all the problems attached, ranging from personal attacks on one's honor and prestige to the organization of a significant musical event with many dignitaries and foreigners (outsiders who do not live in or around Leipzig) being present.

1. The Electress Christiane Eberhardine died on September 5, 1727. It cannot be determined from existing sources whether the renowned poet, Johann Christoph Gottsched, had already begun or even completed his "Trauerode" by this date or soon thereafter. [It is more reasonable to consider Gottsched's first draft of the libretto to have been completed on or just after he received the official invitation and the payment of the commission on Oct. 3.]

2. On September 12, a Leipzig University student, Carl von Kirchbach (was he prompted to do this at the behest of Gottsched with whom he had connections in the literary society to which he belonged?), having secured promises from both Gottsched and J. S. Bach for their collaboration, initiated formal proceedings by seeking permission from the university authorities and from the Elector to present as soon as possible (within a certain time frame normally accorded such events) a eulogy ("Lobrede") as well as a funeral oration ("Trauerrede") delivered by Kirchbach along with 'celebratory' verses ("Trauerode") by Gottsched set to music by Bach. It was necessary for Kirchbach to present the request to the university authorities first before approaching the Elector for his final decision.

3. On October 3 the university authorities finally granted permission for the performance to take place in the University of Leipzig Church, St. Paul's Church. Kirchbach now sends the official papers to the Elector for his final confirmation. From Kirchbach's later testimony, this would have been the time when the official invitations and payments of commissions would have been extended to Bach and Gottsched. Possibly Bach needed to wait for a few days for the completed text to be sent to him if Gottsched began writing out his text (final version?) at this time.

4. Between October 3 and October 5 Bach may have received Gottsched's text so that he could begin working on the composition in earnest.

5. On October 5 Kirchbach receives the formal ok from the Elector.

6. From this time forward, verbal arguments accelerate into legal warfare as Görner, the "Acad: Direct: Chori Mus:" at St. Paul's Church of the University of Leipzig views Bach's possible performance in his [Görner's] church as interference in his [Görner's] official duties and affairs.

7. On October 9 Görner lodges an official objection/protest to the planned ceremony by presenting his written claims asserting his rights to the university authorities, thus jeopardizing the performance of Bach's music under his own direction at St. Paul's Church, the officially designated venue.

8. The official minutes of the meeting held by the university authorities and at which Kirchbach is present on October 9 (the time for making a decision on this matter is pressing) record that Kirchbach is told "that the performance, as it is planned, is questionable in that the cantor of St. Thomas Church should not be allowed to perform in St. Paul's Church." To this Kirchbach responds: "But I have already promised Bach that he would perform his own music which he had begun composing a week ago and for which I have already paid him." Official decision of the authorities: Kirchbach must now commission Görner to perform the music.

9. On October 11 the proceedings of the university authorities continue: Gorner is present and complains that Kirchbach still has not contacted him and requested him to compose and perform the planned music. Görner still does not know whether he is responsible for the music or not. The authorities send a porter (with official authority) to put pressure on Kirchbach to finally give Görner the commission to perform "since Cantor Bach will not be admitted into the church [St. Paul's]." On the same day Kirchbach was asked to have Bach sign a pledge that he would look upon this engagement as a one-time exception which does not set a precedent and that he could make no claim to any rights to perform at St. Paul's, this including contracting for performances to be given there. [Bach did not sign this pledge.]

10. A lingering standoff nevertheless seems to have been avoided with some kind of verbal agreement being tentatively reached rather quickly with Bach's fame as composer and performer probably playing a crucial role as city authorities may also have become involved in this as well. The performance had to take place very soon for another reason: this event would be concurrent with the Leipzig Fair which brought many outside visitors to the city. Now (on Oct. 11 or very soon thereafter) Bach could once again take up his work in completing his composition.

11. His composing schedule may have been as follows:

Received text and commission (with payment) to begin composing approximately on, or a few days after, Oct. 3, as soon as Kirchbach had received permission from the university authorities (Kirchbach must have been confident that the Elector would not object).

When the approval of the court (Elector) arrived on October 5, Bach may already have already started composing, but verbal rumors about Görner's objection would have reached his [Bach's] ears soon thereafter, putting the entire compositional enterprise in danger of collapsing [the idea that Bach thought he would be performing at St. Paul's, the chosen venue, his own music with his best choir, soloists and instruments]. At this point until the last official attempt to dissuade Kirchbach on Oct. 11 and get him to have Bach sign an agreement, things would have been very much 'up in the air' with only a portion of the composition having been composed and no incentive to continue.

12. Between Oct. 11 and Oct. 15, Bach finished composing the major portion of the "Trauerode", the date on completing the score being assigned by him as "Lipsia. ao.[tilde over the 'o'] d. 15. Oct." Between Oct. 15 and Oct. 18 (the date of the performance), all the parts would still have to be copied out with allowances for at least one rehearsal before the main performance on Oct. 18.

The score shows all the characteristics of an original first draft composition with any parodies being improbable ["unwahrscheinlich"].

Chris Rowson wrote (July 20, 2006):
What other activities did Bach have on during the period Oct 3 to Oct 18 1727?

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 21, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>> "The Electress is looking poorly. Herr Bach, perhaps we should be prudent and start planning her memorial service" <<
< This opinion will probably not stand up to closer scutiny. >
This was offered in a more playful spirit than you took it, although the actual historical record which you admirably outlined demonstrates the high level of bureaucrcy in which Bach worked and created. I was merely suggesting that a "staff" meeting at St. Thomas may well have included the political, ecclesiastical, social and musical gossip on current events that one encounters on any high level executive board. The staff composer at CNN was interviewed recently and he sthat he always has a variety of musical skteches ready which he calls "Dead Pope Music" and "Bombs over Bagdhad Music".

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 25, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>>[NBA KB I/18 pp. 126-127]<<
should read [NBA KB I/38 pp. 126-127]

>>all the parts would still have to be copied out with allowances for at least one rehearsal before the main performance on Oct. 18.<<
I forgot to mention Bach's usual involvement with the copied parts:

Sometimes he would copy out one or two parts personally.

Usually, or almost always, each part would be checked carefully for errors and he would provide necessary
additions such as dynamics, articulation, and embellishments.

At least one continuo part would have numbers for the figured bass added by Bach

 

Vestments in Bach's Churches

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 21, 2006):
A while ago, someone on the list asked about the vestments which the Lutheran clergy wore in Bach's churches. Stiller's "Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig" makes a few allusions to the colours of the clergy vestments and the parments which decorated the altar and pulipit and changed according to the season:

Blue ­ Reformation
Green ­ Purification, Maundy Thursday
Black ­ Lent, Good Friday
Red ­ Palm Sunday & Holy Week

The principal vestment was the chasuble which was retained from the Catholic mass and worn by the principal cleric every Sunday. The assisting deacons who chanted the epistle and gospel may have worn the dalmatic. The use of vestments declined in the 19th century but was retained in Scandinavian Lutheran churches. The chasuble pictured in the link below was probably very similar to the style seen by Bach fron the choir gallery:
http://www.historiska.se/collections/veckansfynd/vfynd1_112003_E.html

Rick Canyon wrote (July 21, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< A while ago, someone on the list asked about the vestments which the Lutheran clergy wore in Bach's churches. >
I think that was me. And thanks very much for remembering the question. This is certainly of interest.

If you should ever happen to come across anything about vestments worn by the Thomanerchor, both at services AND at school... I'm assuming the sailor suits were not in vogue during Bach's time. There is info out there, tho it's rather conflicting (they didn't really make the choir perform barefoot at winter funerals, did they?)

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 21, 2006):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< If you should ever happen to come across anything about vestments worn by the Thomanerchor, both at services AND at school... I'm assuming the sailor suits were not in vogue during Bach's time. >
It appears that the Bach's singers were located in two places. If a cantata or motet was sung, they were in the choir loft with the organ at the west end of the church. Illustrations from the period show no vestments worn by musicians in the gallery. (Parrott's "The Essential Bach Choir" reprodudes several engravings).

If unaccompanied gregorian chant and chorales were sung, the boys were in the choir stalls, the seats closest to the altar. When they were visbile to the congregation, did they wear "choir dress", the black cassock and white surplice that the clergy wore? I suspect that they probably had a school cloak which was part of the school uniform and which functioned as suitable quasi-liturgical garb in church.

In a period when dress indicated one's social and professional status, it would be interesting to know if Bach as Cantor wore semi-clerical clothing which identified his position. Some of the portraits certainly show him in a rather severe coat. Was this his Cantor Coat?

Rick Canyon wrote (July 22, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] But, I also note an engraving (from the frontpiece of the "Unfehlbare Engel-Freude") in Parrot's book (#18 and detail of #18 in #12) which is labeled as "Singers performing concerted music in church, Leipzig, 1710". He quotes Schering's interpretation whereby 2 boys "are marked out by their black gowns and boys' wigs as pupils of the Thomasschule", and that an older student is identified by his men's wig and dagger. The leader/ conductor/choir director (presumably a couple of decades later, this would be Bach) appears to wear a black cloak (as opposed to gown). But, you can only see him from the back. One might wonder if the portrait of Ernesti provides a clue.

You might find the current journal on my deviantART site of interest: www.startyger.deviantart.com

Again, thanks very much for your information on this--and I don't think it is obscure--subject.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 22, 2006):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< He quotes Schering's interpretation whereby 2 boys "are marked out by their black gowns and boys' wigs as pupils of the Thomasschule", and that an older student is identified by his men's wig and dagger. >
Wigs were often worn by men in church long after they ceased to be fashionable in secular fashion. Anglican (Episcopal) bishops wore them right up to the last decade of the 19th century.

 

Recreation of Bach Christmas Mass

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 17, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
> *Returning to the Bach mass, have you chosen specific works of Bach yet? <
The December 2009 recreation by the Tallis Choir of Toronto will look something like this:

BACH: MASS FOR THE THIRD DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

Prelude before Introit: Fugue in G Minor - Bach
Introit Motet: Puer Natus in Bethlehem - Schein
Prelude before Kyrie: Gottes Sohn ist Kommen - Bach
Missa: Kyrie, Missa Brevis in F Major - Bach
Missa: Gloria with intonation, Missa Brevis in F Major - Bach
Salutation & Collect: Chant with Responses - Praetorius
Epistle: Chant
Organ before Hymn: Vom Himmel Hoch - Bach
Hymn of Season (de tempore): Vom Himmel Hoch -Schein
Gospel: Chant with responses - Praetorius
Prelude before cantata: Vom Himmel Hoch ­ Bach

INTERVAL

Cantata: Cantata BWV 40: Dazu ist Ersecheinen - Bach
Prelude before Offertory hymn: In Dulci Jubilo - Bach
Offertory Hymn: In Dulci Jubilo - Schein
Preface: Chant with Praetorius responses
Sanctus in D Major - Bach
Verba: Words of Institution: Chant
Pater Noster: Vater Unser Chant
Prelude before Motet: Bach: Jesu Mein Zuversicht
Communion Motet: Lobet Den Herrn - Bach
Post Comnmunion Prayer: Chant with Responses ­ Praetorius
Hymn: Jesus richte mein Beginnen (Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), Part IV)

The last item is our only historical dodge. Congregational chorales were normally not sung with orchestra but we'll have horns in the band and we'll let them have a final blow.

The other question: do we give the audience the words and music of the non-figural chorales and let them be the congregation? And in German or English?

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (July 17, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] It looks stunning. I'll certainly try to be there.

I think it would be wonderful to have the audience take the part of the congregation, and I would prefer that they sing in German. Will it be possible to have a rehearsal for the audience/congregation before things begin? That could make a big difference.

J. Laurson wrote (July 17, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The December 2009 recreation by the Tallis Choir of Toronto will look something like this: BACH: MASS FOR THE THIRD DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
..
The other question: (1) do we give the audience the words and music of the non-figural chorales and let them be the congregation? (2) And in German or English? >
My intuitive answers to these questions:

1 - if it is a concert NO, if it is a service, YES.
2 - if it is done for the sake of Bach, in GERMAN. If it is done for the congregates, in ENGLISH.

Jane Newble wrote (July 17, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>The other question: do we give the audience the words and music of the non-figural chorales and let them be the congre? And in German or English? <<
It sounds good. I wish I could arrange a trip to Toronto!
To give the audience the words and music is a great idea, especilly if the idea is some sort of church service.

We have just come back from Wales, where we were fortunate enough to attend a 'Gamanfa Ganu' (gathering for singing - usually of hymns, used to be annual events, but quite rare nowadays).

All the audience were given the words and the 4 part music (in Welsh), and the conductor was in the pulpit. The singing was accompanied by the church organ, and although there was a Male Voice choir, the rest were just congregation, and the event was un-rehearsed. The singing was wonderful, and I found the Welsh getting easier with every hymn.

So I guess that perhaps your audience might be able to sing in German....en seyn"
J.S.B

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (July 17, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>The other question: do we give the audience the words and music of the non-figural chorales and let them be the congregation? And in German or English? <<
Sounds like a good plan. My experience with congregations in Ontario tells me that using German might be a Bad Idea. Please let us know all the details closer to the time. I might be able to get a group from my choir to go.

 

Bach's Pre-Service Warm-Up

Bruce Simonson wrote (May 4, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< We have to be very cautious about reading contemporary liturgical practice back into the 18th century. For instance, it is now almost universal among churches with traditional musical programs for the organist to play a mini-recital while people are coming into church. Peter Williams showed that Bach and his contemporaries did not play until the opening bell sounded when they began to play a piece which served as a prelude or "intonation" to the first hymn or choral introit. The miniatures of the Orgelbüchlein were intended for this brief initial organ flourish. >
Have I read recently on the list, that this "intonation" also helped serve to "tune the orchestra"?

Somewhat OT: I have a friend who once played violin in one of Kenny G's concerts. She said he held a continuous "A", for several minutes (really?) at the start of the concert, using circular breathing. She said this wowed the audience, but claims the real targeted audience was the orchestra (which was a pickup band for the concert); basically, intending to provide the orchestra with ample opportunity to get their instruments in tune.

 

Psalms in Bach's services

Bruce Simonson wrote (May 6, 2011):
Still trying to get a handle on this scripture as part of the cantata thingy.

Several sources seem to indicate that singing and/or reading Psalms were not part of the normal order of service in Bach's (Leipzig) time.

If I am not mistaken, an order of service is presented in Wolff's "Learned Musician", and there is Robin Leaver's "Bach's Organ Music in the Context of the Liturgy" - an article in the recent Westfield Center's "Keyboard Perspectives, vol 3" (my copy arrived yesterday), and certainly Douglas Cowling has posted carefully on this topic.

Yet, where is the Psalm for the day? Was there one? (There is one now in Lutheran (and Catholic) services, typically, but how about then?)

Back-story:

If Psalms were not explicitly part of the service, then well, after Juneau's recent performance of BWV 187 (I know, it's a cantata for Trinity VII, and not due for a bit ... but please bear with me!), it is clear to me that this cantata is very explicitly about Old and New Testament texts, on the topic of "the propensity to be anxious" (to simplify one aspect of the matter). In particular, this cantata's texts are Psalm 104:27-28, and Matthew 6:31-32.

What I find interesting here, are several things:

a) The pericope for Trinity VII on the Bach Cantata website calls out Mark 8: 1-9 (definitely related, but not the same as the Matthew passage).

b) The Psalm 104 passage is totally on the mark.

The questions that I have, I guess, are:

i) Who substituted Matthew for Mark in BWV 187, for Trinity VII?

ii) Who was smart enough to recognize the appropriateness of Psalm 104 for use in BWV 187?

iii) Does this type of thing happen a lot?

End of Back-story.

More generalized questions:

1) Were spoken and/or musicked Psalms a part of the services, in Bach's Leipzig?

2) When were parallel texts substituted in for the pericope, and by whom?

3) Am I starting to be annoying?

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 6, 2011):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Yet, where is the Psalm for the day? Was there one? (There is one now in Lutheran (and Catholic) services, typically, but how about then?) >
The current 3-year lectionaries in the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches are quite different from the 1-year cycle which was maintained before the post-Vatican II reforms and was familiar to Bach. For instance, the new lectionaries have three readings: Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel. The Revised Common Lectionary provides for the singing or reading of a psalm between the first two readings, although it's worth noting that portions of the psalms have always been the source of the Propers of the Catholic mass: Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory and Communion.

If we look at the pattern of worship in Leipzig, we can see how the psalms were sung by Bach's choirs.

On Sundays and feasts days, a small choir of scholarship boys from the St. Thomas School sang Matins (Morning Prayer) at 5 am in St. Nicholas Church. This was an abridged version of the Roman Matins and included 3 or 4 psalms chanted in Latin to Gregorian chant with their introductory antiphons.

At the principal mass at 7 am when the cantata was sung, Luther's Formula Missae was followed, and Bach's choir sang a Latin motet instead of the psalm-based Introit (it's significant that nearly all of the motets have psalm texts). The Gradual and Alleluia chants between the two readings were replaced by Hymn of the Season (e.g. "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" during the Easter season). Thus there were no psalms at the mass/eucharist chanted or sung in polyphonic settings.

At the office of Vespers at 1 pm, most Lutheran churches sang a psalm in German on the pre-Reformation model of Roman Vespers. Praetorius, Schütz and Schein (Bach's predecessor) all composed huge collections of nearly all 150 psalms. The Lutheran historian, Robin Leaver, is not sure if Bach's choir followed the traditional pattern and sang a setting of a psalm at Vespers -- the Leipzig rite had many unique features. Bach may have had Schein's published psalm collections in the library.

During the daily services alternating between St. Thomas and St. Nicholas, metrical chorale versions of the psalms may have been sung as well.

Bruce Simonson wrote (May 6, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote ...
< ... at length about the use of Psalms in Bach's Leipzig services. >
Excellent, Doug, thank you much.

To follow up, you wrote:
< On Sundays and feasts days, a small choir of scholarship boys from the St. Thomas School sang Matins (Morning Prayer) at 5 am in St. Nicholas Church. This was an abridged version of the Roman Matins and included 3 or 4 psalms chanted in Latin to Gregorian chant with their introductory antiphons. >
Was there any way to predict in advance which Psalms would be used for a particular Sunday of the church year, or on feast days?

My memory may not be reliable on this point, but wasn't there a prescribed ordering of the psalms for Vespers, that guaranteed none would be missed, in a tradition that went "way" back, in the Catholic church, at least? And certain Psalms brought into play in particular festivals, like the "Lauda" Psalms?

Where I'm going is, did Bach pick the Psalm(s), or were they parof the established scripture for the day? Do we know?

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 6, 2011):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Where I'm going is, did Bach pick the Psalm(s), or were they part of the established scripture for the day? Do we know? >
The original Benedictine cursus was to sing all 150 psalms in the course of one week. The contemplative monastic orders disappeared at the Reformation, and somewhere Luther probably produced a simplified ordo or schedule for the recitation of the psalms through the year. I've never seen one, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the psalm allusions in the cantata texts echoed the psalms prescribed in the daily office.

If I recall, "Lobe den Herrn" was sung at Christmas, which might suggest that Bach's festive motet with text from the psalm might have been intended for that season. Bach's training as a choirboy would have meant daily immersion in both the Latin and German psalters.

 

Bach's "Formula Missa" in the USA

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 9, 2011):
Frank C. Senn, the Lutheran historian, posted for us this fascinating outline of the history of Bach's order of service, the Formula Missae, in the United States:

"The 18th century Lutheran settlers and the pastors who ministered to them used the German hymnals they brought with them and Muhlenberg's Agende used chorale elements of the German Mass. The only exception is that the Swedish Mass followed the structure of Luther's Formula Missae (in the Swedish version of Olavus Petri). It was used in Swedish in many congregations and later translated into English in the Augustana Hymnal. But it was a 19th century version corrupted by rationalism. All those midwestern Lutheran colleges with the famous choirs were founded by Scandinavian pietists. The Common Service, however, owed more to the Formula Missae in its structure and content than to the Deutsche Messe, even though it was in English and not in Latin. The interesting thing is that the promoters of the Common Service were quite successful in getting congregations to chant the ordinary that in the 16th century would have been sung in plainsong or polyphonic settings by choirs. You should see a copy of the 1901 Choral Service Book edited by Reed and Archer---the entire service in plainsong. And beautifully printed."

 

Liturgy & Music in Leipzig’s Main Churches

William Hoffman wrote (October 30, 2014):
The Great Bach Debate about the depth of the composer’s spirituality began a half century ago with a proposed new image of Bach as a worldly composer promulgated by leading Bach writer Friedrich Blume. It challenged the traditional sacred icon and provoked contentious debate among Bach scholars and theologians. It engendered extensive studies into various facets of Lutheran theology and liturgy, examining Bach’s fidelity, depth of understanding, and learned response in music. Eventually, this response has produce a better, systematic understanding of Bach’s some-300-year-old and obtuse poetic texts and hymns stanzas constituting a well-organized church music to the glory of God.

Emerging as the leading voice is Martin Petzoldt, German theologian and Bach scholar. In a series of articles and collective commentaries Petzoldt reveals the key to understanding Bach’s sacred music is found in the theological and liturgical framework, as well as the literary influences. The third and final volume of Petzoldt's Commentaries on Bach's vocal music will be published inm 2014. Bach’s calling to compose this canon was fulfilled in his tenure as Leipzig Cantor from 1723 to his death in 1750. Bach mastered, exploited and transformed every facet of church music, guided by the Lutheran Leipzig Church Book agenda governing regulation of the services. He had an unparalleled opportunity in Saxony’s leading city of commerce, education, and the Evangelical Lutheran religion.

Leipzig Lutheran Agenda

The so-called “Duke Heinrich’s Agenda,” provided the framework for the establishment and growth of this religion and the vehicle for the flourishing of Luther’s call for music to convey the sacred word in the German vernacular to the people. This development of religious practice and the integral music of Bach is documented in German theologian and Bach scholar Martin Petzoldt’s article, “Liturgy and Music in Leipzig’s Main Churches,” in Volume 3, of Christoph Wolf’sThe World of the Bach Cantata: JSB’s Leipzig Church Cantatas, Part 1, The Composer and his World (Metzler/Bärenreiter, Stuttgart/Weimar, Kassel, 1999) pp. 68-93. [See Thomas Braatz translation, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Leipzig-Churches-Petzold.pdf .]

In essence, the Agenda defined the ingredients, scope, and the emphasis of the public services in the Leipzig churches, beginning in 1539 with the community’s acceptance of the Lutheran Reformation. The Agenda established the Mass Proper readings of the lectionary New Testament Gospel and Epistle of the church year Sundays and Feast Days as the basis of the teachings of the Main Services of the Word and Sermon. The harmony of the Gospel accounts of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ were prescribed for Holy Week and Easter.

Three theological documents establishing the foundation of the church as its essential service practices were embodied first in the 1530 Augsburg Confession of fundamental beliefs. Second was Luther’s Small Catechism of 1529 as an explanation of the liturgy of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys and Confession and the Service of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Third was the general Prayers provided by local authority. In addition, local churches began printing their own interpretive hymn books.

The actual church service order of liturgy and readings in Leipzig consistently followed the tradition of the Roman Catholic Ordinarium missae (Mass Ordinary: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) during Bach’s tenure, interspersed with those parts of the main service that expressed the basic tenants of the Reformation through the “upgrading of the Propers readings” for each service and the “establishment of congregational singing” (Braatz, Ibid.: 3). These services were a fusion of two formularies (Ibid.: 4): the Mass Ordinary and Luther’s Catechism, particularly as expressed in Bach’s Clavierübung German Organ Chorale Mass [Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clavier-Übung_III ].

Besides the main service music for Sundays, the liturgical year [Ibid.: 5f] provided for feast days with even greater emphasis on musical expression: the three-day high feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, and the single feast days of Epiphany and Ascension; the Three Marian Feast Days of Purification Annunciation, and Visitation; the Saints Feast Days of John the Baptist and Michael and All Angels; and Trinity Sunday and the Reformationfest.

The principal teaching/interpretive vehicle was the German-language hymn called chorale [Ibid., 7ff], instituted by Luther and collected in ever-larger hymnbooks in communities that became Evangelical Lutheran. These contained sacred songs under the headings of the Sundays and Feast Days of the de tempore first half of the church year concerning the major events in the life of Jesus Christ and theomnes tempore second half, called Trinity Time, emphasizing the teachings and themes of Christian Church. The hymns also were interspersed into the Main Service at appropriate places in both the prescribed Ordinary and the specific Proper passages for the Hymn of the Day as well as the Sermon and Communion Hymns. Beginning early in the reformation, concerted music also was accepted into the main service.

The extent of the music and specific service ingredients of each service of the church year were divided into three categories [Ibid.: 11f]: The Feast Days (just listed) and special Feast Times; the “Fasting Periods,” or closed periods of the Second to Fourth Sundays of Advent and the Six Sundays oLent as well as Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in Holy Week; and the “Feastless Days or Periods,” that is the of omnes tempore First to the Sixth Sundays after Epiphany followed by Septuagesima, Sexagesimae, and Estomihi Sundays transitioning to Lent, the de tempore Sundays after Easter, and the entire omnes tempore First to 27th Sundays after Trinity Sunday (now all called the Sundays After Pentecost). The special Feast Times in the Christmas Season, that Bach particularly celebrated in the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, were the Sunday after Christmas or the Sunday after New Year, and the Feast of the Circumcision, as well as New Year’s Day and the First Sunday in Advent.

Besides the opportunities to compose concerted music for most services, excepting the Closed Times in Leipzig, Bach also had opportunities to compose music for the vesper services and weddings as part of the Leipzig weekly services scheduled in the two main churches at St. Nikolaus and St. Thomas. Petzoldt’s article also examines the observance of various feast days, the “Orders of Church Services,” the use of the organ, the “Significance and Meaning of the Church Service,” and the application of the Passion harmony in Appendix 1.

Petzoldt’s Initial Cantata Studies

In the past two decades some of the most significant studies of Bach’s church music have come from Martin Petzoldt. A noted theologian and Bach scholar, Petzoldt, 67, has for the past 30 years pursued the theological and liturgical sources and influences in Bach’s sacred music. From a group of mostly-German Bach theologian-scholars who have a substantial grounding in Lutheran practice and systematic theology, he has emerged as a leading authority on the sacred sources of Bach’s vocal music. Today, some 300 years after Bach’s vocal music was composed, the texts of the scriptural and hymning madrigalian poetry in the arias, choruses, and recitatives as well as the strophic hymns, written in the pre-enlightened world, seem variously esoteric, obscure, crude or embarrassing.

Starting in 1996 with three articles in Christoph Wolff’s three-volume study of The World of the Bach Cantatas, Petzoldt began systematically to explore the biblical and chorale influences and their theological underpinnings in Bach’s increasingly poetic texts. In the first volume, Petzoldt chronicles the service liturgy and Lutheran practice tradition instituted by Martin Luther that influenced Bach’s musical development in his early years at Arnstadt and Mühlhausen. In The Early Sacred Cantatas are articles that establish the “Liturgical and Theological Aspects” (Essay No. 8) and the importance of “Bible, Hymnbook, and Worship Service” i(Essay No. 9) n his earliest vocal works (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1995).

In the second section of Volume I (the only one translated and published in English), “The Works and Their World,” Petzoldt in “Liturgical and Theological Aspects” (pp. 109-124), begins with the initial development of Bach’s youthful, traditional cantatas with almost no poetry, mostly biblical quotations – primarily Psalms -- and select Lutheran chorales. He summarizes the musical characteristics and textual materials suggesting that Bach created these early works with a conceptual “metatext” theme, including the introduction of interpretive chorales quotations as a dialogue to scriptural passages in works with movements often in symmetrical, sometimes palindrome form.

Then Petzoldt sounds his theme that “a theological look at Bach’s early librettos and the way they were set to music already establishes the essential traits of his relation to this important foundation of his art and his connection with it” (p.115). At Weimar, Bach’s librettos resemble theologian Erdmann’s Neumeister’s musical sermons (cantatas) with closing, summarizing, four-part chorale stanzas. Petzoldt provides detailed analysis of the Neumeister’s type exegetic texts with traditional commentary. Bach’s succeeding collaboration with Weimar Court poet Salomo Franck shows the establishment of a regular form of alternating recitatives and arias with a closing chorale. Petzoldt shows that Franck develops a structured, accessible “metatext,” with more homiletic than dogmatic emphasis. Bach’s creative response “shows a thorough understanding of Franck’s intentions.” (p.122).

In the succeeding article, “Bible, Hymnbook, and Worship Service” (125-142), Petzoldt begins with “The Liturgical-Historical Context of Bach’s Early Cantatas.” Bach evolved from the earliest cantatas (actually concertos and motets), almost-entirely for “incidental services,” to cantatas written for the Mass Propers’ Gospel-driven main service, functioning as a musical sermon to introduce the sermon based on the dya’s Gospel reading. In the next section, “Liturgical Orders of Service According to the Service Books and Hymnbooks,” Petzoldt lays the groundwork to show the established, limited traditional Lutheran practices in the towns of Arnstadt and Mühlhausen. Petzold lists the liturgical components, the various Proper readings for the appropriate Sunday and Feast days, the Latin Mass ordinary sections of the Kyrie-Gloria and the usage of Luther’s venacular German alternatives, especially in the Credo, the sermon portion or Luther’s service-section of the word (sermon), and the service-section of Sacrament (Communion), with the prescribed, interspersed German hymns, preceded by the general Mass Ordinary and specific Propers readings.

The service in Weimar, with an infusion of comprehensive hymn books adhering to the church year, allowed Bach to create the beginning of his first church-year cantata cycle with its Propers readings, as well as the incomplete Orgelbüchleinorgan chorale preludes mostly for the de tempore first half of the church year on the major events in the life of Jesus Christ. In the closing section, “Order of the Gospels and De Tempore,” Petzoldt observes: “It must be emphasized that there is hardly another musician among Bach’s contemporaries who made such unrestricted reference to the Gospels in his cantatas or showed such commitment to them” (p. 129f). This observation is founded on the hermeneutic (interpretive teaching) faith and accuracy with which Bach also interprets and handles his texts everywhere,” as well as his skillful adaptation of early Weimar cantatas in Leipzig to different but specific related services.

Thus Bach’s well-ordering in Weimar involved both developing systematic and expansive use of available musical resources in the service order and church year for the cantatas as well as the pursuit and development of traditional musical forms such as Latin Church Music, the motet, and even the good Friday Passion as the first in a series of extended oratorios for major observances. Interestingly, when Bach became Weimar Konzertmeister in March 1714, he undertook his first cycle of cantatas and began to explore Mass Ordinary music by copying Marco Giuseppe Peranda’s “Kyrie in C” and “Kyrie in A” from complete Masses, “since his new responsibilities must have included the systematic building up of a repertory of church music,” says Peter Wollny (English translation John Coombs) in his forward to the “Kyrie in C” (Stuttgart: Carus-Verlag CV 35306, 2000).

Blume & Great Bach Debate

The impetus for Petzold’s undertaking began during the great debate, ignited in the early 1960s by Friedrich Blume (1893-1975), the musicologist, leading Protestant music writer and Bach authority. Blume questioned the depth and even sincerity of Bach’s spirituality that had grown to the point that early in the Twentieth Century Bach was called the “Fifth Evangelist.” The new dating of Bach’s three-plus annual church service cycles in the late 1950s showed that Bach had composed and presented most of his cantatas in the first four years as Cantor at Leipzig, beginning in 1723, and not throughout his tenure that ended with his death in 1750, dominating his interests at the rate of a new “musical sermon” cantata each month.

Blume argued that this new creative picture shows that Bach was not consumed by sacred music and his calling of a “well orsacred music to the glory of God,” but that he had other, temporal, worldly interests in his musical art, particularly a broad spectrum of instrumental music. In effect, Blume challenged embedded dogma (doctrine, and perhaps dialect!) intentionally to challenge Bach scholars, especially those who were content to accept the spiritual and traditional Lutheran image wrought by the venerable Albert Schweitzer, Friedrich Smend, and Arnold Schering, in order to think beyond the canonized image of Sebastian Bach.

Theologian and Bach scholar Güther Stiller produced the milestone response in 1970 in German, finally published in English in 1984, JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing). It showed Bach’s systematic observance of service liturgical practice and usage of chorales throughout the church year and beyond to special events. This lead to many published essays and studies under the auspices of the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft (team) für theologische Bach Forschung (studies). These began in 1976 “largely through the efforts of Walter Blankenburg and Christoph Trautmann,” says Mel Unger in his American Bach Society’s “Notes” Fall 2000 review of, Theologische Bachforschung heute, essays observing the organization’s first 20 years by editor Renata Steiger (see: http://www.americanbachsociety.org/Newsletters/Newsletter00Fall.html , Book Review). “The organization seeks to revive an interdisciplinary hermeneutic in Bach studies, in which an historically informed study of Bach’s texts illuminates his music, and conversely, analysis of the music illuminates the texts.”

These theological, source-critical Bach studies involved examining Bach’s theological library of major Lutheran writers and their influence on his texts (in a library that any Lutheran pastor would have treasured), as well as the primary source of Bach’s liner notes in his Calov interpretive bible. Other scholars began compiling detailed lists of biblical illusions and quotations in his cantatas (Petzoldt and Ulrich Meyer).

The breadth and depth of the first 20 years is found in Unger’s summary:

The fifteen articles included in the Documentation section date from 1985 to 1996. A contribution by Walter Blankenburg traces the changing views of Bach since Spitta and Schweitzer, and summarizes the state of theological Bach research thru 1985. Ulrich Meyer argues that Bach wrote in a unified compositional language because his life was an “integrated-reconciled” one. Elke Axmacher distinguishes between orthodox and pietistic mysticism in Bach’s day through the writings of Valentin Ernst Löscher (1673‑1749). Martin Petzoldt constructs an 18th century sermon for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, drawing upon Bach’s Cantata Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid, BWV 3, and he recreates an entire liturgy (with musical intonations and responses) for Ascension Day, drawing upon Bach’s Ascension Oratorio. (Petzoldt believes that preachers developed their sermons with the specifically designated cantata texts in mind, but this view was called into question by Hans-Joachim Schulze.) Helene Werthemann explores theological connotations in three cantatas, each intended for the same liturgical day (BWV 152, 28, and 122, for the Sunday after Christmas), but each having a very different literary thrust. Lother Steiger constructs sermons for 1. Advent and 8. p. Trinity, drawing upon the texts of Bach’s Cantatas 132 and 186, respectively. Robin Leaver provides a fine outline for Bach’s hymn sources, arguing that, contrary to conventional belief, Bach had a broad and continuing interest in both old and contemporary hymns. Renata Steiger offers short introductions to each of Bach’s passions, and Meinrad Walter offers short introductions to the Saint John Passion, the Christmas Oratorio, and the B minor Mass. Albert Clement studies three organ chorales in 24/16-time (BWV 768/8, 617, and 736), and argues that Bach used this time-signature to suggest pastoral peace and joy in anticipation of death. Two presentations discuss choreography in relation to Bach’s music. Heinz Grasmück explains the concepts underlying his choreographic adaptation of Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 4, and Meinrad Walter presents a critique of Achim Freyer’s adaptation of the B minor Mass.” (Contents, Bach Bibliography

Petzoldt, beginning with his dissertation in 1985, “Studies of theology in the life story of Johann Sebastian Bach,” began publishing various major books and articles. In particular “Petzoldt believes that preachers developed their sermons with the specifically designated cantata texts in mind, but this view was called into question by Hans-Joachim Schulze,” notes Unger (Ibid.).

Petzoldt is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Theological Faculty of the University of Leipzig, Chairman of the Bach Gesellschaft since 1996; co-editor, Musik und Kirche. A list of his major publications through 2010 is be found at: http://www.martin.petzoldt.eu/publikationen/ “Select Language.” The Bach Bibliography of Petzoldt’s 230 articles is found at: http://www.qub.ac.uk/~tomita/bachbib/bb-simple.html, type in Author, “Petzoldt, Martin,” Submit.

After the first two articles in The World of the Bach Cantatas, Vol. 1, Petzoldt published in German the extensive article, “Liturgy and Music in Leipzig’s Main Churches” in Die Welt der Bach Kantaten, ed. Christoph Wolff, vol. 3: Johann Sebastian Bachs Leipziger Kirchenkantaten (Metzler/Bärenreiter, Stuttgart/Weimar, Kassel, 1999) pp. 68-93. He also published in this volume “Theological Aspects of Bach’s Leipzig Cantatas,” that lead to his current major work in 3 volumes in German: Martin Petzoldt,Bach-Kommentar. Theologisch-musikwissenschaftliche Kommentierung der geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastian Bachs. 3 Bde, Stuttgart/Kassel 2004/2007/2014.

Current Vocal Music Commentary

Bach-Kommentar, Band I (Trinity Time Cantatas)

Martin Petzoldt: Bach-Kommentar, Theologisch-musikalische Kommentierung der geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastian Bachs, Band I: Die geistlichen Kantaten des 1. bis 27. Trinitatis-Sonntages. /// 2004, 726 Seiten, ISBN 3-7618-1741-X. The scope and purpose is described by the leading Bach theology writer in English, Robin Leaver, in his review on line: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/notes/v061/61.4leaver.html .

“The basic premise behind this project is that the religious/ecclesiastical worldview of the eighteenth century is far removed from our own. What was obvious and straightforward to Bach as composer, as well as to the members of the congregations who first heard his music, is often obscure or totally unrecognized in the twenty-first century. Thus if we are to understand Bach's music, and especially his particular compositional choices, we need access to contemporary explanations of this theological/philosophical world. The author, Martin Petzoldt—professor of systematic theology, Leipzig University, and president of the Neue-Bach-Gesellschaft— presents a variety of biblical, exegetical, historical, and theological presuppositions that lie behind the concepts and vocabulary of the cantata librettos.

“Under the heading for each Sunday of the Trinity season, Petzoldt first gives basic background information, such as the biblical readings assigned to the day, the cantatas Bach composed for the Sunday, their vocal and instrumental resources, together with references to recent literature on the respective cantatas. Much of this information is not new and can be found in other sources, but closer inspection reveals that there is more information recorded here than is usually the case, such as the specific enpsalm for each Sunday, the church in which the cantata was first heard —usually either the St. Nicholas or St. Thomas churches in Leipzig—and the name of the preacher who gave the sermon on this occasion.

“Petzoldt then gives extended quotations —usually on the gospel but sometimes also on the epistle of the day—from the biblical commentary by Johann Olearius that is known to have been in Bach's personal library: Biblische Erklärung darinnen nechst dem allgemeinen Haupt-Schlüssel der gantzen heiligen Schrifft, 5 vols. (Leipzig: Tarnoven, 1678–81). These extended citations of "commentary" form the backbone of the project and clearly conditioned the choice of its title: Bach-Kommentar.

Bach-Kommentar, Band II (Cantatas from Advent to Trinityfest, Feast Day Oratorios) Martin Petzoldt: Bach-Kommentar, Theologisch-musikalische Kommentierung der geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastian Bachs, Band II: Die geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest. Zur Bachwoche 2007 erschien endlich der zweite Band des Bach-Kommentars von Martin Petzoldt. Er behandelt die geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest und folgt damit der Anordnung des Kirchenjahres. Eingeschlossen sind auch die Oratorien, die in der Funktion von Evangelienmusiken von Bach komponiert und aufgeführt wurden. Insbesondere das Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 wird ausführlich dargestellt und kommentiert, wobei Martin Petzoldt – Professor für Systematische Theologie an der Theologischen Fakultät der Universität Leipzig – den Versuch unternommen hat, die Textgestalt nach der autographen Partitur Bachs vorzulegen.

/// 2007, 1100 Seiten, ISBN 3-7618-1742-8

Petzoldt, Martin: Bach-Kommentar Band 3 - Die Passionen, Motetten, Messen und Magnificat, geistliche Kantaten für Kasualien und ohne Bestimmung (Kassel u.a.: Bärenreiter), publication 2014 (Amazon on-line,
http://www.amazon.de/Petzoldt-Martin-Bd-3-Passionen-Kasualkantaten/dp/3761817436

 

Reformation Sunday 2012 - St. Thomas, Leipzig

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 6, 2014):
A very interesting modern reworking of chorale-singing in the fashion that Bach would have recognized:

The organist plays a prelude based on "Ein Feste Burg"
The congregation sings Verse 1
The choir sings a modern motet setting as Verse 2
The congregation sings Verse 3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_1mGdHVBNg

 

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Last update: ýNovember 6, 2014 ý10:27:35