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A question about the St. John Passion

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  • Noel Stoutenburg
    Friends: I expect that a choir with which I am affiliated will sing the Bach St. John Passion this spring, and in beginning to study the score, I found it
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 31, 2004
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      Friends:

      I expect that a choir with which I am affiliated will sing the Bach St.
      John Passion this spring, and in beginning to study the score, I found
      it interesting to note that in his St. John Passion, Bach sets about two
      and a half verses of text from the St. Matthew, specifically the veres
      relating to the tearing of the curtain in the temple, the shattering of
      the rocks, and the opening of the graves and resurrection of the dead.

      Does anyone know if this was Bach's poetic license, or if this was a
      liturgical feature of the St. John from late XVIIth / early XVIIIth
      century Leipzig?

      ns
    • Lewis H Whitaker
      Noel: I forwarded this to a friend of mine who is much better versed in things like this than I am. Here is her response: I believe that this is Bach acting
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 1, 2005
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        Noel:

        I forwarded this to a friend of mine who is much better versed in things
        like this than I am. Here is her response:


        "I believe that this is Bach acting on his own. The liberties Bach took
        with
        the passions, both textually and musically, were the source of much
        contemporary scandal. In fact, the St. M was considered completely
        inappropriate as church music. Also, he has such sturm-und-drang fun
        with
        this particular curtain-rending passage, I guess it was a favorite of
        his.

        The gospels have always been kept separate in catholic churches; there
        are
        no "official" minglings of the stories. It is musicians, homilists, and
        directors of Christmas pageants who take a little from Matthew, a little
        from Luke, a little from John, till we have angels appearing to
        everyone,
        and Jesus born in a very crowded stable. ;-)"

        A

        I hope that helps....

        Lew Whitaker
        Atlanta

        And a Happy New Year to all!!

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Noel Stoutenburg [mailto:mjolnir@...]
        Sent: Friday, December 31, 2004 7:44 PM
        To: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [liturgy-l] A question about the St. John Passion



        Friends:

        I expect that a choir with which I am affiliated will sing the Bach St.
        John Passion this spring, and in beginning to study the score, I found
        it interesting to note that in his St. John Passion, Bach sets about two
        and a half verses of text from the St. Matthew, specifically the veres
        relating to the tearing of the curtain in the temple, the shattering of
        the rocks, and the opening of the graves and resurrection of the dead.

        Does anyone know if this was Bach's poetic license, or if this was a
        liturgical feature of the St. John from late XVIIth / early XVIIIth
        century Leipzig?

        ns


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      • Frank Senn
        There was some liberty in blending biblical texts in 17th and 18th century Lutheranism. For example, a History of the Passion was prepared that harmonized all
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 1, 2005
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          There was some liberty in blending biblical texts in 17th and 18th century Lutheranism. For example, a History of the Passion was prepared that harmonized all four Gospel Passions and was read in weekday services throughout the whole of Lent. A text of such a Passion History in English can be found in the old Common Service Book (1919). It is possible that Bach simply liked the dramatic possibilities afforded by the verses from Matthew. On the whole, his St. John Passion is a less dramatic oratorio than his St. Matthew Passion. However, when Bach was writing for church services theological issues were always taken into account. That's why, for example, the Christmas Oratorio (actually Part VI, which is the Cantata for The Epiphany), ends with the passion chorale. The very gifts of the magi indicate the sacrifice of this child's life. It would be interesting to consider what theological statement Bach was making by including the Matthean rending of the Temple curtain in his
          St. John Passion. - Frank C. Senn

          Lewis H Whitaker <aspern@...> wrote:
          Noel:

          I forwarded this to a friend of mine who is much better versed in things
          like this than I am. Here is her response:


          "I believe that this is Bach acting on his own. The liberties Bach took
          with
          the passions, both textually and musically, were the source of much
          contemporary scandal. In fact, the St. M was considered completely
          inappropriate as church music. Also, he has such sturm-und-drang fun
          with
          this particular curtain-rending passage, I guess it was a favorite of
          his.

          The gospels have always been kept separate in catholic churches; there
          are
          no "official" minglings of the stories. It is musicians, homilists, and
          directors of Christmas pageants who take a little from Matthew, a little
          from Luke, a little from John, till we have angels appearing to
          everyone,
          and Jesus born in a very crowded stable. ;-)"

          A

          I hope that helps....

          Lew Whitaker
          Atlanta

          And a Happy New Year to all!!

          -----Original Message-----
          From: Noel Stoutenburg [mailto:mjolnir@...]
          Sent: Friday, December 31, 2004 7:44 PM
          To: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [liturgy-l] A question about the St. John Passion



          Friends:

          I expect that a choir with which I am affiliated will sing the Bach St.
          John Passion this spring, and in beginning to study the score, I found
          it interesting to note that in his St. John Passion, Bach sets about two
          and a half verses of text from the St. Matthew, specifically the veres
          relating to the tearing of the curtain in the temple, the shattering of
          the rocks, and the opening of the graves and resurrection of the dead.

          Does anyone know if this was Bach's poetic license, or if this was a
          liturgical feature of the St. John from late XVIIth / early XVIIIth
          century Leipzig?

          ns


          Visit the liturgy-l homepage at
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/liturgy-l/To write to the
          owners/moderators, please send an email to:
          liturgy-l-owner@yahoogroups.comTo write to the owners/moderators, please
          send an email to:
          liturgy-l-owner@yahoogroups.com
          Yahoo! Groups Links









          Visit the liturgy-l homepage at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/liturgy-l/To write to the owners/moderators, please send an email to:
          liturgy-l-owner@yahoogroups.comTo write to the owners/moderators, please send an email to:
          liturgy-l-owner@yahoogroups.com
          Yahoo! Groups Links










          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Doug
          ... There has been scholarly discussion that the chorale tune did not suggest the Passion per se to Bach s listeners but rather that it was best known as a
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 1, 2005
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            On 1/1/05 9:50 AM, "Frank Senn" <fcsenn@...> wrote:

            > That's why, for example, the Christmas Oratorio (actually Part VI, which is
            > the Cantata for The Epiphany), ends with the passion chorale. The very gifts
            > of the magi indicate the sacrifice of this child's life. It would be
            > interesting to consider what theological statement Bach was making by
            > including the Matthean rending of the Temple curtain in his
            > St. John Passion. - Frank C. Senn

            There has been scholarly discussion that the chorale tune did not suggest
            the Passion per se to Bach's listeners but rather that it was best known as
            a communion chorale. That he used what we call the "Passion Chorale" both
            as the first and last chorale of the Christmas Oratorio does indicate that
            he was making a theological point.

            And speaking of Bach and theology ...

            You may be interested to know that the Bach Cantatas List (
            http://www.bach-cantatas.com/ } is presently engulfed in a flame war over
            whether only Christian believers of Bach's ilk can really appreciate his
            sacred music. I'm just glad that the participants don;t have their own
            standing armies!

            Doug Cowling
            ___________________________________
            Director of Music & Liturgical Arts
            Church of the Messiah
            Toronto
          • James Morgan
            Perhaps the Gospels have allways been kept separate in the Catholic churches as A says, but in the Orthodox Church at Holy (Good) Friday Vespers, the
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 2, 2005
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              Perhaps the 'Gospels have allways been kept separate in the Catholic
              churches' as "A" says, but in the Orthodox Church at Holy (Good) Friday
              Vespers, the passion Gospel is a cento from all four Gospels. I don't know
              if anyone has ever examined this historically to determine when this
              practice began but of course for us it is of immemorial antiquity! (:)>>

              And on the first three days of Holy Week the entire four gospels are read at
              the 'little' hours. This is not observed in many parishes, where the hours
              are not part of the usual order of services.

              (as Fr Alexander Schmemann was alleged to have said: "Anything done in
              Scranton PA in 1922 is of immemorial antiquity!"

              Rdr. James
              Olympia, WA

              -----Original Message-----
              From: Frank Senn [mailto:fcsenn@...]
              Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2005 6:50 AM
              To: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [liturgy-l] A question about the St. John Passion


              There was some liberty in blending biblical texts in 17th and 18th century
              Lutheranism. For example, a History of the Passion was prepared that
              harmonized all four Gospel Passions and was read in weekday services
              throughout the whole of Lent. A text of such a Passion History in English
              can be found in the old Common Service Book (1919). It is possible that
              Bach simply liked the dramatic possibilities afforded by the verses from
              Matthew. On the whole, his St. John Passion is a less dramatic oratorio
              than his St. Matthew Passion. However, when Bach was writing for church
              services theological issues were always taken into account. That's why, for
              example, the Christmas Oratorio (actually Part VI, which is the Cantata for
              The Epiphany), ends with the passion chorale. The very gifts of the magi
              indicate the sacrifice of this child's life. It would be interesting to
              consider what theological statement Bach was making by including the
              Matthean rending of the Temple curtain in his
              St. John Passion. - Frank C. Senn

              Lewis H Whitaker <aspern@...> wrote:
              Noel:

              I forwarded this to a friend of mine who is much better versed in things
              like this than I am. Here is her response:


              "I believe that this is Bach acting on his own. The liberties Bach took
              with
              the passions, both textually and musically, were the source of much
              contemporary scandal. In fact, the St. M was considered completely
              inappropriate as church music. Also, he has such sturm-und-drang fun
              with
              this particular curtain-rending passage, I guess it was a favorite of
              his.

              The gospels have always been kept separate in catholic churches; there
              are
              no "official" minglings of the stories. It is musicians, homilists, and
              directors of Christmas pageants who take a little from Matthew, a little
              from Luke, a little from John, till we have angels appearing to
              everyone,
              and Jesus born in a very crowded stable. ;-)"

              A

              I hope that helps....

              Lew Whitaker
              Atlanta
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