30 July AD 1540
30 July AD 1540
Here is my translation of the Sequence for martyrs (plur.) by Notker, "Agone triumphali militum Regis summi," as found in Lossius (amended by H. Bonnus). Brackets, unless noted otherwise, show the original reading. A discrepancy in the notation of the melody in Lossius should be noted. The 7th and 8th notes are given one step higher in line 3a (or one step lower in 3b). I have taken the higher ones (B - A instead of A - G) from the music given for 3b. The "D flat" in the melody for line 7 seems wrong but I cannot find any better reading. Suggestions are welcome.
THE CONTEST now completed,
1. Agone triumphali
Please note the commentary below…
Archeologists may have discovered the tomb of one of Christ's Twelve Disciples. Tradition says that St. Philip was martyred in the Hierapolis in present day Turkey and that's where they found what appears to be his tomb in the ruins of an ancient church. From a Turkish newspaper:
What will they find? The remains of a man who actually walked with Jesus? That would be mind-blowing. Of course, it's too early to say, and it could just be more Biblical archeology sensationalism. But still, the mind reels.
HT: James Kushiner
...perhaps the petitions for the government that appear in the Prayers of the Church would be good for us to use as tempers flare in DC:
Last night, on the eve of the commemoration of Johann Sebastian Bach's death, I listened to Bach's Mass in B minor (which I now seem to be doing with greater frequency). I've become increasingly convinced that it is his finest composition and has few, if any rivals, amongst the works of other composers past or present.
The text itself is quite familiar — the words of the Divine Service that have been sung by Christians for hundreds of years. The same words that have accompanied the travelers of this world as they receive the gifts of God and confess and respond with thanksgiving. The same words where the "now" of earthly life and "not yet" of eternity are joined. Kyrie Eleison. Gloria in Excelsis. Credo. Sanctus.
One of the things you find with Bach is the interconnectedness of words and music. Bach takes these words and through the music provides a theological commentary. For those interested in learning more about Bach's compositional techniques in his Mass and how they enrich the text, you can download Christ's Gifts in the Liturgy: The Theology and Music of the Divine Service (free download) from the Good Shepherd Institute and read Bach and the Divine Service: The B-Minor Mass by Paul W. Hofreiter. The music isn't just background noise to provide cover for the text and neither does the music dominate the text. This is a good reminder for church musicians even today.
It is for these reasons that I'm drawn to the Mass in B minor. While the words are in Latin, I inwardly "know" what is being sung — the music helps to reinforce those words. It is a sung confession in faith of what Christ has done for us. Hofreiter writes that "Bach could proclaim, in unison with Luther and all who have believed and will believe:"
In closing, I'll leave you with two of my favorite selections from Bach's Mass — the Sanctus and Dona nobis pacem. If you watch the Dona nobis pacem, notice what happens at the conclusion — a hushed silence and reverence. Grant us peace. If you don't see the videos, click here and here.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is acknowledged as one of the most famous and gifted of all composers past and present in the entire western world. Orphaned at the age of ten, Bach studied with various family members but was mostly self-taught in music.
He began his professional career as conductor, performer, composer, teacher, and organ consultant at age 19 in the town of Arnstadt. He traveled wherever he received good commissions and steady employment, ending up in Leipzig, where the last 27 years of his life found him serving as Kantor, responsible for all music in the city's four Lutheran churches.
Acclaimed more in his own time as a superb keyboard artist, the majority of his compositions fell into disuse following his death, which musicologists use to date the end of the Baroque Period and the beginning of the Classical Era. However, his compositional ability was rediscovered, in large part due to the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn. The genius and sheer magnitude of Bach's vocal and instrumental compositions remain overwhelming. Also, whether due to nature or nurture, he was but one of the giants in, perhaps, the most talented musical family of all time.
Christendom especially honors J. S. Bach, a staunch and devoted Lutheran, for his lifelong insistence that his music was written primarily for the liturgical life of the Church, glorifying God and edifying His people. For an overview of the Christological basis of his work and a strong argument that he was among the theological giants of Lutheranism, please read J. S. Bach: Orthodox Lutheran Theologian?.
Today we remember his "heavenly birthday," for it was on 28 July AD 1750 that the Lord translated Mr. Bach to glory.
Soli deo gloria — To God alone the glory! These words appear on most manuscripts of Bach's compositions as testimony to his faith and his idea of music's highest, noblest use.
A friend, Mr. Bob Myers, drew this to my attention. It would be best for you to watch this while it still remains up on YouTube. This is a recent documentary that offers a fairly good overview of the Reformation and the work of J.S. Bach as the servant of the Lutheran Church that he was, laboring away in near obscurity, using limited resources. It's kind of quirky, in a typically British way. It is good that it focuses on the music as Bach actually wrote it and for the purpose he wrote it. Everyone is familiar with Bach's instrumental works, but in fact his massive cycles of Church cantatas are his greatest achievements. This documentary "gets it" as well, if not better, than anything I've seen before. There are some great scenes filmed in St. Mary's Church, Wittenberg; St. Thomas, Leipzig, and St. George, Eisenach. The churches are not always clearly identified. It's a shame they didn't subtitle the chorales and cantatas as they were sung. But that's often the way it is: people focus more on the music and not the words, which, to Bach, were the most important reason why he wrote his music. The Word of God was conveyed by Bach's music in powerful ways, but it is not the music, per se, that is the thing, it is the Word of God, and … most importantly and significantly of all Bach was interested in conveying Christ and Him crucified. This aspect of his work is hinted at but never specifically articulated. We can only assume the American Lutheran pastor who is interviewed in this piece did explicitly confess Christ, but his remarks were edited out. That's usually how it is with Bach. People grow increasingly uncomfortably the more specifically Christian the talk gets. But Bach's great church music was all about Christ. They can't help but tell us that when they feature the popular chorale from Bach's Cantata 147, Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring.
Renowned actor and former chorister Simon Russell Beale explores the flowering of Western sacred music in this documentary series for BBC FOUR. Simon's travels bring him to Germany where Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation led to a musical revolution and ultimately to the glorious works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Luther, a Catholic monk who was also a composer, had a profound effect on the development of sacred music. He re-defined the role of congregational singing and the use of the organ in services. Crucially he also developed the hugely important tradition of singing in the vernacular which would characterize protestant worship for the next 500 years. Martin Luther's reforms – and the century and a half of music that followed – shaped the world of JS Bach. Although today he is considered by many to be one of the greatest composers in history, in reality Bach spent most of his life working for the church and unknown to anyone outside of a small part of Germany. Simon's journey includes Eisenach, in Eastern Germany, where Bach was born and the extraordinary space of the Thomaskirke in Leipzig where the composer spent much of his career. Here he discovers how Johann Sebastian Bach was in many ways a one man music factory, who for many years produced for the church work of the very highest quality, week after week after week. Bach wrote over a thousand pieces of music, and nearly two thirds of them he produced for the Lutheran Church. Throughout the programme, in the period setting of St George's Lutheran Church in East London, conductor Harry Christophers leads singers from 'The Sixteen' and a small group of baroque instrumentalists through some of the key repertoire – including: 'Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring', one of Bach's most celebrated religious works, which is based on a Lutheran hymn tune.
HT: Bob Myers.
Lutherans, ask yourself why it is that it takes the BBC to do a documentary like this, and why "we" can't muster the will and resources to produce this. I say this to our shame. While we fritter away our time chasing after whatever is popular in American Evangelicalism, the very things that can, and do, make Lutheranism an absolutely unique and distinct confession of Christianity are ignored, set aside, or worse yet, spoken of with derision—by Lutherans! Lord, have mercy on us all.
St. Louis musician and theologian, Robert Bergt, whose work and reputation are known around the world, died Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at the age of 81. He was music director and conductor of the American Kantorei and artist-in-residence at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Joan, who is herself an accomplished musician; four children, Jonathan, Philip (Iris), Marsha (Peter), and Joel (Mieko); and six grandchildren.
Rev. Bergt combined his passion for music with his deep theological understanding. He founded the American Kantorei in 1968, the first group of its kind in the United States. The Kantorei is a highly skilled choral and instrumental group that has performed in a variety of settings in St. Louis and beyond. Since 1993, the American Kantorei, under the direction of Robert Bergt, has performed regular concerts in the Bach at the Sem series in the chapel at Concordia Seminary in Clayton. The popular series of concerts featured the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and other sacred music composers and was open to the public at no charge. Also, many of these concerts were broadcast on KFUO-FM.
Bergt, recognized with numerous awards through the years, was a 1952 graduate of Concordia Seminary. He served Lutheran congregations in Illinois and Missouri and was music director, conductor, and instructor at Concordia Seminary, Southern Illinois University, Valparaiso University, and at the Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo, Japan during his lengthy career. As early as 1949 he was chosen to be concertmaster and assistant conductor of the St. Louis Philharmonic.
Rev. Bergt once wrote, "I have learned from teaching and praying the church's liturgy that doxology and Gospel proclamation are the purpose of my life." Kathy Lawton Brown, a member of the American Kantorei for many years said, "All of us are saddened by this news, but grateful beyond words to have had the inestimable privilege of making heavenly music with Bob…music that will resound within our hearts forever."
Dr. Dale A. Meyer, president of Concordia Seminary, called Bergt a "singularly talented and devoted person who inspired so many with his abilities and with his strong Christian faith. He devoted his career to the musical glorification of God. We will always remember with thanksgiving his spirit, his outstanding abilities, and the powerful legacy he leaves."
A memorial concert is being planned for September 25. It will take place in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus on the campus of Concordia Seminary where Rev. Bergt conducted so many concerts. The family has asked that memorial gifts be given to Concordia Seminary for the future of Bach at the Sem.
In his wonderful presentation to the Deaconesses in Seward, Dr. Herl unpacked a few things that shaped Lutheran spirituality in the 16th century, and one of those was a strong sense of "de tempore" - that is, that the Church has a daily, weekly, and yearly way of moving through time and celebrating in time the great sacrifice of praise to the Triune God for His wonderful acts.
It's a great treasure of our Church, and a much underutilized aspect of Lutheran spirituality. The more comfortable we grow with De Tempore, the more we realize the wisdom of the Church teaching us to sanctify time by welcoming each hour, each day, each feast or festival during the year, as a special gift of Christ! We mark the passing of time in this world (that is passing away) with the praise of Him whose Appearing will bring in a new heavens and new earth - Him whose praise endures forever.
What's the big beef between Rome and the Lutherans on justification? Chemnitz disposes of several myths - the Lutherans do not teach that believers have only forgiveness in Christ and not renewal by the Spirit; the Lutherans do not teach that people saved by faith are free to do whatever they want; we certainly teach that faith is bound to produce love and all good works and that a faith that doesn't is just a sham. So, what's the big beef, then? Here are his sublime words:
Have you discovered Rev. Fisk? Watch…