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Matthew Passion he has produced his best poem; the diction is animated and extremely rich in pictures; and there are few of the insipidities of his that annoy us in his other works. The situations are concisely described, and the reflections are simple but often really profound. Matthew Passion: The choice of these fell to Bach, since no poet of that epoch who had any respect for himself would be troubled with a secondary task of that kind. It is just in the insertion of these chorale strophes that the full depth of Bach's poetic sense is revealed. It would be impossible to find, in the whole of the hymns of the German church, a verse better fitted to its particular purpose than the one Bach has selected.

Matthew Passion. Paul Steinitz in Bach's Passions , suggests: The fact that these were published separately, that is, not with the biblical narrative and chorales, may indicate that Bach himself selected the latter and indeed may have influenced the writings of his librettist.

Mark's is the more personal account. In the sermon on the Passion, Luther says: Christ's death swallowed up death, and the centurion said[:] "Truly this is the Son of God. Other kings are strong in life: He in death When he was dead the centurion trembled and commenced to be a Christian The disciples fled, but this centurion began to confess Christ without fear of all the high priests or of what Pilate and the council might say. Who then was master here? Was it not the death of Christ that gave the heathen centurion a new spirit?

This is the power of the Passion that it makes men bold to confess Christ. At his death in , Bach's estate carried 52 titles, some involving multiple volumes. Almost all areby orthodox Lutheran theologans. Eleven titles are Biblical commentary, some 23 others are sermons on Biblical texts, usually Epistles and Gospels. The others involve 15 volumes of Luther 's writings, practical devotional books, theological discussions, tracts, hymnbooks, and works of the Pietists Philipp Jakob Spener and August Hermann Francke.

Spirituality and Pietism Before any inquiry into the spirituality of Bach's music, it must be acknowledged that major controversy still invests the topic. Today, few commentators embrace extravagant characterizations of Bach such as the "Fifth Evangelist. The intent here is not to engage actively in that debate, although much of the material herewith supports the spiritual, sermon side. Bach in his musical Passions, particularly in his last complete and original Passion, the St. Mark Passion, found great opportunity to let Lutheran orthodoxy express itself, apart from the intensity of his involvement or commitment.

What should be indisputable is that the St. Mark Passion is a faithful, biblically- and theologically-based work which edifies and instructs the congregation. Obviously, the major collaborators, Bach, Picander , and perhaps Pastor Christian Weiss, had each other and Lutheran orthodoxy as acceptable checks and balances. As Friedrich Smend observes: We can be fairly certain that the chief pastor of the Thomaskirche, Christian Weiss, had been involved in the drafts of the texts of Bach's cantatas, including the recitatives and arias, in the same way as we have proof that the composer's texts had received the express approval of the consistory.

Smend points out The Pietists certainly didn't have a monopoly on pietistic sentiments. Pietistic sentiments and imagery are found throughout Bach's Passions. John Passion, BWV , of They are replete with colorful and graphic pietistic imagery in both the lyric movements and the narrative which was completely rewritten in rhyme.

Picander in his first Passion libretto, a rhymed pasticcio published in and modeled on Brockes , seems to have influenced several numbers in Bach's St. Matthew and St. Mark Passions, Picander softened the more graphic imagery in favor of a language which involved an emotional, intimate, direct, and devout relationship with Christ.

Bach as Preacher," expresses the thesis that Bach's Passions are "sermons in sound that in their two halves prepare for the actual preaching at Good Friday Vespers and then build on it. John and St. Matthew Passions, Leaver finds all five sermon elements in these two works: introduction, key statement Biblical text , exposition of the Biblical text, application, and final statement.

The significance of the opening and closing movements of Bach's Passions has received much favorable comment. Bach's technique in all his Passions is to expose the Biblical text alternating with the application of pertinent, interpolated music to bring out the underlying meaning of the text.

Leaver says that in the application "it is principally in the chorales that Bach evokes the response of the congregation. They are there to draw the congregation into the drama so that they become participants rather than simply spectators.

Verse 12:34

Significance of Suffering The overall structures of Bach's three extant Passions vary greatly: the St. John Passion has obvious chiastic cross-like or palindrome structures, the St. Matthew Passion "has a more complicated and less obvious overall structure"; [23] and the St. Mark Passion has a loose, topical, organic form. Scholars have suggested key movements or central points in Bach's two completely extant Passions, based on these structures. Leaver and Steinitz find that the structures of the St.

John Passion and the St. Matthew Passion reveal their focal points. Leaver finds the centerpiece in the former is the chorale, No.

THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW

All four prophecies are recalled in the crucifixion scene, with one exception in Luke. Psalm 22 has three: Verse 1, "My God, my God, why hast thou orsaken me? Isaiah 53 has one prophecy: Verse 12, "He was numbered reckoned with the transgressors malefactors " Mk. Of the four Gospels, Mark's is the only one which has all four prophecies; Matthew has three; Bach's Passions are kerygmatic, says Leaver, proclaiming Jesus as Christ [28] through the portrayal of his suffering. To help Bach's audience understand the purpose of Christ's death, Lutheran orthodoxy uses the didactic techniques of proclamation and portrayal.

Gerard Knoche in The Gift of the Gospel says that " Luther saw the Christian in bondage to sin, the law, the wrath of God, the devil, and death. The texts of Bach's interpolations, especially the chorales, variously relate to the models of atonement. Through grace alone can the godless be accepted as justified before God, since Christ died for the sins of mankind. These are Luther 's so-called "Theology of the Cross," which is inextricably bound to Luther 's doctrine of "Justification by Grace through Faith.

Luther 's biblical basis was the first two chapters in Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians in which Paul proclaims above all else "Christ crucified. God meets us most profoundly at the point of our deepest reality -- our honest confontation with weakness, pain, solitude and death.

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Luther called this reality the Theology of the Cross. Its opposite is the Theology of Glory Lull, [35] and Romans Christian Weiss , who was head pastor of St. Salomon Deyling, was superintendent of the Leipzig churches and head pastor at St. Nicholas Church. Deyling preached the sermon at his church where Bach alternately presented required annual Passion performances. No reading of the Gospel preeceded the sermon; Bach's Passions contained the entire Gospel Passion narrative.


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As Stiller notes: In general, to have the pure Bible text set to music is a particular characteristic of Bach's liturgical works He continually tried to provide concerted, elaborate music in the face of burdensome restrictions. At his election as Cantor of St.

Steger "voted for Bach, and [cautioned that] he should make compositions that were not theatrical. Thomas School, May 5, , Bach agreed, as one of fourteen points: 7. In order to preserve the good order in the Churches, so arrange the music that it shall not last too long, and shall be of such a nature as not to make an operatic impression, but rather incite the listeners to devotion.

On 13 May the superintendent minister in Leipzig , Solomon Deyling, reported to the church consistory that Bach's theological views had been examined and that the cantor-elect had specifically subscribed to the Formula of Concord. Norton and Co. Under the heading "'Theatrical' Passion Music," a footnote [44] observes: "These remarks, which appeared three years after the first performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, quite probably refer to that work.

Dannhauer regarded it as an ornament to the divine service, a view that does not meet with the approval of all theologians, it is at the same time a well-known fact that very often the performances are excessive. One might well agree with Moses when he says: "Ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi" Num. The reason is that this music often sounds so very worldly and jolly that it is more befitting a dance floor or an opera than the divine service. The last thing, in the opinion of many pious folk, that such singing should suitably accompany is the Passion of Christ.

Fifty or more years ago, it was the custom on palm Sunday for the organ to remain silent in church, and there was no music making at all on that day because it signified the beginning of Holy Week.

Matthew 26 | NET Bible

Now, however, with the story of the Passion, which hitherto was sung de simplici et plano, in a straightforward, reverent manner, they have begun to set the occasion to music in the most elaborate artistic fashion, using many different kinds of instruments. From time to time they incorporate a verse from a Passion hymn and the whole congregation joins in in the singing, after which the instruments are again heard in company.

When this Passion music was performed for the first time in a distinguished city, by 12 violins, numerous oboes, bassoons, and other instruments, many were amazed and did not know what to make of it. On another occasion in a court chapel, many high ministers and noble ladies were together assembled and were singing the first Passion hymn from their books in a spirit of great devotion.

When the theatrical music struck up, all these persons were greatly astonished, looked at each other and said, "What shall become of this? It is like being at a comic opera. There are, it must be conceded, certain spirits who find pleasure in such idle matters, especially when they are of a sanguine temperament and inclined towards sensuality. Such people stoutly defend these great musical performances in church and regard those who think otherwise as capricious or miserable souls, or as facetious, as if they alone possessed the wisdom of Solomon and that the rest lacked understanding.

Oh, how good it would be for the Christian church if we were to preserve that early devotional simplicity in the sermons, prayers, and hymns that make up our divine service. If some of those early Christians were to rise again and join our congregations, only to hear an organ thundering out its music, together with so many other instruments, I do not believe that they would recognize us as Christians and their own successors [45] Smend disproves the connection with the St.

He suggests [46] that the "distinguished city" with "many high ministers" was more likely to be Dresden. The elaborated Passion was heard "for the first time" in Leipzig at the Thomaskirche St. Leaver echoes Smend's highly literal arguments. Mark Passion, but notes that such "passion music was done for the first time" on "26 March in the New Church. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy.

Log In Sign Up. Musical settings of the passion texts Engaging the Passion: Perspectives on the Death of Jesus, Andrew Shenton. Musical settings of the passion texts. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. The contributors approach the passion from a variety of perspectives—diversely Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular. Their voices differ as well, from the challenging to the comforting and from the academic to the confessional. They address the faithful, the skeptical, and the curious.

Often the stimulus for deep devotion, heroic deeds, and simple kindness—yet sometimes the excuse for hatred and unspeakable cruelty. This book confronts us with vast complexity, and the brilliance and clarity of its essays about specific instances challenge our thinking and fire our imagination. Multidisciplinary essays and apt illustrations demonstrate how these stories are never uninterpreted and are interpreted from the beginning in multiple ways. Creative sceptics are found sometimes more illuminating than churchly contempo- raries.

The horrific costliness of anti-Jewish attitudes built into the telling and reception of passion stories is emphasized throughout, and complex Muslim readings of the Christian texts and Jewish artistic responses illumine the stories as well. A volume to challenge, expand, complement, and enrich our understanding of these formative narratives. Illuminating the rich tradition of artistic depictions of the passion narratives, these authors dis- play how creative human interpreters from within and outside of the church have grappled with these classic texts.

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Manufactured in the U. This book was produced using PressBooks. This content downloaded from The Texts 1. Synoptic Passions 27 Oliver Larry Yarbrough 3. It Is Accomplished! Liturgy and Music 4. Literature 6. Katz 8.

Frodo and the Passion in J. Images 9. Engaging the Lothar Cross Eliza Garrison Can You Feel Me? Other Traditions Mourad Part VI. Ethics and Theology Theological Themes in the Passion Katherine Sonderegger How does it change or transform it? The answer is twofold: first, music provides increased expressivity, and second, it seeks to interpret the text. It is difficult to express in words the additional depth of emotion achieved by adding music to any text, let alone a story that concerns cruelty and death and is directly related to religious beliefs.

It is even harder to describe how a composer might seek to contribute to our understanding of this story by highlighting certain words, reordering the events, or even by adding innovative elements to the traditional narrative. Nonetheless, the developmental history of musical settings of the passion is directly concerned with increased expressivity and is intimately linked with developments in musical style. Study of This content downloaded from Three of these, known as the Synoptic Gospels, give similar accounts.

The Gospel of John differs slightly and includes additional details. Though some musical settings use elements from all four Gospels, most focus on one. In medieval times, the passion play, like its counterparts the mystery play and the miracle play, were told on the streets and were an effective method of religious instruction and evangelizing. All musical settings share these functions and have often moved the passion out of the liturgy and into the concert hall so that the story may be more widely heard. The Seven Last Words are a collection of short phrases taken from the four Gospels that were uttered by Jesus 1.


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Factual information in this essay has been collated from articles in Grove Music Online, ed. Macy, www. They are frequently used as part of a meditation liturgy during Lent and Holy Week, usually on Good Friday. The traditional order of the sayings is 1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 2. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.

Luke 3. Woman, behold your son: behold your mother. John 4. Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani? I thirst. John 6. It is finished. John 7.


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Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Its title is an abbreviation of the first line, Stabat mater dolorosa the sorrowful mother was standing. It is a popular text and has been set to music by many composers, among them Palestrina, Haydn, Rossini, Poulenc, and Verdi, as well as the French black metal band Anorexia Nervosa — The 3. The Plainsong Passion History does not relate exactly when passion texts began to be chanted instead of spoken, though it is likely related to the building of large basilical churches and the discovery that words could be better heard at a distance from the reciter if they were sung and not spoken.

This probably happened as a gradual process from the fifth to tenth centuries. According to the Roman Ordines, the collection of documents that contain the rubrics for the medieval mass of the Roman rite, originally just one person the diakon chanted the passion using a single reciting tone. Music notation developed gradually, beginning in the ninth century with the addition of litterae significativae letters of signification to manuscripts. These letters indicate a different way of delivering certain words that affect pitch, tempo, and dynamic.

For example, s by a word or passage denotes suaviter, meaning softly, and c stands for celeriter, meaning quickly. These letters indicate that, even in a liturgical setting, the dramatic power of the words could be enhanced with careful presentation. Gallen, Codex Sangallensis By the twelfth century, specific pitches were indicated for reciting the passion that in total had a range of just over an octave.

This range is within the capability of a single singer, suggesting that just one person did the chanting. The different pitch ranges helped the lone singer to identify the different people in the drama, thereby clarifying the plot. By the thirteenth century, there is evidence of more than one person taking part and this led to the tradition of Jesus being sung by a bass, the Evangelist by a tenor, and the synagoga the minor characters and turba crowd being sung by an alto.

The earliest extant manuscript that shows the use of multiple voices is the Dominican Gros livre of Bernard of Clairvaux, whose followers sought to depict the agony of Christ with increasing realism.

A source in the British Museum, however, indicates that a cleric called Durandus d. It contains anonymous settings of Matthew and Luke in which monophonic chant is retained for the words of the Evangelist, but three-part polyphony is used for the synagoga parts and the words of Christ. Like the anonymous versions in Egerton MS , Davy adds polyphonic settings of the crowd parts to the traditional plainsong passion tones, an innovation that became the standard format for many decades. Smallman, Background of Passion Music, Gwynn S. McPeek and Robert White Linker, eds.

Matthew Passion, Exordium, system Davy edition. Kurt von Fischer notes that from the sixteenth century onward Motet Passions can be divided into three types according to the sources of the text: 1. Those that set the complete text according to one evangelist; 2. A version found only in Protestant Germany that sets a shortened version of just one Gospel. With the sixteenth century, the history of the passion settings can be divided by denomination. For Catholics, the most widespread type was the Responsorial Passion to which there was one important innovation, the setting of the vox Christi voice of Christ polyphonically.

The earliest extant examples of this are a setting of Matthew and two of John by the Italian composer Gasparo Alberti c. The Protestant passions were largely monophonic and polyphonic settings of the Summa Passionis type. The most famous passion setting from the early-sixteenth century, Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ , was originally thought to have been composed by Jacobus Obrecht but has now been attributed to Antoine de Longueval or Longaval fl. Longueval most likely composed his Passio for Holy Week in , while a singer at the Court of Ferrara.

The setting is a Summa Passionis in three sections, utilizing variation in texture, rhythmic character, and scoring for dramatic effect. The words of the Evangelist are in two, three, or four parts, while those of the other characters are generally in three parts, and the turba sections mainly in four parts. His This content downloaded from Bach replaced it with his own version in , is notable because it is the first setting to place a dramatic pause after the death of Jesus, echoing current liturgical custom. Walther used a monophonic reciting tone for the Evangelist and other characters, and a simple type of polyphony called fauxbourdon for the crowd and disciples.

During the sixteenth century, many notable composers set passion texts, including Lassus, Vittoria, and Byrd. Matthew composed in for the Court of Dresden. It is scored for unaccompanied choir, thus adhering to an ancient custom that disallowed musical instruments during Holy Week as a sign of penance and renunciation.

It is largely syllabic and unmetered, with only occasional use of more than one note per syllable melismas , frequently to emphasize a word like gekreuziget crucified. Matthew Passion SWV Spitta edition. The Baroque Passion Around there was a significant development in music history that radically changed the way drama was set to music.

It was developed in the s by a group of men called the Florentine Camerata, who wanted to restore Greek ideals of declamation. In contrast to music of the Renaissance, which was polyphonic, this new style sought to give precedence to the text, taking the side of those who admonished composers whose overly elaborate settings obscured the words in a piece—a frequently recurring debate about musical settings of religious texts. The introduction to this volume outlines the purpose of monody and includes instruction on performance practice, giving musical This content downloaded from His argument that monodies could have passages that were more melodic or more declamatory led to the development of two musical forms, the recitative and the aria that would be important in later passion settings.

The advantages of these two new forms in the presentation of dramatic action are many. First, recitative moves through the text very quickly and can therefore propel the action forward. Secco dry recitative uses only a bass instrument such as the cello and a harmony instrument such as the harpsichord in a technique called basso continuo, which is designed to allow the words to be heard clearly.

Accompanied recitative uses more instruments and therefore adds more levels of emotion and interpretation to the text. In contrast, the aria is much more melodic. It offers the opportunity for reflection on the action and may utilize the full orchestral resources and showcase the technique and expressivity of the singer. These new forms allowed for both greater diversity and more expressivity so that longer texts could be set more effectively. This in turn led to the rise of opera and its sacred counterpart, the oratorio, of which the passion became a subset. During Lent, when opera could not be performed, composers turned to non-staged dramatic religious works such as the stories of Jephtha and Jonah, and set them to music that was in many ways similar to opera, utilizing a combination of recitative and aria.