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  • 2015 January 4: Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

    January 04, 2015 10:30

    There have been various approaches to Advent/Christmas down through the ages: in our culture we more or less start Christmas on Black Friday (if not much earlier) — a month plus of too many gifts and too much food (I’m reminded of William Blake’s aphorism "You never know what’s enough until you know what’s more than enough!"), and then on December 26 it's OVER. In Bach's day, however, Advent was a mini-'Lent' — a time of prayer and fasting, and no music in church! Then, on Christmas Day all heaven broke loose, and they celebrated Christmas for Twelve Days. Thus, after the 'darkness' of Advent, Christmas would be big and dramatic — something rather like somber Lent leading up to glorious Easter. This also worked out for church composers like Bach as they had the four weeks of Advent to prepare the massive amount of music performed over the Twelve Days. And the Twelve days of Christmas takes you to the next holy-day in the Church year: Epiphany — the day when the Christ was manifested to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. (more )

  • 2014 November 30: The Pilgrims

    November 30, 2014 10:30

    Last week we considered Martin Rinkart (1586–1649) — the Lutheran pastor who wrote the words to "Now Thank We All Our God" in the midst of the starvation, war and plague of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Johann Crüger (1598-1662) wrote the melody. The son of an innkeeper, he studied at the Lateinschule in Guben until he was 15. He then traveled and studied at schools throughout Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Moravia, including the Jesuit College at Olmütz, and the Poets’ School at Regensburg... (more )

  • 2014 November 23: Now Thank We All Our God (Nun Danket)

    November 23, 2014 10:30

    Martin Rinkart (1586–1649) was a Lutheran pastor who came to Eilenburg, Saxony at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. As a walled city it afforded some small measure of safety, and thus became a refuge for the dispossessed. The result, however, was overcrowding, pestilence and famine. And armies overran it three times in spite of its walls. (more )

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