Friday, July 27, 2018

Bach • Schütz • Handel

July 28th every year • Saturday 28 July this year

JS Bach worship bulletin coverHere's the worship bulletin cover collage I designed in City of History for our weeknight liturgical celebration of The Fifth Evangelist, Johann Sebastian Bach; anchor image is Ben Shahn's portrayal of Bach based on Elias Gottlieb Haussmann's famous one. Formally and officially this commemoration's mostly – but not exclusively – a Lutheran thing. Long ago I heard of a novel about a (Roman Catholic, of course) Pope who loved Sebastian Bach's music so much he wanted nothing more than to canonize him as a saint of the RC church, but Bach's being protestant was more than a slight impediment. Only Bach for my collage? Always the liturgy geek, since I followed both Sunday and sanctoral lectionary propers, I kept saying, "Bach, Schütz, Handel" to the pastor, who kept insisting back, "Bach!" Finally I got we'd be officially celebrating only JSB that evening.

Prelude Music Planner observes, "In a delightful example of musical ecumenism, Schütz (a Lutheran) received funding from the Landgrave (a Calvinist) to visit Giovanni Gabrieli (a Catholic) at St. Mark's Basilica, Venice, where he studied organ, composition, improvisation, and probably substituted for Gabrieli at mass." These days that kind of flexibility and interchangeability is super-common, pretty much a given, but was close to unheard of until the papacy of John XXIII.

I suggested JSB's commemoration may mostly be a Lutheran thing since Bach himself was a Lutheran Protestant, yet The Wonder-filled Wikipedia tells us, "the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church remembers Bach annually with a feast day on 28 July, together with George Frideric Handel and Henry Purcell." Not sure if G.F.'s surname needs to be spelled Handel or Händel in which context?!

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