Friday, September 25, 2009
This coming week, we'll be leaving behind the sounds of Bob Dylan in favor of Bach and Tallis. Our ears may suffer from a bit of musical whiplash, as we zip back in time hundreds of years!
The prelude will be a selection from Bach's Orgelbuchlein or "Little Organ Book," though it is often referred to as "The Liturgical Year." Bach had planned to compose 164 chorale preludes that would span the liturgical year, thus providing music for every Sunday, but he completed only 46 of them. For the most part, they are four-voice counterpart arrangements of famous hymn tunes. They present the familiar melodies in a novel setting, so that we hear the melody in a new way.
The particular piece for the prelude is a setting of "In Dir Ist Freude," which we translate "In Thee is Gladness" in the ELW. It's a text that I have quoted before, noting that the confident declaration of faith and joy is even more powerful when we realize it was composed during a time of religious turmoil and battle. We'll be singing the hymn during the service, and I felt it provided a great opportunity to hear Bach's version of this well-known hymn.
The choir will be singing during communion, a piece by Tallis, who lived for most of the 16th century. It has a strong rhythmic element, and to our ears will sound like a minor key (though technically modal). Don't let your ears get lazy, though, the investment of attentive listening to the text and the rhythmic vitality will help you realize that even music that is nearly 500 years old can still be relevant, exciting, and even fun to listen to.