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German Language in Bach's Time

Bach's High German

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 17, 2006):
Here are some source materials from Bach's time and before which might help shed more light on the type of German Bach heard and spoke in Leipzig.

"Verbessertes Leipzig" by Antonius Weiß, Leipzig 1728

".wie man denn nunmehro in unsern Welt-bekannten Leipzig das netteste Teutsch redet, inmassen die Verdoppelung der Consonantium, und die Erhebung der Stimme einen recht anmuthigen und liebens-würdigen Sonum in den Ohren derer Auswärtigen dahin kommenden Personen verursachet, wiewohl nicht zu läugnen, daß man nach genauer Untersuchung in Leipzig einen doppelten Dialectum observiret, denn unten im Brühl, allwo man allein in die 30. nur mit Schilden bemerckte Gast-Höfe zehlet, worinnen die meisten frembden Kutscher und Fuhrleute einkehren, ist gantz ein andrer und viel derberer Dialectus, als oben beym Paulino, und aufm Alten und Neuen Neumarckte, wo die Gelehrten und Kauff-Leute in grösserer Abundance, als unten im Brühl wohnen, in solcher Gegend man gewiß das netteste Teutsch redet."

(".in the way that people in our henceforth world-renowned Leipzig speak the pleasantest [type of] German, since the 'doubling' [possibly referring to the very distinct pronunciation of consonants] of consonants and the 'lifting' [better vocal support from the diaphragm - an important difference between a good actor on stage vs. a common man from the street] of the voice creates quite a charming and endearing sound to the ears of those that have come to Leipzig from distant places. It also cannot be denied that, upon more careful investigation you can observe two distinct forms of speech ["Dialectum"] in Leipzig, for down in the Brühl section of town [still within the city walls] where you can find all over at least 30 inns which are marked with their signs and where most of the non-local coachmen go, there is a very different and much coarser form of language ["Dialectus"] than up in the St. Paul's section and on the Old and New Markets, where a greater number of scholars and merchants live than down in the Brühl section and where in such parts of the city the nicest German is certainly spoken.")

Martin Opitz (1597-1639): "damit wir aber reine reden mögen, sollen wir uns befleiszen, deme, welches wir hochdeutsch nennen, bestens vermögens nachzukommen." (1624)

("so that we, however, may speak purely [speak in such a way to avoid the influence of dialect on our speech], we should make an effort to follow the model of /comply with that which we call "Hochdeutsch" [High German, not meant as a region where a certain form of German is spoken, but rather something more like Bühnendeutsch - stage German which could be understood in every German-speaking region or country] to the best of our ability.") (1624)

Johann Bödiker (1641-1695): "die hochteutsche sprache ist keine mundart eines einigen volks oder einer nation der teutschen, sondern aus allen durch fleis der gelehrten zu solcher zierde erwachsen, und in ganz Teutschland im schreiben der gelehrten wie auch im reden vieler vornehmer leute üblich." (1690)

("the High German language is not a dialect of any particular [group of] German-speaking people or of any particular German country or nation, but rather it consists of all those individuals who, through the industry of scholars [as teachers] have been educated to achieve such a special ability of which to be proud. This High German is customary/common throughout all of Germany in written form used by scholars as well as the spoken language used by many distinguished people.") (1690)


Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700-1766): ".es ist aber gar keine landschaft in Deutschland, die recht rein hochdeutsch redet: die übereinstimmung der gelehrten aus den besten landschaften, und die beobachtungen der sprachforscher müssen auch in betrachtung gezogen werden." (1748)

(".there is, however, no specific region/country at all in Germany which speaks pure High German [as the dialect into which one is born]: it is necessary to consider what the scholars from the best [German-speaking] countries have agreed upon as well as to take into account the observations that have been made by linguists.") (1748)

Rick Canyon wrote (November 17, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Here are some source materials from Bach's time and before which might help shed more light on the type of German Bach heard and spoke in Leipzig. >
As I recall from various books, more than one makes note of Bach's lack of a University degree--that he left the sheltered world of court employment and endured the politics of Leipzig so that his sons might have the educational opportunities denied him. I would think then that it's quite possible--perhaps--his non-University upbringing might manifest itself through a more "common-German/Saxon" accent (as opposed, for example, to an inability for intellectual discourse, which does not appear to be a shortcoming). In other words, it wasn't a lack of a degree on his resume, per se, that might single him out from Leipzig intelligentsia (eg. his superiors on the town council) but, rather the lack of an educated/intellectual accent.

One might think that over the course of nearly three decades in Leipzig that this would become less of a drawback as he became more and more assimilated into the intellectual community. I would think, though--after reading this--one might legitimaely ask if, after all these years at court, wouldn't his manner of speaking have acquired a certain sophistication? But, it may be that royalty did not want their servants to speak as they; that language was an appropriate gulf between Electors and those that did their bidding.

Beethoven, I gather, also had a crude accent which he took great pains to hide and overcome.

(I keep thinking here of the early "All In The Family" episode where Meathead introduces his young black friend, Lionel, to Archie. When Archie asks Lionel what he wants to be, Lionel answers in very proper English that he hopes to become an "electrical engineer". Archie goes "Huh?" Lionel nods knowingly and then answers, "Ah wants to become 'lectrical 'ngin-neah." This, Archie comprehends.)

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 17, 2006):
Canyon Rick wrote:
>>As I recall from various books, more than one makes note of Bach's lack of a University degree<<
Yes, he was an autodidact. This simply means that he did not have a record of attending a university or attaining a degree. It may even be the case that such a university education (referring here mainly or strictly to the courses/lectures given there), may have interfered with his development as a composer and as fairly wide-read individual.

CR: >>--that he left the sheltered world of court employment and endured the politics of Leipzig so that his sons might have the educational opportunities denied him. <<
This certainly was his own stated reason for coming to Leipzig.

CR: >>I would think then that it's quite possible--perhaps--his non-University upbringing might manifest itself through a more "common-German/Saxon" accent (as opposed, for example, to an inability for intellectual discourse, which does not appear to be a shortcoming). In other words, it wasn't a lack of a degree on his resume, per se, that might single him out from Leipzig intelligentsia (eg. his superiors on the town council)but, rather the lack of an educated/intellectual accent.<<
From what existing records tell us, Bach had a fairly large collection of books. Most of these books would have been written in a language that we can now properly term "Hochdeutsch" ("High German"). These books would set a stafor what an individual could expect in regard to written German which was fairly close to the equivalent spoken standard High German. Winckelmann, an 18th century German art historian and archaeologist, as far as I remember from reading some of his autobiographical statements, taught himself English primarily or almost exclusively through reading books (no tapes, recordings, etc. available to him at that time). He claimed later to be quite fluent in English because of his intense concentration and application to this endeavor. For Bach, the attainment of fluency in High German would have been much less arduous. It would simply be a matter of casting out dialect words/phrases/syntax in favor of a much more orderly form and sound of spoken German. With an keen ear for sound, Bach would be able to recognize the dialect sounds in his own language of birth and simply discard them in favor of what he heard in the manner of speech as used by his intellectual contemporaries.

CR: >>One might think that over the course of nearly three decades in Leipzig that this would become less of a drawback as he became more and more assimilated into the intellectual community.<<
Why would it take anyone with a keen ear and good mind such as Bach undoubtedly possessed, so long to assimilate? A comparable situation for an illiterate person would, most likely, be much more difficult to overcome.

>>I would think, though--after reading this--one might legitimaely ask if, after all these years at court, wouldn't his manner of speaking have acquired a certain sophistication? But, it may be that royalty did not want their servants to speak as they; that language was an appropriate gulf between Electors and those that did their bidding.<<
This is not the impression that I get from reading about Bach's relationship to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen with whom he seemed to be almost on equal terms as far as friendship and a strong mutual interest in musical matters are concerned. I can easily imagine that this prince spoke a form of standard High German and would be flattered to have Bach speak to him almost as an equal.

CR: >>Beethoven, I gather, also had a crude accent which he took great pains to hide and overcome.<<
Beethoven is a very special case of a great musician already perceiving an increasing deafness in his early 20s. Such a condition, aside from the extreme social problems that it would cause, would make learning the subtleties of accent and overcoming one's own accent in favor of another type of sound extremely difficult if not almost impossible. Politically Beethoven might have identified more with the non-aristocratic, common man who would not be as eager to make an effort to adapt to a higher standard of language. With Bach, the identification with the standard language spoken by well-educated individuals (whether men or women) would be very important. He would have quickly adapted and changed his level of written and spoken language accordingly.

Raymond Joly wrote (November 18, 2006):
Excerpts from Thomas Braatz's rejoinder to various observations by Canyon Rick:

Th. Br.: From what existing records tell us, Bach had a fairly large collection of books. Most of these books would have been written in a language that we can now properly term "Hochdeutsch" ("High German").
R.J.: A large number of them, including Luther's works, were Frühneuhochdeutsch (Early New High German). One description for Luther's German is Central Middle German (Amburger-Stuart).

Th. Br.: [Those books] would set a standard for what an individual could expect in regard to written German which was fairly close to the equivalent spoken standard High German. Winckelmann, an 18th century German art historian and archaeologist, as far as I remember from reading some of his autobiographical statements, taught himself English primarily or almost exclusively through reading books (no tapes, recordings, etc. available to him at that time). He claimed later to be quite fluent in English because of his intense concentration and application to this endeavor.
R.J.: I wonder how a person who would have learnt English from books only could make himself understood when he tried to speak it.

Th.Br.: For Bach, the attainment of fluency in High German would have been much less arduous. It would simply be a matter of casting out dialect words/phrases/syntax in favor of a much more orderly form and sound of spoken German.
R.J.: All right with the words and phrases and the syntax, but books displaying widely different spellings for the same word, sometimes on the same page (perfectly usual then in spite of the grammarians's efforts) are a poor guide to pronunciation. (By the way: I do not care for dialects myself, but I do not think they are more disorderly than the standard forms of language. Less regulated, maybe.)

Th.Br.: With a keen ear for sound, Bach would be able to recognize the dialect sounds in his own language of birth and simply discard them in favor of what he heard in the manner of speech as used by his intellectual contemporaries.
R.J.: 1) A good ear for music is not necessarily a good ear for accents. 2) Bach did not consort only with intellectuals, and there is no evidence that intellectuals in Köthen and Leipzig circa 1720-1750 were all intent on shedding dialect from their spoken language and successful at it.

CR: One might think that over the course of nearly three decades in Leipzig that this would become less of a drawback as he became more and more assimilated into the intellectual community.
R.J.: 1) Why should one assume that speaking with a Thuringian accent in Leipzig was a drawback? 2) What "intellectual community"? What are "intellectuals"? Anybody who attended the university? In what country does
anybody who attended university speak pure Hochsprache?

Th.Br.: Why would it take anyone with a keen ear and good mind such as Bach undoubtedly possessed, so long to assimilate? A comparable situation for an illiterate person would, most likely, be much more difficult to overcome.
R.J.: Assimilation means much more than linguistic conformity. And since this whole debate was started with questions about pronunciation, let us not confuse the discussion by unduly broadening the scope. As to pronunciation, intellectual acuity and training on the one side, talent in mimicking accents and changing one's own are two completely unrelated things.

Th.Br.: [...] Bach's relationship to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen with whom he seemed to be almost on equal terms as far as friendship and a strong mutual interest in musical matters are concerned. I can easily imagine that this prince spoke a form of standard High German [...].
R.J.: I can as easily imagine that he did not speak like the peasants in the next village, that he had much sympathy with the litterati who were keen to develop as much of a community of language in Germany as possible, and that he spoke as his beak had grown.

Th.Br.: With Bach, the identification with the standard language spoken by well-educated individuals (whether men or women) would be very important.
R.J.: Quite possibly so. It is very likely that that «standard language» spoken around him was Hochleipziger.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 18, 2006):
Raymond Joly wrote:
< Excerpts from Thomas Braatz's rejoinder to various observations by Canyon Rick: >
I would like to say congratulations to the participants on this thread for setting a fine example of the high standards of discussion and debate that are possible on BCML. Everything I know about the topic I have learned on this list. It is a pleasure to read an orderly presentation, and perhaps ultimately resolution, of competing ideas.

Alain Bruguières wrote (November 18, 2006):
I have found the following introductory text on the wikipedia page 'Standard German' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_German). The whole page is highly interesting, butthis sums things up nicely.

Quote:
Standard German has originated not as a traditional dialect of a specific region, but as a written language <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Written_language>, developed over a process of several hundred years, in which writers tried to write in a way that was understood in the largest area. Until about 1800 Standard German was almost entirely a written language. In this time, people in northern Germany <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany>, who spoke Low Saxon <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Saxon> dialects very different from Standard German, learnt it almost like a foreign language. Later the Northern pronunciation was considered standard and spread southward; in some regions (such as around Hanover <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanover>) the local dialect completely died out. It is thus the spread of Standard German as a language taught at school that defines the German /Sprachraum </"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprachraum>/, i.e. a political decision rather than a direct consequence of dialect geography <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialect_geography>, allowing areas with dialects of very limited mutual comprehensibility to participate in the same cultural sphere (literature, and more recently mass media).
End of quote.

The interesting point for us here is that, before 1800, Standard German was 'almost entirely a written language'. The cantata libretti were written in this Standard German, but this doesn't tell us how they were pronounced.

In fact each area had its own way of pronouncing Standard German (a situation similar to that of Sanskrit in India: the written form is completely standardized but the pronouciation varies from one region to another, being influenced by the vernacular tongue).

An interesting and somewhat intriguing information is that the written form of modern Standard German is based on high german, but its pronounciation is based on that of low german.

On the following very interesting page: http://www.lrz-muenchen.de/~hr/lang/dt-hist.html Helmut Richter suggests that this may be due to the following fact. In the region where the traditional dialects were high german, people had difficulties keeping the traditional dialect completely apart from standard german, which was also a form of high german. There you had a continuum of intermediate forms. On the contrary, in the regions where the traditional dialects were low german, the situation was almost bilingual; educated locutors were able to maintain the dialectal forms and the standard forms completely apart. As a result, in these areas standard german was spoken in a much 'purer' form, ie without dialectal forms getting mixed up with it. Therefore the 'Standard German' as spoken in these areas acquired a certain prestige, and since it was pronounced in a 'low german accent', this became the standard pronounciation. Apparently that process took place in the course of the XIXth century. A significant fact: the first book on Standard German pronounciation dates from no earlier than 1898 in the /Deutsche Bühnenaussprache/ of Theodor Siebs.

As Raymond Joly suggests, it seems likely that the language spoken by educated people around Bach was Standard German spoken in a Leipsiger accent - probably significantly different from the modern standard pronouciation.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 18, 2006):
Alain Bruguières wrote:
< The interesting point for us here is that, before 1800, Standard German was 'almost entirely a written language'. The cantata libretti were written in this Standard German, but this doesn't tell us how they were pronounced. >
I think this summarizes the historical situation admirably. Whether we can reconstruct the historical pronunciation of 18th century Leipzig is the work of linguistic historians. If that was possible, then we would be a step closer to performing Bach, not only with authentic instrumental sounds, but authentic vocal sounds.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 18, 2006):
Raymond Joly wrote:
RJ: >>A large number of them, including Luther's works, were Frühneuhochdeutsch (Early New High German). One description for Luther's German is Central Middle German (Amburger-Stuart).<<
TB:>>These are the technically correct terms used in linguistics since the 19th century, but the quotations that I gave demonstrate that educated individuals from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries were not aware of these finer distinctions. Also, terms like "Central Middle German" attempt to relate a form of written and spoken German to a geographical region, which is technically correct and represents more current scholarship; however, a closer inspection of the quotations I gave seems to indicate that individuals from different parts of 'Germany' were striving for a consensus regarding a form of standard German for writing and speaking. The situation is even more complicated than this as explained in the introductory material to "Hochdeutsch" in Grimm's dictionary, particularly as far as the 15th and 16th centuries are concerned. All of this might take this thread too far afield.<<

RJ: >> I wonder how a person who would have learnt English from books only could make himself understood when he tried to speak it.<<
TB:>>Here is a wild speculation on my part: perhaps the fact that there were numerous spellings of the same word in English provided some help in this direction as well as the fact that Winckelmann may have overheard some conversations in English that would have given him help with the basic sounds. Recently, for diversion, I have spent 15 to 20 minutes a day attempting to read a facsimile text of the first printed English New Testament by W. Tyndale, 1525. The spellings of the same words change frequently making a normally swift reading almost impossible at times, but when a difficult passage occurs, I find it necessary to try to 'sound it out' with various pronunciations until the riddle is solved. Perhaps using a similar process, Winckelmann could begin to guess at sounds of words which would normally confuse anyone attempting to learn today's standard English from scratch.<<

RJ: >>1) A good ear for music is not necessarily a good ear for accents.<<
TB: >>Not necessarily, not exclusively, but it is a general observation that I have frequently found validated in my experience. It also seems reasonable that someone who 'cannot hold a tune in a bucket' or can only sing a drone, will not very likely do very well in learning a foreign language other than the one(s) into which he/she were born.<<

RJ: >>2) Bach did not consort only with intellectuals, and there is no evidence that intellectuals in Köthen and Leipzig circa 1720-1750 were all intent on shedding dialect from their spoken language and successful at it.<<
TB: >>This is why I shared the quotation by Anton Weiß from the 1720s in Leipzig. I find in it confirmation that Leipzig, as one of the most important universities in Germany at that time, was in vanguard of this movement toward a standard spoken German that had begun in the 17th century.<<

RJ: >>1) Why should one assume that speaking with a Thuringian accent in Leipzig was a drawback?<<
TB: >>The main reason here is that it would set you unnecessarily apart from the others who have learned to relinquish in intellectual conversations or in polite society all those distracting speech forms, mannerisms, or accent which might interrupt the flow of thought in a well-mannered cbetween intellectual equals.<<

RJ: >>2) What "intellectual community"? What are "intellectuals"? Anybody who attended the university?
In what country does anybody who attended university speak pure Hochsprache?<<
TB:>>Today's situation may well be quite different with an emphasis upon asserting one's uniqueness and independence from social forces. It is my perception, until I find documentation which will contradict what I have seen thus far, that the Enlightenment (along with the subsequent stronger focus on nationalism) provided the proper atmosphere for this attempt to establish a 'standard High German/Bühnendeutsch', a quest formally restated by Goethe (already quoted previously) and culminating in the effort by Theodor Siebs around the turn of the 20th century to apply phonetics to regulate precisely what the Standard Deutsch Hochsprache (High German) should sound like.<<

RJ: >>Assimilation means much more than linguistic conformity. And since this whole debate was started with questions about pronunciation, let us not confuse the discussion by unduly broadening the scope. As to pronunciation, intellectual acuity and training on the one side, talent in mimicking accents and changing one's own are two completely unrelated things.<<
TB:>>I was not considering the non-intellectual comedian who mimicks accents very well, but rather the almost illiterate individual in his/her own language attempting to master and assimilate another. Here is where we would see clearly the difference between a Winckelmann and such an individual. This is where a Winckelmann would also adjust far more easily to removing vestiges of his own local dialect/accent from his speech than others would. As Theodor Siebs pointed out, it takes a lot of self-motivation and will power to be successful in attaining a pronunciation of German that could be considered Standard High German. In the same way that many early 18th-century Germans (except from the lower class of society) learned to dance from a French dancing master, they would also see the advantage of speaking and writing Hochdeutsch without committing any faux pas that might attract undue attention to them. There was at that time a strong will and willingness to make such a broad range of adjustments in one's behavioral as well as speech habits.<<

RJ: >>I can as easily imagine that he did not speak like the peasants in the next village, that he had much sympathy with the litterati who were keen to develop as much of a community of language in Germany as possible, and that he spoke as his beak had grown.<<
TB:>>Bach would have followed in the footsteps of Luther who persisted in making his German Bible translation be as close to what the common people spoke on the street as possible. But what was the result of Luther's efforts? He brought life back into the German language he ultimated used as compared with the many stilted translations of the Bible into German before Luther's version. Avoiding the emulation of the labored translations from the Vulgate, Luther returned to the original sources and in an immense battle with the sources which he wanted to render into the everyday language heard on the streets, he nevertheless avoided the pitfall of including dialect forms which would be understood only in a certain locality. There is no doubt in my mind, that Bach would certainly have reverted to and appreciated the local and regional dialect into which he was born whenever such opportunities presented themselves. However, he could just as easily shift back to the standard German he had been taught or had learned from listening to educated people and those from nobility (who had also received an education from special tutors when they were young). Perhaps symbolically this process could be related to his wig which represented his status in society. When he took his wig off, let's say at one of his family clan's gatherings where they sang quodlibets and discussed other issues among themselves and told humorous stories of their experiences, it is very likely that various Saxon dialects would abound and would provide a special flavor in conversation to make them memorable. It would have given Bach a 'homey' feeling somewhat like tasting mama's special cooking after having been away for many years.<<

RJ: >>Quite possibly so. It is very likely that that «standard language» spoken around him was Hochleipziger.<<
TB:>>Yes, a 'Hochleipziger' that all those students, professors and visitors from different regions of 'Germany' (like Goethe who came from Frankfurt am Main to Leipzig to study) would embrace and emulate in speech and which would be the equivalent to Bühnendeutsch ("Stage German") which Goethe described circa 1800.<<

Neil Halliday wrote (November 18, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< If that was possible, then we would be a step closer to performing Bach, not only with authentic instrumental sounds, but authentic vocal sounds. >
The former of doubtful value, and the latter even more so, as far as capturing the essence of the music itself is concerned, IMO. Still, to each his own.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 18, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Whether we can reconstruct the historical pronunciation of 18th century Leipzig is the work of linguistic historians. If that was possible, then we would be a step closer to performing Bach, not only with authentic instrumental sounds, but authentic vocal sounds.<<
Even if it were possible (and I personally rather doubt that it is) to reconstruct the historical pronunciation of 18th-century Leipzig Hochdeutsch and if this putative, recognizably different sounding accent (Leipzig-Saxon variant) were reproducible, it would defeat the overriding factors that have been mentioned here before: any special non-standard German sound (the use of a Saxon accent) would

1. interfere with the message/content/ideas of the original High German text by unnecessarily distracting a normal listener who understands standard stage German from properly pondering the meaning of the words and meditating upon them

2. create additional problems for vocal soloists and choir members in attempting to emulate the sound of words sung with an accent derived from from a local dialect, which would not necessarily be one with which they were normally acquainted

3. make the German text generally more difficult to perform and understand than it already is

4. bring about adverse conditions for the voice since "Bühnendeutsch" (stage German) is speech-hygienically (for speakers and singers as well) a sounder choice for the vocal production of words than any dialect variant would be

The reasons given above make clear that any attempt to apply deliberately a Saxon accent to Bach's texts, even if linguists specialized in Saxon dialects of the early 18th century were able to reconstruct such sounds as were heard on the streets in some parts of Leipzig during the 1720s and 1730s, is in no way comparable to the movement toward greater authenticity in the use of original instruments, not to mention some other performance practice theories which remain entirely speculative until the present day.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 18, 2006):
Alain Bruguières wrote:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Written_language>
>>Until about 1800 Standard German was almost entirely a written language.<<
It is possible that whoever wrote this either overlooked or chose to ignore statements like those by Opitz, Bödiker and Gottsched which I recently shared here.

>>In this time, people in northern Germany <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany>, who spoke Low Saxon <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Saxon> dialects very different from Standard Ger, learnt it almost like a foreign language. Later the Northern pronunciation was considered standard and spread southward<<
An interesting theory.

>>...it seems likely that the language spoken by educated people around Bach was Standard German spoken in a Leipsiger accent - probably significantly different from the modern standard pronouciation.<<
Where is the evidence for this assertion ["significantly different"] other than extrapolating from a contemporary situation back to one during Bach's tenure in Leipzig, one which may easily have been very different from what we would normally expect?

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 18, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< 1. interfere with the message/content/ideas of the original High German text by unnecessarily distracting a normal listener who understands standard stage German from properly pondering the meaning of the words and meditating upon them
2. create additional problems for vocal soloists and choir members in attempting to emulate the sound of words sung with an accent derived from from a local dialect, which would not necessarily be one with which they were normally acquainted
3. make the German text generally more difficult to perform and understand than it already is
4. bring about adverse conditions for the voice since "Bühnendeutsch" (stage German) is speech-hygienically (for speakers and singers as well) a sounder choice for the vocal production of words than any dialect variant would be
The reasons given above make clear that any attempt to apply deliberately a Saxon accent to Bach's texts, even if linguists specialized in Saxon dialects of the early 18th century were able to reconstruct such sounds as were heard on the streets in some parts of
Leipzig during the 1720s and 1730s, is in no way comparable to the movement toward greater authenticity in the use of original instruments, not to mention some other performance practice theories which remain entirely speculative until the present day. >
Why must a modern German stage accent be deemed normative for Bach? North American choirs routinely adopt English accents when singing English music of all historical periods precisley because the music was written with certain vowel and consonant sounds in mind.

The same situation exists for Bach. He expected his consonants to close words with a particular sound. And he certainly would have objected to a long vocal run sung on the wrong vowel.

Some of the objections here seem to indicate a notion I'm denigrating Bach because he spoke with a regional accent. That's not true. I'm saying that the way you pronounce "ich" is a significant factor in performing his vocal works.

If you don't care about the way the words sounded, then it doesn't matter what the instrumental lines sound like. Why not have a saxophone play oboe d'amore parts?

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 18, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Why must a modern German stage accent be deemed normative for Bach?<<
The "Deutsche Hochsprache" as defined throughout the 20th century by Siebs and others who continued his work is not an 'accent', it is 'accent free'. This is what sets it apart from any dialect influences.

DC: >>The same situation exists for Bach. He expected his consonants to close words with a particular sound.<<
Yes, the particular sound of High German as spoken by educated people in Leipzig and those who came from outside Leipzig. The particular sound heard when an elevated speech devoid of local accents was called for, particularly during church services. We are not talking about a situation where an American church choir, as part of a church service containing other sacred music, suddenly sings a spiritual as Afro-Americans would have pronounced it over a century or more ago. The Bach equivalent to that (which never happened) would be for Bach to have the Thomanerchor sing a spiritual song just as the miners did when they held church services inside the opening of a mine shaft.

DC: >>And he [Bach] certainly would have objected to a long vocal run sung on the wrong vowel.<<
This brings up a complaint that I heard from Bach singers who cannot understand why Bach had so many coloraturas on the German vowels 'i' and 'e', but this has nothing to do with dialect influences.

DC: >>Some of the objections here seem to indicate a notion I'm denigrating Bach because he spoke with a regional accent. That's not true. I'm saying that the way you pronounce "ich" is a significant factor in performing his vocal works.<<
It certainly is and I hope that all choirs throughout the world would sing it correctly (not according to certain modifications that this fricative undergoes in various dialects) because it would change the sound of German significantly, but would do little to enhance the understandability of the the German text.

The more I think about hearing dialect sounds coming from a choir singing a Bach text, the more I think that the result would be more like a cariacture of what might otherwise be a serious presentation of a sacred text. I have been moved by musical performances of some spirituals when they were properly sung, but I would never want to hear the 'Messiah' performed using the American dialect forms used in spirituals nor would I want to hear the 'Messiah' sung according the the precise German accent that Handel most probably had when he lived in England (that would, of course, be very authentic).

DC: >>If you don't care about the way the words sounded,<<
I will kindly assume that this 'you' does not refer to me.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 18, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It certainly is and I hope that all choirs throughout the world would sing it correctly >
And there we have it .. The famous Braatz "correctly"... Infalliby delivered yet again.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 18, 2006):
Bach's High German OT

Can I manage this in 25 words or less? I'll do my best.

Boston Musica Viva, one of our new music ensembles, now in its 38th season, tonight presented a program entitled <Made in Germany I>, the first of two over two seasons. Two of the pieces, an early Kurt Weill and a commissioned premier, setting Rilke texts, were soprano vocals. Texts with English translations, and suitable lighting for reading them, were provided. I found the singer superb, both in tone and enunciation.

With all the discussion of dialects of late, I was particularly alert to the intermission and after concert chat. I noticed several variants of Boston (including Harvard), plus British, French, German, and Georgian (Russian). And a few French phrases thrown into the midst of English conversation. Full disclosure: I would not have identified the Georgian by ear if I did not know the lady. I believe I even heard some Standard American English, but it was certainly not predominant. I assure you, we all, every one of us, would identify ourselves as intellectuals. Well, perhaps not the Standard Americans.

I got a special laugh from overhearing one of the German guys complain about the soprano's enunciation, and then remark that he didn't bring his reading glasses because he didn't expect to need them. I was about to tap him on the shoulder and remind him that Bach's listeners had their text booklets at hand. Then I recalled Harry's warning that for safety sake, better to avoid being facetious. So I stuck my hands in my pockets.

Nice to be back home at the BCML pub.

 

Language and Culture

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 24, 2006):
Russell Telfer 1685 wrote:
< On the other hand, if I told you of one or two movements which I find turgid,
or difficult to sing, I would probably be told off for not seeing the movement in its liturgical context. The day may come, however, when I feel combative, and I won't back off! >
Tell us about the satisfying ones as well! I already mentioned in citing one of your previous posts, that I find comments from people who actually perform the music especially relevant. If time is tight, brief posts are especially welcome.

If you get told off, Harry and I have covered from the back row of the pub.

 

Why H?

Canyon Rick wrote (January 19, 2007):
Is there a reason why the Germans use H=B-natural, and B=B-flat? There must be some logic for "H" appearing between "B" and "C".

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 19, 2007):
[To Canyon Rick] Reason and logic are seductively similar, but not equivalent. I am reasonably certain there is a reason (but I have no idea what it is). I am also reasonably certain it (the reason) is not logical.

Christoph Bohn wrote (January 19, 2007):
[To Ed Myskowski] Allegedly there was a German monk in the middle ages who mistook b for h while copying a score. Other monks who used his manuscript as a source copied this mistake and thus helped spread the wrong name for the note.

Chris Rowson wrote (January 19, 2007):
[To Christoph Bohm] I asked my German partner, Cécile, who gave me an answer based on the "B" in the old script being so complicatedly curved that it was hard to print and that therefore "H" was used instead. I probed this, finding the reasoning as Ed said it would be, and was told "that´s what they taught me when I was studying".

Putting it together with Christoph´s misreading, though, some sense perhaps begins to emerge.

Hans-Joachim Reh wrote (January 19, 2007):
[To Canyon Rick] A full answer can be found here: http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/harmony/hex1.html#3
and additionally here: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dur

In Germany there was b (b rotundum) for Bb and b (b quadratum - where the lower part of that letter looked like a square) for B). By misinterpretation/misreading of b quadratum it eventually turned into h.

 

German verb "vollbringen" => accomplish, achieve, perform (not fulfill?)

Gerog Fischer wrote (March 26, 2007):
There was a recent detail question about the German verb "vollbringen" (Jesus cried "Es ist vollbracht" etc.). The word es rather rare, in my Elberfelder bible it occurs 31 times. Kids would not use it today, and they may be unsure about the precise meaning.

http://dict.leo.org (which is a good bookmark for German <> English translations) today yields:
- to accomplish (great works, wonders ...)
- to achieve
- to perform (?)
- ...
"fulfill" ( = erfuellen) is not really the precise translation in my eyes, though of course it's near. A contract, a promise, a wish would be "erfuellt" (fulfilled?).

I wonder whether there are more native German BCML list members. Anyway, you are invited to direct simliar German<>English translation questions directly to <georg.fischer@t-online.de>. My wife teaches German and English, and for the words in past centuries I can use the "Grimms Wörterbuch" on CD-ROM.
--
Regarding nazism, Luther and Jews, and similiar topics (which recently consumed much precious reading time of BCML list members), you can also get some answers to questions from a German who was born in 1947 - but definitely by personal email only. Be warned that after 12 months I finally refused military service in 1968 during the "Prague spring".

Hendrick Oesterlin wrote (March 26, 2007):
Georg Fischer wrote:
< "fulfill" ( = erfuellen) is not really the precise translation in my eyes, though of course it's near. A contract, a promise, a wish would be "erfuellt" (fulfilled?). >
I agree with you.

< I wonder whether there are more native German BCML list members. Anyway, you are invited to direct simliar German<>English translation questions directly to <georg.fischer@t-online.de>. My wife teaches German and English, and for the words in past centuries I can use the "Grimms Wörterbuch" on CD-ROM. >
There is also the possibility to read the Grimms Wörterbuch online:
http://germazope.uni-trier.de/Projects/WBB/woerterbuecher/dwb/wbgui?lemid=GV07636

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 26, 2007):
Georg Fischer wrote:
< "fulfill" ( = erfuellen) is not really the precise translation in my eyes, though of course it's near. A contract, a promise, a wish would be "erfuellt" (fulfilled?). >
"erfüllen" appears in the Passions in the sense of the "fulfilment" of the prophetic scriptures:

SMP: "auf dass erfüllet würde, das gesagt ist durch den Propheten"

Do modern German speakers hear the two verbs as synonymous or is there a distinction?

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 27, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] If I understand, it seems a rather useful distinction. I can't think of an English equivalent for:

(1) A prophecy or destiny (for example) which 'must' be fulfilled, versus

(2) A promise or contract, which only 'should be' fulfilled.

Shawn Charton wrote (March 27, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] to me erfüllen is to fulfill and vollbringen is bring forth or make complete. similar but not really the SAME...

Hendrick Oesterlin wrote (March 27, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] There is an very clear difference for me as an German native."Vollbringen" is not synonym to "erfüllen". The above definition seems quite correct.

Canyon Rick wrote (March 27, 2007):
[To Hendrik Oesterlin] Thank you all for the authoritative responses.

There were originally a couple of additional queries about the word. One was: how does "es ist vollbracht" differ from "Ich habe genug"? (aren't they representative of the same thing?) Why would Bach choose then Es ist vollbracht instead of Ich habe genug for the SJP?

The other was: are there any other musical texts containing some form of vollbringen? The only other that I know of--there must be more--is Brunhilde's "Vollbringt Brunhildes Wort" from the Immolation in GD. (it is a very, very memorable line) It just struck me, is it possible that Wagner could have specifically chosen vollbringt with an eye towards Bach's use of the word? I am still formulating this in my mind, but it does have the potential to be a curiosity, especially if one is looking for a Bach influence in/on Wagner.

Neil Halliday wrote (March 27, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
>how does "es ist vollbracht" differ from "Ich habe genug"? (aren't they representative of the same thing?) Why would Bach choose then Es ist vollbracht instead of Ich habe genug for the SJP? <
John 19,30: When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said:It is finished ('es ist vollbracht' ie, accomplished), and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost".

c.f. "I have enough"?

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 27, 2007):
Canyon Rick wrote:
< The other was: are there any other musical texts containing some form of vollbringen? The only other that I know of--there must be more--is Brunhilde's "Vollbringt Brunhildes Wort" from the Immolation in GD. >
Again to the native German speakers, is "vollbringen" an archaic word to modern ears? What do 20th century German translations use for that verse?

Neil Halliday wrote (March 27, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>is "vollbringen" an archaic word to modern ears?<

Well, it's listed in my Collins Gem English/German (2002) dictonary. as meaning 'accomplished'. Does that count?

Santu de Silva wrote (March 27, 2007):
Canyon Rick asks:
< There were originally a couple of additional queries about the word. One was: how does "es ist vollbracht" differ from "Ich habe genug"? (aren't they representative of the same thing?) Why would Bach choose then Es ist vollbracht instead of Ich habe genug for the SJP? >
[Knowing that it is dangerous for a non-German speaker to answer such questions,]

"Es ist vollbracht" is an expression that a duty has been discharged. I have done my duty, and satisfied [someone else].

"Ich habe genug" is an expression of being at the end of one's rope. However, it is an expression allowing for varying levels of emotion, from deep annoyance to utter despair.

It is possible to be fed up in the course of discharging a duty, but the two thoughts seem to not be the same, at least to me.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 27, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>What do 20th century German translations use for that verse?<<
Courteof the BibleWorks program:

Munich New Testament (1998):
John 19:30 Es ist vollendet.

(This is from the 5th edition of a study translation of the New Testament only published in the name of the Collegium Biblicum of Munich. Munich is a predominantly Catholic region of Germany)

Revised Elberfeld Version (1993)
John 19:30 Es ist vollbracht!

Revised Luther Version (1984)
John 19:30 Es ist vollbracht!

Unified Version (1980)
John 19:30 Es ist vollbracht!

Schlachter Version (1951)
John 19:30 Es ist vollbracht!

Unrevised Elberfeld (1905)
John 19:30 Es ist vollbracht!

The Greek NT word "teleo" {pronounced:tel-eh'-o}
behind the translations above:

Meaning: 1) to bring to a close, to finish, to end 1a) passed, finished 2) to perform, execute, complete, fulfil, (so that the thing done corresponds to what has been said, the order, command etc.) 2a) with special reference to the subject matter, to carry out the contents of a command 2b) with reference also to the form, to do just as commanded, and generally involving the notion of time, to perform the last act which completes a process, to accomplish, fulfil 3) to pay 3a) of tribute

Shawn Charton wrote (March 27, 2007):
[To Santu de Silva] As a full-blown expert on BWV. 82 (notice tongue in cheek) I will point out that you are somewhat mistaken about your concept of the phrase "Ich habe genug." Ich habe genug is meant to quote Simeon and underpin the Lutheran ideal that once one has seen the Redeemeer one should be prepared for death/heaven.

> "Ich habe genug" is an expression of being at the end of one's rope. However, it is an > expression allowing for varying levels of emotion, from deep annoyance to utter despair.

This is simply not true. It is an expression of hope and satisfaction... It is to say, I have enough - I am ready to make my journey to heaven. There is not even a HINT of being at the end of one's rope. The music is indicative of longing for death as seen through the light of heaven. ALL of Bach's symbolism in this cantata supports it as a clear statement of Salvation. NOW... if you want the end of your rope listen to the Bass aria in BWV 13... THAT'S the end of your rope.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 27, 2007):
Shawn Charton wrote:
< This is simply not true. It is an expression of hope and satisfaction.satisfaction.<WBR>.. It is to say, I have enough - I am journey to heaven. There is not even a HINT of being at the end of one's rope. The music is indicative of longing for death as seen through the light of heaven. ALL of Bach's symbolism in this cantata supports it as a clear statement of Salvation. NOW... if you want the end of your rope listen to the Bass aria in BWV 13... THAT'S the end of your rope. >
I agree with what you say and would add 2 further points

1 I feel that we do not often enough do, as you have just done, argue from the premise of the musical expression. Often the music conveys the message with greater clarity and conviction than the words. I recall seeing a letter by Mendelssohn to a friend who objected to music as an art form because he said it was too 'inexplicit'

M responded that his friend was quite wrong; musical statements are completely explicit because, whilst the meanings of words can be and often are confused, a phrase of music has one particular 'meaning' which is unique to itself and which can be confused with no other musical idea.

2 My second point is one of (possibly rash) disagreement--which is a bit unfair as your comment on the bass aria from BWV 13 was really a 'throwaway line' not central to the particular argument. I just don't feel that it's all as tragic (end of the rope) as people often think. The text begins with the piteous weeping and moaning certainly (lacking only the Bronte--an tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth) BUT it goes on to describe the light from heaven which, when taken to one's own breast, can bring ease and calm. The (long) ritornello encapsulates both ideas, firstly the grinding discords and suspension but then the rising scales using Schweitzer's three note 'joy' motive. I think this is another of those cases where bach brings together, within the one movement ,the apparent opposites of emotion --sheer despair but side by side with the light and relief of hope.

So Yes I guess I agree about the tragic bit--but I think it has to be viewed within the total context:_------------ including the hopeful rising light that softens the tragedy.

Shawn Charton wrote (March 27, 2007):
[To Julian Mincham] conceeded. It's been AGES since I sang that aria so I had forgotten that the light of Heaven appears later. In truth, I don't know BWV 13 at all besides this aria. Will someone do an introduction on it at somepoint? How do the cycle discussions on this board work anyway?? Are we going through the cantats in a praticular order?

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 27, 2007):
In Luther's translation of the New Testament, the verb "vollbringen" seems to occur only twice as "vollbracht" in short succession in a specific location compared to "erfüllen", which in its commonly used form "erfüllt" occurs 23 times in all the four Gospels. There is something very special about "vollbracht" which has a strong association with the Greek "teleo" (appears as a root in the English word: "teleology").

"erfüllt", based on the Greek "pleroo" (see below), is found in the following verses:

Matt 2:15
Matt 2:23
Matt 4:14
Matt 12:17
Matt 13:35
Matt 23:32
Matt 26:54
Matt 26:56
Matt 27:35
Mark 1:15
Mark 15:28
Luke 9:51
Luke 21:22
Luke 22:16
Luke 24:44
John 12:38
John 15:25
John 17:12
John 18:9
John 18:32
John 19:24
John 19:28
John 19:36

but "vollbracht", apparently the only form of this verb used in the translation of the 4 Gospels, appears only in John, specifically in

In John 19:28 and John 19:30, 'teleo' appears in the Greek and "vollbracht" is used instead of "erfüllt"; however, in John 19:28 the verb "teleo" appears twice in the same sentence. Perhaps for this reason Luther opted for a synonym "erfüllt" to avoid repetition, but in doing so he weakened the emphasis upon the distinctive meaning of "teleo". It would be something like trying to change the strong emphasis in statement like: "He never did nothing to change this" which, although we frown upon this type of usage in modern English, was accepted as standard English in earlier forms of English. Today we feel impelled to change this statement to "He never did anything to change this", thus weakening somewhat the strength and strong emphasis of the original statement.

In John 19:36 it is not "teleo" but "pleroo" which is used here, a few verses later, and everywhere else (see above)where "erfüllt" appears.

pleroo {play-ro'-o}

Meaning: 1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full 1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally 1a1) I abound, I am liberally supplied 2) to render full, i.e. to complete 2a) to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim 2b) to consummate: a number 2b1) to make complete in every particular, to render perfect 2b2) to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking) 2c) to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise 2c1) of matters of duty: to perform, execute 2c2) of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish 2c3) to fulfil, i.e. to cause God's will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God's promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment

Now compare and contrast this with "teleo" in this context:

"erfüllt" (John 19:28): based upon:

teleio,w teleioo {tel-i-o'-o}

Meaning: 1) to make perfect, complete 1a) to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end 2) to complete (perfect) 2a) add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full 2b) to be found perfect 3) to bring to the end (goal) proposed 4) to accomplish 4a) bring to a close or fulfilment by event 4a1) of the prophecies of the scriptures

and once again:

"vollbracht" in John 19:30: "Es ist vollbracht!"

based upon:

tele,w teleo {eh'-o}

Meaning: 1) to bring to a close, to finish, to end 1a) passed, finished 2) to perform, execute, complete, fulfil, (so that the thing done corresponds to what has been said, the order, command etc.) 2a) with special reference to the subject matter, to carry out the contents of a command 2b) with reference also to the form, to do just as commanded, and generally involving the notion of time, to perform the last act which completes a process, to accomplish, fulfil 3) to pay 3a) of tribute

For comparison:

King James Version: John 19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished ["teleo"], that the scripture might be fulfilled ["teleioo"], saith, I thirst.

New Living Testament: John 19:28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, "I am thirsty."

KJV: John 19:36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled ["pleroo"], A bone of him shall not be broken.

NLT: John 19:36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, "Not one of his bones will be broken."

[Credit for the above research goes to BibleWorks (copyright 2006), a program which readily supplies answers to many difficult problems and provides quick assistance for what might otherwise take much longer to ascertain. The Bible quotations and the Greek dictionary definitions are copied directly from this program.]

Julian Mincham wrote (March 27, 2007):
Shawn Charton wrote:
< conceeded. It's been AGES since I sang that aria so I had forgotten that the light of Heaven appears later. In truth, I don't know BWV 13 at all besides this aria. Will someone do an introduction on it at somepoint? How do the cycle discussions on this board work anyway?? >
the cantatas are being discussed in the order in which it is believed they were written.

We are now about 3/4 of the way through the second Leipzig cycle, but will not be discussing the Easter cantata BWV 4 as that was written a decade or so previously. Next week's cantata is, therefore, BWV 6. and we continue (almost) uninterrupted until 176 the last cantata of the cycle (the one interruption is BWV 36, thought to have been written in 1725 but not as a part of the second cycle).

BWV 13 comes about a dozen or so cantatas in the third cycle and should come up for discussion around October 2007. There is an order of discussion which Aryeh has prepared which can be accessed from the website.

Hope this helps

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 27, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< So Yes I guess I agree about the tragic bit--but I think it has to be viewed within the total context:_------------ including the hopeful rising light that softens the tragedy. >
This point is so important that it is difficult to find adequate words. It is as if the music reflects Bach's life, and the tragedy is there simply to provide the contrast which emphasizes the certainty of spiritual peace and salvation, no matter the apparent gloom.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 27, 2007):
Bach's Lectionary: was everyone else in Germany using this as well?

Is it safe to assume that other composers in Germany were using the same Lutheran lectionary that Bach was using in Leipzig? Telemann in Hamburg, Fasch in Zerbst, Graupner in Darmstadt, Stoelzel in Gotha?

Despite my best efforts to find information on this important point, I can't seem to locate a definitive answer.

Any help greatly appreciated.

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 27, 2007):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Kim, I just received an answer from one of my friends who has specialized in his graduate studies in a survey of Lutheran Church Orders and practices.

Here is his response. I'll add a few more thoughts as well.

Well, "Germany" didn't exist then and that's the problem. In the overwhelming majority of the Lutheran territories the same lectionary was in use. But I wouldn't bet the farm on there being no deviation because some principality somewhere probably went their own way - just like the Norwegians subbing out Annunciation for Judica each year. It would certainly be safe to say: the overwhelming majority of Lutherans in the 18th century used the same lectionary.

Some more thoughts:

It would be fairly easy to compare the sacred chorale music of various composers with Bach's Cantatas to see the similar Biblical texts treated. Assuming that othes composed for specific Sundays in the Church Year that would be one way of looking at this question.

Every territory would have its own "Church Order" in which were presented the rules, regulations, services and procedures for the ordained ministers in that territory. Hence, the Saxon Church Order was in force in Bach's Leipzig.

Interestingly, there was such uniformity in territories that it was not unusual for the ministers in a given city, for example, Braunschweig in the 1560s and so to actually all be preaching not only on the same texts, but nearly the same sermon, agreed to by the ministerial group in that city.

The other point is that the Gospel and Epistle readings in the Lutheran Church Year are/were rooted in the historic readings in use in the Western Church for hundreds of years even before Luther's times. The conservative nature of the Lutheran Reformation is demonstrated in many ways, but here we see that Lutheranism did not simply get rid of the historic lectionary system, but used it.

This is why, for instance, one can pick up volumes of Luther's sermons prepared for preachers, his "Postils" as they are called, and compare how he treats the same texts as does Martin Chemniz in the later part of the 16th century and then again Johann Gerhard in the 17th century and so forth. To this day Lutheran churches using the historic lectionary, as we call it now, are able to make use of the long history of sermonic and chorale work done by Lutheran greats such as Bach, etc.

One thing some of us modern Lutherans do not like about the newer lectionaries that have come into our church from the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms made by Rome, is that we are not on a three year series of readings and do not necessarily hear the historic readings any longer. The theory is that more Bible being read aloud in church is better, so the readings change every Sunday for three years and we do not have the same readings every single year, but only every third year. We who prefer the historic lectionary like the ability to use historic resources for preaching, teaching and church worship as we have them from Luther foreword, including of course Bach's work. A good preacher using the historic lectionary can find many fruitful ideas for sermons from using Bach's cantatas.

Hope that helps.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 27, 2007):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] You should find the answer in the books listed below. I would guess that the Sunday and Principal Feast cycles were the same. Saints' Days might well have local variants:

Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism
Choir, Congregation, and Three Centuries of Conflict
Joseph Herl
Oxford University Press

Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (Paperback)
by Gunther Stiller
Amazon.com

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 27, 2007):
German verb "vollbringen" vs. "erfüllen" in Luther's translation

Here is how this key passage is by some recent translations into other languages (some may not reproduce correctly on your screen). The Latin Vulgate is interesting here as well.

KJV: John 19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished ["teleo"], that the scripture might be fulfilled ["teleioo"], saith, I thirst.

French Bible en français courant (1997) : John 19:28
Après cela, comme Jésus savait que, maintenant, tout était achevé [« teleo »], il dit pour accomplir [« teleioo »] le texte de l'Écriture: «J'ai soif.»

Spanish (Castilian Bible Versión, 2003) : John 19:28
Después de esto, sabiendo Jesús que todo quedaba ya cumplido ["teleo"], para que se cumpliera ["teleioo"] la Escritura, dice: " Tengo sed ". {They seem to have gotten it right and were not afraid of a repetitive verb form.]

Spanish (La Biblia de Las Americas, 1986) John 19:28
Después de esto, sabiendo Jesús que todo se había ya consumado ["teleo"] , para que se cumpliera ["teleioo"] la Escritura, dijo : Tengo sed.

Latin (Vulgate) John 19:28
postea sciens Iesus quia iam omnia consummata sunt ut consummaretur scriptura dicit sitio [There is no compunction felt here in regard to repeating the same root verb with its slightly variant forms.]

Italian (San Paolo Edizione, 1995) John 19:28
Dopo ciò, sapendo Gesù che già tutto era compiuto, affinché si adempisse la Scrittura, disse: «Ho sete».

Dutch (Luther Version Last Revision, 1994) John 19:28
Hierna, dewijl Jezus wist, dat alles alreeds volbracht was, opdat de Schrift vervuld werd, zeide hij: Mij dorst.

Norwegian (Norsk Bibel Nynorsk, 1994) John 19:28 28
Etterpå, då Jesus visste at no var alt fullført, seier han, så Skrifta skulle oppfyllast: Eg er tyrst!

Polish (Biblia Tysiaclecia , 1965, 1984) John 19:28
Potem Jezus &#347;wiadom, &#380;e ju&#380; wszystko si&#281; dokona&#322;o, aby siê wypełniło Pismo, rzekł: «Pragnê».

Modern Greek : John 19:28
Meta. tou/to ginw,skwn o` VIhsou/j o[ti pa,nta h;dh evtele,sqhsan [here is the first use of "teleo"] dia. na. plhrwqh/|[this is "pleroo"] h` grafh,( le,gei\ Diyw/Å [This will not print out properly on most computers, so I will tell you that this translation uses a form of "teleo" in the first part of the verse and a form of "pleroo"
near the end. Have even the modern Greeks lost the distinction that was once made? or do they also dislike repetition of a key word in the same verse the same way that Luther and others did?

Now I hope that we will all be more acutely attuned to the fact that "Es ist vollbracht" (John 19:30) occurs only in the SJP and not the SMP (nor in any other Passion Bach might have composed or performed) and what really lurks behind the translation of the original Greek.

Russell Telfer wrote (March 27, 2007):
Shawn Charton wrote:
< conceeded. It's been AGES since I sang that aria so I had forgotten that the light of Heaven appears later. In truth, I don't know BWV 13 at all besides this aria. Will someone do an introduction on it at somepoint? How do the cycle discussions on this board work anyway?? Are we going through the cantats in a praticular order? >
Since you posted, Julian Mincham has replied, correctly, that BWV comes up
later in the third Leipzig cycle.

<< He writes: "I feel that we do not often enough do, as you have just done, argue from the premise of the musical expression. Often the music conveys the message with greater clarity and conviction than the words. .... it is due to be discussed in October 2007. ..... >>
What he didn't say, and what I believe Aryeh would support, is that you may discuss ANY cantata at any time.

I am willing to discuss this work with you. It is a gem. I get the feeling - based on the previous response to your posts - that many others on the board are not so enthused, or possibly just don't know the cantata. Their loss.

Gerog Fischer wrote (March 27, 2007):
OT: Es ist vollbracht / erfüllen

Once again, as Thomas Braatz pointed out:
in John 19, 28-30 it is "vollbringen" in all translations I have at hand. There is a new one, "Die Bibel in gerechter Sprache" (The Bible in right language), which may (probably) bring another word - sorry that I cannot yet tell you what they use.

In current language we will rarely use that verb, if ever.
If I were asked to bring an example for the word, I would always came up with the 2 bible citations: "Es ist vollbracht"
(John 19,30) and "Er hat große Wunder vollbracht"
(He accomplished great wonders).

And the example for "erfüllen" is normally: "Auf dass die Schrift erfüllt werde" (such that the scriptures will be fulfilled?). Which is very well related to John 19,28, but Luther and even the current catholic translation today use "vollbracht" there.

Julian Mincham wrote (March 27, 2007):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< What he didn't say, and what I believe Aryeh would support, is that you may discuss ANY cantata at any time. >
I am willing to discuss this work with you

Yep--count me in

Gerog Fischer wrote (March 27, 2007):
OT: BWV 82 - Ich habe genug

Since we just analyze single words and phrases, that text is quite clear for me (also in the other stanzas):

(*Ich habe genug,*)
Ich habe den Heiland, das Hoffen der Frommen,
Auf meine begierigen Arme genommen;
Ich habe genug!
(*Ich hab ihn erblickt,*)
Mein Glaube hat Jesum ans Herze gedrückt;
Nun wünsch ich, noch heute mit Freuden
(*Von hinnen zu scheiden.*)

1) He has enough from the present world, he is fnished with it
2) because he saw Jesus
3) and therefore he wishes to leave the world today with happiness

I don't see that this relates to the "vollbracht" / "erfuellen" topic, because is spoken/sung by one of us.

 

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Last update: ýAugust 14, 2007 ý18:41:16