Thursday, April 21, 2011

Music for Holy Week, Part 4 – excerpts from Lukas Passion

The Last Supper, by Peter Paul RubensThroughout this Holy Week, we will be featuring excerpts from recordings of liturgical compositions which deliver to their hearer the very words of Christ's Passion according to the Gospel writers, in song. The Lutheran composers we have selected are mounted high on the throne of Baroque artistic achievement, and have been thus recognized for generations the world over: Johann Sebastian Bach and Heinrich Schütz. On Monday, in Part 1 of this "Music for Holy Week" series, we provided a brief biography of these composers, including some details indicating their importance to Lutheran liturgical music and its resulting impact. One of those details included the liturgical practice of chanting or singing the Gospel lesson, rather than merely speaking it. That is what these Passion compositions, written by Lutherans for the purpose of Lutheran worship, are: liturgical compositions which set the words of the Passion accounts to music, so that they can be sung as part of the liturgy of the church. That is to say, these singing liturgists were functioning as God's Ministers. Yesterday, in Part 3 of this "Music for Holy Week" series, we stated without commentary the fact that women were not part of these liturgical choirs. This practice was not a culture of sexism invading the church, nor was it a chauvinistic devaluation of their gifts. It was the application of clear Scripture teaching. Because such singing was liturgical, it was also ministerial and authoritative, a role from which females are directly prohibited in Scripture, as such public actions amount to usurpation of God's will for the ordering of His Church on Earth (1 Ti. 2:5-3:2; Ti. 1:5-9; 1 Co. 11:8-10;14:33-40; Ep. 5:18,21-24; 1 Pe. 3:1-6; Co. 3:17-18,23-25). The question of who may function as a liturgist in our own congregations, is answered today with the same abundant clarity of these Scripture references: only males may function as ministers in Christ's congregation, and this includes liturgists, whether they are singing or speaking the message of Scripture.

We have in the previous three days of this week visited the Passion accounts of St. Matthew (Monday), St. Mark (Tuesday) and St. John (Wednesday). Today, Maundy Thursday, we hear excerpts from performances of musical settings of St. Luke's account of the Passion of Christ, Lukas Passion, which were composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and Heinrich Schütz, respectively, below:

Bach’s Lukas Passion

Excerpt from Schütz’s Lukas Passion
I personally enjoy this Mauersberger recording of Schütz’s Lukas Passion.


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