MUSIC AND LITURGY


FEBRUARY 1, 2015: THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY

This morning at 11 am, we will offer the choral music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and recognize the profound influence these works had on choral music for over a century after his death.

When Mendelssohn composed his Die Deutsche Liturgie (The German Liturgy) in 1846, there was much controversy regarding the style of music appropriate for divine worship. The concerted style of Bach and the more operatic style of Haydn and Mozart were deemed unsuitable and excessive for 19th century liturgies in both Catholic and Protestant churches. A reactionary style resulted, with composers writing works in the ancient 16th century unaccompanied polyphonic style.

When Mendelssohn was appointed Music Director of the Cathedral (Protestant) in Berlin, he received a commission from its patron, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, to compose a setting of the German liturgy for the choir. What resulted were ten choral works, both responses and extended movements from the Ordinary. Today, we will hear the largest movements from that work- the Gloria and Sanctus. These works are unaccompanied and written in a manner which prayerfully complements the liturgy, but are products of German Romanticism with lush choral writing in eight parts.

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