During the ecclesiastical year 1689-90 the Lutheran superintendent in Leipzig, Johann Benedict Carpzov, and his cantor, the composer Johann Schelle, embarked on a collaboration of unusual scale. In the previous year, Carpzov had preached a cycle of sermons based on well-known hymns from the Lutheran tradition. In 1689-90 Carpzov gave a short summary of the earlier hymn sermons, while Schelle composed for each Sunday a cantata based on the very same hymn. The result is a unique collaboration between preacher and musician, pulpit and choir loft. Only a few of Schelle’s compositions have survived; however, the extant cantatas together with the printed sermons by Carpzov allow us to reconstruct the patterns of collaboration. They also demonstrate how music and sermons had to follow different genre conventions, which sometimes led to intriguing differences in the way preacher and composer interpreted the hymns. This historical case study leads to more general questions: What are the unique capabilities of language (in the sermon) versus sound (in the chorale settings)? How do sermon and music complement one another?
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"Preaching and the Power of Music: A Dialogue between the Pulpit and Choir Loft in 1689,"
Yale Journal of Music & Religion:
2, Article 4.
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