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?

Author Biography

Markus Rathey studied musicology, Protestant theology, and German philology in Bethel and Münster, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Münster in 1998. He taught at the University of Mainz and the University of Leipzig, and was a research fellow at the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig before joining the Yale faculty in 2003. At Yale he serves as Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Music History with appointments at the Institute of Sacred Music, the School of Music, the Department of Music, and the Divinity School. His research interests are music of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries; Johann Sebastian Bach; and the relationship among music, religion, and politics during the Enlightenment. Recent publications include Johann Rudolph Ahle (1625–1673): Lebensweg und Schaffen (Eisenach, 1999); an edition of Johann Georg Ahle’s music-theoretical writings (Hildesheim, 2007; 2nd edition 2008); and Kommunikation und Diskurs: Die Bürgerkapitänsmusiken Carl Philipp Emanuel Bachs (Hildesheim, 2009). Forthcoming in 2016 are his study of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Oxford University Press) and a book on Bach’s major vocal works (Yale University Press). Professor Rathey has published numerous articles on music by Bach and his contemporaries in scholarly journals such as Eighteenth-Century Music, Early Music History, Bach-Jahrbuch, and Schütz-Jahrbuch. He is vice president of the American Bach Society and past president of the Forum on Music and Christian Scholarship (2009–2011). He serves on the editorial boards for BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute and the Yale Journal of Music and Religion.

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