This volume draws together a collection of Robin A. Leaver’s essays on Bach’s sacred music, exploring the religious aspects of this repertoire through consideration of three core themes: liturgy, hymnology, and theology. Rooted in a rich understanding of the historical sources, the book illuminates the varied ways in which Bach’s sacred music was informed and shaped by the religious, ritual, and intellectual contexts of his time, placing these works in the wider history of Protestant church music during the Baroque era.
Including research from across a span of forty years, the chapters in this volume have been significantly revised and expanded for this publication, with several pieces appearing in English for the first time. Together, they offer an essential compendium of the work of a leading scholar of theological Bach studies.
Table of Contents
Part I Liturgy
1. Bach’s Cantatas and the Liturgical Year
2. Bach’s Music and the Leipzig Liturgy
3. Bach’s Agnus Dei Compositions
4. Bach’s Parody Process: From Cantata to Missa
5. Bach and the Cantata Controversy in the Early Eighteenth Century
Part II Hymnology
6. Bach and Johann Christoph Olearius
7. Bach’s Christ lag in Todesbanden (BWV 4): Hymnology and Chronology
8. Bach’s Orgelbüchlein
9. Bach and the Hymnic Aria
10. Bach and the Letter Codes of the Schemelli Gesangbuch
Part III Theology
11. Bach and Pietism
12. Bach, Gesner, and Johann August Ernesti
13. Bach and Erdmann Neumeister
14. Bach’s Clavierübung III
15. Bach and Anniversaries of the Reformation
Robin A. Leaver is professor emeritus of sacred music, Westminster Choir College, Princeton; and has previously been visiting professor at the Juilliard School, New York, Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Between 1984 and 2018 he wrote the program notes for the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and from time to time contributes similar writings for the Bach Collegium Japan. Professor Leaver is a past president of both the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Hymnologie and the American Bach Society, and is an honorary member of the American Bach Society and the Riemenschneider Bach Institute. He is the author of many Bach articles that have appeared in such journals as the Bach Jahrbuch, the Journal of the Riemenscheider Bach Institute, and Early Music, and has contributed to standard reference works and volumes of essays on Bach and his world. As an editor he oversees monographs in the series Contextual Bach Studies, and his most recently edited Bach publications include the Routledge Research Companion to Johann Sebastian Bach (2016), Exploring Bach’s B-Minor Mass (2020), with Yo Tomita and Jan Smaczny, and Bach and the Counterpoint of Religion (2018).