Saturday, January 24, 2015

Introit and Instrumental Music for the OSHC Service of Sunday, January 25, 2015



From: Richard Thomas []
Sent: Saturday, January 24, 2015 1:48 AM



The bulletin hasn’t been produced yet, so I don’t have the hymns, but the offertory is particularly interesting, which is described below.


The introit is "We Come Before Thee" by James Denton, a pseudonym of Dr. Robert J. Hughes (known to his friends as “Dr. Bob”), who also used the aliases of John Johnson and James Moffatt

The Old Testament reading is from Jonah, chapter 3, verses 1 to 5 and verse 10.  It’s about God changing his mind about destroying Nineveh after the people put on sackcloth and repented.  Even the king took off his robes, put on sackcloth, and sat on ashes.  The king ordered that the cattle, the sheep, --- indeed, every animal, was to put on sackcloth.


The king instructed his people not to eat or drink anything and to turn from their evil way of living and to turn away from violence.


The people did turn from their evil way of living, and it worked, God changed his mind. 


In Jeremiah 18, God explained that whether he carries out a judgment or fulfills a promise is conditional on what the people do:


                There are times, Jeremiah, when I threaten to uproot, tear down, and destroy a nation or kingdom. But if that nation I threatened stops doing wrong, I will cancel the destruction I intended to do to it.

                And there are times when I promise to build up and establish a nation or kingdom. But if that nation does what displeases me and does not obey me, then I will cancel the good I promised to do to it.


In any case, though God may have been satisfied and relented, Jonah was very angry.  After Jonah had tried so hard to escape doing as God had commanded (go to Nineveh and declare God’s judgment against the people there), and God had foiled his attempt to escape from that duty (jump on a ship, storm, sailors find out Jonah’s responsible and throw him overboard, big fish, etc.), and so, ultimately, Jonah had done as God had commanded and had declared God’s judgment, then God had changed his mind!


Jonah wasn’t happy.  Here he had told the people of Nineveh that in forty days they were going to be destroyed, just as God had told him to do, but then they hadn’t been destroyed.  You’ll have to read Chapter 4 to find out what happens next.


The gospel reading is Mark 1: 14-20.  It’s a parallel to the calling of the disciples that we heard last week from John.  In Mark, however, Jesus does not immediately give Simon his nickname of “Rocky” (Peter).  That doesn’t happen until Chapter 3 in Mark.

The sermon is "Like the Words You Speak"

Instrumental Music

The prelude,  "Ach Gott und Herr"  by J. S. Bach is also used as a hymn tune.  It is used with “Strengthen for Service, Lord, the Hands” and “Alas! My God! My Sins Are Great.”


        “Ach Gott und Herr,” choral, BWV 255


       “Ach Gott und Herr,” instrumental, BWV 255


       “Strengthen for Service, Lord, the Hands”


He also composed another piece with the same name:


       “Ach Gott und Herr,” BWV 714


The offertory is from an opéra fantastique by Jacques Offenbach which was based on three short stories by E. T. A. Hoffman. 


The opera is The Tales of Hoffman (Les contes d'Hoffmann).


The selection is the Barcarolle “Lovely Night, O Night of Love (Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour)”, the most famous barcarolle ever written. 


The words are about love and the beauty of the night.  It is sung at the beginning of the third act (or fourth act if you count the prologue as an act), which is set in Vienna.


       Barcarolle from the Tales of Hoffmann, music by Jacques Offenbach


[Sometimes the opera is said to have five acts, while others say it has three acts sandwiched between a prologue and an epilogue.  The plot is about Hoffman, who, in Act I (II) falls in love with a female robot (a mechanical automaton).  In Act II (III) falls in love with a young woman who loves to sing, but her father reveals that she will die if she sings too much --- never a good thing for a character in an opera.  She does, of course, sing too much and then dies. This brings us to Act III (IV) in the video below.]


In the next video from the production in 2003 (Salzburger Festspiele 2003) we hear “Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour” as it is sung in the opera. 


The production is a “tragic version” of The Tales of Hoffman directed by David McVicar. 


David McVicar sees Hoffmann as “an alcoholic and a loser,” and in the end, “Hoffmann simply dies.”


The scenes “portray the fading elegance of a decaying society.”


I couldn’t make out the plot at this point in the opera, but it somehow involves a naked man whose shoulder is bleeding, people wearing masks, a skeleton, strange hats, and a gondola:  Barcolle, “Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour” sung as part of the opera, The Tales of Hoffman, words by Jules Barbier, Salzburger Festspiele 2003


Well, I could make some sense of the gondola.  It is Venice after all.  I think the guy sitting among scattered sheets of yellow paper, writing, is supposed to be the poet Hoffmann.


Offenbach used this very same music earlier in Die Rheinnixen, where it is sung by a chorus of elves.


Offenbach died while the opera was still in rehearsal.


Elvis Presley sang a jazzed up version with the title “Tonight is so Right for Love” in the movie G.I. Blues (1960).


       “Tonight is so Right for Love,” Elvis Presley


Ginger sings the tune in an episode of “Gilligan’s Island”:


       Ophelia’s Song in the Gilligan’s Island production of Hamlet, sung by Ginger


See, “Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour” truly is “the most famous barcarolle ever written.” (A barcarolle is a song traditionally sung by Venetian gondoliers.)

Bach’s “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr',” BWV 664,  is the postlude.  Here it is being played in Ukraine:


       “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr',” played by Dmitry Ushakov in 2009


The title is, however, also used for BWV 662, which is quite different:


       “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr',” BWV 662.


Then there’s BWV 663: , BMV 675 , and BMV 676 .


It is also the name for BWV 715, which is a bit weird:


        BWV 715



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