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Music Notes by Patricia Milewski, UBC Germanic Studies PhD candidate
and grateful recipient of a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The lyrics of four of the songs featured in the service today were written by the 17 th century German author, Gertrud Möller (1637–1705) and set to music by Johann Sebastiani (1622–1683) –the chapel music director of the Brandenburg-Prussian court in Königsberg (not to be confused with Johann Sebastian Bach). They are found in the “Parnaß-Blumen” songbooks (1672, 1675) that Möller co-published with Sebastiani, a male-female collaboration unique in the 17 th century.
These songbooks emerged within the musical-literary tradition of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) following the Thirty Years War (1618–1648), and their spiritual songs reflect a female poet’s devotional voice, which the music elegantly amplifies. Only four copies of the songbooks survive in libraries in Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Russia. Their importance as artifacts of a woman’s contribution to early modern song culture was rediscovered in the early 20 th century.
Educated at home in a Lutheran family, Möller showed a talent for writing verse early on. She was the wife of Dr. Med. Peter Möller and the mother of 10 children. A celebrated poet in Königsberg, she also became a laureated poet in the Nuremburg Pegnitz Literary Society. Johann Sebastiani arrived in Königsberg sometime before 1650. His best-known works are his Matthäus Passion, Pastorello musicale (thought to be the oldest extant German opera manuscript), and the Parnaß Blumen songbooks, which were marketed at the book fairs in Frankfurt and Leipzig under his name, obscuring Möller’s authorship for centuries in music scholarship. On the other hand, many of Möller’s Parnaß-Blumen texts were ‘anonymized’ and taken up into other songbooks where they survived assigned to familiar hymn tunes instead of Sebastiani’s sophisticated music. The recovery of Möller’s authorship is an important aspect of securing her place in cultural memory. The Passion Song “O Hertzens-Angst! O Bangigkeit und Zagen” is a case in point. Crafted by Möller as a dramatic rhyming Sapphic ode evoking the experience of witnessing Christ’s funeral procession, Sebastiani sets this text as an expressive song for two female voices and captures the anxiety of the opening address “O Hertzens=Angst” through the imitative entry of voices in a
distinctive four-note melodic formula that signals a foreboding situation. This affect is lost when Möller’s text appears anonymously in Johann Günther’s choral books assigned the well-known hymn melody “Hertzliebster Jesu! Was hast du verbrochen”, and even today, when her text is sung to Bach’s four-part chorale BWV 400, also without attribution. Although spiritual songs, characterized by themes and motifs of an inward reflective nature, were meant for intimate devotional practice rather than public worship, evidence shows that “Jesu, Jesu du mein Licht” permeated this boundary. Gustav Düben (1624/28–1690), organist and composer of the Swedish court chapel made manuscript copies of the vocal and instrumental parts (ca. 1681–84) intended to be performed during Holy Communion, thus serving a liturgical function, similar to the performance today. As well, the congregation may well be hearing premiere performances of the songs “Wilkomm’n Jesu / Menschen Heyl” and “Herr Jesu / dreyerley”– all wonderful examples of the crossing-over of spiritual songs from private to public devotional space across time.

Indeed, sharing the experience of these meditative songs in this sacred setting today in dialogue with the lectionary, beloved hymns, and Ellen Clark-King’s “Called to Faith” gives us cause to reflect on how a devout woman’s historical voice is amplified and ‘joins in’ the celebration of faith though the collaboration of poet, composer, scholars, performers, and the witnessing congregation. Many thanks to the Christ Church Cathedral music directors, vocalists and musicians who have made this possible.


Additional Notes by Byron Hanson:

Dr. Kris Rizzotto is the Director of Music at Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. She wrote “Trio on Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” for organ solo. IT’s a Trio, because teorganist usually plays one part with each hand, then the third part with their feet on the pedals. This short lively “baroque-esque” piece uses the tune of “Wie schön leuchtet” by Phillip Nicolai (1556-1608) in the pedal part; however our positif organ does not have pedals. Because of this, and the fact that we think the piece is too short, we will be doing 2 adaptations! In our first iteration as the introit, the strings will play the “pedal” part, and for our postlude the strings will double the top two lines with the organ and the choir will sing the tune using the 1 st verse of the English translation “How Bright Appears the Morning Star” by William Mercer (1811-1873).

Lina Braghetta Piozzi (1906-1987) was an Italian composer and pianist. She completed her studies in Padova (Italy), obtaining diplomas in Piano under the guidance of master Carturan and in Composition under the guidance of masters Oreste Ravanello and Gianfrancesco Malipiero at the "Cesare Pollini Conservatory of Music".