Lexington Presbyterian Church
Sunday, July 24, 2022
William McCorkle plays the C. B. Fisk pipe organ, opus 128 (2007)
Dietrich Buxtehude: Vater unser im Himmelreich (Our Father, Who Art in Heaven)
This week’s ‘post-worship treat’ complements the gospel reading from today’s worship (Luke 11:1-3). Since the earliest Reformation times there have been hymn and song settings of the Lord’s Prayer text. Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) versification of the Lord’s Prayer text was set to a tune (whose composer is unknown) in Valentin Schumann’s important hymnal, Geistliche Lieder (Sacred Songs – 1539). Over the ensuing centuries, a great deal of music has been composed around this tune, including solo vocal and choral pieces, but especially many organ pieces.
Today’s organ piece is by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), arguably the greatest German musician of the 17th century. A brilliant performer, improviser, composer, and teacher Buxtehude was the leading light of music in the north German/Danish city of Lübeck. His presence and influence enlivened the worship and concert life of the city, and attracted musicians from throughout Germany, not the least of them Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) to Lübeck to continue their own growth.
In today’s offering we see Buxtehude’s ‘signature’ style, a forthright presentation of the hymn melody, in ornamented, coloratura, and solidly declamatory style, evoking the practices of singers and instrumentalists of the day. It is a statement of joy and of hope.
This work is in the public domain.