O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig

Update: I discovered after I posted this that the first video embed doesn’t work — the channel’s owner has disabled embedding for it. You can watch the video on YouTube instead, if you like. However, the second performance is better, in my opinion.

In the Anglican tradition this day is known “Maundy Thursday”, the holy day that falls on the Thursday before Easter. Dymphna tells me that Catholics call it simply “Holy Thursday”.

The name “Maundy” is derived (via the Old French mandé) from the Latin mandātum (cognate with word “mandate”), the first word of a passage from the Gospel According to John: Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos, “A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another, as I have loved you.” Those words were spoken before the Last Supper, at the time of the washing of feet, and are now associated with the foot-washing ritual on Maundy Thursday.

The music below isn’t directly connected with Holy Week, but the title has an appropriate penitential tone: O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, “O innocent lamb of God”, by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is a chorale prelude, BWV 656, one of Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes (or Leipzig Chorales, BWV 651-668). I’ve included two YouTube versions of it, both played on the pipe organ.

The first version is useful for those who read music, since it follows the score all the way through. It was performed by Bine-Katrine Bryndorf at an unspecified location:

The second version is the best performance of the piece that I can find, by a young Swede named Ulf Norberg. It, too, is useful, because you can watch the organist’s hands and feet at work.

Interestingly, there is almost no pedal action in this prelude — not until well after halfway through, at the point where (I think) the actual chorale begins.

The performance was recorded at a live concert in Hedvig Eleonora Church, Stockholm, on March 22, 2015:

In addition to the fact that it’s Holy Week, this essay was occasioned by the recent terrorist attack in Sweden. It made me think about young Ulf Norberg and the pipe organ in Hedvig Eleonora Church in Stockholm — which is presumably not far from the blood-drenched streets where the jihad beer truck ran down and killed four people on April 7.

This magnificent music and that magnificent church are what Sweden is blithely throwing away for the sake of a godless Multicultural utopia. And not just Sweden — all of Western Europe, and eventually the rest of the West, if current trends don’t change their course.

Nevertheless, futile though it may be, it is one of the principal motives behind my choice to continue the struggle against the Great Jihad. The music of J.S. Bach represents the apotheosis of the human spirit, and will remain such even as the civilization that created it turns to dust.

As I wrote some years ago:

There is no ideology in this, none at all. The sole purpose of all of the sweat and learning and training and hardship is to create in the listener (and the performer) a moment of aesthetic rapture, all in the service of the greater glory of God. There is nothing more.

But ideology may well destroy it. Just as there are no longer any Buddhas at Bamiyan, nor any Buddhists to carve them or contemplate them, there may come a day when all the pipes lie strewn across the paving stones of a shattered building, with no more fingers to race across the keyboards nor feet to tap the pedals.

That’s one of the main reasons why I do what I do: so that this shall not pass from the face of the earth.

“Love one another, as I have loved you.” Soli Deo gloria.

23 thoughts on “O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig

  1. Thank you for this, Baron. Much appreciated. It is one of the reasons why I read regularly, and support occasionally, GoV. All is not doom and gloom, and there is a steady undercurrent of understanding, I think, by your readership, that this is why you do what you do.

    And though like Dymphna I’m Catholic, I share with you the north of England boarding school experience (Lancashire, though). Mine was a Catholic school, but there it was also referred to as ‘Maundy Thursday,’ so I don’t think it is exclusively an Anglican Church thing, perhaps just an ‘English’ thing.

    I appreciate, too, your delving into the ‘mandatum’ root of the word; not only was there the washing of the feet of his disciples, and the institution of the Holy Eucharist, but He in essence ordained his disciples as His priests … to ‘do’ the Eucharist in His stead, to perpetuate it. The foot-washing (being the servant of My servants) is thus intimately connected with our Lord’s institution of the priesthood.

    This is why it is wrong for priests in parishes to turn the foot-washing ceremony into a sop to feminists, by including women [and now this Pope expands that to include Muslims!]

    Ignorant clergy perhaps don’t realize that they are implicitly endorsing women’s ordination. What’s the Pope’s excuse, though? What is he implicitly endorsing? Does he himself even know? Does he care?

    • Lutherans also use the term “Maundy Thursday.” Orthodox do not; as with others, it is “Holy Thursday.”

      • Traditional Latin Rite Catholics do not do the foot washing ceremony. That is a protestant practice. We have a beautiful Holy Thursday mass with Gregorian chant and polyphony. I know because I am in the choir in a latin rite church. As a former Anglican, their holy week observances were beautiful, but since becoming traditional latin rite catholic, I love the holy week observances so much, and they are transcendent.

        • Sorry, b, but that’s incorrect. I grew up in the ‘Traditional’ Latin Rite, i.e. the Catholic Church pre-Vatican II, when the Mass was in Latin, and I witnessed the Washing of Feet in my youth.

          Today I attend the Traditional Latin Mass, or Mass in the Extraordinary Form, where we use the “Roman Catholic Daily Missal (1962)” published by the Angelus Press (c) 2004, which is compiled from the Missale Romanum.

          In that Missal on page 523 you will find the ritual and prayers for ‘The Maundy, or the Washing of Feet.”

          The instruction explicitly states that the Celebrant “… begins to wash the feet of twelve clerics (priests) or twelve poor people chosen for the ceremony.”

          This would not normally be seen in a normal parish church, where it would have been impossible to gather 12 priests to have their feet washed by the celebrating priest.

          Rather the norm was that the Maundy Thursday ceremonies would be held at the bishop’s seat … the diocese’s cathedral, with all (or most) of the priests of the diocese attending.

          Of course how precisely it was done was subject to conditions of time and place … a small diocese might do things a bit differently. A larger parish might have three priests, but still have to select 12 lay people… but the lay people would always be all _men_ (not just ‘poor’ people), since we all understood, as we were taught, that the ceremony symbolized our Lord’s institution of the priesthood.

          As a convert you may never have seen it done, and I’m sure there are cradle-Catholics in their late sixties who may never have witnessed the full ceremony … but it is definitely NOT a Protestant practice (though there may be some Protestant denominations that do it).

          • Frank, I grew up with the Latin Mass, in Florida, in New Orleans, and in North Carolina and New England. In American Catholicism, it was called Holy Thursday. Through 13 years of Catholic school, singing in the Gregorian choir, it was Holy Thursday…

            The Baron is not a convert to Catholicism, nor would he be. He can barely abide the daftness of ECUSA, to which we both belong. In England, he heard the expression “Maundy Thursday”, but not here until we both were rec’d into the Episcopal Church…

            It’s not a big deal,just semantics at this point. But I do well remember the Liturgical Year in American Catholicism and its rubrics. In Canada it is probably quite different on minor points – e.g., the name for the Monday following Easter, and the common name for the first Sunday after Easter. I remember them because I was in charge of formatting those purple gel things that were used to run off the bulletins on mimeograph machines for Holy Week services. Always a pain since I couldn’t type well.

            I spent *every* morning from the age of five to eighteen attending morning mass – and even after that at nursing school (didn’t last long). From sheer repetition and boredom I knew the responses better than the half-asleep altar boys. I think it was hunger that kept me alert…

          • BTW, when you drill down to that level, you come to know ember days, fast days, rogation Sundays, holy days of obligation, the rules for Lenten meals (for adults), the correct liturgical colors for any given part of the calendar, and where the exceptions could be made. While there were Italian, Polish, French, and Portuguese parishes in the U.S. dioceses, the administration of the church – its bureaucracy – was Irish-American through and through mid century America. Occasionally, a cardinal like Medeiros in Boston (which has a large Portuguese population on Cape Ann and environs) would be appointed, but the Irish mafia ran things. Until the so-called pink mafia took over…

  2. The current Pope strikes me as an idiot since he is also a socialist which doesn’t really mix well with Catholic teaching and faith.

    The music is lovely — thank you!

      • In American Catholicism, it was called “Holy Thursday”. Still is, as far as I know. Most of the Episcopal tradition felt quite familiar to me on becoming a member. But “Maundy Thursday” was a new one.

        As for the word, “Catholic”, iirc it didn’t arise until much later. It’s a Latin rite thing — as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox. BTW, one of the main reasons for the split between the two was the inability of both sides to agree on the correct date for Easter.

        Doesn’t much matter now…Christianity’s center of gravity is moving (never was stationary) to Africa and China at present. Though I am pleased no end that Africa sends missionaries to that “wretched hive of scum and villainy”, Washington D.C. and environs.

        …An interesting phenomenon of Christian belief is that it seems to flourish best where it is persecuted. People value “a pearl of great price”.

        Christianity also flourishes in places like America where there is a polyglot of denominations and the Constitution forbids the establishment of a state church. One brief exception as the Commonwealth of Virginia: given its close ties to England, the Anglican Church reigned in populous centers for a while until that strong English allegiance faded. Once people moved beyond the fall line of the JamesA allegiance waned; even today ECUSA is mostly an urban, coastal phenomenon.
        Christianity would be even stronger if it were not permitted tax breaks. Those exemptions make religion simply a non-profit among other non-profits and thus similar to, say, the Humane Society.

        Meanwhile, the immense varieties of American Christianity continue to flourish, though the mainstream denominations are in decline. This phenomenon of splintering is interesting to watch. It’s similar to the way safety glass breaks into smaller and smaller fragments. At that point, the analogy fails since those fragments group and regroup. I hope it is a foreshadowing of peaceful political change as Americans grow increasingly disgusted with what has replaced our original federation of states, i.e., a bloated central bureaucracy answerable to no one.

        • Dymphna. ABS was born into the Catholic Church in 1948 (Vermont) and it was called Maundy Thursday (After Mandatum)

          Ignatius of Antioch is the first of the Fathers to refer to the Catholic (universal) Church and he did so in 107 A.D.

          And you summary of what caused the men of the east to create a schism is similarly questionable.

          That aside, He is risen

          May your good work contimnue

  3. Jesus, The Son of God, left us the ultimate example for our behavior by washing the feet of His Disciples. This is the God who created the disciples who are now washing their feet. Selah.

    Jesus went on to Calvary later that day (evening and morning in that order) to paid our bride price. The price had to be paid in sinless blood which is something we don’t have and if we did, the payment of the price would kill us, which it did to Jesus. However, being God, He rose again from the dead and while despoiling the powers of darkness claimed his bride. J.S. Bach understood this awesome truth and set to music the realization of it in Jesu, Thou Joy of my Desiring, whose lofty strains have always been a favorite. It is written that the trees will clap their hands (I want to see that!) and the hills will sing when Jesus returns to rule and reign. It is also written that the creatures in the ocean will rise and sing His praises (porpoiseful worship?).

    Jesus told His disciples that the one who would be the greatest should be the servant of all. Jesus is the greatest because that is exactly what He was, servant unto death for countless millions. He is our example to follow as we are called to esteem our neighbor greater than ourselves. ‘Tis a pity Islam doesn’t get it but prayerfully their consciences will be pricked by our example. There is revival happening in Iran and Germany as Muslims are preferring the way of the loving Son of God to their blood-thirsty Allah.

    Have a blessed Feast of First Fruits as we celebrate Jesus Christ, the First Fruits of those who have (and will) risen from the dead. Selah.

    • Oh, Acuara … I just love it: ” porpoiseful worship ” ! Wonderful !

      • The twelve men were alternately called disciples and apostles, but mainly disciples before the resurrection. They were indeed his disciples when He washed their feet. And in John 13:5, where that account is told, they are called disciples.
        Jesus may have washed their feet in private, but in no way did He indicate that doing so must be kept in private.

  4. I have just finished preparing for the Mass of the Presanctifed for Friday afternoon in my small Anglican chapel. This music is most fitting as we contemplate the sacrifice of God, in human form, on the Cross for the sins of mankind. He told us many things during His time with us, but among them was “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Word will not pass away.” Jesus Christ is that Word, and He is without beginning or end, thanks be to God!

    Continuing Anglican Priest

  5. “Bach should be reason enough to defend against the Saracen.”

    Behold, this dreamer cometh, in a world full of cloddish men.

  6. Yes, Bach’s music is the acme and culmination of Western civilisation. Happy Easter to you, Dymphna, and to the baron also.

    I believe I read somewhere that the Bamian buddhas had been restored. I hope that is so.

  7. Quick, someone name the Islamic Bach!

    Trick question – you can’t because this person has never, and will never exist!!!

    Happy Easter!

      • To me, that is one of the most horrifying aspects of Islam. How can you have a soul and not love music? What a desolate existence (for more reasons than that, of course.)

        Thanks for this essay!

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