Second Sunday in Advent 2017

As many of our readers know, the Baron is a devoted fan of Bach. He went straight from The Grateful Dead to Johann Sebastian without a pause for breath. (Well, that’s an exaggeration, but still…) So when the future Baron was but a wee sprite, he learned enough of Bach to play the organ for our church on Sundays.

This work, Wachet Auf (“Sleepers Wake”, in full Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140), was an inevitable part of his Advent repertoire. [Being singularly Irish-disabled in learning foreign languages (a deformation no doubt due to learning too much Latin too soon), I referred to this piece as “Whacked Off” — the closest I could come to pronouncing the German title.]

There are, of course, much longer versions of Wachet Auf, complete with the choral parts. See this one from Amsterdam.

4 thoughts on “Second Sunday in Advent 2017

  1. Similar with me. In nineteen sixty something I went into the local record shop and asked for whatever Whiter Shade of Pale was based on. They didn’t know but I came out with the Toccata and Fugue and ever since I have thought of Bach’s music as the highest expression of the human spirit bar none.

    On the other hand, here is what Islam has to offer on the subject, from the infamous Reliance of the Traveller, and a reminder of why we are all here:

    r40.1 As for The condemnation of musical instruments, flutes, strings, and the like by the Truthful and Trustworthy (Allah bless him and give him peace), who

    “does not speak from personal caprice: it is nothing besides a revelation inspired” (Koran 53: 3-4),

    let those who refuse to obey him beware lest calamity strike them, or a painful torment. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

    (1) “Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affair of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance.”

    (2) “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.”

    (3) “Song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage

    (4) “This Community will experience the swallowing up of some people by the earth, metamorphosis of some into animals, and being rained upon with stones.” Someone asked, “When will this be, O messenger of Allah?” and he said, “When songstresses and musical instruments appear and wine is held to be lawful.”

    (5) “There will be peoples of my Community who will hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful….”

    All of this is explicit and compelling textual evidence that musical instruments of all types are unlawful.

    r40.2 It is unlawful to use musical instruments – such as those which drinkers are known for, like the mandolin, lute, cymbals and flute – or to listen to them. It is permissible to play the tambourine at weddings, circumcisions, and other times, even if it has bells on its sides. Beating the kuba, a long drum with a narrow middle, is unlawful.

    • I think the organ part in “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is based on another Bach piece, not Toccata and Fugue. One of the chorale preludes, I think. I spotted the likeness once, but now I can’t remember which one it was. The Procul Harum hommage was but a pale shadow, if you will, of the original — it lacked the intricate counterpoint (which of course requires the work of both feet), of which Bach was the incomparable master.

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