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Bach Perspectives, Volume 12

Bach and the Counterpoint of Religion

Bach's music observed within the cross-currents of religion in the Eighteenth Century

Johann Sebastian Bach was a Lutheran, and much of his music was for Lutheran liturgical worship. As these insightful essays in the twelfth volume of Bach Perspectives demonstrate, he was also influenced by--and in turn influenced--different expressions of religious belief. The vocal music, especially the Christmas Oratorio, owes much to medieval Catholic mysticism, and the evolution of the B Minor Mass has strong Catholic connections. In Leipzig, Catholic and Lutheran congregations sang many of the same vernacular hymns. Internal squabbles were rarely missing within Lutheranism-- for example, Pietists disliked concerted church music, especially if it employed specific dance forms. Also investigated here are broader issues such as the close affinity between Bach's cantata libretti and the hymns of Charles Wesley, and Bach's music in the context of the Jewish Enlightenment as shaped by Protestant Rationalism in Berlin.

Contributors: Rebecca Cypess, Joyce L. Irwin, Robin A. Leaver, Mark Noll, Markus Rathey, Derek Stauff, and Janice B. Stockigt.


Robin A. Leaver is an emeritus professor of Sacred Music at Westminster Choir College, Princeton; honorary professor at Queen's University, Belfast; and a recent visiting professor at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. He is the general editor of The Routledge Research Companion to Johann Sebastian Bach.

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