Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1730s’ Category

Feast of Franz Joseph Haydn and Michael Haydn (March 30)   Leave a comment

model-of-st-stephens-cathedral-vienna

Above:  Model of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, Austria

Image in the Public Domain

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FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN (MARCH 31, 1732-MAY 31, 1809)

brother of

JOHANN MICHAEL HAYDN (SEPTEMBER 14, 1737-AUGUST 10, 1806)

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Composers

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The Haydn brothers (Franz Joseph and Johann Michael, often billed as “Michael Haydn”) were great composers.  They were two of twelve children of Mathias Haydn (a wheelwright and an amateur harpist) and Anna Marie Koller, of Rohrau, Austria.  The family was of German and Austrian peasant origin.

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Above:  Franz Joseph Haydn

Image in the Public Domain

The two brothers sang in the choir at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna; their tenures overlapped for three years.  Franz Joseph joined the choir at the age of seven years; he studied singing, learned to play the harpsichord and the violin, and was a soprano soloist.  Then, in 1749, his voice changed and he left the choir.  Johann Michael succeeded him as soloist and remained in the choir until 1755, having spent a decade there.

johann-michael-haydn

Above:  (Johann) Michael Haydn

Image in the Public Domain

From 1749 to 1757 Franz Joseph engaged in a series of youthful escapades and began to compose.  Among his influences were Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788).  Franz Joseph’s early compositions, some of which have not survived (at least not to our knowledge) included two Masses.

1757 was an important year in the lives of the brothers Haydn.  Franz Joseph spent the summer composing at Wenzinel Castle (near Melk), the property of Count Carl Joseph von Furnberg, of Austria.  Johann Michael became the kappelmeister at the cathedral at Grosswardein, serving for five years.

From 1759 to 1761 Franz Joseph worked as the music director to Count Ferdinand Maximilian Morzun, who had a summer castle at Lukavec, Bohemia.  On November 26 Franz Joseph married Maria Anna Keller.  The union was an unhappy and childless one.

Franz Joseph worked under the patronage of Esterhazys from 1761 to 1790.  In 1761 he became the assistant kappelmeister of the court orchestra of Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy.  The following year the Prince died.  Prince Nicolaus Joseph “the Magnificent” Esterhazy, a great patron of the arts, supported Haydn.  After Nicolaus Joseph died in 1790, Franz Joseph received a pension.  Among the composer’s students was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, starting in 1781.

Johann Michael lived and worked in Salzburg from 1762 until 1806, when he died.  At first he was the orchestral conductor to the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.  Later the composer added organist responsibilities at St. Peter’s Church to his duties.  In time Johann Michael traded organist responsibilities at St. Paul’s Church for those duties at St. Rupert’s Cathedral, Salzburg.  He married Maria Magdalena Lipp (1745-1827).  The couple had one child, a daughter who died in infancy.

Franz Joseph spent most of the remaining 19 years (1790-1809) of his life living in Vienna; he also traveled, as he did to London more than once.  Among his pupils was Ludwig von Beethoven, starting in 1790.

In the 1700s and early 1800s conventional wisdom held that Johann Michael was the better composer of the two.  Franz Joseph agreed, at least with regard to sacred works.  Franz Joseph was no slouch musically; he composed operas, symphonies, sacred works, songs, cantatas, concertos, and various instrumental works.  He also perfected the early symphonic form and invented the modern string quartet.  Among his sacred works were the Mass in Time of War (1796) and The Creation (1798), the latter work containing the great chorus “The Heavens are Telling.”  He died at Vienna on May 31, 1809, aged 77 years.

Johann Michael, composer of the Requiem (1771) and the Missa a due cori (1786), influenced Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Carl Maria von Weber.

Johann Michael’s reputation has had its ups and downs since his death.  His reputation as a composer has declined overall since 1806, just as his elder brother’s reputation as a composer has improved.  Johann Michael’s drinking problem has affected his personal reputation negatively.  The author of the article about him in the old Catholic Encyclopedia wrote in a judgmental tone, for example.  On the other hand, the scientific understanding of addiction has challenged old moralistic notions based on inaccurate assumptions regarding willpower.

Even church musicians and composers of sacred works have personal problems with which they wrestle.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 7, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HELDER CAMARA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF OLINDA AND RECIFE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBERT NIERYCHLEWSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF MITCHELL J. DAHOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES, APOSTLE TO THE SARACENS

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Franz Joseph Haydn, Johann Michael Haydn,

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Feast of Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach (March 21)   1 comment

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Above:  St. Thomas’s Church, Leipzig

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (MARCH 21, 1685-JULY 28, 1750)

father of

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (MARCH 8, 1714-DECEMBER 14, 1788)

half-brother of

JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (SEPTEMBER 5, 1735-JANUARY 1, 1782)

Composers

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Johann Sebastian Bach is an officially recognized saint on several calendars.  The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and The Lutheran Church–Canada assign him the feast day of July 28, without any other composers.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada designate July 28 as the feast day for not only J. S. Bach but also Heinrich Schutz and George Frederick Handel.  The Episcopal Church, in A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), assigns July 28 to J. S. Bach, George Frederick Handel, and Henry Purcell.  Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), celebrates the life of J. S. Bach on March 21.

For generations certain members of the Bach family were distinguished in creative endeavors, mostly in music.  I have chosen to focus on three of these Bachs–a father and two of his sons.

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)

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Image in the Public Domain

Johann Sebastian Bach, born at Eisenach on March 21, 1685, was the youngest child of Elizabeth Lammerhirt (1644-1694) and Johann Ambrosious Bach (1645-1695), a string player.  In 1695 the orphaned J. S. Bach moved in with his eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671-1721), the organist at St. George’s Church, Eisenach, and a former pupil of Johann Pachelbel.  Johann Christoph Bach also taught his youngest brother to play keyboard instruments.  J. S. Bach, who joined the boys’ choir at St. Michael’s Church, Luneburg, in 1700, studied music in the school library there.  By 1702 he was apparently a skilled organist at Sangerhausen.  Johann Sebastian did not get that job, but he did join the ducal orchestra at Weimar the following year.  Later he became the organist at St. Boniface’s Church, Arnstadt.

Life changed for J. S. Bach in 1707.  That year he became the organist at St. Blasius, Muhlhausen.  He also married Maria Barbara Bach (1694-1720).  The couple went on to have seven children, including Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788).  J. S. Bach resigned his position at Muhlhausen in 1708 and accepted a new job as the court organist at Weimar.  In 1714 J. S. Bach became the concert master, with the responsibility of composing a cantata each month.  Two years later, a less qualified man became the kappelmeister, a position J. S. Bach wanted, at Weimar.  Our discontented saint departed the court in 1717.  He became the kappelmeister at Kothen, serving until 1723.  Maria Barbara died suddenly on July 4, 1720.  J. S. Bach married his second wife, Anna Magadalena Wilcken (1701-1760), on December 3, 1721.  The couple went on to have 13 children, including Johann Christian Bach (1735-1795).

In 1723 J. S. Bach accepted the position of cantor at Thomas’s Church, Lepizig.  His responsibilities included composing, teaching, and leading music, as well as providing musicians for that and three other congregations (New Church, St. Peter’s Church, and St. Nicholas’s Church).  From 1729 to 1737 and 1739 to 1741 J. S. Bach directed the Collegium Musicum, founded by Telemann in 1704, at Leipzig.  In 1736 he became the court composer at Leipzig.  Later in life J. S. Bach spent much time traveling; some of the time he was in the court of Frederick II “the Great” of Prussia, in Berlin.

J. S. Bach died, nearly blind and aged 65 years, at Leipzig on July 28, 1750.  His final act was to dictate “Before Thy Throne I Come.”

For J. S. Bach composing music, whether overtly sacred or not, was an act of praising God, not of glorifying himself.  He composed thousands of works yet saw only ten of them published.  Some of his compositions, unfortunately, have not survived to today.  J. S. Bach, a Lutheran church musician, became engaged in arguments regarding music with some Pietistic Lutherans, who thought that his music was too elaborate.  (Pietists!)  Most of our saint’s compositions remained forgotten until the 1800s.  In 1829 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) started a J. S. Bach revival.  J. S. Bach’s compositions included cantatas, motets, Latin liturgical works, Passions, oratorios, chorales, chamber music, orchestral music, canons, works for keyboard instruments, and works for the lute.  Among his greatest sacred works were the St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion, the Christmas Oratorio, the Mass in B Minor, and the Cantata #80. (I prefer a modern performance of the latter work; period instruments do not blow the roof off the building, so to speak.)

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CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1788)

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Image in the Public Domain

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, born at Weimar on March 8, 1714, was Emanuel to those who knew him well.  Georg Philipp Telemann was his godfather.  C. P. E. Bach, who learned music from his father, studied law at Frankfurt, graduating in 1735.  From 1740 to 1767 C. P. E. Bach was the harpsichordist to Frederick II “the Great” of Prussia.  Frederick II’s insistence upon subservience in musicians bothered our saint, who was finally able to resign and become the kappelmeister at Hamburg, succeeding Telemann.  Meanwhile, C. P. E. Bach had married Johanna Maria Dannemann in 1744.  Three of their children survived childhood.

C. P. E. Bach, worthy to be his father’s successor, was a renowned composer, teacher, and performer of the harpsichord and the clavichord.  His Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments (Part I, 1753; Part II, 1762) influenced Franz Joseph Haydn (who called it “the school of schools”), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig von Beethoven.  C.  P. E. Bach’s compositions included symphonies, concertos, chamber music, sonatas, fantasias, dances, fugues, and sacred music.  His sacred music included a Magnificat and 21 Passions.

C. P. E. Bach died, aged 74 years, at Hamburg on December 14, 1788.

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JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735-1782)

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Image in the Public Domain

Johann Christian Bach, born at Leipzig on September 5, 1735, was a half-brother of C. P. E. Bach.  J. C. Bach, trained in music by his father’s cousin, Johann Elias Bach (1705-1755), went to work with C. P. E. Bach in 1750, after the death of J. S. Bach.  Five years later J. C. Bach left for Italy; there he studied at Bologna.  His conversion from Lutheranism to Roman Catholicism offended much of his family.  From 1760 to 1762 he was the organist at the Basilica-Cathedral of the Nativity of St. Mary, Milan.

J. C. Bach spent most of the last two decades of his life in England.  There he preferred that people call him “John Bach.”  In 1762 he became the composer to the King’s theatre in London; he wrote Italian operas for it.  Later John Bach became the music master to Queen Charlotte (consort of King George III) and her children.  In 1773 John Bach married Italian singer Cecilia Grassi.  The couple experienced severe financial difficulties toward the end of his life; they were the victims of embezzlement.  The composer died, aged 46 years, in London, on January 1, 1782.  Queen Charlotte paid his estate’s debts and provided Cecilia with a pension.

J. C. Bach’s compositions included sonatas, polonaises, minuets, chamber quartets, symphonies, concertos, operas, oratorios, and various sacred works, including a Requiem and settings of the Magnificat, the Salve Regina, the Dies Irae, the Gloria, and the Te Deum.

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The music of these great composers has enriched the lives of many people, including me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI TIM-OI, FIRST FEMALE PRIEST IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF PODLASIE, 1874

THE FEAST OF SAINT SURANUS OF SORA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring

Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach,

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Feast of Samuel Davies (February 19)   Leave a comment

samuel-davies

Above:  Samuel Davies

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMUEL DAVIES (NOVEMBER 3, 1723-FEBRUARY 4, 1761)

American Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

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To preach repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ–To alarm secure impenitents; to reform the profligate; to undeceive the hypocrite; to raise up the hands that hang down, and to strengthen the feeble knees;–These are the doctrines I preach, these are the ends I pursue…’Tis the conversion and salvation of men I aim to promote…The design of the gospel is to bring perishing sinners to heaven…I cannot help thinking [he continued, comparing his own preaching with that of the Anglican ministers in Virginia] that they who generally entertain their hearers with languid harangues on morality or insipid speculations, omitting or but slightly touching upon the glorious doctrines of the gospel, which will be everlastingly found the most effectual means to reform a degenerate world; such as the corruption of human nature in its present lapsed state; the nature and necessity of regeneration, and of divine influences to effect it; the nature of saving faith, evangelical repentance, etc.  I cannot, I say, help thinking that they who omit, pervert, or but slightly hint at these and the like doctrines, are not likely to do much service to the souls of men.

–Samuel Davies to Thomas Sherlock, Bishop of London; quoted in Ernest Trice Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, Volume One:  1607-1861 (Richmond, VA:  John Knox Press, 1963), page 75

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Samuel Davies was a Presbyterian divine and an early President of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).  He also became the earliest American writer of widely accepted hymns.  His hymns included “Eternal Spirit, Source of Light,” “Lord, I am Thine,” and “While O’er Our Guilty Land, O Lord.”

Davies accomplished much.  He, born at New Castle, Delaware, on November 3, 1723, studied under Presbyterian ministers Samuel Blair of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and William Robinson of New Brunswick, New Jersey.  The Presbytery of New Castle licensed our saint to preach 1746.  The following year, although our saint’s health was fragile and even he thought he might die of tuberculosis shortly, became an evangelist in Virginia, starting in Hanover County.  Authorities in Virginia restricted the rights of religious dissenters (non-Anglicans), reserving the right to issue licenses to preach and to dictate who may evangelize.  Davies won limited yet expanded rights for dissenters, specifically those who registered their ministers and agreed to obey colonial law.  He also added many people to the rolls of Presbyterian churches in Virginia.  Davies published Miscellaneous Poems, Chiefly on Divine Subjects (1752) in two volumes.  The following year the Synod of New York (the New School faction in the North American colonies) commissioned our saint and Gilbert Tennant to travel to England to raise funds for the College of New Jersey.  Davies was so well-known that King George II invited him to preach at the Chapel Royal.  Davies, back in Virginia, helped to found the Hanover Presbytery, the first presbytery in Virginia, in late 1755.  The presbytery covered most of Virginia plus all of the Carolinas.  He led the presbytery in an evangelistic push and in numerical expansion.  After he left to become the President of the College of New Jersey in 1759, however, that growth stopped.  Davies died at Princeton, New Jersey, on February 4, 1761.  He was 36 years old.

Among the posthumous collections honoring Davies was Sermons on Important Subjects (1792)–Volumes I, II, and III.  In 1930 historian Wesley M. Gewehr described our saint’s style of preaching as

plain and pungent, peculiarly adapted to pierce the conscience and affect the heart.

–Quoted in Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, Volume One (1963), page 75

The historian continued:

His eloquence and his influence in developing a new type of oratory characterized alike by naturalness, warmth and directness of expression, and great dignity of style are too well-known to need further comment here.

–Quoted in Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, Volume One (1963), page 75

Davies filled his life with activities that glorified God and created long-lasting legacies that have continued to enrich the lives of many people, even to today.

Not all of us can leave such legacies, but we can glorify God via our lives.  We must also know that we will influence many people directly.  They will, in turn, influence others, who will influence still others, et cetera.  Thus we will influence many people indirectly.  Will we do so more for the good or for the bad?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF DAMASCUS AND COSMAS OF MAIUMA, THEOLOGIANS AND HYMNODISTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CALABRIA, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE POOR SERVANTS AND THE POOR WOMEN SERVANTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS COTTERILL, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

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O God, you have brought us near to an innumerable company of angels,

and to the spirits of just men made perfect:

Grant us during our earthly pilgrimage to become partakers of their joy;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Wisdom 3:1-9

Psalm 34 or 34:15-22

Philippians 4:4-9

Luke 6:17-23

–Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 725

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Feast of Thomas Bray (February 15)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Thomas Bray

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS BRAY (1656-FEBRUARY 15, 1730)

Anglican Priest and Missionary

Thomas Bray did much to help The Church of England in North America.  The native of Marton, Shropshire, England, graduated from Oxford University then became a priest in Warwickshire.  In 1696 the Bishop of London selected Bray to supervise church work in Maryland.  Our saint sailed for the colony three years later.  During two and a half months in 1700 Bray became concerned about the neglect of the Anglican Church in the North American colonies, as well as about the realities of life for Native Americans and for African-American slaves.  Back in England he spent the rest of his life working for the welfare of slaves, founding schools and libraries, raising funds for missionary work, and recruiting priests to serve in North America.  Bray also lobbied for the appointment of a bishop for North America.  He was not alone in this cause.  Unfortunately, the Church of England did not consecrate a bishop for North America until 1787, when Charles Inglis (1734-1816) became the first Bishop of Nova Scotia, with a sprawling diocese.  (Scottish non-juring bishops consecrated Samuel Seabury in 1784.)

Bray’s final charge was St. Botolph Without, Aldgate, London, from 1706 until his death, in 1730.  Aside from the North America-related efforts I have listed, our saint, deeply involved in domestic prison reform, suggested that General James Edward Oglethorpe found a colony and include debtors as settlers in it.  In 1732 Oglethorpe secured the charter for Georgia.  The boats arrived the following year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF ALICE FREEMAN PALMER, U.S. EDUCATOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God of compassion, you opened the eyes of your servant

Thomas Bray to see the needs of the Church in the New World,

and led him to found societies to meet those needs:

Make the Church in this land diligent at all times

to propagate the Gospel among those who have not received it,

and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 102:15-22

Philippians 2:1-5

Luke 10:1-9

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 225

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Feast of Antonio Lotti (January 5)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Antonio Lotti

Image in the Public Domain

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ANTONIO LOTTI (CIRCA 1667-JANUARY 5, 1740)

Roman Catholic Musician and Composer

Antonio Lotti, born at Venice circa 1667, was a great composer.  He came from a musical family; his father, Matteo Lotti, was the kappelmeister at Hanover in 1667.  Our saint’s wife, Santa Stella, sang soprano.  Antonio began to sing alto at St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, in 1687.  Three years later he began to play the organ there.  Lotti was away in Dresden from 1717 to 1719; then he returned to his home city.  In 1736 he became the maestro cappella at St. Mark’s Basilica.  Our saint composed both sacred and secular works–operas, oratorios, masses, madrigals, Crucifixus, and Miserere Mei.  His great talent was evident in his compositions.  Some of that talent led to the merely beautiful and ennobling.  Other talent also glorified God in sacred masterpieces.

One might listen to Lotti’s Missa Sapientiae, for example, and understand that our saint combined deep faith and great skill as a composer, and that the beauty he shared with the world in his day continues to spread.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 12, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSAPHAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF POLOTSK, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART

THE FEAST OF RAY PALMER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ARTHUR DUNKERLEY, BRITISH NOVELIST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Antonio Lotti and all those

who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Feast of Antonio Caldara (December 23)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Antonio Caldara

Image in the Public Domain

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ANTONIO CALDARA (1670-DECEMBER 28, 1736)

Roman Catholic Composer and Musician

“Classic” is a much overused and misused word.  I roll my eyes whenever I hear or read about an “instant classic,” an oxymoron at least as annoying as “new tradition.”  A classic has become a classic by enduring the ravages of time, just as a tradition is inherently old.

The music of Antonio Caldara is classic.

Caldara, born in Venice in 1670, was a son of Giuseppe Caldara, a violinist.  Young Antonio learned several instruments, helped to found the Guild of St. Cecilia in 1687, and sang in the choir of St. Mark’s, Basilica.  Caldara left Venice in 1700 to become the kapellmeister at the court of Ferdinando Carlo, the Duke of Mantua.  Thus our saint accepted a position Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) had once held.  By 1709 Caldara worked in the same capacity for Francesco Maria Ruspoli, Prince of Cerveteri, at Rome.  There, in 1711, our saint married contralto Caterina Petrolli.  Five years later Caldara started his last position, at the imperial Hapsburg court at Vienna.  There he died, aged 66 years, on December 28, 1736.

The body of Caldara’s work included operas, sonatas, cantatas, and motets.  Unfortunately, many of his compositions have not survived.  Many of his works were secular, but many others were religious.  Certain subsequent great composers admired his skill and respected him.  These admirers included Johann Sebastian Bach, George Phillip Telemann, Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven, and Johannes Brahms.  Caldara’s reputation among musicologists has become one of being among the greatest composers of liturgical music for the Roman Catholic Church.

I listen to our saint’s Missa Dolorosa and Christmas Cantata and agree.  I also listen to his Cello Sonatas and agree that he was among the greatest composers period.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

ALL SAINTS’ SUNDAY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GREGOR, FATHER OF MORAVIAN CHURCH MUSIC

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI GABRIELI AND HANS LEO HASSLER, COMPOSERS AND ORGANISTS; AND CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI AND HEINRICH SCHUTZ, COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANE VENARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Antonio Caldara and all those

who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Feast of Samuel Johnson (December 13)   6 comments

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Above:  Samuel Johnson

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMUEL JOHNSON (SEPTEMBER 18, 1709-DECEMBER 13, 1784)

“The Great Moralist”

With this post I add a second Samuel Johnson to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  The other Samuel Johnson, his contemporary, was an American, a convert from Congregationalism to Anglicanism, the creator of a system of organizing library books, and a president of what became Columbia University, New York, New York.  Both Samuel Johnsons, I write without fear of contradiction, enrich this calendar of saints’ days and holy days.

Page 16 of Common Worship:  Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) lists December 13 as the date to recall the life of “Samuel Johnson, Moralist, 1784.”

The Great Moralist, also an essayist, literary critic, poet, translator, and influential lexicographer, came from Lichfield, England.  There he entered the world on September 7, 1709 (Julian Calendar)/September 18, 1709 (Gregorian Calendar).  His mother was Sarah Ford, an Anglican with Calvinist leanings.  She taught her son to memorize the collect for the day.  Our saint’s father was Michael Johnson, a bookseller and, at the time of Samuel’s birth, the Sheriff of Lichfield.  Michael was also a High Anglican with Jacobite sympathies.  The family was not prosperous.  That fact created much stress in Samuel’s life, as did his persistent bad health.

Johnson became well-educated.  The informal part of his education occurred at home and at his father’s bookstore.  The young bookworm read many books at his father’s place of business.  He also attended Lichfield grammar school (1717-1728) and Pembroke College, Oxford (1728-1729).  The Great Moralist had to drop out of college for medical and financial reasons, but his informal education continued.  Eventually he received two honorary doctorates–from Dublin University (1765) and Oxford (1775), hence “Doctor Johnson.”

Johnson became an educator.  In 1731 he accepted the position of undermaster of the Market Bosworth Grammar School, Leicestershire.  Four years later our saint married Elizabeth “Tetty” Potter, a widow 20 years his senior.  They remained married until she died in 1752.  In 1735 Johnson founded a boarding school at Lichfield.  He led that institution and taught Greek and Latin there until the school closed after two years of operation.

Then Johnson relocated to London.  He had already begun to compose and translate works.  Our saint had also contributed to the Gentleman’s Magazine, founded in 1732.  In London, starting in 1737 and continuing for years, Johnson picked up the pace of his literary efforts, which included poems and satirical prose.  Some of the writing was political.  Although our saint was no Jacobite, he was critical of governments during the Georgian Age.  The Dictionary of the English Language (1755), the basis of many subsequent dictionaries, set him on the road to financial security.  His education of Shakespeare (1765) also proved to be a classic.

Johnson was a High Anglican influenced by Greek stoicism.  [Stoicism (frequently misunderstood by many) recognized the difference between those things we can change and those we cannot change.  It is actually an optimistic philosophy, one which teaches a person to delight in the pleasure of life and to refrain from fretting about not doing what one cannot do.]  The basis of our saint’s faith was an understanding of human sinfulness and the necessity of redemption by Jesus Christ.  Johnson, who tolerated Roman Catholicism at a time when that attitude was frequently unpopular, did not hide his dislike of Calvinism.  His Prayers and Meditations debuted in print posthumously in 1785.

Johnson was neurotic and he knew it.  He was prone to melancholy and indolence.  Our saint also knew how to overcome these weaknesses:  surround himself with people.  Johnson’s household included the following, among others:

  1. Robert Levett, a doctor who tended to poor people;
  2. Francis Barber, a former African slave, whose education he financed; and
  3. Anna Williams.

She was the daughter of Zechariah Williams, with whom Johnson had written Longitude at Sea (1755).  Anna visited our saint at his home for years before moving in.  Eventually she went blind and he took care of her until she died in 1783.

Johnson, a loyal subject, supported his government’s position during the American Revolutionary period.  His Taxation No Tyranny (1775) argued that colonists should pay their taxes dutifully.

Johnson died at Lichfield on December 13, 1784.  He was 75 years old.  His legacy has remained impressive and instructive.  For example, his reminder that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” has been relevant for a long time.  Johnson also elevated the tone of debates and the quality of arguments, for his intellectualism and manner forced his debating partners to improve their cases, to prepare to argue as effectively as possible against him.

The world needs more people of the caliber of Dr. Samuel Johnson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Samuel Johnson and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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