Bach Vespers for the First Sunday in Advent

The First Lutheran Church of Boston begins its 2016-2017 series of Bach Vespers services in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 5:00pm (prelude recital at 4:30) with a Choral Vespers for the First Sunday in Advent. Admission is free, and all are welcome to attend.

The service will be modeled after the Vespers services Bach would have known in 1730s Leipzig. Pastor James Hopkins of the Lutheran Church of the Way in Raynham, MA will preach on the historic lessons for the First Sunday in Advent, wherein we are given to anticipate the coming of Jesus, both on a colt into Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion, and as King of all creation at the end of time.

Fittingly, the music for Vespers will reflect this regal theme: “Machet die Tore weit” (Psalm 24) by Andreas Hammerschmidt and the spectacular “Canite tuba in Sion” by Hans Leo Hassler focus our meditations on the salvific aspect of Jesus’ coming. This emphasis is echoed in the evening’s congregational chorales, “Savior of the Nations, Come” and “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates” (Macht hoch die Tür), accompanied by First Lutheran’s stunning Richards & Fowkes German Baroque organ. The musical centerpiece of the Vespers will be Bach’s cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61, performed with the assistance of a period string ensemble. The Magnificat will be sung in alternation between the choir and the organ, which will render its verses in a setting by Samuel Scheidt.

The Vespers service will be preceded by a prelude recital at 4:30, which will be played by former Minister of Music Bálint Karosi. His program will feature music by Bach appropriate for Advent, including several settings of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, and the Advent chorale preludes from the Orgel-Büchlein.

First Lutheran Church is the oldest Lutheran congregation in New England and is affiliated with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The church has earned a reputation in Boston and beyond for its long tradition of supporting outstanding music, particularly that of Lutheran composers, and for its world-class Baroque organ built by Richards & Fowkes. In recent years it has become particularly well-known for its Bach Vespers series, which presents a Bach cantata in the context of a historic Lutheran Vespers service, and its annual Bach Birthday Celebration, a daylong series of concerts celebrating the music of Bach.

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