UPDATE 2/26/2015: Due to the snowstorms interrupting our concerts schedule, we will have to postpone this concert to another time, TBA. Thank you for your understanding!

jesus on cross

A Joyful Noyse presents: Membra Jesu nostri by Dietrich Buxtehude
Saturday, March 14th, 7:30 pm at Hancock Church
1912 Mass Ave, Lexington

In 1680 Dietrich Buxtehude dedicated his extraordinary cycle of passion cantatas, titled Membra Jesu nostri with the following words:

to a foremost man, Gustav Düben, most noble and honored friend, Director of Music to His Most Serene Majesty, the King of Sweden.

It  has  been  estimated  that,  because  of  Düben’s  efforts  in  cataloging  and  safeguarding  the manuscripts of 17th century music, 80 percent of Buxtehude’s vocal music and 95 percent of his instrumental music has been saved for posterity.

Know as an outstanding composer for and performer on the organ, Buxtehude was also a notable teacher of this instrument.  His pupils included 20-year old Johann Sebastian Bach,who made the 260 mile journey from Arnstadt to Lübeck, Germany (reportedly o nfoot) to hear and learn from the then 70-year old master.  Bach had arranged for a month’s leave from his obligations as organist at Arnstadt to travel to Lübeck, but overstayed his leave by three months, earning the anger and disapproval of his employers there. Two years earlier, in 1703 ,Handel and his friend the historian and musician Johann Mattheson also made a journey to Lübeck, although they came by carriage and at the invitation of the privy council president, whose hope it was to find a successor for the aging Buxtehude.  Upon arriving,they learned that part of the proposal included having to marry Buxtehude’s oldest daughter, a venture neither Handel nor Mattheson wanted to undertake.

Although Buxtehude’s organ music is widely performed and recognized as masterful, his vocal/ instrumental works are much less known and performed. The cycle of cantatas Membra Jesu Nostri, scored for chorus, soloists, strings and continuo, takes a special place in the vocal/ instrumental works of Buxtehude. Each of the seven cantatas is a musical meditation on a part of Christ’s crucified body. Taken from the vantage point of a supplicant viewing Christ on the cross, the cycle starts with his feet, then his knees, hands, side, breast, his heart, until he finally comes to view Christ face to face.  In each cantata the text begins with scripture drawn from the Old or New Testament, followed by three stanzas from the medieval poem Salve mundi salutere and ends with a reprise of the biblical text.The exception is the final cantata, which ends with a grand Amen.

A $10 donation will be accepted to support Hancock Church’s Cantata Fund.