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Music for the Nativity of St. John the Baptizer (Thursday, June 24)

The Greater One he named   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “When All the World Was Cursed” (346), sings of the life and work of St. John the Baptizer, whose birth we commemorate today.

As the last and greatest prophet, we remember both the unique circumstances of his birth to Zachariah and Elizabeth, as well as his martyrdom (August 29).  John’s fulfillment of his role in the line of the Law (like Moses, stanza 1) and the Prophets (like Elijah, stanza 2) is confirmed.

Beyond the lineage of the Law and the Prophets, the message of John’s preaching, as recorded in St. John 1, is proclaimed: “Behold the Lamb of God, That bears the world’s transgression, Whose sacrifice removes the devil’s dread oppression.” John testifies of Jesus: “Who takes away our sin, Who for our peace and joy, Will full atonement win” (stanza 3).

The author, Johann Gottfried Olearius (1635-1711), after studying at Leipzig, was ordained as assistant pastor under his father in Halle. He later served as pastor and professor of theology at Arnstadt.

The PRELUDE is a partita of this tune by Belgian composer Flor Peeters (1903-1986).  Listen to how the composer varies the tune in each of the five movements, and how registrations on the organ present the same tune in different ways.

Washing in the waters, Jesus, the Holy   During the distribution of the Lord’s Supper, a plainsong setting of another hymn about St. John the Baptizer’s life and work is sung by the kantor.  The hymn is by Paul the Deacon from the eighth century.

The introduction to “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry” is by John Eggert (b. 1946), who served as professor of music at Concordia University—St. Paul, Minnesota.

The introduction to “When All the World Was Cursed” is by Michael Costello (b. 1979).

The introduction to “Hark! The Sound of Holy Voices” is by Otto Abel (1905-1977).

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