The Jacobean Chronicle
Vol. 21, no.1 April 2014
The Jacobeans first “gig” of the year was an evensong at St John’s, Gordon in March. They will be back there on Palm Sunday, sharing the stage with the Cathedral Singers and the local parish choir for the annual service for the Knights of St Lazarus. This is always a big event – the knights (and dames) in their dark green capes, a big procession (well, three choirs, the “Lazarenes” and clergy). There is lots of “holy smoke” and, as you would expect, lots of singing.
Easter follows closely. We ‘assist’ at Mary Immaculate, Waverley on both Maundy Thursday and Easter Eve but the ‘big event’ will be the performance of Handel’s “Brockes’ Passion” at St John’s, Birchgrove at 3.00 pm on Good Friday (18th April).
We will not be performing the complete Passion. It is a VERY long work and modern bottoms seem quite unable to endure sitting on hard wooden church pews for the approximately three hours which it takes to perform the average Lutheran Passion. (Eighteenth century Germans were a hardier lot.) Catherine Nash has severely pruned the work (but the basic story-line is still there, as is the best of the music.)
This is a little-heard work and not to be confused with a “St John’s Passion” of 1704 which most modern scholars do not think that Handel wrote at all – although it was for long attributed to him. The 19th century score we have had to use has presented some challenges. The poor English translation is printed in “italic script” beneath the German and is difficult to read. Altos and tenors have the added problem of having to read C clefs.
The Jacobean Committee
President & Music Director Catherine Nash
Vice-President Stan Warren
Secretary Lucy Harrison-Prentice
Treasurer Bradley Kalgovas
Committee: Patricia Dunn (Public Officer)
The following members, although not on the committee have the following responsibilities:
Jan Giannotis Robes
Peter Roberts Newsletter
Join Us on Good Friday
The Jacobeans would like to encourage Friends, who can get there, to join us for “Brockes Passion” on Good Friday (3.00 pm). St John’s Church is sometimes said to be at Balmain, sometimes at Birchgrove. Anyway, it’s at the corner of Birchgrove Rd and Spring St.
What’s in a name?
That dreadful joke – “Who wrote The Messiah?”
“A chap called ‘Doorknob’!”
“No, It was Handel.”
“Well, I nearly got it right.”
George Frederick Handel was the name that he ultimately used in England. He was christened Georg Friederich Hӓndel and that is the spelling that is normally used in Germany. When in Italy, he spelt his name Hendel and he initially used that spelling in England. (He may well have been trying to indicate the pronunciation he expected.) However, he later reverted to ‘Handel’, without the umlaut.
One associates passions with Bach and oratorio with Handel but the latter did actually write a passion. We are not sure exactly when and where (the autograph does not survive) but we do know a number of things about its composition.
Handel had been born in Halle in 1685 (the same year as Bach). His father had opposed a musical career but, especially after his death in 1697, the boy was free to study music. In 1703 he left for Hamburg where he supported himself playing in the opera orchestra and giving private lessons. Later that year he went with the composer Johann Mattheson (an important writer on German Baroque music) to visit the aging Buxtehude in Lubeck. The real aim was to succeed the greatest organ composer before Bach as organist at the Marienkirche. It proved that one of the ‘conditions’ for getting the job was to marry Buxtehude’s daughter (no spring chicken). Handel backed away from that. Two years later J.S.Bach went to Lubeck seeking the same job. However, since nobody had as yet carried the maiden off, he too thought better of trying for the position.
In 1704 a St John Passion was performed in Hamburg. It was long regarded as Handel’s earliest significant work but scholars now seem to think it more likely to be by Bohm or Mattheson. In 1706 Handel went off to Italy where he made a name for himself and, most importantly, mixed with some of the greatest composers of the middle Baroque. From them he learned to refine his compositional technique.
In 1710 he was back in Germany, acquired the position of Kapellmeister to the Prince-Elector of Hanover, but was soon off to London on 12 months leave-of-absence. Since the Prince-Elector was the heir to the British throne, he probably did not see the London visit as a way of loosing his new Kapellmeister. Handel’s visit to London was a great success. He was well received at Queen Anne’s court and his opera Rinaldo was a great success. He returned to Hanover within the 12 months that he had been given leave for.
In 1712 he was back in London, again with the Elector’s permission but with the condition that he return “within a reasonable time”. This he failed to do. In 1714, with Queen Anne’s death, the Elector became George I. We have the famous story that the truant Kapellmeister was reconciled to his master by writing The Water Music – a wonderful story but the water party was in 1717 and Handel was receiving salary 2 years before that. (Another good yarn bites the dust!)
We think that it was about this time that Handel wrote his Passion. Mattheson said it was composed in England and sent by post. A libretto which seems to be for audience use is dated 1716 but the first certain performance was in the refectory of Hamburg Cathedral on 23 March 1719. It was repeated 4 or 5 times between then and 1724.
The libretto for this Passion was by Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747) a Hamburg-born poet who had studied at Halle University before Handel had left the town. (Did Handel meet him then?) When he returned to Hamburg he used give private concerts in his house – perhaps the young Handel had been part of similar concerts in Halle? Brockes published his first poetry in 1708. In 1712 he published his Passion. This was an amalgam of all four gospels. An evangelist and some Biblical characters were joined by allegorical figures such as the “Daughter of Zion” and the “Faithful Soul”. To modern ears much of this poetry is highly sentimental but it went through 30 editions between 1712 and 1722. The genius of Brockes’ passion narrative was that it found the middle ground between the orthodox Biblical passion story and the pietism so popular in many 18th century Lutheran circles.
Many greater and lesser German composers set the Brockes text, including Keiser (1712), Telemann (1716), and Mattheson (1718). J.S.Bach, who copied Handel’s entire score by hand, used parts of the text in his St John’s Passion. Still, the question remains, why did Handel at the time he was establishing himself in England, write an essentially German work. Was he unsure of British success? Was he keeping his options open for a return to Germany? Certainly, he made no attempt to perform the work in England. It is very much in the Lutheran liturgical tradition and would not have appealed to 18th century Anglican tastes. (Doubtless, Handel would have understood that!)
In Britain this Passion is a much neglected work. It was not published until the second half of the 19th century and its combination of extreme sentimentality and explicit descriptions of Christ’s sufferings offended Victorian taste. Moreover, its acceptance was hampered by an extremely poor translation. People who were used to Handel’s brilliant word setting were disappointed by what they met with here (but, of course, this was not Handel’s word setting). Indeed, it can be quite difficult to get copies of the score in English (one needs to look in second-hand bookshops). The only easily-available score is the German Handel Society edition (which is in both German and English).
Also, one must not forget that, in Lutheran Germany, a passion served liturgical functions. Especially on Good Friday, people went to church “for the entire afternoon”. They may have anticipated competent music but the day was really given to religious contemplation.
The Jacobean Chronicle
Vol.19, no.3 December 2012
VALE STUART BARTON BABBAGE
It was with much sadness that the Jacobeans learned of the death of their patron, Dr Stuart Barton Babbage. This larger-than-life character originally came from New Zealand, studied at Auckland University College (then a part of the University of New Zealand) and received his MA in 1936. He travelled to London, studied for the ministry and, because he was still too young for ordination, enrolled in a PhD at London University. After ordination he worked in a parish on the outskirts of London during the Battle of Britain. The church and vicarage were bombed but without loss of life. In 1942 he became an Air Force chaplain and it was while serving there that he met his wife, Elizabeth. They married in 1943. They had 40 years of married life together. She died shortly after his retirement from New College in 1983. They had four children.
In 1946 they came to Sydney where Stuart became “a Diocesan Missioner” for the Anglican Church. In 1947, at the age of 30, he was appointed Dean of Sydney. In 1953 he was appointed as Principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, a post he held until 1963. In 1953 he was also surprisingly asked to combine the role of Dean of Melbourne with his role at Ridley. He held the post of part-time Dean until 1972. He performed many teaching roles, especially in the USA, much of his time was spent at Columbia, teaching Apologetics and Church History. He was later invited to take up the position of President of Cornwall School of Theology, a position he held until appointed as second Master of New College at the University of New South Wales. While there he also assumed the role of Registrar of the Australian College of Theology , a role he kept until 1992. When the then Dean of Sydney, A.W.Morton died, Stuart returned to his ‘old job’ in an acting capacity until a new appointment was made.
In retirement, he was very active and a great supporter of the Jacobean Singers – until very recent years coming to most of our concerts. In his 90s he started to slow a little (but refused to accept a passive role). He was at the Jacobean’s farewell dinner for Walter Sutcliffe and mentioned that he was still taking on locum tenens positions in the Eastern suburbs. Walter remembered one of those ‘substitute’ roles at All Saints Woollahra. There was one word which was frequently heard from the pulpit and always with a chuckle. The word was "religiosity". As Walter said, “This is a word that can be used in several ways, but I am sure that Stuart used it in its unfavourable sense - an affected or excessive devotion to religion which can lead to intolerance. That he chuckled when he used the word reveals quite a lot about him. He did not allow himself to become angry when confronted by such attitudes, but simply preferred to point to their folly in a gentle way. “
Jacobeans in Goulburn
On Saturday 27th October there was added traffic on the Hume Highway with various Jacobeans (some with partners) heading for Australia’s oldest inland city and its wonderful Blacket cathedral. There was to be a rehearsal at 2.00 pm. “Be early rather than late!”, Catherine had asked. The rehearsal was important because we had never performed with this organist before and there were a few problems to sort out as regards tempi and suitable registrations. They were sorted out – which is what rehearsal is all about – and then there was a break for choristers to go back to their motel rooms or billets.
The recital began at 7.30 pm in front of a small but attentive audience. The first half included shorter pieces, some popular items such as Rutter’s “For the Beauty of the Earth” and Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” but there were also pieces which the Goulburn audience may not have heard before, such as Laurisden’s “O Magnum Mysterium” or Palestrina’s “Exsultate Deo”. The “Cantique de Jean Racine” by Faure was suitably lush (even if some of the choristers have not quite mastered French pronunciation) but Bruckner’s “Ave Maria” on a chilly night in a gothic cathedral was absolutely memorable.
The second half of the concert was Mozart’s “Coronation Mass”. The mass was not written for the coronation of a Hapsburg but rather for the crowning of a statue of the Virgin. It involves the young Mozart being rather more dramatic than would seem necessary for such an event but the Jacobeans had put a lot of work into this performance and the setting brought home how wonderful it can be performing church-music in a church.
The soloists (from the choir) were worthy of note. While Amanda Muir maintained the high standard we have all come to expect of her (no surprises there), Jia-Lin Yang (tenor) and Allan Redpath (bass) showed talents which even their colleagues in the choir had not suspected. They both need to be looked out for at future concerts.
The following morning, it was back to St Saviour’s Cathedral to take part in the Communion Service with the cathedral choir. “Darke in F” was the main fare with Stanford’s “Te Deum” (the one used for Edward VII’s coronation) and Malcolm Archer’s “And I saw a New Heaven” as the anthems. Goulburn (whose choir is a bit weak in the male department – well, it is country NSW) must have been astounded at the strength of what they heard that morning.
After that, everybody piled back into their cars and headed for home. What a wonderful way to pass a weekend!
Changes to Jacobean Committee
At the AGM held on 7th October, various changes were made to the distribution of offices of the choir. Catherine Nash now combines the roles of Music Director and President (which almost takes us back to the practice of Walter Sutcliffe’s days) and Stan Warren is Vice-President. John Maxwell (who has retired once before) was replaced as Secretary by Gillian Davies and Spiro Giannotis was succeeded in the treasurership by Genevieve Michael. Patricia Dunn remains Public Officer.
The new committee consists of the office bearers plus Jan Giannotis, Amanda Muir, Alan Redpath and Peter Roberts. Gillian Davies (who, in her old role as Vice-President had to chair the meeting since Peter Roberts, the former president, was in Greece) paid especial tribute to John Maxwell’s many years of work as Secretary and Choir Manager and moved a vote-of-thanks from the chair. The membership heartily endorsed this and are grateful to John for all that he has done for the Jacobeans.
Activities other than Goulburn
As has become (almost) a tradition, the Jacobeans were at St John’s Gordon for their Remembrance Day Evensong on 11th November. It had been a busy time because the last weekend in October had taken the choir to Goulburn and then, on 4th November, we had joined with the All Saints Woollahra choir for their patronal festival.
There was another evensong, this time at the Garrison Church at ‘The Rocks’, in Sydney on Saturday 24th November. (Incidentally, the celebrant was the Rev. Keith Dalby from St John’s Gordon – so no problems with familiarity.)
Since then, the choir has been concentrating on their carol service at All Saints Woollahra on Sunday 16th December. After that, we will have a ‘Christmas Break’ (i.e. a short period for “R&R.)
The Jacobean Chronicle
Vol.20, no.1 March 2013
The Jacobeans resumed rehearsals at the end of January. Easter was the enormous target – with 5 performances. Palm Sunday (with the Cathedral Singers and the parish choir) at St John’s Gordon -- a service for the Knights of St Lazarus, which has become one of the major church services on the Jacobean calendar.
Easter itself, is to be spent between Mary Immaculate, Waverley and All Saints, Woollahra; Maundy Thursday and Easter Eve are to be at Waverley whilst Good Friday and Easter Day are at All Saints.
One of the musical highlights of Easter Sunday at All Saints will be Mozart’s “Sparrow Mass” (well, if you must be accurate, the “Missa Brevis” in C major, K 220) which will be sung without the ‘Credo’. This is becoming the norm. Ministers want their congregations to recite the Creed and not just listen to a choir sing it, so choirs seldom get the opportunity to sing Creeds nowdays. Of course, there will be lots more music performed over Easter – various Ave Verums (Mozart & June Nixon ) and bits of the Byrd 3-part Mass. However, to my mind, one of the highlights has to be Purcell’s quite short anthem, “Hear My Prayer, O Lord”, which will be sung at All Saints on Good Friday. The piece is in 8 parts and is a harmonic marvel with wonderful harmonic clashes and, although short, is emotionally quite draining.
April is largely taken up by rehearsals but, on 5th May there will be an Evensong + Holy Communion at St Paul’s, Kogarah. Another Evensong at St John’s, Gordon, on 12th May and then (Sunday 19th May) back to All Saints for Pentecost. We even have a nursing home concert planned for May (but not a great deal of work has been done on that as yet.)
Late September, we are back in Goulburn for both a service and a concert (but we will contact all our friends with more detail about that well before.)
Well done, Thou good and faithful servant
Matthew, XXV, xxi
The Jacobeans have one of the best private libraries of choral church music in the country. We haven’t got “everything” – indeed, last year we needed to borrow copies of the Mozart “Coronation Mass” for our performance in Goulburn Cathedral. Nonetheless, how many choirs in Australia can claim to have a mass by Hummel on their shelves? Doubtless the Sydney Con and Melbourne University have more comprehensive collections of choral music but the Jacobeans must have one of the most extensive private collections in the country.
One has to acknowledge that most of this music goes back to the Walter Sutcliffe days; a few new pieces of music were acquired under David Hood and Catherine Nash, but the bulk of the music has been in “a state of confusion” for years.
This is no longer the case! Gillian Davies has devoted an enormous amount of time and energy to putting the library in order. All “multiple copies” are now in labelled boxes. You might say, weren’t they before? Well, sort of! Only a couple of years ago we didn’t sing O Holy Night at Christmas because we couldn’t find the music (it has since been found in an “unlabelled” box – or one which the label fell off.)
The Jacobeans owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Gillian for making the collection accessible. She has been turning up at Waverley on many days of the week and working her way through boxes and boxes of music and the job was not made any easier because the library had to move from one part of the property to another. The quote from Matthew seems quite appropriate. Thank you Gill!
President & Music Director Catherine Nash
Vice-President Stan Warren
Secretary Gillian Davies
Treasurer Genevieve Michael
Committee Patricia Dunn (Public Officer)
Jan Giannotis (Robes)
Peter Roberts (Chronicle)
Secretary may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 98047036
The ‘abdication’ of Benedict XVI occasioned a great deal of inaccurate journalistic chatter and one read things like “the first papal resignation since 1415” or “the first pope to resign since Celestine V in 1294”. All this showed how little the journalists knew about papal resignations. Celestine was the ‘classic’ instance of an abdi-cation – an elderly, holy hermit in his 80s forced on the cardinals by “the mob” and the Emperor who didn’t want another corrupt member of one of the aristocratic Roman families. Celestine, who hadn’t wanted the job, failed to cope with the administration. After a reign of a little over 3 months he resigned. His successor, Boniface VIII, treated him with kindness but kept him under lock and key.
The first pope to abdicate was Pontian (230-235) who was arrested by the Emperor Maximinus Thrax and deported to work in the mines of Sardinia (in itself a death sentence). Not wanting the Roman church to be leaderless, he resigned on 28th September 235. This is the first precise date we have in papal history.
Marcellinus (296-304) is a shadowy figure about whom we know little. Some reports of the Diocletian persecution say he handed over the sacred books of the Christians of Rome to the authorities and offered sacrifice to the pagan gods. Other reports have him repenting and offering himself for martyrdom. One cannot imagine him remaining bishop after abjuring the faith but we really don’t have enough clear information to know his fate.
Pope Silverius (536-537) was asked to resign by the Monophysite emperess, Theodora. He refused, was arrested, publicly humiliated and exiled. Vigilius, a deacon in the empress’s favour, was elected the new pope. Silverius was sent back to Rome for trial but Vigilius thought this potentially embarrassing and so had Silverius imprisoned on the island of Palmaria. There he was threatened with and possibly actually tortured and submitted a resignation. He died a month later – we can only speculate that his death was “helped”. Later, Vigilius was excommunicated by both the Patriarch of Constantinople and the synod of North African bishops but he remained pope and died in his bed in 555.
Stephen VI or VII (there are problems with the numbering of the Stephens) was an infamous pope who ordered the mock-trial of a predecessor, Pope Formosus. Formosus had thwarted many of the Italian nobility. To impress them Stephen had the dead Formusus dug up, brought to court and tried by “the cadaver synod”. This back-fired. Some months later the outraged populace (including Formosus supporters) rose up, deposed and imprisoned Stephen. Soon after he was strangled. The position of Bishop of Rome was taken for 4 months by a monk, Romanus, a member of the pro-Formosan faction. He appears to have been ineffective and was probably deposed. We know very little more about him.
Sergius III (904-911) had always wanted to be pope. In 897 he tried to take over the job by force but failed. When in 903, after only 2 months in office, Leo V was overthrown, imprisoned and murdered, by an anti-pope, Christopher, Sergius saw his chance. He imprisoned, overthrew & murdered Christopher. His illegitimate son by a 15 year-old daughter of a Roman noble became Pope John XI (931-935).
John XII (955-964) was elected pope at age 18 because his father, the absolute ruler of Rome, arranged it. His private life was marked by gross immorality (well, boys will be boys) and in 963, at the Emperor’s urging, he was deposed by the Roman synod. He fled with the papal treasury. The synod elected Leo VIII (a very questionable election because John had not resigned). John managed to regain the papal throne and died of a heart-attack the following year (he was 28) in bed with a married woman. The Roman populace refused to hear the emperor’s direction to re-instate Leo and elected Benedict V. However, a month later the emperor turned up with his army, Leo was restored and Benedict spent the remainder of his life living in a monastery in Hamburg.
Benedict IX (1032-44, 1045, 1047-48) has probably the most confusing pontificate in history. In 1044 he left Rome because of continuing hostility to himself, his family and his immoral life-style, but he didn’t resign. The Roman nobility installed Sylvester III. Some months later Benedict made it back to Rome and expelled Sylvester. Some months later he abdicated in favour of his godfather, who became Gregory VI. (We don’t know why – possibly a bribe.) However, he was back in 1247 and remained in office until removed by the emperor in 1248. In 1249 a Lateran synod summoned him to face the charge of simony. He refused to appear, was excommunicated but lived for another 7 and a half years. Gregory VI was taken back to Germany with his friend, who was later to become Gregory VII (who was twice deposed), and ended his days in Cologne.
The Great Schism (1378-1417) saw popes in Rome and Avignon. It is far too complex to treat in a brief article like this but, by 1409, after the Council of Pisa, there were three popes. The Council of Constance (1414-1418) deposed the anti-pope, John XXIII (not to be confused with the pope of 1958-63) and the French/Avignon pope, Benedict XIII. However, the Roman pope, Gregory XII agreed to abdicate on certain conditions. The council declared he would be Bishop of Porto and rank in precedence after the new pope. He was already over 90 and died 3 weeks before the election of Martin V (1417-1431) , the pope who ended the schism. So, as we can see, papal resignation was a complex business.