Take my money--please take my money...
I've just finished my taxes for the August 15 extension deadline. I don't care about the money. I'd pay twice as much if I could avoid the record-keeping and paperwork and, given my wage rate, it would probably be cost-effective. It took me all day, a bottle of wine, and almost 2 runs of the Bach B minor Mass to get through it. And with all that I am paying the Feds in 3 figures and California in 4.
Ah but now we're on the Sanctus, with the soprano line circling around and brass blasting. I suppose I do like this better than the Russian church music--it is definitely cosmic and much more varied. My colleague J.D. had a short piece of his picked up by the newspapers, "Philosophy Professor Says Heaven Could Be Boring." Could be if they're singing Russian chant, but definitely not if Bach is going.
Baroque was a risk. You could keep chugging on with chant forever, hypnotically. But this stuff, forced up to squeeze out emotion (the sweet violin and tenor solos for the Benedictus, the bouncing Hosanna, and now this brooding Agnus Dei) is unstable and was bound to collapse, like a TV sitcom degrading to warmedy. Even the social critiques became nice: MASH lost its edge and Archie Bunker became a diamond in the rough with a good heart.
It did collapse. Bach begat Mendelsohn--who I LIKE, but whose blocky Lutheran chorales suggest blocky Germans singing Lutheran chorales rather than angels, archangels and all the company of heaven. That brooding Agnus Dei morphed into "Jesus Lover of My Soul" and lesser sentimental Victorian Jesus hymns. Baroque church architecture (I'm thinking of St. Paul's) took a funny turn, branching into smarmy Roccoco, with pink and white gilded putti, on the one hand and earnest secular federal style on the other, the stuff of every state capital in the US. I went with Graham W., to St. Martin's in the Fields where the rot had clearly set in and we concluded that the two fattest putti were Handel and Mrs Anne Kiligrew.
There's a moral in here somewhere but I don't feel capable of extracting it. Maybe it's about the risk of Incarnation, "nothing human is alien to me," taking on intellect, emotion, every human thing and incurring the risk that the whole religious enterprise would become merely human--as it did. Along the way though the parishioners at Thomaskirsche must have had a blast with Old Bach at the organ and his 27 kids helping out with his original productions in the choir and orchestra.
Oooo, must go. We're at "Et in spiritum sanctum dominum et vivificantem (I've gone back on the disk). This is where I came in. 35 years ago on a hot night I slept on the fire escape of my college dorm and when I woke up the fields shouted "Lord! Giver of Life!"