A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Chorale
CHORALE (Ger. Choral, and Corale), a sacred choral song (cantus choralis) which may almost be said to belong exclusively to the reformed church of Germany, in which it originated. Luther introduced a popular element into worship by writing hymns in the vernacular and wedding them to rhythmic music, which should appeal to the people in a new and more lively sense than the old fashioned unrhythmic church music. The effect was as great (with all due respect to the different quality of the lever) as the Marseillaise in France or Lillibullero in England, or Auber's Masaniello and the Brabançonne in Brussels; for it cannot be doubted that no insignificant share in the rapid spread of the new ideas was owing to these inspiriting and vigorous hymns, which seemed to burst from the hearts of the enthusiastic and earnest men of whom Luther was the chief. The movement passed rapidly over Germany, and produced in a short time a literature of sacred hymns and tunes which cannot be surpassed for dignity and simple devotional earnestness. Luther and his friend Walther brought out a collection at Erfurt in 1524, which was called the 'Enchiridion,' or hand-book. Though not absolutely the first, it was the most important early collection, and had a preface by Luther himself. A great number of collections appeared about the same time in various parts of Germany, and continued to appear till the latter part of the 17th century, when, from political as well as religious circumstances, the stream of production became sluggish, and then shortly stopped altogether.
The sources of the chorales were various; great numbers were original, but many were adapted from the old church tunes, and some were from altogether secular sources. For instance, the chorale 'Der Du bist drei' is from the ancient 'O beata lux Trinitatis'; and 'Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr,' which Mendelssohn uses in a modified form in 'St. Paul,' is also baaed upon a hymn of the Roman church. On the other hand 'Herr Christ der einig' Gott's Sohn' is taken from a secular tune 'Ich hört' ein Fräulein klagen'; and 'Herzlich thut mich verlangen,' which appears several times in Bach's 'Matthäus-Passion'—for instance to the words 'O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden'—is taken from a secular tune 'Mein Gemuth ist mir verwirret.' Of many of them it is difficult to fix the origin. That generally known in England as Luther's Hymn (Es ist gewisslich) cannot with probability be attributed to him; but there seems no doubt that the famous 'Ein' feste Burg,' which Meyerbeer took as the text of 'The Huguenots,' and Mendelssohn used in his Reformation Symphony, Wagner in his 'Kaiser Marsch,' and Bach in various ways in his Cantata to the same words, is really by the great reformer. The most prolific composer of chorales was Johann Crüger, who was born some time after Luther's death. One of his, 'Nun danket alle Gott,' is best known in England from its use by Mendelssohn in his 'Lobgesang.'
The chorale which Mendelssohn uses in 'St. Paul,' at the death of Stephen, is by Georg Neuinark, who also wrote the original words to it. In the preface to Bennett and Goldschmidt's 'Chorale-book for England' this tune is said to have been so popular that in the course of a century after its first appearance no less than 400 hymns had been written to it.
A very famous collection of tunes was published in Paris in 1565 by Claude Goudimel. Most of these soon found their way into the German collections, and became naturalised. Among them was the tune known in England as the 'Old Hundredth.' Its first appearance seems to have been in a French translation of the Psalms with music by Marot and Beza, published at Lyons in 1563. Many of the tunes in Goudimel's collection were from secular sources.The custom of accompanying chorales on the organ, and of playing and writing what were called figured chorales, caused great strides to be made in the development of harmony and counterpoint, and also in the art of playing the organ; so that by the latter part of the 17th century Germany possessed the finest school of organists in Europe, one also not likely to be surpassed in modern times.
[ C. H. H. P. ]
[App. pp.588–90 "Add to the article in volume i. p. 351, the following:—
In tracing the history of the Chorale it is extremely difficult to distinguish the composer of the melody or canto fermo from the harmonizer (called Tonsetzer by Winterfeld). A large proportion of extant chorales appear to be based on old church tunes, so that they present a continuity with the past which is quite consistent with Luther's earlier practice. As to the ancient origin of these tunes, see Luther, vol. ii. p. 179. The Chorales used in this first period are treated as Motets [see Motet], as the examples in Winterfeld show: that is, the melody is given out as a canto fermo, generally in a tenor or at least a middle part, with the other parts in more or less florid counterpoint. The music is not yet measured [see Measure] or divided into equal rhythm (musica mensurabilis). The contrapuntal treatment, which became more elaborate under such musicians as Stephen Mahu and Joh. Kugelmann—both early in the 16th century—advanced greatly in the number of voice-parts and general complexity towards the end of the 16th and first half of the 17th century, the chief writers being Gumpelzhaimer, Joh. Eccard, Mich. Praetorius, Joh. Schopp and Joh. Rosenmüller. This again, when the singing came to be restricted to the canto fermo in unison, originated the school of organ accompaniment to the Chorales such as we see in Bach's organ works, and as it is still occasionally to be heard in Germany.
It has been noticed that some chorales are based on secular songs of an earlier date. The old ecclesiastical forms of music inherited from Saint Gregory were proper to the Latin hymns of the Breviary; but for hymns written in a modern language and forming no part of a prescribed ritual, the freer style used in secular songs was, or was soon found to be, quite natural. Most, however, of the secular melodies thus used were not so employed till towards the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century.
Simultaneously with this elaborate contrapuntal treatment, which demanded the resources of a church with a good choir, it is interesting to note the tendency towards a simpler treatment. This is found par excellence in Goudimel's setting of Marot and Beza's Psalms, 1565 [see Goudimel], in which there are four voices, with counterpoint note against note, and the melody generally in the tenor, but in twelve psalms in the discant. In the latter point this book is the harbinger of one of the chief revolutions in the history of hymn-music. The revolution is fully effected in 1586 by Lucas Osiander in his 'Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen mit 4 Stimmen auf Contrapunkts weiss … also gesetzt, dass ein christliche Gemein durchauss mit singen kann.' The title shows that the removal of the melody to the upper part was due to a desire for congregational singing. The earlier books in motet form of course contemplated only the participation of the practised choir. This book was followed in 1594 by a similar treatment of the Psalter in Lobwasser's version by Samuel Marschal. The chorale was after this sung either in four voice-parts, with the canto fermo in the discant; or in unison, with florid counterpoint on the organ. The latter is considered the more classical form in Germany. [See also Bourgeois and Franc in Appendix].
The composition, harmonization, and collection of chorales for the services of the Lutheran (and other Protestant) churches engaged the artistic talents of a whole school of musicians, of whom some of the most eminent are treated in special articles. [See Agricola, Martin; Calvisius, Seth; Cruger, J.; Ducis, Benedictus; Eccard, Joh.; Frank, Melchior; Fretlinghausen, J. A. (App.); Hammerschmidt, A. (App.); Isaac, Heinrich; Neumark, Georg. (App.); Praetorius, Michael and Jacob; Scheidt, S. (App.); Schein, J. Hermann (App.); Senfl, Lud.; Vopelius, Gottf. (App.); Vulpius, Melchior (App.); Walther, Joh. Of the more important musicians not thus treated short notices now follow.
Arnold de Bruck (i. e. of Bruges), born at Bruges in 1480; in 1530 Kapellmeister to the King of Rome (afterwards Emperor Ferdinand I) at Vienna, where he died in 1536; wrote for 4 or 5 voices; pieces by him are given in M. Agricola's 'Newe deutsche geistliche Gesenge.'
George Rhau (Rhaw), born 1488 at Eisfeld in Franconia, was Cantor at the Thomasschule at Leipzig till 1520, after which he settled at Wittemberg and became a printer, issuing books both in ordinary typography (including many first editions of Luther's writings) and in musical notes, including his own work 'Enchiridion musicae mensuralis' 1532. [See Agricola, Martin.] Winterfeld ascribes some chorales to him.
Stephan Mahu, a singer in the chapel of Ferdinand King of the Romans (afterwards Emperor) is known as a contrapuntist; his chief work is Lamentations for four voices (in Joanelli's 'Thesaurus'), and there are some pieces in G. Forster's collection of Motets, Hans Walther's Cantionale, etc.
Johann Kugelmann, of Augsburg, was a trumpet-player and contrapuntist of the first half of the 16th century, and Kapellmeister to Duke Albert at Königsberg; he wrote some church music printed at Augsburg in 1540.
Nicolas Herman (Heermann), Cantor at Joachimsthal in Bohemia about the middle of the 16th century, and esteemed also as versifier; he died very old in 1561. There are chorales extant, of which both words and music are by him, e. g. 'Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag' and 'Lobt Gott, ihr Christen alle gleich.' For ��tonality and clear rhythm his chorales sound more modern than most of his age.
Balthasar Resinarius (latine for Harzer), born at Hessen in the territory of Meissen in the early years of the 16th century, took clerical orders and became bishop of Leipa in Bohemia. He was a pupil of Isaac, and published at Wittenberg in 1543 'Responsoriorum numero octoginta de tempore et festis … libri duo.'
Sixt Dietrich, an excellent German composer, who lived at Constance in the middle of the 16th century, wrote 36 Antiphons, Witt. 1541, and 'Novum opus musicum,' Witt. 1545.
Lucas Osiander, born 1534 at Nuremberg, Protestant minister at several places in Würtemberg, died in 1604. Of his Chorale book with the melody in the upper part for congregational singing mention has been made above.
Samuel Marschal (Marschall), born 1557 at Tournay, was a notary, and became University musician and organist at Basle; he was living in 1627. He was a composer of hymns, in which he followed Osiander in putting the melody in the discant. His works are 'Der ganze Psalter Ambrosii Lobwassers mit 4 Stimmen,' Leipzig 1594 and Basle 1606; 'Psalmen Davids, Kirchengesange … von M. Luther und anderer, mit 4 Stimmen,' Basle 1606; and 'Einführung zu der Musica.'
Nicolaus Seleneccer (properly Schellenecker), born 1539 at Hersbruck in Franconia, played the organ as a boy, became an eminent theologian, and in 1557 was Court preacher at Dresden. He published 'Christliche Lieder und Kirchengesänge,' Leipzig 1587; and seven penitential psalms, 1585, and died 1592.
Adam Gumpelzhaimer, born about 1560 at Trostberg in Upper Bavaria, was instructed in music by Father Jodocus Enzmüller of the convent of S. Ulrich, Augsburg; in 1575 went into the service of the Duke of Würtemberg as musician, and gained considerable reputation as composer of songs both sacred and secular. His sacred songs or hymns, generally for several voices, sometimes as many as eight, are considered almost equal to those of Lassus. He also wrote 'Compendium musicae latinum-germanicum,' Augsburg 1595, of which Fétis says no less than twelve editions were published. In 1581 he took the place of Cantor at Augsburg, which he held till his death at the beginning of the next century.
Michael Altenburg, born about 1583 at Tröchtel in Thuringia, studied theology at Halle in 1601, and was pastor at several places, finally at Erfurt, where he died in, 1640. He worked at music from his student-years and was one of the most eminent arrangers of church-music of his time. Of his chorale tunes, 'Macht auf die Thor der G'rechtigkeit' and 'Herr Gott nun schleuss den Himmel auf' are still used. But more important are the collections published by him, and his larger sacred works:—'Christliche liebliche und andächtige neue Kirchen- und Hausgesänge,' Erfurt 1619–21 in 3 vols.; '16 Intraden' for violins, lutes, organs, etc.; also psalms, motets, cantiones, etc., for 4, 6, 8 or 9 voices. His writings combine simplicity with religious grandeur; and the congregational and choral singing of his various churches was renowned and regarded as a model.
Matthäus Apelles von Löwenstern, born 1594 at Neustadt in Upper Silesia, studied at the university of Frankfort on the Oder, directed the music of the church at Neustadt, and was taken by Duke Henry of Oels to his court as music-director, becoming in 1626 praeses of the Prince's school at Bernstadt, and in 1631 director of chamber music at the court of the Emperor Ferdinand II, whose successor ennobled him. But he subsequently went back to the Duke of Oels, with whom he lived in wealth and prosperity, and had a character for beneficence and generosity. His talents were shown both in writing sacred verse and in composing vocal music to German words, in a pleasing and flowing style. He published 'Symbola oder Gedenksprüche,' containing 30 hymns for 1–9 voices; the best are 'Jesu meum solatium,' 'Nun preiset Alle Gottes Barmherzigkeit,' 'Wenn ich in Angst und Noth,' 'Mein' Augen schliess ich jetzt'; also 'Fruelings Meyen,' 1644.
Johann Schopp, born at Hamburg at the beginning of the 17th century, lived there till 1642, and subsequently at Lüneburg. He was a violinist and composer, and published 'Neue Paduanen, Galliarden, Allemanden, etc.,' Hamburg, 1633–40, in 3–6 parts; 30 deutsche Concerte von 1, 2, 3, 4 und 8 Stimmen,' Hamburg, 1644; 'Joh. Risten Himmlische Lieder. Mit sehr anmuhtigen, mehrerentheils von Joh. Schopen gesetzten Melodeyen,' Lüneburg, 1641–2; 'Joh. Ristens frommer Christen alltägliche Hausmusik,' Lüneburg, 1654 (the melodies by him and Michael Jacobi in common); 'Phil, von Zesens dichterische Jugend- und Liebes-Flammen und dessen geistliche Wollust Salomonis, rait Melodien,' Hamburg, 1651; 'Jacob Schwieger's Flüchtige Feldrosen mit Melodien,' Hamburg, 1655. In these works are found the well-known chorale tunes 'Lasset uns den Herren preisen,' 'Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist,' 'Werde munter, mein Gemüthe.' It is impossible to overlook the great change that has come over the chorale with the commencement of the 17th century, especially in the writings of Gumpelzhaimer, Löwenstern, and Schopp—a change which is the direct consequence of putting the melody in the upper part, and writing for four fixed voice-parts. The new form of the tune is closely similar to that of English hymns of the period; it has the modern scale with the leading note, rhythm in equal bars, and the common chord with its inversions. The melody has a clearer rhythm and a more rapid and easy swing, in fact becomes far more like a secular song; which goes far to explain the fact that just about the year 1600 popular secular songs were adapted to sacred words, especially 'Isbruck, ich muss dich lassen' in 1598, 'Venus du und dein Kind' in 1605, and 'Mein Gmüth ist mir verwirret ' in 1613.
Johann Rosenmüller, born in the Electorate of Saxony at the beginning of the 17th century, was collaborator at the Thomasschule at Leipzig in 1647, and director of music in 1648. On account of alleged scandalous conduct towards pupils in 1655 (which perhaps was not true, as in later life he bore a high character in Germany) he had to leave Leipzig and went to Venice; he was subsequently appointed Kapellmeister at Wolfenbüttel, where he died in 1686. He published chorales harmonized in many parts. His works are: 'Kernsprüche, mehrentheils aus heiliger Schrift, mit 3, 4 bis 7 Stimmen sammt ihrem Basso continue gesetzt,' Leipzig, 1648 (containing 20 hymns); 'Studenten-Musik von 3 und 5 Instrumenten,' Leipzig, 1654; '12 Senate da camera a cinque strornenti,' Venice, 1667 and 1671; and Sonatas with 2–5 instruments, Nuremberg, 1682.
Joh. Geo. Ebeling, born at Lüneburg about 1620, was in 1662 director of the music at the principal church of Berlin, and in 1668 professor of music at the Caroline Gymnasium at Stettin, where he died in 1676. He composed church music, and some chorales of his are favourites; e.g. ' Warum sol It ich mich denn gramen.' He published 'Archaeologia Orphica sive antiquitates musicae,' Stettin, 1657; 'Pauli Gerhardi Geistliche Andachten, bestehend in 120 Liedern mit 4 Singstimmen, 2 Violinen und General-bass', Berlin, 1666–7; and an arrangement of the latter for piano, Berlin, 1669.
Jacob Hintze, born 1622 at Bernau near Berlin, became in 1666 court musician to the Elector of Brandenburg at Berlin; but he retired to his birthplace, where he died in 1695, with the reputation of being an excellent contrapuntist. He edited the 12th edition of Crüger's "Praxis pietatis," Berlin, 1690, adding to it 65 hymns to the Epistles by himself, none of which are said to be ever used now; but others in the book are his, some of which continue to be favourites, especially "Gieb dich zufrieden" and "Alle Menschen müssen sterben" (if the latter be really by him). Concerning the chorales composed by Bach, refer to Spitta's Bach, vol. iii. p. 108, 114, 287, etc. (English edition).The literature of the subject is considerable, and only a few of the most important modern works can conveniently be mentioned here. The great standard work is that of Carl von Winterfeld, 'Der evangelische Kirchengesang und sein Verhaltniss zur Kunst des Tonsatzes,' in three large quarto volumes, with abundant specimens of the setting of the old tunes from ancient manuscripts (Leipzig, 1843–47); it is, however, not clearly arranged. G. Döring's 'Choralkunde' (Danzig, 1865), and E. E. Koch's 'Geschichte des Kirchenlieds und Kirchengesangs, mit besonderer Rücksicht auf Würtemberg,' 2 vols. (Stuttgart 1847), are useful guides. Of collections of chorales, treated either as 4-voice hymns or for singing in unison, there is a great number. The following may be noted as having especial interest:—'J. S. Bach's mehrstimmige Choralgesänge und geistliche Arien zum erstenmal unverändert … herausgegeben von Ludwig Erk,' 1850; 'Choralbuch, enthaltend eine Auswahl von 272 der schönsten … Kirchengesänge in vierstimmige Bearbeitung. Nebst einem Anhang, bestehend aus 69 von J. S. Bach theils ganz neu componirten, theils im Generalbass verbesserten Melodien. Herausgegeben von J. G. Lehmann,' third edition, 1871; '371 vierstimmige Choralgesange von J. S. Bach.' [Edited by C. F. Becker.] To what extent the melodies of these, which editors persist in attributing to Bach, are really his, is a very difficult question, on which the present writer hesitates as much to pronounce an opinion as on the similar question of Luther's authorship of the music of certain hymns. Another carefully prepared collection which bears the respectable names of Baron von Tucher, Immanuel Faisst, and Job. Zahn, is entitled 'Die Melodien des deutschen evangelischen Kirchen-Gesangbuchs in vierstimmigen Satze für Orgel und Chorgesang,' Stuttgart, 1854. A good popular book also is 'Hauschoralbuch: alte und neue Choralgesänge mit vierstimmigen Harmonien,' of which the 7th edition was published at Gütersloh, 1871.
[ R. M. ]