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About this commemoration
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany, in 1685 into
a family of musicians. As a youngster he studied violin and organ
and served as a choirboy at the parish church. By early adulthood,
Bach had already achieved an enviable reputation as a composer and
His assignments as a church musician began in 1707 and a year
later he became the organist and chamber musician for the court of
the Duke of Weimar. In 1723, Bach was appointed cantor of the St.
Thomas School in Leipzig and parish musician at both St. Thomas
and St. Nicholas churches, where he remained until his death in 1750.
A man of deep Lutheran faith, Bach’s music was an expression of his
George Frederick Handel was also born in 1685, in Halle, Germany.
After studying law, he became organist at the Reformed Cathedral
in Halle in 1702, and in 1703 he went to Hamburg to study and
compose opera. His interest in opera led him to Italy and then on to
England where he became a citizen in 1726.
Once in England, Handel supported himself with court appointments
and private patronage. His energies were devoted to producing Italian
operas and English oratorios, large choral works based upon religious
themes. Handel’s most popular work, Messiah, was first performed in
Dublin in 1741, and is notable for its powerful musical interpretation
of texts from the Holy Scriptures.
A man of great charity and generosity, Handel died in London in 1759
and was buried in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey.
Henry Purcell was born in London in 1659 and became one of the
greatest English composers, flourishing in the period that followed the
Restoration of the monarchy after the Puritan Commonwealth period.
Purcell spent much of his short life in the service of the Chapels
Royal as a singer, composer and organist. With considerable gifts as
a composer, he wrote extensively in a variety of genres for the church
and for popular entertainment. He died in 1695 and is buried adjacent
to the organ near the north aisle of Westminster Abbey.
I Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in
holiness, who dost teach us in Holy Scripture to sing thy
praises and who gavest thy musicians Johann Sebastian
Bach, George Frederick Handel and Henry Purcell grace to
show forth thy glory in their music: Be with all those who
write or make music for thy people, that we on earth may
glimpse thy beauty and know the inexhaustible riches of
thy new creation in Jesus Christ our Savior; who liveth and
reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.
II Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in
holiness, who teaches us in Holy Scripture to sing your
praises and who gave your musicians Johann Sebastian
Bach, George Frederick Handel and Henry Purcell grace
to show forth your glory in their music: Be with all
those who write or make music for your people, that
we on earth may glimpse your beauty and know the
inexhaustible riches of your new creation in Jesus Christ
our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Chronicles 7:1–6
Preface of a Saint (3)
Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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