You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your might.
Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day.
Impress them upon your children.
It is interesting to note that both the prelude and postlude music are by Jewish composers. The prelude, by Joseph Sulzer (1850-1926), is typical of German Jewish organ music of the Romantic period. You may find that it bears a great deal of similarity to the work of Mendelssohn (1809-1847). The postlude is by Max Wolff (1885-1954), and while it does not reference Jewish melodies, researchers believe that it was most likely written for Jewish community concerts popular in the 1930s. Interestingly, Wolff cofounded a Jewish musicians association after the rise of the Nazi Party in 1933. This small association was intended to compliment the more famous Kulturbund Deutscher Juden, a Jewish organization intended to provide employment for Jewish musicians and artists. Eventually, the concerts and cultural events provided by these associations became some of the only ways Jewish people could assemble for entertainment, as the Nazis had implemented almost complete segregation. One can hear slight dissonance in Wolff’s music, and I would conjecture that this is rather forward-looking to the music made during and after WWII. In any case, it is fascinating to hear the similarities and differences between church and synagogue music throughout history. German-Jewish organ music generally bears more similarity to church music due to the desire to counteract anti-Semitism in the 19th and 20th centuries by making synagogue worship appear more “church-like.”
In the Gospel reading, Jesus “raises the bar.” This week’s Gospel could be thought of as one of Christ’s “hard teaching” moments. Because of this, the choir will sing If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee, arranged by Jody W. Lindh, during the offertory. Lindh has written a quasi-baroque inspired accompaniment to a very old German tune by Georg Neumark (1621-1681). Author of both tune and text, Neumark was one of the most prominent German poets and hymn writers of his day. J. S. Bach (1685-1750) set this text and tune in Cantata 93. This piece was chosen for this Sunday because of the seemingly overwhelming nature of Christ’s teachings. How can one possibly measure up? An answer is found below.
If thou but suffer God to guide thee,
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days;
Who trusts in God's unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.