Sunday, October 4, 2009
Gottesdienst in Nürnberg
"Nun danket alle Gott,
Mit Herzen, Mund, und Händen."
"Now thank we all our God,
With hearts and hands and voices."
[Note to those joining from AnnArbor.com: Sorry that I didn't get the piece posted there until late, because I didn't have all my instructions down. The piece here, minus photos, was posted on Sunday. I am now back in Ann Arbor (8 pm Monday), albeit jetlagged.]
Here in Germany, they call it Gottesdienst. Sunday church services are known as "God´s service." Today, I attended what seemed to be a rather normal service in a building that is well outside my normal experience. St. Lorenz Kirche has a distance of perhaps 50 yards between the organ console near the front and the main set of pipes in a loft in the back; it requires about a sixth of a second for the sound to get back to the organist. Nevertheless, other than the language and the building, truly almost everything was familiar to me.
First, why am I here in Nuremberg? Actually, there is a certain amount of confidentiality surrounding this trip. Suffice it to say that it is for reasons related to my day job as a climate scientist, with a couple of extra days of enjoyment added on.
Back to die Kirche. My German is very rusty and was not all that good to start with, particularly in the area of listening comprehension. But between having a few days to get in some practice, and the pastor at this church, whose name I didn´t hear or read, speaking in slow and clear German, I understood far more than in any other context on this trip. St. Lorenz started as a Roman Catholic church from its construction, which started in 1250, and retains much of the decoration, statuary, and iconography that is associated with that tradition, but it switched to the Evangelical Lutheran Church at the time of Luther´s Reformation. The feel and tone of the service was much like that of a modern congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, even featuring a female pastor. Despite the stories that are told of large European churches standing nearly empty on Sunday mornings, the pews were nearly filled today, including quite a few younger people. There was also the baptism of an infant named Hanne Siegler, if I heard correctly.
The choirs at St. Lorenz rotate duty from week to week. This week the service featured the Bachchor (the link is entirely in German; try using this to translate), touted as having over 100 members, although I don´t think there were quite as many today. It is led by Kantor Matthias Ank. Their part in the service was extensive. Keeping with the theme of things in Nuremberg being familiar, they sang the above-quoted "Nun danket alle Gott," by J. S. Bach, familiar to me both in German and in the English translation. They also did "Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude," known in English as "Jesu, Joy of Man´s Desiring" (Bach again) and, in English, "O Taste and See How Gracious the Lord Is" by Vaughan Williams.
Viel Dank zur St. Lorenz Kirche für den Besuch. Ich hoffe wieder zu besuchen.
I hope to add a few photos to this later. Watch also for posts of my experience in Bayreuth (I went to the city of Richard Wanger, but saw an obscure Italian baroque opera), and traveling in business class. Next week, I will be in Madison, Wisconsin, and might try to post on my experiences there.