The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Moravian Find

Lost 18th century church music sounds delightful

I t's always exciting to make a discovery in the religious arts. You have that opportunity with a new CD, Lost Music of Early America: Music of the Moravians (Telarc, CD-80482; $16.95) recorded by the Boston Baroque ensemble of voices and period instruments.(Telarc, CD-80482; $16.95) recorded by the Boston Baroque ensemble of voices and period instruments.

Martin Perlman, Boston Baroque conductor, discovered an unknown treasure trove of church music when he researched in the archives of the Moravian Music Foundation in Bethlehem, Pa., and in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Moravian Church, one of the "peace churches," grew from the work of the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415, 68 years before Martin Luther's birth. (Full communion between the Moravian Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will be proposed at the August Churchwide Assembly.) When the Moravians came to America, mostly in the early 18th century, they settled primarily in Pennsylvania (around Bethlehem, still the church's headquarters) and North Carolina.

Unlike some early groups, the Moravians celebrated music, mostly choral, and used it lavishly in services--sometimes the compositions of European Moravian composers but works by Americans as well.

Perlman grouped a wonderful variety of short pieces into musical services (called "love feasts") appropriate to different church seasons and events, notably Christmas, Lent and occasions of thanksgiving. Most of the choral works are based on Bible verses and are sung in German, with a few in English.

Words, including translations, appear in the back of the recording booklet. There are also pieces for a trombone choir.

Anyone interested in traditions of sacred music will delight in this recording. If your local music store doesn't carry it, ask them to order the CD.


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