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While, in the early hist. of the Luth. Ch., the mass, passion, and motet continued to play the important part they had played in ch. music of pre-Reformation days, the cantata began to flourish as Luth. music during the Baroque* Era. The cantata is a composite form that may include an instrumental prelude or overture, recitatives, arias, duets, and choruses. Cantatas are usually accompanied by an organ or orchestra. They may be lyrical or dramatic, secular (cantata da camera) or sacred (cantata da chiesa). The Luth. cantata, which differs from the RC cantatas of It. and Fr. and from the Angl. and Ref. types of Eng. and Am., became an integral part of Luth. worship in the 17th and 18th c. It was sung bet. the Epistle and Gospel of the day and was related directly to the same, presenting and interpreting the texts of the lections. Former liturgical texts were neglected to such an extent that often only the Kyrie and Gloria remained.

Cantatas based on chorales were known as chorale cantatas. Cantatas of this type were written largely by such masters as F. Tunder,* J. P. Krieger,* J. Kuhnau,* and esp. by J. S. Bach.* D. Buxtehude* preferred to base his cantatas on free poetic texts and relate them to the It. baroque style; but he by no means ignored the chorale.

Bach wrote no fewer than 5 cycles of cantatas (ca. 295) for the ch. yr.; of these, ca. 195 have been preserved. Among the Luth. antecedents of the cantata we find Gespräche zwischen Gott und einer gläubigen Seele, by A. Hammerschmidt,* and numerous works by H. Schütz,* notably his Symphoniae sacrae of 1629. After Bach, the cantata was practically absorbed by the oratorio*; cantatas of some sort were written by the masters of the Classical and Romantic Eras and by Eng. and Am. composers. WEB

G. Adler, Handbuch der Musikgeschichte (Frankfurt, 1924); W. Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music, 9th print. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1955); F. Blume, Die evangelische Kirchenmusik, in Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft (Potsdam, 1931); Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. E. Blom, 5th ed., 9 vols. (London, 1954), supplementary vol. 10 (London, 1961); H. Kretzschmar, Führer durch den Concertsaal, 7 editions, 2 parts in 4 vols. (Leipzig, 1887 to 1939); S. Kümmerle, Encyklopädie der evangelischen Kirchenmusik, 4 vols. (Gütersloh, 1888–95); H. J. Moser, Geschichte der deutschen Musik, 5 editions, 3 vols. (Stuttgart, 1920–30).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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