Dimension: 19.7 x 16.4 x 1.5 cm
||The St.Matthew Passion: A Text for Voices
by John Reeves
||Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2001. x + 108p.
Hard back. Price: US$14.00 [£8.99].
Co., Alban Books, 79 Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5PF, UK
||Twenty-one verse meditations by John Reeves, exploring
the tradition of liturgical responses to the passion.
||Those listeners interested in Bach's St Matthew Passion
|Not a research publication
|| Contrary to one's expectation, this book does not discuss Bach's St Matthew Passion in
a scholarly way. It consists of the author's twenty-one verse-meditations
(which he claims to have been inspired by
Bach's St Matthew Passion), free connecting prose and an English translation of the
libretto of the passion. As for
the translation, no reference is given where the translation is taken from or whether
the author translated it by himself. I presume it is Reeves' original.
The poems, which are labelled in Roman
numerals, are supposed to be heard as three
distinctive voices, as the author explains:
Voice I speaks for the
author, reflecting on his experience of hearing Bach in various cities of the
modern world ....
Voice II represents, imaginatively, the persona of Bach himself, speaking from
the year 1729 [!] when he premiered his St. Matthew Passion in Leipzig
.... Voice III stands for the
whole body of worship in Western Christendom and evokes an earlier period that
is sometimes called the "Age of Faith." These poems in the third voice
reflect on the place of Christ's Passion in the life of the faithful and on its
central role in the liturgy.
The Lord's Prayer
The Stations of the Cross
The Seven Last Words
THE LIBRETTO OF The St. Matthew Passion
an ideal gift to those in
need of spiritual help
The cities (where the author visited and received the
inspiration for the poems, and thus unrelated to the story of the Gospel in any
way) function as units
in which several poems are put together, supposedly representing a moment of Bach's response to the
Passion as a believer and composer. These passages also relate the poems, one
by one, to the point reached in the Passion story.
Clearly, this is not a book from which musicologists can learn either new
facts about or new interpretation of the work. It is a 'creative work' written for a
general, much wider readership--those who are seeking intimate, inspirational
guidance for their listening of St Matthew Passion. If you have never listened to St Matthew Passion,
it could be difficult to follow if your do not understand German well; for
these people, this book will
certainly be of enormous help.
At the time of personal
crisis and hardship, Bach's St Matthew Passion can be a very effective
medicine for your soul, too. You may find herein additional comfort from
reading Reeves' meditative text.
Produced in two colours (black and dark red), this beautiful book is an ideal
gift to those in need of spiritual help.
Published on-line on 27 September 2001