This year Peter’s birthday falls on Easter Sunday as mine did last year. Our son is going to be 30. Today he e-mailed us from Central America where he got his scuba diving certificate last week.
On March 12th we commemorated the 400th birthday of the famous German hymn writer Paul Gerhardt. I’m still looking for a CD of his songs. Last year I bought one, “Paul Gerhardt Modern”, but as it turned out, that meant Jazz. It reminded us more of Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar which we enjoyed seeing on Broadway in the early seventies – but the “updated” Paul Gerhardt sounded strange.
It seems easier to compare Lloyd Webber to his countryman George Frederic Handel who over 250 years ago directed the first Messiah for Easter in Dublin. We’ve enjoyed attending the production ‘Messiah’ for many years with a group of friends before Christmas, followed by a festive dinner. King George II allegedly fell asleep during the oratorio and was stunned and jumped up when the Hallelujah chorus began. Dutifully, the entire audience stood up to follow the king, and though it’s distracting, audiences today still stand up to follow tradition.
King George most likely saw to it that Handel was put to rest in Westminster Abby’s Poet Corner. Our children –visiting England- probably enjoyed walking over Henry VIII burial site in Windsor more than honoring Handel in the Poet’s Corner.
Essayist Stefan Zweig, counted ‘Messiah’ as one of the most stellar moments of mankind. To my parents, it was Paul Gerhardt who meant most to them regarding church life.
For Brigitte and I it was a pleasant surprise to find a road sign in the German Schwarzwald with Paul Gerhardt’s better known hymn: “Go seek, my heart, the joys of life, …” This from a man who experienced the pestilence and horrors of the Thirty Year War. But it was said that Handel’s magnificent Messiah bears the mark of a man who recovered from a crisis. Both men found in the bible comfort, and passed it on to generations to come.
Once again, Happy Easter
Last week we still had snow, and now the Star Magnolia is blooming