Late Sunday afternoon on our weekend in Munich we stopped in to see the Michaelskirche, the lofty but tasteful Bavarian baroque church currently undergoing exterior renovation sponsored, if the 20 metre sign on the facade is to be believed, by Apple Ipod. As we wandered around we saw an elderly lady – you know the sort she’s in every church, red knit tam, gray hair, gray complexion and gray sweater plus in the chill a parka – handing out candles and a service leaflet. There was a choral Vespers for Advent sung by their adult choir beginning shortly. The candles were only 50 cents but she didn’t have change for a 5 euro note and was most embarrassed and all a-titter when we said we didn’t want change. We joined about 75 other people in the pews and waited quietly for the service to begin. Vespers has always been one of my favorite offices – and when its sung it is particularly beautiful.
The entrance hymn was sung antiphonally by choir and congregation as four small servers in purple cassocks and white surplices came through the congregation lighting our candles. We sat in the flickering light as the service followed a familiar pattern: the psalm of the day using old plainsong chant, the readings from the Old Testament and the New, a brief homily based on one of one of the readings, a Bach chorale, more congregational hymns and an organ postlude. Even though in German, it was familiar and for that brief 45 minutes I was reminded of candle lit Advent Evensong in our small Anglican parish when I was a child. We may not have had the grandeur, the statues (hey we were Anglican!), certain we lacked the magnificent choir and organ but we had a sense of community, warmth and harmony. As did our congregation in the Michaelskirkche on a cold, rainy afternoon on the 2nd Sunday in Advent in Munich.
I repeat what I said yesterday – there is nothing to compare with the sound of a German or English choir; and here to prove my point is the Thomanerchor of Leipzig singing an old German carol: Joseph Lieber, Joseph mein.
In this rather original video Vostorgina01 has combined this lovely carol from the Western rite with scenes of Russian Christmas celebrations.
17 dicembre – San Giovanni de Matha