Visiting St.Nikolai in Leipzig…

Yesterday the Leipziger Thomaner (Choristers of St. Thomas in Leipzig) started their new season with a divine service in St.Nikolai. Angelika had this on our bucket-list for some time. We left Wittenberg in good time to queue in front of the closed doors.

There was great interest and when the doors eventually opened just before 17h30, the church quickly filled up – even on the 2 storied balconies. Everybody wanted to see the boys, except the lady sitting next to me (not Angelika). She was perfectly content behind one of the great pillars. She knew, when to stand up and when to start singing too. I bet, she´s a frequent visitor.  Angelika was surprised at how young some of the singers were: “They can only be in junior school – and in the first classes at that!” However, when they started singing, there was nothing of unprepared under-age or unfit. Instead, it sounded close to perfect – as far as I can tell at least. Perhaps, if I knew better and had some inside knowledge, I´d call it heavenly or angelic, but that only time will tell. I thought, Gotthold Schwarz was much younger as the website CV suggests, but being older than those pictures didn´t affect his intonation and conducting. He was very much in his element – as were the boys in theirs – and the singing was magnificent and glorious. Sister Maria Wolfsberger at the organ was extra-ordinary as you´d expect in this prime spot for classical choir music.

There´s been a lot of talk in Leipzig recently about a mother, who wanted to introduce her daughter to this elite choir. Read more here and here. A court verdict has stopped that for now – with good reason. Excellence, venerable tradition and musical speciality still trump the quest for equality. For now it´s still a boy´s choir.

There was quite a lot of coughing and sneezing in our area, although it really still is the middle of summer. Possibly that was to us grounded and impress on us, that we ain´t in heaven yet.

That goes for the introduction by Superintendent Martin Henker as well. He did a long introduction of close to 10 minutes – “Präludium” – to his sermon with political advice for the up-coming elections in Saxony. I prefer his superiors bulletin.

It was very nice, that the church order for this divine service gave us an opportunity to join in with singing and praying too. The Thomaner sang the “Magnifikat”: God quickly raises up the down-trodden und kicks the mighty from their throne. He does so in the political realm too. I favored the final by Max Reger, who put a verse from Matthias Claudius (1783) to brilliant music: “Der Mensch lebt und besteht nur eine kl. Zeit, und alle Welt vergehet mit ihrer Herrlichkeit. Es ist nur Einer ewig und an allen Enden und wir in seinen Händen.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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