This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Saturday Rave: Picander.

Who ends up with just one name?

Well, Canute, Liberace, Beyoncé, Homer, Sting, Atahualpa, Madonna, Molière, Cher, Napoleon, Björk, Gandhi, Farinelli..,

...and Picander.

Who? You may well be asking, and it's true that despite the confidence he showed in taking on a pen name consisting of just one single word, Picander never really achieved very much fame in his lifetime. 

His real name was Christian Friedrich Henrici. He trained as a lawyer but to keep body and soul together he worked as a tutor and civil servant in Leipzig while he wrote his poetry.

He wrote poetry?

Yes, that's right. In Advent 1725 he started writing religious verse, which he collected and published as Sammlung Erbauchlicher GedankenIt didn't shake the world to its foundations (though his book did go through a couple of editions) but the local church choir master saw it and thought enough of it to set some of the verse to music. They ended up having quite a fruitful partnership.

One of the results, miraculously, was the St Matthew Passion.

Wiewohl mein Herz in Tränen schwimmt
Daß Jesus von mir Abschied nimmt
So macht mich doch dein Testament erfreut:
Sein Fleisch und Blut o Kostbarkeit.
Vermacht er mir in meine Hände
Wie er es auf der Welt mit denen Seinen
Nicht böse können meinen
So liebt er sie bis an das Ende.

Although my heart swims in tears
Because Jesus takes his leave of us,
Yet his testament makes me glad.
His flesh and blood - O what treasure
He gives into my hands.
In the world, with his own hands,
He could not mean evil:
So he still loves to the very end.

Picander's fame may not have come in the direction he'd hoped for when he started out. I don't know how much he cared about this.

But if he was disappointed after the first performance of the St Matthew Passion then I have no sympathy with him at all.

Word To Use Today: testament. This word comes from Latin, a will, from testis, witness.

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