2017 Labor Day Concert with World Premiere

Kevin Birch, organistThe First Lutheran Church of Boston is pleased to host its annual Labor Day Concert on Monday, September 4 at 7pm, this year featuring a special Reformation-themed organ recital by Kevin Birch of St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor, Maine. In addition to music by J.S. Bach and Georg Böhm, Kevin’s program will offer the world premiere of a suite based on Reformation-era chorales by acclaimed Boston-based composer James Woodman. First Lutheran is especially excited to feature such an important new work, especially pertinent in the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Admission to the Labor Day Concert is $10, and the concert will be followed by the traditional Root Beer Float Reception held in FLC’s courtyard.

Kevin is the founder of the St. John’s Organ Society, which promotes the beautiful and historically significant E. & G. G. Hook organ, op. 288 (1860). He also is a member of the music faculty at the University of Maine’s School of the Performing Arts in Orono and serves on the Liturgical Commission for the Diocese of Portland. He has performed organ recitals in the United States, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia and South America and is especially devoted to the many fine historic organs in Maine. Recent highlights include recitals and lectures at organ festivals in Germany (Berlin and Potsdam) and programs for several national conventions of the Organ Historical Society.

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Two Vespers services for BEMF week

The First Lutheran Church of Boston will hold two choral Vespers services during the week of the 2017 Boston Early Music Festival.

The first of these services will be the next installment in FLC’s Bach Vespers series. Our Bach Vespers for Trinity Sunday will take place Sunday, June 11 at 5pm with a 4:30pm prelude recital played by Thomas Sheehan of the Harvard Memorial Church. Music rendered by the FLC Choir and Baroque Orchestra will include Johann Sebastian Bach’s festive cantata for Trinity Sunday, Gelobet sei der Herr, BWV 129, a large concerted Magnificat by Samuel Scheidt, and Jacob Handl’s Trinitarian motet Benedicta sit sancta creatrix. The Reverend Adam DeGroot, most recently of Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries, will preach on the historic lessons for Trinity Sunday, which include the famous discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus concerning the Sacrament of Baptism in John 3.

The second service, on Friday, June 16 at 5pm will feature the return of Canto Armonico, directed by Ulf Wellner. Canto Armonico will present a celebratory Vespers service for the Reformation Jubilee of 1617 as it might have been celebrated that year in Dresden. Several Psalms, motets, and chorales by Heinrich Schütz and Michael Praetorius will adorn the service, and the Reverend James Hopkins of the Lutheran Church of the Way in Raynham, MA will preach.

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BEMF 2017 at FLC

As in past years, The First Lutheran Church of Boston will host several events of the 2017 Boston Early Music Festival. See the schedule below:

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Boston Bach Birthday 332 on March 18, 2017

2017 Boston Bach Birthday flyer

Boston Bach Birthday 2017 flyer
(click to enlarge)

The First Lutheran Church will host the ninth annual Boston Bach Birthday on Saturday, March 18. In 2017, this hotly anticipated event celebrates not only the 332nd birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach, but also the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. As always, all musical events are free and open to the public (balcony seating available for $20 at the door), and concertgoers may come and go as they please. An authentic German lunch will be served at noon in the FLC undercroft (tickets are available for $15 here at Eventbrite).

Each year the Boston Bach Birthday prominently features First Lutheran Church’s brilliant Richards, Fowkes & Co. opus 10 pipe organ. Five of the day’s programs comprise performances on the organ. This year’s organists include John Robinson, Brink Bush, Jonathan Wessler, Jennifer Hsaio, Laura Gullett, Khristian Erich Bauer-Rowe, and Christopher Holman, who presides over the Hildebrandt-style Bach organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston. Instrumental and vocal performances will feature harpsichordist Bálint Karosi and Bach researcher Christoph Wolff in a combination recital/dialogue; violinist Kate Arndt, flautist Gergely Ittzés, and baritone Ethan Sagin.

The children’s event at 10:00am will be a dramatic reading of Casey At the Bat, with creative organ accompaniment culminating in a rousing sing-along of Take Me Out To the Ballgame. As usual, children will be invited to come to the organ loft to see the organ up close.

The day will end with the next service in First Lutheran Church’s Bach Vespers series, modeled after those Bach might have held in the 1730s. The Reverend James Hopkins of the Lutheran Church of the Way in Raynham will officiate and preach on the lessons for Oculi (the third Sunday in Lent). Alto Carolyn Balkovetz and a period orchestra will perform Bach’s cantata for Oculi, Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54. The Choir of The First Lutheran Church will additionally sing a Psalm motet by Andreas Hammerschmidt and a stunning string-accompanied Magnificat by Heinrich Schütz, and the congregation will join in singing the classic confessional Lutheran chorales From Depths of Woe I Cry To Thee and May God Bestow On Us His Grace. (Due to space restrictions, balcony seating is unavailable for Vespers.)

Click here to view the complete listing of music played during the Boston Bach Birthday 332.

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The Epiphany of Our Lord

Please join First Lutheran Church for a Divine Service in celebration of the Epiphany of Our Lord this Friday, January 6, at 7:00pm, held in conjunction with the other churches in the circuit. Though often neglected as it falls just as “the holidays” come to a close in the kingdom of the left, Epiphany is nevertheless a theologically rich feast with a substantial historic pedigree in both the Eastern and Western Churches, and has pride of place as one of the five principal feasts of the church (along with Christmas, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost). The lessons for the day focus on the manifestation of Christ, Who comes as the light of the world. The choir will adorn the liturgy with music that reflects this theme, including chanted propers and two musically and theologically astounding motets—Tribus miraculis by Luca Marenzio and Ab Oriente venerunt by Jakob Handl. Congregational chorales will include modern favorites (Songs of Thankfulness and Praise, As With Gladness Men of Old) as well as traditional Lutheran chorales, culminating in Philipp Nicolai’s magnificent “Queen of Chorales,” O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright.

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Caroling in the Courtyard

Please join the FLC congregation for our annual Caroling in the Courtyard on Sunday, December 11 after the 11:00am Divine Service. As usual there will be cookies, cocoa in cups, Christmas carols, (not too much) cold (we hope), courtyard, cards (with Christmas service times to hand drivers- and walkers-by), and probably a few other things beginning with C as well. A wonderful opportunity for outreach!

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Advent 1 Bach Vespers recordings

Many thanks to all who came to the Bach Vespers for the First Sunday in Advent 2016! Over 100 people came to hear the Gospel proclaimed in word and music. If you didn’t make it, have a listen to the recordings from the evening:

Prelude recital (Bálint Karosi, organist)
Music of Johann Sebastian Bach

Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 551:

Advent chorale preludes from the Orgel-Büchlein:

Fughetta super Gottes Sohn ist kommen, BWV 703:

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland a 2 Clav. e Pedale, BWV 659:

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland a due Bassi e canto fermo, BWV 660:

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland in Organo Pleno, Canto fermo in Pedale, BWV 661:

Fughetta super Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 699:

Herzlich lieb hab’ ich dich, O Herr, BWV 1115:

Nun danket alle Gott a 2 Clav. e Pedale, canto fermo in Soprano, BWV 657:

Vespers service
Hymn: Savior of the Nations, Come (Bálint Karosi, organ):

Andreas Hammerschmidt: Machet die Tore weit:

Hans Leo Hassler: Canite tuba in Sion:

Johann Sebastian Bach: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61:

Dieterich Buxtehude: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BuxWV 211:

Heinrich Schütz: Magnificat octavi toni:

Hymn: Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates:

Fugue in G minor, BWV 578:

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Bach Vespers for the First Sunday in Advent

The First Lutheran Church of Boston begins its 2016-2017 series of Bach Vespers services in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 5:00pm (prelude recital at 4:30) with a Choral Vespers for the First Sunday in Advent. Admission is free, and all are welcome to attend.

The service will be modeled after the Vespers services Bach would have known in 1730s Leipzig. Pastor James Hopkins of the Lutheran Church of the Way in Raynham, MA will preach on the historic lessons for the First Sunday in Advent, wherein we are given to anticipate the coming of Jesus, both on a colt into Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion, and as King of all creation at the end of time.

Fittingly, the music for Vespers will reflect this regal theme: “Machet die Tore weit” (Psalm 24) by Andreas Hammerschmidt and the spectacular “Canite tuba in Sion” by Hans Leo Hassler focus our meditations on the salvific aspect of Jesus’ coming. This emphasis is echoed in the evening’s congregational chorales, “Savior of the Nations, Come” and “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates” (Macht hoch die Tür), accompanied by First Lutheran’s stunning Richards & Fowkes German Baroque organ. The musical centerpiece of the Vespers will be Bach’s cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61, performed with the assistance of a period string ensemble. The Magnificat will be sung in alternation between the choir and the organ, which will render its verses in a setting by Samuel Scheidt.

The Vespers service will be preceded by a prelude recital at 4:30, which will be played by former Minister of Music Bálint Karosi. His program will feature music by Bach appropriate for Advent, including several settings of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, and the Advent chorale preludes from the Orgel-Büchlein.

First Lutheran Church is the oldest Lutheran congregation in New England and is affiliated with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The church has earned a reputation in Boston and beyond for its long tradition of supporting outstanding music, particularly that of Lutheran composers, and for its world-class Baroque organ built by Richards & Fowkes. In recent years it has become particularly well-known for its Bach Vespers series, which presents a Bach cantata in the context of a historic Lutheran Vespers service, and its annual Bach Birthday Celebration, a daylong series of concerts celebrating the music of Bach.

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August 31 Vespers with Homerton College

First Lutheran Church will host the Charter Choir of Homerton College at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom as they sing a Choral Vespers service on Wednesday, August 31, at 6:30 p.m.

Director Daniel Trocmé-Latter and organists Max Goodall and Jonathan Huse will lead the choir in rendering music by JS Bach, John Goss, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Trocmé-Latter as well as the Magnificat from Bob Chilcott’s Salisbury Vespers.

Founded in 2009, the 24-member Charter Choir is a very new choir in the Cambridge choral scene, which stretches back over a thousand years. In the past few years it has rapidly risen in profile and now undertakes regular cathedral visits, international tours, and recordings. Their Vespers service at FLC is part of their 2016 tour to America.

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Labor Day Concert and Root Beer Float Reception

The First Lutheran Church in Boston cordially invites all to attend its annual Labor Day Concert and Root Beer Float Reception on Monday, September 5, 2016 at 7:00pm. The concert will feature soprano soloists Sarah Bellott and Alana Mailes, traverso player Kateri Chambers, cellist Denise Fan, and harpsichordist Jonathan Wessler playing Baroque solo and chamber music from Germany, England, and Italy.

Highlights will include solo cantatas by Dieterich Buxtehude and Georg Philipp Telemann, suites for traverso and cello by Johann Sebastian Bach, and a rarely-performed duet by Richard Dering. As is tradition, the Labor Day Concert will be followed by a Root Beer Float Reception hosted by the Elders, held in the courtyard of the church.

Admission is $10, and tickets will be available at the door.

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