João Baptista Lehmann
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,726
    We sing the setting of the Regina Caeli attributed to him on CPDL. This Easter a member of our congregation Gerard Venet asked about the composer, I mentioned that I know very little. So he went away and translated this article,
    Meet Father John Baptist Lehmann.
    To this day in our parishes we have recourse to our so pious and perhaps best-known hymn book and accompaniment book.
    It comes in two formats: singer's book, organist's book.
    We are talking about Harpa de Sião (Zion's Harp), inherited from Father Lehmann, also the author of the "Harmony Method" and "The Festive Organ", which we share with you in PDF format.
    To understand in which scenario of sacred music Fr. Lehmann found himself at the height of his compositions, we must resort to details of our history.
    In the 19th century, music goes through a process of secularization: the growth and development of urban environments, the enrichment of a middle class consumer of art end up stimulating the appearance of institutions linked to musical practice: publishing houses, theaters, didactic activity, trade in musical instruments.
    But the problem doesn't seem to lie in the fact that music leaves the church to go to the theater, but rather that theater music enters the church.
    We have a pearl from the "Jornal do Commercio" which reports the following : "it is necessary to put an end to the lack of artistic sense of the adaptors of the sacred texts of the "O Salutaris", "Tantum Ergo", etc... etc..., to melodies of profane feelings and I will even say of feelings which manifest the degradation of the artistic level of the individual (...) [1].
    "What remedy is indicated for the correction of these 'deviations'?
    The proposal was the creation of an association to regulate Sacred Music, which was approved by Pope Leo XIII, with the endorsement of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.
    Later, the foundation of a School of Sacred Music was created to prepare musicians, singers, composers and seminarians [2].
    But it was thanks to St. Pius X that sacred music returned to its main objective, that is, to serve in the most appropriate way for divine worship, without abuses.
    On November 22, 1903 - St. Cecilia's day - the Motu Proprio "Tra le Sollecitudini" was published. The document was proclaimed with the force of a "juridical code of sacred music" and obliged all Catholic churches throughout the world to obey it.
    Gregorian chant was then declared the "official music of the Church".
    During the pontificate of Pius XII, the Encyclical "Musicae Sacrae Disciplina" on sacred music (1955) and the Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites on Sacred Music and the Sacred Liturgy (1958) are noteworthy.
    The lessons learned from that time are also valid for our days.
    Father Lehmann was a faithful observer of the directives of St. Pius X and Pius XII.
    He not only composed a practical repertory, but also published his works on a large scale.
    Basil Röwer, Peter Sinzig, and Bernardino Bortolotti and Fúrio Franceschini are contemporaries of Father Lehmann, following the same spirit.
    Returning to our character, Father John Baptist Lehmann was German, born in Mertloch, in the Rhineland, in 1873.
    He studied music as a child, dedicating himself even more to musical studies after entering the Congregation of the Divine Word.
    He was ordained a priest in 1899 and the following year came to Brazil to work as a teacher and musician at the Juiz de Fora Academy of Commerce.
    Lehmann had an important role in Brazil in order to guide and stimulate the Catholic sacred music. When he arrived in Brazil, he started a great work, despite all the difficulties, for a new functional music in the Church. There was a lack of sheet music, Gregorian chant books, and the mentality of the church musicians was dominated by operatic style.
    Without any fuss, little by little, he found the right music and texts, changed the mentality, created choirs and, in the absence of music for festivities, began to compose religious music.
    In 1922 he began to work as director of the Lar Católico newspaper. However, he didn't stop composing. Thus came the book of songs for one or more voices with harmonium accompaniment: Harpa de Sião, very popular and used in all Catholic churches and chapels in Brazil until the Second Vatican Council.
    His fame as a liturgical composer was established throughout the country. It is true that he had great allies, such as his own academic predecessor Friar Sinzig.
    In 1925 he moved to Rio de Janeiro. In 1946, when the Archdiocesan Commission of Sacred Music of Rio de Janeiro was created, he was invited to join it and remained there until the end of his life. He was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Music, taking office on September 27, 1954, being greeted by Octávio Bevilacqua.
    He died on October 13, 1955, at the age of 82.
    (1) Vermes, Mônica - Departament of Arts of the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) Revista Eletrônica de Musicologia Vol. 5, no. 1 / June 2000 "Some aspects of sacred music in Rio de Janeiro at the end of the 19th century"
    (2) Jornal do Commercio, 8 January 1898
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,061
    The Harpa de Sião may be found atágina_inteira.pdf
    A lot of it is in Portuguese, but there's enough useful Latin material therein to be worth a look.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,726
    N.B. If anybody wishes to use the above text (or modify it) they are most welcome... It could be added to the CPDL page on João Baptista Lehmann.