The liturgical function of Buxtehude’s organ works by Peter van Dijk

by Peter van Dijk | Het ORGEL | Year 104 | (2008) | Issue 1

Peter van Dijk The liturgical function of Buxtehude’s organ works
HetORGEL 104 (2008), nr. 1, xx-xx [summary]
Many organists in large North-German city churches improvised in theservices, but compositions were also written down for the use oforganists who did not improvise. Little can be said with certaintyabout the relationship between Buxtehude’s improvisations andhis written-out compositions. That Buxtehude’s organ workswere intended for liturgical use, among other uses, is practicallyundisputed. But there is disagreement about how the compositions wereused within the liturgy. Using information from church regulations andfrom two orders of service from Hamburg (1607) and Danzig (1705) we canpresume that music not based on a chorale was used as a postlude toservices. It is questionable whether Buxtehude’s choralesettings functioned as preludes; they may just as well have functionedas organ verses in alternatim use. The large chorale fantasies may havesounded between the reading of the gospel and the sermon. They may alsohave been used as musica sub communione, but the chorales on which theyare based are seldom specific to communion. There are no sourcesindicating that the chorale fantasies were played in the Abendmusiken.