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, West Virginia
June 3, 2003
The walk from the rail station was easy: start down Hallischen Tor toward the Old Town and turn right onto Grimmaischestrasse. Admission was 1
euro. We arrived half-hour early and found the choir practicing while we looked around
the church. The choir was wunderbar, of course. The Bach Organ in the back was sensational, the stained-glass windows especially beautiful with dramatic colors, and
the keyhole arch before the choir painted with salmon Saxon horizontal stripes. The church dates from 1496, but was heavily restored after WWII.
The oak pews were filling, so we hurried to a good seat. Our program allowed us to follow along, but we had to forget singing in German! We understood part of the sermon: ". . . American . . . Martin Luther King . . . evil." These words were repeated several times. A few days after our entering Iraq, we deduced that the priest felt the United States should have learned from King to stand passive in the face of incitement. I remembered other words of King and what our government accomplished in the 1960’s for human rights of our "true heroes" against our own repressive local governments. For us, the sermon struck as many chords as the Thomanerchor. It enabled us to experience Germany--and ourselves as the new "Ugly Americans." As the choir began again with a motet, lightheartedness was restored, but we had travelled a great emotional distance with this devout group.
Leipzig takes great pride in their somewhat famous choir. Locals say they are as good as
the Vienna Boys’ Choir and that they can be promoted now in a united Germany. Perhaps they will achieve the recognition they deserve as part of the great cultural Leipzig legacy that includes Mendelssohn and Bach. Outside, the statue of the composer reminded us that the Bach Museum was across the street. We would visit it tomorrow, as well as Mendelssohn’s house and another church. Across the lawn, some visitors lingered on the grass leading to center square. Looking back, we admired the Germanic beauty of the steeple that resembles a squat lighthouse with widow’s walks, so quaint. The same choir in centuries past must have regarded it as a spiritual beacon.
From journal Leipzig Lyrics and Lions
Grants Pass, Oregon
September 22, 2000
From journal Leipzig - a city of culture