Abstract and Keywords
Jesus’ identity involves both his mission and his person. That identity was been interpreted through songs of praise from the early second century down to the hymns of Luther and Wesley. Post-Enlightenment Oratiorios were influenced by naturalistic and Romantic worldviews and often secularized the image of Christ. Whereas Bach’s Oratorios give us the ‘Nicene Christ’ in music, this is rarely the case for post-Enlightenment Oratorios. Haydn’s Seven Last Words of the Savior is barely recognizable as ‘Christian music’ outside a Christian liturgical setting. Haydn’s Christ figure is thoroughly human. Beethoven’s only Oratorio, Christus am Ölberge,projects the composer’s own fears about his encroaching blindness onto his ‘Christ’ figure. Most traces of the supernatural are deftly eliminated from Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ. Liszt is thus the only modern composer whose portrayal of Christus genuinely attempts to project the Christ of Christian tradition rather than the problems of modern humanity.
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