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17 February 2017
  + Michael Praetorius +
15 February AD 1621, transferred to 17 February

Michael Praetorius Lutheran musician, composer, and musicologist Michael Praetorius (Prätorius) was born in Kreuzburg, Thuringia to Pastor and Mrs. Michael Schultheis (or Schultze), on 15 February 1571. Praetorius was a Latinization of the family name and Michael later favored the monogram MPC (Michael Praetorius Creutzbergensis). While still a boy, he began studying philosophy at the University of Frankfurt, where his brother Andreas was a professor.

Praetorius became organist at Frankfurt and later held the same post at Lüneburg. In this latter town he began his career as Kapellmeister. While only 18, he began serving Herzog Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel as a minor member of his court. In 1604, Praetorius became the prince's Kapellmeister and organist. He was also appointed honorary prior of the Ringelheim Monastery near Goslar but wasn't required to stay there. He died at Wolfenbüttel on 15 February 1621.

Praetorius was, by all accounts, an accomplished musician and certainly a prolific composer. He also involved himself in the study of musical art and practice. His major work in this field was The Syntagma musicum, "not a piece of music but a scholarly historico-theoretical masterpiece." Of this, he completed three volumes. The second volume of this work is the most elaborate and valuable treatise on instruments and instrumental music from the 16th Century and is considered one of the most remarkable examples of musical scholarship in existence. The planned but uncompleted fourth volume was to have involved counterpoint and we can only wonder how much of the history of that topic we lost with his death at age fifty.

Musarum Sioniarum Among his other titles were Musae Sioniae, a compendium of over 1200 chorale and song arrangements published in nine parts, and Hymnodia Sionae. The 1612 Terpsichore, his sole surviving secular work, is a collection of more than 300 instrumental dances.

His harmonization of Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming) remains popular. He also arranged and composed the beautiful Mass for Christmas Morning.

His compositions and arrangements generally show a strong Christian faith filtered through his passionate Lutheran understanding of Scripture, grace, and faith. He helped move music from the late Renaissance into the early Baroque and forms the first half of a pair of Lutheran bookends to that period, the latter being J. S. Bach.

I chose to transfer his commemoration to this date since his birth and death both fell on 15 February, when the LCMS commemorates Philemon and Onesimus. The days adjacent are already reserved for Saint Valentine (the 14th) and Philipp Melanchthon (the 16th).

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