Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Little *What* Music?

The church across the street is singing to me.

St. Stephen's Catholic installed an electronic carillon, a set of electronic bells, in its tower last year. It plays Westminster Chimes to mark the hours. (Considerately, only from 8 am to 8 pm.)  But at 12:05 and 6:05 the carillon plays a couple of hymns rotating through its rather limited repertory. The only change is at Christmas time, when it rotates through a limited repertory of Christmas carols.

This is fine, but it occasionally does something startling. It did it just now, in fact. In the carillon's repertory is the Austrian anthem "Gott Erhalte Franz den Kaiser," written by Franz Josef Haydn to celebrate the birthday of Emperor Franz II. During the 19th Century, however, it was adopted as its own by Germany, renamed the Deutschlandlied, and given new lyrics. The most well known of those lyrics are: "Deutschland, Deutschland, über alles; über alles in der Welt."

Playing out hymns is fine, and quite understandable coming from a church. But occasionally throwing in the Nazi national anthem is, as I say, startling.