Thursday, June 18, 2015
A Lecture on Early Christian Hymnody
As for Philipp August Becker, my few remarks have given no real idea of his exuberant personality — which seldom penetrated into his scholarship; his was an orgiastic nature which somehow did not fit into the traditional pattern of a scholar. A story told me by Walther von Wartburg may illustrate this: Becker, who was rather given to the worship of Bacchus-Dionysos, used to invite his colleagues at Leipzig to a certain popular inn for copious libations. One night, after many hours of merrymaking, he realized that the bourgeois patrons sitting around him were shocked by his exuberance; immediately turning to his colleagues, he remarked: 'And now I want to tell you something about early Christian hymns!' For almost an hour he talked, to the delight, not only of his colleagues but also of the crowd of Spiessbürger who had gradually drawn closer to him, enthralled by the eloquence of this grey-beard bard who was reviving the spirit of Saint Ambrosius in a tavern.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.