Reading of the long sermon that separated Parts One and Two of the Matthew Passion in Bach’s Leipzig performances, people of my generation will find it hard not to reference Alan Bennett’s classic skit:
Which just goes to show how very different our world is from that of Leipzig audiences in the 1720s…
The language, with the clergyman gamely reaching out to his flock with expressions like “Stuff this for a lark”, was so quaint as to amuse even the 1950s’ audience, then my generation in the 1970s, and still now (cf. Reception history).
In his 2014 sermon at King’s College Cambridge, AB reflects:
Like all parodies it was born out of affection and familiarity and the Anglican services that were in my bones, and there is symmetry here as the first sermon I preached on a professional stage was in Cambridge fifty odd years ago across the road at the Arts Theatre in the revue Beyond the Fringe. It was on the text, “My brother Esau is an hairy man but I am a smooth man”. That sermon apart I have never formally preached since until this morning and here I am again in Cambridge.
And with his defence of education for all, it’s a highly political sermon.
For Confucius and other boring prophets, see here.