Sacred Easter music revived from Baroque hymn books

Czech Madrigalists

In the Czech Republic, music, both secular and sacred, plays an important part in the Easter celebrations. Among the lesser known collections of Easter music are Baroque songs composed by literary fraternities in the late 16th and early 17th century. The pieces, which survived in old hymn books, were performed chiefly in churches in rural Bohemia. The songs presented in today’s Sunday Music Show were recorded by the vocal ensemble called Czech Madrigalists.

Literary fraternities were communities of educated members of the middle classes who used to meet to sing songs of worship on Sundays. There were well over a hundred such fraternities in the Czech lands before 1620. Most of the preserved pieces of Czech music from the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century are connected with the activity of such literary fraternities, archived in churches, monasteries and chateaux here in the Czech Republic.