|Title:||AN WASSERFLÜSSEN BABYLON|
|Composer:||Wolfgang Dachstein (1525)|
|Incipit:||56535 44323 45432|
|Source:||Wolff Köpphel's Straburger Kirchenamt, 1525|
The tune AN WASSERFLÜSSEN BABYLON was composed by Wolfgang Dachstein (b. Gffenburg an der Kinzig, Germany, 1487; d. Strasbourg, Germany, 1553) and published in the Strassburger Kirchenampt (1525), edited by Dachstein and his friend Matthaus Greiter. In that collection it was the setting for Dachstein's German versification of Psalm 137, from which the tune name derives (in English, "By the rivers of Babylon"). The tune is similar in character to Genevan psalm tunes that were published slightly later, and it has always been associated with the Song of Zechariah in the Genevan psalm-singing tradition, which did permit the singing of the Lukan canticles. In bar form (AAB) with a long and complex B section, AN WASSERFLÜSSEN BABYLON is a challenging tune for congregations, but well loved by those who were nurtured in the Genevan tradition. The melisma in the final phrase effectively produces a strong ending.
Dachstein came from a long line of theologians and musicians originally from the town of Dachstein near Strasbourg. In 1503 he studied theology in Erfurt (Martin Luther was in that city in 1503 as well) and became a Dominican monk. He was an organist at both the Cathedral and the St. Thomas Church in Strasbourg and lived there at the same time as John Calvin, who was working on the Genevan Psalter. Converted to Protestantism in 1523, he became the assistant pastor at St. Thomas Church but later returned to Roman Catholicism to retain his position as organist at the Cathedral. Dachstein and Matthaus Greiter co-edited the Teutsch Kirchenamt mit Lobgesengen (1525), one of the earliest Lutheran prayer and hymnbooks.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988