Praying for Rain. Music for Rogation Days from Silesia
The musical culture of seventeenth-century Silesia abounds in phenomena of confessional meaning, concerning not only the Protestant circles that were predominant there, but also the Catholic milieu, favoured by imperial authorities. These phenomena are often associated with extra-liturgical repertoire, which was used in various circumstances and feasts celebrated in the post- Tridentine era and promoted by various monastic families. In addition to the repertoire of this type performed during church services, some were sung ex tra urbem, during the so-called dies rogationum. This feast regularly fell during the week before Ascension Day and was associated with the rites of spatial sacralisation, celebrated to convey to the community a sense of its existential security.
But the rites of rogation days were also performed in times of natural disasters, especially prolonged drought, during which the Litany of the Saints, associated with the procession petitioning for their intercession, was sung. The evidence for such an event is a small paper card with the prayer beseeching for rain found in a set of partbooks transmitting the score for a Litaniae de omnibus Sanctis pro diebus Rogationum. The copy of this composition comes from the Convent of the Canonesses Regular in Wrocław (PL–Wu RM 6140) and was composed by the Silesian Jesuit Joannes Faber (1599–1667). The piece is not only a unique source for the rare musical production of Jesuits at this time; it can be also examined in the context of studies on climate changes of the past.
The setting of the litany by Faber was most probably performed on the occasion of a protracted drought that happened in 1684. Confirmation for this fact can be found in archival sources of Catholic provenance from Silesia (i. e. chronicles of Jesuit centres), but it was also predicted by prognostics and calendars printed in Protestant cirles of this region. Both types of sources pro- vide compelling insight into the social strategies of different confessional en- vironments, revealing both their social strategies and contrasting worldviews.
Keywords: Silesia; confessions; rogation days; paleoclimatology