Sunday, December 03, 2006

Luther, Bishops Bible, Macbeth

Just been reading through Luther's Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent (don't ask why - I am not even a Christian).

Couldn't stop thinking of Macbeth all the way through - constant references to light and dark, to faith, to things like:

vices that seek material darkness and secret places.


The proverbial expression “shameless night” is a true one. Works we are ashamed to perform in the day are wrought in the night The day, being shamefaced, constrains us to walk honourably. A Christian should so live that he need never be ashamed of the character of his works, though they be revealed to all the world.

Now, I am not suggesting that Shakespeare had this particular sermon in mind, but I do think it is worth remembering that the intensity of this - the repartition of light and dark, the dragging out of the christian symbolism, the debate and discussion are part of the Elizabethan Religious experience -

Something like:

12. The nyght is passed, the day is come nye. Let vs therfore caste away the deedes of darknesse, & let vs put on the armour of lyght.

13.Let vs walke honestly as in the day, not in riotyng & dronkennesse, neither in chaumberyng & wantonnesse, neither in strife and enuying.

Romans 13: 12/13 (Bishops Bible)

Would be a familiar text to the audience - especially around Christmas time. Do we know when Macbeth was performed at court?

(Just a spontaneous thought)

The next jerk in my thinking was about the writing for readers:

Luther is writing - for reading out loud: Do we know if it was still common practice to read 'out loud' in Shakespeare's day?

I recall a production of Faustus which had him, in the opening scene, moving from music stand to music stand to read out loud quotes from his learned books.

If schools still maintained the practice (and I am again reminded of the Muslim world - children learning the Koran by heart - by reciting out loud) - and 'papers' were delivered 'viva' (still in the western academic world today) in the universities - how far apart were the practices of writing for the theatre and writing for a reading out loud 'readership'?

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