From the beginning of the article:
‘On the sixteenth the sanctuary was draped with tapestry and the altar with velvet, the golden chalice was sent for from Storkyrkan [the Great Church].’ Thus reads the entry for June 16, 1670 in the private diary kept by the clerk of the royal palace chapel in Stockholm, Petter Hassel. The note from the following day explains the reason for this extra decoration of the palace church: ‘The King and the Queen came to the church, and Doctor Erich said Mass and sermon in the High Mass and the King then went for the first time to the Lord’s Communion.’ These lapidary notices, made by a person who was at the same time at the center and in the perifery at the occasion in question, are among the few preserved records that document a ceremony that at the time was considered of great importance in the Swedish realm. For the very first time Charles XI, the adolescent Swedish king, partook of the Holy Communion. This occasion, albeit scarcely even a footnote in the history books, is of special interest for the music historian, since one important ingredient of the extraordinary pomp decorating the ceremony in question has been preserved: the music composed for the Communion service by the young court musician Christian Geist (c. 1650–1711). In this article, I will discuss some aspects concerning music for the Communion in representional church music at the courts and major towns of the Baltic area during the seventeenth century. The importance of Communion music in the sacred musical repertoire of this time has been acknowledged for a long time, but it has still mostly been discussed quite generally and in passing. Taking Geist’s composition as my main example, I will attempt to elaborate this subject a little further, both with regard to questions of genre traditions connected to the Communion and their meanings, as well as the wider social and political context for this music.