Sunday, August 24, 2008

St. Bartholomew's Day - Claude Goudimel

Today the 24th of August 2008 is the 436th anniversary of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. As is my tradition, I like to post a little remembrance of what happened on that day, a day too often forgotten by us all. So far we have talked about the massacre in general. We have talked of its most famous victims Admiral Coligny and Peter Ramus. We have talked about a few other martyrs along with those who denied the faith to live. We have even talked about God’s mercy in the massacre. Today I would like to remember another martyr.

His name is Claude Goudimel. His exact age is unknown, but we do know he studied music at the University of Paris. He was an accomplished musician and musical theorist. Around 1560 he converted to Protestantism. He was forced to move several times on account of persecution and the many wars that France fought about religion. Finally, he settled in Lyon. Goudimel helped with the Genevan Psalter. He put the Psalter of Marot in four-part harmony. He even put the melody in the highest voice. That is the common practice now, but was at that time rare and revolutionary. He wrote other things as well of course including secular music. He was well known and renowned and not just in France. Goudimel was not a pastor. He was a musician. Yet, he was targeted and murdered during the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre for no other reason than the fact that he was Reformed.

Now, the reason I chose Goudimel this year is to draw our attention to a fact that is often lost in the discussions of this atrocity. Goudimel did not die on the 24th of August 1572. Instead, he died four to seven days later. You see, sometimes I fear we think of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre as a riot that was just driven by passion and emotion. Or that sometimes we think a mob hunted people in the street for a day and maybe two. This is not the case. The Massacre was a drawn out and well plotted event by the Queen-Mother and her catholic allies the Guises. De Medici the Queen Mother sent letters a head of time to the governors of the realm instructing them to kill the Protestants and that it would start with the death of Coligny on the morning of the 24th. The hunt was to continue not just a day, but until they were all killed. While I have no doubt that a lot of passion was poured out during this blood bath, it was nevertheless a cold blooded affair. Goudimel was hunted down after several days of killing. He was hunted not in Paris, but in Lyon. He was no where near the wedding ceremony or Coligny. He had no court influence, and was not known to be a trouble maker in politics. Yet, he was known to be a Protestant, and so when they found him at least four days after Coligny was beheaded, they took Goudimel’s life too.

On this day then let us remember Claude Goudimel and the others who fell for the gospel in France 436 years ago. Remembering that the depth of our devotion should extend to even giving our lives. While we pray it will not be required of us, let us be willing to give it freely.


Joyously Saved said...

I was so glad to come across this post! I definitely feel that enough attention is not given to the particulars of the St. Bartholomew's, and one of my goals in life is to give identities to those who were killed for their faith. I just read about Claude Goudimel for the first time yesterday.