Patterico's Pontifications

10/29/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 139

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General — Patterico @ 8:38 am

Composed for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity, the title of the cantata is “Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott” which translates as “Happy is the man, who to his God.”

The text is here. The cantata is based on a hymn by Johann Christoph Rube, sung to a tune written by Johann Hermann Schein called “Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt.” Here is the unadorned melody of the hymn:

The Gospel reading for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity is Matthew 22: 15-22, with a famous quote you have heard before.

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

I tend to prefer more updated translations of the Bible, but used the King James Version here because I like the way they translate the penultimate verse.

Commenter kishnevi recommends this box set of Bach’s cantatas, if anyone is interested.

Happy listening!

UPDATE: I wrote two posts last night about Bach cantatas and accidentally published the wrong one. I had intended to publish a post embedding the cantata written for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, but instead accidentally published a different post I had already written, embedding the cantata for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity. I am now annoyed at myself.

If you are interested in the post for the correct date, I have published it at RedState.

UPDATE x2: The readings are taken from this Web site about Bach’s cantatas. As best as I can tell, the readings are those that would have been used in Bach’s day.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

50 Responses to “Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 139”

  1. I may start doing this every Sunday.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. My wife loves it. She says it reminds her of her father and his love of music.

    mg (31009b)

  3. Wie Gehts:

    Bringen mir drei glas bier, bitte. Schnell, schnell.

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  4. God gave us music that we might pray without words

    From a German opera house

    Pinandpuller (8b5528)

  5. Oktoberfest with sausage and bier!

    Don’t forget your supposed to enjoy yourself on this mortal coil.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  6. Mr Patterico

    Would you mind posting the details of the Bach lectures you are listening to? I get a lot of windshield time.

    Thanks.

    Pinandpuller (8b5528)

  7. It’s beautiful. Your translation is just that of the first line, which only has a bit of an adjective clause that follows an ethical dative. You can find a full translation here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale121-Eng3.htm. My “Jacobite” translation:

    Happy is the man who–though hated by sin, the world, death, and devilry–can rely on God with a child-like trust; verily, in the face thereof he remaineth content only if he hath God as a friend.

    Golden Eagle (6e8a60)

  8. Radiologists often uses substances called contrasts. I feel like when Bach is applied as a contrast to existence it starkly reveals the border between eternity and foolish things.

    Pinandpuller (8b5528)

  9. I messed up with this. I meant to post the one for the 20th Sunday after Trinity and had written a post for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity as well, and accidentally posted the wrong one of the two. Arg.

    I just posted the correct one at RedState here.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  10. Mr Patterico

    Would you mind posting the details of the Bach lectures you are listening to? I get a lot of windshield time.

    Thanks.

    Will do.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  11. UPDATE: I wrote two posts last night about Bach cantatas and accidentally published the wrong one. I had intended to publish a post embedding the cantata written for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, but instead accidentally published a different post I had already written, embedding the cantata for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity. I am now annoyed at myself.

    If you are interested in the post for the correct date, I have published it at RedState.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  12. The lectionary never quite matches up. This website offers tips for choosing a cantata that aligns with our Revised Common Lectionary, which is what I gather you want to do: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/index.htm

    Have you come across Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage? Here’s a link:

    https://www.medici.tv/en/documentaries/bach-cantata-pilgrimage-john-eliot-gardiner/.

    I expect your perfect-pitch kids like the Bach as well. If not, make them listen in the car.

    Golden Eagle (6e8a60)

  13. The lectionary never quite matches up. This website offers tips for choosing a cantata that aligns with our Revised Common Lectionary, which is what I gather you want to do: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/index.htm

    I was using that, but I think I got tripped up between 2016 and 2017 when I published the post here. I’m not a theological expert but you agree that I have it right at RedState? November 19 is when this post should have been published, if I am not mistaken.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  14. These posts of yours, Patterico, are SO appreciated and lovely. They are a chance for folks here to come together without all the nastiness of our age, take a breath, and appreciate beauty.

    Thank you.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  15. Hey Golden Eagle,

    The readings from the Revised Common Lectionary don’t seem to match up with the Bach Cantatas site. I just got interested in all this during the past week, listening to my Bach lectures, and while I was raised in the Episcopal Church I never paid attention before to where the daily readings were drawn from. Now I feel like I am continually screwing this up.

    So according to the Bach Cantatas web site, we are today on the 20th Sunday after Trinity. The Gospel would be Matthew 22: 1-14 according to the same site. But according to this Revised Common Lectionary, the readings for today are Proper 25 (30) including Matthew 22:34-46.

    I admit to being a bit lost here.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  16. And the Bach Cantatas web site counts Sundays after Trinity Sunday while your Revised Common Lectionary counts Sundays after Pentecost. I know I am revealing some basic ignorance here but try to avoid laughing at me. I want to learn and asking questions when I can’t figure out the answers myself is the only way I can.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  17. You’re right. Bach counted his Sundays after Trinity Sunday, which is the Sunday after Pentecost. Thus the 24th Sunday after Pentecost is the 23rd Sunday after Trinity. Today (yesterday for me) is the 21st Sunday after Pentecost and the 20th Sunday after Trinity. Here’s a calendar: http://www.lectionarypage.net/CalndrsIndexes/Calendar2017.html
    Next week is All Saints Sunday (you know, Halloween, or All Hallows Eve), which the Lutherans rejected as too Catholic at that time–slim cantata pickings there. Theologically, anything eschatological would be fine in these next few weeks until Christ the King Sunday on November 26, for which BWV 116 would be a good choice. Then it’s Advent and Christmas.
    Bach used a one-year lectionary, and sometimes the hymns he used alluded to Bible readings. Catching those is more a matter of serendipity than anything else. We now have a three-year Lectionary, years A, B, and C. Year A ends on Christ the King Sunday November 26, and Year B begins on Advent 1, December 3. If I foresee a particularly apt day for a cantata or other pro tempore work, I’ll e-mail you. Anyway, thanks for helping my workday Sundays in Saudi Arabia.

    Golden Eagle (6e8a60)

  18. This explanation of the Lutheran Church Year says they count Sundays after Trinity. Elsewhere it looks like they are counting them after Pentecost (one Sunday different, obviously). But I can find Web sites of individual Lutheran churches that seem to count them after Trinity Sunday. Can anyone shed light on this?

    Patterico (115b1f)

  19. Cross-posted with Golden Eagle. Thanks for responding; reading your explanation now.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  20. Golden Eagle,

    Nope, I am left confused still, by two things.

    First, this confuses me:

    Next week is All Saints Sunday (you know, Halloween, or All Hallows Eve), which the Lutherans rejected as too Catholic at that time–slim cantata pickings there. Theologically, anything eschatological would be fine in these next few weeks until Christ the King Sunday on November 26, for which BWV 116 would be a good choice.

    But according to this calendar at the Bach Cantatas web site, BWV 116 would correspond to the 25th Sunday after Trinity, which does not happen in 2017. The cantatas they pick as appropriate for November 26 are BWV 60 and BWV 26, both composed for the 24th Sunday after Trinity.

    Second point of confusion: the calendar you link provides as the readings for today Proper 25 including Matthew 22:34-46. But according to the Bach Cantatas Web site, the readings for today are the readings for the 20th Sunday after Trinity which they say include Matthew 22: 1-14.

    What am I failing to understand?

    Patterico (115b1f)

  21. We crossed each other! Anyway, I think you’ve figured it out. We just now have three times as many readings as Bach did. The lectionary also changes according to when Easter falls. There’s a section in your BCP (Book of Common Prayer) that goes into this. As I (no doubt unclearly) said above, since the cantatas don’t quote the Bible but merely comment on it, you’ll avoid any pitfalls by keeping the liturgical seasons in mind when choosing a cantata. You wouldn’t want a Lenten cantata during Easter, for example.

    Golden Eagle (6e8a60)

  22. We crossed again. Would you mind addressing my two points of confusion in comment 21? I’d be very grateful.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  23. In these posts I’d like to quote the Gospel reading that the Lutheran church would use for that day. At RedState I believe I have done that, quoting Matthew 22: 1-14. That does not seem to be the Gospel from the Revised Common Lectionary, but it is what the Bach Cantatas Web site says is today’s Gospel for the Lutheran Church, and this particular Lutheran church in Tucson seems to be using Matthew 22: 1-14 as today’s Gospel reading.

    I am asking the same question here as I asked in comment 21, just in a different way, but basically it comes down to an apparent discrepancy between the Revised Common Lectionary readings (as used by, for example, Ed Morrissey in his Sunday post today) and the Bach Cantatas Web site version of the appropriate readings (which the Tucson church uses, as one example).

    Patterico (115b1f)

  24. The BWV 116 fit is more a matter of content: Christ as king. The muddle about Sundays happens because Easter can be earlier or later in a year. Lectionaries have to provide extra readings for years in which Easter falls earlier–they’re rarely used.

    Furthermore, the lectionaries Bach used in Dresden and Leipzig were ordained by the ecclesiastical authorities under which he lived. However, Bach’s lectionary is now defunct, and of interest only to music historians who want to get at Bach’s purpose. Thus, in effect, referring to the 23rd Sunday after Trinity is like referring to the colony of New York and asking who the Royal Governor is now. And so to bed . . .

    Golden Eagle (6e8a60)

  25. Ack! So is the Gospel reading cited at RedState correct, or wrong, according to the Lutheran Church?!?!

    Patterico (115b1f)

  26. That church belongs to the more conservative Missouri Synod–it may have kept an older lectionary, or it may be the pastor’s whim. I’ll check with my ex-college roommate, who is the assistant to the Missouri Synod’s president. That denomination has only male pastors and no gay marriage. I’ll do it tomorrow, though!

    Golden Eagle (6e8a60)

  27. But do you see the conflict I am talking about between the Gospel readings as described by the Bach Cantatas Web site (Matthew 22:1-14) and by the Revised Common Lectionary (Matthew 22:34-46)?

    Patterico (115b1f)

  28. It appears the Lutheran calendar is the same as the Anglican calendar. (I was also raised an Episcopalian but attend an Anglican church now.) If so, the Gospel you used was the same one we used last week, October 22, 2017, the 20th Sunday after Pentecost.

    DRJ (15874d)

  29. I know that was last week’s Gospel in the Anglican churches of West Texas.

    DRJ (15874d)

  30. The Episcopal Church follows the same calendar as the Anglicans and Lutherans. Today was the 21st Sunday after Pentecost. Matthew 22:12-15 was the Gospel for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost on October 22, 2017.

    DRJ (15874d)

  31. The difference is, I think, whether the religion recognizes Pentecost, as do Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Lutherans.

    DRJ (15874d)

  32. Missouri Synod Lutherans mostly use a version of the RCL, but also offer an historic, one-year series which is very much in line with the lextionary J.S. Bach used.

    https://www.lcms.org/worship/lectionary-series

    Hope this is helpful.

    Viekerhaus (716353)

  33. I am guessing that the answer to my question is that the readings provided on the Bach Cantatas Web site are the readings from the lectionary used in the time of Bach. Those would be the readings I am interested in for these posts, since they are the readings that would have been on Bach’s mind when he composed the cantatas, and are the readings that would likely have most informed the composition of the cantatas as a result.

    Patterico (474441)

  34. Air on a G String + Piano Concerto number 5=

    April Sky

    Vinnie Moore

    Pinandpuller (16b0b5)

  35. I reckon the readings on the Bach cantata website are those of Bach’s day, which would be of interest to a musical historian. The more conservative “German” Lutherans of the Missouri Synod still offer an optional very similar lectionary–as one church in Tuscon seems to be using. The “Scandinavian” Evangelical Lutheran Church in America uses the RCL. You could use the one-year LCMS lectionary for your cantata project; note that it counts from Trinity Sunday, and includes a Reformation Sunday.

    Just be aware that the readings most Christians hear in church won’t jibe with those of Bach. However, only those who know German will note any incongruence! Keep your liturgical seasons straight, and you’re good to go. The Wikipedia article on the Revised Common Lectionary explain its history and intent well.

    The reasons for the retention of the historic one-year lectionary are explained well by the LCMS website Viekerhaus gives above; just click on the one-year lectionary icon.

    Golden Eagle (6e8a60)

  36. Probably so, but would that be Ordinary Time instead of the more modern RCL?

    DRJ (0280d9)

  37. UPDATE x2: The readings are taken from this Web site about Bach’s cantatas. As best as I can tell, the readings are those that would have been used in Bach’s day.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  38. The reasons for the retention of the historic one-year lectionary are explained well by the LCMS website Viekerhaus gives above; just click on the one-year lectionary icon.

    Even that lectionary offers a different gospel reading for the 20th Sunday after Trinity than the gospel reading set forth on the Bach Cantatas Web site, and both are different from the gospel reading of the Revised Common Lectionary.

    I have emailed the fellow who put together that page for the Bach Cantatas Web site, to ask him his sources for the readings.

    However, this page at the Bach Cantatas Web site says, consistent with what Golden Eagle says above, that the readings provided at the site are indeed the readings that were used by the Lutheran Church in the time of Bach. There is some confirmation I discovered in poking around: the text of a sermon by none other than Martin Luther himself given on the 20th Sunday after Trinity. The subject of his text? Matthew 22:1-14: the very passage listed at the Bach Cantatas Web site.

    So it seems to me that the Bach Cantatas site is very authoritative.

    One other curiosity: this page at the Bach Cantatas site says:

    Most, but not all, of the weekly readings that were used by the Lutheran church at the time of Bach are already readily available as the epistles and gospels in the Book of Common Prayer – available on the internet (eg.
    http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/readings.html. ) The English text of the BCP predates that of the KJB by almost a century being the translations of Tyndale and Coverdale These were modified partially in 1662 when the Elizabethan prayer book was revised and re-released as the BCP. The translations in the BCP are slightly different from the KJV but are the ones that are most readily accessible, and arguably, more widely used and read by generations in the Anglican church. I still use the BCP texts weekly at two of our several weekly celebrations of the Holy Communion and its a great spiritual bonus to know that Bach’s cantata of the liturgical week usually refers to the same epistle or gospel as the one I am reading in church.

    Sure enough, I navigated to the URL provided, http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/readings.html, and navigated further to Part IV, covering Trinity Sunday through the 25th Sunday after Trinity. Scrolling down to the 20th Sunday after Trinity, it appears that the gospel reading is that same Matthew 22:1-14 — the same passage that Luther sermonized on, on the 20th Sunday after Trinity — and the same one listed on the Bach Cantatas Web site.

    So I think I have the answer to my question. I have learned a tremendous amount in the process. What fun.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  39. I have learned a tremendous amount in the process.

    As have I, but without all the hard work.

    DRJ (0280d9)

  40. It’s kind of sad that the common modern-day gospel readings don’t line up with those from Bach’s day. It would be extra fun to have a musical supplement to the very gospel passage most people are reading.

    I could do that, I guess, but that would take way too much research and effort.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  41. I think that is because much of his fundamental message was lost, when the roman empire collApsed on the east, in the 5th century, the church was diced into the garb of Caesar, even during the reformation the various and kings continued that role.

    narciso (d1f714)

  42. Bach’s cantatas have been called the Fifth Gospel.

    DRJ (0280d9)

  43. Among other things to remember
    The pastor’s sermon came right in the middle of the cantata at Liepzig. Which is why many of them are divided into Part I and Part II: the congregation heard music, sermon, music.

    We have 200 church cantatas, and a small number of “secular” cantatas written for performance at city occasions honoring various local functionaries, the King of Saxony (where Liepzig was), and a few funerals. There’s also a couple written for amusement for public concerts: the Peasant and Coffee Cantatas. We have no idea how many cantatas have not survived.

    kishnevi (c81531)

  44. Here’s a semi-dramatized video of the Coffee Cantata, with English subtitles so you see what tickled the funny bone of Liepzigers back around 1740
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nifUBDgPhl4

    kishnevi (c81531)

  45. We have no idea how many cantatas have not survived.

    But lots and lots. Which is a tragedy.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  46. Here’s a semi-dramatized video of the Coffee Cantata, with English subtitles so you see what tickled the funny bone of Liepzigers back around 1740
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nifUBDgPhl4

    The lecture I am listening to tonight is about the Coffee Cantata.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  47. I’m not great at German but if I understand correctly six Liepzigers, three men and three women, meet frequently at a coffee shop while balancing their busy careers and love lives?

    Pinandpuller (16b0b5)

  48. Revive classical music – – bring Johann Sebastian Bach !….:>)

    Bill Saracino (ad0096)

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