Patterico's Pontifications

12/10/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 30, Part 1

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 9:11 am

It is the second Sunday in Advent, and the title of today’s cantata is “Freue dich, erlöste Schar” (Rejoice, redeemed flock), Part 1.

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The text of today’s cantata is available here. It contains this passage:

The herald comes and announces the King,
he calls; therefore do not delay
and arouse yourselves
with a hasty gait,
hurry after this voice!
It shows the way, it shows the light,
by which that blessed pasture
we shall surely behold one day.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

12/3/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 61

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 2:15 pm

It is the first Sunday of Advent, and the title of today’s cantata is “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (Now come, Savior of the heathens). The performance is a live one conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt:

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 13:24-37

“But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

The text of today’s cantata is available here. The text complements the reading about the coming of the Son of Man: “You come and allow Your light to shine full of blessing. . . Come, you lovely crown of joy, do not delay, I await you with longing.”

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

11/26/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 116

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 1:00 pm

The title of the cantata is “Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ” (O Prince of peace, Lord Jesus Christ).

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the sheep and the goats:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The text of today’s cantata is available here, and portrays Jesus as both the one who will come in glory to judge the living and the dead — but also the Prince of Peace who will show mercy to those who repent.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

11/19/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 45

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 7:00 am

The title of the cantata is “Es ist dir gesagt, Mensch, was gut ist” (It has been told to you, man, what is good).

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the bags of gold:

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

It sounds pretty harsh at first blush. But the message, I think, is that God has entrusted you with certain wealth — talents, skills, and resources — and you should use them fruitfully, rather than be resentful of the one who entrusted you with these gifts, and do nothing with them. While Bach did not write a cantata that relates directly to this Gospel passage, the text of today’s cantata (available here) has passages that sound the same theme, such as this, the text that accompanies the final chorale melody:

Grant that I do diligently
what you have set for me to do,

which Your command directs
for me in my condition!
Grant that I do it quickly,
at the time that I should;
and when I do it, then grant
that it succeed!

The chorale used in the cantata is based on a melody by Ahasverus Fritsch: O Gott, du Frommer Gott, played on the piano here:

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

11/16/2017

Your Bonus Midweek Bach Cantata: BWV 140 — Plus, Some Rock Music

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 6:00 am

I have learned a lot in my recent series of posts about the Bach Cantatas. Before doing the posts, I was unfamiliar with the way that Gospel readings are chosen for any given Sunday, and the fact that the manner in which this decision is made has been revised over time. From what I understand, the Catholic Church and most Protestant Churches have now mostly settled on a Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which spans three church years, labeled Year A, Year B, and Year C respectively. Each year focuses on one of the synoptic gospels. Year A (which is coming to a close) emphasizes readings from the Book of Matthew. Year B focuses on Mark, and Year C on Luke, with readings from the Gospel according to John interspersed throughout.

I found a resource online that allows one to match the cantatas presented in Bach’s time with the Sunday of the year — but because Bach’s lectionary was different from the modern RCL, there is no necessary thematic relationship between the cantata composed for a specific Sunday and the Gospel readings you hear in church in modern times. Recently, I said it would be great if I could match the cantatas to the Gospel passages that are actually being read across the country on any given Sunday. But, I concluded, that would be too much work.

Commenter Golden Eagle came to my rescue and pointed me to a book called “Bach Throughout the Year” by John S. Setterlund. Mr. Setterlund has done exactly what I was looking for: he has matched the cantatas and their subject matter to the Revised Common Lectionary in use these days, so that the cantata I present will be appropriate to that Sunday. I will be able to set forth the Gospel passage you’re actually going to hear in church. What fun!

The book has arrived, and appropriate cantatas begin on Sunday! Thank you, Golden Eagle!

Reading the book tonight, through, I saw that the correct cantata for this past Sunday was the very famous cantata BWV 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, calls the voice to us). Of course! Sleepers Awake! Was this not the very Gospel passage I sat in church this past Sunday and heard? I cursed fate for bringing me the book three days too late. Do I really have to wait three more years for the 22nd Sunday after Trinity in Year A to play this cantata for you?!

No! That would be too much to bear. And so I present this cantata to you now, in a version conducted by John Eliot Gardiner:

The text is here. I don’t usually quote the text in these posts, but there is a reason to quote at least the beginning:

Awake, calls the voice to us
of the watchmen high up in the tower;
awake, you city of Jerusalem.
Midnight the hour is named

And indeed, note how there are 12 beats in the first ten seconds of the piece — a clear reference to the midnight hour referenced in the text. This is not an accident. There is word painting like this throughout the cantatas and passions.

At 12:41 you will hear a lyric melody in the violins that I am almost certain you will recognize, as it is among the most famous and recognizable melodies Bach ever wrote.

Bach originally composed this for the 27th Sunday after Trinity, but the Gospel passage to which it closely relates is the one you may have heard last Sunday: Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins, in which Christ said:

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

Therefore keep watch. Sleepers awake. Wachet auf.

There’s nary a dull moment in this piece. Just beauty from start to finish.

In these posts, I like to find (if possible) the original hymn on which the cantata is based. For BWV 140 the hymn is the hymn of the same name (“Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme”), dating from 1599, by Philipp Nicolai. Rather than a plain vanilla rendering of the hymn, here is a beautiful version by Felix Mendelssohn from the St. Paul oratorio:

Was this not the very same hymn that I sang in church this past Sunday, all the while thinking to myself that the tune seemed very familiar? Indeed it was!

Acquiring this book is very exciting for me, and will allow my posts to be “in communion” with the experience of the Christians who read this blog and attend church on Sundays.

And now, just because, for the rockers, and because it’s not really Sunday, here is “Sleepers Awake” by Guadalcanal Diary:

11/12/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 115

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General — Patterico @ 7:00 am

Composed for the 22st Sunday after Trinity, the title of the cantata is “Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit” which translates as “Make yourself ready, my spirit.”

The text is here. The chorale used in the cantata is based on a melody called “Straf mich nicht in deinem Zorn.” The composer of the original chorale melody is anonymous.

In Bach’s time, the Gospel reading for the 22nd Sunday after Trinity was Matthew 18: 23-35, a parable told by Jesus after Peter asked him how many times one should forgive his neighbor:

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ he servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[b] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

11/5/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 38

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General — Patterico @ 7:00 am

Composed for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, the title of the cantata is “Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir” which translates as “Out of deep anguish I call to You.” It was first performed on October 19, 1724.

The text is here. The cantata is based on a hymn of the same name, with the text provided by Martin Luther himself, based on Psalm 130. Here is a Mendelssohn setting of the melody of the chorale as a motet:

In Bach’s time, the Gospel reading for the 21st Sunday after Trinity was John 4:46–54, the healing of the royal official’s son:

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

I hope to do a post about one of the Bach cantatas every Sunday for the foreseeable future.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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.]


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