Patterico's Pontifications

1/12/2018

Jonah Goldberg’s Remnant Podcast: Charles Murray, with Music from . . .

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:45 pm

Jonah Goldberg’s podcast “The Remnant” is always entertaining and well worth your time. But the latest episode is special for a couple of reasons. First, Jonah’s guest Charles Murray is a longtime Patterico favorite. Second, the intro and outro music may sound familiar to longtime readers.

Click here to listen.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/7/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 37

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,Music — Patterico @ 7:30 am

It is the first Sunday after the Epiphany. The title of today’s cantata is “Wer da gläubet und getauft wird” (He who believes and is baptized).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 1:4-11:

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 Baptism and Testing of Jesus

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Bach composed the cantata for the Feast of the Ascension, but its themes touch on the importance of baptism, and thus relate to today’s reading about the baptism of Jesus. The text of today’s cantata is available here. Movement 5 describes the blessing of baptism:

Faith creates the wings of the soul,
so that it may soar to heaven,
baptism is the seal of grace,
that brings us to God’s blessing;
and therefore he is called a blessed Christian
who believes and is baptised.

Happy listening!

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

12/31/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 83

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

It is the first Sunday after Christmas, and also New Year’s Eve! Enjoy some music from one of the greatest composers who ever lived as we close out 2017. The title of today’s cantata is “Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde” (Joyful time in the new covenant).

Bach composed the cantata for the feast known as the Purification of Mary. The readings for that day included the same Gospel reading you are likely to hear in church today: Luke 2:22-40:

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

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

Yes, though your faith still sees much darkness,
your Savior can part the shadows of doubt;
indeed, when the night of the grave
makes the last hour terrifying,
you will certainly
perceive His bright light in death itself.

This invocation of the image of the Lord’s light accompanying one’s death is reminiscent of Simeon’s praise quoted in the above Gospel passage.

The final chorale, at 16:15 in the recording, is based on Martin Luther’s “Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin” (In peace and joy I now depart), a hymn written for the Purification feast, but which has also been used for funerals. Here is a lovely version of that hymn played on classical guitar:

Happy listening!

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

12/25/2017

Christmas Music: Bach Cantata BWV 63

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

It is Christmas Day, and the title of today’s cantata is “Christen, ätzet diesen Tag” (Christians, engrave this day).

The Revised Common Lectionary provides several Gospel readings for Christmas. Today we will focus on John 1:1-14:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The text of today’s cantata is available here.

O dearest God, but what wretched creatures are we?
A fallen people, who have abandoned You;
and yet You will not hate us;
for sooner than we should according to our merit lie
prostrate,
so Divinity must require itself
to take on human nature
and upon the earth
in a shepherd’s barn to become a child.
O unfathomable, yet blessed outcome!

Happy listening, and Merry Christmas!

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

12/24/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 121

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

It is the fourth Sunday of Advent, and also Christmas Eve! The title of today’s cantata is “Christum wir sollen loben schon” (We should praise Christ highly).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 1:26-38:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

The text of today’s cantata is available here. The cantata was composed for the second day of Christmas but is appropriate to today’s Gospel reading, focusing as it does on Mary and the Virgin Birth:

We should already be praising Christ,
the Son of the pure girl Mary

. . . .

God chooses this pure body as a temple to His honor,
in order to convert mankind in miraculous fashion.

The words of the final chorale:

Praise, honor, and thanks be said to You,
Christ, born from the pure maid,
together with the Father and the Holy Spirit
from now on to eternity.

Happy listening!

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

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:

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