Patterico's Pontifications

11/25/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 117

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the twenty-seventh Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut” (Praise and honour be to the highest good).

Today’s Gospel reading is John 18:33-37:

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

The host of heaven gives You thanks,
o Sovereign of all kingdoms,
and those in earth, air, and sea
who live in Your shadow
praise Your creative power,
which has held them all in its consideration.
Give honor to our God!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

11/18/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 26

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig” (Ah, how fleeting, ah how insignificant).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 13:1-8:

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, echoing Jesus’s words about how the temples with all be thrown down:

To hang one’s heart on earthly treasures
is a deception of the foolish world.
How easily searing lusts appear,
how the towering floods rush and rend,
until everything crashes into heaps destroyed.

. . . .

The highest glory and magnificence
is enveloped at last by the night of death.
Who enthrones himself just like a god
eludes neither dust or ashes;
and when his last hour strikes,
when he is borne to earth
and the foundation of his loftiness crumbles,
he will be completely forgotten.

Ah, how fleeting, ah how insignificant
are the doings of mankind!
Everything, everything that we see
must fall and pass away.
Whoever fears God will stand forever.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

11/11/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 52

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Falsche Welt, dir trau ich nicht” (False world, I trust you not). It is a solo cantata for soprano, with the full choir appearing only in the final chorale.

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 12:38-44:

Warning Against the Teachers of the Law

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

The Widow’s Offering

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Honesty is banished from the world,
falsehood has driven it away,
now hypocrisy
remains in its place.
The best friend is unfaithful,
o miserable condition!

It’s all the same, it’s all the same,
even if I am repudiated!
If the false world is my enemy,
O then God will yet be my friend,
He who deals honestly with me.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

11/4/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 77

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 9:13 am



It is the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben” (You shall love God, your Lord).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 12:28-34:

The Greatest Commandment

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words that echo Jesus’s greatest commandment, almost word for word:

You shall love God, your Lord, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

10/28/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 23

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn” (You true God and Son of David)

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 10:46-52:

Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

The text of today’s piece is available here. Today’s cantata directly tells the story of Jesus restoring the sight of Bartimaeus, as related in today’s Gospel reading, beginning with his cry to the Lord for the “Son of David” to “have mercy on me”:

You true God and Son of David,
who already from distant eternity
have looked upon my heartache
and the pain of my body, have mercy on me!
And grant through Your wondrous hand,
that has turned aside so much evil,
that aid and comfort occur for me as well.

In the penultimate chorus, the cantata directly references Bartimaeus’s request that his sight be restored:

All eyes wait, Lord,
O all-powerful God, for You,
especially my own.
Give them strength and light,
do not leave them
for ever in the darkness!

It is a wonderful musical accompaniment to today’s message.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

10/21/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 99

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” (What God does is well done).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 10:35-45:

The Request of James and John

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, echoing Jesus’s words of trusting in God only, and attaining greatness and delight only through service and suffering:

What God does is well done,
His will remains righteous;
However he begins my affairs,
I will silently keep to Him.

. . . .

When the bitterness of the cross
struggles with the weakness of the flesh,
nevertheless it is well done.
Whoever, through misapprehension,
considers the cross unbearable,
will also in the future never share delight.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

UPDATE: I would be remiss if I did not point out that the duet near the end is truly lovely. I am listening to it a second time now. Even if you skip the rest of the piece, listen to the duet:

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

10/14/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 97

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 8:43 am



It is the twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “In allen meinen Taten” (In all that I do / In all my undertakings).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 10:17-31:

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

In all my actions
I take counsel from the Highest,
who owns and is capable of everything;
In all things He must give,
so that they may prosper,
His own advice and assistance.

There is nothing, early or late,
to all my efforts,
my worries are in vain.
He may do with my affairs
according to His will,
I place them at His disposal.

Both chorale movements in today’s cantata — at the beginning and at the end — are based on the famous melody “Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen” (Innsbruck, I Must Leave You) by Heinrich Isaac. The final chorale (lasting less than a minute) in particular has a more straightforward rendition of the melody:

This tune may sound familar to fans of the St. Matthew Passion, because it is used twice in that work, for example here:

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

10/7/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 139

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



The most happy man is he who knows how to bring into relation the end and beginning of his life.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is the twentieth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott” (Happy is the man, who to his God).

Alert readers may recognize that we have heard this one before. But last October, when I first started publishing these cantata posts, I had no resources to try to match the text of the cantata to the text of the Gospel reading. Now I do, and this one fits today’s reading, so I’m using it once more. It’s lovely, and worth listening to again.

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 10:2-16:

Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses command you?” he replied.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

The Little Children and Jesus

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

The text of today’s piece is available here. Its opening words contain an echo of Jesus’s words about coming to the kingdom of God “like a little child”:

Fortunate the person who upon his God
can place a truly childlike reliance!
Although sin, the world, and death
and all the devils may hate him,
nevertheless he remains well pleased,
if only he has won God as his friend.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

9/30/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 73

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir” (Lord, as you will, so let it be done with me).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 9:38-50 and sounds like an inversion of the famous George W. Bush line about the terrorists:

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Causing to Stumble

“If anyone causes one of these little ones — those who believe in me — to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where

“‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’

Everyone will be salted with fire.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Ah, our will remains perverted,
quickly contrary, quickly dashed,
never considering death;
but a Christian, educated in God’s spirit,
teaches itself to sink into God’s will
and says:

Lord, as You will,
then squeeze, you pangs of death,
the sobs out of my heart,
if my prayer is only acceptable before You.

Lord, as You will,
then lay my limbs
down in dust and ashes,
this most corrupted image of sin.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

9/23/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 166

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Wo gehest du hin?” (Where are you going?).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 9:30-37:

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, which are a stark reminder of the eternal importance of Christ to those who, like the disciples on the road, are becoming preoccupied with worldly concerns and worldly greatness, which can all end in an instant:

I beseech You, Lord Jesus Christ,
keep me in Your thoughts
and do not let me ever, at any time,
waver from this purpose,
rather to adhere closely to this,
until my soul, out of its nest,
arrives in heaven.

Just as rainwater quickly runs off
and easily washes out many colors,
so also does joy in the world
of which so many people hold so many pieces;
for although one sometimes sees
his wished-for fortune blossom,
yet even in the best days,
completely unexpected, the last hour tolls.

Take care and be wary
when good fortune smiles.
For so easily on earth
things can change before evening,
which in the morning was never considered.

The title of the cantata (“Where are you going?”)* refers to a passage at the beginning of chapter 16 of the book of John:

I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, “Where are you going?”

But the words of the cantata ask this question of the followers of Christ:

1. Aria B
Where are you going?

2. Arie T
I will think about heaven
and not give my heart to the world.
For whether I go or stay,
this question remains in my mind:
humanity, ah humanity, where are you going?

At the end of the cantata there appear these words:

Who knows how near my end is?
Time runs out, death approaches,
Ah, how quickly and swiftly
can my death-struggle come upon me!
My God, I beseech through Christ’s blood,
make my end good!

Astute followers of this series will recall the words “Who knows how near my end is?” (in German: “Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende?”) from BWV 27, which we heard last month on the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Take a few short moments to compare the different ways in which Bach sets that line to music in the two cantatas. The basic melody is the same, but the setting of the words is quite different. (The four musical examples which follow are only a few seconds each, so it’s well worth your time to play each.)

Here is the line from BWV 27, which we heard in August:

And here is the line from today’s cantata, BWV 166:

This second version is a bit faster and less elaborate, and the emotional effect is strikingly different. Although the rest of the passage is not completely identical in the two cantatas, the verses both end with these words: “My God, I beseech through Christ’s blood, make my end good!” (in German: “Mein Gott, ich bitt durch Christi Blut, Mach’s nur mit meinem Ende gut!”). Let’s hear the two different settings of these words, beginning with BWV 27 from August:

The slow pace, canon-like entry to the voices, and elaborations of the musical line in BWV 27 provide a very different effect from the simplicity of the end of today’s cantata, BWV 166, which sets the same words to the same melody, but in a simpler and more direct fashion:

I hope this little comparison has enriched your understanding of both cantatas and of Bach’s art, and provides a nice musical companion to today’s Gospel lesson.

Happy listening!

*Many sources translate “Wo gehest du hin?” as “Where are you heading?” but in this post I translate it throughout as “Where are you going” to match the language of this passage from John.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

« Previous PageNext Page »

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.1948 secs.