The Jury Talks Back


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 21, Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis” (I had much grief).

This cantata provided the music for both last week and today, with Part 1 heard last week, and the conclusion heard today. Last week’s suffering gives way to today’s hymn of praise.

Today’s Gospel reading is John 6:24-35.

Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

Jesus the Bread of Life

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

The text of today’s piece is available here. The words complement the Gospel’s message: that Jesus himself will provide, and indeed will be, the bread of life. The cantata’s words are wonderfully evocative of a movement from suffering into joy. The crown of battle becomes sweet refreshment. God is a source of comfort who causes troubles to disappear, and changes weeping into pure wine:

Ah, Jesus, my peace,
my light, where are You?
– O soul behold! I am with you. –

. . . .

– The hour approaches already,
when your crown of battle
will become a sweet refreshment. –

. . . .

Rejoice, soul, rejoice, heart,
fade now, troubles, disappear, pains!
Change, weeping, into pure wine,
my aching now becomes a celebration for me!
Burning and flaming is the purest candle
of love and of comfort in my soul and breast,
since Jesus comforts me with heavenly delight.

We close this great cantata with the hymn of praise at 35:19:

The Lamb, that was slain, is worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor and glory and praise.
Praise and honor and glory and power be to our God for ever and ever. Amen, Alleluia!

Happy listening!

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