Patterico's Pontifications


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.]

3 Responses to “Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 83”

  1. Thank you, so much, for these posts. Music to sooth the savage breast.

    felipe (023cc9)

  2. #MeToo, Patterico, even though I haven’t said so, lately.

    I took my daughter to church this morning. Although it’s more accurate to say that she has been taking me to church (just about every Sunday) but I drive. It’s a good way to start the New Year.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. I doubt I give thanks enough, too. And to you and yours.

    Psalm 105 I think the copyrright has run out on this one so I can quote it in full.

    “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
    Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
    Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
    Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

    Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
    you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
    his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
    He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.

    He remembers his covenant forever,
    the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
    the covenant he made with Abraham,
    the oath he swore to Isaac.
    He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
    to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
    “To you I will give the land of Canaan
    as the portion you will inherit.”

    When they were but few in number,
    few indeed, and strangers in it,
    they wandered from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another.
    He allowed no one to oppress them;
    for their sake he rebuked kings:
    “Do not touch my anointed ones;
    do my prophets no harm.”

    He called down famine on the land
    and destroyed all their supplies of food;
    and he sent a man before them—
    Joseph, sold as a slave.
    They bruised his feet with shackles,
    his neck was put in irons,
    till what he foretold came to pass,
    till the word of the Lord proved him true.
    The king sent and released him,
    the ruler of peoples set him free.
    He made him master of his household,
    ruler over all he possessed,
    to instruct his princes as he pleased
    and teach his elders wisdom.

    Then Israel entered Egypt;
    Jacob resided as a foreigner in the land of Ham.
    The Lord made his people very fruitful;
    he made them too numerous for their foes,
    whose hearts he turned to hate his people,
    to conspire against his servants.
    He sent Moses his servant,
    and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
    They performed his signs among them,
    his wonders in the land of Ham.
    He sent darkness and made the land dark—
    for had they not rebelled against his words?
    He turned their waters into blood,
    causing their fish to die.
    Their land teemed with frogs,
    which went up into the bedrooms of their rulers.
    He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
    and gnats throughout their country.
    He turned their rain into hail,
    with lightning throughout their land;
    he struck down their vines and fig trees
    and shattered the trees of their country.
    He spoke, and the locusts came,
    grasshoppers without number;
    they ate up every green thing in their land,
    ate up the produce of their soil.
    Then he struck down all the firstborn in their land,
    the firstfruits of all their manhood.
    He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold,
    and from among their tribes no one faltered.
    Egypt was glad when they left,
    because dread of Israel had fallen on them.

    He spread out a cloud as a covering,
    and a fire to give light at night.
    They asked, and he brought them quail;
    he fed them well with the bread of heaven.
    He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
    it flowed like a river in the desert.

    For he remembered his holy promise
    given to his servant Abraham.
    He brought out his people with rejoicing,
    his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
    he gave them the lands of the nations,
    and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—
    that they might keep his precepts
    and observe his laws.

    Praise the Lord.[a]”

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.1451 secs.