Patterico's Pontifications


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 162

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 9:42 am

It is the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is “Ach! ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe” (Ah! I see, now, when I go to the wedding):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 22:1-14:

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The text of today’s piece, which was written specifically for this Gospel passage (as you will see) is available here. It contains these words:

Ah! I see,
now, when I go to the wedding,
prosperity and woe,
soul’s poison and the bread of life,
heaven, hell, life, death,
the radiance of heaven and the flames of hell are gathered together.
Jesus, help me to withstand them!

. . . .

My Jesus, do not let me
come poorly dressed to the wedding,
so that your judgment does not fall on me;
I have indeed heard with horror
how a brash wedding guest,
appearing without robes,
was thrown out and condemned!
I also know my unworthiness;
ah! give me
a wedding gown of faith;
let your merit
serve as my jewelry!
Give me for wedding finery
the robe of salvation,
the white silk of innocence!
Ah! let your blood,
royal purple, cover
the old tunic of Adam
and its sinful stains,
then I shall be lovely and chaste
and welcome to you,
then I shall worthily adorn
the feast of the Lamb.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

4 Responses to “Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 162”

  1. As a child, this parable always concerned me. Wouldn’t God let anyone wearing anything into heaven? Poor people couldn’t afford nice clothes. Took a couple of years of seasoning and CCD classes to understand it fully.

    Hoi Polloi (92d467)

  2. Yes, this parable takes maturity to understand. A clue is given in the phrase “the man was speechless.”

    If the man had a reasonable explanation, he certainly would give one. Remember, that it was a King giving this wedding, not just anyone. A king would likely know that once he had given the order to summon people from the street, that poor would be among the attendees and made proper accommodations for them, like suitable wedding garments.

    I went to a “pool party” with no intentions to swim, but my gracious host would not hear of it, and provided me with proper attire. Of course I acquiesced in the face of such generosity. It was simply good manners.

    There is, also, the experience of, say, going to an unusually nice restaurant where one finds a strict dress code that catches the unprepared by surprise. But to the proprietor’s credit, a tie, a jacket, or other accommodation is provided to spare the customer embarrassment. This happens today.

    But suppose that, instead of displaying gratitude for this accommodation, the customer, instead, displays prideful umbrage and walks in “as is,” which would be an offense against a host’s hospitality and disrespect to the other guests. A good host would naturally address the situation quickly, and with discretion when possible.

    Back to the parable; the King first asks for an explanation before taking action. The King is not unreasonable, but decisive. Like with most parables, there are more things to consider than meet the eye. Three are:

    The banquet is a special place, open to many.

    The banquet has requirements that must be met.

    some will be asked to account for themselves.

    felipe (023cc9)

  3. This Parable is referred to in our Church’s Communion Prayer. Bach’s interpretation in the cantata accords with our Church’s. Only the faithful and repentant will receive Grace.

    nk (1d9030)

  4. nk (1d9030) — 10/11/2020 @ 5:39 pm

    That’s right, nk. The banquet is none other than the table of the Lord where one receives the Eucharist.

    felipe (023cc9)

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