Patterico's Pontifications


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 1

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 9:36 am

It is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Today’s Bach cantata is “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (How beautifully the morning star shines):

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 piece is available here. It contains these words:

You, very son of God and Mary,
You, king of the chosen ones,
how sweet is Your living word to us,
by which our forefathers already
counted years as well as days,
that Gabriel joyfully
promised there in Bethlehem!
O sweetness, o bread of heaven,
that neither grave, danger or death
can wrest from our hearts.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

P.S. The final verse of the New King James Version of today’s Gospel reading reads as follows:

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The words of Jesus’s mother Mary saying “Let it be” to her according to God’s word cannot help but remind the reader of these lyrics:

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Paul McCartney says he did not intend this to be a religious song. It came to him in a dream, and he believed it related to his mother, whose name was Mary. That’s fine. Maybe it was a dream, and maybe it was an angel.

3 Responses to “Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 1”

  1. Interesting coincidence.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. Coincidence? John Lennon once famously said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. That was probably true at the time, as more people were listening to Beatles records than were reading the New Testament, but it was blasphemous nonetheless.

    I have no doubt that Paul McCartney was referring to his own mother Mary in the song. But it wasn’t to make himself out to be a Crist figure. He would never be so vain.

    Most of the bands that came out of the 50s and 60s where heavily influenced by Kahlil Gibran. His book, The Prophet, is one of the most widely read books of the 20th century, and it hasn’t been out of print since it was first published in the 20s. It just didn’t become popular until the 50s. Elvis Presley read from it to his mother. Johnny Cash recorded an audio tape of him reading from the Prophet. Kahlil Gibran influenced multiple artists; the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc.

    In fact the song, “Julia,” on The Beatles (White Album), is almost a word for word transcription of a Kahlil Gibran poem, with minor alterations.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  3. “Amen” is commonly translated as “So be it”. Not an arguable difference from “Let it be so”.

    No comment on the Beatles reference. I’m partial to Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven”.

    nk (1d9030)

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