"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

January 16, 2012

Bach Cantates (2): Sunday between New year and Epiphany

We continue with cantatas written for the Sunday between New Year's Day and Epiphany (January 6). In 2012, by the way, there was no such Sunday as New year itself fell on Sunday and Epiphany on the following Friday. As is shown below in the readings, the New Year celebrations have already ended and instead we are talking about the suffering of Christians - based on the story of the Flight into Egypt.

Prescribed readings for this day:

1 Peter 4:12–19, Suffering of Christians
Matthew 2:12–23, the Flight into Egypt

Cantatas written for this day:
  1. Schau, lieber Gott, wie meine Feind, BWV 153, 2 January 1724 (BCW, CN, JN, LSG, WP, Text)

     Chorale: Schau, lieber Gott, wie meine Feind
    Recitativo (alto): Mein liebster Gott, ach laß dichs doch erbarmen
    Arioso (bass): Fürchte dich nicht
    Recitativo (tenor): Du sprichst zwar, lieber Gott
    Chorale: Und ob gleich alle Teufel
    Aria (tenor): Stürmt nur, stürmt, ihr Trübsalswetter
    Recitativo (bass): Getrost! Mein Herz
    Aria (alto): Soll ich meinen Lebenslauf
    Chorale: Drum will ich, weil ich lebe noch


    The cantata draws a contrast between life on earth, made miserable by the attacks of our enemies, and the peace of heaven, and prays for God’s protection and guidance. It is structured around 3 chorales, but contains no virtuoso choruses. There are 9 movements, but all are very short. The cantata contains 2 arias, no 6 (illustrating the "enemies" in fast violin passages and dotted rhythms played in unison) and 8 (a minuet, depicting eternal joy). (**)

  2. Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid, BWV 58, 5 January 1727 (BCW, CN, JN, LSG, WP, Text)

    Duetto: "Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid" for soprano & bass soloists, oboes, strings, and continuo.
    Recitativo: "Verfolgt dich gleich die arge Welt" for bass and continuo.
    Aria: "Ich bin vergnügt in meinem Leiden" for soprano, violino solo, and continuo.
    Recitativo: "Kann es die Welt nicht lassen" for soprano and continuo.
    Chorale: "Ich hab für mir ein schwere Reis" for soprano & bass soloists, oboes, strings, and continuo.


    The cantata's text traces the soul's journey through a life "full of sorrow" to the salvation of heaven. The cantata is in dialogue form, starting with an opening duet. One voice symbolizes the sadness of this world, the other brings a message of consolation, which throughout the cantata gradually wins the day. The recitative narrates the story of the flight into Egypt, the reading for this Sunday. The soprano aria is a statement of acceptance of suffering under the hand of God ("I am cheerful in my sorrow"). The final chorale is interestingly melded with another soprano solo, so it again forms a duet, but now the atmosphere is ebullient. (***)

  3. Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen 2 January 1735 (Christmas Oratorio Part V) (BCW, CN, LSG, WP, Text)

    Chorus: Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen
    Recitative (Evangelist, tenor): Da Jesus geboren war zu Bethlehem
    Chorus / Recitative (alto) / Chorus: Wo ist der neugeborne König der Juden / Sucht ihn in meiner Brust / Wir haben seinen Stern gesehen
    Chorale: Dein Glanz all' Finsternis verzehrt
    Aria (bass): Erleucht' auch meine finstre Sinnen
    Recitative (Evangelist, tenor): Da das der König Herodes hörte
    Recitative (alto): Warum wollt ihr erschrecken
    Recitative (Evangelist, tenor): Und ließ versammeln alle Hohenpriester
    Trio (sopr., alto, ten.): Ach! wann wird die Zeit erscheinen?
    Recitative (alto): Mein Liebster herrschet schon
    Chorale: Zwar ist solche Herzensstube


    Part 5 of the Christmas Oratorio. A lively opening chorus is followed by a recitative and chorus about the Three Wise Men searching Jesus. After a simple choral, a bass aria with oboe d'amore accompaniment asks for divine light as a shield against sin. This - and the following trio - is the moral heart of the cantata. It is concluded by a simple choral. (***)

(1) New Year's Day (2) New Year I (3) Epiphany (4) Epiphany I (5) Epiphany II (6) Epiphany III (7) Epiphany IV (8) Feast of Purification of Mary (9) Septuagesima (10) Sexagesima (11) Quinquagesima (Estomihi) (12) The Consecration of a New Organ (13) The Inauguration of the Town Council (14) Oculi (15) Wedding Cantatas (16) Feast of Annunciation (17) Palm Sunday (18) Easter Sunday (19) Easter Monday (20) Easter Tuesday (21) Easter I (Quasimodogeniti) (22) Easter II (23) Easter III (24) Easter IV (25) Easter V (26) Ascension Day (27) Ascension I (28) Pentecost Sunday (29) Pentecost Monday (30) Pentecost Tuesday (31) Trinity Sunday (32) Trinity I (33) Trinity II (34) Trinity III (35) St. John's Day (36) Trinity IV (37) Visitation (38) Trinity V (39) Trinity VI (40) Trinity VII (41) Trinity VIII (42) Trinity IX (43) Trinity X (44) Trinity XI (45) Trinity XII (46) Trinity XIII (47) Trinity XIV (48) Trinity XV (49) Trinity XVI (50) Trinity XVII (51) Trinity XVIII (52) Trinity XIX (53) Trinity XX (54) Trinity XXI (55) Trinity XXII (56) Trinity XXIII (57) Trinity XXIV (58) Trinity XXV-XXVII (59) Advent I-IV (60) Christmas Day (61) Second Day of Christmas (62) Third Day of Christmas (63) Sunday after Christmas