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April 9, 2012

Bach Cantatas (19): Easter Monday

Easter Monday is the second day of Easter. There are two cantatas for this day.


Acts 10:34–43, sermon of St. Peter
Luke 24:13–35, the road to Emmaus

  • Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen, BWV 66, 10 April 1724

    Coro (and alto, tenor): Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen
    Recitativo (bass, oboes, strings): Es bricht das Grab und damit unsre Not
    Aria (bass): Lasset dem Höchsten ein Danklied erschallen
    Recitativo, Arioso (alto, tenor): Bei Jesu Leben freudig sein
    Aria (alto, tenor, solo violin): Ich furchte zwar/nicht des Grabes Finsternissen
    Chorale: Alleluja

    ("Rejoice, ye Hearts") Goes back to a secular cantata written in 1718 - Bach had little time for new Easter cantatas in 1724 as he also composed the St. John Oratorio for performance on Good Friday that year. But no music could better fit the occasion. At the beginning of this joyful cantata stands a large-scale, multi-sectioned opening chorus in festive mood. The da capo bass aria in dancing motion is accompanied by an oboe figure that sticks in memory. The ensuing recitative and duet are a dialogue between Hope (that Christ is the Messiah) and Fear (because of the disappearance of Jesus' body). This is in fact the only part in the cantata text that directly relates to the readings for this day. A confident setting of the chorale melody closes this joyous hymn of praise. (****)

  • Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, BWV 6, 2 April 1725

    Chorus: "Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden"
    Aria (alto): "Hochgelobter Gottessohn"
    Chorale: "Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ"
    Recitative: "Es hat die Dunkelheit an vielen Orten"
    Aria (tenor): "Jesu, laß uns auf dich sehen"
    Chorale: "Beweis dein Macht, Herr Jesu Christ" ("Reveal your strength, Lord Jesus Christ")

    ("Abide with us, for it is toward evening") The theme of this cantata is based on the Gospel reading for this day, St. Luke's account of the two disciples evening walk to Emmaus with the risen Christ. At the start stands a wonderful chorus in which two chordal sections in madrigal style flank a double fugue. There is also a lot of word painting: the descending theme evokes approaching nightfall and the recurring phrase "Bleib bei Uns" is given urgency by repetition. As a whole, this chorus has an elegiac character, a moving statement of fear and isolation. The warm, consoling alto aria is accompanied by an oboe da caccia, and forms a plea for Christ's continuing presence. The somber colors again symbolize the approaching darkness. Next the soprano sings a solo chorale, "Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ," with a prominent violoncello piccolo. Then follows a tenor aria with string accompaniment, a very insistent piece that brings back the atmosphere of the opening chorus ("Let the light of Your word shine brightly upon us"). Among the many recycled Easter works Bach composed of necessity, this is a striking new cantata. (****)

(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