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Cantata BWV 181
Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister
Emblemata

Source:

Johann Heinrich Traugott Müller (1631-1683)
Himmlischer Lebens-Kuess ("Heavenly Love-Kiss)
A copy was in Bach's library (see, Leaver, R.:"Bach's Theologische Bibliothek", Haenssler, Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 198

Connection:

One the one hand, a penitent receives comfort from Jesus and a glance of the Father in heaven; on the other, a heart is seen in section, revealing devils cavorting amongst images of earthly wealth and pleasure, which depict the fate of a hard heart.

Related Text:

Cantata BWV 181: Mvt. 2: Recitative [Alto]

O unglückselger Stand verkehrter Seelen,
O unfortunate state of perverted souls
So gleichsam an dem Wege sind;
who are as it were beside the way;
Und wer will doch des Satans List erzählen,
and who will recount Satanís cunning
Wenn er das Wort dem Herzen raubt,
when he robs the Word from the heart
Das, am Verstande blind,
that blind in judgement
Den Schaden nicht versteht noch glaubt.
neither understands nor believes in the harm being done to it.
Es werden Felsenherzen,
Hearts of stone
So boshaft widerstehn,
that resist so maliciously
Ihr eigen Heil verscherzen
will forfeit their own salvation
Und einst zugrunde gehn.
and one day meet with destruction.
Es wirkt ja Christi letztes Wort,
Christís last word had power
Dass Felsen selbst zerspringen;
to split open the very rocks;
Des Engels Hand bewegt des Grabes Stein,
an angelís hand moved the gravestone
Ja, Mosis Stab kann dort
Yes, the staff of Moses there
Aus einem Berge Wasser bringen.
could get water from a rock
Willst du, o Herz, noch härter sein?
Would you, o heart, be even harder?

English translation by Francis Browne (February 2006)

Description:

The image captures the idea of the devil exploring a large stone heart, whereas the full Holy Trinity is depicted as the salvation of a believer. Possibly the reader, shown at the table, is examining the Bible or engaged in pious writings, whereas the viewer on the right is peering into the hell of the hardened heart.

 

Written and contributed by Peter Smaill (March 2010)

Texts & Translations: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Other Vocal 1081-1089 | BWV Anh | Chorale Texts | Emblemata | Sources | Poets & Composers
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Last update: żMarch 21, 2010 ż20:52:36