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Lutheran Church Year: Main Page and Explanation | LCY - Event Table | LCY 2000-2005 | LCY 2006-2010 | LCY 2011-2015
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of Bach’s Vocal Works
Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event | Motets & Chorales for Events in the LCY
Discussions: Events in the Lutheran Church Year: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Readings from the Bible

Readings from the Bible

Readings; translation; Dürr: chorale Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt

Francis Browne wrote (January 11, 2005):
Since many cantata texts comment on or quote from the readings for the day for which they were written, I have often thought it would be useful to have the readings from Luther's bible easily available on the website. With Aryeh's help I have started to provide the readings for each Sunday and feast. My intention is roughly to keep pace with the Lutheran Church Year and also to provide the readings for any cantatas that come up for the discussion: Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event

I am providing the King James English translation in parallel with the German. Where Luther and the King James version differ I shall provide notes or a more literal translation of the German or Greek. In view of the current discussion of translation perhaps I should add that I chose the King James Version because of its familiarity for many English readers, its closeness to the Greek - sometimes over literal but matching Luther's approach - - and from the feeling that it was the best equivalent in English for what Luther's bible was for Bach and the congregations that heard his music.

(I should add that in translating cantatas and chorales I have deliberately tried to avoid archaic language - my sole aim is to help those who wish to follow the music closely and need some basic help with the German text))

Dürr's book is the most useful work I have come across on the cantatas. The translation by Richard Jones will I am sure be excellent, but the price is brigandage. If I remember correctly, the German paperback costs less than one tenth of the new English translation.- it seems cheaper to learn German and with the money saved you could buy the complete Bach edition recently discussed and still have some change.

But since Dürr has been mentioned could I make a request. In his discussion of next week's cantata Dürr comments on how the text of BWV 106 corresponds strikingly to the text of the 18 strophe chorale Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt, the melody of which Bach quotes in movement 2d. I have not been able to find this text and would be very grateful if anyone can send me the text or tell me where I might find it.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 11, 2005):
< In his discussion of next week's cantata Dürr comments on how the text of BWV 106 corresponds strikingly to the text of the 18 strophe chorale Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt, the melody of which Bach quotes in movement 2d. I have not been able to find this text and would be very grateful if anyone can send me the text or tell me where I might find it. >
The first stanza is on p445 (the discussion of BWV 707) in Peter Williams's The Organ Music of Bach, 2003 edition. Williams regularly gives at least the first stanza, sometimes more, for the organ pieces that are based on chorales. A terrific resource for organists and worship-planners.....

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 11, 2005):
Francis Browne wrote:
< In view of the current discussion of translation perhaps I should add that I chose the King James Version because of its familiarity for many English readers, its closeness to the Greek - sometimes over literal but matching Luther's approach - - and from the feeling that it was the best equivalent in English for what Luther's bible was for Bach and the congregations that heard his music. >
Are there any native German speakers on the list who can comment on the degree of archaism that modern Germans and those in Bach's time would have perceived in Luther's translation.

In English, the language of the King James Bible was more or less contemporary with early 17th century usage although there was already a perceived "antique" quality to it. By the 18th century, the language was perceived as old-fashioned even though archaic forms such as "thee" and "thou" were still heard in dialect. By the 20th century, there were no English speakers who spoke in the idioms of the KJ Bible and the language had achieved the status of a cultic dialect.

Is there a comparable pattern in German? My principal curiosity relates primarily to the Passions and the oratorios and whether Bach's listeners felt a dramatic stylistic shift from the narrative in Luther's Bible and the contemporary poets who wrote the verse for arias and the like.

And back to Cantata BWV 131 for a moment ... Was anyone else struck by the sheer stamina required by the first oboe who plays almost continuously throughout the work?

Thomas Shepherd wrote (January 11, 2005):
[To Francis Browne] For one I will be very pleased to see this new resource.
(Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event)

Most, but not all, of the weekly readings that were used by the Lutheran church at the time of Bach are already readily available as the epistles and gospels in the Book of Common Prayer - available on the internet (eg.
http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/readings.html. ) The English text of the BCP predates that of the KJB by almost a century being the translations of Tyndale and Coverdale These were modified partially in 1662 when the Elizabethan prayer book was revised and re-released as the BCP. The translations in the BCP are slightly different from the KJV but are the ones that are most readily accessible, and arguably, more widely used and read by generations in the Anglican church. I still use the BCP texts weekly at two of our several weekly celebrations of the Holy Communion and its a great spiritual bonus to know that Bach's cantata of the liturgical week usually refers to the same epistle or gospel as the one I am reading in
church.

That said - it is really kind of Francis and Aryeh to provide the parallel German/English text in an accessible way.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 11, 2005):
[To Francis Browne]
Two things:

1.) Which Lutherbibel did you use?

2.) Bach also used the Calbert (?) Bible as well.

A word of suggestion:

Do not use the 1981 Lutherbibel. The reason being that it has nothing at all to do with Luther. What the people that made it did was to take the NRSV and translate it into German.

The ARTFL website is a good one for the 1534 Lutherbibel, and there are ones for the 1545 unrevised version.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 11, 2005):
[To Francis Browne] Also, what source are you using for your readings, modern or contemporary (to Bach's time, that is)?

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 11, 2005):
Francis Browne wrote:
>>But since Dürr has been mentioned could I make a request. In his discussion of next week's cantata Dürr comments on how the text of BWV 106 corresponds strikingly to the text of the 18 strophe chorale Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt, the melody of which Bach quotes in movement 2d. I have not been able to find this text and would be very grateful if anyone can send me the text or tell me where I might find it.<<
It would appear that Dürr's reference to the entire text (18 verses) is represented as follows in the somewhat shortened version below:

Long version vs shortened version
Verse 2 = 2
8 = 7
10 = 9
16 = 12

1. Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt,
er machs mit mir, wie's ihm gefällt.
Soll ich allhier noch länger leben,
ohn Widerstrebn
seim Willen tu ich mich ergebn


2. Mein Zeit und Stund ist, wann Gott will;
ich schreib ihm nicht vor Maß noch Ziel.
Es sind gezählt all Härlein mein,
beid groß und klein;
fällt keines ihn den Willen sein.


3. Es ist allhier ein Jammertal,
Angst, Not und Trübsal überall;
des Bleibens ist ein kleine Zeit
voll Müh und Leid,
und wers bedenkt, ist stets im Streit.


4. Es hilft kein Reichtum, Geld noch Gut,
kein Kunst noch Gunst noch stolzer Mut;
fürn Tod kein Kraut gewachsen ist;
mein frommer Christ,
alles, was lebet, sterblich ist.


5. Heut sind wir frisch, gesund und stark
und liegen morgen tot im Sarg;
heut blühen wir wie Rosen rot,
bald krank und tot;
ist allenthalben Müh und Not.


6. Man trägt eins nach dem andern hin,
wohl aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn;
die Welt vergisset unser bald,
ob jung, ob alt
auch unsrer Ehren mannigfalt.

7. Ach Herr, lehr uns bedenken wohl,
daß wir sind sterblich allzumal,
auch wir allhier kein Bleibens han,
müssn all davon,
gelehrt, reich, jung, alt oder schön.


8. Das macht die Sünd, du treuer Gott,
dadurch ist komm'n der bittre Tod,
der nimmt und frißt all Menschenkind,
wie er sie findt,
fragt nicht, wes Stands und Ehrn sie sind.

9. Ich hab hier wenig guter Tag,
mein täglich Brot ist Müh und Klag.
Wann mein Gott will, so will ich mit
hinfahrn in Fried;
Tod ist Gewinn und schadt mir nit.

10. Und ob mich schon mein Sünd anficht,
dennoch will ich verzagen nicht;
ich weiß, daß mein getreuer Gott
für mich in' Tod
sein' liebsten Sohn gegeben hat.


11. Das ist mein Trost zu aller Zeit
in allem Kreuz und Traurigkeit.
Ich weiß, daß ich am Jüngsten Tag
ohn alle Klag
Wird auferstehn aus meinem Grab.

12. Mein' lieben Gott von Angesicht
werde ich anschaun, dran zweifl ich nicht,
in ewger Freud und Seligkeit,
die mir bereit';
ihm sei Lob, Preis in Ewigkeit.


Text by Johann Leon c. 1530-1597 who was born and died in Ohrdruf.

This author was a Thuringian and served as a pastor in Ohrdruf

The melody was originally a secular folksong documented 1500 with the original title:
"Es ist auf Erd kein schwerer Leidn"; then as a contrafact religious song/chorale "Ich weiß mir ein Röslein hübsch und fein" (which is an allegorical reference to the Gospel - not a pretty young girl as one might otherwise expect) as such it was contained in a hymnal by Johann Rau, Frankfurt am Main, 1589. Precisely when the melody became associated with Leon's text is not known, but probably this occurred at the very end of the 16th century.

Quick translation:

heimstellen = anheimstellen = to leave (it, something) up to

1. I have left all my things (earthly concerns) up to God
Let him do whatever he wants to with me.
If I should continue to live on here still longer
I will surrender myself to his will without putting up a fight.

2. My time and hour will be when God wants them to be
I do not dictate to him how it will be measure nor
what the ultimate goal will be.
Each and every hair on my body is counted out
Not a single one, whether big or small will fall out
without His willing it to be so.

3. All around here is nothing but a valley of tears
there is fear, want and misery everywhere
Our stay here is only for a short time
And is full of trouble and suffering
Whoever begins to think about it, is continually in
conflict with himself and others.

4. Wealth, money and property
as well as artistry, the goodwill of others or pride
in one's courage will be of no use whatsoever
There is no magic potion or cure for death, dear pious Christian,
Everything that lives is mortal.

5. Today we are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, healthy and strong
and tomorrow we may be lying dead in a coffin.
Today we blossom like red roses,
Only soon to be sick and dead,
All this is everywhere trouble and great difficulties.

6. One after another people are being taken to their graves
away from our eyes and soon no more in our memories;
The world will soon forget us
whether we are young or old
they will even forget our manifold glorious deeds.

7. O Lord, teach us to consider well
that we are always mortal,
All of us here have no steady place to stay around here,
We all have to leave,
Whether well-educated, rich, young, old, or beautiful.

8. O faithful God, all of this has come about through sin
And bitter death resulted from that,
Death takes and devours all type of human beings
Wherever he finds them,
And he does not ask what social class they belong to
nor which honors they have received.

9. Here on earth I have had only few really good days,
earning my daily bread is a lot of effort and
accompanied by many complaints.
If my God so wills it, I will promise to go in peace;
Death will be my gain and will not harm me.

10. And even if my sins already begin to worry me,
I will nevertheless not despair;
I know that my faithful God
Has given his dearest Son to accompany me on my
passage into death.

11. This is my {greatest} comfort at all times
in bearing my personal cross and sadness.
I know that, at the time of the Last Judgment
I will rise from the dead from my grave without any complaints.

12. I will then see my dear Lord face to face, that I do not doubt,
in eternal joy and blessedness that have been prepared for me;
Praise be to Him in eternity.

Francis Browne wrote (January 11, 2005):
Many thanks to those who replied to my enquiry, particularly to Thomas Braatz who supplied the text which had eluded me and Thomas Shepherd for the link to the BCP. Doug is of course right that the KJ version is not close enough to use for texts set directly by Bach, such as the text of the SMP (BWV 244). But I think it can be used for the readings - where there is a difference between Luther and KJ I shall try to indicate it in brief notes. In answer to David's question I am using the text of 1545.

For the chorale texts what I would like to use is : Philip Wackernagel, Das Deutsche Kirchenlied von der altesten Zeit bis zu anfang des XVII Jahrhunderts

The only problem is that at 780 euros it makes even Dürr seem cheap,and therefore I use whatever texts I can find on the internet. I am always very grateful to those who send me better texts or corrections for my translations.

I do not wish to clog up the list with tangential topics. Bach's music is of course what matters. But I have found that knowledge of the readings and chorale texts helps me to appreciate better what Bach is doing in the music.

Doug Cowling wrote (January 11, 2005):
Francis Browne wrote:
< I do not wish to clog up the list with tangential topics. Bach's music is of course what matters. But I have found that knowledge of the readings and chorale texts helps me to appreciate better what Bach is doing in the music. >
Any resource which helps us understand the context of Bach's sacred music is worth working on. In addition to the readings, I would love to see the Latin and German texts of the Lutheran mass posted. A schema for the whole year listing introits, prayers, pulpit chorales would be invaluable when we are talking about the liturgical context, a factor which is crucial for understanding Bach's art.

John Pike wrote (January 11, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] I learnt German at school and I picked up other words listening to Bach. My German wife was very amused the first time I used the word "Wahrlich" in conversation. This word and many other "Bachian" words are just no longer used. Even words that I was taught at school are rarely used now.

John Pike wrote (January 11, 2005):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] I thought Bach's Bible was called "Calov" or something similar.

Peter Smaill wrote (January 11, 2005):
[To John Pike] An interesting choice of archaic German, but perhaps a significant one. The reference is perhaps to the incipit "Wahrlich, warlich ich sage euch" (beautifully set for tenor by Bach), which is equally archaic in English as "Verily, verily I say unto you".

The expression is according to NT scholars an idiolect, in other words a structure unique (in Aramaic presumably) to the way in which Jesus alone speaks, and is thus a badge of authenticity of the Gospels. My source for this is the writer A N Wilson.

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 11, 2005):
[To Peter Smaill] This type of expression is an asseveration not unique to Jesus. The Luther bible (1545) has this type of statement in the OT as well:

Joshual 7:20 "Wahrlich, ich habe mich...."

and

Jeremiah 26:15 "Denn wahrlich, der HErr hat mich zu euch gesandt, daß ich solches alles vor euren Ohren reden sollte."

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 12, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] It could easilly be done, since the only movements of the Lutheran Mass is the Kyrie and Gloria.

The so-called "Deutscher Messe" is actually a compilation of the abovementioned lutherische Messe and the Small Cathechism of Luther. These Luther actually wrote tunes for, some of which have become popular. Everyone knows of "Vater unser im Himmelreich", but few realize that this is Luther's translation of the part of the Kleiner Kathechismus on the Pater noster set to music. The same for "Aus tiefer Not schrei' ich zu dir" (Luther's more exhorbetant treatment of Psalm 130 for Penitence), "Wir glauben all' an einem Gott" (the Credo), "Jesaja, der Prophet, da geschah'" (Luther's Sanctus), "Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der von uns den Zorn Gottes wand" (Eucharist, Luther's translation of "Iesus Christus, nostra salis" by his predecessor in reformation Jan Hus), "Christe, du Lamm Gottes" (Luther's translation of the Agnus Dei, not as famous as the later Sebald Heyden work "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig"), "Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kamm" (Baptism), and "Dies sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot'" (the Ten Commandments).

If you so desire, I could post both up for the website.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 12, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
< I learnt German at school and I picked up other words listening to Bach. My German wife was very amused the first time I used the word "Wahrlich" in conversation. This word and many other "Bachian" words are just no longer used. Even words that I was taught at school are rarely used now. >
Actually, "wahrlich" and "furwahr" are interchangeable.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 12, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
< I thought Bach's Bible was called "Calov" or something similar. >
That's what I meant. I just couldn't remember its name.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 12, 2005):
[To Peter Smaill] However, it is also Hebraich, since it could also be equaled to the word that Luther translated as "furwahr", which is famously used in Isaiah 53 (one of my most favorite OT texts, since it deals with the Passion of the Christos).

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (January 12, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] But it could also be translated as "furwahr". Case in point: the response of the crowd in the Gospel according to Matthew to all the events after Jesus "gave up the ghost" (the earthquake, the rocks splitting, the veil of the Temple being torn in half, the graves opening, etc.): "Wahrlich, dieser ist Gottes Sohn gewesen", which in Luke's Gospel is translated as "Furwahr, dieser is ein fromme Mensch gewesen". The two are interchangeable. Another example: I don't remember where, but I have seen German translations of Isaiah 53: 4 saying "Wahrlich, er trug unser Krankheit, und lud auf sich unser Schmerzen...", whilst others (including Luther) have it as "Furwahr er trug unser Krankheit, und lud auf sich unser Schmerzen...".

John Pike wrote (January 12, 2005):
[To Peter Smaill] It also appears very famously in, for example, that miniature masterpiece No. 63b in the SMP (BWV 244) "Wahrlich, dieser ist Gottes Sohn gewesen", "Truly, this was the son of God". It was this that I had in mind when I first used the word. Translated as "truly", it doesn't sound so odd. Incidentally, we still use the word in conversation for a joke!

Doug Cowling wrote (January 12, 2005):
[To John Pike] It's still an epistoalary cliché as in,

Yours truly,

Peter Smaill wrote (January 12, 2005):
The idiolect as described by A N Wilson is, in German, the double-warlich coupled with the highly-direct, "Ich sage euch!". Single warlich is interesting but not quite so unusual. Try addressing your wife or best friend with "Truly, truly I say unto you !" and see the reaction !

As so often Bach rises, both in the eponymous Cantata and at the centurion's declamation in SMP (BWV 244), to set a word of the highest import, in this case "Warlich" and its adjoining expressions, in the most sublime fashion.

 

Readings for the Lutheran Church Year

Francis Browne wrote (August 5, 2005):
Some months ago I suggested it would be useful if the readings for the events for which Bach wrote his sacred cantatas were easily available. With Aryeh's help this task has been completed and readings (in German and English) for every Sunday and feast in the Lutheran church year for which Bach wrote cantatas can now be found at: Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event

John Pike wrote (August 5, 2005):
[To Francis Browne] Excellent piece of work. Many thanks.

Paul Farseth wrote (August 7, 2005):
[To Francis Browne] Thank you, Francis (and Aryeh)!

 

Use of Gospel of John

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 15, 2007):
Chris Kern wrote:
< (The Gospel of John is used quite a bit in the upcoming cantatas and in the post-Chorale ones we've already looked at.) >
With the exception of the Three Days of Easter and Ascension Day, all of the gospel readings during the fifty days of the Easter season are from the Gospel of John. This is the pattern inherited from the pre-Reformation church and confirmed by Luther.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 15, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] You have to love John, for example, 21:3. Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing'. They said to him, 'We will go with you.' They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Same as it ever was.

I am wondering if the readings from John, for those fifty days of Easter, include 20:2, where John refers to himself as 'the one whom Jesus loved'. This has been bothering me. I was about to let it slide, but since you brought it up....

 

One year lectionary [was: Scripture texts used for Cantatas]

Continue of discussion from: Texts of Bach Cantatas [General Topics]

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (March 10, 2008):
Paul T. McCain wrote:
"Bach's Cantata parallel the readings from the Bible that were appointed for each Sunday in what is called the "Church Year." That year, divided into two major parts: festival and non-festival halfs, was more, or less, set in stone in Bach's time, using what is known as the "one year lectionary" .... today, because most churches using a set "lectionary" or systems of Bible readings are using a three year series of lessons. ..."
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Thanks for your post on this ... for some reason, I had always assumed that there were three versions of the Church year lectionary, each of which, perhaps mistakenly I called a "pericope". From your explanation, it seems I have been befuddled on this, and I thank you for the clarification. Especially interesting to hear that two more year lectionaries come from (after?) Vatican II.
If there are currently three sets of liturgical texts (three different yearly lectionaries), then, if Bach only had one, then there must be at least two sets of scriptural texts that Bach didn't take on, given his self-described cantata project. I'm really curious to find out which of the current standard lectionary passages were not treated by Bach (and, also, of course, those that he did cover). Do you have suggestions on how to procede with researching this?
Also, Aryeh's Bach-Cantata website has scads of very useful information on the Lutheran church year ... as far as you know, does it correctly associate liturgical texts with the one-year lectionary that Bach used?
Thanks again for your input! >
To the best of my knowledge the three-year lectionary is a relatively recent development, cinto being in the 1960s as a consequence of Vatican II, prior to which various versions of the historic one-year lectionary were in general use.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revised_Common_Lectionary
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectionary
www.lectionarycentral.com

The "Lectionary Central" site, which is concerned with the historic annual lectionary, contains some material relating to the Bach Cantatas.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 10, 2008):
James Atkins Pritchard wrote:
< To the best of my knowledge the three-year lectionary is a relatively recent development, coming into being in the 1960s as a consequence of Vatican II, prior to which various versions of the historic one-year lectionary were in general use. >
The one-year cycle of readings was the pattern of the Catholic Church before the Reformation and was used pretty much unaltered by the Lutheran and Anglican churches until the 1970s when a three-year pattern of readings was adopted by most churches. The advantage of a three-year cycle is that the New Testament is read almost completely. In the one-year cycle of Bach's time, there are many famous passages in the Bible which were never read publically at the principal Sunday service and thus never provided texts for the cantatas.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] My husband mentioned that in the original Catholic cycle there might have been the use of other scriptural books that Lutherans eliminated. Perhaps someone knows.

Peter Smaill wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] Interesting point: how have Lutheran and Roman lectionaries evolved since Bach's time?

A new Roman lectionary was indeed ?developed under Paul VI and it institutes as I understand a large number of "ordinary" Sundays, whereas Lutherans and Anglicans are used to numbering Sundays as "before" and "after" a major Church feast.

The new Roman calendar of 1969 reduced the number of Saints' feasts. This has tended to mean that a more coherent cycle of OT and NT readings?is encountered since the cycle is not interrupted by the consideration of readings appropriate to the saints/martys concerned : "The scripture lectionary, which has been drawn up? with the advice of professional exegetes, is much better than the old one, although it is sometimes difficult to discern the principles of selection"? (Rather like the Cantata scriptural selections!).

"The NT, apart from the Gospels which is reserved for the Eucharist, is read in its entirety in the year" (J D Crichton, in "The Study of Liturgy, ed.Jones".? So in practice Rome moved towards the saint-lite Lutheran model with its more comprehensive, but never exhaustive, ?use? of OT readings.

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Peter Smaill] The historic lectionary of the Western Church, as used by the Lutheran church of Bach's day, remained virtually unchanged until the 1960s, when lectionary-using Protestant churches began to use a three-year lectionary, that is, a lectionary providing different readings over a three year period, the theory being that more and different readings from the Scriptures is better than only one year's worth of readings.

It is inaccurate however to refer to the three year lectionary as "better." It is not necessarily better, just different.

As I believe Plinius said: "non multa, sed multum" not many, but much, in other words, quality, not quantity, is what really matters.

I believe there are in fact distinct pedagogical advantages to the one year lectionary.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Peter Smaill] Does anyone know if readings from the Apocrapha were used in the original Roman lectionary?
And thanks Peter for adding the 'before' and 'after' element to this discussion.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Jean Laaninen] It is more accurate to refer to the deutero-canonical books of the Bible rather than the apochrypha which were books which were never part of the canon of scriptures. The former were part of the accepted canon of the Bible until the Reformation when Luther and many of the reformers questioned their inspiration and removed them from the canon from which doctrine could be proved. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church still view these books as part of the canonical bible and use them liturgically. The most famous example is the opening of the mass for the dead, "Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine" which is taked from the Book of Esdras. This book along with Maccabees were targeted particularly by the reformers because they supported propitiatory prayer for the dead. None of the reformed churches permitted direct intercession for the dead, one of the reasons that all of Bach's funeral texts are admonitions to the living.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 10, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< Does anyone know if readings from the Apocrapha were used in the original Roman lectionary? >
Almost none. On the Vigil Saturday of Pentecost, there was a reading from Baruch. It was unusual for a reading on Sunday to include anything from the Old Testament. Maybe for a funeral mass, there could be a reading from one of the deuterocanonical books, but I'm not sure.

Peter Smaill wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Bach's librettists quote the Apocrypha four times; Sirach 1:28 (BWV 106/2); Sirach 50:22 (BWV 79/3 and BWV 192/1) and Sirach 50:23-24 (BWV 192/2). The numbrering for the German Bible is different , but it appears Luther translates in the case of BWV 192, "Nun Danket Alle Gott". BWV 106, BWV 79 and BWV 192 are not for Sundays in the lectionary but for the Reformation Festival or in the case of BWV 106, a funeral.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Thank you, Kim. I think knowing these incidences broadens our historical perspective.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Peter Smaill] Thank you, Peter. You have answered my question, and I find the connection to Sirach interesting.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Peter Smaill] I'm curious to know if the texts from Sirach are quoted directly as "dicta" or indirectly as allusions in poetic texts.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 10, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It is more accurate to refer to the deutero-canonical books of the Bible rather than the apochrypha which were books which were never part of the canon of scriptures. >
***Thank you for your response.

***Before I sold the text titled "The Apocrapha" (just prior to retirement) this would not have been an incorrect reference to my mind--especially given that Peter substantiated the request, and Kim also responded in like manner to use the term Apocrapha as these texts which Lutherans do not use are gathered into a collection with widespread readership throughout the world. So, I would have to say that the context of the question might determine how the question was to be phrased. It depends upon what reference one is working from in asking, even along with the source/location/denomination of seminary training. I'm fascinated sometimes by the differences in terminology in Christendom.
To be honest here, however, I do not remember precisely which books are contained as it has been some years since I delved into this topic.Yes, I did realize that these books were removed from the canon, but I still think it is quite appropriate to phrase my question as I did. And of course, we used your term when I was in seminary, too.

This reminds of the example of pericopies and lectionary as terms that are in some places used interchangeably.
----
< The former were part of the accepted canon of the Bible until the Reformation when Luther and many of the reformers questioned their inspiration and removed them from the canon from which doctrine could be proved. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church still view these books as part of the canonical bible and use them liturgically. >
***When I was a seminarian at Fuller Father Sam Gantt chose me to be the first woman to read the Scriptures in early morning prayer--an interdenominational daily gathering that was conducted with Orthodox practices. I was truly honored as his invitation to do so broke down some traditional barriers from his denominational perspective. Then other women were accorded the same respect.
***Our daughter was married in the RCC (though her family is no longer with them) and texts Lutherans and Presbyterians do not used were incorporated into the service. So, I have a personal familiarity with the matter. It is clear to me that these texts serve members of the RCC and the Orthodox as fully inspirational, even though Luther would not agree.

Georg Fischer wrote (March 10, 2008):
I don't believe that the scripture texts at Bach's time have anything to do with those in our times, even before 1970. Catholics now use cycles of 3 years, while protestants have 6 year cycles. I've taken the pericopes from my grandfathers (Lutheran) church song book before and after 1880, and I think that the 2nd, 3rd and 6th column in my table might have also been relevant at Bach's time: http://www.punctum.com/gramword/bibleref/luther_perikope.html

Column 1 has English codes for the (sun-)days in the church year which should be more or less self-explanatory, and the links behind the texts lead to a German online bible.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 10, 2008):
[To Georg Fischer] Thank you for making this valuable table available to the group. I wonder if Aryeh would like to post it somewhere on the site, as this is particularly historically interesting. I'd also be interested in knowing if your analysis coincides with the listings that Paul McCain's Missouri Synod Lutheran Church still uses--Paul, we're listening if you have something to add here.

Bruce Simonson wrote (March 11, 2008):
[To Georg Fischer] Thanks for this table of information!

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 11, 2008):
[To Georg Fischer] You are correct that the majority of Western churches no longer use the historic lectionary, but it is very much still in use by any number of Lutheran congregations in our church body here in America and our partner church in Germany, the Old Lutheran Church (the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany) still uses the one year lectionary.

Our church's new hymnal project in fact provided new resources for the one year lectionary because of the fact that an increasing number of our congregations use it.

So, it is still alive and well, just not as widely used as before.

The added "bonus" for any Lutheran pastor using the one year lectionary/historic lectionary is that he has a wealth of resources from which to draw when preparing his sermons, including the sermons of Martin Luther and of course can draw on the poetry and imagry of the Bach cantatas, something I've often done for devotional and sermonic writing.

The older lectionaries to which you refer probably are referenced to other older lectionaries, one of which is called the "Thomasius" lectionary.

But, the bottom line is that the same lectionary that was in use in Martin Luther's time, in Bach's time is still being used to this day by some Lutheran congregations.

Paul T. McCain wrote (March 11, 2008):
[To Douglas Cowling] The book of Sirach, as well as the other so-called Apocryphal books, were part and parcel of the Luther bible translation that was used in Bach's day and down to the present era in all German bibles. In America, these books were all included in the Scriptures published in German, but when the move to English came, they were dropped.

Readings from these books are found occasionally in historic
lectionary resources.

In the Lutheran Church they have never had the status of equality with the more universally and historically accepted books of the Bible. It was not until the Council of Trent in the 1550s that the Roman Church declared them to be on an equal standing as the other books of the bible and this primarily because it is in the Apocryphal books that there is found "proof texts" for the Roman doctrine of purgatory, etc. hence indulgences, hence that little "to do" that started on Oct. 31, 1517 when a monk in the little backwater of Wittenberg posted 95 theses on the issue.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 11, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thanks, Paul.

Jean Laaninen wrote (March 11, 2008):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thank you, Paul for these details that help to hold the whole picture together. I am not aware that the Swede's retained these additional books, but maybe someone on the list with a Scandinavian background could say for sure.

 

Improving readings for the Lutheran liturgical year on the BCW

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 190 - Discussions Part 3

Evan Cortens wrote (August 19, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< Though I've only heard Prof. Swack speak about this once, on that occasion at least she was talking about Telemann's cantatas for "Judica" Sunday (aka Passion Sunday, the fifth Sunday in Lent). The general consensus, at least as I understood it, was that Telemann wasn't specifically expressing his own, person anti-Semitism, but rather was setting at text that lends itself to anti-Semitic sentiments. (the Gospel, John 8:46-59, discusses the condemnation of Jesus by the Jewish people.) >
While on this point, I noticed that the BCW page on the Lutheran Church Year (Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event) doesn't give the Gospels and Epistles for the days which don't have extant cantatas. I wonder why this is? I'm looking specifically at those Sundays in Lent I mentioned, plus Good Friday (on which, of course, a passion was performed, rather than a cantata). As far as I'm aware,
the later Sundays after Epiphany worked the same way as in the Catholic liturgy: unused readings for the final Sundays after Trinity were said here, though I could be wrong on this point.

Anyway, seems to me the page should either list:
1) All the Sundays/Feast Days Bach wrote cantatas for, leaving out entirely those ones without extant works
OR
2) All the Sundays/Feast Days in the Lutheran liturgical year, with readings, including those for which there are no cantatas

(As you can tell, I vote for the second option.)

In googling around, it seems that this BCW is the only good resource for this information, and we have an opportunity to make it complete, even if it's not 100% on topic...

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 19, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< Anyway, seems to me the page should either list:
1) All the Sundays/Feast Days Bach wrote cantatas for, leaving out entirely those ones without extant works
OR
2) All the Sundays/Feast Days in the Lutheran liturgical year, with readings, including those for which there are no cantatas >
To that I would add the prescribed introit motet and hymns for each Sunday. Terry included the listings in his book of cantata translations. The interplay between these items and the cantatas is significant.

In an ideal listing, we would also have all the organ preludes in their places in the calendar.

Francis Browne wrote (August 19, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote :
< Anyway, seems to me the page should either list:
1) All the Sundays/Feast Days Bach wrote cantatas for, leaving out entirely those ones without extant works
OR
2) All the Sundays/Feast Days in the Lutheran liturgical year, with readings, including those for which there are no cantatas >

Douglas Cowling added.
"To that I would add the prescribed introit motet and hymns for each Sunday. Terry included the listings in his book of cantata transla. The interplay between these items and the cantatas is significant.
In an ideal listing, we would also have all the organ preludes in their places in the calendar."
Most of the resources on the BCW are there because of Aryeh's prodigious hard work, with occasional help from others - as in the case of the readings. The suggestions put forward by Evan and Doug are excellent but since my present contributions take a different form - translating chorales and providing parallel versions of my cantata translations I - myself have no desire or intention to add to the readings.But the BCW is a collective endeavour and nothing prevents anyone else - perhaps Doug or Evan themselves - from improving what I have begun. It would be a pity if these useful suggestions were simply ignored.

Evan Cortens wrote (August 19, 2009):
Francis Browne wrote:
< Most of the resources on the BCW are there because of Aryeh's prodigious hard work, with occasional help from others - as in the case of the readings. The suggestions put forward by Evan and Doug are excellent but since my present contributions take a different form - translating chorales and providing parallel versions of my cantata translations I - myself have no desire or intention to add to the readings.But the BCW is a collective endeavour and nothing prevents anyone else - perhaps Doug or Evan themselves -from improving what I have begun. It would be a pity if these useful suggestions were simply ignored. >
Agreed, of course! I certainly did not mean to diminish in any way the current page (thanks Aryeh!), and I'd certainly be happy to contribute the information I've suggested should be added.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 19, 2009):
Francis (aka France-is-prone) wrote:
< It would be a pity if these useful suggestions were simply ignored. >
I second that thought, and emotion. What a useful contribution for the specialist Lutheran BCML participants to contemplate (perhaps even accomplish): to fill in blanks in the listings of the Scriptural readings for the liturgical year, appropriate to Bachs 18th C. Lutheran calendar. Differences (or none?) in the intervening centuries from then to now would also be informative.

Russell Telfer wrote (August 19, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I noticed that the BCW page on the Lutheran Church Year (Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event) doesn't give the Gospels and Epistles for the days which don't have extant cantatas. I wonder why this is? I'm looking specifically at those Sundays in Lent I mentioned, plus Good Friday (on which, of course, a passion was performed, rather than a cantata). As far as I'm aware, the later Sundays after Epiphany worked the same way as in the Catholic liturgy: unused readings for the final Sundays after Trinity were said here, though I could be wrong on this point.
Anyway, seems to me the page should either list:
1) All the Sundays/Feast Days Bach wrote cantatas for, leaving out entirely those ones without extant works
OR
2) All the Sundays/Feast Days in the Lutheran liturgical year, with readings, including those for which there are no cantatas (As you can tell, I vote for the second option.) >
I'm fairly clear in my own mind about this. Bach was constantly employed writing cantatas for every one of the 52 weeks of the year, and the festivals and high days that came on top of that. I'm not aware of any that were left out. Bear in mind that liturgical weeks can have different names: New Year's Day = Feast of the Circumcision, and - in my different liturgical lists in the back of hymnbooks - I find one hymnbook with NO mention of Trinity, and another with no mention of Pentecost. This of course is in English, and there could be something lost in translation. Trinity = Pentecost. (This will get some theologicans fuming.)

Evan made another point:
< In googling around, it seems that this BCW is the only good resource for this information, and we have an opportunity to make it complete, even if it's not 100% on topic... >
I think you're right. To support your contention, consider a provincial library, probably in any country of the world. Go and see what they've got in the way of Bach scholarship. Grove. It probably stops at 1928, or 1949, or if you're lucky, 1971. As if I've written in earlier posts, I think the collective wisdom that accumulates on the internet will, in time, surpass the learning of previous centuries' polymaths. In the mean time, for me at least, BCW is The Oracle in the old Greek sense.

Evan Cortens wrote (August 19, 2009):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< I'm fairly clear in my own mind about this. Bach was constantly employed writing cantatas for every one of the 52 weeks of the year, and the festivals and high days that came on top of that. I'm not aware of any that were left out. Bear in mind that liturgical weeks can have different names: New Year's Day = Feast of the Circumcision, and - in my different liturgical lists in the back of hymnbooks - I find one hymnbook with NO
>> mention of Trinity, and another with no mention of Pentecost. This of course is in English, and there could be something lost in translation. Trinity = Pentecost. (This will get some theologicans fuming.) >
Thanks for your email. A couple of points:

1. Though it varied based on his place of employment, there were a few Sundays during the year for which Bach did not provide cantatas. This was not a personal choice of his, but rather a directive of the church authorities. In Leipzig these were the second, third and fourth Sundays of Advent and the five Sundays of Lent. In Weimar, the rules differed slightly, allowing cantatas during all of Advent as well as the third Sunday of Lent.

2. I'm hardly a theologian, but I must correct you on this point:
Trinity and Pentecost are not the same day. Pentecost Sunday is seven weeks after Easter Sunday, Trinity Sunday is the following Sunday. (In the English tradition, you will occasionally see Pentecost called Whit Sunday, or Whitsun.) In the Catholic church, the Sundays following Pentecost were numbered as such, so Trinity was the "First Sunday After Pentecost", or Trinity Sunday. In the Lutheran church, they instead opted to number the Sundays starting with Trinity, so, for example:
- Second Sunday after Pentecost (Catholic) = First Sunday after Trinity (Lutheran)
(Keep in mind, this is accurate for the 18th century, but things have changed a little since then.)

 

Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 3, 2011):
THEMATIC PATTERNS IN BACHıS GOSPELS

The season of Sundays after Trinity has never seen the scholarly interest that the Christmas and Eastern narratives have received and there is a certain assumption that the Gospel readings do not have the same dramatic significance.

It is worth looking at several literary patterns which Bach would have known intimately. In general, there are three genres in the Trinity season:

Parables - short moralized allegories within the larger narratives of events in the life of Christ

Miiracles - short self-contained narratives of miraculous healings.

Teachings ­ excerpts from longer hortatory discourses by Christ.

There is also a series of groupings which would have been part of the critical apparatus of both theologians and musicians such as Bach who had such a finely-tuned ear for the literary shape of scriptural passages.

Although there are no formal divisions in the official books, we see some important groupings which may have influenced Bachıs cantata composition. A brief outline of the first half of the season.

1) Trinity 1-4 is a four week sequence of parables

2) Trinity 5-8 has a series of paired miracles and teachings

3) Trinity 9-19 generally alternates a parable with a teaching or miracle

Whether these literary patterns influenced Bach deserves investigation in both librettos and scores.

PART ONE: Four Parables

* Trinity 1: Luke 16: 19-31- Parable of Dives and Lazarus
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fsumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

* Trinity 2: Luke 14: 16-24 - Parable of the great supper
A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

* Trinity 3: Luke 15: 1-10 - Parable of the lost sheep
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

* Trinity 4: Luke 6: 36-42 - Parable: Blind leading the Blind
And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

PART TWO: Paired Miracles & Teachings

* Trinity 5: Luke 5: 1-11 ­ Miracle: draught of fishes
And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

* Trinity 6: Matthew 5: 20-26 ­ Teaching: Agree with your adversary
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer
thy gift.

* Trinity 7: Mark 8: 1-9 ­ Miracle of feeding of the four thousand
And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people

* Trinity 8: Matthew 7: 15-23 ­ Teaching: Beware of false prophets
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles

PART THREE: Paired Parable. Teachings & Miracles

Trinity 9: Luke 16: 1-9 - Parable of the unjust steward
There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

Trinity 10 Luke 19: 41-48 ­ Teaching: Jesus weeps over Jerusalem
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

Trinity 11: Luke 18: 9-14 - Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

Trinity12: Mark 7: 31-37 ­ Miracle of Deaf Man
And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.

* Trinity 13: Luke 10: 23-37 - Parable of the good Samaritan
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

* Trinity 14: Luke 17: 11-19 - Miracle of healing of the lepers
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

* Trinity 15: Matthew 6: 23-34 - Teaching: Avoid worldly cares
if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

* Trinity 16: Luke 7: 11-17 - Miracle of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain
And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise

* Trinity 17: Luke 14: 1-11 - Miracle of the dropsical man & Parable of wedding
And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room;

* Trinity 18: Matthew 22: 34-46 - Teaching: The great commandment
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

* Trinity 19: Matthew 9: 1-8 ­ Miracle of palsied man
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed:and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

Julian Mincham wrote (May 3, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] This is a stimulating posting which may well spark off interest in these themes. I had noted certain patterns in the post Trinity cantatas when doing my own surveys of the cantatas but had never categorised them to any extent. There is certainly interesting work to be done in this area and something I would like to revisit when time allows..

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 3, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< There is certainly interesting work to be done in this area and something I would like to revisit when time allows.. >
Bach's choice of target reading needs some investigation as well. Why does he sometimes choose the first reading, the Epistle, rather than the Gospel (e.g. "Dazu ist erschienen" BWV 40) Or why on the the 2nd Day of Christmas does he occasionally switch from the Christmas theme readings (as in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248)) to those for St. John (Selig ist der Mann BWV 57)

Are these mandated traditions? Are they Bach's literary choices? Were they determined in advance by the preacher?

The task might be more congenial if the poetry was better.

Bruce Simonson wrote (May 3, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Although there are no formal divisions in the official books, we see some important groupings which may have influenced Bachıs cantata composition. A brief outline of the first half of the season.
1) Trinity 1-4 is a four week sequence of parables
2) Trinity 5-8 has a series of paired miracles and teachings
3) Trinity 9-19 generally alternates a parable with a teaching or miracle
Whether these literary patterns influenced Bach deserves investigation in both librettos and scores. >

Yes, indeed (imo).

Excellent post, Doug. Thank you.
<>

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 4, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< THEMATIC PATTERNS IN BACH1S GOSPELS
The season of Sundays after Trinity has never seen the scholarly interest that the Christmas and Eastern narratives have received and there is a certain assumption that the Gospel readings do not have the same dramatic significance.
It is worth looking at several literary patterns which Bach would have known intimately. >
Note that the fine outline Doug has provided is related to our cantata discussions for more than a year, through the middle of 2012.

Bruce Simonson wrote (May 4, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Note that the fine outline Doug has provided is related to our cantata discussions for more than a year, through the middle of 2012. >
Exactly right, Ed. I am looking forward to focusing attention on these Trinity cantatas, by their references to scriptural passages, as opposed to working through the cantatas chronologically.

Here's a couple of questions (which I think may have been touched before, in times of yore, on ye old' bach cantatas list):

1) Pericopes / Lectionaries? How many are in current use in the Lutheran church vs in Bach's time? I think I remember reading on this list, once, that in Bach's time, there was only one Lectionary (and hence, only one set of scripture for any given sunday of the church year). If so, might one expect cantatas for the same sunday in the church year to have "lots of" (obvious?) similarities?

2) I'm wondering about Bach "referring back" to previous cantatas for a particular upcoming Sunday. My dad (a Lutheran pastor for 50 years) kept what he called his "barrel", that is, his sermons through the years, and often referred back to previous sermons as he prepared forthe upcoming Sunday. I wonder if Bach did the same with his music? If so, can we find evidence of this, in his texts and musical treatments of the texts? (To split hairs here, I don't think this is necessarily the same question that is traditionally answered by referring to Bach's use "parody" of his own works).

Sorry if these questions seem obtuse, I'm writing quickly during a break at work.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 4, 2011):
Bach's Lectionary

Bruce Simonson wrote:
< Pericopes / Lectionaries? How many are in current use in the Lutheran church vs in Bach's time? >
Bach's lectionary was the one-year cycle of readings which Luther adapted from the pre-Reformation Catholic calendar with very few changes. The pope may have been the Antichrist to the Protestants, but both churches, as well as the Anglicans, had the same readings throughout the Wars of Religion.

The one-year cycle was normative in Western Christendom until the 1970's when, after the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church revised the lectionary to a cycle which allowed for the entire New Testament to be read publically over a three-year period. This new lectionary was rapidly adopted by nearly all the churches, even historically non-liturgical denominations like the Presbyterians.

Although the Catholic Church continued to revise the lectionary unilaterally, it remains almost identical to the Revised Common Lectionary which has been developed by ecumenical consensus among the non-Catholic churches.

Although many of the pericopes (i.e. prescribed scriptural passages) occur on the same Sundays as in Bach's time, many have been shifted and, of course, there are dozens of readings which Bach would not have heard.

We have to be very cautious about reading contemporary liturgical practice back into the 18th century. For instance, it is now almost universal among churches with traditional musical programs for the organist to play a mini-recital while people are coming into church. Peter Williams showed that Bach and his contemporaries did not play until the opening bell sounded when they began to play a piece which served as a prelude or "intonation" to the first hymn or choral introit. The miniatures of the Orgelbüchlein were intended for this brief initial organ flourish.

Bruce Simonson wrote (May 4, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Bach's lectionary was the one-year cycle of readings which Luther adapted from the pre-Reformation Catholic calendar with very few changes. >
Does the Bach Cantatas website have the pericopes correct for the Lexicon in use for Bach's services? I'd like to gander, carefully, at such a set of scriptures.

Julian Mincham wrote (May 4, 2011):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
< 2) I'm wondering about Bach "referring back" to previous cantatas for a particular upcoming Sunday. My dad (a Lutheran pastor for 50 years) kept what he called his "barrel", that is, his sermons through the years, and often referred back to previous sermons as he prepared for the upcoming Sunday. I wonder if Bach did the same with his music? If so, can we find evidence of this, in his texts and musical treatments of the texts? (To split hairs here, I don't think this is necessarily the same question that is traditionally answered by referring to Bach's use "parody" of his own works).
Sorry if these questions seem obtuse, I'm writing quickly during a break at work. >
Personally I am convinced that he did look back over cantatas written for the same day when composing anew. The essays on my website make a number of references to these observed similarities, particularly of key and rhythm but occasionally also of theme.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 4, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Personally I am convinced that he did look back over cantatas written for the same day when composing anew. The essays on my website make a number of references to these observed similarities, particularly of key and rhythm but occasionally also of theme. >
I think the key relations are the most difficult for the casual listener (me, for example) to pick up, without a bit of guidance. Thanks for the help.

William Hoffman wrote (May 5, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Although many of the pericopes (i.e. prescribed scriptural passages) occur on the same Sundays as in Bach's time, many have been shifted and, of course, there are dozens of readings which Bach would not have heard. >
Thank you, Douglas, for your "Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels," especially as we prceed through the thematic Trinity omnes tempore part of the church year. Where the new 3-year synoptic lectionary, with John at key places, keeps many of the old one-year harmony readings from the first part of the church year, de tempore, and gives us the comparable Gospel variants and alternate readings, the Trinity Time IMHO is still a dense woods that we now can navigate with Douglas' "Thematic Patterns." I recently started to put together a concordance between the old and new lectionaries. Bach's cantatas are still relevant and there is even a rough catalog of Bach cantatas and cantata movements appropriate for the new lectionary.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 5, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Thank you, Douglas, for your "Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels," especially as we proceed through the thematic Trinity omnes tempore part of the church year.
[...]
the Trinity Time IMHO is still a dense woods that we now can navigate with Douglas' "Thematic Patterns." >

JEGardiner refers to it as <the vast desert of the Sundays after Trinity>, somewhere around Trinity 24 of the Pilgrimage project.

I agree that Dougs outline provides an excellent aid to navigation through this territory, dense woods, arid desert, or a bit of each.

I look forward to those alto arias, in particular, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at the penultimate moment, followed by a consoling chorale.

Unlike my day to day life, where I have an uncanny knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Only to survive for another day.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 6, 2011):
Bach's knowledge of the Lectionary

Evan Cortens wrote:
< While Bach rarelygives a date/year on his scores, he almost always gives a liturgical occasion. It's only in the rare event that this information is missing that folks speculate on the basis of the pericope. >
Bach's knowledge of the prescribed texts was extraordinary. He knew that Cantata BWV 70a, "Wachet Betet," that was written for Advent 2 in Weimar, could be reworked for Trinity 26 in Leipzig because the respective Gospels, Luke 21 and Matthew 25 both present visions of the Second Coming of Christ.

The most brilliant is the reworking of the Weimar "Himmelskonig sei Willkommen" (BWV 182) which was originally written for the Annunication, the entrance of Christ into the world through conception. On the year that the feast fell on Palm Sunday, Bach links the Coming of the Incarnation with the Entry in Jerusalem and the Coming of the Passion. Brilliant libretto and brilliant music.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 6, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Bach's knowledge of the prescribed texts was extraordinary. He knew that Cantata BWV 70a, "Wachet Betet," that was written for Advent 2 in Weimar, could >be reworked for Trinity 26 in Leipzig because the respective Gospels, Luke 21 and Matthew 25 both present visions of the Second Coming of Christ. >
The pragmatic economy of finding an alternative use for an Advent work, not appropriate for the Leipzig music calendar, only adds to our admiration for Bachs attention to these details!

 

OT Readings, First Sunday After Trinity

William Hoffman wrote (June 11, 2011):

While Bach rarely quoted the actual Lectionary Palm readings (Introit, Psalm, Gradual, and Verse) of the day, his use of Psalm citations in his sacred music "sermons" reflects the triaand triumph dual emphasis found in the Psalms, as well, perhaps, as the succeeding actual sermon of the day which dwelled on the Gospel and Epistle with continual allusions to the Psalms. In two-part cantatas, the second part reinforced the ideas of the acutal preceding pastor's sermon IMVHO, Bach's cantatas for Trinity Time consistently embrace, in varying degrees, a systematic use of Old Testament Psalms; general Christian themes of love, light, etc.; and references to the greater Triune concept of God the Creator, Jesus Christ the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as sanctifier. Thus I would respectfully disagree with Bach scholar Peter's Smaill recent BCW observation: "Although doxologies occur often in Bach's texts (including BWV 176) the German expressions for the Trinity itself are rare."


INTROIT: Psalm 13:1-4 (A Prayer for Help in Trouble)
1. How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever?
How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
3. Consider and hear me, O LORD my God:
lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4. lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him;
and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

Antiphon: Psalm 13:5-6
5. But I have trusted in thy mercy;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
6. I will sing unto the LORD
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis 15:1-6 (God's Covenant with Abram)
1. After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 . And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3. And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

PSALM 33:12-20 (Antiphon v. 20) (A Song of Praise)
12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. 13. The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. 14. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. 15. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. 16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. 17. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. 18. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; 19. To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Antiphon: 20. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
21. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. 22. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

LESSON: Nehemiah 9:26-31 (The Prayer of Confession)
26. Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations. 27. Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest [them] from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies. 28. But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest [them] from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies; 29. And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear. 30. Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.
31. Nevertheless for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou [art] a gracious and merciful God.

EPISTLE: 1 John 4: 16-21 God is love: [16] And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

GOSPEL: Luke 16: 19-31- Parable of Dives and Lazarus. There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores. . . .

GRADUAL: Psalm 41:4, 1 (A Prayer of Sickness). 4. I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. 1. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

VERSE: Psalm 7:1 (A Prayer for Justice)): 1. O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:

[Note: One-Year Lectionary from <Lutheran Service Book> Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod; Biblical readings from the King James Version of the Bible. No Marian or Saints Days are listed. Historic One-Year Lectionary source is: [PDF] The Historic One-Year Lectionary. http://www.hope-aurora.org/docs/HISTORIC%20ONE%20YEAR%20CHART%20half-page.pdf

William Hoffman wrote (June 11, 2011):
Thus I would respectfully disagree with Bach scholar Peter's Smaill recent BCW observation: "Although doxologies occur often in Bach's texts (including BWV 176) the German expressions for the Trinity itself are rare."

The alto aria No. 5 in Cantata BWV 176 closes with: Vater, Sohn und Heilgen Geist (I shall glorify the father, son and holy spirit) / Preisen, der dreieinig heißt. (who are called triune.). The final chorale closes with: Gott Vater, Sohn und Heilger Geist, (God the Father, son and holy spirit) / Der Frommen Schutz und Retter, (protector and saviour of the devout) / Ein Wesen, drei Personen. (one being, three persons.) Francis Browne translation.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 11, 2011):
Bach & the Doxology

William Hoffman wrote:
< Thus I would respectfully disagree with Bach scholar Peter's Smaill recent BCW observation: "Although doxologies occur often in Bach's texts (including BWV 176) the German expressions for the Trinity itself are rare."
The alto aria No. 5 in Cantata
BWV 176 closes with: Vater, Sohn und Heilgen Geist (I shall glorify the father, son and holy spirit) / Preisen, der dreieinig heißt. (who are called triune.). The final chorale closes with: Gott Vater, Sohn und Heilger Geist, >
As it does at the end of Cantata BWV 10:

"Lob und Preis sei Gott dem Vater und dem Sohn
Und dem Heilgen Geiste,
Wie es war im Anfang, jetzt und immerdar
Und von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit. Amen
"

I think we can fine tune Peter's comment. The Gloria Patri, the "Lesser Doxology" (The "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" is the "Greater Doxology") was sung every day in Latin or German by Bach's choirs in the daily offices of Matins and Vespers:

1) As the conclusion to the psalms. In Latin, this was an extension of pre-Reformation practice; in German, most metrical versions included a versification of the doxology.

2) As the conclusion to the scriptural canticles of Benedictus Dominus ("Hochgebenedeit der Herr") sung in the morning and Magnificat ("Meine Seel erhebt den Herren") and Nunc Dimittis ("Mit Fried und Freud") in the evening. The "Te Deum Laudamus" ("Herr Gott Dich Loben Wir) was also sung in the morning, but, following pre-Reformation practice, was considered to be a grand Trinitarian acclamation not requiring the Doxology. We see the Doxology as prescribed in Latin at the end of the Magnificat in D.

Note that this constant use of the Doxology -- it was the most-frequently sung text for Bach -- was restricted to the offices of Matins and Vespers. The only time it was sung at the mass was when the Introit was sung in Latin. At the Principal Celebration in Leipzig, the introit was always replaced with a polyhonic motet that did not include the Doxology. Thus, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas never heard the acclamation on Sunday morning (Choirs III and IV may possibly have sung a Latin introit, as they were taught to all the choirboys)

A good case could be made that Bach and his congregations informally identified the Doxology principally as an integral and prescribed part of Matins and Vespers and only as an occasional allusion in the Mass. Cantata BWV 191, Bach's only Latin cantata, uses the Gloria Patri, but it is a literary allusion not a liturgical use. This unconscious connection with the office psalms and canticles might explain why the Doxology is a rare occurrence in
the cantatas.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 11, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< [Note: One-Year Lectionary from <Lutheran Service Book> Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod; Biblical readings from the King James Version of the Bible. No Marian or Saints Days are listed. Historic One-Year Lectionary source is: PDF] The Historic One-Year Lectionary.
http://www.hope-aurora.org/docs/HISTORIC%20ONE%20YEAR%20CHART%20half-page.pdf >
I think we have to be very careful with contemporary Lutheran lectionaries, even when they claim to be "historic" -- that usually means a 20th century retooling of the new Common Lectionary.

A couple of caveats here:

* Only the Epistle and Gospel reflect Bach's usage.

* The third reading from the Old Testament is a modern addition to Lutheran worship.

* The introit has modern expansions. For Bach, the introit for Trinity 1, "Domine in tua misericordia," was:

Antiphon: Psalm 13:6
Verse: Psalm 13:1
Doxology: Gloria Patri
Antiphon: Psalm 13:6 (repeated)

* Luther abolished the Gradual and Alleluia psalms between the readings and replaced them with a metrical hymn, the Hymn De Tempore, often based on pre-Reformation Sequence hymns (e.g. "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" during the Easter season.)

At the moment, the only modern sources for Bach's rite are the indices in the descriptions of Bach's hymn book (the "Neu' Leipzig Gesangbuch') and the Bodenschatz motet collection. Terry, Leaver, Wolff, Herll and Stiller provide selective information in their studies. To be accurate we would have to go back to the 18th century agendas which listed the prescribed texts and which probably sat on Bach's shelf as a reference, but which haven't been published in modern editions.

Microfilmed facsimiles anyone?

William Hoffman wrote (June 11, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] What I am trying to emphasize, beyond the Lesser Doxology (Gloria patri) literal meaning of the Trinity, are the chorales and cantata movements that deal with the German paraphrase concept of the Trinity. Luther's German setting of the <Te Deum>, "Herr Gott Dich Loben Wir," is one of many chorales that celebrate the Trinity in one fashion or another. Others are:

1. The free-standing chorales (Clavierübung III German Organ Mass) Catechism chorales, "Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit" (BWV 371/1), "Christe, aller Welt Trost" (BWV 371/2), "Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist (BWV 371/3), "Der du bist Gott in Einigkeit" (BWV 293, Thou, who art Three in Unity, an imitation from the Gregorian hymn, "O lux beata trinitas") and the German Creed, "Wir Glauben all an einem Gott" (BWV 437); and Trinity Sunday chorales with full texts that I cited: "Gott der Vater wohn uns bei" (God, the Father, stay with us), BWV 317; "Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr'" (To God alone on high be glory), BWV 260 (Catechism chorale). BCW:
www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV165-D2.htm , March 30, 2011.

2. Cantatas that celebrate the Triune God, especially at Pentecost with Holy Spirit chorales, God the creator in BWV 172 and Cantata 76, "Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes" (The heavens are telling the Glory of God, Psalm 19) for Trinity +2; the emphasis on "Herr Jesu Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn (Lord Jesus Christ, God's only Son) Cantata 96 for Trinity +18; as well as Estomihi Cantata 127, "Herr Jesu Christ, Wahr Mensch und Gott" (HJC, Thou very man and God). And the list can go on.....

William Hoffman wrote (June 11, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thank you, Doug, for the caveats. Actually, I think that retooling has been going on since Luther's time, particularly among literalists-fundamentalists. I suspect that Bach's preachers used some of the old texts for the Pietists in the congregation, although, as Friedrich Blume and others have pointed out, the congregants who most understood and appreciated Bach's cantatas were the educated and well-off (including a few Pietists), the others relied more on their home devotional books with few song tunes and many old texts.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 11, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< What I am trying to emphasize, beyond the Lesser Doxology (Gloria patri) literal meaning of the Trinity, are the chorales and cantata movements that deal with the German paraphrase concept of the Trinity. Luther's German setting of the <Te Deum>, "Herr Gott Dich Loben Wir," is one of many chorales that celebrate the Trinity in one fashion or another. >
The doctrine of the Trinity certainly became the touchstone of controversy in the decades after Bach's death when Enlightenment Deism and Unitarianism became a serious challenge to orthodoxy in the Lutheran Church. We can see the trajectory of this dispute to 1867 when the German Requiem of Brahms was about to be performed and church authorities challenged the libretto which, although wholly drawn from the Bible, was judged lacking in the doctrines of the Trinity and the Redemption - the name of Jesus is never mentioned in the work. It is hard to accuse Bach of Deism or Pietism precisely because the organ and vocal works which Will cites present an encyclopedia of orthodox teaching in musical form.

Peter Smaill wrote (June 11, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thank you Douglas for a gentle prod at my perhaps imprecise point on the rarity of the German expression for the Trinity (as distinct from the full doxology) in Bach's texts. What was exactly meant derives from looking at that useful University of Alberta site where some time ago I'd carried out the exercise with a view to seeing if Bach accords special treatment to the Trinity musically (doxologies often have triple instruments, and sometimes triple time can be interpreted as a reference; this remains work in progress and I have no firm doctrine on it...yet!).

What I am referring to is the number of times "Dreieinigkeit" "Dreieinig" "Dreifaltigkeit" and , referring to the Trinity, "Einigkeit" occur. There appears to me to be only four references in the whole of Bach's output:

BWV 7/4 Es habe die Dreifaltigkeit
BWV172/3 Heiligste Dreieinigkeit
BWV 176/5 Preissen, der dreieinig Heisst
" Der du bist drei in Einigkeit" also occurs in the chorale setting BWV 293.

There may be other ways of constructing a reference to the Trinity other than in the full doxology, the latter being an important inspiration to Bach. Whether it is unusual for Baroque religious authors generally to refer directly to the Trinity is an open question.

Here is the source if anyone would like to trawl for more in some form: http://webdocs.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/search.html

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 11, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< There may be other ways of constructing a reference to the Trinity other than in the full doxology, the latter being an important inspiration to Bach. Whether it is unusual for Baroque religious authors generally to refer directly to the Trinity is an open question. >
The manner of addressing God has an interesting history (I feel the eyes glazing over already!) Both Luther and Bach inherited the pre-Reformation tradition of official prayer being addressed to God the Father through God the Son in the power of God the Holy Spirit. Here's the Collect or first prayer which Bach and his congregation would have heard after the Gloria in Excelsis on Christmas morning:

"We beseech you, O Almighty God, to vouchsafe that the holy faith which ever illumines our minds, that we, who are bathed in the new light brought upon earth by your Incarnate Word, may in all our actions shine forth to your glory before the world. Through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen."

The little doxology at the end, "Through the same Jesus Christ," is the formula that turns the prayer to God the Father into a prayer to God the Trinity. The acclamation was appended to every prayer, and implied even when the abbreviation, "Through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen," was used/ Bach plays with this tradition in the closing chorale of Cantata BWV 106:

Glorie, Lob, Ehr und Herrlichkeit
Sei dir, Gott Vater und Sohn bereit,
Dem heilgen Geist mit Namen!
Die göttlich Kraft
Mach uns sieghaft
Durch Jesum Christum, Amen
.

A full Trinitarian doxology is sung, but the last line is rather playfully given a spirited allegro.

Following pre-Reformation practice, very few texts address God the Trinity, and those that do are almost all confined to Trinity Sunday. The same is true for God the Holy Spirit to whom direct address occurs principally on Pentecost (e.g. Komm Heilger Geist)

This ancient pattern of prayer addressed to God the Father has a different focus in the texts of the cantatas. Here the overwhelming number of prayers to God are to Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity. We have everything from trumpets of doom accompanying Jesus the wrathful Judge to the erotic love duets of Jesus the Lover of the Soul. In fact, the only people ever addressed in the cantatas are Christ and the sinful/sinless human listener.

I suspect this is part of Luther's language of intimacy when talking about the divine-human relationship. I also suspect -- although I speak from complete ignorance -- that the sermons which followed Bach's cantatas were drier affairs concerned principally with exegetical points linking scriptural verses and outlining doctrinal propositions (there must have been a LOT of theology on Trinity Sunday.)

I also believe that Bach's passionate language of intimacy is an important part of the instinctive sympathy that modern listeners have with the choral works, listeners who couldn't be less interested in doctrine.

 

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Last update: ŭJune 28, 2011 ŭ11:03:24