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May 28, 2012

Bach Cantatas (29): Pentecost Monday (Whit Monday)

Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday is the holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost. Whit Monday gets its English name for following "Whitsun", the day that became one of the three baptismal seasons, when those baptized would wear white garments. There are three cantatas for this day. They texts are based on the phrase "God loved the world so much," and are therefore general praise for God's goodness (which allowed Bach to reuse several secular cantatas praising the ruler of the land).


Readings:
Acts 10:42–48, "Sermon of St. Peter for Cornelius"
John 3:16–21, "God loved the world so much"

References:
BCWBDECNLSGJNLVHWPText

Cantatas:
  • Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut, BWV 173, 29 May 1724

    Recitativo (tenor): Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut
    Aria (tenor): Ein geheiligtes Gemüte
    Aria (alto): Gott will, o ihr Menschenkinder
    Aria (soprano, bass): So hat Gott die Welt geliebt
    Aria (soprano, tenor): Unendlichster, den man doch Vater nennt
    Coro: Rühre, Höchster, unsern Geist


     ("Exalted flesh and blood") Based movement for movement on a secular cantata (a tribute to Bach's employer Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen, Durchlauchtster Leopold BWV 173a) that has been lost. Follows the readings for this day: "God loved the world so much," and is a general praise for God's goodness towards men. Starts with introductory recitative for tenor, followed by an elegant aria for the same. After a rather harsh alto aria follows the most interesting part of the cantata, a duet for soprano and bass with sweet strings and ethereal flutes. Three stanzas are treated in ever richer variations and the praise of the noble employer is effortlessly changed into praise of God. The music concludes with an uplifting chorus. (***)

  • Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, BWV 68, 21 May 1725

    Chor: Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt
    Arie S: Mein gläubiges Herze
    Rezitativ B: Ich bin mit Petro nicht vermessen
    Arie B: Du bist geboren mir zugute
    Chor: Wer an ihn gläubet, der wird nicht gerichtet


    ("Thus has God loved the world") Short cantata framed by two austere choral movements. In contrast, the two arias are in a casual style - they are borrowed from the secular Hunt Cantata BWV 208 (another "praise of the ruler" piece). The first chorus is a stately siciliano. The soprano aria has an almost jolly cello accompaniment, and forms a great contrast to the previous chorus. The bass aria with three oboes is a rocking jig. The final chorus consists of a double fugue. (***)

  • Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte, BWV 174, 6 June 1729

    Sinfonia
    Arie A: Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte
    Rezitativ T: O Liebe, welcher keine gleich!
    Arie B: Greifet zu, Faßt das Heil, ihr Glaubenshände!
    Choral: Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr


    ("I love the Highest with my entire being") Starts with an instrumental movement, an adaptation of the opening movement of the Third Brandenburg Concerto. For the rest, this, too, is a short cantata with only two arias and a final chorus. The long alto aria is an attractively lilting piece of music with a pastoral atmosphere, while the bass aria is accompanied by a beautiful string tune. (***)