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May 6, 2012

Bach Cantatas (24): Fourth Sunday after Easter

The fourth Sunday after Easter is called "Cantate," after the Introit "Cantate Domino novum canticum,"  "Sing ye to the Lord a new song." There are two cantatas for this day. The central idea for this Sunday is based on Jesus' speech to his disciples about his going away and second coming (parousia): "But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?"


James 1:17–21
John 16:5–15, Farewell discourse, announcement of Comforter

  • Wo gehest du hin? BWV 166, 7 May 1724

    Arioso (bass): Wo gehest du hin
    Aria (tenor): Ich will an den Himmel denken
    Chorale (soprano): Ich bitte dich, Herr Jesu Christ
    Recitativo (bass): Gleichwie die Regenwasser bald verfließen
    Aria (alto): Man nehme sich in acht
    Chorale: Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende

    ("Whither goest thou?") This short cantata starts with an arioso for bass - the "Vox Christi" as usual - asking the disciples (and listener): "Where do you go?"  A sort of contemplation on the fate of man. The very short arioso is followed by a profound tenor aria that meditates on the same theme. It is in the form of a sonata a 4, with plaintive oboe (the g-minor organ trio BWV 584 was later transcribed from this aria). Against an orchestral accompaniment in the strings, the soprano sings a melancholy chorale asking Jesus to remember us until our soul arrives in heaven. The bass recitative - a voice of wisdom - warns that joy in this world is like rainwater, soon running off, and speaks of the bell of the last hour. The alto aria takes up the same idea in a wistful way: "For so easily on earth things can change before evening, which in the morning was never considered." At the same time, the music pictures the "laughing of fortune" by oscillating figures in the strings and melismas in the voice. The whole is like a giggling minuet. The final choral is a moving harmonization of “Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten.” (***)
  • Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe, BWV 108, 29 April 1725

    Arie B: Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe
    Arie T: Mich kann kein Zweifel stören
    Rezitativ T: Dein Geist wird mich also regieren
    Chor: Wenn aber jener, der Geist der Wahrheit
    Arie A: Was mein Herz von dir begehrt
    Choral: Dein Geist, den Gott vom Himmel gibt

    ("It is expedient for you that I go away") Another short cantata that sets off with an elaborate aria for bass - again Vox Christi -, oboe d’amore and strings. Jesus tells the disciples that it is good that he is leaving them, for only in his absence can the Holy Spirit be there. The warm oboe melody gradually takes on a more mysterious character symbolizing the Holy Spirit, as a reflection of those who perceive it. The following tenor aria, with athletic violin accompaniment, portrays doubt, only to eliminate it in the process - hear the emphasis on "glaube," trust. After a didactic recitative follows the center piece of the cantata, a chorus consisting of three fugues in a row, singing about the coming of the spirit of truth to mankind. The mysterious character is only resolved in the alto aria, a calling for blessings which consolidates the gospel message for this Sunday. The cantata concludes with a harmonization of "Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn." (***)

(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