Strike soon, blessed hour

In next week's Sunday Cantata, you will be treated to an extraordinary musical experience: a pair of oboes accompanied by a symphony of bells (as rendered by pizzicato strings). The lower strings, cellos and basses, play slow funeral bells, while the upper strings, violins and violas, play faster, more celestial bells. One set to ring…

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The purpose of music in the church

Here's an extract from the episode of Sunday Cantata on 25 August 2013 on Lutheran Radio UK. You can listen to the whole programme here. The first part of the programme demonstrates how these words apply to the cantata of the day, BWV 33. One of the important questions for all church musicians—and indeed for…

Contented Peace

This beautiful aria was our Communion anthem today at Our Saviour Lutheran Church, from Bach's Cantata BWV 170, Vergnügte Ruh, to words by Georg Christian Lehms (1684–1717). [podloveaudio src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/546760/Blog/audio/BWV170%20-%201%20Vergnugte%20Ruh%2C%20beliebte%20Seelenlust.mp3"] Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul, You cannot be found among the sins of hell, But only where there is heavenly harmony; You alone strengthen…

Sorrow to joy in one simple step

How do you go from this, [podloveaudio src="http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/546760/Blog/audio/11%20-%20Ich%20hatte%20viel%20Bekummernis%2C%20BWV%2021.mp3"] and this, [podloveaudio src="http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/546760/Blog/audio/13%20-%20Ich%20hatte%20viel%20Bekummernis%2C%20BWV%2021.mp3"] to this, [podloveaudio src="http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/546760/Blog/audio/20%20-%20Ich%20hatte%20viel%20Bekummernis%2C%20BWV%2021.mp3"] and this? [podloveaudio src="http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/546760/Blog/audio/21%20-%20Ich%20hatte%20viel%20Bekummernis%2C%20BWV%2021.mp3"] Simple: by being found by the Good Shepherd! The full story, via Bach's cantata BWV 21,  in Sunday Cantata on Lutheran Radio UK this Sunday (16 June), and thereafter on demand on the website. Don't…

Anti-heresy anthem

Some months ago, and at the end of a longer article, Pr. David Petersen quoted a hymn by Luther that was still included in The Lutheran Hymnal (no. 260) but was left out of the Lutheran Service Book. Like a lot of TLH hymns that didn't make it into LSB, this one's a time-tested treasure…

How to grieve without words

Coming up on Sunday Cantata next week: BWV 12, Weinen, klagen, sorgen, zagen. I have often said—and in this I am far from alone—that no one does joy quite as well as Bach does. When it comes to melancholy, Mozart gives J.S. a run for his money. But then there is music like the opening…

Mr. Suzuki’s Bach Passion

Here is a BBC radio documentary about the extraordinary story of Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan whose Bach recordings have blown away Bach performance—and opened unexpected doors for the Gospel in Japan. These are the recordings we feature on Lutheran Radio UK's Sunday Cantata. Listening to this, you will know why. Click here…

War and Peace

In the next episode of Sunday Cantata, we will hear BWV 126, Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort, a chorale cantata on the hymn by Luther, known in English as 'Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word'. I won't say much here—listen to the episode on Lutheran Radio UK!—except this: The peculiar combination, usual in…

A Musician of the Cross

The more I work on Bach's sacred cantatas for Sunday Cantata, the more impressed I become about Bach's calibre as a theologian. Now, sometimes Bach's theological profundity and acumen are mis-attributed when it's forgotten that Bach didn't write his own libretti. That was done by men such as Picander, Salomo Franck, Erdmann Neumeister and others,…