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…

More bad things done to good hymns

My researches for Sunday Cantata keep throwing up wonderful Lutheran chorales that never made it into English, or have been forgotten entirely. More distressing still is to find that hymns that have survived have been sadly mistreated by translators and/or hymnal editors. The latest exhibit for this latter category, from BWV 166, Bach's cantata for…

The Right Response to a Great Tragedy

There's a good post over on Steadfast Lutherans by Pr. Nathan Higgins on how to respond to a national tragedy. The substance of the post is summarised in the opening sentence: Perhaps the best way to respond to a national tragedy – or any kind of tragedy, is with mourning, repentance, and faith. In case…

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,…

Jesus lost and found

Another preview of Sunday Cantata. Bach didn't write any cantatas for the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, so this Sunday's offering is for the First Sunday after the Epiphany. The libretto meditates on the Gospel selection from Luke 2:41–52, where Mary and Joseph lose the 12-year-old Jesus—and then find Him in the Temple,…