A chase, a couple love duets, and a bunny hop
On Christmas Eve at 9:30pm, as a prelude to our Festival Eucharist the Saint George’s Choir will sing Bach’s famous Cantata 140, “Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme” (Sleepers, Wake!). It is a truly glorious and beautiful work packed with rich symbolism that probes the mysteries of our faith. I love how Bach accomplishes this in an adventure-filled journey complete with a chase scene of Hollywood proportion, gorgeous love duets, and a festive bunny hop.
Bach’s sacred cantatas, of which there are more than 200, are seen as the heart of his output. It was his intention was to write a cantata for each Sunday of each of the three liturgical cycles of the Church Year to expound on the scriptures and break open the word with rich musical and textual metaphor. The cantatas were most often based upon familiar congregational hymns with each verse being uniquely set to give musical insight to the meaning of the text. Sometimes the hymn text was commented upon by poetic texts that was inserted between stanzas. Such is the case with the love duets of Cantata 140.
While in modern days we hear this music in many different contexts, they were intended to be closely associated with the reading of scripture, partnered with the preaching of the word, and in preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist. I hope you will plan to make our offering of this Cantata a part of your Christmas Eve celebration and worship, as we experience together what Bach’s congregations in Leipzig, Germany experienced on a regular basis: The profound beauty and art of this master composer whose goal was to breaking open the scripture and our faith through music so that we might come to know God more deeply. Come for the chase, the love, and the bunny hop and let your hearts be turned to God as we worship and grow deeper in our love for the newborn Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Ben Keseley, Minister of Music