Sunday, March 22, 2009


This morning at Mass they sang the great Bach chorale "O Sacred Head Now Wounded." That is a chorale that breaks my heart. Here is a version on YouTube with beautiful religious images.

Here is a version where all they show is this shooting star and I like that too. The genius of Johann Sebastian Bach! There is a great statue of Bach pictured above. It is in Leipzig.

I love the "St. Matthew Passion."

But you know what I really love? The "St. John Passion."

I had a Seraphim box set when I was a kid and over the years I have just kept listening to this marvelous music. That is so often how things work. Something's cheap, you can afford it, you pick it up, you get to love it.

There is this aria "Ich folge dir gleichsam." I could lip-synch the whole thing. It has this beautiful flute part.

And the ending really gets me. "Ach, Herr, lass dein lieb' Engelein." "O, Lord, send your angels." This is the chorale that ends the whole St. John Passion. By that time you are just beat, and then this piece washes over you and soothes you and makes you cry. Catholics, like me, will be reminded of the beautiful last prayer of funerals, when the priest asks that the angels lead the deceased into paradise, that the martyrs come out to greet him and bear him to Abraham's side.

Here is that chorale that I love in the Cologne Cathedral.

There is often humor in the saddest situations and on this video, the guy who posts it is apologizing for misspelling "bosom," as in "bosom of Abraham." He spells it "bossom."

We should kick around Bach cantatas a little more than we have been doing. I have a whole host of them that I love and like all Bach fans, I am always mentally going over my list and adding to it.

True story: During Holy Week, radio stations love to play the Bach Passions. And once I walked into a bar -- it was the Italian Fisherman -- and they were playing the "St. John Passion." The TVs were muted but the place was noisy and over it all I heard "Ich folge dir gleichsam." With everyone drinking beer.

That was strange!

1 comment:

  1. Stravinsky also loved the Bach cantatas and studied them closely. "...filled with harmonic surprises..." he wrote.