Monday, March 22, 2010

Beautiful chorus

The final chorus and chorale from St John Passion are of the most beautiful movements Bach ever composed.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750):

The handwriting is by Johann Nathanael Bammler, who was prefect in the Thomanerchor Leipzig and an assistant to Bach in the late 1740s.

The St. John Passion was composed in the beginning of 1724 and had its first performance on Good Friday the same year (April 7). The original score by Bach is now lost. In the late 1730s, Bach began writing a new fair copy of the score. But he broke off his writing in the middle of the 10th movement (the recitative "Derselbige Jünger"). It is known that a planned passion performance in 1739 was cancelled by the church authorities in Leipzig, because Bach had not in due time seeked their approval of the passion text. Possibly this incident explains why he did not complete the score at that time. In 1749, in connection with a new performance of the St. John Passion, the score was finally completed by Bammler. Bach then reviewed the score and corrected various mistakes.

Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine,
Die ich nun weiter nicht beweine,
Ruht wohl und bringt auch mich zur Ruh!
Das Grab, so euch bestimmet ist
Und ferner keine Not umschließt,
Macht mir den Himmel auf und schließt die Hölle zu.

Ach Herr, laß dein lieb' Engelein
Am letzten End die Seele mein
In Abrahams Schoß tragen,
Den Leib in seim Schlafkämmerlein
Gar sanft ohn ein'ge Qual und Pein
Ruh'n bis am jüngsten Tage!
Alsdenn vom Tod erwecke mich,
Daß meine Augen sehen dich
In aller Freud, o Gottes Sohn,
Mein Heiland und Genadenthron!
Herr Jesu Christ, erhöre mich,
Ich will dich preisen ewiglich!


Rest well, ye holy bones and members,
Which I henceforth shall never weep for,
Rest well and bring me, too, to rest!
The tomb which for you is assigned,
And henceforth no distress will hold,
Doth open heav'n to me and shut the gates of hell.

Ah Lord, let thine own angels dear
At my last hour my spirit bear
To Abraham's own bosom,
My body in its simple bed
In peace without distress and dread
Rest till the day of judgment!
And then from death awaken me,
That with mine eyes I may see thee
In fullest joy, O God's own Son,
My Savior and my gracious throne!
Lord Jesus Christ, give ear to me,
I would thee praise eternally!

The autograph score by Bammler can be found here (Satz 39 & 40):

The Monteverdi Choir
The English Baroque Soloists
Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner 

Don't miss the performance by City of Dunedin Choir in the Dunedin Town Hall on Sunday 28 March at 3 pm. 

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