All of the cantatas for the Festival of the Purification have a different tone. Several were actually written for funerals and were recycled for this feast. These works emphasize the death of St Simeon. Today's cantata has a different tone. It centers on the joy of Mary's purification. The opening aria is a brilliant work with alto, horns, oboes, solo violin and all of the strings. The texture most resembles the first movement of Bach's First Brandenburg Concerto. The work has some of the dizzying energy and bravura of that concerto. In complete contrast, the bass aria entitled "Intonation" is a litany reflecting the reaction of St. Simeon. Bravura returns in the dazzling tenor aria with solo violin. After a brief recitative, a wonderful harmonization of the traditional Luther chorale "Mit Fried und Freud" ends the work.

©Craig Smith

Back to Bach Notes & Translations