Epiphany III

Sunday 26 January 2020

Epiphany III

Today is Epiphany III, the third Sunday after Epiphany. Bach graced this day with four cantatas. All four cantatas have texts inspired by the reading of the day from the Gospel of Matthew: the healing of a leper. They echo the statement by the leper that he puts his faith in Christ's hands.

The first three cantatas are from the three complete Leipzig cantata cycles, the last one, Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe, BWV 156, from a few years later. It is one of the cantatas on a libretto by Picander, the librettist for many later Bach cantatas and of course the Matthaeus Passion. Picander wrote texts for a complete cantata cycle to be composed by the "incomparable Kapellmeister Bach" but we have only eight cantatas based on these texts, this cantata included. There is discussion whether the rest of the cycle is lost, or possibly never completed.

After the cantata Alles nur nach Gottes Willen, BWV 72, performed on January 27th 1726, Bach took a break for the first time after two and a half years of weekly cantata composition (apart from periods of Tempus Clausum during Lent and Advent, when no music was performed in mass in Leipzig). The next few weeks he performed cantatas by his nephew Johann Ludwig Bach (1677-1731). He only resumed with new compositions in May of that year.

Cantatas

  • Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir, BWV 73
    (first performance 23 January 1724, Leipzig period)
  • Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit, BWV 111
    (first performance 21 January 1725, Leipzig period)
  • Alles nur nach Gottes Willen, BWV 72
    (first performance 27 January 1726, Leipzig period)
  • Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe, BWV 156
    (first performance ?23 January 1729, Leipzig period)

Extra information

The Netherlands Bach Society website (in Dutch) has more information and a performance of BWV 156:
https://bachvereniging.nl/nl/bwv/bwv-156/