Reformation day

Saturday 31 October 2020

Reformation day

Today is Reformation Day, to commemorate that on this day in 1517 Martin Luther allegedly (it is disputed) nailed his 95 theses against indulgences on the church door of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, thereby sparking the protestant reformation. It is understandbly a major protestant and calvinist holiday.

Reformation Day was of course celebrated in Leipzig, so Bach created three very fine cantatas for that day. Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild, BWV 79, written in 1725, was the first cantata he wrote for this day. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80, is reworked from a lost Weimar cantata, Alles, was von Gott geboren, BWV 80a.

Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott, BWV 129, was originally written for Trinity Sunday (first performed June 8th 1727) but most likely also performed on Reformation Day on a later occasion - the lyrics were considered to be suited for that day too.

Cantatas

  • Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild, BWV 79
    (first performance 31 October 1725, Leipzig period)
  • Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott, BWV 129
    (first performance 16 June 1726?, Leipzig period)
  • Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80
    (first performance ? 1727–31, Leipzig period)

Playlist

WBCF1031-Reformation day

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Image of the day

The inscription on the portal of the Georgenkirche in Eisenach: "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott", the title of BWV 80.

The inscription on the portal of the Georgenkirche in Eisenach: "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott", the title of BWV 80.