Whit Sunday

Sunday 31 May 2020

Pentecost or Whit Sunday

Today is Pentecost or Whit Sunday, the 50th day after Easter and a very special liturgic holiday. So no less than 4 cantatas today. The first one, Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten!, BWV 172, is a very festive Pentecost cantata, dating from the Weimar period. It was a cantata Bach really loved himself, as he performed it several times later onas Thomaskantor in Leipzig.

There is some uncertainty about the creation date of Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten, BWV 59, but it is now believed that Bach wrote it when he was still in Köthen, and performed it for the first time in the Paulinerkirche in Leipzig a week before his final move to the city, two weeks before his first Thomaskirche cantata (Die Elenden sollen essen, BWV 75). As newly appointed Thomaskantor he was also responsible for music in the university church, the Pauliner, four times a year. But he most certainly performed it again in the Thomaskirche on Pentecost the following year, 1724.

The year after, 1725, he created Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten, BWV 74, a cantata with the same name and indeed an expansion and revision of BWV 59, making it more festive and indeed better suited for the imposing Thomaskirche. It is based on a libretto by Christiana Mariana von Ziegler.

The last one, O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe, BWV 34, is a parody on an earlier (incomplete) wedding cantata, BWV 34a.

Cantatas

  • Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten!, BWV 172
    (first performance 20 May 1714, Weimar period)
  • Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten, BWV 59
    (first performance 16 May 1723, Leipzig period)
  • Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten, BWV 74
    (first performance 20 May 1725, Leipzig period)
  • O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe, BWV 34
    (first performance 1 June 1727, Leipzig period)

Extra information

The Netherlands Bach Society website (in Dutch) has more information and a performance of BWV 34:
https://bachvereniging.nl/nl/bwv/bwv-34/

Playlist

WBC38-Pentecost or Whit Sunday

Playlist cover on Spotify

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Image of the day

Pentecost by the Greek-Spanish painter El Greco (1541-1614), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

Pentecost by the Greek-Spanish painter El Greco (1541-1614), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.