Whit Tuesday

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Whit Tuesday

Today is Whit Tuesday, day 3 of the Pentecost celebrations. Two cantatas today, both from the Leipzig period.

The first cantata, Erwünschtes Freudenlicht, BWV 184, dates from 1724, one year after his start as Thomaskantor, a year in which he wrote a cantata for every liturgical day (so most Sundays) and wrote the Johannes Passion. After the Johannes he wrote 13 more cantatas up to this day, so on average a cantata every four days... No wonder that for this cantata he reuses parts of an earlier secular cantata from the Köthen period, which is unfortunately lost. BWV 184a was most likely a celebratory cantata for his employer in Köthen, Prince Leopold - it is even suggested that "Freudenlicht" has the same rhytm as "Leopold".

Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen, BWV 175, is based on the scripture of John for that day, where Jesus is presented as a good shepherd. Pentecost in itself is not mentioned in one of the four Gospels, but in the Acts of the Apostles, so it could never be used as a scripture reading. But the shepherd calling his sheep is a clear reference to the events on Pentecost.

Cantatas

  • Erwünschtes Freudenlicht, BWV 184
    (first performance 30 May 1724, Leipzig period)
  • Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen, BWV 175
    (first performance 22 May 1725, Leipzig period)

Playlist

WBC40-Whit Tuesday

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Image of the day

Pentecost by Italian painter Giotto (1267-1337), National Gallery, London.

Pentecost by Italian painter Giotto (1267-1337), National Gallery, London.