Thursday, February 11, 2010

JS Bach Cantata for Esto mihi Sunday (the Sunday before Lent)

This Sunday, 14 February 2010, on Classical Sunrise during the 6 am hour, I will be playing JS Bach's church cantata, BWV 22, Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwolfe (Jesus took the Twelve to Him). Esto mihi ("Be with me," after Psalm 31) Sunday or Quinquagesima is the Sunday before Lent.

This cantata dates from 1723, and along with Cantata 23, was composed for Bach's audition on 7 February 1723 for the post of Thomaskirche Cantor in Leipzig. A score of the cantata includes the inscription "Dies ist das Probestuck in Leipzig." (This is the Leipzig trial-piece.) Cantata 22 is tied to the Sunday Gospel, Luke 18, dealing with Jesus's journey with the twelve disciples to Jerusalem. Cantata 22 ends with a four-part chorale. And, as we know, Bach passed the audition.

During his years at Leipzig, and particularly in the first few years, Bach had to compose a new cantata each week (and then have it copied into parts, rehearsed, and ready to perform). The first Leipzig cycle of Bach church cantatas officially began with his installation as Cantor of St Thomas church on the first Sunday after Trinity 1723. The church cantata was sung after the Gospel and before the Lutheran creed. If the cantata were in two parts, the second part was performed after the sermon or during Communion.

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