8/1/13 Baptism Lord

 Francesco Bergamini (1815-1883): Reading the Choir Notes


Christ Church Cathedral – Montreal, QC


Choir Notes


January 13, 2008 – The Baptism of the Lord


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)


The organ voluntaries for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 13, at Christ Church Cathedral are all by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750


Both Choral Eucharist and Evensong will be preceded by the playing of Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam (Christ did our Lord to Jordan come), BWV 685.  This is a so-called chorale prelude, made popular by Dietrich Buxtehude, an organ piece meant to precede the congregational singing of a chorale, or simple hymn.  The chorale prelude, using embellishments, would prepare for the hymn to follow.  


Below are the traditional words of Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam with an English translation.



Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam
Christ did our Lord to Jordan come,

Nach seines Vaters Willen,
His Father's will fulfilling,

Von Sankt Johanns die Taufe nahm,
And from Saint John baptism took,

Sein Werk und Amt zu erfüllen;
His work and charge to accomplish;

Da wollt er stiften uns ein Bad,
Here would he found for us a bath

Zu waschen uns von Sünden,
To wash us clean from error,

Ersäufen auch den bittern Tod
To drown as well our bitter death

Durch sein selbst Blut und Wunden;
In his own blood and anguish;

Es galt ein neues Leben.

A life restored it gave us.


© Z. Philip Ambrose, translator,                                                                                                                                 Web publication: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach



The Thomasschule and Thomaskirche, Leipzig

Click here to listen and follow the text of one of Bach’s cantatas, No. 7 (BWV 7), on the theme: Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam.  Cantata No. 7 was first performed in Leipzig on June 24, 1724.  It is here performed by the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, Helmuth Rilling (conductor).  For Bach the cantata was an integral part of Sunday and feast day worship.  It usually began, as here, with an elaborate chorus performed by the choir, followed by recitatives and arias, and ending with a simple chorale sung by the entire congregation.   The words would reflect the liturgical themes and readings of the day and if the cantata were lengthy might even be divided with the sermon in the middle.

The Christ Church Cathedral music programme, when possible, provides for listening online to the music for Sunday’s liturgy.  Much of Bach’s music is already available.  James Kibbie, for example, is in the process of recording all of Bach’s organ work for online listening.  This week, one has the choice of listening to Kibbie, Christopher Herrick, Andrea Marcon, Kay Johannsen, and Gerhard Gnann.


The postlude for Choral Eucharist is Bach's Fugue in g, BWV 578.  Not really sure about what a fugue is?  Are you as smart as an American  5th grader?  Click here to discover what the kids at Capistrano Elementary School learn about rounds and fugues.  Ready for Wikipedia?


And then there is the Canzona in d, BWV 588. What’s a canzona?  Not an Italian side dish!