January 25, 2021

Pic & Cantata for Palm Sunday

Mourning Doves Watching, 2012

(Click on picture for larger image)

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We’re back to Bach!

The Lenten season was a time when no cantatas were sung in worship in Lutheran churches, so today we return to Bach’s music on Palm Sunday. BWV 182, “King of Heaven, be Thou welcome,” is the only Bach Palm Sunday cantata we have. It is early, extensive, and delightfully hopeful, even as it anticipates the coming of Holy Week and Jesus’ pilgrimage to the cross.

Commentary on BWV 182 by Brian Robins:

In March 1714, Bach, who had been organist at the ducal chapel in Weimar since 1708, was promoted to the post of concertmaster. Among the additional duties that came with the new post was the obligation to provide a church cantata each month. The Cantata, BWV 182 (“King of heaven, be thou welcome”), was composed for the Feast of the Annunciation or Palm Sunday, which in 1714 fell on March 25.

Given that the Lutheran church did not allow cantatas during Lent (the exception being when, as in 1714, the Annunciation fell on a Sunday), it is almost certain that BWV 182 represents the first work Bach composed as part of his new post [emphasis mine]. Compared to most of the composer’s earlier cantatas, it is particularly extensive (comprising eight sections) and elaborate, suggesting that the composer set out to provide something special for his first effort in the service of Duke Wilhlem Ernst.

The author of the texts has not been positively identified, but was most likely Salomo Franck, the Weimar court librarian and poet whose texts Bach is known to have begun to setting upon assuming his new duties. The text has three sources: Psalm 40:8-9, the Palm Sunday Gospel (Matthew 21:1-9) recounting Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, and a strophe from the hymn “Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod” (1633) by Paul Stockmann.

Today’s sample includes movements 1-2, and the concluding chorus.


King of heaven, welcome,
let us also be your Zion !
Come within,
You have taken our hearts from us.

So let us go in the Salem of joy,
accompany the king in love and in sorrows
he goes before
and opens the way.


  1. Robert F says

    through kitchen window
    a bright and perfect full moon
    lights the morning path

  2. Mike, Thanks for the lovely photo and the music. “Beauty will save the World”.

  3. Nice to have Papa John sitting in again. More than ever I find the Lutheran interpretation of Lent too moribund for my own interpretation of a proper response to Jesus, but each to his or her own. However I find it interesting that this churchless Sunday I am foregoing my usual fare of 24/7 Bach and instead listening to Bob Dylan’s latest offering, Triplicate, which arrived yesterday.

    If I had to sum up this three CD set in a word, it might be “intriguing”. I have never much cared for Dylan’s music and only started paying attention in his later years after reading his autobiography. This music he is doing now is nothing at all like the public perception of “Dylan”. I doubt if anyone would recognize it as him hearing it unbeknownst. The songs he sings are standards from the pre-Dylan era, the time before rock and roll and the subsequent “British invasion” changed popular music irretrievably. In these three CD’s Dylan retrieves that world for himself and anyone who might want to join him. One of the songs describes it as a Sentimental Journey.

    This is music from when movies were black and white and men wore fedoras and romantic love was not a subject for jest or scorn, a time When the World Was Young. I would describe Dylan’s renditions as a combination of Frank Sinatra, Joe Cocker, and Willie Nelson, but in his own unique voice. I never thought he was a good singer but it’s like he finally found what he had been looking for all along. It’s not background listening music. I’m not sure who this will most appeal to, but I’m going to take a guess that it might be women who have been around the block a time or two. My One and Only Love.

    As to the arrangements, I could have done without the steel guitar, but the overall effect is The Warm September of My Years, which is why I find this intriguing music as I work thru my own September. This is the guy all the 60’s radicals threw their coats down in front of as he rode in on his donkey, and then got all bent out of shape when he refused to be their king. This is who Bob Dylan turns out to be at the end of the day. Once Upon a Time Never Comes Again, but in some sense it has in this music. Intriguing.

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