January 19, 2021

5th Sunday after Trinity: Pic & Cantata of the Week

Golden Hour, Fall River, Massachusetts 2017

(Click on picture for larger image)

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Today, we present an aria from one of Bach’s cantatas for Trinity 5: Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden” (Behold I will send out many fishers, BWV 88).

Schweitzer captures the setting of this aria: “”In the 1st mvt Bach sees before him the Lake of Gennesareth, on the banks of which Jesus, in fulfillment of a certain passage in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 16:16) calls His disciples to be fishers of men.”

In painting this vision musically, Bach first speaks of God’s searching love with rolling rhythms reminiscent of fishermen out on a lake. Then, in the second part of this tone poem, Bach portrays hunters, galloping through the forest to the accompaniment of hunting horns.

This vivid piece reminds us of the God who sent Jesus to “seek and save that which is lost,” and of the joyous calling we share as his followers: to bear Spirit-empowered witness of his Lordship, love, and salvation to the ends of the earth.

Behold, I will send out many fishers, says the Lord,
which shall fish for them.
And afterwards I will send out many hunters,
who shall pursue them upon all the mountains
and all the hills and in all the rocky crevices.

• Text from Jeremiah 16:16


  1. Heather Angus says

    Hi, Mike. Lovely Bach. Usually Bach music is way over my head, but this piece was lovely and simple enough for even me.

    But I also read Jeremiah 16. Remember Inigo Montoya’s famous lines in The Princess Bride? Not sure Our Lord and he were on the same page.

  2. As in most prophetic texts, there is a mixture of redemption and judgment in Jeremiah 16. Bach took the “fishing” and “hunting” metaphors to refer to God seeking out his people, rather than enacting judgment. He linked it with the Gospel for the day about “fishing for people.”

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