January 16, 2021

6th Sunday after Trinity: Pic & Cantata of the Week

Early July Evening. Photo by David Cornwell

(Click on picture for larger image)

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Today we feature Bach’s quintessential “Lutheran” cantata, Es ist das Heil uns kommen her,” (Salvation has come to us, BWV 9).

The gossamer sound of the opening movement disguises the fact that this cantata is the locus classicus of Lutheran fervor in all of Bach’s work, the clearest expression in cantata form of the composer’s lifelong identification with the founder of his denomination. The ‘story’ of this cantata is Luther’s story, so familiar to Bach, a progress from utter despair to hope for salvation which forms the heart of so many cantata-dramas and must have had personal resonance for the composer.

• John Harbison

We present two wondrous pieces from this cantata today. First, the opening chorus, and second, the soprano/alto duet of which one singer of this cantata said, “At first I thought it was the most beautiful duet I’d ever sung, but the more I sing it, our parts together, it feels very important and permanent.”

These are the more “positive” movements of the cantata, reveling in having been justified by faith in Christ. The other pieces between focus on human inability to keep the Law and our need for Someone to save us.

Soli Deo Gloria!

It is our salvation come here to us,
full of grace and pure goodness.
Deeds can never help,
they cannot protect us.
Faith beholds Jesus Christ,
He has done enough for us all,
He has become the Intercessor.

Lord, you behold, instead of good works,
the heart’s strength of faith,
only faith do You receive.
Only faith justifies,
all else appears too meager
to be able to help us.

• • •

Photo by David Cornwell at Flickr.


  1. Susan Dumbrell says

    When too much Bach is never enough!
    I woke to Bach on the radio,
    Bach on the car radio on the way to Church,
    Organist played a Bach Fugue before the Church Service,
    more Bach on the radio this afternoon, a Brandenberg Concerto.
    Now more Papa Bach. I can never have enough.

    haiku on my 25 minute drive to Church this morning.

    frost fingers on fields
    crispy sparkling wedding cake
    eagle waits his prey

    • Susan Dumbrell says

      I am on first name terms with my eagle, I see him every Sunday.
      There must be mice, rabbits or small game in the fields.
      A huge red fox was road kill today and a big grey kangaroo went to his maker too.
      Kangaroos are in herd proportions around our town.
      The golfers give them right on way on the fairway and greens!
      Enjoy your day of rest, blessings to all.

      • Christiane says

        you live in Down Under Wonderland . . . . . what a joy it must be to see a live kangaroo allowed to live freely without being harmed by humankind 🙂

  2. Rick Ro. says

    I can’t believe that’s a photograph and not a painting. Beautiful colors!

    • David Cornwell says

      Thanks Rick. This is a photo using a HDR (high dynamic range) exposure. There are different methods for doing this. This one used 5 rapid exposures at different shutter speeds in order to capture the different ranges of light and color in the scene. And the camera does this so quickly that it can be done handheld. Later software merges the exposure values into one picture. I haven’t done many of these, but was very pleased with the outcome.

  3. Dana Ames says

    A note on the German:

    The usual word used for salvation is “Errettung” – this word emphasizes the “deliverance” aspect of the 2-part definition of “soteria.” However, “Heil” emphasizes the “healing” aspect, and you can hear the close relationship between the German and the English cognate word when you say them one after the other : Heil/heal. The word origin is from the Old Norse for “whole” as in “hale and hearty.” (It was stretched to acquire the meaning of the wholeness of general acclaim as in “Hail Caesar/Heil Hitler”.)

    In my mind’s eye, when I read or sing “Errettung” in a text I see the icon of Christ snatching Adam and Eve out of the abode of the dead. When I encounter “Heil/Heiland” I think of Jesus binding up wounds of every sort with a tender touch.


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