The triumph of the cross

Bach affirms his credo that there is no moment beyond which a soul cannot achieve redemption.

Movements 1, 67–68

In this, our sixth and final study of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion, Artistic Director Scott Allen Jarrett looks at the opening and closing movements (1, 67, 68). Through his mastery of both musical form and textual setting, Bach dramatically proclaims the fundamental tenet of the Passion story: that of the triumph of the cross over the grave. 

In the final movement, Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder (We sit down with tears), Bach proclaims that Jesus's crucifixion results not in death, but merely in sleep: — Ruhet sanfte, sanfte ruht! — (rest gently, gently rest!) Thus is realized the central promise of his Lutheran theology, that while we too may sleep, one day we shall all awaken and see Jesus. After Scott's insights, enjoy the audio and visuals from our performance at the 2019 Charlotte Bach Festival.


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On the Video

0.07 - Mini "Bach Experience"
St. Matthew Passion, Part 6

Scott Allen Jarrett

Movements 1, 67–68

31.50 - #1. Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen

37.30  - #67: Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh gebracht

39.13 - #68: Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder

Text & Translation

1. Chor I & II & Choral
(Töchter Zion und Gläubige Seelen)

Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen,
Sehet! - Wen? - den Bräutigam!
Seht ihn! - Wie? - als wie ein Lamm.
Sehet! - Was? - seht die Geduld,
Seht! - Wohin? - auf unsre Schuld.
Sehet ihn aus Lieb und Huld
Holz zum Kreuze selber tragen.

O Lamm Gottes unschuldig,
Am Stamm des Kreuzes geschlachtet,
Allzeit erfunden geduldig,
Wiewohl du warest verachtet.
All Sünd hast du getragen,
Sonst müßten wir verzagen.
Erbarm dich unser, o Jesu.

1. Chorus I & II and Chorale
(Daughters of Zion and Faithful Souls)

Come, daughters, help me lament,
behold! - Whom? - the Bridegroom!
Behold him! - how? - As a Lamb.
Behold! - what? - behold the patience,
look! - where? - at our guilt.
See him, out of love and graciousness
bear the wood for the Cross Himself.

O innocent Lamb of God,
slaughtered on the trunk of the Cross,
patient at all times,
however you were scorned.
you have borne all sins,
otherwise we would have to despair.
Have mercy on us, o Jesus.-

67. Rezitativ BTAS (Chorus I) und Chor II
Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh gebracht.
 -Mein Jesu, gute Nacht! -
Die Müh ist aus, die unsre Sünden ihm gemacht.
 -Mein Jesu, gute Nacht! -
O selige Gebeine,
Seht, wie ich euch mit Buß und Reu beweine,
Daß euch mein Fall in solche Not gebracht!
 -Mein Jesu, gute Nacht! -
Habt lebenslang vor euer Leiden tausend Dank,
Daß ihr mein Seelenheil so wert geacht'.
 -Mein Jesu, gute Nacht! -

67. Recitative BTAS (Chorus I) and Chorus II
Now the Lord is brought to rest.
 - My Jesus, good night! -
The weariness is over, that our sins have given him.
 - My Jesus, good night! -
O blessed bones,
see, how I weep over you with repentance and regret,
since my fall has brought such anguish upon You!
 - My Jesus, good night! -
Lifelong, thousand thanks to you for your suffering,
since you held my soul's salvation so dear.
 - My Jesus, good night! -

68. Chor I & II
Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder
Und rufen dir im Grabe zu:
Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh!
Ruht, ihr ausgesognen Glieder!
 - Ruhet sanfte, ruhet wohl. -
Euer Grab und Leichenstein
Soll den ängstlichen Gewissen
Ein bequemes Ruhekissen
Und der Seelen Ruhstatt sein.
 - Ruhet sanfte, sanfte ruht! -
Höchst vergnügt
Schlummern da die Augen ein.

68. Chorus I & II
We sit down with tears
and call to you in the grave:
rest gently, gently rest!
Rest, you exhausted limbs!
 - Rest gently, rest well. -
Your grave and headstone
shall, for the anxious conscience,
be a comfortable pillow
and the resting place for the soul.
 - rest gently, gently rest! -
Highly contented,
there the eyes fall asleep.

Performed live at the Charlotte Bach Festival
Saturday, June 15, 2019
Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC

BA|Charlotte Cantata Choir
North Carolina Baroque Orchestra
Charlotte Latin Choristers, directed by Emily Shusdock
Scott Allen Jarrett conducting

The stained glass in the video and at the top of this page is located in the sanctuary of Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC, the site of the Akademie's 2019 Charlotte Bach Festival performance of the St. Matthew Passion.

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