Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats

BWV 042 // For the First Sunday after Easter

(That evening, though, of the very same Sabbath) for soprano, alto, tenor and bass, oboe I+II, bassoon, stings and continuo.

That Easter would in time be celebrated as a triumph of life over death could hardly have been foreseen by Christ’s disciples. For them, Good Friday and Easter Sunday brought not joy, but immeasurable pain: a reeling confusion between dashed hopes and perseverance, combined with anxiety about the future and fear of religious reprisal. Precisely this moment is captured by cantata BWV 42: “The evening, though, of the very same Sabbath, the disciples assembled, and the doors had been fastened tightly for fear of the Jews”.

J.S. Bach-Stiftung Kantate BWV 42

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Workshop
Reflective lecture

«Lutzogram» for the introductory workshop

Rudolf Lutz’s manuscript for the workshop
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Audio

The sound recording of this work is available on several streaming and download platforms.

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Performers

Orchestra

Conductor & cembalo
Rudolf Lutz

Violin
Renate Steinmann, Anaïs Chen, Sylvia Gmür, Martin Korrodi, Olivia Schenkel, Livia Wiersich

Viola
Susanna Hefti, Martina Bischof

Violoncello
Martin Zeller

Violone
Iris Finkbeiner

Oboe
Luise Baumgartl, Meike Guedenhaupt

Bassoon
Susann Landert

Organ
Norbert Zeilberger

Musical director & conductor

Rudolf Lutz

Workshop

Participants
Karl Graf, Rudolf Lutz

Reflective lecture

Speaker

Dr. Des. Barbara Bleisch

Recording & editing

Recording date
04/17/2009

Recording location
Trogen

Sound engineer
Stefan Ritzenthaler

Director
Meinrad Keel

Production manager
Johannes Widmer

Production
GALLUS MEDIA AG, Switzerland

Producer
J.S. Bach Foundation of St. Gallen, Switzerland

About the work

Librettist

Text No. 3, 5, 6
Poet unknown

Text No. 4
Jacobus Fabricius, 1632

Text No. 7
Martin Luther 1528/29
Johann Walter 1566

First performance
Quasimodogeniti,
8 April 1725

In-depth analysis

That Easter would in time be celebrated as a triumph of life over death could hardly have been foreseen by Christ’s disciples. For them, Good Friday and Easter Sunday brought not joy, but immeasurable pain: a reeling confusion between dashed hopes and perseverance, combined with anxiety about the future and fear of religious reprisal. Precisely this moment is captured by cantata BWV 42: “The evening, though, of the very same Sabbath, the disciples assembled, and the doors had been fastened tightly for fear of the Jews”. With this opening tenor recitative, the depth of the disciples disquiet is palpably underscored by the throbbing of the continuo. Before long, however, a wonder of music and text takes place; the resurrected himself comes and walks among the disciples, and the morose B minor transforms into a G major aria of heavenly breadth and beauty. Over a flowing basso continuo of tender, piano strings, two obbligato oboes eclipse one another with decorative figures and the throbbing bass semiquavers of the recitative give way to gentle, offbeat quavers from the bassoon. “Where two and three assembled are for Jesus’ precious name’s sake, there cometh Jesus in their midst, and speaks o’er them his Amen” – the entire ten-minute aria is a testimony of consolation, reassurance and peace.
The animated B section, by contrast, is more defensive in style, serving as a reminder that the disciples were not sectarians or conspirators, but rather a community appointed by the “Highest”. Here, something of the power of the Easter message that transcends all social classes and borders was transported to the hierarchical baroque society.
The chorale duet “Do not despair” then transforms the aria’s comforting words into a call to the “little flock” of believers to remain steadfast in the face of persecution. Here, the unflinching drive of the two-part continuo section carries the vocal parts through all attempts at destruction. That the story of the bible can serve as inspiration for all time is heard in the following recitative which culminates in a triumphant bass aria accompanied by two virtuosic violins: “Jesus shall now shield his people when them persecution strikes”.
The closing chorale commences somewhat surprisingly in F sharp minor, but then returns to the theme of peace and concludes with a prayer for a “peaceful and good life” under “good governance” – the great vision of Easter is over and the good citizens of Leipzig must return to overcoming the trials of everyday life. It remains only to say a few words on the opening A major sinfonia in da capo form. This introduction is generally assumed to derive from a previously existing concerto movement; in the context of the cantata, however, it takes on a different function and bears a striking similarity in key and vigour to the bass aria “Jesus shall now shield his people”. At the same time, it is hard not to interpret the tender cantabile episode at the beginning of the middle section as that moment in which Christ, on the path to Emmaus, opens the eyes of his disciples. In this sense, the cantata commences with a presentiment of its liberating conclusion.

Libretto

1. Sinfonia

2. Rezitativ (Tenor)

Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats
da die Jünger versammlet
und die Türen verschlossen waren
aus Furcht für den Jüden,
kam Jesus und trat mitten ein.

3. Arie (Alt)

Wo zwei und drei versammlet sind
in Jesu teurem Namen,
da stellt sich Jesus mitten ein
und spricht darzu das Amen.
Denn was aus Lieb und Not geschicht,
das bricht des Höchsten Ordnung nicht.

4. Choral (Duett Sopran, Tenor)

Verzage nicht, o Häuflein klein,
obgleich die Feinde willens sein,
dich gänzlich zu verstören,
und suchen deinen Untergang,
davon dir wird recht angst und bang,
es wird nicht lange währen.

5. Rezitativ (Bass)

Man kann hiervon ein schön Exempel sehen
an dem, was zu Jerusalem geschehen;
denn da die Jünger sich versammlet hatten
im finstern Schatten,
aus Furcht für denen Jüden,
so trat mein Heiland mitten ein,
zum Zeugnis, dass er seiner Kirche Schutz
will sein.
Drum lasst die Feinde wüten!

6. Arie (Bass)

Jesus ist ein Schild der Seinen,
wenn sie die Verfolgung trifft.
Ihnen muss die Sonne scheinen
mit der güldnen Überschrift:
Jesus ist ein Schild der Seinen,
wenn sie die Verfolgung trifft.

7. Choral

Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich,
Herr Gott, zu unsern Zeiten;
es ist doch ja kein ander nicht,
der für uns könnte streiten,
denn du, unser Gott, alleine.
Gib unsern Fürsten und aller Obrigkeit
Fried und gut Regiment,
dass wir unter ihnen
ein geruhig und stilles Leben führen mögen
in aller Gottseligkeit und Ehrbarkeit. Amen.

Bibliographical references

All libretti sourced from Neue Bach-Ausgabe. Johann Sebastian Bach. Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, published by the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen and the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, Series I (Cantatas), vol. 1–41, Kassel and Leipzig, 1954–2000.
All in-depth analyses by Anselm Hartinger (English translations/editing by Alice Noger-Gradon/Mary Carozza) based on the following sources:  Hans-Joachim Schulze, Die Bach-Kantaten. Einführungen zu sämtlichen Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs, Leipzig, 2nd edition, 2007; Alfred Dürr, Johann Sebastian Bach. Die Kantaten, Kassel, 9th edition, 2009, and Martin Petzoldt, Bach-Kommentar. Die geistlichen Kantaten, Stuttgart, vol. 1, 2nd edition, 2005 and vol. 2, 1st edition, 2007.

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