Bach’s Cantata on Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme

Quoted from the You Tube page:

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 (1731)

Boy Soprano: Alan Bergius
Tenor: Kurt Equiluz
Bass: Thomas Hampson
Chorus master: Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden
Tölzer Knabenchor
Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Concentus musicus Wien

I. Chorus: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers awake, the voice is calling us)
II. Recitative: Er kommt (He comes)
III. Aria (duet): Wann kommst du, mein Heil? (When will you come, my salvation?)
IV. Chorale: Zion hört die Wächter singen (Zion hears the watchmen singing)
V. Recitative: So geh herein zu mir (So come in with me)
VI. Aria (duet): Mein Freund ist mein! (My friend is mine!)
VII. Chorale: Gloria sei dir gesungen (May Gloria be sung to you)

A church cantata by German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), with the cantata chorale based on the Lutheran hymn “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” (“Sleepers awake, the voice is calling”) by Philipp Nicolai. The text is based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, the reading of which is scheduled for the 27th Sunday after Trinity in the Lutheran lectionary. This cantata was first performed in Leipzig on November 25, 1731. Bach later transcribed the fourth movement chorale for organ (BWV 645) and published it along with the Schübler Chorales.

English text:

I. (Chorus)

Wake ye maids! hard, strikes the hour,
The watchman calls high on the tower,
Awake, awake, Jerusalem.
Midnight strikes, hear, hear it sounding,
Loud cries the watch, with call resounding:
Where are ye, o wise virgins, where?
Good cheer, the Bridegroom come,
Arise and take your lamps!
Alleluja!
Ye maids beware:
The feast prepare,
So go ye forth to meet Him there.

II. Recitative:

He comes.
The Bridegroom comes!
And Zion’s daughter shall rejoice,
He hastens to her dwelling claiming
The maiden of his choice.
The Bridegroom comes; as is a roebuck,
Yea, like a lusty mountain roebuck,
Fleet and fair,
His marriage feast he bids you share.
Arise and take your lamps!
In eagerness to greet him;
Come! hasten, sally forth to meet him.

III. Aria (Duet)

[Soul] Come quickly, now come.
[Jesus] Yea quickly I come.
[Soul] We wait thee with lamps all alighted!
The doors open wide,
Come claim me my bride!
[Jesus] The doors open wide,
I claim me my bride.
[Soul] Come quickly!
[Jesus] Forever in rapture united

IV. Chorale

Zion hears the watchmen calling,
The Faithful hark with joy enthralling,
They rise and haste to greet their Lord.
See, He comes, the Lord victorious,
Almighty, noble, true and glorious,
In Heav’n supreme, on earth adored.
Come now, Thou Holy One,
The Lord Jehovah’s Son!
Alleluja!
We follow all
The joyful call
To join Him in the Banquet Hall!

V. Recitative

So come thou unto me,
My fair and chosen bride,
Thou whom I long to see
Forever by my side.
Within my heart of hearts
Art thou secure by ties that naught can sever,
Where I may cherish thee forever.
Forget, beloved, ev’ry care,
Away with pain and grief and sadness,
For better or for worse to share
Our lives in love and joy and gladness.

VI. Aria (Duet)

[Soul] Thy love is mine,
[Jesus] And I am thine!
[Both] True lovers ne’er are parted.
[Soul] Now I with thee, and thou with me.
[Jesus] In flow’ry field will wander,
[Both] In rapture united forever to be.

VII. Chorale

Gloria sing all our voices,
With Angels all mankind rejoices,
With harp and strings in sweetest tone.
Twelve bright Pearls adorn Thy Portals,
As Angels round Thy glorious Throne.
No ear has ever heard
The joy we know.
Our praises flow,
Eeo, eeo,
To God in dulci jubilo.

May this cantata and this new Advent wake us from our lack of consciousness, that we may be ready to be invited to the Throne of the divine Lamb.

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4 Responses to Bach’s Cantata on Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme

  1. Thank you Fathe Anthony. What a treat on a gloomy Sunday afternoon!

  2. hootjjj says:

    Fr. Chadwick, I have been searching high and low for ceremonial associated with the Sarum Divine Office and I cannot find anything. While I have come across the texts, they have little to no instructions as to actual celebrate it, and I would prefer not to fall back on modern Anglican or Tridentine practices. Do you know where I could find this, or if you have any information? Thanks.

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