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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Wer weiss, wie nahe mir mein Ende! (Who knows how near is my end!)

Cantata 27

  • Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity
  • Epistle: Ephesians iii. 13-21 (Paul prays that the Ephesians may perceive the love of God)
  • Gospel: Luke vii. 11-17 (The raising of the son of the widow of Nain)
  • Rating: 2+

The theme of the Gospel is developed into the idea that since Jesus will raise me from the dead, I need not fear death itself, and indeed should welcome the release from the burdens of this world. If you're into this sort of thing, the words of this cantata are really quite effective poetry. The cantata opens with a chorale setting interspersed with recitative, which since it maintains the time signature of the chorale gives a unique example of recitative in three-four time. Following a recitative, the alto aria has an excellent accompaniment from oboe da caccia and obbligato organ that is thought to have been adapted from a lost concerto (perhaps for viola da gamba). As with many of these lost pieces, it's worth your while seeking out this cantata-preservation to get a hint of what we're missing. After the next recitative, the bass aria is accompanied by strings and continuo which alternate between a beautifully lyrical phrase (to the words Gute Nacht) and agitated semiquavers (to the words du Weltgetümmel) in its first section as the soul takes leave of this world (Farewell, world of turmoil). The cantata is concluded by a chorale setting that is unusual in being a five part harmonisation (with two soprano parts).

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.

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