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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Sehet, wir gehen hinauf gen Jerusalem (Come let us go up to Jerusalem)

Cantata 159

  • Quinquagesima Sunday
  • Epistle: 1 Corinthians xiii. (The praises of charity)
  • Gospel: Luke xviii. 31-43 (We go up to Jerusalem)
  • Rating: 1

There is a very intimate, personal feeling to this short cantata that means that it may not immediately catch the attention. It is, however, very beautiful in its intimacy. This is the story of the way of the cross told from the point of view of the soul.

The first movement is an arioso/recitative dialogue in which the bass is a steadfast Jesus and the alto the hesitant soul. In the following aria/chorale, in which the soprano sings the sixth verse of the chorale O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden in broken lines, the alto soul gains strength of purpose, singing around the lines of the chorale. After a recitative there is a very gentle, very beautiful bass aria Es is vollbracht introduced by a plaintive oboe figure. This may remind you of the alto aria of the same name from the St. John Passion. The texture of the piece is very similar. The cantata ends with a straightforward chorale setting.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.

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