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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Gleich wie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fallt (Even as the rain and snow fall from Heaven)

Cantata 18

  • Sexagesima Sunday
  • Epistle: 2 Corinthians xi. 19-xii. 9 (Paul justifies himself)
  • Gospel: Luke viii. 4-15 (The parable of the sower)
  • Rating: 2

This cantata gives us an uncomfortable reminder that times have changed. What begins as a reinforcement of the Gospel parable of the sower continues in a somewhat more robust vein that would be regarded as unacceptable these days, especially in the context of divine worship! (And from the Turk's and the Papists' cruel murder and blasphemies, rage and fury, protect us as a father. Words of Martin Luther). So, not for the sensitive.

The cantata opens with a delightful sinfonia notable for its scoring for violas, without violins, and continues with a recitative, taken from Isaiah. The third verse, in which soprano soloist and chorus give the robust Lutheran commentary on the recitative, gives the soloist the most astonishing run on the word "Verfolgung"; try it some day! The soprano aria is pretty without being outstanding (maintaining the viola-without-violin scoring) and the cantata is rounded off with a setting of the last verse of the hymn Wer weiss wie nahe mir mein Ende.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.