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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwolfe (Jesus called to him the twelve)

Cantata 22

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

This short but beautiful cantata apparently made up one half of Bach's audition for the cantorate of St. Thomas', Leipzig. (The other half being BWV 23). Bach seems to have had a way with job applications, especially if you subscribe to the theory that the Kyrie and Gloria of the later-to-be b-minor mass was submitted to the Elector of Saxony to get Bach a job at Dresden.

There are five movements: Two arias followed by a recitative, an aria and a closing chorale. All of the movements of this cantata, which follows closely the Gospel story of Jesus and the disciples about to enter Jerusalem, are lovely in their own ways. The first has a short, plaintive oboe figure that immediately sticks in the mind. The second is gently lilting, again with a perfect oboe accompaniment. The recitative (and arioso) seem to me especially effective. There's then a change of mood with the next aria, no longer reflecting on the failings of humanity that allow the disciples to miss the significance of Jesus' words but off into "onward-christian-soldiers" optimism. Finally, if you like the chorale setting in BWV 147 (ie. The Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring one) then you will appreciate the chorale here, it's very similar in texture. I've very suprised that this movement at least is not a lot better known.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.