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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Dazu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes (For this the Son of God appeared)

Cantata 40

  • Christmas Monday
  • Epistle: Acts vi. 8-15; vii. 55-60 (Martyrdom of St. Stephen)
  • Gospel: Matthew xxiii. 34-39 (Woe to Jerusalem) or
     Luke ii. 15-20 (The shepherds at the manger)
  • Rating: 1

It's worth quoting Whittaker here. He describes this cantata as "One of the most perfect, every number is of superb quality. It is indeed representative both of the composer's religious outlook and of his supreme inventive and imaginative powers". I'm not sure that I would go that far, since there are so many outstanding gems amongst the cantatas by which this one has to be measured. However, there is little doubt that, in miniature at least, many of Bach's abundant skills are on display. For the cantata is unusual in that within its relatively short span of not much more than fifteen minutes there are three straightforward but beautiful chorale settings, two arias, two recitatives and a great and upbeat opening chorus. Both of the arias are attractive, the first a lively bass aria with highly rhythmic accompaniment and the second a tenor aria introduced by a fine trumpet/oboe fanfare. Between these, the recitatives are well constructed and effective.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.