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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir (Lord God, we all praise Thee)

Cantata 130

  • St. Michael
  • Epistle: Revelations xii. 7-12 (War in heaven)
  • Gospel: Matthew xviii 1-11 (Whoever humbles himself is greatest in Heaven)
  • Rating: 1+

Well, if there's a better way to grab the attention of an anglican than to put the Old Hundredth into a cantata, then I'd like to hear about it! This chorale cantata is framed by two verses of Paul Eber's hymn Herr Gott, dich Loben alle wir set to Louis Bourgeois's Or sus, serviteurs du Seigneur as it is more properly called.

If the first movement is supercharged, then the third turns on the afterburners. A bass aria with trumpets and drums, with the trumpets soaring towards heaven. And what words! In Hell the serpent, hot with hate, forever plots our evil fate. Phew! One of the earliest memories I recall is of being taken, as a very small child, to a concert of Bach's music in our local church. Even though I don't remember what was played, I'll never forget the impression that the trumpets made on me. Perhaps this cantata movement is that piece that first brought Bach into my life. Maybe. Following a second recitative, the tenor aria turns down the temperature with a beautiful flute accompaniment and the cantata closes with a straightforward setting of the chorale melody.

Copyright © 1995 & 1998, Simon Crouch.