January 2019 Issue
As we enter 2019, I would like to share some thoughts which center around two chorales from the Orgelbuchlein; numbers 16 and 17, respectively, “Das alte jahr vergangen ist” (The old year now hath passed away) BWV 614, and “In dir ist freude” (In Thee is gladness), BWV 615.
Below are the texts of stanza one from each of the chorales translated by Catherine Winkworth who, by many accounts, is “the most gifted translator of any foreign sacred lyrics into our tongue, after Dr. Neale and John Wesley; and in practical services rendered, taking quality with quantity, the first of those who have labored upon German hymns. Our knowledge of them is due to her more largely than to any or all other translators; and by her two series of Lyra Germanic, her Chorale Book, and her Christian Singers of Germany, she has laid all English-speaking Christians under lasting obligation,”...(Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A., 1872…)
In the first, Bach portrays a reflective sadness by the passing of the old year with his use of chromaticism, coloratura style and sharp dissonants. The result is a calm, quiet rendering which directs performer and listener alike to melancholic thoughts of the past.
The old year now hath passed away;
We thank Thee, O our God today,
That Thou hast kept us through the year, When danger and distress were near.
The second is diametrically opposed to the first, with an expression of the utmost joy and happiness over the advent of the new year by means of rhythmic figures and exuberant scale passages, thus creating an irresistible sense of excitement.
In Thee is gladness
Amid all sadness, Jesu, sunshine of my heart.
By Thee are given
The gifts of heaven, Thou the true Redeemer art.
Our souls Thou weakest,
Our bonds Thou breakest,
Who trusts Thee surely
Hath built securely, He stands forever. Alleluia!
Our hearts are pining
To see Thy shining,
Dying or living, To Thee are cleaving,
Nought can us sever. Alleluia!
I commend to you these two beautiful musical settings as you ponder the old and welcome the new with the hope that all of us are able look back on 2018 with a sense of thankfulness while we embrace 2019 with joy, happiness and excited anticipation.
God of time and eternity,
as we enter this new year day by day
Open us to your new age.
(New Zealand Prayer Book)
Happy New Year!
The January 2019 issue of the Pipe and Pedal is now available.