Sunday, December 21, 2008

All of Life is Bach

There are times when you hear and experience Bach that it becomes easy to imagine that all music from all times and all places--all the most beautiful things in the world--is somehow fulfilled completely in this music. Christmas is a great time to go through this experience. His oratorio and seemingly endless cantatas--each of them strikes the listener as more spectacular than the last, and this happens in repeated loops of listening and listening--all provide a wonderful music to play at home. If you can find a concert, even better but far less likely.

I'm not going to recommend this or that recording because tastes are all over the place, there are so many, and there is nothing wrong with acquiring many versions. The music is out of reach for most any parish, and it doesn't find a home in Catholic liturgy very well, since it was written for a different tradition. But not all great music must be liturgical music, and here is proof.

If you do not know about Bach's extended work in this area, I offer this one tiny sample from BWV 133 "Ich freue mich in dir."

I find my joy in thee
And bid thee hearty welcome,
My dearest Jesus child!
thou has here undertaken
My brother dear to be.
Ah, what a pleasing sound!
How friendly he appears,
this mighty Son of God

I'm not sure which group here is singing but I suspect that it is the Bach-Esnsemble conducted by Helmuth Rilling

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