BWV 132 Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!

Fourth Sunday in Advent.

Salomo Franck, Evangelisches geistlichen Cantaten (Leipzig, 1715); Facs: Neumann T, p. 275.

6. Elisabeth Kreuziger, verse 5 of "Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn," 1524 (Wackernagel, III, #67).

22 December 1715, Weimar.

BG 28; NBA I/11.

1. Aria (S)

Make ready the pathways, make ready the road!(1)

    Make ready the pathways
    And make ev'ry byway
    In faith and in living
    Now smooth for the Highest,
    Messiah shall come!

2. Recit. (T)

If thou wouldst call thyself God's child and Christ's own brother,
Then freely thy heart and mouth the Savior must acknowledge.
Yes, man, thy life entirely
Must by its faith give constant witness!
If Christ's own word and teaching
E'en through thy blood is to be sealed,
Thyself then willing give!
Because this is the Christian's crown and glory.
Meanwhile, my heart, make ready,
Today yet,
To God the way of faith
And clear away the high hills and the mountains
Which in the path oppose him!
Roll back the heavy stones of error,
Receive thy Savior now,
That he with thee in faith may be united!

3. Aria (B)

Who art thou? Question thine own conscience,
Thou shalt without hypocrisy,
If thou, O man, art false or true,
Thy proper judgment have to hear now.
Who art thou? Question the commandment
Which will then tell thee who thou art,
A child of wrath in Satan's clutches,
A Christian false and hypocrite.

4. Recitative (A)

I will, my God, to thee make free confession, I have not thee till now in truth confessed.
Although my mouth and lips have named thee Lord and Father,
My heart no less hath from thee turned away.
I have thee disavowed within my living!
How canst thou then for me good witness offer?
When, Jesus, me thy Spirit's waters bathed
And made me clean of all my sinful deeds,
I did in truth swear constant faith unto thee;
Ah! Ah, alas! Baptism's bond is broken.
I rue my faithlessness!
Ah God, be merciful,
Ah, help that I with loyalty unswerving
The bond of grace through faith renew forever!

5. Aria (A)

Christ's own members, ah, consider
What the Savior you hath granted
Through baptism's cleansing bath!(2)
By this spring of blood and water
Are your garments all made radiant
Which were stained by sinful deeds.
Christ then gave as your new raiment
Crimson purple, silken whiteness,(3)
These now are the Christians' dress.

[6. Chorale (S, A, T, B)] (4)

Us mortify through thy kindness,
Arouse us through thy dear grace;
The ancient man make weaker,
So that the new may live
E'en here while on earth dwelling,
His mind and ev'ry yearning,
His thoughts inclined to thee.

1. Is. 40:3.

2. Cf. BWV 162 for the baptismal theme.

3. Cf. Rev. 7:13-14 and BWV 162/4.

4. This is the chorale Franck intended. Bach's score lacks the final chorale.

© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose

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