BWV 31  Der Himmel lacht! die Erde jubilieret

Easter.

Salomo Franck, Evangelisches Andachts-Opffer ... in geistlichen Cantaten (Weimar, 1715); Facs: Neumann T, p. 278; PT (Leipzig, 1724); Facs: Neumann T, p. 428; PT (Leipzig, 1731); Facs: Neumann T, p. 438.

8. Chorale melody of Nikolaus Herman's "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist" ("When my hour is at hand"), 1569 (Wackernagel, I, #499); 9. supplementary verse of the preceding, Bonn, 1575.

21 April 1715, Weimar; 9 April 1724?, Leipzig; 25 March 1731, Leipzig.

BG 7; NBA I/9.


1. Sonata

2. Chorus (S, A, T, B)

The heavens laugh! The earth doth ring with glory,
And all she bears within her lap;
Our Maker lives! The Highest stands triumphant
And is from bonds of death now free.
He who the grave for rest hath chosen,
The Holy One, sees not corruption.(1)

3. Recit. (B)

O welcome day! O soul, again be glad!
The A and O,(2)
The first and also last one,
Whom our own grievous guilt in death's own prison buried,
Is now torn free of all his woe!
The Lord was dead,
And lo, again he liveth;
As lives our head, so live as well his members.
The Lord hath in his hand
Of death and also hell the keys now!(3)
He who his cloak
Blood-red did splash within his bitter passion,(4)
Today will put on finery and honor.

4. Aria (B)

Prince of being, mighty warrior,
High-exalted Son of God!

    Lifteth thee the cross's ladder
    To the highest honor's throne?
    Will what thee once held in bondage
    Now thy finest jewel be?
    Must all these thy wounds of purple
    Of thy radiance be the beams?(5)

5. Recit. (T)

So therefore now, O soul to God devoted,
With Christ in spirit rise!
Set out upon the new life's course!
Rise, leave the works of dying!(6)
Make thine own Savior in the world
Be in thy life reflected!
The grape vine which now blooms
Puts forth no lifeless berries!
The tree of life now lets its branches flourish!
A Christian flees
Full speed the tomb and dying!
He leaves the stone,
He leaves the shroud of error
Behind him
And would with Christ alive abide.

6. Aria (T)

Adam must in us now perish,(7)
If the new man shall recover,
Who like God created is.
Thou in spirit must arise now
And from sin's dark cavern exit
If of Christ the limbs thou art.

7. Recit. (S)

For since the head his limbs
By nature takes with him,
So can me nought from Jesus sever.
If I with Christ must suffer,
So shall I also in due time
With Christ again be risen
To glorious majesty
And God in this my flesh then witness.(8)

8. Aria (S) with Instrum. Chorale

Final hour, break now forth,
These mine eyes to close in darkness!
Let me Jesus' radiant joy
And his brilliant light behold then,
Let me angels then be like!
Final hour, break now forth!

9. Chorale (S, A, T, B)

So forth I'll go to Jesus Christ,
My arm to him extending;
To sleep I'll go and rest so fine,
No man could ever wake me,
For Jesus Christ, of God the Son,
He will the heav'nly door unlock,
To life eternal lead me.


1. Cf. Ps. 16:10.

2. Cf. Rev. 1:8.

3. Cf. Rev. 1:18.

4. Cf. Is. 13:1-2.

5. Two stylistic motifs typical of Franck are combined in this movement: words of adornment and the ameliorative metamorphosis.

6. Bach changes Franck's text from von den todten Wercken. Cf. Luther's translation of Heb. 9:14: wieviel mehr wird das Blut Christi, der sich selbst als ein Opfer ohne Fehl durch den ewigen Geist Gott dargebracht hat, unser Gewissen reinigen von den toten Werken, zu dienen dem lebendigen Gott! RSV: "how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God."

7. Cf. Eph. 4:24 and 1 Cor. 15:42ff.

8. Cf. Job. 19:26.



© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose



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