BWV 7 Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam

St. John the Baptist.

Poet unknown.

1. Martin Luther, verse 1 of the hymn, 1541 (Wackernagel, I, #218); 2-6. based upon verses 2-6; 7. verse 7 of the hymn.

24 June 1724, Leipzig.

BG 1; NBA I/29.

1. Chorus [Verse 1] (S, A, T, B)

Christ did, our Lord, to Jordan come,
His Father's will fulfilling,
And from Saint John baptism took,
His work and charge to accomplish;
Here would he found for us a bath
To wash us clean from error,
To drown as well our bitter death
In his own blood and anguish;
A life restored it gave us.

2. Aria (B)

Mark and hear, O mankind's children,
What God did baptism call.

    True, there must be water here,
    But mere water not alone.
    God's word and Holy Ghost
    Bathes and purifies the sinners.

3. Recit. (T)

This hath God shown
In words and in examples clear to all;
At Jordan's bank the Father plainly let
His voice resound while Christ was being baptized;
He said: This is my own dear Son,(1)
In whom I have now found great pleasure;(2)
He is from heaven's lofty throne
To help the world
In meek and humble form descended
And hath the flesh and blood
Of mankind's children to him taken;
Him take ye now as your Redeemer true
And listen to his precious teaching!

4. Aria (T)

The Father's voice itself resounded,
The Son, who us with blood did buy,
Was as a very man baptized.
The Spirit came, a dove appearing,
So that our faith would never doubt that
It was the Holy Trinity
Which gave baptism unto us.

5. Recit. (B)

When Jesus there endured his passion
And had been raised again,
And from this world would to his Father go,
Spake he to his disciples:
Go forth to all the world and preach to all the gentiles,
He who believes and is baptized on earth now
Shall then be justified and blessed.(3)

6. Aria (A)

Mankind, trust now in this mercy,
That ye not in error die,
Nor in hell's foul pit decay!
Human works and sanctity(4) 
Never count before God's throne.
Sins are ours innately given,
We are lost by our own nature;
Faith and baptism(5) make them clean
That they not perdition bring.

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

The eye alone the water sees,
As men pour out the water,
But faith alone the power perceives
Christ Jesus' blood hath given;
For faith there is a sea of red
By Christ's own blood now colored,
Which all transgressions healeth well
Which Adam hath bequeathed us
And by ourselves committed.

1. This line is almost verbatim from verse 3 of Luther's hymn.

2. Cf. Mt. 3:17, Mk. 1:11, and Lk. 3:22.

3. Cf. Mt. 28:19 and Mk. 16:6.

4. Cf. verse 5 of Luther's hymn: "Nichts hilft sein eigne Heiligkeit."

5. OSt and P also have Liebe 'love' instead of Taufe 'baptism.' Translate: "Faith and love shall make them clean."

Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

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