Second Sunday of Christmas – Today’s service is focused on Bach, in a theme we call ‘Bach to Basics’
The service begins with Bach’s iconic “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (Jesus bleibet meine Freude, in German) from his 1723 Cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147. The original version has a choir singing sporadically throughout, though it’s just as common nowadays to play it with instruments during a service. Indeed, a “Cantata” is a medium-length piece of music, usually in several movements, that combines chorus, solos and orchestra.
To complete the prelude portion, we then present the brief Overture to Bach’s Cantata Uns ist ein Kind geboren (For Unto Us a Child Is Born), BWV 142. There is a beautiful complexity to this: while we are working hard for sure, the music is perfectly written to fit the fingers and to flow from our instruments quite naturally.
The opening hymn Songs of Thankfulness and Praise was harmonized by J.S. Bach himself; Jeremy has scored it and today’s other two hymns for all the instruments listed on the back of the bulletin.
Lord, My Thanks to Thee is from the same Cantata and scored for two woodwinds, tenor, and continuo (bass+harpsichord). As you hear the music and sung text, ponder the tonality of the music: it is in a minor key (as is the Overture and “So Appears Thy Natal Day”), which is a way composers often convey sadness; however, the lyrics express gratitude and praise for Jesus’ saving grace. How do we reconcile this text with the minor music? In this context, a minor key can suggest quiet awe and mystery at the birth of Jesus and what that means.
The last selection we perform from Cantata 142 is So Appears Thy Natal Day, scored for two violins, bass, baritone, and continuo. It similarly contains a minor tonality. We conclude the service by altogether singing In Thee Is Gladness which is an exuberant way to start the new year: when we trust in Him, all things will go well. Alleluia! The hymn was not harmonized by Bach, but the following organ postlude In dir ist Freude BWV 615 is the same tune, from his famous Orgelbüchlein a collection of short organ arrangements of common hymn tunes that are full of personality. Be sure to stay to the end!
Our Executive Pastor of Innovation Matthew Knopf delivers the message today based on Isaiah 43:16-19 NIV
“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
🎼 PRELUDE – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
🎼 PRELUDE – Overture to Cantata No. 142
🎼 GATHERING HYMN – Songs of Thankfulness and Praise
🎼 HYMN OF PRAISE – Glory to GOD
🎼 MUSICAL INTERLUDE – Lord, My Thanks to Thee
🎼 HYMN OF THE DAY – Thy Holy Wings
🎼 OFFERING MUSIC – So Appears Thy Natal Day
🎼 SENDING HYMN – In Thee Is Gladness
🎼 POSTLUDE – In dir ist Freude
Dr. Jeremy Peterman, organ, harpsichord
Jeff Harris, cantor and tenor
Jaci Olsen, Flute
Jenny Wheeler, oboe
Pat Snyder, violin I
Rachel Peterman, violin II
Darren Cueva, contrabass
Chad Cline, timpani
Gary Spears, Sam Robinson, Connor Treude, Derik Hicks, Anthony Xavier and Chase Coletta
Our bulletin is created by Jaci Olsen.