Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
Der Wächter sehr hoch auf der Zinne,
Wach auf, du Stadt Jerusalem!
Mitternacht heißt diese Stunde;
Sie rufen uns mit hellem Munde:
Wo seid ihr klugen Jungfrauen?
Wohl auf, der Bräutgam kömmt;
Steht auf, die Lampen nehmt! Alleluja!
Macht euch bereit
Zu der Hochzeit,
Ihr müsset ihm entgegen gehn!

"Sleepers, wake!" A voice astounds us,
the shout of rampart-guards surrounds us:
"Awake, Jerusalem, arise!"
Midnight's peace their cry has broken,
their urgent summons clearly spoken:
"The time has come, O maidens wise!
Rise up, and give us light;
the Bridegroom is in sight.
Your lamps prepare and hasten there,
that you the wedding feast may share."

Wake up! Wake up! It's time!

You can listen to the complete Cantata - BWV 140 - via .ram file here.

Some info about the Cantata from Wikipedia:
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140, also known as Sleepers, Wake, is a cantata written in 1731 by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is scored for horn, 2 oboes, taille (an instrument similar to the oboe da caccia, today often substituted with an English horn), violino piccolo, violin, viola, basso continuo, and choir with soprano, tenor, and bass soloists.

BWV 140 is based on the chorale of the same name by Philipp Nicolai. This Lutheran hymn remains popular today both in its original German and in a variety of English translations. The text on which it is based is the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1–13, a reading that was scheduled in the Lutheran lectionary of the time for the 27th Sunday after Trinity. Because this Sunday only occurred in the church year when Easter was very early, the cantata was rarely performed. The infrequency of the occasion for which it was composed makes it one of the few cantatas whose date of composition is definitively known.

In the modern three-year Revised Common Lectionary, however, the reading is scheduled for Proper 27, or the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, in the first year of the three-year cycle of lessons. Thus, the hymn or the cantata are commonly performed in churches on that Sunday. The text and its eschatological themes are also commonly associated with the early Sundays of the season of Advent, and so the cantata is also commonly performed during that season.


BWV 140 is a chorale cantata; its primary melody and text are drawn from a Lutheran chorale, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme. The first movement is a chorale fantasia based on the first verse of the chorale, which is a common feature of Bach's cantatas. The second movement is a recitative for tenor that precedes the third movement, a duet for soprano and bass with obbligato violin. In the duet, the soprano represents the soul and the bass represents Jesus. The fourth movement, based on the second verse of the chorale, is written in a trio sonata-like texture for the tenors of the chorus, oboe da caccia, and continuo. Bach later transcribed this movement for organ (BWV 645), and it was subsequently published along with five other transcriptions Bach made of his cantata movements as the Schübler Chorales. The fifth movement is a recitative for bass, preceding the sixth movement, which is another duet for soprano and bass with obbligato oboe. This duet, like the third movement, is a love duet between the soprano soul and the bass Jesus. The final movement, as with many of Bach's cantatas, is based on the final verse of the chorale and is a four-part harmonization of the chorale melody.

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