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Notes on Johann Sebastian's Matthaus-Passion

Notes

 

on

 

 

 

 

Johann Sebastian Bach’s

 

Matthäus-Passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcel E. Durieux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helft Gott, ihr Herren, es ist, als ob man in einer Oper sei!”

 

aristocratic old lady during a performance

of the Matthäus-Passion in Leipzig

(but see text)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front cover: MS of Matthäus-Passion

Contents

 

 

General Introduction 8

The Matthäus-Passion 9

Matthäus-Passion, Part 1 15

Introduction (1) 15

The disciples prepared for Jesus’ death (2-3) 17

The high priests and elders plot against Jesus (4a-4b) 18

Jesus anointed at Bethany (4c-6) 19

Judas agrees to betray Jesus (7-8) 22

The Lord’s Supper (9a-13) 22

To the Mount of Olives (14-17) 27

Gethsemane (18-25) 29

Matthäus-Passion, Part 2 39

Searching for Jesus (30) 39

Before the Sanhedrin (31-36b) 40

Jesus mocked by the priests (36c-37) 42

Peter disowns Jesus (38a-40) 43

Judas hangs himself (41a-42) 45

Jesus before Pilate (43-50e) 46

Jesus flogged (50e-52) 50

Jesus mocked by the soldiers (53a-54) 51

To Calvary (55-57) 52

Crucifixion (58a-60) 53

The death of Jesus (61a-62) 55

The earthquake (63a-63b) 56

The burial of Jesus (63c-66a) 57

The guard at the tomb (66a-66c) 59

Further Reading and Acknowledgements 62

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where the Matthäus-Passion was first performed
(photo by Eric Pancer, reproduced under Creative Commons License)

[] General Introduction

 

The Matthäus-Passion has for a long time occupied a very special place in my musical experience. I was introduced to it by my parents at a young age and grew up with the traditional yearly performance at Easter. Now I realize I had only a very faint grasp of the idea of the work, let alone of its intricate details. Nonetheless, and a little surprising, I cannot remember ever not enjoying it. As I became older I listened differently, started noticing things in the music, then went on to compare various performances, and soon found myself a true Matthäus-addict.

 

Interestingly enough, I found it far from easy to convince others of the exceptional merits of the Matthäus-Passion. Even quite musical people often seemed to have major difficulty understanding the work, and one of the more disparaging remarks I heard was from a quite apt instrumentalist. She couldn’t enjoy it, she admitted. “Somebody stands up, sings something, then sits down again, and someone else gets up to sing something. And that goes on for hours.” Even though the Matthäus-Passion is performed yearly throughout Europe as part of the Easter tradition, it is notable that one will rarely, if ever, find performances at other times. In the United States, which lacks the Easter-performance tradition, the situation is even more bleak.

 

Wondering why the piece is so difficult to accept, I tend to think that, to a large extent, this is due to problems in perceiving the unity of the work. Yes, the long duration is an obvious reason why it is not performed more frequently, but that again is an issue of unity: it is not easy to perceive a three-hour piece of music as one whole. The lady quoted in the previous paragraph stated the problem quite clearly. Many people experience the Matthäus-Passion as a loose collection of seemingly unrelated musical pieces. Most times they will not understand the text sung, and it’s hard to divide attention between the stage and the libretto in a booklet. Thus, links between the text and the music are lost, and the multiplicity of connections between the instrumental parts and the voices, and between the arias and the Bible text around them is not even considered. And quickly it all becomes pretty boring.

 

This article tries to close some of those gaps in understanding. Basically, it is a collection of notes on the various parts of the Matthäus-Passion, put together in the hope that it will help further understanding of the piece. It is written for people like me: who enjoy music, but are not specialists, and for that reason I have stayed away from musical technicalities as much as possible – though admittedly it was not always possible. It doesn’t try to be exhaustive. It simply and briefly describes the interesting links I discovered myself in the Matthäus-Passion, and additional ones that I gleaned from a cursory review of the literature. There’s plenty more to be discovered!

 

With the article as a guide, and a recording of the Matthäus-Passion, two evenings should suffice to understand that the Matthäus-Passion is far from a disjointed collection of chorales, arias and recitatives. It is in fact a closely wrought, intricately interconnected unit.

 

 

[] The Matthäus-Passion

 

First a few general items of interest, before we turn to more detailed descriptions. As a technical matter, to make life easier, the various sections of the Matthäus-Passion are numbered. Unfortunately, to make life more difficult, two numbering systems are in use, the “old” (Bach-Werke Verzeignis, BWV) and the “new” (Neue Bach Ausgabe, NBA). In this article I will use the “new” (NBA) system to refer to sections. Also, in contrast to the remainder of the article, the examples provided in this introductory section are not in the order of the Passion. I have mentioned these examples again in the descriptions of the individual parts, so that this section can be simply read through, and the musical examples listened to later.

 

The Matthäus-Passion was first performed by Bach in 1729 during the Good Friday afternoon service in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig (although it may have been performed already earlier, in 1727). Passion oratorios and passion plays have a long tradition, back to the medieval mystery dramas. Bach’s Passions (he wrote several others, of which only the Matthäus-Passion and the Johannes-Passion survive complete) therefore were not a new invention. They do mark, however, a definite peak, and to a certain extent, the end of the art. After Bach’s death his Matthäus-Passion was no longer performed, and considered lost. It was Mendelssohn who rediscovered it and performed it again in 1829, starting a tradition that survives to the present day.

 

The basic text of the Matthäus-Passion consists of the complete and unmodified contents of chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel according to Matthew. It is very enlightening to read through those two pages of text before listening to the Passion, and then realize the many different ways that Bach comments on and interprets the rather matter-of-fact Bible narrative. Frankly, knowing the Passion has very miuch changed how I look at those brief chapters. I see so much more in them now, the events have taken on a new reality, sometimes even as if I were actually there.

 

Interspersed with the Bible narrative is additional text, mostly of a commentatory character. Believers, either as a group in the chorales, or personally in the ariosos and arias (see below, see below!), show their interpretation of, and emotional involvement in the events in progress. These texts were provided by a poet by the name of Christian Friedrich Henrici, who for some reason used the pseudonym Picander. Picander’s major accomplishment is his ability to portray in his poems real people, with real emotions. We will see examples of this throughout the work. It is this emotional involvement of the characters that adds so much to the dramatic effect of the Passion. The additional texts are much more than reflections on (and outside of) the drama. They are dramatic in themselves; they are part of the action.

 

Bach purposefully made the Matthäus-Passion a very dramatic piece of music (as was well recognized by the aristocratic lady quoted on page 2: “It is as if you’re at the opera.”). As just one example, let’s look at the aria that follows the narrative of Jesus’ flogging (52). This aria, and particularly the preceding arioso, dramatizes the scourging by reflecting it musically (using a rhythmical bass motive): it is as if the believer singing it were actually standing next to Jesus as he is flogged. The singer is part of the action, part of the drama. This simple example makes obvious how every step of the work was carefully thought out and how the various ingredients – Bible text, additional text, music – are very closely connected.

 

A few words about the instrumental and vocal construction of the work are in order. Bach uses two choirs and two orchestras, as well as a number of solo singers. The double choir and orchestra are quite unusual, but do enable Bach to maximize the dramatic effect he wanted to obtain for the work. Ideally, the choirs and orchestras should be as far away from each other as the performance space allows, so that the listener truly feels himself in the center of the action. This was the case in the Leipzig performances. Such spatial distribution, however, causes obvious technical difficulties and is seldom used at present times. It should be noted that although two choirs and orchestras may sound like a massive amount of musical power, the choirs and orchestras use in Bach’s time were quite small. The orchestras specified are chamber-size, and do not contain either brass or percussion instruments (which were reserved for festive occasions). As to the voices, it has been suggested by Rifkin that the original performances may have employed no more than nine singers!

 

The choirs are used for several purposes. First, they sing the major opening and closing choruses of the Matthäus-Passion. Second, they sing the chorales, hymn tunes of the Lutheran church, which in the Passion become contemplative statements of believers. In Rilling’s words: “The chorales in the Matthäus-Passion, in contrast to the ariosos and arias which bear the expressive, subjective feelings of the single individual, formulate the affections of the whole congregation which hears the Passion story”. This indicates that there are multiple time-perspectives in the work: whereas the action plays itself out in the first century AD, each chorale briefly takes us to the present – and almost literally draws the listeners into the performance. The most famous chorale example is “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” (54). This “Passion-chorale” melody (which derives from a secular love song by Hans Leo Hassler) is repeated five times in the Matthäus-Passion. Chorales are sung by both choirs together. Third, the choirs play short roles as “innocent bystanders” in a few arias; see “Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen” (20). Finally, the choruses represent groups of people in the Bible narrative, such as disciples, priests, or the Jerusalem populace. These pieces, called turbae (singular: turba) are usually highly developed dramatically.

 

I want to look at the turbae somewhat more closely. The two choirs can be used to interpret the Bible text in a multitude of ways, depending on the effect Bach wants to obtain. When for certain pieces only one choir is necessary, he typically uses Choir I when the text is sung by Jesus’ followers, and Choir II for text sung by others. This creates a spatial division between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. Once in a while exceptions are necessary. The choruses “Der rufet den Elias” (61b) and “Halt! Laß sehen” (61 d) are sung (or rather: shouted) by passers-by at Calvary when Jesus’ last words before his death (“Eli, Eli, lama asabthani?”) are misunderstood as a call for the prophet Elias. One group shouts out “He calls for Elias!” Another quickly answers: “Let’s see if Elias comes and helps him!” Both of these groups are considered Jesus’ adversaries. Nonetheless, Bach uses Choir I to sing the “Der rufet den Elias” chorus, and Choir II to sing “Halt! Laß sehen”, to have the spatial division of choirs evoke the two groups shouting to each other.

 

Another exception arises when the choirs sing together with a soloist. In that case, Choir II is always used. Orginally, the soloists were part of Choir I, so using Choir II provides spatial separation (or, as suggested by those who believe the original choirs were very small: because Choir I was incomplete when soloists sang).

 

When the two choirs are used together, maximal dramatic effect can be obtained. Basically, Bach uses them together in one of three ways (according to Heuss):

 

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The two choirs alternate quickly, but do not sing at the same time. This is called antiphonic singing, and it is used to give the inpression of a lively but controlled interchange of words. An example is the beginning of 4b, “Ja nicht auf das Fest”, where the priests discuss among themselves the best time to arrest Jesus.

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The two choirs sing at the same time, but independently. This evokes the picture of excitement. For an example, see 36b, “Er ist des Todes schuldig”, when the high priests decide Jesus must die.

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The two choirs sing the same melody together, unisono. This provides for maximal force, and is used when large masses of people need to be represented. The most dramatic examples are the two “Lass ihn Kreuzigen!” choruses, the Jerusalem populace shouting for the death of Jesus (45b and 50b). Following almost immediately is another example, “Sein Blut komme über uns” (50d), where the crowd accepts responsibility for Jesus’ death sentence.

 

Occasionally, one form can convert to another in the middle of a piece. In “Ja nicht auf das Fest” (4b), which, as noted, begins antiphonic, the mounting excitement of the high priests as they consider a riot by the people makes them shift to independent singing. A similar transition appears in “Herr, wir haben gedacht” (66b), where the high priests ask Pilate to secure Jesus’ grave. Starting off in unison, as well-behaved dignitaries, they soon shift over to an excited independence, which they only manage to resolve at the very last note of the section.

 

As do the choirs, most soloists in the Matthäus-Passion play a variety of roles. Only two soloists have a single role: one tenor, called the Evangelist, sings the narrative Bible text, and one bass sings all Jesus’ text. These narrative passages are sung in a style called recitative. It is a relating style of singing, telling the story, the melody very closely following the ups and downs in the text. Instrumentally, it is accompanied by only a few chords from harpsichord or organ, and a low stringed instrument. This light accompaniment, allowing a very clear understanding of the text, is the so-called basso continuo, or simply continuo. Although generally speaking, the recitative was a quite unemotional way of singing, Bach has made the recitatives of the Matthäus-Passion very dramatic; in fact, the Evangelist’s part might well be the most dramatic recitative he ever wrote. The narrator shows emotional involvement in the story, sometimes, as we will see, involvement to a very high degree. This in itself would make the recitatives interesting enough. But Bach’s true genius appears in the way he makes the music reflect on, highlight, interpret and illuminate the text. Again, we will see many examples later on. Let I just mention that not only the melody, but also the harmony – the chords underneath the melody – continually tell us something about the way Bach interprets the text, or indicate something he wants us to see.

 

Four more soloists, a soprano, an alto, a tenor, and a bass, are used to perform several other functions. They sing narrative parts from individuals in the Bible text (Judas, witnesses, etc), mostly solo, in recitative style, but occasionally in duets. Most importantly, they sing the ariosos and arias, the “stopping points on Jesus’ path to the cross” (Rilling). Ariosos (or accompanied recitatives, since they involve instruments in addition to the continuo group) are short sections, written in a style intermediate between recitative and aria. They immediately precede, and set the stage for the arias. The arias themselves are lyrical pieces, expressing the subjective feelings of the individual believer. Gardiner decscibes the roles of recitative, arioso and aria as “narrative”, “comment” and “prayer”, respectively – and there’s some truth in that. Arias comment on the preceding Bible text, and frequently put the events in a new perspective. From a musical point of view, the arias of the Matthäus-Passion contain some of the most beautiful vocal work Bach ever wrote. A Matthäus-Passion aria usually consists of three parts: an introduction, a middle section, and a repeat of the first part. Again generalizing, there are frequently two thoughts, two main ideas in each aria. One is developed in the first section, the second in the middle section, and because of the middle section, the repeat is seen in a slightly different light. Often the thought of the middle section will be a different approach to, a different way of looking at the idea of the opening section. Again, we will see examples later. Generalizing one more time, there seems to be a difference in content between arias sung by men and by women. Those sung by women are more lamentative, emotional, more allegorical and metaphysical. Those sung by men are more practical, more action-oriented and the thought at times seems simpler.

 

And so the picture develops of a large and complex work, put together carefully in his most able years by one of the most capable composers the world has ever seen. Little is left to chance, and virtually everything is interrelated. Not only is the Bible text connected closely with its musical setting, but the additional texts are direct reflections on the Bible text, the music for the chorales, ariosos and arias is related directly to these additional texts, and the accompaniment reflects directly the moods of the melody. The result is a tightly knit work of a perfection that has been rarely reached.

 

And this brings up the matter of deletions in the Matthäus-Passion, a practice frequently performed to shorten the work for performance. It will hopefully have become clear now that deletions are very difficult, if not impossible, to make without destroying part of the structure of the work. Each section is a part of the dramatic development, and every deletion will cut through this progress in the action. Bach did not put sections in the Matthäus-Passion without a reason. Everything is necessary.

 

Now that we have discussed the items that affect the work as a whole, we are ready to look at the music in more detail. It is time to get out your recording. To clarify the structure of the work, we will adhere to a division of the Matthäus-Passion in scenes, as proposed by Heuss and somewhat modified by me (titles modified from the NIV Bible translation):

 

Part I

 

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Introduction (1)

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p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The disciples prepared for Jesus’ death (2-3)

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p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The high priests and elders plot against Jesus (4a-4b)

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p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus anointed at Bethany (4c-6)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Judas agrees to betray Jesus (7-8)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The Lord’s supper (9a-13)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. To the Mount of Olives (14-17)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Gethsemane (18-25)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus arrested (26-28), followed by closing chorus for Part I (29)

 

 

 

Part II

 

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Searching for Jesus (30)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Before the Sanhedrin (31-36b)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus mocked by the priests (36c-37)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Peter disowns Jesus (38a-40)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Judas hangs himself (41a-42)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus before Pilate (43-50d)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus flogged (50e-52)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus mocked by the soldiers (53a-54)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. To Calvary (55-57)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Crucifixion (58a-60)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The death of Jesus (61a-62)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The earthquake (63a-63b)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The burial of Jesus (63c-66a)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The guard at the tomb (66a-66c)

#
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Conclusion (67-68)

 

The English translation of the text is by Philip Ambrose. It’s generally well done, can be sung, and conveys the feeling of the German very well. On occasion, I’ve added my own, more literal translation of short sentence fragments.

[] Matthäus-Passion, Part 1

[] Introduction (1)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 1. Chorus
Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen,
Sehet—Wen?—den Bräutigam,
Seht ihn—Wie?—als wie ein Lamm!
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig
Am Stamm des Kreuzes geschlachtet,
Sehet,—Was?—seht die Geduld,
Allzeit erfunden geduldig,
Wiewohl du warest verachtet.
Seht—Wohin?—auf unsre Schuld;
All Sünd hast du getragen,
Sonst müßten wir verzagen.
Sehet ihn aus Lieb und Huld
Holz zum Kreuze selber tragen!
Erbarm dich unser, o Jesu! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 1. Chorus
Come, ye daughters, share my mourning, 
See ye—whom?—the bridegroom there, 
See him—how?—just like a lamb!
O Lamb of God, unspotted 
Upon the cross’s branch slaughtered, 
See ye,—what?—see him forbear; 
Alway displayed thy patience, 
How greatly wast thou despisèd. 
Look—where, then?—upon our guilt; 
All sin hast thou born for us, 
Else we had lost all courage. 
See how he with love and grace 
Wood as cross himself now beareth! 
Have mercy on us, O Jesus!

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Let’s start off with some words by Leonard Bernstein: “Suddenly the chorus breaks into two antiphonal choruses. ‘See him!’ cries the first one. ‘Whom?’ asks the second. And the first answers: ‘The Bridegroom see. See Him!’ ‘How?’ ‘So like a Lamb.’ And then over and against all this questioning and answering and throbbing, the voices of a boys’ choir sing out the chorale tune, ‘O Lamb of God Most Holy,’ piercing through the worldly pain with the icy-clear truth of redemption. The contrapuntal combination of the three different choruses is thrilling. There is nothing like it in all music.” About the chorale, Gardiner adds: “Sung in unison by a group of trebles (soprano in ripieno) placed in the ‘swallow’s nest’ organ loft in the Thomaskirche – then (but now, alas, no longer) situated a whole nave’s length east of the main performing area – the effect must have been stunning”. Interestingly, this melody was not added to the work until Bach’s major revision of the Passion in 1736.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. If we want to make a division as to content between the two parts of the Matthäus-Passion, we can say that Part I narrates the internal passion of Jesus and Part II the external passion. In Part I we see him very human. He fights with himself, he is anguished and sorrowed. In Part II we see the events around him take control, and he becomes a different figure, more God-like and distant.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The introduction of the Matthäus-Passion consists of a very elaborate opening chorus. It was customary to begin Passion music with a chorale, and the opening chorus of the Matthäus-Passion does include one (the indented text, above), but it has been relegated to a second place. Similarly, the closing chorus of Part I, “O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde groß” (O man, bewail thy sins so great, 29), is built around a chorale, and the two choruses thus bracket the first half of the Matthäus-Passion with similar structure.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is, in fact, a very subtle bracket around the whole of the Matthäus-Passion: the very first notes of the opening chorus are repeated as the first notes of the closing chorus of the whole work, linking beginning and end together.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The mainstay of the opening chorus is the lament “Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen” (Come, ye daughters, share my mourning), a text from the Song of Songs. It depicts the scene of Jesus on his way to Calvary. Paraphrasing Heuss, we have to imagine him, carrying his cross, soldiers around him to keep away the thronging masses. Lamentations sound here and there: “Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen” (Come, ye daughters, share my mourning), but many do not know what is going on, and whom it concerns. They shout questions: “Wen?” (Whom?), receive answers: “den Bräutigam” (the bridegroom), ask more: “Wie?” (How?), “Als wie ein Lamm” (Just like a lamb), and finally join in the lament. Both choirs are used for this dialog.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The chorus starts softly, and builds a slow crescendo, as if the throng of people gradually appears from a distance, and then passes right in front of us. A continuous rhythmical motive, most of the time in the bass, but occasionally taken over by other instruments, evokes a feeling of constant, unstoppable forward movement. The almost endless first bass note (a so-called pedalpoint) builds a sense of suspense, as well as a strong feeling of heavy mass – but also evokes a sense of despair. When it finally releases itself (as for instance in the instrumental introduction, when the theme for “Sehet! Wen?” (See ye! Whom?) is introduced) the result is a sudden shift in mood. (As a general point, it’s almost always worthwhile listening specifically for bass lines. Brought up in a modern, “harmonic” tradition, we usually tend to hear mostly melody, with the remainder being “accompaniment”. However, in Bach’s work the various musical lines are much more independent. Since the melody and bass form a sort of upper and lower bracket around a musical piece, learning to hear the bass as a separate musical line provides for much better understanding.)

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The traditional chorale, “O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig” (O lamb of God, unspotted), is sung in a slow setting by high soprano voices over this tumultuous wailing of the crowd. In contrast to the anguish expressed by the minor key in which the main text is sung, the chorale is sung in a related major key. It is almost as if chanted by angels looking down on the confused, emotional throng below. The text is reminiscent of the Agnus Dei of the catholic mass.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Halfway through the chorus, a sudden change appears. The rhythm becomes staccato, as the believers, in a broken sentence, answer the question where to look: “Wohin?” (Whereto?). The question has to be repeated several times, before they dare to answer, overcome with guilt and shame: “auf uns’re Schuld” (upon our guilt). Yet at that very moment, the solution sounds above: “All’ Sünd’ hast du getragen” (All sin hast thou borne for us).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. It is interesting to consider the questions in the chorus in another light, namely as the exordium, the classical prompt to the storyteller to begin his narrative. Seen in this way, the whole Passion is an answer to the questions “Wen?” (Whom?), “Wie?” (How?) and “Wohin?” (Whereto?). I’ll return to this theme in a moment, when we consider the chorale “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen” (3).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Up to this point, the questions were asked by the second choir, and the answers were given by the first, in conformity with the use of the choirs as noted earlier. However, now that the questions have been answered, both choirs sing together (except for a final repeat, almost a summing-up, of the questions), building with their combined forces to a massive climax. I am always happy with a few seconds rest after this ending, to recover a little before the actual Passion begins. Even the famous closing chorus of the Matthäus-Passion does not compare to this astonishing piece of music.

 

[] The disciples prepared for Jesus’ death (2-3)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 2. Evangelista
Da Jesus diese Rede vollendet hatte, sprach er zu seinen Jüngern:

Jesus
Ihr wisset, daß nach zweien Tagen Ostern wird, und des Menschen Sohn wird überantwortet werden, daß er gekreuziget werde.

3. Choral
Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen,
Daß man ein solch scharf Urteil hat gesprochen?
Was ist die Schuld, in was für Missetaten
Bist du geraten? |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 2. Evangelist When Jesus, then, had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples:

Jesus
Ye know well that in two days will be 
Passover, and the Son of man is then to 
be handed over, that he be crucifièd.

3. Chorale
O dearest Jesus, how hast thou offended, 
That such a cruel sentence hath been spoken? 
What is thy guilt, what were the evil doings 
Thou hast committed?  | <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.  

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.   |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The opening chorus is not connected directly with the narrative of the Passion, but nonetheless serves a very important function. The sheer power and dramatic expression of the chorus create a certain mood and a contrast with the quiet statements of the next section, and the listener receives the first line of the Evangelist: “Da Jesus diese Rede vollendet hatte” (When Jesus had finished all these sayings) quite differently than if the Passion had begun at that point without the introduction.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is our first encounter with recitative in the Matthäus-Passion. In many ways, for me, the recitatives are some of the best passages in the work. They are such a unique blend between spoken language and music, and Bach has done such a great job in making the language dramatic and the music beautiful, that one can listen to them endlessly.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The first line of the Evangelist is simply an introduction to Jesus’ sentence. Note the scant instrumental accompaniment, and then the sudden expansion into high violin chords as Jesus begins to speak. All texts by Jesus are highlighted in this way, to set them apart from those spoken by the “ordinary” people. The violin background has been compared to a halo, as indicated by painters around Jesus’ head. This “halo in sound” signifies his godliness (and therefore, as we’ll see, is notably absent at the moment he dies (61a)).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the musical accentuation of important words, such as the high notes on “Jesus”, “Jüngern” (disciples) and “Ostern” (Passover). Also, the words that have most dramatic content are highlighted by the music: whereas generally in recitative each syllable is sung to a single note, “überantwortet” (handed over) receives a little shudder, and “gekreuziget” (crucified) develops into a very emotional statement. This intricate type of connection between text and music will be found throughout the recitatives.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The end of the recitative is very definite, and also quite typical of the way Bach ends spoken text in the Matthäus-Passion: the last notes by Jesus form a half-stable end (ending on the so-called dominant), whereafter the continuo supplies the true concluding notes (ending on the so-called tonic). Bach has an infinite number of ways to modify this basic final statement, depending on how much of a definitive closure he wants it to be. Thus, he can make it less definite if a question is asked, one which the next section provides the answer to. If he wants to emphasize the close connection with the next section, he will turn the end of the recitative in a transition. On the other hand, he will make it very definite if the next section breaches another subject, or if he wants to underscore an important statement. Nonetheless, this idea of using one basic method of closing recitatives gives a multitude of points of coherence thoughout the work (for a very purposeful exception, see 51e).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. One final note about the recitative: it is also used as a transition from one key to another. The current recitative starts in G major, and on the dramatic sentence spoken by Jesus modulates to the key of B minor, in preparation for the following chorale. This, again, is a technique Bach commonly uses to ease the transitions between sections, and to indicate which parts belong together and where a new motif begins.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Then follows the first chorale of the work. The chorales, as mentioned before, are moments of rest, of reflection and contemplation by the assembly of believers. As do some of the structures of the recitatives, the chorales form recurring points of recognition throughout the Matthäus-Passion (for the original listeners, this would have been even more so, as the chorale melodies would have been well known). Not only are they easily recognizable because of their format and setting, but Bach actually uses the same chorale melodies several times through the work. The current chorale is used three times, each time with different words and with a different harmony that matches the mood of the present moment in the drama.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. I see this first chorale with its questions as being in close proximity to the opening chorus (which it also is in time, after a bare two lines of text). Was the questioning there confused and short, here, quietly, the congregation asks to explain what is going on, and why Jesus has to be crucified. In a sense, the remainder of the Passion provides the answer.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how “Missetaten” (“evil doings”) is emphasized by the inner voices.

 

  • * The high priests and elders plot against Jesus (4a-4b)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 4a. Evangelista
Da versammleten sich die Hohenpriester und Schriftgelehrten und die Ältesten im Volk in dem Palast des Hohenpriesters, der da hieß Kaiphas, und hielten Rat, wie sie Jesum mit Listen griffen und töteten. Sie sprachen aber: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 4a. Evangelist There assembled themselves the high priests and the scribes together, and the elders of the people within the palace of the chief priest, whose name was Caiphas; and there took counsel, how with stealth they might capture Jesus and put him to death. They said however: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 4b. Chori I & II Ja nicht auf das Fest, auf daß nicht ein Aufruhr werde im Volk. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 4b. Choir I & II
Not upon the feast, lest there be an uproar in the people.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The drama here skips temporarily to the palace of the high priest.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In this section, we meet the first turba. As noted in the introduction, Bach starts the turba by having the two choirs alternate, indicating the discussion of the high priests. When, however, the possibility of an “Aufruhr” (uproar, or even riot) is raised, they become more excited, and the choirs sing agitatedly through each other. At the same time, they paint the picture of the feared uprising very dramatically.

 

 

[] Jesus anointed at Bethany (4c-6)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 4c. Evangelista
Da nun Jesus war zu Bethanien, im Hause Simonis des Aussätzigen, trat zu ihm ein Weib, die hatte ein Glas mit köstlichem Wasser und goß es auf sein Haupt, da er zu Tische saß. Da das seine Jünger sahen, wurden sie unwillig und sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 4c. Evangelist When now Jesus visited Bethany and was in the house of the leper called Simon, unto him came a woman who carried a jar of precious ointment and poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when his disciples saw it, they became indignant and said: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 4d. Chorus I Wozu dienet dieser Unrat? Dieses Wasser hätte mögen teuer verkauft und den Armen gegeben werden. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 4d. Choir I

What end serveth all this nonsense? For this ointment might indeed have been sold for much, and the sum to the poor been given.

| <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 4e. Evangelista Da das Jesus merkete, sprach er zu ihnen:

Jesus
Was bekümmert ihr das Weib? Sie hat ein gut Werk an mir getan. Ihr habet allezeit Arme bei euch, mich aber habt ihr nicht allezeit. Daß sie dies Wasser hat auf meinen Leib gegossen, hat sie getan, daß man mich begraben wird. Wahrlich, ich sage euch, Wo dies Evangelium geprediget wird in der ganzen Welt, da wird man auch sagen zu ihrem Gedächtnis, was sie getan hat. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 4e. Evangelist But when Jesus noticed this, said he unto them:

Jesus
Why trouble ye so this woman? For she hath done a good deed for me! Ye always have the poor with you, me though will ye not have always. That she hath poured this ointment over my body hath she done because I am to be buried. Truly I say to you: wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, there will be told also in memory of her what she hath done. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. We skip back to Jesus and his disciples.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Bach uses several dramatic touches in the opening lines of the Evangelist. He puts a dissonant chord beneath “Aussätzigen” (“leper”). The woman is introduced by the high note on “Weib” (woman), almost as if an announcer were calling it out. The pouring out of the water is carefully painted, without overdoing it, in the descending notes on “goß es auf sein Haupt” (poured it on his head). Finally, the last sentence picks up speed and runs straight in the disciples’ chorus. This is an example of a transitional ending to a recitative, as discussed above.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The disciples’ turba itself beautifully portrays their indignation at the anointing, in a very convoluted and fast piece of chorus work.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The manner in which Bach introduces the “Dieses Wasser” (this water) sentence, after a stop, one voice starting, the others picking it up consecutively, is like a small fuga. It feels to me like Bach tends to use this fuga form whenever a group of people doesn’t quite know what to say. Someone shouts a sentence, someone else picks it up, and it spreads around. Another example of this use is 58d.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a powerful contrast between the excitement of the turba and Jesus’ answer in the following recitative. In subtle ways it refers back to previous material: the high tone on “Weib” (woman) echoes the introduction of the woman, and the interval on “Arme” (poor) is an almost ironic referral to the way the disciples sang it in the previous turba.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Halfway through the recitative, a change of mood occurs. From the simple descriptive statements in the first couple of sentences, Jesus shifts to prophecy. The little musical motif on “begraben” (buried) marks the transition. The last sentence is turned into a very emphatic statement, underscored by a broad chord in the violin accompaniment (four tones: first on the rest before “Wahrlich” (Truly), second on the rest before “Wo” (wherever), third on “dies” (this), fourth on “ge” in “Evangelium” (Gospel)), which tends to be performed a little too timid, I think. We will see this same chord more often. The emphasis on “ganzen Welt” (whole world) goes beyond the immediate Passion story. It indicates the importance the events have, not only for the Jewish community where they play out, but also for the entire world: Jesus declares that Christianity will be a world religion. The chord is used by Bach whenever a reference occurs in the Passion to the broad implications of these events. Let me call it the “Christianity chord” for want of a better term.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the emphasis on “ihrem” (her) and “sie” (she).

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 5. Arioso: Alto
Du lieber Heiland du,
Wenn deine Jünger töricht streiten,
Daß dieses fromme Weib
Mit Salben deinen Leib
Zum Grabe will bereiten,
So lasse mir inzwischen zu,
Von meiner Augen Tränenflüssen
Ein Wasser auf dein Haupt zu gießen!

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 5. Arioso: Alto Belovèd Savior thou,  Midst thy disciples’ foolish quarrel,  Because this loyal dame  Thy body with her oils  To bury would make ready,  O in the meanwhile grant me this,  From these mine eyes’ own streams of weeping  To pour upon thy head an ointment! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 6. Aria: Alto Buß und Reu Knirscht das Sündenherz entzwei, Daß die Tropfen meiner Zähren Angenehme Spezerei, Treuer Jesu, dir gebären. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 6. Aria: Alto
Guilt and pain 
Break the sinful heart in twain,
So the teardrops of my weeping 
A most soothing precious balm, 
Jesus, thee doth offer.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This brings us to the first arioso-aria combo of the work. In the short arioso that introduces the aria, Bach sets the theme for the piece. The flute melody symbolizes falling teardrops (although this doesn’t become clear until the end of the piece, when the alto sings about pouring her tears on Jesus’ head). Note how Bach uses the same motif on “Grabe” (grave) as we saw used by Jesus on “begraben” (buried) in the preceding recitative.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Here, in “ein Wasser auf dein Haupt” (an ointment upon thy head), the pouring out of water is painted more clearly than in the preceding recitative. We will see another example of this variable use of musical depiction in the betrayal by Peter (16 and 38e).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The aria itself is an emotional statement by a spectator. As most of the arias in the Matthäus-Passion, it consists of three parts, the third being a repeat of the first. As noted in the introduction, we will generally find that the second part of an aria has a somewhat different character from the first, and here this is certainly the case. The first part is a lament on the short phrase “Buss und Reu’ knirscht das Sündenherz entzwei” (penance and repentance break the sinful heart in twain), worked out very emotionally, with large skips and chromatic notes. The second part, in contrast, refers back to the picture of falling tears, again simulated by the flutes. A very different motive is used for the accompaniment of “angenehme Spezerei” (“precious balm”).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As mentioned, arias sung by women in the Passion tend to be more of a lament and more metaphysical than those sung by men. This is a good example of the “female” type of aria.

 

 

[] Judas agrees to betray Jesus (7-8)

 

table<>. <>. |<>\2.
p<>{color:#000;}. 7. Evangelista
Da ging hin der Zwölfen einer, mit Namen Judas Ischarioth, zu den Hohenpriestern und sprach:

Judas
Was wollt ihr mir geben? Ich will ihn euch verraten.
[
Evangelista]
Und sie boten ihm dreißig Silberlinge. Und von dem an suchte er Gelegenheit, daß er ihn verriete. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>\2. p<>{color:#000;}. 7. Evangelist Then there went one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, forth unto the chief priests and said:

Judas
What would ye then give me? I would to you betray him.[
**
Evangelist]
And they offered him thirty silver pieces. And from thence forth he sought an opportunity when he might betray him.

| <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 8. Aria: Soprano Blute nur, du liebes Herz! Ach! ein Kind, das du erzogen, Das an deiner Brust gesogen, Droht den Pfleger zu ermorden, Denn es ist zur Schlange worden. |<>\2. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 8. Aria: Soprano Bleed alway, O thou my heart! Ah, a child which thou hast nurtured,  Which at thine own breast hath suckled,  Bodes his keeper now to murder,  For it hath become a serpent. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.   |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Again we make a short diversion in the drama, this time to follow Judas in his negotiations with the priests.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The recitative describing Judas’ intent to betray Jesus is relatively unemotional, as are in fact most of the sections that have to do with Judas. It almost appears as if Bach simply didn’t want to waste time on someone so low.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In contrast, the most dramatic part of the recitative is in fact not Judas’ text, but the indignation of the Evangelist that the high priests offer him “dreissig Silberlinge” (thirty silver pieces) for the job.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The aria “Blute nur” (Bleed alway) follows very closely on the previous one, and shows a similar melodic motif, the falling teardrops portrayed by the flutes. Interestingly, it lacks an introductory arioso. Heuss sees this sudden jump into the aria as a way to impress on the audience the sudden indignation of the soloist about Judas’ “Schurkentat” (Misdeed), but I am not sure I agree with his point of view.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The aria again shows the usual division. The first part is a, literally, heart-rending emotional statement: “Blute nur, du liebes Herz!” (Bleed alway, thou beloved heart). The second part gives us an abbreviated version of Judas’ progress. It begins with a soft and kind melody, but changes on “droht” (threatens) and ends in wild melismas (more than one note to a syllable) on “ermorden” (murder) and “Schlange” (snake).

 

[] The Lord’s Supper (9a-13)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 9a. Evangelista
Aber am ersten Tage der süßen Brot traten die Jünger zu Jesu und sprachen zu ihm: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 9a. Evangelist
But on the first day of Unleavened Bread came the disciples to Jesus and said unto him:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. We return again to Jesus and the disciples.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a sudden, palpable change of mood with the Evangelist’s recitative, as compared to the previous sections. It has been described as festive. Certainly, the rhythm of the recitative (long-short-short-long-long, long-short-short-long-long) is quite joyful. An obvious explanation would be that the joyfulness refers to the upcoming Passover feast.

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 9b. Chorus I
Wo willst du, daß wir dir bereiten, das Osterlamm zu essen? |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 9b. Choir I

What place wouldst thou have us prepare thee, the paschal lamb to eat now? |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. What a difference with the last time we heard them! Here the disciples are quiet and demure, even childlike, and in a joyful mood, as indicated by the accompaniment.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The end of the short chorus is a very incomplete closure, and clearly brings out the question in the text.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 9c. Evangelista
Er sprach:

Jesus
Gehet hin in die Stadt zu einem und sprecht zu ihm: Der Meister laßt dir sagen: Meine Zeit ist hier, ich will bei dir die Ostern halten mit meinen Jüngern. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 9c. Evangelist He said:

Jesus
Go ye forth to the town, to one there and say to him: The Master sends thee this message: Now my time is here, I would in thy house keep the Passover with my disciples. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The interesting problem of how to convert this sentence with two levels of subordinate sentences into music is solved by viewing the second level “Der Meister…” (the Master) as less important (this sentence actually is – or rather will be – spoken by the disciples, not by Jesus). Thus, the melody line starts low and works up. The third clause, spoken by Jesus “Meine Zeit…” (my time) starts high and works down, capturing the attention right from the start.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*Evangelista *]
Und die Jünger täten, wie ihnen Jesus befohlen hatte, und bereiteten das Osterlamm. Und am Abend satzte er sich zu Tische mit den Zwölfen. Und da sie aßen, sprach er:

Jesus
Wahrlich, ich sage euch: Einer unter euch wird mich verraten. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*Evangelist *] The disciples did this, as Jesus had commanded them, and made ready there the paschal lamb. And at evening he sat down at the table with the twelve. And while they ate there, he said:

Jesus
Truly, I say to you: there is one of you who will betray me. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The first sentence by the Evangelist is still in the festive mood, but at “Und am Abend (And at evening)” things change, and Bach begins the approach to what in my opinion is the most beautiful recitative passage of the whole Matthäus-Passion. That we’re starting something new is underscored by the rather definite ending on “Osterlamm” (paschal lamb).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The dramatic effect of “Wahrlich” (Truly) is very impressive, as is Jesus’ emotion breaking through in his voice on “verraten”.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 9d. Evangelist
Und sie wurden sehr betrübt und huben an, ein jeglicher unter ihnen, und sagten zu ihm: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 9d. Evangelist And they were then very sad and they began, each one of them in turn, to say unto him: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ 9e. Chorus I] Herr, bin ich’s? |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ 9e. Choir I]

Lord, is it I? |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is a good example of how the Evangelist becomes more than a simple narrator as he becomes drawn into the action. Here we can hear his own excitement and involvement in the events that are happening. As his sentence progresses from the initial sorrow, he speeds up more and more, and finally almost becomes a part of the following confused turba of the disciples. In fact, the Evangelist’s last note (“ihm” (him)) is the point where the orchestra begins the turba’s accompaniment

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The famous “bin ich’s?” (is it I?) chorus is too well known to need much description. It is of interest that the sentence “Herr, bin ich’s?” (Lord, is it I?) appears eleven times in the turba: once for each of the disciples – except Judas, whose answer comes later in the text. I particularly like the way Bach manages to wrap up all the confusion at the end in one brief measure and bring it all to a definite conclusion.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 10. Choral
Ich bin’s, ich sollte büßen,
An Händen und an Füßen
Gebunden in der Höll.
Die Geißeln und die Banden
Und was du ausgestanden,
Das hat verdienet meine Seel. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 10. Chorale
‘Tis I, I must be sorry, 
With hands and feet together 
Bound fast, must lie in hell. 
The scourges and the fetters 
And all that thou hast suffered, 
All this deserveth now my soul.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The answer to the disciples’ question “bin ich’s?” (is it I?) is, at one level, given in the following chorale by the believers: “Ich bin’s”. The dramatic contrast of the slow, relatively simple setting of the chorale against the fast and confused turba makes it one of the most moving chorales in the Matthäus-Passion.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 11. Evangelista
Er antwortete und sprach:

Jesus
Der mit der Hand mit mir in die Schüssel tauchet, der wird mich verraten. Des Menschen Sohn gehet zwar dahin, wie von ihm geschrieben stehet; doch wehe dem Menschen, durch welchen des Menschen Sohn verraten wird! Es wäre ihm besser, daß derselbige Mensch noch nie geboren wäre. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 11. Evangelist He answerèd thus and said:

Jesus
He who his hand with me in the dish now dippeth, this one will betray me. The Son of man indeed goeth hence, as it hath been written of him; but woe to that man through whom the Son of man hath been betrayed! It were better for him if this very man had never been born. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As previously, during the anointment, we here have a recitative that starts out as a simple declaration, and then changes to a prophecy, and again note how much broader and deeper the music becomes with the change!

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Also note how definitely final the end of the recitative appears: thus it will be.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The word “verraten” (betray) appears twice in the section, and is highlighted in contrasting tones.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. Evangelista
Da antwortete Judas, der ihn verriet, und sprach:

Judas
Bin ich’s, Rabbi?

Evangelista
Er sprach zu ihm:

Jesus
Du sagest’s. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. Evangelist Then answerèd Judas, who betrayed him, and said:

Judas
Is it I, Rabbi?

Evangelist
He said to him:

Jesus
Thou sayest. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Another section that clearly shows Bach’s mastery in describing moods and emotions in music. Judas’ question to me always sounds very unreal and dishonest, probably because the emphasis in the music is put on “bin” (is), not on “ich” (I), as one would do in normal speech. It is interesting to compare this passage with the actual betrayal at Gethsemane and note the similarities (26).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus’ answer is very mild and calm. The melody in the accompaniment is as it were a short preview of the melody that carries the actual Last Supper scene. It is not uncommon for Bach to briefly touch in an earlier passage on a theme to be introduced later, so that it will not be completely unfamiliar.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. Evangelista
Da sie aber aßen, nahm Jesus das Brot, dankete und brach’s und gab’s den Jüngern und sprach:

Jesus
Nehmet, esset, das ist mein Leib.
[
Evangelista]
Und er nahm den Kelch und dankte, gab ihnen den und sprach:

Jesus
Trinket alle daraus; das ist mein Blut des neuen Testaments, welches vergossen wird für viele zur Vergebung der Sünden. Ich sage euch: Ich werde von nun an nicht mehr von diesem Gewächs des Weinstocks trinken bis an den Tag, da ich’s neu trinken werde mit euch in meines Vaters Reich. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. Evangelist But when they had eaten, did Jesus take bread, gave thanks and brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Jesus
Take, eat, this is my Body.
[
Evangelist]
And he took the cup and, giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying:

Jesus
Drink, all of you, from this; this is my Blood of the New Testament, which hath been poured out here for many in remission of their sins. I say to you: I shall from this moment forth no more drink from this the fruit of the grapevine until the day when I shall drink it anew with you within my Father’s kingdom. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This scene is described by Heuss as the acme of, not the Matthäus-Passion’s drama, but its content. Here we reach the culmination of Jesus’ prophecy: the promise that his work will not cease with his death, but will continue on forever and for all. We have to remember that the Matthäus-Passion itself ends after Jesus’ death. The Lord’s Supper therefore is a view ahead of what will come after the current drama has been played out. The prophecy at the anointment foreshadowed this one, and we will see that Bach uses the same melodic motif to indicate this.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In the opening line by the Evangelist, note how simply but clearly the praying is painted by the few notes on “dankete” (gave thanks).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The melody of Jesus’ “Nehmet, esset” (Take, eat) is almost more than recitative. It is a reworking of the little melody we heard under “Du sagest’s” (Thou sayest) in the previous section. Now the theme will be worked out further over Jesus’ next sentences.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This and the following lines by Jesus are closer to an aria or arioso than to recicative. Whatever they are, they are of an incomparable beauty. The music perfectly captures the mood of sorrow and despair about things to come, but at the same time of the promise that follows out of it all.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The second line of the Evangelist closely echoes his first, and then follows Jesus’ melody again, now enhanced and continued on to an extremely strong climax.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As in the anointment scene, we find a strong emphasis on the fact that the events happening here are not just for those present, but for all. Note the little motif on “alle” (all), and what happens to it: it is immediately echoed, inverted and slightly modified, by the orchestra after “daraus” (from this), and from that point on continuously takes on more importance until it becomes the real theme of the accompaniment of the recitative, as well as of the following aria! The first instances after those just mentioned are after “Testaments” (Testament), on “vergossen wird” (will be poured out) and after “Sünden” (sins). It becomes an “everyone” motif.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Why does Bach do this? It is almost as if the spectator picked up on the “alle” (all) spoken by Jesus, realizes that what is happening here is for everyone – so for him as well, and contemplates that thought as the recitative unfolds. More technically, it also helps to give the recitative a strong sense of unity.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. We also find back the motif we noted before in the anointment scene: the broad broken “Christianity chord”. Here we find the motif on “Das ist mein Blut” (This is my blood) and “Ich werde von nun an” (I shall from now on). Its importance is obvious in this scene: again Jesus’ statements are not just for the disciples present, but for the whole world.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In support of this, note the emphasis Bach puts on the words “alle” (all) and “viele” (many): Bach makes Jesus predict a world religion.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a rather remarkable skip down on “euch” (you). It is almost as if Jesus, seeing himself already as God after the resurrection, is looking and pointing down from heaven to the disciples.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. I find the end of the recitative very dramatic and final. Most of Jesus’ “prophecy” recitatives tend to end with a definite finality, as the “amen” after a hymn.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Heuss makes the statement that no picture or painting of the Last Supper can compare with Bach’s musical painting of the event. Bach so activates our fantasy that the emotions we experience are more real than any painting could evoke.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 12. Arioso: Soprano
Wiewohl mein Herz in Tränen schwimmt,
Daß Jesus von mir Abschied nimmt,
So macht mich doch sein Testament erfreut:
Sein Fleisch und Blut, o Kostbarkeit,
Vermacht er mir in meine Hände.
Wie er es auf der Welt mit denen Seinen
Nicht böse können meinen,
So liebt er sie bis an das Ende. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 12. Arioso: Soprano
In truth my heart in tears doth swim, 
That Jesus doth from me depart, 
But I am by his Testament consoled: 
His Flesh and Blood, O precious gift, 
Bequetheth he to mine own hands now. 
Just as he in the world unto his people 
Could never offer malice, 
He loveth them until the finish.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As in the previous arioso, we here find a “water” motif – this time depicting the waves of tears her heart swims in. The whole first set of arias has this tearfulness about them. They form a group with a single motif.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The deep sorrow in the arioso is in part expressed by having all phrases in the first two lines end on a downward movement. Beginning with “So macht” (So makes) the melody changes to a more joyful, high rising line, in keeping with the change in mood of the text. (A more literal translation of “So macht mich doch sein Testament erfreut” would be: “So makes me yet his Testament cheerful”.)

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Frequently in the Matthäus-Passion, emotion is made clear with small indications, rather than massive dramatic methods. A good example is the small melisma on “Jesus” in this arioso.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As stated, there is a change, in text, accompaniment and in melody (upward!), at “So macht mich doch” (So makes me yet). Slightly later, on “Kostbarkeit” (precious gift), we see a further change in the accompaniment. From the tightly knit intervals (thirds) between the oboes develops a more spacious texture as they shift to the wider interval of the sixth.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. I particularly like the long, very final descent on “liebt er sie bis an das Ende” (loveth them until the finish), truly making “das Ende” the end.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The arioso is a transition from one mood to another. Whereas it starts out with deep sorrow about Jesus’ approaching death, it slowly develops into the joy of understanding the wonderful implications of his death. The aria that follows is decidedly joyful.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 13. Aria: Soprano
Ich will dir mein Herze schenken,
Senke dich, mein Heil, hinein!
Ich will mich in dir versenken;
Ist dir gleich die Welt zu klein,
Ei, so sollst du mir allein
Mehr als Welt und Himmel sein. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 13. Aria: Soprano
I will thee my heart now offer, 
Merse thyself, my health, in it! 
I would merse myself within thee; 
If to thee the world’s too small, 
Ah, then shalt thou me alone 
More than world and heaven be.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Here we find the most obvious use of the little motif developed during the Last Supper scene. It forms the backbone of the whole aria, which is thus tightly connected to the Last Supper.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As mentioned previously, the aria is very joyful. It evokes the idea of Jesus as the bridegroom and the soul as the bride, a theme already alluded to in the opening chorus of the work. Temporarily the anguish about the things to come is forgotten. Here the soloist reflects on the joys to be obtained later.

 

[] To the Mount of Olives (14-17)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 14. Evangelista
Und da sie den Lobgesang gesprochen hatten, gingen sie hinaus an den Ölberg. Da sprach Jesus zu ihnen:

Jesus
In dieser Nacht werdet ihr euch alle ärgern an mir. Denn es stehet geschrieben: Ich werde den Hirten schlagen, und die Schafe der Herde werden sich zerstreuen. Wenn ich aber auferstehe, will ich vor euch hingehen in Galiläam. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 14. Evangelist But after the song of praise had been recited, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And there Jesus said to them:

Jesus
In this same night ye will all become annoyed for my sake. For it standeth in the scripture: I shall strike down then the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will by themselves be scattered. When, however, I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Both in the accompaniment (on and after “hatten” (had)) and in the recitative (“gingen sie hinaus” (they went out)) we find a musical picture of the small group climbing up the mountain. Interesting enough, the Evangelist picks up the climbing motion at the point where the continuo stops, turning it into one long, continuous rise.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Then, with the beginning of Jesus’ words “In dieser Nacht” (In this same night), there is a decided change in mood in the music. It becomes eery and somewhat threatening. We feel in it a mixture of the suspense at the upcoming arrest, and Jesus’ anguish about the things to come. This strange, foreboding mood will be present to some extent in most of the sections until the end of the first part of the Passion.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Bach depicts the smiting of the shepherd and the scattering of the flock by a series of fast, staccato chords in the accompaniment. It is easier to see on a score than to hear in the music, but the bass line and the other lines of the accompaniment diverge, indicating the sheep driven apart in various directions. Also note the excitement in the melody: Bach uses large skips and high notes to show Jesus’ excited speech.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. I find the transition between the scattering of the flock and the following prophecy very interesting. The sudden slowing down of the accompaniment makes the quiet, decisive melody of the prophecy stand out much clearer than if Bach had simply stopped and started slower. He makes good use of the inherent contrast between the two passages to emphasise the importance of the line “Wenn ich aber auferstehe” (When, however, I will arise). We will see this clever use of contrasting sections more frequently.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the musical depiction of Jesus’ arising, by means of a climbing melody line, as well as a climbing accompaniment after “auferstehe” (arise).

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 15. Choral
Erkenne mich, mein Hüter,
Mein Hirte, nimm mich an!
Von dir, Quell aller Güter,
Ist mir viel Guts getan.
Dein Mund hat mich gelabet
Mit Milch und süßer Kost,
Dein Geist hat mich begabet
Mit mancher Himmelslust. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 15. Chorale
Acknowledge me, my keeper, 
My shepherd, make me thine! 
From thee, source of all blessings, 
Have I been richly blest. 
Thy mouth hath oft refreshed me 
With milk and sweetest food, 
Thy Spirit hath endowed me 
With many heav’nly joys.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is the first time Bach uses the “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” (O head, full of blood and wounds) melody. It will be used for a total of five times in the Matthäus-Passion. Each time it is in a different key, and with different harmonization, depending on the particular context. This is the great “Passion chorale”, and it returns at the most important points in the Passion.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*16. Evangelista *]
Petrus aber antwortete und sprach zu ihm:

Petrus
Wenn sie auch alle sich an dir ärgerten, so will ich doch mich nimmermehr ärgern.

Evangelista
Jesus sprach zu ihm:

Jesus
Wahrlich, ich sage dir: In dieser Nacht, ehe der Hahn krähet, wirst du mich dreimal verleugnen.

Evangelista
Petrus sprach zu ihm:

Petrus
Und wenn ich mit dir sterben müßte, so will ich dich nicht verleugnen.

[*Evangelista *]
Desgleichen sagten auch alle Jünger. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*16. Evangelist *] Peter, however, then answerèd and said to him.

Peter
Although the others all be annoyed because of thee, yet will I myself not ever feel annoyance.

[*Evangelist *]
Jesus said to him:

Jesus
Truly, I say to thee: in this same night, before the cock croweth, wilt thou three times have denied me.

Evangelist
Peter said to him:

Peter
And even if I must die with thee, I will not ever deny thee.

[
*Evangelist *]
And so declared all the other disciples. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Peter, in his excited stubbornness, speaks with what Heuss calls “Dickköpfigkeit (pigheadedness)”, which clearly comes out in the music.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the stress Peter puts on the word “nimmermehr” (not ever).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a beautiful contrast between Peter’s speech and Jesus’. The Evangelist, in the simple five-note introduction to Jesus’ answer, immediately captures the different mood: his melody is one of concern, as well as warning. This section is a good example of how the melody of the Evangelist tends to foreshadow the mood of the speaker that follows. Bach uses this technique frqequently throughout the work. It is interesting to compare the Evangelist’s introductions to various people in the Matthäus-Passion, but I will not have space to go into that in detail here; the most salient instances will be pointed out.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus’ answer to Peter contains a few rests: after “dir” (thee), after “Nacht” (night), and after “krähet” (croweth). They bring out his slow and deliberate speech, as compared with Peter’s stubborn excitement.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Obviously, the crowing of the cock begs for a melisma, but we find only the vaguest indication of a crow in Jesus’ text. I think Bach thought it too much to let the Lord imitate a cock. When the text reappears later in the Passion (38c), sung by the Evangelist, Bach does not hesitate to picture it as clearly as possible. This again is an example of how Bach uses different degrees of musical painting, depending on the context.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note Jesus’ stress on “dreimal” (three times).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In anticipation of Peter’s answer to Jesus, the Evangelist again changes the mood with the wildly jumping “Petrus sprach zu ihm” (Peter said to him). This, in fact, is the same motif used by the Evangelist to introduce Jesus’ previous line: a downward musical arc. But how different does it sound here! Instead of the smooth arc, it is now built up out of large, irregular jumps.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Peter’s answer appears to be a mixture of his old stubbornness, as well as some bitterness that Jesus does not believe him. The melody modulates, clearly painting his unhappiness about the whole episode.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 17. Choral
Ich will hier bei dir stehen;
Verachte mich doch nicht!
Von dir will ich nicht gehen,
Wenn dir dein Herze bricht.
Wenn dein Herz wird erblassen
Im letzten Todesstoß,
Alsdenn will ich dich fassen
In meinen Arm und Schoß. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 17. Chorale
I will here by thee stand now; 
O put me not to scorn! 
From thee will I go never, 
While thee thy heart doth break. 
When thy heart doth grow pallid 
Within death’s final stroke, 
E’en then will I enfold thee 
Within my arms and lap.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Here we meet the Passion chorale again. It has the same melody as the previous version, but is written in another key.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The text is interesting. By looking ahead, beyond the present point in time, to Jesus’ coming death, we are able to better understand and feel his anguish, which will be the main point of the next section.

 

[] Gethsemane (18-25)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 18. Evangelista
Da kam Jesus mit ihnen zu einem Hofe, der hieß Gethsemane, und sprach zu seinen Jüngern:

[*Jesus *]
Setzet euch hie, bis daß ich dort hingehe und bete.

Evangelista
Und nahm zu sich Petrum und die zween Söhne Zebedäi und fing an zu trauern und zu zagen. Da sprach Jesus zu ihnen:

[
Jesus]
Meine Seele ist betrübt bis an den Tod, bleibet hie und wachet mit mir. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*18. Evangelist *] Then came Jesus with them to a garden, known as Gethsemane, and said to his disciples:

[*Jesus *]
Sit ye down here, while I go over there and pray.

Evangelist 
And taking Peter with him and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to mourn and to be troubled. Then said Jesus unto them:

Jesus 
Now my soul is sore distressed, even to death; tarry here and keep watch with me. |

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This scene and the next are painted in dark, somber tones. Here we come to the deepest point of the first part of the Matthäus-Passion: Jesus’ struggle with himself. It also is the most intimate section: here we learn the mental state Jesus is in, what he feels and thinks. We meet him personally here, in a way that will not recur in the remainder of the work.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how “Setzet euch hie” (Sit ye down here) in its downward motion paints the sitting down of the disciples. The sentence is very solemn, particularly on “bete” (pray), which is emphasized by an embellishment in the “halo” accompaniment.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Also note the melisma sung by the Evangelist on “trauern und zagen” (to mourn and to be troubled).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The steadily “heartbeat” accompaniment under Jesus’ last sentence in this section is very impressive. To me it appears to make the sentence sad and weighty. It also looks ahead to the accompaniment in the following accompanied recitative.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 19. Recitativo & Choral

Tenor
O Schmerz!
Hier zittert das gequälte Herz;
Wie sinkt es hin, wie bleicht sein Angesicht!

Chorus II
Was ist die Ursach aller solcher Plagen?

Tenor
Der Richter führt ihn vor Gericht.
Da ist kein Trost, kein Helfer nicht.

Chorus II
Ach! meine Sünden haben dich geschlagen;

Tenor
Er leidet alle Höllenqualen,
Er soll vor fremden Raub bezahlen.

Chorus II
Ich, ach Herr Jesu, habe dies verschuldet
Was du erduldet.

Tenor
Ach, könnte meine Liebe dir,
Mein Heil, dein Zittern und dein Zagen
Vermindern oder helfen tragen,
Wie gerne blieb ich hier! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 19. Recitative & Chorale

Tenor
O pain! 
Here trembleth the tormented heart; 
How it doth sink, how pale his countenance!

Choir II
What is the reason for all these great torments?

[Tenor
**]The judge conveys him to the court.
Here is no hope, and helper none.

Choir II
Alas, my sins, they have thee sorely stricken;

Tenor 
He suffers all of hell’s own torture, 
He must for others’ theft make payment.

Choir II
I, ah Lord Jesus, have this debt encumbered 
Which thou art bearing. 

Tenor
Ah, would that now my love for thee, 
My health, thy trembling and thy terror 
Could lighten or could help thee carry. 
How gladly would I stay! |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Something new here: an accompanied recitative combined with a chorale. The recitative portrays the trembling emotion of a believer who is present in Gethsemane and watches the scene. Bach uses a wild melody, with high notes and large skips, to indicate the emotion. The trembling “zittern” is painted by the fast notes of the bass line, countered by a wailing motif in the winds.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In sharp contrast to the direct, emotional style of the arioso, the chorale provides a different way of looking at the same scene: it is slow, organized, calm and reflective. Because of the contrast between the two, the anguish of the soloist becomes even clearer. We have seen Bach use this technique before, and will see it again.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Bach uses Choir II for the chorale, as well as for the following aria. This is an exception to the usual rule that Choir II represents Jesus’ adversaries. Bach uses it because in the original version of the Matthäus-Passion the arioso and aria were supposed to be sung by a tenor from Choir I. Using Choir II for the chorale provided better spatial contrast. In modern performances, the arias are sung by separate soloists, so that both choirs are available for singing the chorale.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Another technique frequently used by Bach is the use of ariosos, arias and chorales to provide more information about the scene than provided by the Bible text. In this case the arioso describes Jesus’ facial expression, as well as His feelings, much more detailed than the Evangelist’s narrative.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [* 20. Aria: Tenor (+ Chor) *
**]Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen,

Chorus II
So schlafen unsre Sünden ein.

Tenor
Meinen Tod
Büßet seine Seelennot;
Sein Trauren machet mich voll Freuden.

Chorus II
Drum muß uns sein verdienstlich Leiden
Recht bitter und doch süße sein. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [* 20. Aria: Tenor (+ Choir) *] I will be with my Jesus watching,

Choir II
That slumber may our sins enfold.

Tenor
Mine own death 
Is redeemed by his soul’s woe; 
His sorrow filleth me with gladness.

Choir II
Thus for us his most worthy passion 
Most bitter and yet sweet must be. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is the first aria sung by a male voice in the Matthäus-Passion. As noted before, the men always seem to want to “do” something – in this case, stay awake with Jesus. The arias are more “practical” than those sung by women.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. And as we have moved to a new mood – one of anguish and suspense – we have also left the series of “tear-drop” arias behind us.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is in this aria some musical painting of the singer’s difficulty in staying awake. Note particularly the almost yawning melismatic motion on the final “wachen” (wake). Rilling interprets the oboe accompaniment, in contrast, as a military-style signal to awaken.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is another long melisma in the aria: on “Freuden” (gladness) in the middle section. But note how different the two are. Whereas “wachen” (wake) is a slow, dragged-out motion, “Freuden” (gladness) is quick, complicated and joyful.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The use of the choir in the aria is a continuation of previous arioso. The chorus part is very interesting, soft and quieting, almost a lullaby. This is an example of Bach’s use of the choir as an “innocent bystander”, as discussed in the introduction.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Importantly, Bach does not use different sound color for “bitter” (bitter) and “süße” (sweet) – which he typically would have done. It suggests that he sees these two aspects of the passion as indissoluble: both are essential parts that can not be disconnected. He then prolongs this phrase, as for emphasis.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 21. [*Evangelista *]
Und ging hin ein wenig, fiel nieder auf sein Angesicht und betete und sprach:

Jesus
Mein Vater, ist’s möglich, so gehe dieser Kelch von mir; doch nicht wie ich will, sondern wie du willt. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*21. Evangelist *] He went on a little, fell down upon his  face and, having prayed, he said:

Jesus
My Father, if possible, allow this cup to pass from me; but not as I will, rather as thou wilt. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the downwards motion of the melody on “fiel nieder” (fell down).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. It is interesting to compare the musical representation of “betete” (prayed) with the similar way Bach handles the word “dankete” (gave thanks) in the Last Supper scene (11). In both cases one can almost see the hands outstretched up to heaven. As usual, Bach makes clever use of the contrast provided in the text between the ideas of lowness in “fiel nieder” (fell down) and highness in “betete” (prayed).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a contrast between Jesus’ two prayers in this section. The first one here is solemn and controlled.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 22. Arioso: Bass
Der Heiland fällt vor seinem Vater nieder;
Dadurch erhebt er mich und alle
Von unserm Falle
Hinauf zu Gottes Gnade wieder.
Er ist bereit,
Den Kelch, des Todes Bitterkeit
Zu trinken,
In welchen Sünden dieser Welt
Gegossen sind und häßlich stinken,
Weil es dem lieben Gott gefällt. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 22. Arioso: Bass
The Savior falls before his Father prostrate; 
Thereby he raiseth me and all men 
From our corruption 
Aloft again to God’s dear mercy. 
He is prepared 
The cup, the bitterness of death, 
To drink now, 
In which the sins of this our world 
Have been infused, now loathsome reeking, 
Because God wills it so to be.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In several places in the Passion, Picander has strategically placed ariosos and arias in order to better indicate the passage of time, and therefore help the dramatic action. This is one of those places: he separates Jesus’ prayers by additional music.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The falling down is indicated in the accompaniment by the descending chords. The melody line, though, adapts itself closely to the text, the first phrase “Der Heiland fällt…” (The savior falls) is descending, but the next “Dadurch erhebt er…” (Thereby he raises) rises again.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the modulation to a different key, and the “false” notes that are sung on “hässlich stinken” (loathsome reeking), followed by a sudden transition to the sweet and beautiful last line. The modulation here serves a double purpose: it paints the hatefulness of the cup, and at the same time prepares the way for the last line, which has to sound as different as possible from all that came before.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 23. Aria: Bass
Gerne will ich mich bequemen,
Kreuz und Becher anzunehmen,
Trink ich doch dem Heiland nach.
Denn sein Mund,
Der mit Milch und Honig fließet,
Hat den Grund
Und des Leidens herbe Schmach
Durch den ersten Trunk versüßet. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 23. Aria: Bass
Gladly would I be most willing 
Cross and chalice to accept now, 
Drinking from my Savior’s cup. 
For his mouth, 
Which with milk and honey floweth, 
Hath the earth, 
And all sorrow’s bitter taste 
With the very first draught sweetened.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In this triple-meter, dance-like aria, the singer states how he “gladly” would like to “do” something: take part in Jesus’ passion.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Yet, at the same time, the frequent syncopations indicate the profound hesitation. It depects in music what Jesus will soon after say in words: “Der Geist ist willig, aber das Fleisch ist schwach.” (The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [
**][*24. Evangelista *]
Und er kam zu seinen Jüngern und fand sie schlafend und sprach zu ihnen:

[*Jesus *]
Könnet ihr denn nicht eine Stunde mit mir wachen? Wachet und betet, daß ihr nicht in Anfechtung fallet! Der Geist ist willig, aber das Fleisch ist schwach.

[*Evangelista *]
Zum andernmal ging er hin, betete und sprach:

[*Jesus *]
Mein Vater, ist’s nicht möglich, daß dieser Kelch von mir gehe, ich trinke ihn denn, so geschehe dein Wille. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ *24. Evangelist *] And he came to his disciples and found them sleeping and said unto them:

[*Jesus *]
Could ye then not watch with me even for one hour? Watch ye and pray, that ye not fall into temptation! The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
[*Evangelist *]
A second time he went off, prayed and said:

[*Jesus *]
My Father, if it cannot be that this cup pass from me, unless I have drunk it, then let thy will be done. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the low, painting tones on “schlafend” (sleeping).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. On “wachet und betet” (watch ye and pray) the feeling of impending doom that we noted before returns in full force.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There appears to be a double meaning to “Der Geist ist willig” (The Spirit is willing). Obviously it is directed to the disciples, but Bach makes it appear in the music as if Jesus realizes it applies to Himself as well. The pregnant rest after “aber” (but) seems to indicate Jesus’ hesitancy in speaking the words.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The melody on Jesus’ second prayer is much more emotional and forceful than that on the first one. There is a distinct urgency in the music. Similarly, the introduction by the Evangelist is more intense than before.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. I find the music on “ich trinke ihn den” (I will the drink it) decidedly sound like a question. It appears to me that Bach makes Jesus’ ambivalence clear by contrasting the music with the text. Even though Jesus declares he will drink the cup, he still asks if it is possible to forego it. The music takes the part of Jesus’ inner feelings, as compared to his outward expressions through the text.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The melody on “so geschehe dein Wille” (then let Thy will be done) gives the impression of a decision taken with much difficulty. It is not as final and convincing as one would initially expect at a moment like this. Compare it, for example, with “will ich vor euch hingehen in Galiläam” (I will go before you to Galilee, 14).

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 25. Choral
Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit,
Sein Will, der ist der beste,
Zu helfen den’n er ist bereit,
Die an ihn gläuben feste.
Er hilft aus Not, der fromme Gott,
Und züchtiget mit Maßen.
Wer Gott vertraut, fest auf ihn baut,
Den will er nicht verlassen. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 25. Chorale
What my God will, be done alway, 
His will, it is the best will; 
To help all those he is prepared 
Whose faith in him is steadfast. 
He frees from want, this righteous God, 
And punisheth with measure: 
Who trusts in God, on him relies, 
Him will he not abandon.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The chorale is an amplification of Jesus’ last statement. Even though Jesus did not sound quite convincing in the foregoing recitative, here the finality of His decision is made obvious. This should be sung as one of the most forceful chorales in the Matthäus-Passion, especially the last two lines.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Again, additional music helps to indicate the passage of time.

 

Jesus arrested (26-28)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*26. Evangelista *]
Und er kam und fand sie aber schlafend, und ihre Augen waren voll Schlafs. Und er ließ sie und ging abermal hin und betete zum drittenmal und redete dieselbigen Worte. Da kam er zu seinen Jüngern und sprach zu ihnen:

[*Jesus *]
Ach! wollt ihr nun schlafen und ruhen? Siehe, die Stunde ist hie, daß des Menschen Sohn in der Sünder Hände überantwortet wird. Stehet auf, lasset uns gehen; siehe, er ist da, der mich verrät. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*26. Evangelist *] And he came and found them once more sleeping, and now their eyes were heavy with sleep. And he left them and went off once again a third time and said again the very same words. Then came he to his disciples and said unto them:

[*Jesus *]
Ah, would ye now sleep and rest? Lo now, the hour is come when the Son of man is delivered over to the hands of sinners. Rise ye up, let us be going; see there, he is come, who doth betray me. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The melody on Jesus’ sentences here creates a very intense mixture: maximum musical suspense, as well as a painting of his deep fear at that fateful moment. The building up of suspense is particularly evident in the accompaniment of “Siehe” (see there).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Both the text and the music of “Stehet auf, lasset uns gehen; siehe, er ist da” (Rise ye up, let us be going; see there, he is come), appears to indicate a moment of confusion, almost panic, in Jesus. The short sentence fragments, and the frequent rests and modulations in the music show his bewilderment. It almost appears as if “lasset uns gehen” (let us be going) indicates a sudden urge to run away.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is the last time we see direct fear in Jesus. Here he is as human as can possibly be. After the arrest and in the remainder of the Matthäus-Passion, he is only portrayed as God (except for the moment of his death).

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*Evangelista *]
Und als er noch redete, siehe, da kam Judas, der Zwölfen einer, und mit ihm eine große Schar mit Schwerten und mit Stangen von den Hohenpriestern und Altesten des Volks. Und der Verräter hatte ihnen ein Zeichen gegeben und gesagt: »Welchen ich küssen werde, der ist’s, den greifet!« Und alsbald trat er zu Jesu und sprach:

Judas
Gegrüßet seist du, Rabbi!

[*Evangelist *]
Und küssete ihn. Jesus aber sprach zu ihm:

[*Jesus *]
Mein Freund, warum bist du kommen?

[*Evangelist *]
Da traten sie hinzu und legten die Hände an Jesum und griffen ihn. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*Evangelist *] And while he was speaking still, behold, there came Judas, one of the twelve, and with him came a great crowd with swords and with clubs from the chief priests and elders of the people. And the betrayer had given them a signal already and had said: “He whom I shall kiss, is he, him take ye!” At that he went up to Jesus and said:

Judas
My greetings to thee, Rabbi!

[*Evangelist *]
And gave him a kiss. Jesus, though, said to him:

[*Jesus *]
My friend, wherefore art thou come here?

[*Evangelist *]
Then came the others forth and, laying their hands upon Jesus, they captured him. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The Evangelist’s “siehe” (behold) echos the two times that Jesus uses the word.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Here again we have an excellent example of how the Evangelist is drawn into the drama, and becomes obviously excited.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. I like the simple but efficient way in which Bach puts a sharp and forceful melody on “den greifet!” (him take ye!)

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The descending melody on Judas’ “Gegrüsset seist du” (My greetings to thee) pictures him bowing down for Jesus. But there is something unreal and dishonest about it. It appears overdone.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Jesus’ answer is very tender and soft. The question is stated so explicitly in the music, by a rising melody that ends free floating in the air, that it is only too obvious that the question is rethorical.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The softness and open-endedness of the question also paves the way for and provides a contrast with the forceful last sentence of the Evangelist.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 27a. [* Aria: Soprano & Alto (+ Chor) *]
So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen.

Chorus II
Laßt ihn, haltet, bindet nicht!

Soprano & Alto
Mond und Licht
Ist vor Schmerzen untergangen,
Weil mein Jesus ist gefangen.

Chorus II
Laßt ihn, haltet, bindet nicht!

Soprano & Alto
Sie führen ihn, er ist gebunden. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [* 27a. Duet: Soprano & Alto (+ Choir) *] Thus hath my Jesus now been taken.

Choir II
Free him, hold off, bind him not!

Soprano & Alto 
Moon and light 
Are in sorrow set and hidden, 
For my Jesus hath been taken.

Choir II
Free him, hold off, bind him not!

Soprano & Alto 
They lead him off, he is in fetters. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. At this important moment in the Passion story, the arrest of Jesus, Bach introduces a new musical form: a duet. It is sung in a wailing, helpless style, contrasted with the aggressively screamed calls of the choir (Choir II is used, as in the aria in 20, for the reasons explained there).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. “Mond und Licht” (moon and light) reminds us that it is night, another example of how Bach expands on the description given in the gospel narrative.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 27b. Chori
Sind Blitze, sind Donner in Wolken verschwunden?
Eröffne den feurigen Abgrund, o Hölle,
Zertrümmre, verderbe, verschlinge, zerschelle
Mit plötzlicher Wut
Den falschen Verräter, das mördrische Blut! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 27b. Choirs
Hath lightning, hath thunder in clouds fully vanished? 
Lay open thy fire’s raging chasm, O hell, then,
Now ruin, demolish, devour, now shatter 
With suddenmost wrath 
The lying betrayer, that murderous blood!

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Two choirs are used in this famous chorus. The anger of the believers, already clear in the “Lasst ihn, haltet” (Free him, hold off) in the previous section, now fully breaks through, as if interrupting the duet (although, of course, its final line neatly prepares for this following outburst).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the continuous, rumbling instrumental bass line, and the choral bass line, alternating between rumbling (thunder) and quick, short notes on (lightning). Initially, only the continuo group accompanies, then the orchestra joins in to increase the drama even further. In the final line of the first part, both choirs pick up the quickly alternating motifs, before asking the question one last time.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Then there is sudden silence: all wait to see if lightning and thunder will in fact destroy those who have captured Jesus. But nothing happens. This measure of rest in the middle makes the return of the music even more forceful than it would otherwise be. For maximal effect Bach makes the choirs come back in a different key than the one that concluded the part before the rest. And now – since lightning and thunder were without effect – Hell is summoned to devour the traitor and his people.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the magnificent climax on “Zertrümmre, verderbe, verschlinge, zerschelle” (ruin, demolish, devour, shatter). The words are alternately sung by the two choirs, so that the shouts come in quick succession from both sides.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The section ends in a loud, rhythmical line. Whereas the passage was in a minor key, Bach makes the final chord a major chord (using a so-called picardic third), which is more open and forceful.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There are some interesting things to note beyond the simple violence of the music. As an example, the melody on “Sind Blitze, sind Donner” (Hath lightning, hath thunder) is descending (from heaven down). In almost an inversion, the one on “Eröffne den feurigen Abgrund (Lay open thy fire’s raging chasm)” is climbing (from hell up). In that subtle way Bach put the two parts of the section in a contrasting relationship.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 28. Evangelista
Und siehe, einer aus denen, die mit Jesu waren, reckete die Hand aus und schlug des Hohenpriesters Knecht und hieb ihm ein Ohr ab. Da sprach Jesus zu ihm:

[*Jesus *]
Stecke dein Schwert an seinen Ort; denn wer das Schwert nimmt, der soll durchs Schwert umkommen. Oder meinest du, daß ich nicht könnte meinen Vater bitten, daß er mir zuschickte mehr denn zwölf Legion Engel? Wie würde aber die Schrift erfüllet? Es muß also gehen.

Evangelista
Zu der Stund sprach Jesus zu den Scharen:

[*Jesus *]
Ihr seid ausgegangen als zu einem Mörder, mit Schwerten und mit Stangen, mich zu fahen; bin ich doch täglich bei euch gesessen und habe gelehret im Tempel, und ihr habt mich nicht gegriffen. Aber das ist alles geschehen, daß erfüllet würden die Schriften

Evangelista
Da verließen ihn alle Jünger und flohen. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 28. Evangelist And lo now, one of that number, who were there with Jesus, did stretch out his hand then and struck the slave of the chief priest and cut off his ear. Then said Jesus to him:

[*Jesus *]
Put back thy sword into its place; for all who take the sword must by the sword perish. Or dost thou then think that I could not appeal unto my Father that to me he send forth more than twelve legions of angels? How would the scripture, though, be fulfilled? It must be this way.

Evangelist
At this hour said Jesus to the many:

[*Jesus *]
Ye are now come forward as against a murderer, with swords and with clubs now to take me; but I have daily been sitting with you and have been there teaching in the temple, and ye did not ever seize me. But all this is now come to pass, to bring fulfillment to the scriptures of the prophets.

Evangelist
Then did all the disciples flee and forsake him. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Once again, the Evangelist is very excited in his singing.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. It is very interesting to see how a slightly different melodic line can evoke a completely different mood. The high notes on “mehr” and on “muss” in Jesus’ first statement are very similar, and in fact the latter recalls the former. Nonetheless, by differences in the notes around them, “mehr” (more) simply implies emphasis, whereas “muß” (must) has a stirring fatefulness over it, unequalled even in Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note Jesus’ disgust in the dissonant chord used on “Mörder”.

 

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 29. Choral
O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß,
Darum Christus seins Vaters Schoß
Äußert und kam auf Erden;
Von einer Jungfrau rein und zart
Für uns er hie geboren ward,
Er wollt der Mittler werden.
Den Toten er das Leben gab
Und legt darbei all Krankheit ab,
Bis sich die Zeit herdrange,
Daß er für uns geopfert würd,
Trüg unsrer Sünden schwere Bürd
Wohl an dem Kreuze lange. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 29. Chorale
O man, bewail thy sins so great, 
For which Christ did his Father’s lap 
Reveal and came to earth here; 
And of a virgin pure and mild 
For us he here to birth did come 
To be the Intercessor. 
Unto the dead he granted life 
And put off all infirmity 
Until the time pressed forward 
That he for us be sacrificed; 
He bore our sins’ most grievous weight 
Upon the cross, long suff’ring.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The closing chorus of the first part of the Matthäus-Passion is an enormously elaborate chorale fantasy, in many ways (especially use of voices) reminding.us of the opening chorus.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The main difference is in the use of both choirs as a single unit. This is probably a result of the fact that this chorus was originally uses in an early version of the Johannes-Passion, which uses a single choir only. It was not added to the Matthäus-Passion until nine years after its first performance.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. If the chorale in the opening chorus was reminiscent of the Agnus Dei, the text of this closing chorus reminds one of the Credo.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is, however, a certain formality about it, less deep emotion, less intense feeling. In this way it is incongruent with most of the Matthäus-Passion, and particularly with the final scenes of the first part. Gardiner feels the same: “Each time I conduct the Passion I sense a structural shift at this point, a momentary change of gears: it lasts only a few seconds and all is well again.” Bach somehow preferred this for a closing statement. We will note the same in the closing chorus of the whole work.

[] Matthäus-Passion, Part 2

 

[] Searching for Jesus (30)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 30. Aria: Alto [* (+ Chor) *]
Ach! nun ist mein Jesus hin!
Ist es möglich, kann ich schauen?
Ach! mein Lamm in Tigerklauen,
Ach! wo ist mein Jesus hin?
Ach! was soll ich der Seele sagen,
Wenn sie mich wird ängstlich fragen?
Ach! wo ist mein Jesus hin?

Chorus II
Wo ist denn dein Freund hingegangen,
O du Schönste unter den Weibern?
Wo hat sich dein Freund hingewandt?
So wollen wir mit dir ihn suchen.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [* 30. Aria: Alto (+ Choir) *] Ah, now is my Jesus gone! Is it granted, can I see him? Ah, my lamb in tiger’s clutches,  Ah, where is my Jesus gone? Ah, what shall I say to my spirit  When it doth in anguish ask me:  Ah, where is my Jesus gone?

Choir II
Where is then thy friend now departed, 
O thou fairest of all the women?
Where hath he thy friend gone away?
We will with thee now go and seek him.

|

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The second part of the Matthäus-Passion narrates the external passion of Jesus. We do not get as close a look at his feelings and thinking as we did in the first part. Now he is portrayed more God-like: he stands above the things happening to him, and it is other people that will provide the emotions in this part of the drama. As to the other characters of the “cast”, their number expands significantly: in addition to those encountered in Part I, we’ll meet Pontius Pilate, witnesses, maids, and priests.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The opening aria of the second part is another song of emotional lament, as was the opening chorus of the first part. And as with that other opening chorus, the text is taken from the Song of Songs. (This is one place where I’m unsure of the translation by Philip Ambrose. “Ist es möglich, kann ich schauen?” is more likely to mean: “Can it be, dare I look?”)

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The naive ignorance of the chorus about the momentous events that are happening intensifies our appreciation of the feelings of the soloist. The chorus is quite wordly in approach: “let’s go look for him”. That also explains the otherwise somewhat strange addition of “Schönste unter den Weibern” (thou fairest of all the women). As the soloists were members of Choir I in the original performance, the chorus was assigned to Choir II in order to maintain spatial separation.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The off-beat beginning of the long “Ach!” creates a feeling of starting the lament at a random point in time, unconcerned about the music.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The lines of the chorus seem designed to build up in a gradual climax, and then quickly end on a cadence in one measure.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the long, wailing melisma on “Tigerklauen” (tiger’s clutches).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. After “So wollen wir mit dir ihn suchen” (we will with thee now go and seek him), the epitome of well-meaning, but misunderstanding bystanders, the usual shift in thought occurs: in the second part of the aria the question is understood to come from the soul.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Text-wise as well as musically, the aria ends on a question: where is Jesus gone? It is answered in the subsequent recitative.

 

[] Before the Sanhedrin (31-36b)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 31. Evangelista
Die aber Jesum gegriffen hatten, führeten ihn zu dem Hohenpriester Kaiphas, dahin die Schriftgelehrten und Ältesten sich versammlet hatten. Petrus aber folgete ihm nach von ferne bis in den Palast des Hohenpriesters und ging hinein und satzte sich bei die Knechte, auf daß er sähe, wo es hinaus wollte. Die Hohenpriester aber und Ältesten und der ganze Rat suchten falsche Zeugnis wider Jesum, auf daß sie ihn töteten, und funden keines. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 31. Evangelist
But those, however, who had seized Jesus led him away to the chief priest, who was Caiphas, there where the learned scribes and the elders already had assembled. Peter, though, had followed him from a distance up to the palace of the chief priest and went inside and sat himself near the servants, that he might see what the outcome would be. The chief priests, though, and also the elders and the whole assembly sought untrue witness against Jesus in order to kill him, and they did find none.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the suspense created by the high notes on “ferne” (afar) and “Palast” (palace), as we follow Peter advancing into the enemy’s camp.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Contrast the chromatic notes on “töteten” (kill) against the innocence sounding through in “und funden keines” (and they did find none).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The second part of the Matthäus-Passion suffers a little from very long speeches by the Evangelist. One really needs to understand recitative and its beauty to enjoy passages like this.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 32. Choral
Mir hat die Welt trüglich gericht’
Mit Lügen und mit falschem G’dicht,
Viel Netz und heimlich Stricke.
Herr, nimm mein wahr in dieser G’fahr,
B’hüt mich für falschen Tücken! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 32. Chorale The world hath judged me with deceit,  With lying and with false conceit,  With nets and snares in secret.  Lord, me regard In this distress,  Guard me from false deceptions. | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 33. Evangelista Und wiewohl viel falsche Zeugen herzutraten, funden sie doch keins. Zuletzt traten herzu zween falsche Zeugen und sprachen:

Testis I & II (Alto & Tenor)
Er hat gesagt: Ich kann den Tempel Gottes abbrechen und in dreien Tagen denselben bauen.

Evangelista
Und der Hohepriester stund auf und sprach zu ihm:

Pontifex
Antwortest du nichts zu dem, das diese wider dich zeugen?

[
Evangelista]
Aber Jesus schwieg stille. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 33. Evangelist And although there came there many false witnesses, they still did find none. At last entered therein two false informants and said:

Witness I & II (Alto & Tenor)
He hath declared: “God’s temple can I fully demolish and within three days’ time I can rebuild it.”

Evangelist
And the chief priest then stood up and said to him:

Priest
Replies thou nought to that which they have witnessed against thee?

Evangelist
But Jesus kept silent. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the imitation between the two witnesses, almost done with a certain humor. In fact, it was not unusual in passion plays of Bach’s time to have the witnesses appear as a little comical relief in the serious story. It indicates how the false witnesses are simply copying each other, but possibly also that similar testimony by two witnesses was required in order to convict Jesus (Rilling).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the melisma on “bauen” (build), indicating the gradual rising up of the building, almost as if the witnesses point it out with their hands. The motif is echoed by the accompaniment at the end of the sentence.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The high note on “stund auf” (stood up) paints the majestic rising of the high priest.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the noble melody on the Evangelist’s last sentence.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 34. Arioso: Tenor
Mein Jesus schweigt
Zu falschen Lügen stille,
Um uns damit zu zeigen,
Daß sein Erbarmens voller Wille
Vor uns zum Leiden sei geneigt,
Und daß wir in dergleichen Pein
Ihm sollen ähnlich sein
Und in Verfolgung stille schweigen. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 34. Arioso: Tenor
My Jesus keeps 
Amidst false lies his silence, 
To show us by example 
That his dear mercy’s full intention 
For us to suffer now inclines, 
In order that within such pain 
We should resemble him, 
In persecution keep our silence.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a moment of suspense in the story: will Jesus speak? Inserting an arioso and aria at this point prolongs the suspense for a while.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The slow chords of the accompaniment indicate the restraint the text is talking about. At the same time, however, they foreshadow the stinging tongues of the following aria.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 35. Aria: Tenor
Geduld!
Wenn mich falsche Zungen stechen.
Leid ich wider meine Schuld
Schimpf und Spott,
Ei, so mag der liebe Gott
Meines Herzens Unschuld rächen. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 35. Aria: Tenor
Forbear,
Though deceiving tongues may sting me! 
Though I suffer, innocent, 
Mocking scorn, 
Ah, then may the Lord above 
Give my guiltless heart its vengeance.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how the slow chords of the previous arioso are now transformed into a whipping accompaniment.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The melody of the aria is very emotional. There are melismas “stechen” (sting), “rächen” (revenge), large jumps “Schimpf und Spott” (mocking scorn) and irregular rhythms, all against the continuous hitting motion of the bass.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As expected from an aria sung by a man, it does appear that the aria singer is not a prime example of the patience he is asking for. As Gardiner states: “’Patience!’ he tells himself with his very first word (Geduld!), only to lose it the very next moment as ‘false tongues sting me’.”

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. But maybe because of this psychological depiction of a struggle with oneself, it resonates particularly well with modern listeners.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 36a. Evangelista
Und der Hohepriester antwortete und sprach zu ihm:

Pontifex
Ich beschwöre dich bei dem lebendigen Gott, daß du uns sagest, ob du seiest Christus, der Sohn Gottes?

Evangelista
Jesus sprach zu ihm:

[*Jesus *]
Du sagest’s. Doch sage ich euch: Von nun an wird’s geschehen, daß ihr sehen werdet des Menschen Sohn sitzen zur Rechten der Kraft und kommen in den Wolken des Himmels.

Evangelista
Da zerriß der Hohepriester seine Kleider und sprach:

Pontifex
Er hat Gott gelästert; was dürfen wir weiter Zeugnis? Siehe, itzt habt ihr seine Gotteslästerung gehöret. Was dünket euch?

[
Evangelista]
Sie antworteten und sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 36a. Evangelist And the chief priest then, answering, spake thus to him:

Priest
I adjure thee in the name of the living God, that thou shouldst tell us, if thou art the Christ, the Son of God.

Evangelist
Jesus said to him:

[*Jesus *]
Thou sayest. But I say to you: from henceforth it will happen that ye shall behold the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.

[
Evangelist]
Thereupon the chief priest rent his clothes asunder and said:

Priest
God hath he blasphemed; what need we of further witness? See here, now have ye heard his blasphemy against God. What is your judgment?

Evangelist
They answerèd and said: |

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 36b. Chori I & II
Er ist des Todes schuldig! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 36b. Choirs I & II
He is of death deserving!

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Although the Evangelist begins the section calmly, gradually more excitement appears in his recitative.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Here finally is the end to the suspense: Jesus speaks. Note how his quiet answer (the mood for which is, as usual, set carefully by the Evangelist) contrasts with the anger of the priest.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The motif on “des menschen Sohn” (the son of man) is immediately echoed by the accompaniment, and quickly becomes the main motif of the recitative, reaching its high point on “Wolken” (clouds). This, as well as the very dramatic and final ending, is a strong reminder of the Last Supper, another “prophecy scene”.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The short turba of the priests is quite expressive. As noted in the introduction, this is an example of the second way in which Bach uses the two choirs: at the same time, but independently. Rilling feels that the way in which the eight voices enter sequentially may represent a vote.

 

[] Jesus mocked by the priests (36c-37)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 36c. Evangelista
Da speieten sie aus in sein Angesicht und schlugen ihn mit Fäusten. Etliche aber schlugen ihn ins Angesicht und sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 36c. Evangelist Then did they spit upon his countenance and struck him with their fists. Some, though, there were who struck him upon his face and said: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ 36d. Due chori **]Weissage uns, Christe, wer ist’s, der dich schlug? |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ 36d. Both choirs] Foretell it us, Christ Lord, tell us who struck thee! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 37. Choral Wer hat dich so geschlagen, Mein Heil, und dich mit Plagen So übel zugericht’? Du bist ja nicht ein Sünder Wie wir und unsre Kinder; Von Missetaten weißt du nicht. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 37. Chorale
Who hath thee thus so smitten, 
My health, and thee tormented, 
So evilly abused? 
Thou art indeed no sinner 
Like us and our descendants; 
Of evil deeds thou knowest not.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the very chromatic melody line of the over-emotional Evangelist as he describes the events. His last line picks up speed and runs up to the turba.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The two continuo notes after “Fäusten” (fists) indicate the beating.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the short and hitting melody in the confused, angry turba, as well as sadistic enjoyment in the melody – even their laughter can be heard. The turba modulates in the last measure to the key of the following chorale. This results in an unanticipated, and therefore emphasised, ending, as well as a smooth connection.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The turba is reminiscent of that other question, “Bin ich’s?” in the first part, and it is followed by the same chorale melody.

[] Peter disowns Jesus (38a-40)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*38a. Evangelista *]
Petrus aber saß draußen im Palast; und es trat zu ihm eine Magd und sprach:

Ancilla I
Und du warest auch mit dem Jesu aus Galiläa.

[*Evangelista *]
Er leugnete aber vor ihnen allen und sprach:

[*Petrus *]
Ich weiß nicht, was du sagest.

[*Evangelista *]
Als er aber zur Tür hinausging, sahe ihn eine andere und sprach zu denen, die da waren:

Ancilla II
Dieser war auch mit dem Jesu von Nazareth.

[*Evangelista *]
Und er leugnete abermal und schwur dazu:

[*Petrus *]
Ich kenne des Menschen nicht.

[*Evangelista *]
Und über eine kleine Weile traten hinzu, die da stunden, und sprachen zu Petro: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*38a. Evangelist *] Peter, meanwhile, sat outside in the court; and there came to him a maid and said:

Servant I
And thou was also with Jesus of Galilee.

Evangelist
But he then denied this before them all and said:

[*Peter *]
I know not what thou sayest.

[*Evangelist *]
But when he went out to the porch, he was seen by another maid, who said to those who were there:

Servant II
This man was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

[*Evangelist *]
And once more did he deny it and with an oath:

Peter
I know nothing of the man.

[*Evangelist *]
And when a little time had passed, there came to him those who were present and said to Peter:

| <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 38b. Chorus II Wahrlich, du bist auch einer von denen; denn deine Sprache verrät dich. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 38b. Choir II Truly, thou art one of those men also; for thine own speech doth betray thee. | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*38c. Evangelista *] Da hub er an, sich zu verfluchen und zu schwören:

[*Petrus *]
Ich kenne des Menschen nicht.

[*Evangelista *]
Und alsbald krähete der Hahn. Da dachte Petrus an die Worte Jesu, da er zu ihm sagte: Ehe der Hahn krähen wird, wirst du mich dreimal verleugnen. Und ging heraus und weinete bitterlich. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*38c. Evangelist *] Then he began to invoke a curse upon himself and to swear:

Peter
I know nothing of the man.

[*Evangelist *]
And at this moment the cock crew. Then Peter thought back to the words of Jesus, when he said unto him: “Before the cock shall have crowed, wilt three times thou have denied me.” And he went out and wept with great bitterness. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. We will take two short side trips here. First comes the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus, then we will hear the story of Judas’ death. As dramatically and emotionally as Bach handles the first, so matter-of-factly does he treat the second.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how the statements by the servants and the choir are musically phrased as questions: they ask for an explanation from Peter. They never, however, become hostile.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The first woman addresses Peter directly, and consequently a direct, loud voice is used; the second speaks, softly, to the crowd, trying not to let Peter hear, and again this is expressed in the music.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Bach’s use of the choir for the last question to Peter is not only logical because the question is asked by more than one person, but it also provides a more dramatic climax to the three comments about Peter. The choir gently mocks Peter, with the tenors notably laughing about his Galilean accent.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the gradually mounting excitement in the Evangelist’s and Peter’s recitative. Peter’s first answer is fairly quiet. After the second comment the Evangelist is more dramatic (note the high notes used on “leugnete” (denied) and “schwur” (with an oath)). Peter’s melody line becomes confused and somewhat less convincing. The third time the Evangelist’s introduction paints Peter’s excited attempts to deny knowledge of Jesus. Peter’s sentence itself makes him sound absolutely unconvincing.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. His denial is commented on by the continuo playing in parallel fifths, which was absolutely forbidden in Bach’s time: Peter does something false, and so does the music.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Bach makes an interesting link between Peter’s denial of Jesus and the crowing cock: Peter’s last line has same melody as “krähete der Hahn” (the cock crew).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how the whole atmosphere suddenly changes at “Da dachte Petrus” (Then Peter thought): he suddenly realizes what he has done. All excitement is gone, only sorrow and despair is left.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As we noted before (16), Bach did not let Jesus crow. Here, however, he has two chances to have the less holy Evangelist imitate the cock, and consequently he uses melismas on both.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the famous melisma on “weinete bitterlich” (wept with great bitterness).

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 39. Aria: Alto
Erbarme dich,
Mein Gott, um meiner Zähren willen!
Schaue hier,
Herz und Auge weint vor dir
Bitterlich. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 39. Aria: Alto
Have mercy Lord,
My God, because of this my weeping! 
Look thou here, 
Heart and eyes now weep for thee 
Bitterly.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Beginning on the same note on which the previous recicative ends, this aria could have been sung by Peter himself. Note the reference to the “weinete bitterlich” (wept with great bitterness)” of the previous recitative. Yet, at the same time, it broadens the gospel narrative to the whole world: all have denied Jesus, and all need his mercy. In the following chorale, we will hear the comments of the believers.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is almost more a song than a regular aria. Placed virtually in the center of the whole work, it is a deeply personal lament, but with something nonmaterial and other-wordly about it, sung against a pulsing background, like a heartbeat. We will hear more of this strange, unreal mood as the passion reaches its climax.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. That “heartbeat” pulse actually starts off with the first phrase of the Passion chorale, linking Jesus’ passion to humankind’s redemption by God’s mercy.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The inability of the voice to ever sing the complete melody (which we hear only as played by the violin) symbolizes how we fall short of ever being truly repentent.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This aria comes close to the Kyrie eleison in the catholic mass.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 40. Choral
Bin ich gleich von dir gewichen,
Stell ich mich doch wieder ein;
Hat uns doch dein Sohn verglichen
Durch sein’ Angst und Todespein.
Ich verleugne nicht die Schuld;
Aber deine Gnad und Huld
Ist viel größer als die Sünde,
Die ich stets in mir befinde. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 40. Chorale
Though I now have thee forsaken, 
I will once again return; 
For thy Son hath reconciled us 
Through his agony and death. 
I deny no whit my guilt; 
But thy mercy and thy grace 
Are much greater than the failings 
Which I ever find within me.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is the believers’ response to Peter’s betrayal. As we will see again immediately after Jesus’ death, Picander intensifies our involvement in the situation by applying someone else’s feelings to our self. In this case he lets the chorale consider our own denials of Jesus.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Heuss notes how Bach on occasion uses the tenor voice in chorales to emphasize text fragments that are not highlighted by the regular chorale melody. In this chorale we find several examples, e.g. “Angst und Todespein” (fear and agony), “nicht die Schuld” (not the guilt), and “als die Sünde” (than the sin).

 

[] Judas hangs himself (41a-42)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*41a. Evangelista *]
Des Morgens aber hielten alle Hohepriester und die Ältesten des Volks einen Rat über Jesum, daß sie ihn töteten. Und bunden ihn, führeten ihn hin und überantworteten ihn dem Landpfleger Pontio Pilato. Da das sahe Judas, der ihn verraten hatte, daß er verdammt war zum Tode, gereuete es ihn und brachte herwieder die dreißig Silberlinge den Hohenpriestern und Ältesten und sprach:
[
**
Judas]
Ich habe übel getan, daß ich unschuldig Blut verraten habe.
[
**
**][*Evangelista *]
Sie sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*41a. Evangelist *] When morning came, however, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took council concerning Jesus, that they might put him to death. And binding him, they led him away and handed him over unto the governor Pontius Pilatus. And when Judas saw this, the one who had betrayed him, that he had been condemned to death, it gave him great remorse, and, bringing back again the thirty silver pieces unto the chief priests and elders, he said:

Judas
I have committed a sin, for I have innocent blood here betrayed.

[*Evangelist *]
They said:

| <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 41b. Chori Was gehet uns das an? Da siehe du zu! |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 41b. Choirs How doth that us concern? See to it thyself! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ **][*41c. Evangelista *] Und er warf die Silberlinge in den Tempel, hub sich davon, ging hin und erhängete sich selbst. Aber die Hohenpriester nahmen die Silberlinge und sprachen:

Pontifex I & II
Es taugt nicht, daß wir sie in den Gotteskasten legen, denn es ist Blutgeld. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ *41c. Evangelist *] And he cast the silvers pieces in the temple, rose up from there, went forth and then hanged himself at once. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said:

Priests I & II
We cannot lawfully put them in the temple treasury, for this is blood money. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Bach tends to introduce a new subject, which will be the main point of a section, by highlighting one word. In this case, note the Evangelist’s emphasis on “töteten” (put him to death): the section in Pilate’s court leads to Jesus’ condemnation to death.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In a similar way, Pontius Pilate is introduced as by a herald: the next important player enters the scene.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In Judas’ last statement, he is finally honest, and so is the music. Compare this statement of Judas with his previous utterances “Bin ich’s, Rabbi?” (Is it I, Rabbi, 11) and “Gegrüsset seist du, Rabbi!” (Greetings to thee, Rabbi, 26).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The response by the high priests is decidedly haughty. Note the emphasis they put on “du” (thyself).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In the turba about the money, note the quiet, controlled discussion among priests, which then becomes more agitated at “Blutgeld” (blood money). There is a tremolo on the final “Blut” (blood), a shudder.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}.

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 42. Aria: Bass
Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder!
Seht, das Geld, den Mörderlohn,
Wirft euch der verlorne Sohn
Zu den Füßen nieder! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 42. Aria: Bass
Give back this my Jesus to me!
See the price, this murder’s wage, 
Thrown by this the fallen son 
At your feet before you!

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As is the narrative of Peter, the story of Judas is followed by an aria accompanied by solo violin. Rapid figurations accompany “das Geld” (the money), imitating the sound of coins being thrown.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. I find this aria very interesting. It has a “demanding” rhythm, and a certain decisive happiness: now that the money is returned, so should Jesus. It is disarming in its naive train of thought.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The rests, e.g. after “wieder” (back), show us the singer confidently waiting for an expected positive response from the priests.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Only in the final phrase, very gradually, we note more melismas. Some doubt finally breaks through.

 

[] Jesus before Pilate (43-50e)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*43. Evangelista *]
Sie hielten aber einen Rat und kauften einen Töpfersacker darum zum Begräbnis der Pilger. Daher ist derselbige Acker genennet der Blutacker bis auf den heutigen Tag. Da ist erfüllet, das gesagt ist durch den Propheten Jeremias, da er spricht: Sie haben genommen dreißig Silberlinge, damit bezahlet ward der Verkaufte, welchen sie kauften von den Kindern Israel, und haben sie gegeben um einen Töpfersacker, als mir der Herr befohlen hat. Jesus aber stund vor dem Landpfleger; und der Landpfleger fragte ihn und sprach:

Pilatus
Bist du der Jüden König?

[*Evangelista *]
Jesus aber sprach zu ihm
[
*Jesus *]
Du sagest’s.

[*Evangelista *]
Und da er verklagt war von den Hohenpriestern und Ältesten, antwortete er nichts. Da sprach Pilatus zu ihm:

Pilatus
Hörest du nicht, wie hart sie dich verklagen?

[*Evangelista *]
Und er antwortete ihm nicht auf ein Wort, also, daß sich auch der Landpfleger sehr verwunderte. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*43. Evangelist *] So they took counsel once again and bought with them a potter’s field set aside for the burial of strangers. Therefore is this selfsame field also known as the Field of Blood from then to this very day. Thus is fulfillèd what was told before by the prophet Jeremiah, when he saith: “And they have accepted thirty silver pieces, with which to pay the price of one purchased, whom they had purchased from the children of Israel, and they have given it to buy a potter’s field, as the Lord hath commanded me.” Jesus meanwhile stood before the governor; and the governor questioned him and said:

Pilate
Art thou the King of the Jews?

[*Evangelist *]
Jesus then replied to him:

[*Jesus *]
Thou sayest it.

[*Evangelist *]
And when he was charged by the chief priests and the elders, he made no reply. Then said Pilate unto him:

Pilate
Hearest thou not how harshly they accuse thee?

[*Evangelist *]
And he answerèd him to never a word, such that the governor was also much amazed at him. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. We return once more to Jesus.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Pilate’s first question, “Bist du der Juden König?” (Art thou the King of the Jews?) is stated friendly and quietly. Compare this to the aggressive question asked by the high priest in 36a.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Long rests after “Du sagest’s” (Thou sayest it) and “antwortete er nichts” (he answered nothing) are used to indicate Jesus’ paucity of speech.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note Pilate’s surprised excitement, as he does not understand why Jesus does not answer him, and the beautiful closing line beginning on “also” (such), which modulates to the bright key of D major. The surprising modulation echoes Pilate’s surprise, and also paints his mood. Pilate is portrayed in the Matthäus-Passion as wishing the best for Jesus, but not understanding Him.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 44. Choral
Befiehl du deine Wege
Und was dein Herze kränkt
Der allertreusten Pflege
Des, der den Himmel lenkt.
Der Wolken, Luft und Winden
Gibt Wege, Lauf und Bahn,
Der wird auch Wege finden,
Da dein Fuß gehen kann. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 44. Chorale
Commend thou all thy pathways 
And all that grieves thy heart 
To the most faithful keeping 
Of him who ruleth heav’n. 
To clouds and air and breezes 
He gives their course to run, 
He will find pathways also 
Whereon thy foot may walk.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. For the third time we hear the same Passion-chorale. It will be repeated several more times shortly, each time with deeper colors. Here it has a simple, comforting text.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*45a. Evangelista *]
Auf das Fest aber hatte der Landpfleger Gewohnheit, dem Volk einen Gefangenen loszugeben, welchen sie wollten. Er hatte aber zu der Zeit einen Gefangenen, einen sonderlichen vor andern, der hieß Barrabas. Und da sie versammlet waren, sprach Pilatus zu ihnen:

Pilatus
Welchen wollet ihr, daß ich euch losgebe? Barrabam oder Jesum, von dem gesaget wird, er sei Christus?

[*Evangelista *]
Denn er wußte wohl, daß sie ihn aus Neid überantwortet hatten. Und da er auf dem Richtstuhl saß, schickete sein Weib zu ihm und ließ ihm sagen:

Uxor Pilati
Habe du nichts zu schaffen mit diesem Gerechten; ich habe heute viel erlitten im Traum von seinetwegen! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*45a. Evangelist *] But upon this feast the governor had the custom of setting free a prisoner to the people, whom they had chosen. He had, however, on this occasion a prisoner, who stood out above the others, whose name was Barabbas. And when they had come together, Pilate said unto them:

Pilate
Which one would ye have that I release unto you? Barabbas or Jesus, of whom it is said that he is the Christ?

[*Evangelist *]
For he knew full well that it was for envy that they had delivered him. And as he sat upon the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him and gave this message:

Pilate’s wife
Have thou nothing to do with this righteous man; for I today have suffered much in a dream because of him! |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Here we begin a long and continuous increase in dramatic action: Pilate against the people. Obviously, Bach makes the people the main culprit for Jesus’ death. This section has some of the most dramatic content of any in the Matthäus- Passion, and we will look at it closely.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the nice way in which Bach musically uses “welchen sie wollten” (whomever they wished) as a subsidiary clause.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. “Welchen wollet ihr” (Which one would ye have): we can almost see Pilate sitting on his judgement seat, addressing the people below in a loud voice.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The small interlude about Pilate’s wife is interesting from a dramatic point of view. Although the text does not let Pilate’s wife appear in person, Bach makes her appear musically (i.e. sung by a different person than the Evangelist), to make the request more personal.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*Evangelista *]
Aber die Hohenpriester und die Ältesten überredeten das Volk, daß sie um Barrabam bitten sollten und Jesum umbrächten. Da antwortete nun der Landpfleger und sprach zu ihnen:

Pilatus
Welchen wollt ihr unter diesen zweien, den ich euch soll losgeben?

[*Evangelista *]
Sie sprachen:

Due chori
Barrabam!

[*Evangelista *]
Pilatus sprach zu ihnen:

Pilatus
Was soll ich denn machen mit Jesu, von dem gesagt wird, er sei Christus?

[*Evangelista *]
Sie sprachen alle: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*Evangelist *] Nevertheless the chief priests and the elders had now persuaded the crowd, that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. And in answer now, the governor said unto them:

Pilate
Which one would ye have of these two men here, that I set free to you?

[*Evangelist *]
And they said:

Both choirs
Barabbas!

[*Evangelist *]
And Pilate said unto them:

Pilate
What shall I then do with Jesus, of whom is said that he is Christ?

[*Evangelist *]
And they all said:

| <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 45b. Due chori Laß ihn kreuzigen! |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 45b. Both choirs Have him crucified! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 46. Choral Wie wunderbarlich ist doch diese Strafe! Der gute Hirte leidet für die Schafe, Die Schuld bezahlt der Herre, der Gerechte, Für seine Knechte. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 46. Chorale
How awe-inspiring is indeed this sentence! 
The worthy shepherd for his flock now suffers; 
The debt he pays, the master, he the righteous, 
For all his servants.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the unexpected, dissonant (diminished seventh) chord on “Barrabam!”. The cadence by the Evangelist makes one expect D major, which, we saw a bit earlier, is associated with Pilate’s willingness to set Jesus free: Pilate suggests to the people to release Jesus. Yet, instead, (using a “deceptive cadence”) the people thwart his suggestion and choose the murderer. Here, Bach lets the two choirs sing exactly at the same time, one word, for maximum expressive power. Obviously, the priests did their work of convincing the people well.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. “Pilatus sprach zu ihnen” (And Pilate said unto them): an immediate continuation of the action speaks out of the music.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The contrast of the wild “kreuzigen” (crucify)-turba and the chorale enhances the effect of both. We will see Bach using the same technique several more times in this section.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As noted in the introduction, the “kreuzigen” (crucify)-turba is an example of the third way in which Bach uses the two choirs together: in close unison. This provides for maximal force.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The contemplative chorale is the same as that used in the very beginning of the Matthäus-Passion, when Jesus declared he is to be crucified. Now that the people clamor for his crucifixion it returns: the prophecy has come true.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [*47. Evangelista *]
Der Landpfleger sagte:

Pilatus
Was hat er denn Übels getan? |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [*47. Evangelist *] The governor said then:

Pilate
Why, what evil hath this man done? |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Here again Pilate is shown as very considerate of Jesus. Note again how the Evangelist sets the mood of Pilate’s statement.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 48. Arioso: Soprano
Er hat uns allen wohlgetan,
Den Blinden gab er das Gesicht,
Die Lahmen macht er gehend,
Er sagt uns seines Vaters Wort,
Er trieb die Teufel fort,
Betrübte hat er aufgericht’,
Er nahm die Sünder auf und an.
Sonst hat mein Jesus nichts getan. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 48. Arioso: Soprano He hath us all so richly blessed,  The blind he hath returned their sight,  The lame he leaveth walking,  He tells us of his Father’s word,  He drives the devil forth,  The troubled hath he lifted up,  He took the sinners to himself.  Else hath my Jesus nothing done. | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 49. Aria: Soprano Aus Liebe, Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben, Von einer Sünde weiß er nichts. Daß das ewige Verderben Und die Strafe des Gerichts Nicht auf meiner Seele bliebe. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 49. Aria: Soprano
For love now, 
For love now would my Savior perish, 
Of any sin he knoweth nought. 
That eternal condemnation 
And the sentence of the court 
Not upon my soul continue.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Amidst the dark uproar of the people shouting for Jesus’ crucifixion the action is suddenly stopped – in fact, Bach stops the action right in the middle of a Bible verse. The most ethereal, unworldly, “female” aria is inserted, slow and high, “an air of timeless healing and benediction” (Gardiner). As before, Bach does this to provide a contrast. Note that there is no bass line below either arioso or aria! The second “kreuzigen!”-turba will appear even louder for it.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the driving melody on “trieb die Teufel fort” (drove the devil forth), immediately contrasted with the kind help to the sorrowed that is mentioned next.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The unusual accompaniment of flute and the warm sound of oboe da caccia is in part responsible for the ethereal musical quality of the aria that follows.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Also adding to the eery atmosphere are the long, meditative rests in the middle of the piece, once after “sterben” (die), the second time after “Seele bliebe” (stayed upon my soul), and the close harmony between voice and flute on “sterben” (die) in the final phrase.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. And note how “ewige” (eternal) and “Strafe” (sentence) both get the same prolonged treatment.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 50a. Evangelista
Sie schrieen aber noch mehr und sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 50a. Evangelist They cried again even more and said: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.

50b. Due chori
Laß ihn kreuzigen! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}.

50b. Both choirs
Have him crucified! | <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [
**]50c. Evangelista
Da aber Pilatus sahe, daß er nichts schaffete, sondern daß ein viel großer Getümmel ward, nahm er Wasser und wusch die Hände vor dem Volk und sprach:

Pilatus
Ich bin unschuldig an dem Blut dieses Gerechten, sehet ihr zu.

Evangelista
Da antwortete das ganze Volk und sprach: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ 50c. Evangelist] But when Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, rather that a much greater disturbance grew, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd and said:

Pilate
I am not guilty for the blood of this just person, see ye to it.

[
Evangelist]
Thereupon answered all the people and said:

| <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 50d. Chori I & II Sein Blut komme über uns und unsre Kinder. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 50d. Choirs I & II
His blood come upon us then and on our children.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The second “kreuzigen” (crucify)-chorus bursts right in after the ethereal area: “surely one of the most disturbing moments in the history of western music” (John Butt, liner notes of his Passion recording). It is set one tone higher than the first: Bach increases the tension.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how Bach does not allow the preceding aria to truly interrupt the flow of action. The Evangelist immediately picks up the intense drama again.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This whole section is full of contrasts, large and small. Compare, for example, the honest, simple line of Pilate “Ich bin unschuldig” (I am not guilty) with the wild phrase of the Evangelist and the following turba.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Pilate’s “sehet ihr zu!” (see ye to it!) is reminiscent of the “siehe du zu” (see to it thyself) spoken by the priests to Judas (41b).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. “Sein Blut komme über uns” (His blood come upon us) portrays the wild, confused masses shouting up to Pilate. They don’t know what they are saying any more. It is the most convoluted of the three turbae in this section, and another example of Bach’s using the two choirs in unisono for maximal effect.

 

[] Jesus flogged (50e-52)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 50e. Evangelista
Da gab er ihnen Barrabam los; aber Jesum ließ er geißeln und überantwortete ihn, daß er gekreuziget würde. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 50e. Evangelist
To them he then set Barabbas free; but he had Jesus scourged and then delivered him up, that he might be crucifièd.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is no “flogging” melisma on “geiseln” (scourge), as was usual in Passions written in Bach’s time. Bach didn’t use it, as it is not necessary: as discussed in the Introduction, the flogging will be depicted clearly enough in the following arioso and aria.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. A very final closure by the Evangelist: the decision has been made, there is no more hope.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 51. Arioso: Alto
Erbarm es Gott!
Hier steht der Heiland angebunden.
O Geißelung, o Schläg, o Wunden!
Ihr Henker, haltet ein!
Erweichet euch
Der Seelen Schmerz,
Der Anblick solches Jammers nicht?
Ach ja! ihr habt ein Herz,
Das muß der Martersäule gleich
Und noch viel härter sein.
Erbarmt euch, haltet ein! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 51. Arioso: Alto Have mercy, God!  Here stands the Savior, bound and fettered.  Such scourging this, such blows, such wounding!  Ye hangmen, stop your work!  Do ye not feel  Your spirit’s grief,  The vision of such pain and woe?  Ah yes! Ye have a heart  Which must be like the whipping post  And e’en much harder still.  Have mercy, stop your work! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 52. Aria: Alto Können Tränen meiner Wangen Nichts erlangen, O, so nehmt mein Herz hinein! Aber laßt es bei den Fluten, Wenn die Wunden milde bluten, Auch die Opferschale sein! |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 52. Aria: Alto
If the tears upon my cheeks can 
Nought accomplish, 
Oh, then take my heart as well!
But then let amidst the streaming 
Of the wounds abundant bleeding 
Be the sacrificial cup!

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. These two pieces, down to earth and realistically painted, form a sharp contrast with the previous arioso and aria, which had a very unwordly character.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the flogging, whipping rhythm, especially during the arioso. In the aria it has been mellowed somewhat, but is still easily recognizable, especially as we have heard the arioso just before. It becomes a strange blend between the rhythm of a flogging and a gentle lament.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the modulation at the end of the arioso, as if the singer simply cries out in her anger and despair, without adequately ending the piece.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a very interesting fermata in middle part of aria, as well as an unusual rest in the first and last part.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As was to be expected, Bach uses a descending melody on “Fluten” (stream).

 

[] Jesus mocked by the soldiers (53a-54)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 53a. Evangelista
Da nahmen die Kriegsknechte des Landpflegers Jesum zu sich in das Richthaus und sammleten über ihn die ganze Schar und zogen ihn aus und legeten ihm einen Purpurmantel an und flochten eine dornene Krone und satzten sie auf sein Haupt und ein Rohr in seine rechte Hand und beugeten die Knie vor ihm und spotteten ihn und sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 53a. Evangelist And then did the governor’s soldiers take Jesus into the praetorium and gathered before him there all the troops, and they did strip him and put upon him a purple robe and plaited a crown of thorns and set it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand and then they bent their knees before him, both mocking him and saying: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 53b. Chori Gegrüßet seist du, Jüdenkönig! |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 53b. Choirs All hail now to thee, King of the Jews! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 53c. Evangelista Und speieten ihn an und nahmen das Rohr und schlugen damit sein Haupt. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 53c. Evangelist And spat upon his face and, taking the reed, they struck him upon his head. | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 54. Choral O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, Voll Schmerz und voller Hohn, O Haupt, zu Spott gebunden Mit einer Dornenkron, O Haupt, sonst schön gezieret Mit höchster Ehr und Zier, Jetzt aber hoch schimpfieret, Gegrüßet seist du mir!

Du edles Angesichte,
Dafür sonst schrickt und scheut
Das große Weltgewichte,
Wie bist du so bespeit;
Wie bist du so erbleichet!
Wer hat dein Augenlicht,
Dem sonst kein Licht nicht gleichet,
So schändlich zugericht’? |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 54. Chorale O head of blood and wounding,  Of pain and scorn so full,  O Head, for spite now fettered  Beneath a crown of thorns,  O head, once fair and lovely,  With highest praise adorned,  But highly now insulted,  All hail to thee, I say! 

Thou countenance so noble, 
At which should shrink and quail 
The mighty world’s great burden, 
How spat upon thou art; 
How pale thou art become now! 
Who hath thine eyes’ bright light, 
Alike no other light once, 
So shamefully abused? |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As usual in such passages, the Evangelist starts off his narrative quietly, but his excitement mounts gradually until he becomes very emotional.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the descending melody on “beugeten” (bend) and the mocking quality of the turba sung by the soldiers.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The “Judenkönig” (King of the Jews) is almost spat out. The choirs are used in the first style (i.e. organized), indicating that the soldiers are at ease, enjoying themself at Jesus’ expense.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The second line of the Evangelist is highly emotional and has a very final end. It is followed immediately by the most important chorale of the Matthäus-Passion:

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” (O head full of blood and wounds) is the pinnacle of the chorales in the Matthäus-Passion. It is the fourth time the same Passion-chorale melody is used, and here we hear it in its highest setting, as if to indicate that it is the most important version. We will see the melody once more, immediately after Jesus’ death. This is the only time that Bach uses two stanzas of a chorale.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how the “Gegrüsset” (Greetings) of the soldiers is repeated in the chorale in a completely different light.

 

[] [
To Calvary (55-57)]

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 55. Evangelista
Und da sie ihn verspottet hatten, zogen sie ihm den Mantel aus und zogen ihm seine Kleider an und führeten ihn hin, daß sie ihn kreuzigten. Und indem sie hinausgingen, funden sie einen Menschen von Kyrene mit Namen Simon; den zwungen sie, daß er ihm sein Kreuz trug. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 55. Evangelist
And after they had mocked and scorned him, they removed the robe from him and put his own raiment upon him and led him away, that they might crucify him. And after they went out, they found a man who came from Cyrene, whose name was Simon; and they compelled him to bear his cross.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the melisma on “kreuzigten” (crucified). By being thus emphasized, it serves as the “title” for the next sections.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Also note the “forcing” notes on “zwangen” (compelled).

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 56. Arioso: Bass
Ja freilich will in uns das Fleisch und Blut
Zum Kreuz gezwungen sein;
Je mehr es unsrer Seele gut,
Je herber geht es ein. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 56. Arioso: Bass Yea truly, would in us our flesh and blood  Be forced upon the cross;  The more it doth our spirit good,  The grimmer it becomes. | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 57. Aria: Bass Komm, süßes Kreuz, so will ich sagen, Mein Jesu, gib es immer her! Wird mir mein Leiden einst zu schwer, So hilfst du mir es selber tragen. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 57. Aria: Bass
Come, O sweet cross, thus I’ll confess it: 
My Jesus, give it evermore!
Whene’er my burden be too grave, 
Then thou thyself dost help me bear it.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a heaviness in the accompaniment to the arioso. Here is the temporary stop, as Jesus can no longer carry his cross and someone else is found and pressed to carry it.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In the aria (again an active one, sung by a man) the rhythm indicates walking, with a heavy load. It is a slow march rhythm. Now the procession is back in motion.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how at certain points it becomes almost too difficult to carry the cross. The music slows down, and only when the text speaks of Jesus’ help seems the singer to be able to pick up speed again.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. From what a different point of view is the scene painted here as compared with the opening chorus! Here it is seen from the viewpoint of Jesus and Simon, there from the point of view of the crowd around them.

[] Crucifixion (58a-60)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 58a. Evangelista
Und da sie an die Stätte kamen mit Namen Golgatha, das ist verdeutschet Schädelstätt, gaben sie ihm Essig zu trinken mit Gallen vermischet; und da er’s schmeckete, wollte er’s nicht trinken. Da sie ihn aber gekreuziget hatten, teilten sie seine Kleider und wurfen das Los darum, auf daß erfüllet würde, das gesagt ist durch den Propheten: Sie haben meine Kleider unter sich geteilet, und über mein Gewand haben sie das Los geworfen. Und sie saßen allda und hüteten sein. Und oben zu seinen Häupten hefteten sie die Ursach seines Todes beschrieben, nämlich: Dies ist Jesus, der Jüden König. Und da wurden zween Mörder mit ihm gekreuziget, einer zur Rechten und einer zur Linken. Die aber vorübergingen, lästerten ihn und schüttelten ihre Köpfe und sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 58b. Evangelist And when they came unto a place with the name of Golgotha, which is to say, the place of a skull, they did give him vinegar to drink which had been mixed with gall; and when he tasted it, he refused to drink it. But after they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots for them, that it might be accomplished what had once been said by the prophet: “They have divided all my garments among them and over mine own vesture did they cast lots.” And they sat all around and guarded him there. And over his head they fastened the reason for his death in writing, namely: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” And with him were two murderers also crucified, one on the right hand, another on the left. And those who there passed by derided him both wagging their heads before him and saying: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 58b. Chori I & II Der du den Tempel Gottes zerbrichst und bauest ihn in dreien Tagen, hilf dir selber! Bist du Gottes Sohn, so steig herab vom Kreuz! |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 58b. Choirs I & II
Thou who dost God’s own temple destroy and buildest it within three days’ time, save thyself now! If thou art God’s Son, then climb down from the cross!

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the emphasis on “Golgatha”, which is echoed in the German translation “Schädelstätt’”. We will see exactly the same in the translation of Jesus’ final words on the cross.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how Bach musically paints the bitterness in “Gallen” (gall).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. “Und sie sassen allda” (And they sat all around): in two measures Bach expresses a long period of time, by putting a full closure at the end and inserting a short rest.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Also note the emphasis on “Dies ist Jesus, der Juden König” (This is Jesus, the King of the Jews).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how one can almost see the Evangelist pointing right and left on “zur Rechten” (on the right hand) and “zur Linken” (on the left).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In the turba, “bauest” (buildest) is again painted plastically, as by the witnesses in 33. And, of course, there is a descending melody on “steig herab” (climb down).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The whole of the piece oozes hatred.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 58c. Evangelista
Desgleichen auch die Hohenpriester spotteten sein samt den Schriftgelehrten und Ältesten und sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. Evangelist In like wise did also the chief priests ridicule him and together with the scribes and elders say: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 58d. Chori I & II Andern hat er geholfen und kann sich selber nicht helfen. Ist er der König Israel, so steige er nun vom Kreuz, so wollen wir ihm glauben. Er hat Gott vertrauet, der erlöse ihn nun, lüstet’s ihn; denn er hat gesagt: Ich bin Gottes Sohn. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 58d. Choirs I & II
Others brought he salvation and can himself yet not save now. Is he the King of Israel? Let him climb down from the cross and we will then believe him. In God hath he trusted, let him save him then now, if he will, for he hath declared: “I am Son of God.”

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This long turba has an interesting construction. Note how one priest starts a sentence, and the others immediately echo it. Once it has been said, they appear not to know what to say next – a rest ensues. Then someone else finds an idea, and it is again repeated by the others. This happens after “helfen” (save) and after “glauben” (believe). Different musical motifs are used in each instance.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The “Ich bin Gottes Sohn” (I am son of God), here used mockingly, looks forward to the “Dieser ist Gottes Sohn gewesen” (this man was God’s son) in 63b. Although it is sung mockingly here, still a sense of awe rings through because of the unisono accompaniment. The irony in the statement is obvious: the priests are speaking an enormous truth without realizing it.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 58e. Evangelista
Desgleichen schmäheten ihn auch die Mörder, die mit ihm gekreuziget waren. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 58e. Evangelist
In like wise did the murderers also mock him, who with him had been crucified.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is a very strange modulation. I have never quite understood it.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 59. Arioso: Alto
Ach Golgatha, unselges Golgatha!
Der Herr der Herrlichkeit muß schimpflich hier verderben
Der Segen und das Heil der Welt
Wird als ein Fluch ans Kreuz gestellt.
Der Schöpfer Himmels und der Erden
Soll Erd und Luft entzogen werden.
Die Unschuld muß hier schuldig sterben,
Das gehet meiner Seele nah;
Ach Golgatha, unselges Golgatha! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 59. Arioso: Alto Ah Golgotha, unhappy Golgotha!  The Lord of majesty must scornfully here perish,  The saving blessing of the world  Is placed as scorn upon the cross.  Creator of both earth and heaven  From earth and air must now be taken.  The guiltless must here die guilty,  The pierceth deep into my soul;  Ah Golgotha, unhappy Golgotha! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 60. Aria: [* Alto (+ Chor) *] Sehet, Jesus hat die Hand, Uns zu fassen, ausgespannt, Kommt!—Wohin?—in Jesu Armen Sucht Erlösung, nehmt Erbarmen, Suchet!—Wo?—in Jesu Armen. Lebet, sterbet, ruhet hier, Ihr verlass’nen Küchlein ihr, Bleibet—Wo?—in Jesu Armen. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. [* 60. Aria: Alto (+ Choir) *]
See ye, Jesus hath his hand, 
Us to capture, now outstretched, 
Come!—Where to?—In Jesus’ bosom 
Seek redemption, take his mercy, 
Seek it—Where?—in Jesus’ bosom! 
Living, dying, rest ye here, 
Ye forsaken little chicks, 
Bide ye—where?—in Jesus’ bosom.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The low oboes da caccia used here, and the continuo cello playing pizzicato, imitates the tolling of funerary bells.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Unbelief rings through in the high melody on “als ein Fluch an’s Kreuz gestellt” (placed as a curse upon the cross).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This and the next (final) aria are much more joyful than the previous ones. In the present one there is a joyful hope that things will be allright because of Jesus’ death.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Obviously the use of the questioning choir recalls the opening chorus of the work. It is as if the throng has followed along and is now at Golgatha, still asking questions.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The interpretation of Jesus’ outstretched hand as reaching out to the believers is musically underscored with the broad broken chords in the bass. These chords are also reminiscent of the “Das ist mein Blut” (this is my blood) chord in the Last Supper scene (11).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. On a lighter note, Rilling suggests that the trills in the oboes represent the “forsaken chicks”.

 

[] The death of Jesus (61a-62)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 61a. Evangelista
Und von der sechsten Stunde an war eine Finsternis über das ganze Land bis zu der neunten Stunde. Und um die neunte Stunde schriee Jesus laut und sprach:

[*Jesus *]
Eli, Eli, lama asabthani?

Evangelista
Das ist: Mein Gott, mein Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen? Etliche aber, die da stunden, da sie das höreten, sprachen sie: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 61a. Evangelist And from the sixth hour on there was a darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried aloud and said:

[*Jesus *]
Eli, Eli, lama asabthani?

Evangelist
That is: “My God, my God, wherefore hast thou me forsaken? But there were some who stood about there who, when they heard that, spake thus:

| <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 61b. Chorus I Der rufet dem Elias! |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 61b. Choir I He calleth to Elias! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 61c. Evangelista Und bald lief einer unter ihnen, nahm einen Schwamm und füllete ihn mit Essig und steckete ihn auf ein Rohr und tränkete ihn. Die andern aber sprachen: |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 61c. Evangelist And straightway one of them ran forth, who took a sponge and, filling it with vinegar, and placing it upon a reed, gave him to drink. The others said, however: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 61d. Chorus II Halt! laß sehen, ob Elias komme und ihm helfe? |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 61d. Choir II Stop! Let us see if Elias will come forth and save him. | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 61e. Evangelista Aber Jesus schriee abermal laut und verschied. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 61e. Evangelist
But Jesus cried again aloud and was dead.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the painting of darkness in the Evangelist’s melody line. The single tone on “Finsternis” (darkness) is very expressive.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The full closure and short rest after “Stunde” (hour) gives the idea of a long period of time that goes by. We suddenly make a jump of a few hours here, and Bach is able to make that jump admirably in a few measures.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. When starting again, the Evangelist quickly, in two measures, builds up from the stillness of darkness to Jesus’ final cry. Note the emphasis on “laut” (loud).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is no string accompaniment to Jesus’ words, the only place in the Matthäus-Passion where the halo is not present. At the moment of Jesus’ death he is fully human, and indeed forsaken by God.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Bach puts a subtle emphasis on “warum” (wherefore), by putting two notes on the second syllable. It gives the impression of the Evangelist almost shaking his head in lack of understanding.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note Bach’s use of the two choirs in the little dialogue about Elias. As stated in our introduction, Bach normally uses Choir I to indicate Jesus’ followers. In this case, however, he temporarily assigns Choir I to Jesus’ adversaries to make the dialogue more dramatic by spatial separation of the two groups.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Again there is emphasis on “laut” (loud), with a rest immediately following, to provide the most dramatic contrast. Also, to underscore the most definite end, this is one recitative that ends on the stable tonic, rather than on the half-stable dominant note.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 62. Choral
Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden,
So scheide nicht von mir,
Wenn ich den Tod soll leiden,
So tritt du denn herfür!
Wenn mir am allerbängsten
Wird um das Herze sein,
So reiß mich aus den Ängsten
Kraft deiner Angst und Pein! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 62. Chorale
When I one day must leave here, 
Yet do thou not leave me; 
When I my death must suffer, 
Come forth thou then to me! 
And when most anxious trembling 
Have once my heart possessed, 
Then free me from my anguish 
Through thine own fear and pain!

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. This is the final use of the Passion-chorale. This time it is set in very dramatic harmonies, closely following the text: particularly dark and ominous on “allerbängsten” (most anxious) and “Angst und Pein” (fear and pain).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. By immediately making us consider our response to our own death, Picander makes us personify with Jesus at his death. We become more involved, and the Passion becomes even more real this way.

 

[] The earthquake (63a-63b)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 63a. Evangelista
Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß in zwei Stück von oben an bis unten aus. Und die Erde erbebete, und die Felsen zerrissen, und die Gräber täten sich auf, und stunden auf viel Leiber der Heiligen, die da schliefen, und gingen aus den Gräbern nach seiner Auferstehung und kamen in die heilige Stadt und erschienen vielen. Aber der Hauptmann und die bei ihm waren und bewahreten Jesum, da sie sahen das Erdbeben und was da geschah, erschraken sie sehr und sprachen: |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 63a. Evangelist And lo, behold: the curtain of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And the earth was filled with quaking, and the cliffs split asunder, and the graves themselves opened up, and there rose up the bodies of many saints who were sleeping, and they came out of the graves after his resurrection and came into the holy city and appeared to many. But the centurion and those who were with him and were watching over Jesus, when they witnessed the earthquake and all that there occurred, were sore afraid and said: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ 63b. Due chori in unisono] Wahrlich, dieser ist Gottes Sohn gewesen. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.

63b. Both choirs unisono
Truly, this man was God’s own Son most truly. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The arpeggios in the accompaniment paint the tearing of the temple veil and the rumbling of the earthquake.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the long descent of the Evangelist’s melody on “von oben an bis unten aus” (from the top to the bottom.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. On “schliefen” (sleeping), Bach uses the slow-down in the accompaniment both to show the sleeping saints, as well as to make a transition to the remainder of the recitative, which is quieter and more matter of fact.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the upward melody movement on “gingen aus den Gräbern” (came out of the graves).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is a rather surprising high modulation on “erschraken sie sehr” (became sore afraid), indicating the surprised fear.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The turba itself, however, does not at all appear to be sung by a fearful group of soldiers. Rather, it is a majestic statement of faith. To enhance its grand, majestic effect it is sung by both choirs. Rilling points out that Bach “signed” it himself by putting 14 notes in the bass line (this requires numbering notes, starting at a: b=2, a=1, c=3, h (b-flat in German)=8). There is a cross-figure in the music at this point, so allegorically, Bach puts himself beneath the cross. This may be somewhat farfetched, but it is certainly true that Bach is putting more into these few measures than absolutely necessary for the drama. Simple and short as it is, this is the most significant turba of the whole work.

 

[] The burial of Jesus (63c-66a)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 63c. Evangelista
Und es waren viel Weiber da, die von ferne zusahen, die da waren nachgefolget aus Galiläa und hatten ihm gedienet, unter welchen war Maria Magdalena und Maria, die Mutter Jacobi und Joses, und die Mutter der Kinder Zebedäi. Am Abend aber kam ein reicher Mann von Arimathia, der hieß Joseph, welcher auch ein Jünger Jesu war, der ging zu Pilato und bat ihn um den Leichnam Jesu. Da befahl Pilatus, man sollte ihm ihn geben. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 63c. Evangelist
And there were many women there, who looked on from a distance, having followed after him from Galilee and ministered unto him, in whose number was Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the children of Zebedee. At evening, though, there came a wealthy man of Arimathea, whose name was Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus, who went to Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered that it be given to him.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. After the dramatic episodes that form most of the second part, we now shift to the final, quiet sections. There is a shift in musical style, similar to the one we noted halfway through the first part, when we reached the scenes of the betrayal and arrest. The first recitative here is quite detached and descriptive.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the closure and transition after “Kinder Zebedäi”. It can almost be seen as a paragraph mark.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. At “Am Abend” Bach develops a mild evening’s atmosphere. The excitement of the forgoing scenes and Jesus’ suffering are over.

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 64. Arioso: Bass
Am Abend, da es kühle war,
Ward Adams Fallen offenbar;
Am Abend drücket ihn der Heiland nieder.
Am Abend kam die Taube wieder
Und trug ein Ölblatt in dem Munde.
O schöne Zeit! O Abendstunde!
Der Friedensschluß ist nun mit Gott gemacht,
Denn Jesus hat sein Kreuz vollbracht.
Sein Leichnam kömmt zur Ruh,
Ach! liebe Seele, bitte du,
Geh, lasse dir den toten Jesum schenken,
O heilsames, o köstlichs Angedenken! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 64. Arioso: Bass At eventide, when it was cool,  Was Adam’s fall made manifest;  At eventide the Savior overwhelmed him.  At eventide the dove returneth,  Its mouth an olive branch now bearing.  O time so fair! O evening hour!  The pact of peace is now with God complete,  For Jesus hath his cross fulfilled.  His body comes to rest,  Ah, thou my spirit, hearken thou,  Go, let them give thee Jesus’ lifeless body,  How healing this, how precious this memorial! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 65. Aria: Bass Mache dich, mein Herze, rein, Ich will Jesum selbst begraben. Denn er soll nunmehr in mir Für und für Seine süße Ruhe haben. Welt, geh aus, laß Jesum ein! |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.
<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 65. Aria: Bass
Make thyself, my heart, now pure, 
I myself would Jesus bury.
For he shall henceforth in me 
More and more 
Find in sweet repose his dwelling. 
World, depart, let Jesus in! 

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The “Am Abend” in the arioso echoes the Evangelist’s words.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The arioso really consists of two parts. Note the transition after “Abendstunde” (evening hour). After a general description of other important events that have happened before on evenings, the soloist now turns to the present drama.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The musical transition is one from minor to major mode, illustrating the “pact of peace” with God.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As the gospel text of Matthew does not contain it, Bach has to find a way to insert the “es ist vollbracht” (it is fulfilled). He puts it, slightly modified, in the arioso. Note the almost complete ending on that text. It appears that only with some effort the arioso picks up again and continues after “vollbracht” (fulfilled). (The gospel of John does contain the text, and is used for an astoundingly beautiful aria in the Johannes Passion.)

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Here, in anticipation of the final chorus, the word “ Ruh’” (rest) is introduced, which will recur frequently from now on. Note the descending melodic line, which contrasts with the rise on “Jesus hat sein Kreuz vollbracht” (Jesus has fulfilled his cross).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the interesting rhythm when the singer addresses his own soul.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The aria, the final one in the Matthäus-Passion, is of a quiet, peaceful joy: the work has been done, the suffering is over, and we now look forward to Easter. It’s a major turning point in the work (“the beginning of the end”, Gardiner), and the soloist has to convey this: “I never saw a man carrying such responsibility on his shoulders!” (Simon Halsey, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir)

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. It again contains the “Christianity chord” in the bass.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the short, commanding notes on “Welt, geh’ aus” and the forceful, rhythmic “Ich will Jesum selbst begraben” in the last line: once again an active aria.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. There is added poignancy to the bass singing about henceforth containing Jesus, as in Bach’s performances this aria and Jesus’ words would be sung by the same soloist.

 

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 66a. Evangelista
Und Joseph nahm den Leib und wickelte ihn in ein rein Leinwand und legte ihn in sein eigen neu Grab, welches er hatte lassen in einen Fels hauen, und wälzete einen großen Stein vor die Tür des Grabes und ging davon. Es war aber allda Maria Magdalena und die andere Maria, die satzten sich gegen das Grab. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 66a. Evangelist
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a pure shroud of linen and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had had hewn within a rock, and rolled up a heavy stone in front of the door of this tomb and went away. In this place was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, who sat themselves next to the tomb.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the transition after “davon” (away).

 

[] The guard at the tomb (66a-66c)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. Evangelista
Des andern Tages, der da folget nach dem Rüsttage, kamen die Hohenpriester und Pharisäer sämtlich zu Pilato und sprachen:

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. Evangelist On the day after, the one after the Preparation, came the chief priests and the Pharisees together unto Pilate and said: | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 66b. Due chori Herr, wir haben gedacht, daß dieser Verführer sprach, da er noch lebete: Ich will nach dreien Tagen wieder auferstehen. Darum befiehl, daß man das Grab verwahre bis an den dritten Tag, auf daß nicht seine Jünger kommen und stehlen ihn und sagen zu dem Volk: Er ist auferstanden von den Toten, und werde der letzte Betrug ärger denn der erste! |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. 66b. Both choirs Sire, we have taken thought how once this deceiver said when he was still alive: “I will in three days’ time again stand here arisen.” Therefore, command that now the tomb be guarded until the three days pass, so none of his disciples come forth and steal him hence and to the people say: “He is risen from the dead,” for thus will the final deceit be worse than the first one! | <>. |<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ **][*66c. Evangelista *] Pilatus sprach zu ihnen:

Pilatus
Da habt ihr die Hüter; gehet hin und verwahret’s, wie ihr’s wisset!

[*Evangelista *]
Sie gingen hin und verwahreten das Grab mit Hütern und versiegelten den Stein. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [ *66c. Evangelist *] And Pilate said unto them:

Pilate
Ye have your watchmen; go ye forth and secure it as best ye can!

Evangelist
So they went forth and made safe the tomb with watchmen and did seal in the stone. |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note how the long turba starts organized, but progressively becomes more confused, especially when the priests consider the possiblity of more trouble ahead. As indicated in the introduction, this is an example of a transition between the quiet, organized way of using the two choirs (antiphonically) to disarrayed, excited independence.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Pilatus hasn’t changed: he is still portrayed as overwhelmed by the events, willing to prevent more trouble.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The last line by the Evangelist is in my view as much a seal on the whole Matthäus-Passion as it is on the stone.

 

Conclusion (67-68)

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 67: Recitativo [* (+ Chor) *
**
Bass]
Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh gebracht.

Chorus II
Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!

[*Tenor *]
Die Müh ist aus, die unsre Sünden ihm gemacht.

Chorus II
Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!

Alto
O selige Gebeine,
Seht, wie ich euch mit Buß und Reu beweine,
Daß euch mein Fall in solche Not gebracht!

Chorus II
Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!

Soprano
Habt lebenslang
Vor euer Leiden tausend Dank,
Daß ihr mein Seelenheil so wert geacht’.

Chorus II
Mein Jesu, gute Nacht! |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}. [* 67: Recitative (+ Choir) * ** Bass] Now is the Lord brought to his rest.

Choir II
My Jesus, now good night!

[*Tenor *]
The toil is o’er which all our sins have laid on him.

Choir II
My Jesus, now good night!

Alto
O thou, most blessed body, 
See how I weep with grief and sorrow for thee, 
That thee my fall to such distress hath brought!

Choir II
My Jesus, now good night!

Soprano
Have all my life 
For thy great passion countless thanks, 
That thou my spirit’s health such worth did pay.

Choir II
My Jesus, now good night! |

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In the final recitative the four aria singers take leave of Jesus, starting at the lowest voice and working up. This short recitative is intensely emotional, in comparison to the final chorus.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Note the reference to “Buss’ und Reu” (penance and repentence) – text from the first aria of the work. The first appearance of the soloists is briefly mentioned in the last.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Similar to the sequential entrances of the soloists, the “Mein Jesu, gute Nacht!” is started sequentially by each of the different voices of the choir: they also individually take leave.

 

 

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 68: Chorus
Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder
Und rufen dir im Grabe zu:
Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh!
Ruht, ihr ausgesognen Glieder!
Euer Grab und Leichenstein
Soll dem ängstlichen Gewissen
Ein bequemes Ruhekissen
Und der Seelen Ruhstatt sein.
Höchst vergnügt schlummern da die Augen ein. |<>.
p<>{color:#000;}.

<>.
p<>{color:#000;}. 68: Chorus
We lay ourselves with weeping prostrate 
And cry to thee within the tomb: 
Rest thou gently, gently rest!
Rest, O ye exhausted members! 
This your tomb and this tombstone 
Shall for ev’ry anguished conscience 
Be a pillow of soft comfort 
And the spirit’s place of rest. 
Most content, slumber here the eyes in rest

 

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. As is the closing chorus at the end of the first part, this one is relatively formal, and without too much emotion. It breathes a quiet, at times even lullaby-like, atmosphere. In form, it is related to the French tombeau, a piece written in honor of a deceased person.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The very first notes of the instrumental introduction to the closing chorus are the same as those of the opening chorus, thus bracketing the whole work in a very subtle way.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. In the middle part, note the play on “Ruhstatt” (place of rest), where the second choir picks up the “Ruh-” and expands it into “Ruhet sanfte, sanfte ruh’ !” (Rest thou gently, gently rest).

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. “Höchst vergnügt schlummern da die Augen ein” (Most content slumber here the eyes in rest) is accompanied by rather dissonant cords. To Rilling, this suggest once more the two aspects of the passion: the intertwined sadness about Jesus’ death and joy about its meaning.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The long broken chords (e.g. immediately after the introduction of the theme) are once more reminiscent of the “Das ist mein Blut” (This is my blood)-theme.

*
p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Bach inserts a very notable, strong dissonance in the next to last note of the work. This has been much discussed, without a clear solution. I like to imagine that these last two chords of this immense work summarize the whole Passion that went before: from deep suffering to quiet contentment.

 

[] Further Reading and Acknowledgements

 

There are many good books about the Matthäus-Passion available, including:

 

Alfred Heuss: Johann Sebastian Bachs Matthäus Passion. Leipzig, 1900.

 

Helmuth Rilling: Johann Sebastian Bach St. Matthew Passion. Introduction and instructions for study. Frankfurt, 1976.

 

Daniel L. Melamed: Hearing Bach’s Passions. Oxford, 2005.

 

Victor Lederer: Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion. New York, 2008.

 

John Eliot Gardiner: Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven. New York, 2013. This contains an extensive chapter on the “great passion”, as well as a maybe even better one on the John Passion.

 

Helmuth Rilling has given a series of Discovery Lectures on the work at the Oregon Bach Festival. They are available at

http://oregonbachfestival.com/digital-bach-project/discovery/discovery-st-matthew-passion

 

There are of course a great number of good recordings of the Matthäus-Passion available. In addition to Helmuth Rilling’s work, I like Philippe Herreweghe’s recording, and the 2001 version by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

 

Free scores of the Matthäus-Passion are available on the web at

[+ http://imslp.org/wiki/St._Matthew_Passion,_BWV_244_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian)+]

 

The English translation of the Passion text is © Z. Philip Ambrose, translator, Web publication: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/. I am grateful for the kind permission to use it in this work.

 

Finally, many thanks to Hans Durieux for doing a thorough revision of an earlier draft, which encouraged me to complete this revised version.

 


Notes on Johann Sebastian's Matthaus-Passion

  • ISBN: 9781370364411
  • Author: Marcel Durieux
  • Published: 2017-06-11 21:35:17
  • Words: 25632
Notes on Johann Sebastian's Matthaus-Passion Notes on Johann Sebastian's Matthaus-Passion