Advent Calendar Day 6: Bereite Dich, Zion (J.S. Bach)

After all that lovely, flowing plainchant from yesterday, I thought we needed something a little stricter in tempo and generally more modern… and what could be more modern than Bach?  Well, several centuries worth of composers, admittedly, but Bach was pretty modern for his time, having a fine time playing with the new-fangled Well Tempered Clavier and demonstrating that one really could compose in any key.  Piano students the world over do not thank him for this.  But it was pretty hot stuff at the time.

This aria comes from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, but technically fits into the Advent theme, because it is another ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’ sort of text.  In fact, the lyrics translate roughly as “Prepare yourself, Sion, with tender efforts, to behold your lovely one, your beloved, near you soon! Your cheeks must now glow much more radiantly, hurry to love the Bridegroom with passion!”.

As I said, hot stuff.  But you’d never know it from the beautiful restraint of the music.  I especially love Anne Sofie von Otter’s rendition of this piece – her style is very delicate and baroque, and fits perfectly with the violin – she even shares some of the trills.  And her ornaments are just right. Lovely.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Advent Calendar Day 6: Bereite Dich, Zion (J.S. Bach)

  1. Elettaria says:

    It’s a nice aria. I sing it occasionally. The text sounds suspiciously like traditional Jewish Shabbat (sabbath) songs, although now I think of it, that’s about brides, not bridegrooms. Where’s the text from?

    Like

    • Catherine says:

      I haven’t been able to find much about the text – nobody is admitting to having written it, alas! I had thought it was more riffing on the ‘prepare ye the way of the Lord’ texts, but I’m now wondering if Bach didn’t borrow from the Shabbat songs, after all. Pinching symbolically-useful bits out of Judaism is more or less Christian tradition, after all!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s