The Effect of the Lyrical and Musical Reciprocation in Bach Cantatas 106 and 80

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The Effect of the Lyrical and Musical Reciprocation in Bach Cantatas 106 and 80

Johann Sebastian Bach was an 18th century composer, not a theologian, yet there are few men in the history of the world who have so thoroughly captured God’s character and even fewer still who have so passionately impressed that character upon men’s hearts. While the music or lyrics of his cantatas alone are often enough to stir a man to action or reduce him to tears, it is the relationship between the two that truly seems to reflect all that encompasses God’s greatness. Two of Bach’s most renowned cantatas, “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit” (BWV 106) and “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (BWV 80), are prime
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Since it was written for a funeral and is one of his earlier works, nearly all the text is based on the Scriptures, although who compiled the texts is subject to argument. Some have suggested Bach himself, since so few of the lines required original poetic or literary thought. In any case, it was not Bach’s primary task to write the lyrics, but to match a style of music with those lyrics. He does so masterfully. Bach opens the piece with a slow string (viola da gambas) and continuo sonatina in 4/4 time, which is very pastoral and peaceful. Following the strings intro is a beautiful recorder duet adding to the tenderness and gentleness of the piece. The two recorder parts are very close to each other sometimes moving apart from unison ever so slightly so as to get an effect that the two are being interwoven forming a long chord or rope, perhaps signifying that life does not end with death but only begins. It is not a sad piece written for a funeral, it is instead more empathetic and soothing, reminding us that death of a loved one is painful for us but for the one who has died, it is only the beginning. After the introductory sonatina there is a 4 part chorus reminding us that it is God’s choosing when we should go and that the time of his choosing is always best. It starts at a moderate pace in 4/4 time but soon picks up pace and changes to

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