Friday, 4 January 2013

Johann Sebastian Bach - Cantata: Ich Habe Genug

J.S. Bach

J.S. Bach's cantata Ich Habe Genug ("It is enough") is written for solo baritone, and explores the subject of death. The lyrics (posted below) are written, I believe, by Bach himself, and are a very profound meditation upon this subject of death. They especially appeal to a melancholic soul like myself, who am so easily swayed by thoughts like these. But in some sense they should also appeal to all Christian people, insofar as we must recognize the misery of this temporal existence, in comparison to the infinity of peace and bliss which awaits us in the next life. Bach's music very often tends to contain allusions to Christian spirituality, which is partly what makes him such a great composer. It's too bad he wasn't a Catholic... His music is quite perfect for Catholics...

Here's a Youtube recording of the entire cantata:

And here are the lyrics - which, if you're like me, should quite melt the heart and incite tears of longing: 

Aria (movement 1):

It is enough.
I have held the Savior, the hope of all peoples,
In the warm embrace of my arms.
It is enough.

I have seen him,
My faith has impressed Jesus on my heart;
Now I wish this very day
To depart from here with joy.

Recitation (mvt. 2):

It is enough.
My one consolation is this:
That I am Jesus’ beloved and he is mine.
In faith, I hold him.
For in Simeon, I already see
The joy of life to come.
Let us go forth with Simeon!
Ah! if only the Lord
Would free me from my body’s enslavement;
Ah! if indeed my liberation were soon,
With joy I would say to you, O World,
It is enough.

Aria (mvt. 3):

Slumber, my weary eyes,
Fall softly and close in contentment.

O World, I will linger here no more.
For indeed, I find nothing in you
Pleasing to my soul.

Here I am resigned to misery,
But there, there I shall feel
Sweet peace and quiet rest.

Recitation (mvt. 4):

My God! When will I hear that precious word: “Now!”
Then I will depart in peace,
And rest both here in the humus of the cool earth
And there within your bosom.
My departure is at hand,
O World, good night!

Aria (mvt. 5):

With gladness, I look forward to my death,
(Ah! if only it had already come.)

Then shall I escape all despair
That still enslaves me now on earth.

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