Saturday, January 12, 2008


In Bach's Epiphany cantata BWV 248 (VI), the evil heart and treachery of Herod is contrasted with two pieces that portray worshipers in the presence of the infant Jesus.

The sweet and confident music of these pieces carries an important message for us: in the midst of a dark and sometimes dangerous world, there is a place of refuge and rest where we may gain strength and courage to face our battles. In worship, our eyes are opened to another, transcendent reality, a spiritual realm where the infant Christ, so lowly in human appearance, is Christus Victor, our triumphant Savior and Lord.

As we worship in Christ's presence we discover, "All is well, and all is well, and all manner of things shall be well" (Julian of Norwich).

First, we hear a chorale that brings to mind the magi offering their gifts to the infant King:

I stand here beside Thy manger,
O, babe Jesu, my life,
I come, bring and give to Thee
that which Thou hast given me.
Take it, it is my mind and spirit,
heart, soul and mettle, take them all,
And may it please Thee well!

And then, a tenor aria that speaks for Mary:

Now may you proud foes be affrighted,
what fear could you awake in me?
My precious, my treasure is beside me here!
You may appear as grim as may be,
threaten to lay me low completely,
but lo! my Saviour dwells here.

The sweet presence of Christ calms our fears. As we focus on our Lord in worship, we gain strength to face the foe with confidence.

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