Wednesday, February 6, 2008


The story of Jesus stilling the storm in Matthew 8.23-27 forms the background of BWV 81, "Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen?" (Jesus sleeps, what should be my hope?).

A tenor recitative early in the cantata makes reference to the Epiphany story and thus ties the whole season together:

Lord! why do you walk so far away?
Why do you hide yourself in the time of my distress
when everything threatens me with a lamentable end?
Ah, is your eye not moved by my distress
that at other times is never accustomed to sleep?
You showed with a star
once to the newly converted wise men
the right way to travel.
Ah guide me by the light of your eyes
since this way promises nothing but danger.

He who guided the magi by the star, he who spoke the word and calmed the tempest, is the Light who will guide in all our dark times. The final word of the season is, "Jesus stands by me."

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