The Bach cello suites depict the life of Christ by Rigo Barrozo
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote six pieces for solo cello (BWV 1007-1012) that are widely considered foundational in cello repertoire. These pieces represent the best of cello composition in the Baroque era. Bach, a devout Lutheran, described all his music written to the “glory of God.” These pieces are no exception. Though they were not written for church use, they nevertheless mimic key moments in Bach’s sacred music.
World-renowned cellist Steven Isserlis believes the six pieces represent the life of Christ. The first suite represents the Annunciation; the second, His temptation in the desert and agony in the garden; the third, the Holy Spirit descending on Him; the fourth, His Presentation in the Temple; the fifth, the Crucifixion; and the sixth, the Resurrection.
How fitting, therefore, would it be to hear the second suite depicting our Lord’s temptation and suffering through the six weeks of Lent! It perfectly works out that the suites are divided into six movements. So, during distribution, you will hear one movement each Sunday up to Palm Sunday. The last movement is a lively gigue: fitting for our Lord’s triumphant entry! On Good Friday, a movement from the fifth suite representing the crucifixion will be played, as well as a movement from the sixth on Easter Sunday!
He’s by our side upon the plain, With His good gifts and Spirit The HYMN OF THE DAY, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (656) is Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) hymn on Psalm 46. This beloved hymn of many has been translated into more languages than any other and is sung by Christians throughout the world.
It is a fitting hymn for today’s Gospel. Our Lord endured temptation for us to defeat our great enemy Satan. He is the Valiant One, the Lord of Sabaoth (Hebrew: “angel armies”), our Word, who fights for us on the plain of the battlefield of sin, death, and temptation of this earthly life.
Our Lord Jesus Christ defeats the devil with His Word, and sends His Spirit in His gifts of Preaching and the Sacraments. Although all else be taken from us, He sustains us and wins the victory.
It was likely written for the Diet of Speyer on April 20, 1529, when the German princes made their formal protest against the removal of their liberties. With this hymn Luther protested against any endeavor to obstruct the Gospel. Luther, a fine musician, also wrote the tune.