J.S. Bach – Cantata 136, at Trinity VIII

Caravaggio: The Conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus (c. 1600-01)

Caravaggio: The Conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus (c. 1600-01)

The cantata considers themes of mortal hypocrisy and divine judgment.

The cantata’s bass recitative first bewails the ubiquity of impurity, then insists, in arioso, that, nonetheless, in Christ one comes to righteousness and exaltation. And so, as is explained in the duet, difficult but in apostolic 12/8 metre, for tenor, bass, and strings, all of humanity, from Adam on, is washed in, and solely washed by, the merciful, cleansing, and purifying blood of the Saviour; to which the concluding chorale dully accedes.

 

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