Understanding the Other – J.S. Bach, Cantata 170, at Trinity VI

Cosima Roselli, Sermon on the Mount (1481-2)

Cosima Roselli, Sermon on the Mount (1481-2)

Cantata 170, written in 1726 for Trinity VI, on doctrinal themes of righteousness, identity, and the imperative to understand the other, would appear to be for Bach’s third cantata cycle, but may have been used to fill a gap in the second. It is written for alto voice, oboe d’amore, strings, and organ obbligato (for two keyboards and without pedal). The text is from Georg Christian Lehms’s 1711 cantata yearbook.

The theme of righteousness, embodied in the epistle from Paul, is specifically elaborated through the Gospel reading, which is the Sermon on the Mount’s asseveration of the supremacy of justice over the law, in this instance represented by the law of the Pharisees, the Pharisaic beliefs fundamental to Rabbinical Judaism.

From the first book on the Trinity cantatas of J.S. Bach, in the series that begins with  J.S. Bach: Cantatas for Trinity I through VII

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