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In Bach’s day, the Gospel reading for the first Sunday in Epiphany was Luke’s story of the boy Jesus in the Temple. The Epistle was from Romans 12, which admonishes believers to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.
Bach’s cantatas, therefore, take up themes of “losing Jesus,” as his parents lost track of him, and of the longing to be, and remain, close and wholly devoted to our Savior.
Here is the exuberant duet “Wohl mir, Jesus ist gefunden,” which expresses the joy when Jesus, who has been absent, reveals himself to the soul once more.
Wohl mir, Jesus ist gefunden,
Nun bin ich nicht mehr betrübt.
Der, den meine Seele liebt,
Zeigt sich mir zur frohen Stunden.
Ich will dich, mein Jesu, nun nimmermehr lassen,
Ich will dich im Glauben beständig umfassen.
How happy I am, Jesus is found,
now I am troubled no more.
He whom my soul loves,
reveals himself to me in hours of joy.
I want never again to abandon you, my Jesus,
I want to embrace you constantly in faith.
Cantata Text by Richard Stokes