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Today is the great Christian feast of Pentecost, commemorating King Jesus pouring out the Holy Spirit upon his people. In honor of this great event in salvation history, we present magnificent pieces from two different Bach Pentecost cantatas.
The first is the opening Chorus from Cantata BWV 172, “Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten!” (“Ring out, you songs, resound, you strings!”). On the great festive days of the Church, nothing is more joyous and celebratory than hearing a choir raise its voices to the accompaniment of the bright sounds of Bach trumpets.
Ring out, you songs, resound, you strings!
Oh blessed times !
God will prepare our souls to be his temples.
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The second selection is a recording by the Choir and Orchestra of the J. S. Bach Foundation, at the Protestant church Trogen in Switzerland, featuring the Alto Solo, “Wohl euch, ihr auserwahlten Seelen,” (Happy are you chosen souls) from Bach’s Cantata BWV 34. The soloist is Margot Oitzinger. Some have called this the most beautiful aria Bach ever wrote, and I think it fitting to combine the bright and brilliant festive nature of our first piece with this intimate and moving song of comfort for those in whom God made his dwelling place.
Happy are you, you chosen souls,
whom God has picked for his dwelling.
Who can choose a greater salvation?
Who can count the abundance of blessings?
And this is the work of God.