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About Today’s Picture
This statue of an African-American woman and her child, is part of the Black Brigade Monument in Smale Park on the riverfront in Cincinnati. It honors the courageous and city-saving contributions of a group of African-Americans who defended Cincinnati from Confederate forces in 1862. Here is a marvelous video, produced to introduce the monument, which tells the story of the Black Brigade and the making of the public art that pays them tribute.
The particular statue we feature today, created by Carolyn Manto, commemorates the watchfulness, fear, and hope of the women and children whose husbands were kidnapped and forced to work on the Kentucky side of the river in slave-like conditions. General Lew Wallace (of Ben Hur fame) became alarmed at the reports of their forced conscription and how they were being treated. He chose a local judge, William Martin Dickson, and asked him to remedy the situation. Dickson went to the camps of the various regiments, retrieved black men who had been seized, and brought them back. He let them return to their homes and families to make preparations for service under more humane conditions. The next morning, September 5th, about 700 African-American men voluntarily reported for duty, making them the first African-Americans organized and utilized for military purposes in the North. Manto’s statue captures the moment when the families of the returning captives saw them coming back across the Ohio River.
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The Gospel for this Sunday in Bach’s day was the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). This was Bach’s first Sunday in Leipzig, May 30, 1723, when he presented his cantata BWV 75, “Die Elenden sollen essen, daß sie satt werden” (The meek shall eat and be satisfied) to the congregation there. The early reviews were favorable: “On the 30th of the same month….the new cantor Collegii Musici director Herr Joh. Sebastian Bach, who came here from the princely court in Cöthen, performed his first music to good applause.” It was well received.
Written in two sections, part one was performed before the sermon and part two after.
Michael Beattie says of this cantata, “The BWV 75, Die Elenden sollen essen the first cantata of Bach’s Leipzig tenure, overflows with invention. Critics and musicians have noted its somewhat unruly proportions, citing the truncated opening chorus and sprawling tenor aria, but it is filled with superb arias, engaged recitatives and very colorful orchestra writing; the cumulative dramatic effect of the piece is thrilling.” Craig Smith calls it, “one of the longest and grandest of all of the cantatas.”
Here is a performance of the delightful sinfonia that begins part 2. Note the lovely chorale tune featuring the trumpet:
The first aria in part 2 is sung by the alto, in which she expresses her desire to have true riches, no matter what the world may offer.
Jesus makes my spirit rich.
If I can receive his Spirit,
I will nothing further long for;
For my life doth grow thereby.
Jesus makes my spirit rich.
The bass aria then proclaims with enthusiasm, to resounding brass accompaniment, that Jesus is the true Treasure of the heart.
My heart believes and loves
for the sweet flames of Jesus
which are the source of mine,
altogether overwhelm me,
since he gives himself to me.
This cantata ends with a powerful, uplifting affirmation of faith, reprising the music of the chorale fantasy that ended part 1.
What God does, is well done,
I will cling to this.
Along the harsh path
trouble, death and misery may drive me.
Yet God will,
just like a father,
hold me in His arms:
therefore I let Him alone rule.