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The Gospel text about Jesus raising to life the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17) gave J.S. Bach the opportunity to write four cantatas on the theme of welcoming death as the path toward being raised into the presence of the Savior.
BWV 95, “Christus, der is mean Leben” (Christ, you are my life) is one of them. One of its unique features is that it contains four chorales. Today we listen to the first two, which bracket a tenor recitative. These faithful words and robust settings reinforce sentiments like those expressed by the Apostle Paul: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Christ is my life,
death is my reward;
to which I abandon myself,
I joyfully depart from here.
indeed with heart-felt delight
I wish to depart from here.
Even if today it came: you must!
Yet I am willing and ready
to place my poor body, my exhausted limbs,
the garment of mortality
again in the earth
and in its bosom.
My funeral song is already completed;
ah, that I might sing it today!
With peace and joy I depart
in God’s will,
My heart and mind are comforted,
calm, and quiet.
As God had promised me:
death has become my sleep.