Saturday, October 31, 2015

Reformation Day 2015

Today, Protestants around the world celebrate Reformation Day, a holy day commemorating the beginning of a great revelation - some would say revolution - in the Christian church.

Luther as an Augustinian Monk                         Lucas Cranach the Elder, 18th century

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther posted ninety-five theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany. He could no longer tolerate the Catholic practice of collecting indulgences from sinners, a practice that supported the buying salvation. 

Johann Sebastian Bach, the musical voice of the Reformation in the Baroque period, wrote the following cantata for Reformation Day 1725:

1. Chorus

God the Lord is sun and shield. 

The Lord gives grace and honor, 
He will allow no good to be lacking from the righteous.

2. Aria A

God is our sun and shield!
Therefore this goodness
shall be praised by our grateful heart,
which He protects like His little flock.
For He will protect us from now on,
although the enemy sharpens his arrows
and a vicious hound already barks.

3. Chorale

Now let everyone thank God
with hearts, mouths, and hands,
Who does great things
for us and to all ends,
Who has done for us from our mother's wombs
and childhood on
many uncountable good things
and does so still today.

4. Recitative B

Praise God, we know
the right way to blessedness;
for, Jesus, You have revealed it to us through Your word,
therefore Your name shall be praised for all time.
Since, however, many yet
at this time
must labor under a foreign yoke
out of blindness,
ah! then have mercy
also on them graciously,
so that they recognize the right way
and simply call You their Intercessor.

5. Aria (Duet) S B

God, ah God, abandon Your own ones
never again!
Let Your word shine brightly for us;
although harshly
against us the enemy rages,
yet our mouths shall praise You.

6. Chorale

Uphold us in the truth,
grant eternal freedom,
to praise Your name
through Jesus Christ. Amen.


Text:, cantata translation

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