Most of Bach’s cantatas are sacred choral compositions set to music. Imagine being in his congregation and hearing the new compositions each week from this prolific composer of sacred music. Bach became known as the “Master of the Cantata” with more than 200 of his cantatas still in existence. Sadly, however, approximately half have been lost over the past three centuries.
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote with one goal in mind and stated in his early years that “the aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging.” Bach attributed the beauty of his music to God, by writing the letters “S.D.G.” or “Soli Deo Gloria” in many of his scores. As a devout Christian, the story of God’s redemption and love is told over and over in Bach’s cantatas. A past recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize has called Bach’s cantatas the Fifth Gospel.
Being composed in German, Bach’s message has been hidden from most of the English world over the past three centuries. Unless one studied German, the message seldom came through. Here are the English translations of a few of his cantatas that show us his doctrine and point us towards redemption and salvation which is found in Jesus Christ alone.
Listen to Bach’s 800 year old choir singing one of his cantatas in his church in Leipzig.