St John Passion

©️ J. Sigrist

Here’s another of my favourite Holy Week pieces: the opening chorus from J S Bach’s St John Passion – Herr, unser Herrscher, performed in this clip by the Academy of Ancient Music.

Read the comments for a fascinating debate as to the dynamics of this version of the work; the performers fairly speed through it here and you get the impression that that’s not to everybody’s liking. I was none too sure myself, being used to a far more measured, (some might say lugubrious pace).

Though I’m beginning to come round now to the Academy’s interpretation; to the sense of gathering storm, of the wheels of fate beginning to turn faster and faster as Christ moves towards the point of no return. (No, I’m not disputing the historicity of the Resurrection here!)

My feeling is that at times like this, music goes far deeper than words ever could. Even more so if you’ve been fortunate enough to have taken part in a performance of the St John yourself. On that occasion we were joined by some dancers for the opening section.  What an experience that was, lifting the work from mere performance to prayer!



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