This coming Thursday is the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord . . . at least in many dioceses (and of course, wherever the traditional liturgical calendar is followed). It may not surprise you, if you are a regular reader of this blog, that I’m not a fan of moving important feasts like Ascension Thursday to the nearest Sunday in the hopes of roping in those who steer clear of The Lord’s House on weekdays. I’m fortunate in that I live in a diocese where Ascension Thursday still falls on a Thursday. If only they would move Epiphany back to January 6th . . .
I may explore that topic in greater length later in the week, but that’s not what today’s post is about: today is Music Monday. Whether your diocese celebrates the Ascension on Thursday or on the following Sunday, it’s coming up within the next week, so what is more appropriate than J.S. Bach’s magnificent Ascension Oratorio?
The oratorio itself was first performed in 1735, on May 19th, the date of the Feast of the Ascension that year (and a Thursday; who would have guessed?). The video below contains the opening chorus, “Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen” (Praise God in His Kingdoms), performed by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir. The painting of the Ascension of Jesus in the video is by the American artist Benjamin West. I’ve posted the words (by Christian Friedrich Henrici, who went by the pen name “Picander”) in German and in English translation underneath.
Featured image at top of page: “The Ascension”, by Benjaminm West, 1801
“Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen”, BWV 11
Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Album: Bach: Ascension Cantatas
Artwork: “The Ascension” by Benjamin West, 1801
Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen,
Preiset ihn in seinen Ehren,
Rühmet ihn in seiner Pracht;
Sucht sein Lob recht zu vergleichen,
Wenn ihr mit gesamten Chören
Ihm ein Lied zu Ehren macht!
Praise God in his kingdoms,
extol him in his honors
acclaim him in his splendor.
Seek to express his praise rightly
when with assembled choirsyou make a song to his honor!