Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 180

Composed for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, I chose this over BWV 49 and 162 because there is more music written for the entire choir; BWV 49 is a solo cantata, and BWV 162 sets only the final chorale for four voices. This performance features an upbeat tempo.


The text is here. The chorale is based on the hymn “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele” by Johann Crüger, from his Geistliche Kirchen-Melodien. Here is one verse sung by the Hastings College Choir, so you can hear the hymn unadorned by Bach’s artistry.

The readings for the 20th Sunday after Trinity in Bach’s day included Ephesians 5: 15-21 and Matthew 22: 1-14, the famous Parable of the Wedding Banquet:

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”




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