Cantata Sunday Service

December 15, 2019 @ 10:30 am
The Presbyterian Church in Geneva
24 Park Place
Geneva NY 14456
Richard Cox

The Cantata “Uns is ein Kind Geboren” or “For Us A Child Is Born,” will be the musical center piece for Cantata Sunday service on December 16 this year. Even though it was first published as a work of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1884 by the Bach-Gesellshaft, later research indicated that this was not a correct attribution. It is now believed that this cantata was most likely composed by Johann Kuhnau who preceded Bach as Thomaskantor, or the director of music, in Leipzig. It was the cantor’s responsibility to train the singers of the Thomasschule and to provide music for the four Protestant churches in the city. Kuhnau was both a performer and composer in many genres such as instrumental works, choral church music, & opera. Unfortunately most of his compositions have not survived. Besides being a prolific composer, he was also a novelist, translator, lawyer, and music theorist.

     The cantata has eight movements and is scored for three soloist, choir, and small ensemble of recorders, (we will hear flutes), oboes, strings, and continuo. The most interesting and complex chorus of the piece is the first one which is a double fugue. The first theme is set to the text “For us a Child is Born,” the second is set to “A Son to us is given.” These themes are interwoven  throughout the piece. There are also two other choruses, bass, tenor, and alto solos as well as an instrumental overture. You will notice that the texts for the choruses and arias are very repetitious. Unlike the Romantic period, in the Baroque style, each movement or section of music was composed to illuminate or express only one thought or emotion so the texts are often repeated and the character of the music remains the same. The biblical text, the chorale and free verse texts come from librettos by Erdmann Neumeister, a theologian, pastor, and hymnologist of the period.

     In addition to the cantata, there will be other musical offerings celebrating the Advent and Christmas season. The service will begin with the Overture to Handel’s Messiah and the tenor solos “Comfort Ye My People” and “Every Valley” and later, the second soprano solo from Bach’s Magnificat, “Quit respect humiliated.”  There will also be several of Bach’s chorals sung by the choir and the congregation at different points during the service. Come and join in this special celebration of the Advent and Christmas Season with this musical service on December 16th at 10:30.