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The church cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685−1750) are masterpieces ranked among the supreme achievements of European culture and constitute the most splendid musical pendant to the Bible in its Protestant, German and Lutheran interpretation. Performed in church as part of the liturgy for Sundays and holidays between readings of the so−called pericopes (extracts from the Epistles and Gospels indicated in the annual calendar) and the sermon, they served as artistic links connecting these two crucial parts of the Protestant service which, in keeping with the “solum Verbum” principle, was centred around the Word. This extraordinary, dignified purpose of the cantatas limited their immediate utility. They were works created to meet a current need, usually performed only once, while their use outside the Protestant church − not to mention creed! − was, in Bach’s time, entirely out of the question. The outstanding virtuosity of these compositions whose practical value was so limited reveals the artist’s attitude as one radically directed God−wards by the Word; they were a musical manifestation of the bilateral contact between the Deity and the congregation. The exceptional artistic merit of the cantatas themselves was only acknowledged in the 19th century. However,the circumstances conditioning their writing (the Word, the German language, their confessional nature) narrowed their accessibility outside their native German Protestant environment. The introduction of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas into the social imagination worldwide became possible only in the second half of the 20th century with the spread of recording technology, while contemporary ecumenical dreams of the unity of Christianity are conducive to a general inquiry into the conceptual origins of these works, both by listeners inspired by the Scriptures and those simply entranced by the universal beauty of the Bible. These are works of art that unite people in the same emotions evoked by sound.

Mirosław Perz