One of Bach’s most beautiful chorale tunes, Christ lag in Todesbanden, frames the 9:15 and 11:15 services on Sunday, appearing in organ settings at the beginning and end of the services, and as a hymn during communion (186 in The Hymanl 1982). The tune is actually by Martin Luther, but used in many ways by Bach, notably in his Cantata No. 4. A very beautiful, rather well-known tune…but such sad music for an Easter text. Its sturdy Germanic demeanor and minor key seem to be at odds with Easter joy. One choir member never failed to laugh when we came to the words “let us joyful be” at a particularly stern moment in the music. She found the closing “alleluias” dirge-like, and I can’t completely disagree.
So call me a contrarian, and many have done that, but I find joy in rainy days, and hope in difficult situations. And I find an Easter message in this somber tune. It has a quiet, settled strength that might serve to anchor the tidings of Easter joy more firmly in our hearts. Happy Easter! Let us joyful be!
Having the ability to find joy on a cloudy day is a gift. Thanks for sharing this.