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The Annunciation, aka The Cestello Annunciation, 1489, by Botticelli. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

In 1714, Palm Sunday fell on the same day as the Annunciation of Mary, March 25. The Annunciation was one of the three Marian feast days Luther kept on the calendar (the other two being the Purification of Mary, February 2, and the Visitation of Mary, July 2).

Thus it happened that in that year, in Weimar, Bach wrote a cantata that is mostly a Palm Sunday cantata, but can also work for the feast of the Annunciation, since that also celebrates the coming of Christ. I squeezed this cantata 182 Himmelskönig, sei willkommen into my post about Bach in Weimar I wrote last year. As I mentioned there, the cantata was repeated a few times in Leipzig, but never on Palm Sunday, as the Leipzig rules dictated that no music was performed during the period of Lent (the 40 days before Easter).

However, the Leipzig council made an exception for the Annunciation, so in 1724 Bach could perform this cantata during Lent, eight days before Palm Sunday, on Saturday March 25. As so often on holidays, there were two cantatas this day, one before the sermon, and one after. The other, newly written, piece for Saturday March 25, 1724, was more literally about the Annunciation: Siehe, eine Jungfrau ist schwanger (Behold, a Virgin is pregnant). The text of this cantata survived, and can be found here, but unfortunately the music is lost.

I still recommend the recording of cantata 182 by Montreal Baroque, but since I wrote my post last year, a terrific live video of the Sonata (instrumental opening) of this cantata has come out on the YouTube channel of Voices of Music, with two fabulous soloists: Hanneke van Proosdij on recorder and Rachel Podger on violin, so I would love to share that here as well. You can find that video here.

Find the text of cantata 182 here, and the score here.

Wieneke Gorter, March 24, 2017.