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Apollo and the Python by Cornelis de Vos, 1636 – 1638. Oil on Canvas, after a sketch by Rubens. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain (not on display).

I always write about bass arias around this time of year (see this post). But let’s not forget about the tenor arias. As I’ve said before, I believe that Bach wrote some of his best trio sonatas in the form of tenor arias. Wonderful examples of this are the following tenor arias from the Fall of 1724:

from Cantata 78, sung here by Howard Crook on the Herreweghe recording from 1988

from Cantata 5, sung here by Raphael Höhn with the J.S. Bach Foundation

from Cantata 38, sung here by Johannes Kaleschke with the J.S. Bach Foundation — this is the “consolation” aria I mentioned in my previous blog post.

And for today, the 23rd Sunday after Trinity, the fabulous tenor aria from Cantata 139 Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott, sung here by Johannes Kaleschke with the J.S. Bach Foundation. When I looked at the text of this aria again today, I realized that if Cantata 139 were an opera, this aria would be Joe Biden’s:

Gott ist mein Freund; was hilft das Toben,
So wider mich ein Feind erhoben!
Ich bin getrost bei Neid und Hass.
Ja, redet nur die Wahrheit spärlich,
Seid immer falsch, was tut mir das?
Ihr Spötter seid mir ungefährlich.

God is my friend; what use is all the raging
that an enemy has raised against me!
I am consoled in the midst of envy and hate.
Yes, though you speak the truth only rarely,
though you are always false, what is that to me?
You scoffers are to me no danger.

Wieneke Gorter, November 14, 2020