[Daily article] October 19: Komm, du süße Todesstunde, BWV 161

Komm, du süße Todesstunde (Come, o sweet hour of death), BWV 161, is a
church cantata composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in Weimar for the 16th
Sunday after Trinity Sunday, and probably first performed in 1716. The
text, provided by the court poet Salomon Franck, was based on the
prescribed gospel reading about the young man from Nain, and reflected
on longing for death, seen as a transition to a life united with Jesus.
The cantata in six movements opens with alternating arias and
recitatives, leading to a chorus and a concluding chorale, a stanza of
the hymn “Herzlich tut mich verlangen” by Christoph Knoll. The chorale
tune appears in the first movement, played by the organ, providing a
unity to the composition. Bach scored the work for alto and tenor
soloists, a four-part choir, and a Baroque chamber ensemble of
recorders, strings and continuo. In one recitative, he creates the
images of sleep, of waking up, and of funeral bells. Although the
libretto was published in a collection in 1715, Bach probably did not
perform it until September 1716, due to a long period of public mourning
in the duchy for the brother of Duke Ernst August.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:


Ferdinand II of Aragon married Isabella I of Castile (both
pictured), a marriage that paved the way to the unification of Aragon
and Castile into a single country, Spain.


American Civil War: Despite incurring nearly twice as many
casualties as the Confederates, the Union Army emerged victorious in the
Battle of Cedar Creek.


German physicist Max Planck produced his law of black body
emission, a pioneer result of modern physics and quantum theory.


Streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy for tuberculosis, was
first isolated by researchers at Rutgers University.


President of Mozambique Samora Machel and 43 others were killed
when his presidential aircraft crashed in the Lebombo Mountains just
inside the border of South Africa.

Wiktionary’s word of the day:

1. (rail transport, US) A railroad passenger car; especially one of the
luxurious ones named after the eponymous Pullman Palace Car Company.
2. A train made up of Pullman coaches.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

  Be substantially great in thyself, and more than thou appearest
unto others.  
–Thomas Browne

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