Join us in the glorious setting of New College Chapel, Oxford for a reconstruction of Lutheran Vespers on 21 January featuring JS Bach’s joyous Cantata for the day.

Following the two successful reconstructions of Lutheran Vespers in 2017, there will be another opportunity to experience this service as it might have been in JS Bach’s time on 21 January. The cantata will be the one he wrote for the day – the third Sunday after Epiphany – Alles nur nach Gottes Willen (Everything according to God’s will alone). For this occasion a nine-piece Oxford Bach Soloists orchestra with oboes, strings and basso continuo will perform with New College Choir under the direction of Robert Quinney.

Last year we marked 500 years since Martin Luther published his Ninety-five Theses which lit the touchpaper of the Protestant Reformation. His criticism of the Roman Catholic Church was propagated with astonishing speed thanks to the successful adoption of three strategies: Translating, Printing, and Singing.

The Protestant Reformation

JS Bach’s cantatas are a direct result of the establishment of the chorale as core medium of the Reformation message. His Cantata BWV 72 dates from 1726 when Bach was working at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig (pictured in 1885). This great bravura work opens with a brilliant and fiery chorus of great richness for both the singers and instrumentalists.

Thomaskirche Leipzig

The narrative is written by Salomon Franck, Bach’s librettist at Weimar’s ducal court. The story takes the ‘rules for life’ from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and the ‘healing of the leper’ from the Gospel of Matthew.

The closing chorale Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit was written in 1547 by Albert, Duke of Prussia and Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights. Bach based his music on a theme by Claudin de Sermisy which first appeared in a collection of secular songs Trente et quatre chansons in 1528.

Claudin de Sermisy

In another typical example of ‘musical recycling’ of the period Bach had already used this final chorale in another cantata for the same occasion in 1725. Additionally, Bach was to use the opening chorus again for the Gloria of his G minor Mass BWV 235 in 1738-9.

Lutheran Vespers

Sunday 21 January, 5:45 pm
New College Chapel, Oxford
Not ticketed; first come, first served

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.