Sunday of Sundays
One of Bach’s earliest and greatest cantatas is “Christ lag in Todesbanden” — “Christ lay in the bonds of death” (BWV 4). It takes as its text Martin Luther’s fiery hymn which is itself inspired in part by the early Medieval “Victimae paschali laudes” that remains the Sequence for the Easter Mass.
Here are two of Luther’s stanzas that Bach set to incomparable music:
Death and Life struggled in awesome battle/Life won the victory and devoured Death.
Scripture foretold it: how one death should swallow the other, and make mockery of Death.
Thus we celebrate with heartfelt joy and delight/the High Feast the Lord has set for us.
He is himself the Sun who, through the splendor of his grace, enlightens our hearts:
The night of sin is ended. Alleluia!
A blessed Easter Sunday.