Bach – Cantata No. 82, “Ich habe genug”

by Max Derrickson

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Johann Sebastian Bach   (b Eisenach, 21 March 1685; Leipzig, 28 July 1750)

Cantata No. 82, “Ich habe genug” (“I have enough”)

  1. Aria: “Ich habe genug”
  2. Recitative: “Ich habe genug. Mein Trost ist nur allein” (“I have enough. My comfort is in this alone.”)
  3. Aria: “Schlummert ein, ihr mattan Augen” (“Slumber now, you weary eyes.”)
  4. Recitative: “Mein Gott! wenn Kömmt das schöne: Nun!” (“My God, when will the lovely ‘now!’ come?”)
  5. Aria: “Ich freuemichauf meinen Tod” (“I delight in my death.”)

Of the over 250 cantatas that Bach wrote, it’s astounding that so many of them shine so brightly as musical gems.  His Cantata No. 82 is one of them.  It was written for the feast day observance of the now hardly known holy day, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was first performed in 1727.  The Cantata portrays the story of the aged holy man, Simeon, as he meets and holds the infant Jesus during a ritual at the Temple.  Once Simeon has held the Christ child, he feels justifiably ready for death.  Though the portrayal of Simeon’s meeting with Jesus might naturally be celebratory, like Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from his Messiah, Bach uses a lone bass voice, which in itself is a dark and commanding sonority, and the general mood of the entire cantata is muted and gentle.  The pure magic of the work is how Bach instead captures the humility and awe of Simeon’s encounter, his quiet joy from his spiritual fulfillment and his respect for the gravity of the moment, and for his own preparation for death.  He sings in the first movement [. . .]