AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

The End is Nigh: Reflections of Philipp Nicolai's Eschatology in BWV 1 and BWV 140

by Hannah Spencer

Institution: Brandeis University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Lutheran Eschatology; Philipp Nicolai; Chorale Cantatas; J.S. Bach
Record ID: 2058061
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10192/30601


In his mission to create a better repertoire of "well-regulated church music to the Glory of God," J.S. Bach utilized every aspect of his craft. Aside from the rich texts penned by his anonymous librettist, Bach intentionally utilized specific musical gestures to intertwine the Gospel into each layer of his compositions. In the case of BWV 1 and BWV 140 , Bach makes compositional choices that allow him to depict the eschatological viewpoint of Phillip Nicolai, the Lutheran theologian who penned the chorales used as the basis of these chorale cantatas. By analyzing Bach's use of such devices as large-scale harmonic patterns, melodic motives, and the structural use of chiasm, the depiction of motion between the realms of Heaven and Earth becomes clear. More than simply "church music," Bach's cantatas are musical sermons of intricate detail.