Sebastian Knüpfer (1633-1676): Jesus Christus, unser Heiland

I like Knüpfer’s music a lot, he was one of those polymaths that the renaissance and baroque eras seem to have produced in such numbers he’s often dismissed in a sentence as just another one of Bach’s predecessors as Thomaskantor but to do so is to miss the point. Yes he predeceded Bach as Thomaskantor far more importantly it was Knüpfer who set the standard as Thomaskantor that Bach had to meet.  (I’ve a brief biography and introduction to his music in my posting here: Sebastian Knüpfer (1633-1676): Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her | Saturday Chorale – mfi). His chorale cantata Jesus Christus, unser Heiland (Jesus Christ, our saviour) is a wonderful piece of music that sets a somewhat adapted poem by Martin Luther to a pre-Reformation melody using five voices and five instruments . Its structure is both elaborate and symetrical. Knüpfer scored the two outer movements for full ensemble, with the chorale melody being subjected to imitation, the third verse mirrors the first while the middle verse recalls a concerto both in its structure and scoring and is enclosed within a dance-like ritornello. Enjoy :-)


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Text & Translation: Jesus Christus, unser Heiland

[Text: Martin Luther (1483-1546) adapted]

Jesus Christus, unser Heiland
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland
der den Tod überwand
ist auferstanden,
die Sünd hat er gefangen.
Kyrie eleison.
Jesus Christ, our saviour
who overcame death
has arisen,
he has captured sin.
Kyrie eleison.
Der ohn’ Sünde war geboren
Der ohn’ Sünde war geboren
trug für uns Gottes Zorn,
hat uns versöhnet
dass uns Gott sein’ Huld gönnet.
Kyrie eleison.
He was born without sin;
he bore for us God’s anger;
he has reunited us
so that God grants us his mercy.
Kyrie eleison.
Tod, Sünd, Teuffel, Leben und Genadt
Tod, Sünd, Teuffel, Leben und Genadt
alles in Händen er hat
Er kann erretten
alle die zu ihm treten.
Kyrie eleison.
Death, sin, devil, life and mercy,
he has everything in his hands,
he can save
all who come to him.
Kyrie eleison.

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