2nd Sunday after Easter or Misericordia Domini
Today is the 2nd Sunday after Easter or Misericordia Domini. The prescribed readings include the image of the Good Shepherd from the Gospel of St John, which is why these three Leipzig cantatas all refer to the shepherd in their titles.
The image of the shepherd leading his flock has been around since the Old Testament, and has remained popular in Christian arts and culture ever since. These three cantatas have a pastoral feel about them.
Du Hirte Israel, höre, BWV 104, is from Bach's first year as Thomascantor, in 1724. Ich bin ein guter Hirt, BWV 85, is from one year later, but is not based on a hymn like the other choral cantatas from that cycle, because as stated before his librettist passed away earlier that year; here Bach uses an unknown poet, who, according to John Eliot Gardiner, may be the same poet who wrote the two preceding cantatas that year (Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, BWV 6, and Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats, BWV 42).
Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, BWV 112, is from six years later, and is one of those hymn-based choral cantatas he wrote in later years to complete the 1724-1725 cycle. It is based on a hymn by Wolfgang Meuslin (1497-1563), which was still sung in Leipzig in Bach's time.
- Du Hirte Israel, höre, BWV 104
(first performance 23 April 1724, Leipzig period)
- Ich bin ein guter Hirt, BWV 85
(first performance 15 April 1725, Leipzig period)
- Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, BWV 112
(first performance 8 April 1731, Leipzig period)
The Netherlands Bach Society website (in Dutch) has pages with information and performance of BWV 104:
WBC32-2nd Sunday after Easter or Misericordia Domini
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Image of the day
The good shepherd, mosaic in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy (from around 425).