The Merry Lenten Season

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

In this playfully serious cantata (tracks 11-15) by Georg Philipp Telemann, we begin with the true but possibly foreboding thought that Lent is a time to desist in all “pleasure and merriment.” It is a time to meditate on the “pain and suffering of our Savior,” which should bring about “true remorse in every heart.”

As the meditation proceeds, we reflect that “the horror of [our] sins” is overcome by the Passion of Christ. Gratefully considering the motives for this rescue mission, we marvel that, whereas “no friend dies for his friend,” Christ “dies for his enemy” (for such have we been)!

It was love, of course, that “drove him to endure such sorrows” on our behalf, for “he could not watch us dangle in Satan’s snares and become lost for all eternity.”

By foregoing “pleasure and merriment” for a time, we come to recognize that Christ’s love for us has “saved [us] from the darkness of hell” and opened to us “the light of majesty.” If we are willing to “live and die with . . . trust in Jesus,” we can expect to “inherit Paradise.”

Buoyed by such thoughts, our “heart[s] and soul[s] are overjoyed at the merry Lenten season,” crying out: “Death, you cannot destroy me, for through my Jesus’s dying, I shall live in eternity!”

From the album Perpetuum Mobile, by Balthasar-Neumann Ensemble (CD, download).

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