Come, hasten and run!
In contrast to the proto-sturm und drang of his two Passion-based oratorios, Bach’s Easter Oratorio reflects pure joy. Written between the two Passion oratorios, but substantially revised a decade later in 1735-40, the Easter Oratorio is a comparatively brief work. Written for, and debuting on, Easter Sunday 1725, the change of setting from the solemnity of Good Friday makes all the difference in Bach’s music. This is a festive occasion and is treated as such. The first part of the Sinfonia is a fine example of festive Baroque composition–bright brass supported by timpani, winds and strings. The opening chorus (Kommt, eilet und laufet) picks up the festive mood, followed by alternating dramatic recitatives and arias, before a rousing, if not brisk, choral finale.
In 1725, having heard the St. John Passion on Good Friday, this extremely fortunate congregation in Leipzig was treated to this gem on Easter Sunday. Bach’s music is inseparable from his Lutheran faith. Here, his very human sense of joy is intertwined with deep faith in the miracle of the Resurrection. His music, particularly in the finale, reflects this perfectly.
Praise and thanks
remain your song of praise
Hell and the devil are overcome
their gates are destroyed
Shout and cheer, you loosened tongues,
so that you are heard in heaven
Open up, you heavens, the splendid arches,
the Lion of Judah comes drawn in victory !