King of Heaven, Welcome!

Our Arabic translator ritamalik sends this beautiful cantata for Palm Sunday: “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen!” or “ King of Heaven, welcome!” It was written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1714. This 1996 performance is by the Bach Collegium in Japan, conducted by Masaaki Suzuki:

Himmelskönig, sei willkommen,
Laß auch uns dein Zion sein!
Komm herein,
Du hast uns das Herz genommen.

King of Heaven, welcome,
Let us also be your Zion!
Come within,
You have taken our hearts from us.

4 thoughts on “King of Heaven, Welcome!

  1. Here I thought I might add something interesting about Masaaki Suzuki, the conductor of Bach Collegium Japan who is responsible for the performance in this Youtube clip. He is Japanese and a devout Christian and I read a quote from him in a blog post called: “News flash: J.S. Bach was a Christian- Why Suzuki gets Bach” :

    “….Responding to the question of how the Japanese could “dare play the music of Bach”, Suzuki wrote:

    ‘… [T]he God in whose service Bach laboured and the God I worship today are one and the same. In the sight of the God of Abraham, I believe that the two hundred years separating the time of Bach from my own day can be of little account. This conviction has brought the great composer very much closer to me. We are fellows in faith, and equally foreign in our parentage to the people of Israel, God’s people of Biblical times. Who can be said to approach more nearly the spirit of Bach: a European who does not attend church and carries his Christian cultural heritage mostly on the subconscious level, or an Asian who is active in his faith although the influence of Christianity on his national culture is small?’ “

    Here is the link to the full blog post on First Things blog, which has an additional video clip there of an interview with Suzuki himself :

    It is really noteworthy that while the bulk of the Westerners disregard and belittle their Judeo-Christian heritage and all the cultural expressions of it, in the Far East and other parts of the world people are rediscovering it and cherishing it and valuing it with great esteem that it deserves!

    This brings these Bible verses to my mind:

    “…42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits…” (Matthew 21:42-43)

    • There’s also the fact that almost anything German makes sense being in Japan because their entire westernization (modernization) effort (starting with the Meiji constitution) was based on the Prussian system. That may not seem Christian per se, but their westernization/modernization efforts were based on traditions from a Christian society.

      So a Japanese Christian conductor performing Bach shoudn’t be all that surprising to anyone who’s read a little about Japanese history. It should be no more surprising than finding a Communist in China.

  2. It’s not just a matter of religious belief; when I worked in classical record shops in the 1980s, I recall reading that Japan was the biggest market for recordings of Western classical music (followed by the US and Germany; the figures were not adjusted for size of population). China is likely near the top today, thanks to those Tiger Moms. I daresay Takuan may have some insights.

    Having said which, the solo violin at the start of this film is not in tune; “original” instruments can be harder to play accurately- a good reason for preferring modern ones unless one has topnotch players who have plenty of rehearsal time. A Happy (and musical) Easter to all anyway.

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