The major choral works by Johann Sebastian Bach-the Christmas, Easter, and Ascension Oratorios, and the St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. John Passions-stand as the most frequently-performed and penetratingly discussed of the genre. Renowned Bach scholar Michael Marissen has assembled a compact, well-designed and ideally useful treatment of Bach's oratorios, providing the full German texts with literal English translations and copious annotations. He provides strict literal translations of these texts, with citations from the Luther Bible as it was known in Bach's day, along side extensive footnotes that provide information addressing the interests and concerns of today's Bach community. These are the first translations of the librettos from Bach's oratorios to accommodate the many sense-clarifying allusions to the readings of the Luther Bibles in Bach's day, to explore from historical dictionaries the meanings of previously unnoticed archaic usages, and to contrast relevant findings from modern biblical scholarship.
Marissen's insights are particularly helpful, his thoroughness is impressive, and the book will be a longstanding, definitive, and essential reference for choral directors, performers, audience members, and Bach scholars alike.