Friday, April 22, 2011

Es ist vollbracht.

For your edification on Good Friday, the aria "Es ist vollbracht" ("It is finished" or "It is accomplished") from Johann Sebastian Bach's Johannes-Passion, BWV 245. This video is from a 1985 performance by Concentus Musicus Wien and the Tölzer Knabenchor, directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt; the soloists are Panito Iconomou (alto) and Christophe Coin (playing the viola da gamba, a Baroque instrument).

In the Johannes-Passion, this aria comes immediately after Jesus' final words on the cross - "Es ist vollbracht" in the German text - and right before the Evangelist announces Jesus' death. Given below in the original German and in an English translation from the Bach Cantatas Website, the words of the aria move from mournful lament to sure yet somber faith in Christ's final victory:

Es ist vollbracht!
O Trost vor die gekränkten Seelen!
Die Trauernacht
Läßt nun die letzte Stunde zählen.
Der Held aus Juda siegt mit Macht
Und schließt den Kampf.
Es ist vollbracht!


It is accomplished!
What comfort for all suffering souls!
The night of sorrow
now reaches its final hours.
The hero from Judah triumphs in his might
and brings the strife to an end.
It is accomplished!

In a recent post on Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men, I considered whether that film (or any film, or, more broadly, a work of art) could be taken as an ideal introduction to Christianity. While I would never recommend Of Gods and Men in that context, I could conceivably recommend the Johannes-Passion - or perhaps just "Es ist vollbracht" standing on its own - as such an introduction. I invite you to watch the above video, reflect on the words of the aria, and think about whether or not you would agree.

Please know of my continued prayers for a blessed Triduum. AMDG.


At 5/26/2014 1:25 AM, Anonymous Robyn said...

Father Koczera,
I very much appreciate your explanation of the spiritual significance of this aria, which I came across as I sought a translation for the lyrics. I also love this particular version more than any other I have heard...such a full alto voice for such a young boy. Another great aria on the same subject (and just as musically magnificent) is the "Crucifixus" from the Mass in B Minor. Oh, and I happen to be currently enrolled at Georgetown, so it is neat that you attended as well.

At 11/10/2019 12:36 AM, Blogger nacidodelmar said...



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