St. Matthew Passion

The Passion According to St. Matthew

Several youtube videos available at:

I'd like you to consider just the opening movement, a tour de force of polychoral, contrapuntal writing. Note how the chorale is serenely "worked out" over time. We've discussed this technique and its relationship to Christian Theology at some length, but its impementation here is particularly poignant.

Chorus I

Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen,
Sehet—(Chorus II) Wen?—(Chorus I) den Bräutigam,
Seht ihn—(Chorus II) Wie?—(Chorus I) als wie ein Lamm!


O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig
Am Stamm des Kreuzes geschlachtet,
Sehet,—Was?—seht die Geduld,
Allzeit erfunden geduldig,
Wiewohl du warest verachtet.
Seht—Wohin?—auf unsre Schuld;
All Sünd hast du getragen,
Sonst müßten wir verzagen.
Sehet ihn aus Lieb und Huld
Holz zum Kreuze selber tragen!
Erbarm dich unser, o Jesu !

Chorus I

Come, ye daughters, share my mourning,
See ye—(Chorus II) whom?—(Chorus I) the bridegroom there,
See him—(Chorus II) how?—(Chorus I) just like a lamb!


O Lamb of God, unspotted
Upon the cross's branch slaughtered,
See ye,—what?—see him forbear,
Alway displayed in thy patience,
How greatly wast thou despisèd.
Look—where, then?—upon our guilt;
All sin hast thou born for us,
Else we had lost all courage.
See how he with love and grace
Wood as cross himself now beareth!
Have mercy on us, O Jesus!