Da sprach Pilatus zu ihm:

“So bist du dennoch ein König?”

Jesus antwortete:

“Du sagst’s, ich bin ein König. Ich bin dazu geboren und in die Welt kommen, daß ich die Wahrheit zeugen soll. Wer aus der Wahrheit ist, der höret meine Stimme.”

Spricht Pilatus zu ihm:

“Was ist Wahrheit?”

Und da er das gesaget, ging er wieder hinaus zu den Jüden und spricht zu ihnen:

“Ich finde keine Schuld an ihm. Ihr habt aber eine Gewohnheit, daß ich euch einen losgebe; wollt ihr nun, das ich euch der Jüden König losgebe?”

Da schrieen sie wieder allesamt und sprachen:

“Nicht diesen sondern Barrabam!”

Barrabas aber war ein Mörder. Da nahm Pilatus Jesum und geißelte ihn.

Pilate therefore said unto him:

“Art thou a king then?”

Jesus answered:

“Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

Pilate saith unto him:

“What is truth?”

And when he had said this he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them:

“I find no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?”

Then cried they all again, saying:

“Not this man but Barabbas!”

Now Barabbas was a robber. Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged him.

This is the first of two arioso recitative movements. In the St Matthew Passion Bach includes eleven ariosos or recitativi stromentati (accompanied recitatives) but in this work he turns to this form only twice. The words here are adapted from Brockes’s passion of 1712. Movements 31 and 32 together form part of B1 in the palindromic structure. Originally scored for lute and two violas d’amore (Baroque instruments which had 7 bowed strings and 7 additional strings which were not bowed, but which vibrated sympathetically), the music is a moment of calm and reflection before the ugly events which are to follow. The music is in common time, and, in every single bar, the continuous slow quavers in the string parts are tied over the middle beats of the bar and also over the barline. This leads to a constant stop/start motion which encourages the listener to pause a while and observe cautiously, as indeed the words entreat us.



Arioso recitative

Betrachte, meine Seel, mit ängstlichem Vergnügen, mit bittrer Lust und halb beklemmtem Herzen dein höchstes Gut in Jesu Schmerzen, wie dir auf Dornen, so ihn stechen, die Himmelsschlüsselblumen blühn! Du kannst viel süße Frucht von seiner Wermut brechen, drum sieh ohn Unterlaß auf ihn!

Observe, my soul, with fearful pleasure, with bitter joy and constricted heart your greatest good in Jesu’s sufferings, how the flowers of the primrose blossom for you on the thorns which prick him! You can gather much sweet fruit from his bitterness, so look constantly in his direction!

The words of this gentle and sad da capo aria are also adapted from Brockes’s passion of 1712. Bach instructs the violins to play con sordini (with their mutes on), and their plaintive melodic material, along with that of the cello, is almost exclusively stepwise and scalic, constantly describing the ascending and descending shape of an arch, or indeed a rainbow. Their shape of the shorter phrases is also akin to a baroque musical motif associated with sighing. The actual word for rainbow, Regenbogen, is set differently for the tenor, as two long sustained notes, each followed by a descending sequence. At almost 9 minutes, this is the longest single movement in either of Bach’s surviving passions. However, Bach prevents the feeling of monotony from creeping in through the frequent use of the hemiola – a rhythmic device much employed by baroque composers (especially at cadential points) where the natural emphasis of the pulse is temporarily displaced and then restored, giving the effect of a new metrical pattern.  




Erwäge wie sein blutgefärbter Rükken in allen Stükken dem Himmel gleiche geht, daran, nachdem die Wasserwogen von unsrer Sündflut sich verzogen, der allerschönste Regenbogen als Gottes Gnadenzeichen steht!

Consider how in every way his bloody back is like heaven, so that, after the waves of our flood of sin have receded, the most glorious rainbow stands as God’s symbol of grace!