001 This morning we sang our Bach cantata, and it went far less badly than I had expected. We had a couple of violins, a viola, a cello, and an assortment of woodwinds, the soloists were quite good, and the choir didn’t actually give up and quit singing at any point.

If we could start each day with a rousing cantata played with chamber ensemble, we’d all do better at work, I’m sure.

The cantata in question, Bach’s cantata based on “Sleepers, Awake,” has some peculiarities. First, it’s about the five wise virgins and the five foolish ones, though the church staff spoke of “bridesmaids” rather than virgins. This cantata also uses the metaphor of Christ as the bridegroom and the church as the bride, which we don’t do so much nowadays. Thus, the duets consist of a soprano and a bass trilling, “Come quickly!” and “I come! I come quickly!” at one another about 97 times, wrapping things up with a bit of harmonizing on the theme of eternal rapture in flowery fields. A bit different from the usual Christmas lyrics.

I came home and put a nice pan of Ham and Potatoes Gratinee into the over, did an hour or two of work, and then settled back down to knit presents. You can see the beginnings of a hat at left and a couple pairs of legwarmers in a welter of stuff at right.


I watched “The Nutcracker” while knitting, and then #1 son came in and we discussed Romantic British poetry and plans for Christmas Eve. He proposes a larger meat and cheese tray this year than in the past, and — since Christmas Eve is on a Saturday — opening the traditional new board game early enough that we can play it all day. Usually we have to wait for people to get home from work, but we are all free on that day, so we figure we can celebrate all day long.

For today’s song. I offer you “Love Came Down at Christmas.” I love this song, and I rather think that it is as close to a Bach cantata as most of us are likely to get while hanging around the fire at home, knitting. I like the rendition by Jars of Clay , but you need to sing it in a round if you’re going for echoes of Bach at all.