In his setting of Das alte Jahr vergangen ist
, BWV614, Bach opts for a mood far removed from that of most modern-day festivities. For him the end of the year was a time for contemplation, evaluation, and thankfulness. The constant chromatic lines, both ascending and descending, and the rather bleak harmonies create a feeling of introspection. Once more the original tune (dating from 1588) is elaborately decorated. The opening verse of the hymn is that which seems to suit the music best:
Das alte Jahr vergangen ist:
Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ,
Dass du uns in so gross Gefahr
Bewahrt hast lange Zeit und Jahr.
The old year hath passed away
For this we thank you Lord today
That thou has kept us through the year
When danger and distress were near.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2001