The cantata Herr, lehre uns bedenken
(‘Lord, teach us to remember’) was written for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity; its text alludes to the part of the gospel which tells the story of the young man of Nain who was raised from the dead, and links this to reflections about the writer’s own death. Schelle’s musical setting of this libretto possesses an extraordinary charm. By using only three voices and three instruments the work gains a chamber-music-like intimacy whose distinctive sound is created by the scordatura of the string instruments tuned in E flat major. To the two levels of the cantata text (bible quotation and free verse) Schelle adds another layer: he quotes chorale stanzas in the instrumental ritornelli. In the first ritornello after the introductory tutti, the violin plays the chorale ‘Christus, der ist mein Leben’ (‘Christ is my life’), whereas the gamba begins the song ‘Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist’ (‘When my hour has come’) after the first and fourth aria-stanza. After the second and third aria-stanza the violin and viola play the melodies of ‘Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr’ (‘Very dearly do I love you, O Lord’) and ‘Herzlich tut mich verlangen, nach einem sel’gen End’ (‘Very sincerely am I yearning for a blessed end’).
from notes by Peter Wollny © 2001
English: Viola Scheffel