Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig
Sind der Menschen Sachen!
Alles, alles, was wir sehen,
Das muss fallen und vergehen.
Wer Gott fürcht’, bleibt ewig stehen.

This is the chorale for BWV 26. The entire cantata is about the futility of man’s existence. In fact, the entire cantata, which lasts only about fifteen minutes, has no reference to hope or God until the very last line: Wer Gott fürcht’, bleibt ewig stehen (whoever fears God remains standing forever.) This is not your normal worship music, and illustrates well how far we are removed from some Christian sensibilities of ages past.

The music in some ways fits the score. It is not pretty or comforting–certainly no “Ich habe genug.” The chorale is stable and steadfast after the flurry and tempest of the previous movements.

I often long for this kind of music to return to Christian worship, for reminders of our futility and vanity as men turn us to God. How often we need to be reminded to turn from this present age to the age to come! How often we need to be scolded to seek first the Kingdom of God.

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