Sunday, April 08, 2018

Vespers: Sheep May Safley Graze

The Northwest Sacred Music Chorale sings J.S. Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze."

"Sheep May Safely Graze," a soprano aria by Johann Sebastian Bach with words by Salomon Franck, was written in 1713 for a birthday celebration of Christian, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels.

Salomon Franck (1659 – 1725), was a German lawyer, scientist, and poet. Franck was working at Weimar at the same time as Bach and  was the librettist of some of the best-known Bach cantatas.

This is one translation of the lyrics.

Sheep may safely graze and pasture
Where a Shepherd guards them well
By still waters ere he feeds them,
To the fold he gently leads them,
Where securely they may dwell 

Although this is a secular piece, it has particular relevance for Christians. The Rev. Marcus Zill writes:
Perhaps the most famous and influential Lutheran musician of all time, Johann Sebastian Bach, wrote a beautiful, tranquil piece entitled "Sheep May Safely Graze." How true those four simple words are, because though our risen Savior has ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, He still shepherds us. He has not left His sheep to fend for themselves for food and protection, for the pastures where he leads us today are His means of grace. 
"The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want." ~ Psalms 23:1


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