Easter Song Story: St. John Passion

The Passion or oratorio “St. John Passion” was written by Johann Sebastian Bach.

It was written during his first year as director of church music in Leipzig and was first performed on April 7, 1724, at Good Friday Vespers at the St. Nicholas Church.

There are two halves, which are intended to flank a sermon. The Passion narrates the Passion of Christ as told in the Gospel of John. Bach revised the oratori several times and the version most commonly heard today (1739-1849) was never performed during Bach’s lifetime.

The work was initially intended to be performed at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, but due to a last-minute change it was performed on Good Friday 1724 at St. Nicholas Church.

St. John’s Passion is the oldest of the surviving Passions written by Bach.

Compared with the St Matthew Passion (1727), the St John Passion has been described as more extravagant, with an expressive immediacy, at times more unbridled and less “finished”.

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