Sheep May Safely Graze Maximize

Sheep May Safely Graze

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) 
Arranger: Barton Cummings 
Instrumentation: Woodwind Ensemble: Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, Clarinet in Eb, 3 Clarinets in Bb, Alto Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Contrabass Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, 2 Alto Saxophones, Tenor Saxophone and Baritone Saxophone. 
Performance Time: 5:30 
Grade Level: 3 
Price: $16.00

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There are just over twenty secular cantatas in Bach’s prolific output, which include The Coffee Cantata (No 211), The Wedding Cantata (No 202), Phoebus and Pan (No 201) and the Hunt Cantata (No 208), which contains the famous aria Sheep May Safely Graze.

Written in 1713, Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd (The lively hunt is all my heart's desire), also known as the Hunting Cantata, was composed to for a celebration in Weissenfels of the birthday of Duke Christian of Sachsen-Weissenfels and later reworked and performed at other similar birthday celebrations and on namedays.

That cantata is seldom performed today, but one of its movements-an aria titled Schäfe können sicher weichen ("Sheep May Safely Graze")-has become some of the most famous music Bach ever wrote. The aria makes a point that would have appealed to the Duke: sheep (the citizens) are safe when they are guarded by a good shepherd (the prince). Although secular in character, the words describe how well a faithful shepherd keeps watch over his flock and hence has obvious allusions to the teachings of the Christian church. This aria's gently rocking accompaniment and soaring melodic line have made it an audience favorite over the last three centuries.