The Saint Mark’s Choir will provide music for the 7:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday service on February 10, including Johannes Brahms’s motet “Ach, arme Welt” and Thomas Attwood’s anthem “Turn Thy Face from My Sins.” Organist Tyler Robertson plays J. S. Bach’s beautiful chorale prelude “O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß,” BWV 622. All are welcome as we begin a new season of Lent.
Pictured here is the great German composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Brahms’s motet “Ach, arme Welt” was published in 1890 as part of a set of three motets (Op. 110), the last works for mixed chorus that Brahms wrote. The text bemoans the false allure of earthly treasure, a worthy counterpart to the Ash Wednesday gospel in which Jesus warns against the storing up of treasures on earth as opposed to treasures in heaven. The waltz-like character of the music, reminiscent of Brahms’s secular Liebeslieder waltzes but in a minor key, contributes to the tension between the worldly and the eternal.