J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: An introduction

As one of the greatest pieces of music in the Church’s treasury, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion can be more than a bit intimidating on first hearing. But repeated exposure to Bach’s sensitive and insightful telling of the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus — and of the response of faithful believers to the event — brings rich rewards.

In 2019, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge and the Academy of Ancient Music recorded the work in a live performance. The part of the Evangelist was sung by tenor James Gilchrist. In the Spring of 2020, Gilchrist recorded a 30-minute guide to the work. His comments are illustrated with excerpts from the performance.

If your music collection doesn’t include a recording of the St. Matthew Passion, there are two YouTube videos below which feature excellent performances.

The first features a 2010 performance by the Collegium Vocale Gent conducted by Philippe Herreweghe.

The second performance is by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven. This page on the Society’s All of Bach website includes the text (in German and English translation) to the entire work, as well as a number of video commentaries by the conductor and performers about the St. Matthew Passion.