Have Mercy, Lord - Erbarme Dich, mein Gott from St Matthew Passion (Bach, arr. Sparke) (Eb Tenor Horn Solo)

Although Bach wrote at least four settings of the Passions, only the St John Passion (1723-24) and St Matthew Passion (1727) survive from his time as Cantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where he served from 1723 until his death in 1750. St Matthew Passion was later revised (1743-46) and this is the version we know today.

Designed for inclusion in worship on Good Friday, it tells the story of Christís passion as related in chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of St Matthew, interspersed with arias set to texts by the poet Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). It is lavishly scored for double choir, double orchestra and soloists, some portraying gospel characters, but others anonymous. One such anonymous alto aria from the second part of the Passion is Erbarme dich, mein Gott, the depth of sorrow expressed in the poetís words being tenderly portrayed by Bachís frequent use of startling semitone dissonances.

In this version for horn solo and small band, it is envisaged that the soprano cornet and cornets 1 & 2 (which take the part of the originalís obbligato violin) stand together as a group stage right, while the other cornets stand with and behind the trombones to form the tutti group. The euphoniums and basses play Bachís pizzicato continuo and should be kept as light as possible. The parts can either be played divisi as scored, or by just one player throughout if that is more successful.