Bach Cantata Vespers

Bach Cantata Vespers

The Bach Cantata Vespers series at St. James presents four Bach cantatas each season as the centerpiece of the Evening Prayer liturgy. Psalms, hymns, homily, and additional choral music all reflect the theme of the cantata. The St. James Bach Choir is joined by professional soloists and orchestra. Additional choral singers interested in singing in the Bach choir may contact the Church Office about rehearsal requirements.

The commissioning of new motets and psalm settings is a unique aspect of the Bach Vespers. Seventeen choral motets have been written by composers including Paul Bouman, Carson Cooman, Richard Felciano, Frank Ferko, Randy Giles, Richard Hillert, Ron Jeffers, Robert Kyr, Joel Morris, Timothy Nickel, Richard Proulx, Carl Schalk, Kevin Walcyzk, and Christopher Wicks. If you are interested in funding the composition of a new motet for a Vespers next season in memory of an individual or in honor of a special birthday, anniversary, or other special event, please contact the Church Office for more information.

The series is supported by the “Friends of Bach Vespers at St. James” and offerings received at the Vespers. Last season more than 130 individuals and organizations supported the series with an average attendance of 230 persons. Please consider becoming a Friend of Bach Vespers in making a contribution to support this unique ministry!



Click here to download a PDF copy of the 2017-2018 Bach Cantata Vespers schedule.




Cantata 80
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
(Our God is a secure fortress)
Sunday, October 15th, 2017 at 5:00pm

With St. James Bach choir, orchestra, and guest organist Mark Brombaugh.

Cantata 28
Gottlob! Nun geht das Jahr zu Ende
(Praise God! Now the year is coming to a close)
Sunday, January 7th, 2018 at 5:00pm

This cantata for the New Year opens in thanksgiving for the past year with the sung words:  “Think upon this, how much good God’s hands have done for you in the old year! Sound a happy song of thanks to Him…”   The cantata concludes with a sung prayer for the New Year:  “Give us a peaceful year, protect us from all sorrow, and nourish us gently.”  Soloists Anna Haagenson, Laura Thoreson, Carl Halverson, and Kevin Walsh join St. James Bach Choir and orchestra of strings and oboes. Hannah Brewer is guest organist with prelude music beginning at 4:50.

Johannespassion, BWV 245
(St. John Passion, selections)
Good Friday, March 30th, 2018 at 7:00pm

This includes the traditional Good Friday Passion reading from the Gospel of St. John presented with music from Bach’s St. John Passion for choir, soloists, and orchestra. The St. James Bach Choir is joined by a professional orchestra of strings, oboes, flutes, and portative organ, and by soloists Catherine Van der Salm (soprano), Laura Thoreson (alto), Les Green (tenor), and Kevin Walsh (baritone) with choruses, arias, and chorales from Bach’s great St. John Passion.

Cantata 166
Wo gehest du hin?
(Where are you heading?)
Sunday, April 29th, 2018 at 5:00pm

This will feature young singers from Portland’s Trinity Cathedral Choir School and soloists Les Green and Kevin Helppie from Western Oregon University and guest organist Christopher Lynch, Fellow in Church Music at Trinity Cathedral, in Portland. Christopher sang in the boy choir at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, before attending the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey. Christopher studied organ performance and early music at Indiana University. The treble choir will sing a new motet for children’s voices by Kenneth Kosche that was commissioned for the Bach Vespers by Dorothy Cottingham in memory of her sister, Gretchen Stude, a Lutheran elementary school teacher and director of children’s choirs. Organ music performed by Christopher Lynch will begin at 4:50. Free will offering supports the Bach Vesper series at St. James.

Cantata 29
Wir danken dir, Gott
(We give you thanks, God)
Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 at 5:00pm

Join us for the final Bach Vesper of the 2017-2018 season, and the last one conducted by Minister of Music, Nancy Nickel. The Cantata 29 “Wir Danken Dir, Gott (We Give You Thanks, God)” will feature soloists Anna Haagerson (soprano), Hannah Penn (alto), Les Green (tenor), and Kevin Walsh (baritone), St. James Bach Choir and orchestra of strings, oboes, three trumpets, and tympani. The Cantata’s Virtuoso Organ Obbligato will be played by guest organist, Paul Tegels, music faculty of Pacific Lutheran University.

Freewill Offering

St. James Lutheran Church (at the corner of SW Park Blocks and Jefferson)
1315 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97201

For more information: call the Church Office at 503-227-2439.




NOTE:  For other upcoming musical events in the Portland area, please visit WEKA or Western Early Keyboard Association at