Aardvark Alley

Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

30 August 2005
  Bach Was Right … Again!
Music, Theology, and Now Medicine

One of my favorite "light" works by J. S. Bach is Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be quiet, stop chattering!), also known as the Kaffe Kantate (BWV 211).

In this father-daughter contest of wills, Bach pitted the plodding, controlling Herr Schlendrian (a rough translation might be "Mr. Stick-in-the-Mud") against his lively, coffee-loving daughter Lieschen. Against his approbation, she joyfully confesses the wonders of the beverage. Here we catch a glimpse of her attitude:

Kaffe-KantateRecitative:
Father, don't be so severe!
If I can't drink
my bowl of coffee three times daily,
then in my torment I will shrivel up
like a piece of roast goat.

Aria:
Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
mellower than muscatel wine.
Coffee, coffee I must have,
and if someone wishes to give me a treat,
ah, then pour me out some coffee!

Her father goes on to threaten her with the loss of all privileges unless she recants her passion, ultimately vowing that he'll not find her a husband until coffee leaves her life. It appears that she gives in as they trade lines, but as Schlendrian goes to find Mr. Coffee Substitute, the omnicient narrator provides this observation:

Leischen secretly lets it be known:
no suitor is to come to my house
unless he promises me,
and it is also written into the marriage contract,
that I will be permitted
to make myself coffee whenever I want.

The cantata concludes with a Trio:

A cat won't stop from catching mice,
and maidens remain faithful to their coffee.
The mother holds her coffee dear,
the grandmother drank it also,
who can thus rebuke the daughters!

[View complete text]

Why am I now recounting this celebratory work? Science has finally caught up to the intuitive knowledge of the devout drinker of coffee: The stuff is good for you! I discovered at Balaam's Ass reference to a Fox News story citing the results of a new scientific study just disclosed by Joe A. Vinson: Coffee "provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet."

The report cites an earlier Japanese study. In it, researchers discovered that "people who drank coffee daily, or nearly every day, had half the liver cancer risk of those who never drank it. The protective effect occurred in people who drank one to two cups a day and increased at three to four cups." Meanwhile, a Harvard study made a startling comparison to non-coffee drinkers: "Men who drank more than six 8-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee per day lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by about half, and women reduced their risk by nearly 30 percent...."

And you thought I was exaggerating about that "Elixer of Life."
 
Comments:
The Third Sacrament, as they used to say at Warthog Theological Cemetary.
 
It is interesting. If you go to Leipzig, across the square from St. Thomas Kirche, you will find an Arabian Coffee Museum. I always wondered why it was there. Of course, I still wonder... but this is very cool.

Peace,
Brian
 
Six cups?

*twitch* *twitch* :)
 
This must be the source of the Bach "quotation" I saw once on the wall of a coffee shop, which went something like:

"Give me a great bowl of coffee, or I shall turn into a goat."

The um... translator seems to have takensome licenses. And also moved the statement from the mouth of the character to the mouth of the author.
 
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