Like “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, “Sheep may safely graze” is a frequent wedding favourite. However, the cantata of which it forms a part was originally written for a birthday celebration, that of Christian, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels. It could be said that Bach used this particular text, speaking of the watchful & wise shepherd looking after his flock, in reference to the Duke; Bach knew which side his bread was buttered! Bach is known to have used the music again for other celebrations, but like much of his music, it remained unpublished until after his death.
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