It’s been a rough year, so here’s some Bach.
Das alte Jahr vergangen ist is usually one of the more “upbeat” of the new year carols, though it was particularly contentious around the time Bach wrote it in Weimar. Just down the road in Erfurt in 1712, a group of kids passed a Catholic home as they sang the verse “keep us, Lord, from Papal teaching and idolatry” (Vor’s Papsts Lehr’ und Abgötterei bewahr uns, Herr). With malicious intent or not, it sparked another in a long series of religious conflicts in the primarily Catholic dominion of Mainz.
Of course, there’s no proof that Bach’s melancholic setting is in any way related to the incident as mentioned above. At the very least though, it’s a good anecdote that bidding the old year goodbye may not necessarily bring any change.