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Cantata BWV 105
Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of August 2, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (August 2, 2015):
Cantata BWV 'Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht' Intro. & Trinity 9 Chorales

Bach’s chorus Cantata 105, “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht” (Lord, do not go into court with your servant, Psalm 143:2) is a most significant work. Composed for the 9th Sunday after Trinity, it was premiered on July 25, 1723 in the Nikolaikirche at the early main service before the sermon on the gospel “Parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-19) of Leipzig Superintendent Salomon Deyling (1677-1755). It has the typical from A of Cycle 1 with a biblical dictum opening chorus in prelude and fugue form, two alternating recitatives and arias, and an elaborated chorale with extended madrigalian poetry by the unknown librettist running 22 to 25 minutes.1 Bach scholars generally believe it to be one of his best cantatas with a striking opening chorus, two memorable arias, and an elaborate closing chorale, the Pietist "Jesus Hymn," "Jesu, der du meine Seele." (Jesus, Thou my soul).

Several factors make this work unique. It is the first original work in the series of seven palindrome (mirror-form) cantatas in early-middle Trinity Time (Sundays 8-14) probably by the same librettist, possibly St. Thomas Pastor Christian Weiss Sr., who alternated Sunday sermon preaching with Superintendent Deyling. While the New Testament readings for this Sunday were not quoted, the spirit of the new Gospel pairing of parable and teaching stimulates allegorical treatment of the exemplary, engaging text and related music. The work progresses from the “darker side” to the “lighter side,” from the old teachings to the new, shifting at the central turning point, found in similar Bach cantatas, particularly the Trinity Time chorale cantatas. Alfred Dürr calls the soprano aria (no. 3) ‘one of his most original and most deeply impressive arias” and the work “one of the greatest descriptions of the soul of baroque Christian art.”2 Cantata 105 exhibits striking harmonic technique of tonal allegory and theological implications, particularly in the writings of Eric Chafe (see below).

The text “explores the relationship between mankind's sinful conscience and God,” beginning with the monumental chorus. Here, the “image in the gospel reading of a servant called to account by his master becomes generalised into all mankind facing God's judgement either at death or at the last judgement at the world's end.

says Francis Browne in “Notes on the text,” below. The 9th Sunday after Trinity is the culmination of the mini-cycle (Trinity 6-11) emphasizing the “new life of righteousness,” involving the Christian comparison and contrast of the “New Covenant in the Blood of Christ” with the Old Testament covenants between God and the People of Israel (see Paul Zeller Strodach commentary below).

Readers are encouraged to read on while listening to Philippe Herreweghe’s on-line recording with scrolling score,; BCW Recording details,

Gospel Thematic Patterns

This Gospel pairing is the third sequence in Trinity Time: 3) Trinity 9-19 generally alternates a parable with a teaching or miracle. Whether these literary patterns influenced Bach deserves investigation in both librettos and scores, says BCW commentator Douglas Cowling, (May 3, 2011), THEMATIC PATTERNS IN BACH¹S GOSPELS, BCML Discussions Part 3, The pairs are: *Trinity 9: Luke 16: 1-9- Parable of the unjust steward: “There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.” *Trinity 10 Luke 19: 41-48 Teaching: Jesus weeps over Jerusalem: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.”

“The season of Sundays after Trinity has never seen the scholarly interest that the Christmas and Easter narratives have received and there is a certain assumption that the Gospel readings do not have the same dramatic

significance, observes Cowling. “It is worth looking at several literary patterns which Bach would have known

intimately. In general, there are three genres in the Trinity season: *Parables - short moralized allegories within the larger narratives of events in the life of Christ; *Miracles - short self-contained narratives of miraculous healings; *Teachings - excerpts from longer hortatory discourses by Christ. There is also a series of groupings which would have been part of the critical apparatus of both theologians and musicians such as Bach who had such a finely-tuned ear for the literary shape of scriptural passages. Although there are no formal divisions in the official books, we see some important groupings which may have influenced Bach¹s cantata composition. A brief outline of the first half of the season: 1) Trinity 1-4 is a four week sequence of parables; 2) Trinity 5-8 has a series of paired miracles and teachings; 3) Trinity 9-19 generally alternates a parable with a teaching or miracle.

As Bach moved further into Trinity Time with his original Sunday cantatas, the prescribed hymns for each Sunday, following his hymnbook, Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682, in the omnes tempore section of the second half of the church year, the choice of hymns moved from fundamental Catechism teachings and Psalm hymns to thematic hymns such as “Christian Life and Conduct. These hymns lent themselves more to allegorical treatment in the texts, especially the poetic choruses and arias, reinforced by Psalm and other biblical quotations.

'Jesu, meine Freude'

Adding to the significance of Cantata 105 is Bach’s first major motet, “Jesu, meine Freude” (Jesus, my joy), BWV 227, which probably premiered a few days before Cantata 105 did on Trinity Sunday 9, July 25, 1723, “marking this as a fruitful period for Bach’s creative powers,” says the liner notes of Masaaki Suzuki’s BIS Complete Sacred Cantatas.3 The motet, alternating the six stanzas of Johann Franck’s 1655 hymn of “Cross, Persecution and Challenge” (NLGB No. 301) as plain chorale settings, alternating in polyphonic chorus setting of Romans 8:1-2, 9-11, “Life in the Spirit,” in palindrome, mirror form of contrasting sub-themes. The central theme is “Luther’s affirmation of the centrality of Jesus Christ as the beginning and end of faith,” says Jaroslav Pelikan in Bach Among the Theologians,4 affirming Luther’s paradoxical theme: “We are simultaneous righteous and sinners,” which, like many of Luther’s hymns and Bach’s, music combine “confession and celebration” (Ibid.: 22). (Motet, BWV 227, see BCW Details,

Trinity 9: Cantatas 105 and 94

Interpreting Bach’s Cantatas, William Hoffman wrote (September 30, 2011):
Cantata BWV 105: Theology & Allegory Plummeting the depths of Bach’s musical settings of the texts in his cantatas, it might be helpful to review some of the BCW thoughts expressed recently in connection with two Cantatas, BWV 105 and 94, for the 9th Sunday after Trinity. It can be helpful in framing the discussion to recall five major points of discussion that have been made and then examine author Eric Café’s approach to understanding Bach through the use of theology and allegory (both tonal and rhythmic). 1. Francis Browne’s cogent summary of the text; 2. The use of the work “Mamon” in all three cantatas; 3. The “Four Rules for Parables” and their possible application; 4. The thematic pattern of paired parables and teachings in Trinity Time; 5. The Trinity Time (6-11) sub-cycle topic of the “New Life of Righteousness”; and 6. Eric Chafon Luther’s teachings and Bach’s allegorical plan.

BWV 105 Notes on the text5

Here are BCW commentator and translator Francis Browne’s “Notes on the text, including a summary of the movements (BCML Discussions 3, Ibid.): <<BWV 105 was first performed in Leipzig on 25th July 1723, two months after Bach's arrival in the city, and so is part of Bach's first cycle of cantatas. The gospel reading for the 9th Sunday after Trinity [Luke 16:1-9, Parable of the Unjust Steward] is about the unjust steward who facing dismissal attempts to win popularity by writing off debts owed to his master. Without using the gospel text directly the anonymous librettist uses the notions of a servant called to account, debts being rescinded and the right use of money and other worldly possessions to produce a text that explores the relationship between mankind's sinful conscience and God.

The opening movement is a setting of a verse from Psalm 143. The image in the gospel reading of a servant called to account by his master becomes generalised into all mankind facing God's judgement either at death or at the last judgement at the world's end.

The following recitative [No. 2, alto, “Mein Gott, verwirf mich nicht” (My God, do not reject me)] also echoes the Psalms (51:11) and the phrase “schneller Zeuge” (prompt witness) comes from Malachi 3:5. In contrast to the cunning servant in the parable the text urges humility and acknowledgement of sins since God is a judge impossible to deceive.

This free acknowledgement is contrasted in the following aria [No. 3, soprano, “Wie zittern und wanken / Der Sünder Gedanken” (How tremble and waver /the sinners' thoughts)] with the troubled conscience of sinners. A striking phrase from Saint Paul (Romans 2:14) tells how in the internal court of conscience the thoughts of sinners accuse one another.

The second recitative [No. 4, bass, “Wohl aber dem, der seinen Bürgen weiß” (But fortunate is the man who knows who is his guarantor)] echoes Paul again (Colossians 2:15) and makes extensive use of legal terminology (Bürgen, Schuld, Handschrift, Rechnung) in a way that many people may find unappealing as a model for understanding the relationship between God and humanity. But perhaps Bach's contemporaries, familiar with Lutheran debates over law and grace, would see more easily that what is said in this recitative answers the anxieties of the sinners' guilty conscience and so, as often in cantata texts, is the turning point where the initial problem presented in earlier movements finds a solution.

The tenor aria [No. 5, “Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen” (If only I make Jesus my friend)] is therefore joyful. The text echoes the mention of Mammon in the gospel reading.( Mammon is a term, derived from the Christian bible, used to describe material wealth or greed. More details at>>
|, click on Mammon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -

The closing movement is an elaborated four-part chorale setting of Johann Rist’s “Jesu, der du meine Seele” (Jesus, it is by you that my soul, not found in the NLGB), Francis Browne English translation, BCW Chorale Melody: “Jesu, der du meine Seele,”

Chorus Cantata 105, Closing Chorale

For the first church-year cycle in 1723, chorus Cantata BWV 105, “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht” (Lord, do not go into court with your servant) (1723) closes with the seven-voice setting of Johann Rist’s chorale, “Jesu, der du meine Seele” (Jesus, it is by you that my soul), Zahn No. 6804. Bach chose the 11th stanza of the 12-stanza text of 1641, “Nun, ich weiß, du wirst mir stillen/Mein Gewissen, das mich plagt” (Now I know you will quieten/ my conscience, that torments me). The 1662 associated melody, found in Johann Crüger’s Praxis pietatis melica (Practice of Piety in Song, published in Frankfurt/Main), is realized in the elaborate closing Movement No. 6 that Bach scores for four voices (SATB) and three strings (two violins and viola), plus basso continuo. The strings support the voices with clusters of 16th note tremolos on the four-beat measures in 4/4 for the first 5 ½ measures. Then, after the first ¾ measure interlude of silent voices to separate each line of text, the trebling becomes triplets on the four-beat measures in 12/8 time as Rist’s message of confidence unfolds with the pace gradually slowing to the final cadence.

Francis Browne’s English translation of Cantata BWV 105 is found at BCW:, with the following comment regarding Rist: “The final chorale is the penultimate strophe of a hymn by Johann Rist written in 1641. It is aptly chosen and provides an appropriate conclusion for the cantata . “Bach uses Rist in ten cantatas but it is difficult to share the enthusiasm of Bach's contemporaries for his writings. In “German Baroque Poetry” Robert M. Browning says of Rist: ‘ ….nonpoetry by a nonpoet, utilitarian, stolidly bourgeois, soporifically longwinded. Rist could turn a rhyme and construct a well made stanza as easily as eating pudding, and the wide popularity he achieved shows that he struck a common chord, but today his work is only of historic interest’.”

(More Details of “Jesu, der du meine Seele” are found below in “Trinity 9 Chorales”)

The Epistle reading for the 9th Sunday after Trinity is Paul letter in 1 Corinthians 10: 6-13 (Take heed lest ye fall). The full text, as well as the Gospel text, Luke 16: 1-9, are found at BCW (The German text is that of Luther’s translation published in 1545, the English is the Authorised (King James) Version 1611). The Introit Psalm is Psalm 50, Deus deorum, “The mighty God, even the Lord,” says Martin Petzoldt in BACH Commantary, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.6

Trinity 9 (Cycle New Life of Righteousness)7

Smaller Trinity cycles are shown in Paul Zeller Strodach, The Church Year.8 “The lessons of Trinity Time are arranged in group cycles, based on doctrine and practice, with a general definite topic. The first group, the First to the Fifth Sunday After Trinity, deals with the “Kingdom of Grace and the Call to enter therein.”

The second group (the Sixth to the 11th Sunday After Trinity) “is rich with practical indications of the “Right Manner of Life in the Kingdom of Grace,” emphasizing the “new life of righteousness.” Like the Christian comparison and contrast of the New Covenant in the Blood of Christ” with the Old Testament covenants between God and the People of Israel, the Old Testament models of righteousness of the law, from the Scribes and Pharisees is compared and contrasted with the “new” Christian concept of righteousness through the Sacrament of Baptism, also known as the Sacrament of Initiation into Christianity, according to Martin Luther.

Tonal Allegory and Cantatas 105, 94

Bach was particularly able to address this juxtaposition of the old and new in his treatment of Cantatas 105 and 94 for the 9th Sunday After Trinity in Leipzig in 1723. In particular the text and music of both cantatas move from the darker side of the Old Testament teaching – and the accompanying tonality or key descent -- to the New Testament affirmation in tonal ascendency. Author and Bach scholar Eric Chafe discusses this in his two best known Bach studies of theology and tonal allegory, Analyzing Bach Cantatas and Tonal Allegory in the Music of JSB.9

In his Analyzing Bach Cantatas, Chafe (p. 5) observes that in Luther’s teachings the “juxtaposition” of (Old Testament) Law and Gospel represented the pivot of faith, the shift from rof one’s sinful nature [the Old Adam] to acceptance of God’s forgiveness and love (through Jesus Christ). Luther called this process the ‘analogy (or allegory) of faith,’ describing it as the means by which faith bridged the gap between Old Testament events and the experience of the contemporary believer.”

Chafe describes this further as “the perception of a ‘dynamic’ of descent (destruction, the Law) followed by ascent (rebuilding, the Gospel). . . .” This means that (p. 7): “Law and Gospel represent, on the one hand, God’s demands from humanity (law) and, on the other, His promise of salvation.”

Chafe observers (p. 6) that “Although Bach was not often presented with texts that display the principals of scriptural interpretation so clearly, those principals underlie the texts of a great many of his cantatas, sometimes in their entities, sometimes in part.” In his earlier book on Bach’s Tonal Allegory and its relationship to biblical teachings, Chafe discusses at length the two cantatas composed for the 9th Sunday after Trinity, a year apart (1723 to 1724), with contemporary texts: chorus Cantata BWV 105, “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht” (Lord, do not go into court with your servant), and Chorale Cantata BWV 94, “Was frag ich nach der Welt” (What ask I from the world).

Chafe outlines five basic patterns of the unifying element of tonal movement or direction in Bach’s cantatas in Chapter 6, “Tonal Planning in the Leipzig Cantatas I: The Image of the World.” As found in 40 new cantata compositions, they are: descent/ascent (13), ascent or anabasis (sharp keys) (5), descent or catabasis (flat keys) (8), ascent/descent (10), and tonal antithesis (4). Cantatas 105 and 94 are found in the first, largest group, although Cantata 94 has a variation in its later movements. Chafe does not discuss Cantata 168 in either book since it is part of the larger group without particular tonal movement, using a Salomo Franck 1715 libretto in which Bach set 20 original Sunday cantatas without strong key direction(s).

Here is my summary of Chafe’s interpretation of Cantata 105 (p. 169, Tonal Allegory): Cantata BWV 105 ”utilizes rhythmic and metric devices in conjunction with the antithesis of chromaticism/diatonicism to present the complexity of the Lutheran life.” Chafe shows the direction from the opening chorale chorus -- “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht” (Lord, do not go into court with your servant) -- to the penultimate movement, No. 5, the tenor da-capo aria with horn, strings and basso continuo [Francis Browne BCW translation]: Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen,/ So gilt der Mammon nichts bei mir (If only I make Jesus my friend,/ then Mammon has no value for me).

Chafe suggests that “The most prominent dimensions of the allegorical treatment are from (the initial) eight- and sixteenth-note <tremulante> figures – symbols of anxiety – to the ornamental thirty-second-note violin roulades and spirited horn themes” in the tenor aria.

The previous movement, No. 4, bass recitative with string-motive accompagnato, “Wohl aber dem, der seinen Bürgen weiß” (But fortunate is the man who knows who is his guarantor), where there is Luther’s (and Bach’s) “pivot of faith”: “But perhaps Bach's contemporaries, familiar with Lutheran debates over law and grace, would see more easily that what is said in this recitative answers the anxieties of the sinners' guilty conscience and so, as often in cantata texts, is the turning point where the initial problem presented in earlier movements finds a solution.”

Chafe summarizes Bach’s treatment and direction. The second movement alto (sinner’s) secco recitative – “Mein Gott, verwirf mich nicht” (My God, do not reject me) -- begins in G Minor (two flats, the same key as the opening chorale chorus) and modulates to deep flats (five flats, D-Flat Major) at the sinner’s word “<Demut> (humility) before God, which prepares the B-Flat Major cadence, setting up, on the dominant, the E-Flat of the succeeding soprano (A-A’-B) reflectve aria, No. 3, “Wie zittern und wanken/ Der Sünder Gedanken (How tremble and waver the sinners' thoughts). The bass (preacher’s) recitative (No. 4) begins in B-Flat Major and plumbs deeply into the flat minor, (F, A-Flat and B-flat Minor), “before making the reversal to E-Flat Major that prepares the B-Flat (tenor) aria (No. 5).” This preparation, says Chafe, is “the nadir of the work,” with the text: “So mag man deinen Leib, den man zum Grabe trägt,” (Even though your body, that is carried to the grave,) “Mit Sand und Staub beschütten” (may be covered with sand and dust,) “Dein Heiland öffnet dir die ewgen Hütten” (your saviour opens for you the everlasting tabernacles.)

Following the joyful tenor aria, Cantata 105 closes with the elaborated seven-voice chorale (SATB, strings), No. 6, “Nun, ich weiß, du wirst mir stillen/ Mein Gewissen, das mich plagt (Now I know you will quieten my conscience, that torments me).

The closing G Minor chorale has “the most interesting allegorical device in the work,” says Chafe), “the summarizing of the stilling of the sinner’s ‘Gewissensangst’ [Conscience-Song].” The ending movement recapitulates the materials found earlier, beginning with the string< tremulante> trembling chords accompanying the chorus in 4/4 time in a five-fold (with interludes) alternation of passages in 12/8 compound quadruple meter, with corresponding changes in the note values of the strings accompaniment: clusters of 16th note tremolos on the four-beat measures in 4/4 for the first 5 ½ measures. Then, after the first ¾ measure interlude of strings with silent voices and without basso continuo to separate each line of text, the trembling becomes triplets on the four-beat measures in 12/8 time as Rist's message of confidence unfolds with the pace gradually slowing to the final cadence.

Within this rhythmic tapestry, observers Chafe, with rhythmic figures that had appeared in previous movements, the tonal plan is repeated, with the chorale beginning in B-Flat Major from the close of the preceding “joy” aria and then quickly turning to G Minor “with the (descending) chromatic tetrachrord ostinato in the bass” (two measures, from B-Flat to low G. This device and the chorale melody are also found in Bach’s setting of the Chorale Cantata BWV 78, “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” for the 14th Sunday After Trinity, 1725.

Concludes Chafe: “Cantata 105 is, therefore, a descent/ascent cantata in which the tonal element is not the most prominent feature of the musical allegory. But the idea of motion downward to the deeper flats, then upward to the relative major (the one movement [No. 5 in B-Flat Major] that abandons the< tremulante> idea) is a vital part of the hope that comes from trust in Jesus.”

Tremolo as Anxiety

Musical techniques Bach uses in Cantata 105 to convey the multiplicity of moods and their interpretive context are found in John Eliot Gardiner’s description of the work in his recent musical biography, BACH: Music in the Castle of Heaven.10 Besides the great biblical and theological themes Bach explores in his cantatas, “he is also interested in the flickers of doubt and the daily tribulations of every individual.” This is obvious in Cantata 105 “in which the penitent servant rues ‘the errors of my [his] soul.” Bach uses the device of the tremolo, commonplace in Baroque representation of anxiety, requiring pulsating strings used “astutely in three of the cantata’s six movements”: first to represent the unjust steward in the opening chorus, awaiting his fate at the hands of the master; then the soprano aria (no. 3), “Wie zittern und wanken / Der Sünder Gedanken” (How tremble and waver, / the sinners' thoughts), showing the “quivering conscience of the sinner,” while conveying “the mood swings of a mind in a state of constant vacillation’: and “in the finale chorale, to convey the progressive stilling of the sinner’s troubled conscience.”

Mamon & Parables

Mamon. Ed Myskowski wrote (September 19, 2011): Francis Browne wrote: < The tenor aria [BWV 105/6] is therefore joyful. The text echoes the mention of Mammon in the gospel reading. (Mammon a term, derived from the Christian bible, used to describe material wealth or greed. [WH: Mammon means “wealth,” “worldly possessions.]

I was about to cite Francis comment, and point out that Bach reuses the specific reference to Mammon through all three cantatas for Trinity 9. This is in fact quite unusual continuity for Bach, and noticing it is one of the reasons we undertook to relate the current discussion cycle to the liturgical calendar.

Four Rules for Parables (Douglas Cowling; 9/25/11, BCW Cantata 94 Discussions – Part 2) The parable is about the first person named, not necessarily the most prominent character. Example: the Parable of the Prodigal Son is about the Generous Father. The first person named is usually God. Jesus makes a cameo appearance as a lesser figure or a servant. Images from nature are used to represent the People of God.

Ed Myskowski, September 25: >Four Rules for Parables: The parable is about the first person named, not necessarily the most prominent character. Example: the Parable of the Prodigal Son is about the Generous Father. Here is a possible interpretation of Luke 16:1-9, interspersed with Doug’s original post: DC >The first person named is usually God. EM, The first person named is the rich man, who had a steward. DC >Jesus makes a cameo appearance as a lesser figure or a servant. EM, The steward? DC >Images from nature are used to represent the People of God. EM, Luke 16:8-9 has such images, wheat and oil (presumably olive, not unrefined petrol!?), as well as two distinct classes of people. The attitude toward these people is less clear, perhaps at this point difficulties with transmission or translation enter?

The most contradictory point: in verse 2 the steward is being dismissed, while in verse 8 he is commended for his shrewdness in dealing with (presumably) people of the world, as contrasted with (presumably) People of God.

In Luther and King James translations (available via BCW links for Gospel and Epistle readings), or the more recent RSV, mammon is specifically described as *unrighteous*. This is the emphasis, as well, in the Bach texts created for all three cantatas for Trinity 9, including BWV 94. Is the adjective applied to mammon justified by the events of the parable, or is it simply a convention?

In fact, a reasonable interpretation is that the master is indifferent to mammon, wealth, itself. What he condemns as doomed to failure is the spiritual reliance on mammon by the people of the world. Although not so clearly and directly stated, this seems consistent with other scriptural references, for example:
<Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesars, and to God the things that are Gods> Matthew 22:21
<For the love of money [not money itself] is the root of all evils>. 1 Timonthy 6:10

The events of the parable are not relevant to Bachs cantata texts, they share only the reference to mammon in common.

Ed Myskowski, BCW Four Rules for Parables, 9/26/11: The parable of the dishonest steward (Luke 16:1-9) relevant to the works for Trinity 9 including this week’s cantata discussion topic, BWV 94, remains particularly inscrutable with respect to mammon. I am continuing to reflect. I think Doug has raised an important consideration: uncertainties of transmission (and/or translation?) may well be a factor in the difficulty of relating this specific parable to the assumed message regarding mammon.

WH: Wikipedia: A <parable> is a specific human narrative teaching through <metaphor> (abstract representing concrete). An <allegory> is a general narrative with complex metaphor.

[T. Barndt wrote (April 11, 2009): [To Douglas Cowling] Eric Chafe in "Analyzing Bach Cantatas" (Oxford University Press) expounds on these fourfold allegory ("The Hermeneutic Matrix") and how they tie into Lutheran theology, including Bach's choices of keys and harmonization and even into the theological concepts behind tempered tuning. ]

Chafe recently summarized the fourfold allegory and its context in considerable detail with the monumental Weimar Cantata 21, “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis” (I have much distress) in his newest book, Tears Into Wine: J. S. Bach’s Cantata 21 and its Musical and Theological Contexts.11 “Known as the ‘four senses of scripture,’ that interpretive method subdivided the meaning of scripture into what were known as the literal-historical sense, and the three so-called ‘spiritual senses’: the allegorical tropological, and eschatological. The fourfold allegory was originally discussed in the BCW by Douglas Cowling in the context of the four spheres or levels of the St. Matthew Passion, in which Bach in the oratorio form is able to embrace and utilize all four allegorical methods.

Fourfold Allegory Douglas Cowling wrote (April 10, 2009): BWV 244 SMP, Spheres: William Hoffman wrote: < The SMP "contains a trinity of groups, each belonging to its proper sphere." They are the Gospel narrative "protagonists"; "the pious individuals and choruses connected with them that accompany the action with their emotions and comments"; and "the Christian community whose chorales appear, within the animated profusion of action and sentiment, as the pillars that carry the edifice of the work." >

This is in essence an extension of the patristic allegorical hermeneutic which dominated biblical commentary until the modern scientific period of biblical studies at the end of the 18th century. Dante gave probably the most distinctive outline of this allegorical method which is a key to textual interpretation which was still operative in Luther's writings and thus in Bach's biblical aesthetic.

The fourfold allegory is:
1) Literal (Historical) - The story or narrative. In the Bach Passions, this would be the chronological sequence of events recounted by the Evangelist. Bach does refine the literal story in the SJP by adding the scene of Peter's weeping and the Earthquake from Matthew's Gospel. Those scenes which do not appear in John's Gospel.
2) Allegorical - The "cloak" which hides the meaning. This element is already present in the biblical narrative. For example, the earthquake in the SMP (BWV 244) is more than a geologic event: it also carries the theological meaning of the created order's response to the death of the divine Son of the Creator. Both the chorales and the arias often carry the allegorical sense.
3) Moral (Tropological) - This is the teaching which the event in the literal story holds for the reader. In the Bach Passions, the chorales carry the moral allegory. A good example is the chorale after the Buffeting in the SMP (BWV 244) in which the violence against Jesus is interpreted as the modern individual's sin against God. The use of "I" and "my" usually signals the moral allegory.
4) Anagogic (Eschatological) - This is what Dante calls the "spiritual" teaching, more specifically the relationship of the soul to God. In Lutheran teaching, this sense always focuses on the soul and death. In the Bach Passions, the anagogic sense is always expressed through the poetic movements. An example is "Ich Will Bei Meinem Jesum" in which the Tenor as the Soul sings that he will watch for Christ and it is his sins which will fall asleep. Thus, the event in the literal story is an allegory of the Last Things.

In a literary genre, the four levels exist simultaneously. In music, which has to exist in time, the aesthetic has to be sequential. Bach approaches this in two ways. Sometimes he interrupts the story: Christ's dialogue with Peter about betrayal is interrupted by the chorale "Erkenne mich" and the drama of the literal story is held up while the chorus makes its moral point. At other times, the intrusion into the narrative comes at the end of a "scene": Christ's dialogue in Gethsamane ends with him at prayer. At this point, the tenor comments on the whole scene with "O Schmerz".

9th Sunday After Trinity

Motets and Chorales for the 9th Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 9) Douglas Cowling wrote (September 17, 2011):


NOTES: * No motets are listed for Trinity 9, but the following week, Trinity 10, has four options. Given the generic, Omnes tempore texts of many of the Trinity season motets, Bach may well have chosen from the succeeding Sunday¹s list. 1) MOTETS for Introit, Before Sermon at mass and vespers for Choir II, and During Communion: No prescribed motets for Trinity 9
2) HYMN OF DAY (de tempore), "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt” (Through Adam’s fall is completely corrupted), [also Trinity 6, 12, in the NLGB, No. 229 “Justification. For details, see BCW:
3) CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns:

A. "Es spricht den Ungewisse Mund” (The unknown mouth speaks well), Text:; also is designated for Trinity 1, 20 in the NLGB, No. 250 Christian Life & Conduct. See BCW:

B. "Welticher Ehr und zeitlicher Gut” (Wordly glory and timely good), also is designated in NLGB 240, Justification, as a pulpit and communion hymn for the 1st Sunday After Trinity. The 1531 text of Michael Weiße (10 stanzas) is found in the first Moravian hymnbook edited by Weiße, using the melody by Melchior Vulpius first published in the Vögelin Gesangbuch of 1563. BWV 426 in C Major; not recorded in the Hänssler Complete Bach Edition of chorales, Vols. 82-85.
Weltlich Ehr' und zeitlich Gut,
Wollust und aller Übermuth
Ist eben wie ein Gras;
Alle Pracht und stolzer Ruhm
Verfällt wie ein' Wiesenblum;
O Mensch, bedenk' eben das
Und versorge dich doch bass.

(German text: BCW,
Worldy honours and transient possessions,
Pleasure and haughty pride
Are simply like a blade of Grass,
Dazzling glory and proud renown
All vanish like a meadow flower.
O man, bear this in mind,
And procure things that are better.
(English Translation: Teldec “Complete” Bach Edition, seven CDs 257112, Vol. 5)

Bach set four other plain chorales to texts of Weiße: BWV 264, BWV 283, BWV 284, BWV 292 [See BCW Biography:]: *BWV 264 in G Major, “Als der gütige Gott/ Vollenden wollt' sein Werk,” NLGB No. 16, for Advent-Christmas Time, (Hänssler Complete Bach Edition, Vol. 78); *BWV 283 I E Major, “Christus, der uns selig macht” (<Patris sapienta>), possibly from the <Weimar Passion, BC D-1/6; NLGB Nos. 148 & 151, Passiontide; “Dying” (Hänssler Vol. 85); Bach use also as plain chorales in <St. John Passion>, Nos. 15 and 37; and organ chorale preludes BWV 620 (Orgelbüchlein), BWV 747 (Miscellaneous); *BWV 284 in C Major, “Christus ist erstanden/ Hat überwunden,” NLGB No. 306, for Easter Season (Hänssler Vol. 80); *BWV 292 in C Major, “Den Vater dort oben,” NLGB No. 600, <omnes tempore> (Trinity Time); “Praise and Thanksgiving” (Hänssler Vol. 83).

C. “Warum betrübst dich mein Herz” (Why grieve thee my heart), NLGB 275, Cross, Persecution & Challenge, also Trinity 7 and 15]; see BCW: Live streaming:

D. “Menschenkind merk eben” (Here, o mortal being) was not set by Bach. It appears in the NLGB No. 17 in the Advent-Christmas section. Here is information from Matthew Carver, Hymnoglypt: “Here is my translation of the old Bohemian Brethren hymn “Menschenkind, merk eben" which was included in ELKG and probably left unconverted to English because of its "falling" endings. . . Catherine Winkworth has created considerable poetry, however, in her translation of "Gottes Sohn ist kommen." “The melody is the proper "Menschenkind, merk eben," later renamed for its association with the more successful hymn "Gottes Sohn ist kommen," a text (by J. Roh) which did not appear until 1544. It was an adaptation by Michael Weiße of an ancient 12th century melody and was used for the first appearance of his hymn in his Bohemian Brethren Hymnal of 1531, where it is called "Ave Hierarchia".” The translation of all 15 stanzas is (translation © 2008 Matthew Carver) is found in:

Trinity 9 Chorales

As Bach moved further into the middle Trinity Time to compose cantatas for the church half-year, he already had used many of the designated chorales earlier in his cycles. Thus, he turned more to general chorales, especially those that were better known or were designated in hymnbooks for use in the <omnes tempore> time of the church year that emphasizes Christian teaching through Lutheran doctrine as well as devotional themes still found in today’s hymnbooks.

While Bach’s libretti texts for his three cantatas, BWV 105, 94, and 168, for the 9th Sunday after Trinity, make little reference to the New Testament Gospel Lectionary of the Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-9), this may be due to several factors. First was the repeated use of -- and familiarity with -- topical themes and associated chorales at Trinity Time. Second could have been Bach’s desire within a “well-ordered church music” and other traditional boundaries to utilize a wealth -- a breadth and depth -- of textual treatment, including established chorales with different melodies and texts variants. Third, as Bach sought fresh, innovative texts for varied musical treatment, he may have had the freedom to collaborate with his St. Thomas Church pastor, Christian Weiss Sr., as the two presented together their musical and preaching sermons in the same main service.

A summary of the chorales that Bach utilized offers evidence of his motives. He chose very accessible texts of popular hymn writers such as Johann Rist (Cantata 105) that spawn chorales by other popular writers such as Ernst Christoph Holmberg with “Christ, the life of all the living” and the Fritsch-Heermann “O God, my faithful God.” These led to the introduction of new melodies and texts, particularly in devotional hymnbooks as well as chorales that are still sung today in 19th century translations. The use of the chorale, “Was frag ich nach der Welt” (What ask I from the world), as the basis of Chorale Cantata BWV 94 in 1724 includes a special troped (interpolated) setting of the chorale, a technique Bach would continue 10 years later in the < Christmas Oratorio>. The penitential chorale, “Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut” (Lord Jesus Christ, Thou highest Good), that Weimar poet Salomo Franck used in the libretto to conclude Cantata BWV 168 stimulated Bach to set it as a chorale cantata, BWV 113, two Sundays later.

In all, Bach had previously set four of the five designated chorales for the 9th Sunday after Trinity: the confessional "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz vederbt” (Through Adam’s fall is completely corrupted), Trinity 6; Martin Luther’s “Es spricht der Unweisen Mund wohl" (The unknown mouth speaks well), Trinity 1; Michael Weiße’s Reformation chorale, "Welticher Ehr und zeitlicher Gut” (Wordly glory and timely good), Trinity 1; and Hans Sachs’ “Warum betrübst dich mein Herz” (Why grieve thee my heart), Trinity 7. While the designated Bohemian chorale “Menschenkind merk eben” (Here, o mortal being) was not set by Bach, it has a strong connection to the Moravian Weiße, four of whose 1531 published chorales were set by Bach as plain chorales: BWV 264, BWV 283, BWV 284, BWV 292 for Advent-Christmas, the Passion, Easter, and Trinity Time, respectively. All five chorales are found in the 1682< Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbook>, Bach’s primary source for hymns used in his sacred vocal music.

Bach makes full-use of the Rist chorale in his chorale cantata BWV 78 for Trinity 14 a year later in 1724), with text and melody in No. 1, opening chorale ch, and No. 7, closing plain chorale (S.12). Bach harmonizes the associated melody in three four-part plain chorales: BWV 352 in A Major, BWV 353 in G Minor, and BWV 354 in B-flat Major). All three settings are found in the Hänssler Complete Bach Edition. The melody came to be associated with two other chorale texts. “BWV Verzeichnis [Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998], asks the reader to make a ‘leap of faith’ and equate (an equal sign ‘=’ is used) the above melody (Rist, “Jesu, der du meine Seele”) with “Alle Menschen müssen sterben” (All men must die) and “Wachet doch, erwacht, ihr Schläfer” (Wake up yet, awaken, you sleepers), see BCW:]. It appears that Bach set his thrice-used melody with the variant two-line ending to the seven-stanza Pasion chorale text, “Jesu, meines Lebens Leben” (Jesus, life of my life), by Ernst Christoph Homberg (1605-1681), published in 1659. Its associated melody, usually attributed to Homberg (with the same title), first appeared in< Das grosse Cantional>, Darmstadt, 1687 (Zahn No. 6779a), with the text of Albinus’ “Alle Menschen müssen sterben” originally set as “Jesu, Meines Lebens Leben.”

The plain chorales BWV 352 and 353 are found in the Hänssler edition Vol. 84 as <de tempore> (ordinary time) Jesus Songs. Hänssler edition Vol. 79 identifies BWV 354 as the Passion chorale found in Bach’s “St. Mark Passion,” BWV 247/36 to the Rist 1641 text (Wachet doch) and the< Praxis pietatis melica> 1662 melody. The stanza used in the “St. Mark Passion,” “Man hat dich sehr hart verhöhnet” (Man has scorned you very hard) is Stanza 4 in the Homberg chorale cited above, “Jesu, meines Lebens Leben.” In the Picander text, this chorale occurs after Mark 15:19 (same in Matthew 26:67), when Jesus is crowned with thorns and struck. See entire Holmberg original German text is found at BCW: It is a sestina that ends each of the first six stanzas with the line, “Liebster Jesu, Dank dafür!” (Dearest Jesus, thank thee) and closes the final stanza with the line “Will ich ewig dankbar sein” (will I always be thankful).

The ?Homberg melody “Jesu, meines Lebens Leben” is set to the Homberg original text in the current <Evangelical Lutheran Worship> hymnbook (Augsburg Fortress Press, 2006), as No. 339, “Christ, the life of all the living,” for Lenten Time in the Catherine Winkworth 1863 English translation, see The only biblical text cited in Stanza 4 is the Passion account in Matthew 26:64-67 (King James Version): 64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. 66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. 67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

Bach also used two other chorales attributed to Homberg. “Ist Gott mein Schutz und treuer Hirt” (If God is my protection and faithful Shepherd), is Stanza 4 of the 7-Stanza “Ist Gott mein Schild und Helfersmann” (God is my shield and helper) of 1659, harmonized in the closing plain chorale (No. 6) of Cantata BWV 85, “Ich bin ein gutter Hirt” (I am the Good Shepherd) for Misericordias Domini (2nd Sunday in Easter) 1725. The other is the seven-stanza sacred song (1659), “Jesus, unser Trost und Leben” (Jesus, our trust and life), set to the anonymous 1714 melody, “Auf, auf, weil der Tag erschienen” (Up, up, while the day is shining), and published in the 1736 Leipzig <Schemilli Gesangbuch> under the heading “Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” BWV 475 [text and translation, BCW: ]. Homberg’s biography is found at BCW: He and Rist were members of the Elbe Swan Order that Rist founded in 1660 (<Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, Fortress Press, Philadelphia PA, 1981: 196f).

Both Jesus Hymns -- “Jesu, der du meine Seele” and “Jesu, meines Lebens Leben” – are the basis of organ chorale preludes attributed to Bach, although neither is found in the 1682 <Das Neu Leipziger Gesgangbuch> (NLGB) or is mentioned in Günther Stiller’s <JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig>. There is one miscellaneous organ prelude setting of “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” BWV 752, (Miscellaneous) formerly attributed to Bach. It is found in the Kevin Boyer Complete Nimbus CD Collection, 5700/1, two discs), as well as in Wolfgang Stockmeier Complete Edition, Vol. 18, Art & Music CD 20.1556.

There are two extant settings of “Jesu, meines Lebens Leben” that are attributed to Bach, probably composed in the first decade of the 18th century: BWV 1107, Neumeister Collection, and BWV deest, Rinck Collection, Emans 121 (NBA IV/10: 102). The Neumeister setting uses a different melody (W. Wessnitzer, 1661) that is “one of ten known for this (Holmberg) text,” and “corresponds” only to three text lines in Zahn No. 6795, says Peter Williams in <The Organ Music of JSB>, 2nd edition (Cambridge Univ, Press, 2003: 560).

Chorale Cantata 94, Associated Chorales

Chorale Cantata BWV 94, “Was frag ich nach der Welt” (What ask I from the world), composed in 1724 and repeated c.1734, uses the Ahasuerus Fritsch (1629-1701) 1679 Melody No. 3, “O Gott, du frommer Gott” (O God, Thou righteous God), set to the Balthasar Kindermann text (1644, 8 stanzas, each introduced with the dictum, “Was frag ich. . .”). It does not appear in the 1682 <New Leipzig Song Book> but is found in the Dresden hymn schedules, says Stiller in the <JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig> (p. 243), being the only chorale he cites for the 9th Sunday after Trinity.

Solo Cantata 168, Associated Chorales

Cantata BWV 168, SATB solo “Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort” (Make accounting, thunderous words) (1725). Weimar poet Salomo Franck uses the Bartholomäus Ringwaldt (c.1530-1599) eight-stanza 1588 penitential chorale, “Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut” (Lord Jesus Christ, Thou highest Good). Bach set Stanza 4 to the ?Ringwalt associated melody (Dresden Gesangbuch 1593) as a four-part plain chorale in B Minor, “Stärk mich mit deinem Freudengeist” (Strengthen me with your joyful spirit), closing Cantata BWV 168, Movement No. 6. The Ringwaldt chorale is found in the 1682 New Leipzig Song Book as No. 520 for early Trinity Time but is not designated as a hymn for any particular Sunday in the church year.

For the same 9th Sunday After Trinity in 1726, Bach had available the Rudolstadt text, “Wer sich des Armen erbarmet,” but there is no evidence he set it as an original cantata or used a Johann Ludwig Bach setting. Bach already had on hand Cantata BWV 168 from the same Sunday the previous year. Eventually, he designated Cantata 168 for his third annual cantata cycle with the score and parts set going to his son, Emmanuel, as he did the same cycle cantatas for Trinity 4, 10, 11, and 12 in the 1750 estate division. It is possible that Bach repeated Cantata BWV 168 on August 18, 1726, during Trinity Time, when he primarily presented solo cantatas without elaborate choruses.

Picander in his 1728 published annual cycle, designated for the 9th Sunday after Trinity the cantata text P-52, “Mein Jesu, was meine, ist alles das” (My Jesus, what is mine is all this). It closes with Movement, No. 5, the plain chorale “O Gott, du frommer Gott,” using Stanza 5, “Laß mich mit jedermann/ In Fried' und Freundschaft leben” (Let me with everyone live in peace and friendship.” Picander also used two other stanzas in two cantata texts for the 12th and 14th Sundays after Trinity 17.


1 Cantata 105 BCW Details & Discography, Scoring: Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: horn, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, continuo. Score Vocal & Piano [1.97 MB],; Score BGA [2.62 MB], References, BGA XXIII (Cantatas 101-110, Rust 1876), NBA KB I/19 (Trinity 9, Robert L. Marshall 1989), Bach Compendium BC A 114, Zwang: K 36.
2 Dürr, Alfred. Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005: 467, 466).
3 Tadashi Isoyama notes, Suzuki Vol. 10, BCW Recording details,
4 Pelikan, Bach Among the Theologians (Fortress Press: Philadelphia PA, 1986: 26).
5 Cantata 105 text, Francis Browne English translation, BCW,
6 Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: Trinity +9 commentary, 191-94.
7 Trinity Cycle: ‘New Life of Righteousness’ (William Hoffman, BCW Cantata 170 Discussion – Part 3 (7/28/11, Ibid.).
8 Strodach, The Church Year: Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA 1924: pp. 194ff).
9 Chafe, Analyzing Bach Cantatas (Oxford University Press 2000) and Tonal Allegory in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach (University of California Press, 1991).
10 Gardiner, BACH: Music in the Castle of Heaven (Alfred A, Knopf: New York, 2013: 300f).
11 Chafe, Tears Into Wine: J. S. Bach’s Cantata 21 and its Musical and Theological Contexts (Oxford University Press: New York, 2015: 12).
12 SOURCES: * BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682)", Berlin: Merseburger, 1969; ML 3168 G75. * BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION:
Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense" Schünigen: Kaminsky, 1927; ML 410 B67R4.

Charles Francis wrote (August 3, 2015):
BWV 105

I’m a fan of the ‘Gerubach’ Youtube channel with its annotated Bach scores, especially where the channel owner uses an autograph, as is indeed the case with BWV 105. In such instances, we are potentially viewing a record of the moment of creation for the work in question, or more precisely its concrete manifestation. In the case of BWV 105 however, the relatively unhurried nature of Bach’s handwriting, might suggest he was at times working from a pre-existent sketch or copy. Of interest, note the ‘numerology’ in the opening chorus, and, as ever, we may observe Bach’s consistent notation of supposedly silent notes in the recitatives (the performance here is directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt):

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 7, 2015):
Cantata BWV 105 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of Cantata BWV 105 “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht” for the 9th Sunday after Trinity on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part chorus; and orchestra of horn, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (23):
Recordings of Individual Movements (18):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios & 2 videos of the cantata. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 105 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.

You can also read on the BCW the recent discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):


Cantata BWV 105: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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