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Cantata BWV 113
Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of August 10, 2014 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (August 10, 2014):
Re: [BachCantatas] Cantata 113, Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut: Intro.

Chorale Cantata BWV 113, Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut (Lord Jesus Christ, you highest good), for the 11th Sunday after Trinity, August 20, 1724, is one of Bach’s longest cantatas at almost half an hour, because of a series of six internal arias and recitative-chorales. This is due to the extended use of both four unaltered verses of the Bartholomäus Ringwaldt 1588 penitential hymn and four paraphrases in contemporary pietist language around a hymn which relates directly to the Gospel Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14).1

“The hymn itself is somewhat in the nature of a sermon on the phrase ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ from the Gospel reading for the day, ” says Malcolm Boyd in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach.2 To reinforce this, Bach sets to music four of the eight stanzas (1, 2, 4, 8) and uses the chorale melody in the same stanzas/movements. Again, the opening chorale fantasia has unusual features: the melody is “quite plainly harmonized in triple meter” and the instrumental accompaniment is simple and subdued. The mix of chorale and other music in the alto chorale aria (Mvt. 2) and the bass chorale-recitative trope (Mvt. 4) is designed to engage the listener’s attention.

The weight of the solos again goes to the men with the bass having a pastorale-gigue-style aria (Mvt. 3) in the manner of “Et in Spiritum sanctum from the B-Minor Mass and succeeding, extensive chorale-recitative while the tenor has the succeeding aria and extended recitative (Mvts. 5-6). This strengthens the sense of sermonizing, especially through the use of considerable original poetry, perhaps with overtones of Salomo Franck, Weimar court poet influencing the second group of chorale cantata librettists. At the same time, the alto (Mvt. 2) sings a straightforward and charming hymn stanza with violin and continuo, in the manner of a chorale trio (much later Bach transcribed other arias into the Schübler Chorales for organ), while the soprano and alto sing a charming duet leading to the plain closing chorale, “Stärk mich mit deinem Freudengeist” (Strengthen me with your joyful spirit).

Other than the two chorale cantatas for feast days (John the Baptist, June 24, and Mary’s Feast of the Purification, July 2), these hymn-based works in early Trinity Time 1724 rarely quoted the Gospel/Epistle readings for the day. Instead, they followed the hymn book omnes tempore initial topical teaching categories of the Lutheran Catechism and Justification, as well as the “Christian Life and Conduct penitential Psalms,” developing sermon themes that relate to the lessons of Gospel parable, miracle and teaching. Key initial Trinity Time chorales were connected to the early Wittenberg reformers Martin Luther (BWV 2, 7) Johann Heermann (BWV 107), and Justas Jonas (BWV 178), using familiar melodies. As a result, Bach’s initial group of librettists cited the unaltered first and last stanzas as choral fantasias and chorales, with an occasional chorale stanza aria, while paraphrasing internal stanzas and mixing unaltered chorale lines in keeping with the basic import of each stanza while using certain sermonizing mottos.

Ringwaldt was part of the second generation of reformers (1577-1617) dealing with orthodoxy and conflict. Others include Cyriakus Schneegas (BWV 135) and Martin Moller (BWV 101). Best known in the third group (1618-75) of the flowering of literary concerns are Johann Rist (BWV 20), Georg Neumark (BWV 93), and Balthazar Kindermann (BWV 94).

Regarding biblical commentary, Thomas Braatz wrote (August 18, 2002; BWV 113 – Commentary [Most of my sources had little or nothing to say about this cantata]. This chorale cantata has a connection with the Gospel for the 11th Sunday after Trinity which is taken from Luke 18:9-14, the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican and paraphrases the words spoken by the publican, “Gott sei mir Sünder gnädig” [“God be merciful to me a sinner.”]3 In verses 5 and 6 the text is treated most freely: the [chorale stanza 5/line 7] phrase, “wie David und Manasse” [“just as David and Manasseh”] makes a reference to 2 Samuel 12-13 and 2 Chronicles 33 vs. 12 ff. [I am simply reporting what Dürr has indicated, but do not see much of a connection here. Perhaps someone will explain this connection.] Ringwaldt’s chorale text simply asks for forgiveness, whereas the cantata text claims this forgiveness for any penitent Christian. In doing this, the cantata text becomes more like a sermon. Not only are the “bußfertige Zöllner” [“the penitent publican”] and his statement, “Gott sei mir gnädig” [“God be merciful to me a sinner”] mentioned, but a number of Bible passages are quoted in order to prove that a sinner has a right to hope for Jesus’ mercy: Luke 15:2, “Jesus nimmt die Sünder an” (Mvt. 5) and „Der Heiland nimmt die Sünder an“ (mvt. 6) [“Jesus/the Savior accepts the sinners“]; Matthew 9:2; Luke 7:48 “Dein Sünd ist dir vergeben“ (Mvt. 5) [“Your sins are forgiven“]

In Cantata 113, Bach establishes a new pairing of Gospel parable for Trinity 11, leading to the joyous Cantata 137 for Trinity 12. Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels (Douglas Cowling), PART THREE: Paired Parable. Teachings & Miracles: *Trinity 11: Luke 18: 9-14 - Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. *Trinity12: Mark 7: 31-37 ­ Miracle of Deaf Man. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.

The Introit Psalm for the 11th Sunday after Trinity is penitential Psalm 130, De profundis (Out of the depths have I cried to thee, O Lord), says Martin Petzoldt in BACH Kommentar, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.4 Petzoldt calls Psalm 130 the “Prayer for the Forgiveness of Sins.” Bach set Psalm 130 as Cantata 131, “Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir,” for a Mühlhaüsen memorial service in 1707 and it includes the Ringwaldt chorale, “Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut.” The sermon following Cantata 113 on August 20, 1724, was given at the early service of St. Thomas by Pastor Christian Weisse (1671-1736) but is not extant, says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 282).

Chorale Text and Melody of Bartholomäus Ringwaldt, “Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut” are cast in Bar form, with 8 stanzas of 7 lines, dating to 1588. The unaltered hymn stanzas are in Mvts. 1, 2, 4, 8), while the anonymous librettist(s) paraphrase Mvts. 3-7). The Cantata 113 libretto, Francis Browne English translation, is at BCW Ringwalt (1530-1599) BCW Short Biography,; The hymn is classified as a Catechism penitential song or Buß Lied (Repent Song), found in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682 (NLGB)5 as No. 181 (general omnes tempore penitential Lenten hymn). The text was first published in Ringaldt’s Christliche Warnung des Trewen Eckarts (Frankfort a. Oder, 1588). Ringwalt hymn text (EKG 167) and Francis Browne English translation, are found at BCW

Ringwalt No. 1 text set is set to the melody, also attributed to Ringwaldt (Zahn 4486), first published in Dresden Gesangbuch (1593), “Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works,” BCW Melody also used in Text No. 2, Ringwalt “Herr Jesu Christ, ich weiß gar wohl” (1582, NLGB No. 333, Death & Dying), Bach’s use, B166/3 soprano chorale trio aria (S. 3, “Ich bitte dich, Her Jesu Christ); Text No. 3, unknown Freiberg 1620 (not in NLGB), “Herr Jesu Christ, ich schrei zu dir,” Bach’s use BWV 48/7 plain chorale (S. 12, Herr Jesu Christ, einiger Trost.6

Movements, scoring, initial text, key, meter (chorales in purple):7

1. Chorus fantasia (Stanza 1), independent orchestra, two parts with ritornelli (SATB; Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo: A. Stollen 1, “Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut”(Lord Jesus Christ, you highest good); Stollen 2, “Sieh doch, wie ich in meinem Mut / Mit Schmerzen bin beladen” (see how in my spirit I / am burdened with sorrows); B. Abgesang, “Und in mir hab der Pfeile viel, / Die im Gewissen ohne Ziel / Mich armen Sünder drücken.” (and in me have the pains of many arrows / which in my conscience without limit / weigh down me, a poor sinner); b minor; ¾.
2. Chorale melody with interludes(Stanza 2 (Alto; Violino I/II e Viola all' unisono, Continuo): Stollen 1, “Erbarm dich mein in solcher Last”(Pity me with such a burden); Stollen 2, “Dieweil du sie gebüßet hast” (since you have atoned for it); Abgesang, “Auf daß ich nicht für großem Weh / In meinen Sünden untergeh, / Noch ewiglich verzage.(so that because of great grief I / may not perish in my sins nor despair forever); f-sharp minor, 4/4.
3. Aria through-composed ritornello (Stanza 3, incipit only), in two parts (Bass; Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo): A. “Fürwahr, wenn mir das kömmet ein, / Daß ich nicht recht vor Gott gewandelt” (Truly, when the thought comes to me / that I have not walked rightly before God); B. Ich weiß, daß mir das Herze bräche, / Wenn mir dein Wort nicht Trost verspräche.” I know that my heart would break / if your word did not promise me consolation); A Major; 12/8 pastorale-giga style.
4. Chorale arioso (Stanza 4) and Recitative (Bass, Continuo): Abgesang 1, “Jedoch dein heilsam Wort, das macht / Mit seinem süßen Singen,” (Yet your healing word is the cause / with its sweet songs); recitative secco, “Daß meine Brust, / Der vormals lauter Angst bewußt,”(that my breast, / which once knew only anxiety,) . . . . ; Stollen 2, “Daß mir das Herze wieder lacht, / Als wenn's beginnt zu springen” (that my heart laughs again as if it were beginning to dance.) . . . . ; Abgesang, “Dieweil Gott alle Gnad verheißt”(since God promises all his mercy); recitative, “Hiernächst die Gläubigen und Frommen / Mit Himmelsmanna speist” ([and] after this life the faithful and devout / will be fed by him with heaven's manna); chorale,Wenn wir nur mit zerknirschtem Geist / (if only with a remorseful spirit / we come to our Jesus; e minor, 4/4.
5. Aria (Stanza 5 paraphrase) free-da-capo, dal segno (mm2-12), (Tenor C.f.; Flauto traverso, Continuo): A. “Jesus nimmt die Sünder an (Jesus accepts sinners); B. “Er schenkt die wahre Seelenruh” (He gives true peace of soul) . . . . ; dal segno; D Major, 4/4.
6. Recitative (Stanza 6 paraphrase) secco & accompagnato, through composed (Tenor, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo): “Der Heiland nimmt die Sünder an (The saviour accepts sinners:) . . . .; near the end is the phrase, “So werd ich auch wie David und Manasse” (so I shall also be like David and Manasseh “like David and Manasseh” is the last line of Stanza 5); G Major to e minor, 4/4.
7. Aria canon, AAB (Stanza 7, incipit and lines 5 & 7 only) (Duet) (Soprano, Alto, Continuo): chorale incipit, A. “Ach Herr, mein Gott, vergib mir's doch,” (Ah Lord, my God, forgive me then); “Womit ich deinen Zorn erreget,” (when I arouse your anger) . . . . ; B. “Daß sich mein Herz zufriedengebe”(so that my heart may be contented) . . . . ; recit.; “in kindlichem Gehorsam” (in childlike obedience); e minor, ¾.

8. Chorale (Stanza 8) SATB, no instruments designated: Stollen 1 “Stärk mich mit deinem Freudengeist” (Strengthen me with your joyful spirit.); Stollen 2, “Wasch mich mit deinem Todesschweiß” (wash me with the sweat of your death); Abgesang, “Und nimm mich einst, wenn dir's gefällt, / In wahrem Glauben von der Welt / Zu deinen Auserwählten!” (and take me then, when it pleases you, /in true belief from the world / to the people you have chosen!); b minor 4/4.

Fantasia in Cycle Context and Uniqueness

The opening chorale fantasia in the context of the chorale cantata cycle presented so far in 1724, and its uniqueness are the focus of Julian Mincham’s Commentary introduction, “Chapter 12 BWV 113 Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut,” .8 << Let us pause to consider the opening fantasia within the context of the cycle thus far. Going back a month to C 178 we find a powerful and energetic chorale/fantasia in Am, announced through aggressive dotted rhythms but quickly transforming itself into a veritable deluge of semi-quavers. Following this, C 94 could not form a greater contrast, an ebullient flute concerto movement and the only major-mode fantasia since C 20. Thence C 101 delivers a tone poem of such poignant beauty and sadness, unparalleled in the cycle to date. And, looking forward a week, C 33 delivers an opening movement which has more in common with that of C178, using the same key and with similar turbulent, insistent semi-quavers.

Chorus/fantasia. The first point to notice is this extraordinary expressive range of the chorale/fantasias that Bach was producing at this time. Secondly, even a cursory examination of C 113 shows that it is utterly unlike any of the others. And yet it has echoes of other works, which we should recognize, even pieces that Bach has yet to compose. It uses the key of the first great Kyrie of the Bm Mass and there are similarities with the tonal processes e.g. both exploit the relationship between F# and E minors. The cadences with the suspended leading note (a #) are highly reminiscent of the final chorus of the Saint Matthew Passion. This particular fantasia is a movement we may feel that we know; but it still conveys a distinctiveness that makes it unique. It has none of the forceful energy of Cs 178 or 33, or the deep introspection of 101 and it lacks the brilliance and ebullience of 94. It has a pensive, almost modestly apologetic air, a self-effacing diffidence lacking in any other fantasias of the period.

The text is a simple prayer to Jesus, the fountainhead of all that is good and merciful----I am bent down with pain and my sinner's conscience is pierced with constant arrows. Encapsulated within these words are two ideas which it would seem impossible to represent within the one piece of music; the greatness and righteousness of the Saviour to whom this wistful prayer is offered and the painfully exposed sins of the seemingly abandoned offender. There is an innate dignity, which suggests the former; but there is also a sense of alienation and isolation in the latter which creates images of bearing weighty burdens.

Possibly the first decision Bach made in setting this text was to change the chorale's time signature from 4/4 to 3/4 thus suggesting a heavy, ponderous minuet or sarabande. (The upbeat might well indicate the former). Added to this are the constant suspensions, mostly falling but some rising, conveying a sense of continuous sighing. The choral entries, with the sopranos carrying the cantus firmus, are harmonized in the most simple and unadorned of styles. These, and the long final soprano note, all add to the feeling of individual isolation endured by the poor sinner someone, we may feel, with whom Bach has a fair degree of sympathy.

The dotted rhythms in the bass accentuate the images of heavily laden plodding. The scoring is sparse, just two oboes joining the strings and continuo and there is no doubling of the choral parts, not even of the soprano cantus firmus. And, like a single thread running through a tapestry, there is the first violin line with its constant stream of semi-quavers.>>

Doctrine & Musical Treatment

Of special interest is Peter Smaill’s Introduction to Discussions Part 2 in the Week of August 6, 2006 (BCML, <<The Cantata for the 11th Sunday after Trinity is a gloss on the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, the passage in Luke read for the day, thus emphasising contrition as the route to the forgiveness through Jesus. For the opening chorus Bach adopts the technique of a homophonic choral setting of the Ringwaldt hymn-tune, creating scope for the prominent flowing orchestral background to colour the reference to “Brunquell,” the “wellspring of all grace”, by which means Bach alleviates the penitential nature of the chorale in favour of a wistful atmosphere.

The doctrinal emphasis of BWV 101 continues in the exposition of the atonement in the Alto chorale verse BWV 113/2, and throughout the Cantata the tension is maintained between the brooding reflection of the Christian on sin, and an altogether jollier and rhythmic use of strings and woodwind to counteract with the joy of reconciliation.

The image of Christ as Fount of Mercy recurs in the tenor recitative BWV 113/6; “Quelle” and “Brunquell” being a group of images which (per Lucia Haselbock in her "Bach Textlexikon") occurs at least nine times in the Cantatas. It may well thus be the keyword for this Cantata and part of the justification for the musical lightening of the otherwise daunting text and downbeat chorale. In this tension, between the sensual fluidity of the instrumental and vocal lines with the dry constructs of the text, lies the quiet charm of the work.

Quotations from selected Commentaries

Robertson: The chorale is sung in a simple harmonisation to a melodious accompaniment which may be intended to illustrate the reference in the second line to Christ as the wellspring of goodness.

Whittaker: At the time of writing this cantata Bach must have been in no mood for introspection. He is generally ready, at the slightest provocation, on the most remote suggestion, to depict a tortured spirit and a conscience weighed down with sin, even though his object be merely to heighten the contrast with the comforts that his religion affords. One of the loveliest of Bach’s flute melodies opens the tenor aria, BWV 113/5. There are no fewer than five motives in the long, blissful introduction. There is first an exquisite fragment of a tune above a rocking bass; the a series of ascending scales; a triplet –embellished scale now mounts for more than an octave, followed by a brilliant five bars of demisemiquavers interspersed with semiquaver arpeggio.
BWV 113/8 is the simple final chorale; lines 3 and 4 contain an expression repulsive to modern taste: “Wash me with thy death-sweat in my last hour”. The remainder is “And take me one day, when it pleases Thee, in true faith from the world to thy chosen”.

Boyd: (Mvt. 1) The melody is not treated as a soprano cantus firmus in long notes supported by more active lower voices, but instead is quite plainly harmonised in triple metre. Also, most of the instruments that play the ritornellos separating the chorale lines fall silent each time the voices enter, leaving only the first violin to maintain continuity with its almost unbroken stream of semiquaver figuration. (Mvt. 7) In the continuo-accompanied duet for soprano and alto virtuosity resides entirely in the long melismas attached, like comets’ tails to nuclei formed in the chorale melody.

Dürr: In BWV 113/5 and 6 the librettist instead goes more deeply into the ideas of the Gospel reading. Forgiveness-for which Ringwaldt’s hymn only prays-is here granted to the penitent Christian. It is these movements that give the text its sermon-like character. (Mvt. 5) The flowing melody and hovering compound time of the first aria give way here to a more richly articulated ritornello in common time. Over extended passages, however, this common time becomes a latent 3/2, and here lies its charm. (Mvt. 6) The concluding chorale ..... is designed with a notably strong rhythmic differentiation of the accompanying parts, which once again lends powerful emphasis to the prayer for mercy.

Outstanding questions Despite Whittaker’s reservations, we cannot avoid the death-sweat image in its prominent position in the concluding chorale – a medieval affair exemplified in the handkerchief ("Il Sudario") of St Veronica (illustrated in Stations of the Cross) and of course the Turin Shroud – the idea that Christ's sweat produced an image of His face. Washing in Christ's blood occurs frequently; but do we have any other examples in the Lutheran world of this sweat image surviving the Reformation as a devotional aid to Protestants? Spitta noted that the doctrinally central line of the Cantata, the last-positioned of the Tenor aria BWV 113/5, quotes the melismatically adorned melody of the last line of the chorale. This occurs at the words, “Dein Sünd ist dir vergeben” (“Thy sins are forgiven thee”), even though the words do not relate to the chorale. Is this technique, emphasising important “Spruch” i.e. doctrine, with unrelated chorale allusions, especially rare?>>

Gospel/Chorale: Effective Cantata

The gospel and the chorale unite to make an effective chorale cantata in all its movements, says Klaus Hofmann in his 2004 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete cantatas series.9 <<Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut, BWV 113 (Lord Jesus Christ, thou greatest good). The three cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach on this CD (BWV 8, 33, 113) take us into August and September of the year 1724, and therewith into the major church music project of his second year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, the so-called chorale cantata year. Bach’s plan, together with his librettist, was that the essential content of his cantatas for a full year should be a well-known hymn rather than the traditional gospel reading for the day in question. It was to be the librettist’s duty to rework some of the hymn verses so that Bach could set them as arias and recitatives; at least the first and last strophes, however, should remain unchanged. Of course, wherever possible the hymns were selected for their suitability to the readings – especially the gospel readings – that formed the basis of the sermon on each day.

The cantata Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut (Lord Jesus Christ, thou greatest good) was written for 20th August 1724, the eleventh Sunday after Trinity. The gospel reading for that day, Luke 18, verses 9-14, is the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican – a subject that has proved extremely popular through the centuries and has often inspired creative artists. The Pharisee – a strictly observant Jew – prays to God in the temple and brags about his devout way of life. The Publican, however, a member of a profession decried as corrupt, strikes his breast in shame and desperation and says simply: ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’. The point of the parable, however, is that the rôle model for the Christian is the humble Publican rather than the self-righteous Pharisee.

The hymn Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut, which forms the basis of this cantata, is by the theologian Bartholomäus Ringwaldt (1530-1599); the melody, which remains in regular use in the Evangelical church today, comes from the same period, although its composer’s identity is unknown. The text is excellently suited to the gospel reading for that Sunday, although it does to some extent take the Publican’s ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ for granted and identifies itself with him as the repentant sinner.

Bach’s librettist (probably the former deputy headmaster of the Thomasschule in Leipzig, Andreas Stübel (1653-1725) reworked the eight verses of the hymn into an eight-movement cantata text. The first, second and eighth verses remained unaltered, and the rest were changed into aria and recitative texts, sometimes retaining individual turns of phrase and with numerous allusions to the original, which the Leipzig congregation – who were familiar with the hymn book – will have noticed with appreciation; in the fourth movement, the recitative ‘Jedoch dein heilsam Wort, das macht’ (‘But your healing word assures me’), all seven lines of the original chorale strophe are present, though admittedly they are to some extent concealed in a multitude of freely written recitativverses. Overall, the clear disposition of the text reveals the hand of an experienced preacher: the first two movements refer to the situation of the Christian who is aware of his sins and ready to repent, the next two offer the prospect of comfort and forgiveness, whilst the third pair of movements (5 and 6) convey the central message: Jesus will accept the sinner. And the fourth takes the form of an applicatio, a ‘faithful application’ of the content of the sermon in the form of a prayer, first from an individual (seventh movement) and then – represented musically by the choir – from the congregation (eighth movement).

From the very first bar, Bach’s opening movement develops the atmosphere of lamenting oppression that emerges from the text of the first strophe. The two oboi d’amore ‘sigh’ in melodies rich in suspensions, clearly alluding to the chorale melody; cautiously the strings set more lively figures against them, as though alluding to faith. The choral writing on this occasion is very simple and homophonic, almost like the final chorales found in these cantatas; only at the end is the melody ornamented to some degree. One peculiarity, admittedly, is that the chorale is in 3/4-time rather than the usual 4/4; despite all its earnestness, this lends it a suppleness and a hint of elation, a reference to the hope of comfort and forgiveness.

The alto solo ‘Erbarm dich mein in solcher Last’ (‘Have mercy on me who am so burdened’; second movement) is based on the unaltered second verse of the hymn. The piece follows the pattern of a three-part organ chorale for two manuals and pedal, rather in the manner of the ‘Schübler’ Chorales (BWV645-650, [1748]): the cantus firmus is in the alto, accompanied by a thematically independent violin descant and the appropriate instrumental bass; these surround the hymn verse, which is presented line by line, in a musically independent manner. The principal motif of these sections – a stepwise descending fourth - is in fact by no means placed as randomly alongside the chorale melody as might seem the case at first glance. Indeed, this idea - in semibreves rather than quavers, so four times as broadly appears several times in the chorale melody, most clearly in the fifth line, 'auf daß ich nicht für großem Weh' ('So that I m not on account of great pain'), which consists of two such motifs that descending by a fourth.

'Trost' ('Comfort') is the keyword of the bass aria 'Füwahr, wenn mir das kömmet ein' ('True, when I realize'; third movement). A mild serenity is already evident in the introduction from the two oboi d'amore, although this is interrupted by a chromatic lengthening of the shadows, which is underlined in the vocal part by words such as 'Zitterm, Furcht' ('trembling, fear') and by the phrase 'ich weiß, daß mir das Herze zerbräche' ('l know that my heart would break') and seems to symbolize the uncertainty of those who await comfort. The bass recitative 'Jedoch dein heilsam Wort das macht' ('But your healing word assures me'; fourth movement) mixed lines from the hymn with free poetry, in each case supported by lively continuo coloraturas which must represent the positive emotions of the stophe, as expressed by words such as 'süßen Singen' ('sweet singing') or the idea of a smiling, bounding heart.

A highlight of the cantata not just in terms of content but also musically is the tenor aria 'Jesus nimmt die Sünder an' ('Jesus welcomes sinners'; fifth movement). The central promise is Bach's cue to write m unusually virtuosic showpiece for flute and tenor. Perhaps these two musicians, the tenor and the flautist, were then his most dazzling soloists as, from 2oth August to 22nd October 1724, six further cantatas contain an aria of this kind. Who the musicians were - especially the flautist, who must have been an unusually capable transverse flute player for the era, is an open question.

Of the movements that follow, the soprano and alto duet 'Ach Hen, mein Gott, vergib mirs doch' ('O Lord, my God, forgive me yet'; seventh movement) is especially interesting; it is based on the contrast between a peacefully presented chorale melody and extremely lively semiquaver coloraturas, and ends very simply in parallel thirds from the two solo voices, as though taking up and musically illustrating the final words ‘kindlichem Gehorsam' ('childlike obedience'). © Klaus Hofmann 2004


1Cantata 113, BCW Details and Discography,
2 OCC: J. S. Bach, Ed. Malcolm Boyd (Oxford University Press, 1995: 217f).
3Readings for the 11th Sunday after Trinity are: Epistle: 1 Corinthians 15:1-10 (Of Christ’s resurrection); Gospel: Luke 18: 9-14 (Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican); Martin Luther’s 1545 German translation, and the English is the Authorised (King James) Version [KJV] 1611, for full texts, see BCW, “Readings for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity,”
4 Petzoldt, Martin. Bach Kommentar: Die geistlichen Kantaten des 1. Bis 27. Trinitas-Sontagges, Vol. 1; Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs, Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2004: Trinity 11 Commentary 249-55, Cantata 113 Text 278-83, Cantata 113 commentary 282-290).
5 NLGB, BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682)", Berlin: Merseburger, 1969. ML 3168 G75 (Douglas Cowling).
6 See, BCW “Musical Context: Motets & Chorales for 11th Sunday after Trinity,” BCW
7 Scoring, Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: transverse flute, 2 oboes, 2 oboes d’amore, 2 violins, viola, continuo. Score Vocal & Piano [1.89 MB],; | Score BGA [2.45 MB], References: BGA XXIV (Church cantatas 111-20, Alfred Dörffel, 1876), NBA: I/20 (Cantatas for Trinity 11, Ernest May 1986), Bach Compendium BC A 122, Zwang: K 84. Provenance, BCW
8 Mincham, Julian. The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
9 Hofmann liner notes,[BIS-CD1351].pdf; Recording details,


To Come: Motets and Chorales for the 11th Sunday after Trinity, including the Introit motet, Psalm 130, de profundis, and other possible archaic and contemporary polyphonic pieces; the use of penitential Psalm 51, as appropriate for the 11th Sunday after Trinity and the integrity of Bach’s Trinity 11 performance calendar; and other appropriate Trinity Time penitential chorales, especially those (BWV 253-434) that are free-standing and not linked to particular cantatas – all as a well-ordered church music to the glory of God.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 10, 2014):
Cantata BWV 113 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 113 “Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut” for the 11th Sunday after Trinity on the BCW has been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of Orchestra: transverse flute, 2 oboes, 2 oboes d’amore, 2 violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (8):
Recordings of Individual Movements (10):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this chorale cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 113 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.

William Hoffman wrote (August 14, 2014):
Cantata 113, Trinity +11 Cantatas, Liturgy, Motets, Chorales

See: Motets & Chorales for 11th Sunday after Trinity


Cantata BWV 113: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Par 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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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 05:25