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Cantata BWV 114
Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost
Discussions -Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of September 21, 2014 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (September 19, 2014):
Cantata BWV 114, "Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost": Intro.

“Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost” (Ah, dear Christians, be consoled), Chorale Cantata for the 17th Sunday after Trinit was first performed on October 1, 1724, and repeated 1740-47. It was performed in the Nikolaikirche before the sermon of Superintendent Salomon Deyling (1677-1755) on the Gospel (Luke 14:1-11, miracle of the dropsical man and parable of the wedding guest, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Comentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.1

It is another accessible and typical chorale cantata with a striking opening chorale fantasia, two engaging da-capo arias suggesting Bach’s enthusiasm with the unknown librettist parapahraser’s next, elements of dance in the “Vivace”-marked opening chorale fantasia and the tenor-flute aria.2 Again, Bach uses a standard orchestra with striking solo flute, oboes and strings, with horn reinforcing the cantus firmus in the chorus and plain chorale. Cantata 114 is another symmetrical, palindrome work with pairs of arias and recitatives, opening chorus and closing chorale and an additional soprano chorale aria unaltered in the middle (Mvt. 4, Stanza 3).

The two straightforward male recitatives (bass and tenor), without any internal hymn text insertions, make references to the Gospel [see Klaus Hofmann commentary below], not otherwise found in the reformers Johann Gigas’ 1561 text set to the Justas Jonas popular melody, “Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns halt” (If God the Lord Not With Us Stay), set to a paraphrase on Psalm 124 (“If God not abide with us). Like so many of his chorale cantatas for omnes tempore (Ordinary Time) Trinity Time, the general mood of Cantata 114 moves from dejection to consolation to joy.

In addition to the Hofmann and John Eliot Gardiner detailed commentaries is Peter Smaill’s BCML Commentary on Cantata 114 “Imagery, Biblical References, Affirmative Mood.”

Readings for Trinity +17

Readings for the17th Sunday after Trinity are Epistle, Ephesians 4: 1-6 (Paul’s exhortation to unity), and Gospel, Luke 14: 1-11 (Miracle of healing the dropsical man & parable of the wedding guest. ); Martin Luther 1545 English translation, English translation Authorised (King James) Version [KJV] 1611, BCW full text, The Middle Trinity Time Gospel lessons emphasize "Thematic Patterns of Paired Parables or Teachings & Miracles," according to Douglas Cowling in the Bach Cantata Website (BCW). The current pairs are: * Trinity 16: Luke 7: 11-17 Miracle of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain, And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise! * Trinity 17: Luke 14:1-11 - Miracle of healing the dropsical man & parable of the wedding guest. 4And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 7When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room.

The introit psalm for the 17th Sunday after Trinity is Psalm 50, Deus deorum (The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, KJV), says Petzoldt (Ibid. 487) that he describes as “Vom wahren Gottesdienst” (observing God’s service), which originated musically with the Clementine vulgate.

Special characteristics of Cantata 114 are the 6/4 dance style opening fantasia and the Lombard rhythm in another of the cherished tenor-flute duets (*Mvt. 2), “Wo wird in diesem Jammertale / Vor meinen Geist die Zuflucht sein?”Wo wird in diesem Jammertale / Vor meinen Geist die Zuflucht sein?” (O sinner, bear with patience / what you through your own guilt / have brought upon yourself!). The chorale opening “gigue” style or “Loure-like” is set in 6/4 time marked “Vivace,” says Thomas Braatz commentary, “The 6/4 time signature. ” 3 The Lombard rhythm in the tenor-flute aria (Mvt. 2) ¾ beings a note of optimism as well as the “Vivace” 12/8 B Section gigue” style. Bach first explored this “upbeat” syncopated “Scottish-snap” rhythm in the soprano aria “Quia respexit” in the 1723 Christmas Magnificat, BWV 243a, and occasionally used it again in the tenor-flute combination. Finally, in the first half of the 1730s, he systematically used it in 15 vocal works, notably the chorale Cantata 177/1 for Trinity 4+ (7/6/1732) and in several secular drammi per musica (BWV 2130215).

Cantata 114, Chorale Texts

Cantata 114 Text is based on the 6-stanza, 7-line BAR form (AABBCDE) Reformation chorale “Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost” (unaltered, Mvts. 1, 4, 7); Anonymous paraphrase (Mvts. 2, 3, 5, 7). Text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW There are traces of the technique, style, language, and interests of Thomas Church pastor Christian Weiss Sr., the utilitarian poet Picander, and the still unknown author of the most productive, the third group of original chorale cantatas,4 whose work began with the 13th Sunday After Trinity (BWV 33) and dominated from Christmas 1724 to Lent 1725 when Bach ceased to compose chorale cantatas set to paraphrased texts. The 16 Chorale cantata texts from the third group, according to Harald Streck, are BWV 33, 99, 130, 114, 38, 139, 116, 91,121, 133, 122, 41, 123, 3, 111, and 125. As in Chorale Cantata 114, for most of the reminder of the chorale cycle until Easter 1725, Bach generally relied on the basic, familiar format of straightforward opening chorale fantasia and closing harmonized chorale with poetic hymn-text paraphrases using original music in the internal arias and recitatives.

The Chorale Text, “Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost,” is a penitential Reformers’ hymn. The authors are David Spaiser with Verse 1 in 1521 and Johann Gigas with Verses 2-6 in 1561) [Gigas 1514-1581 BCW Short Biography,; Francis Browne English translation, BCW].

The Chorale Melody is “Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns halt” (If God the Lord Not With Us Stay), Composer reformer Justas Jonas (1493-1555). The melody ( Zahn: 4441a, EKG: 193) was first found in the Geistliche Lieder (edited by Joseph Klug), Wittenberg, 1529. Bach’s Neu Leipziger Gesgangbuch (NLGB) lists it under Psalm hymns as No. 267, a meditation on Psalm 124, 8 stanzas. Psalm 124, Nisi quia Dominus (If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, KJV) full text, see; also see “Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works,” BCW

There are two other settings of the Jonas' Psalm hymn, "If God the Lord Not With Us Stay," in the NLGB as No. 326, "Death and Dying," that Bach uses in his <St. Mark Passion>: Stanza 4 is No. 7(3) and Stanza 3 is No. 63(26). Both verses are directed at those who pass judgment or bear false witness. The musical sources are two of three plain chorale settings, BWV 256-258. It also is a designated hymn for the 17th Sunday after Trinity in the NLGB. For Bach's uses of the hymn "If God the Lord Not With Us Stay," see BCW for details,, scroll down to Chorale “Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns halt,” also known as “If God the Lord did not abide in us.”

Chorale Melody Repeated in Chorale Cantata 114

Turning to Chorale Cantata 114, "Ach lieben Christen seid getrost" (Ah, dear Christians, be comforted), John Eliot Gardiner is impressed with Bach's chorale melody setting:5 "What is immediately striking aboits chorale fantasia opening, a 6/4 movement in G minor marked vivace, is that it has at its core the same stirring [1524] chorale melody by Justus Jonas used so memorably in [1724 Trinity 8 Chorale Cantata] BWV 178 `Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält' [If God the Lord Not With Us Stay] yet treated here very differently." Instead of a "belligerent" "diatribe against hypocrites and false prophets," Gardiner says the text setting "is far more nuanced" with the opposite moods of comfort and caution found in Johannes Gigas' six-stanza 1561 paraphrase of Psalm 124, God as the Peoples' Protector. This is set to Bach's two contrasting melodies: a variant of the assertive hymn tune supported by a solo horn and Bach's original, soothing accompaniment. "Ach lieben Christen seid getrost" is assigned to the 17th Sunday after Trinity in the Leipzig and Dresden hymn schedules, says Günther Stiller's <JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig> (Concordia: St. Louis, 244).

Cantata 114 Movements, scoring, text, key, meter:6

(Stanza 1 unaltered) Chorus two-part (Stollen 1&2, Abgesang) with ritornelli [SATB; Corno col Soprano, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]. A. “Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost” (Ah, dear Christians, be consoled) B. “Die Straf wir wohl verdienet han” (we have well deserved the punishment); g minor; 6/4 gigue style.
2. (Stanza 2 paraphrased) Aria da-capo (ABA) [Tenor; Flauto traverso solo, Continuo] A. ¾, “Wo wird in diesem Jammertale / Vor meinen Geist die Zuflucht sein?” (Where will there be in this valley of misery / a refuge for my spirit?); B. 12/8, Allein zu Jesu Vaterhänden / Will ich mich in der Schwachheit wenden; (Only to Jesus' fatherly hands / do I want to entrust myself in my weakness; d minor.
3. (Stanza 3 paraphrased), Recitative Secco, Arioso middle [Bass, Continuo]: “O Sünder, trage mit Geduld, / Was du durch deine Schuld / Dir selber zugezogen!” (O sinner, bear with patience / what you through your own guilt / have brought upon yourself!), arioso Andante (Gospel, Luke 14:9, 11a), Daß du erniedrigt werden mußt” (so that you must be cast down); g to d minor; 4/4.
4. (Stanza 3, unaltered), Chorale Aria [Soprano, Continuo], A. “Kein Frucht das Weizenkörnlein bringt” (The tiny grain of wheat bears no fruit); g minor; 4/4.
5. (Stanza 4, paraphrased),
Aria da-capo (ABA) [Alto; Oboe I, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Du machst, o Tod, mir nun nicht ferner bange” (You make me, O death, no longer afraid); B.Mit Simeon will ich in Friede fahren” (With Simeon I want to travel in peace); B-flat major; 4/4.
6. (Stanza 5, parahrase) Recitative secco [Tenor, Continuo]: “Indes bedenke deine Seele / Und stelle sie dem Heiland dar” (Meanwhile take thought for your soul / and present it to your saviour); g minor; 4/4.
7. (Stanza 6) Chorale [SATB; Corno e Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo]: “Wir wachen oder schlafen ein, / So sind wir doch des Herren” (Whether we wake or sleep / we belong to the Lord; g minor; 4/4.

Imagery, Biblical References, Affirmative Mood

The engaging text of Cantata 113, particularly the word painting imagery and biblical references, the general direction from sinfulness to resurrection, and the theological purposes are important topics discussed in Peter Smaill’s BCML Discussion Part 2 (9/16/06) Introduction.7 <<The journey through the vale of lamentation" (Whittaker) is the [psalmic] image at the centre of BWV 114, for the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity. He is not quite right to say there is no connection to the Gospel for the day- the healing of the man with dropsy on the Sabbath, for this image is mentioned briefly in the Bass recitative Mvt. 3.

This incident is later in the Gospels one of the central charges brought by the Pharisees against Jesus at His trial, because it broke the injunction not to perform works on the Sabbath other than worshipping God. However, it is not a single man that is recalled in the Cantata, but universal Man; the text of the Cantata moves from the despairing sinfulness of all mankind to the resurrection with Jesus, the spirit of the faithful detaching from the body in peace and confidence. Dropsy, the collection of foul ("serous") material in the body, nowadays called oedema, is of course an image for sin. Historically, the fluids would be released by lancing the swelling. But this is to figuratively be Jesus' fate at the hands of the centurions, in substitution for Man.

The libretto touches on Genesis: (Mvt. 3) "Der Hochmut ass vordern von der verboten Frucht / Gott gleich zu werden" (Pride ate in former times of the forbidden fruit / To become equal with God). The purpose of the theology of the Cantata is to demonstrate that the new covenant, in which love is the spur to imitation of Christ and thus forbearance of suffering and acceptance of death - is the true way to God and thus the fulfilment of creation. It is in seven sections. To emphasise this number, associated with Creation, IMO the librettist deploys seven stanza sections three times in numbers 1, 4, and 6; in the last the body is returned to God and the soul to Jesus. We are in ontological territory yet again in this Cantata. For a discussion of the numerological significance of seven, see:

The work is rich in word-painting. The upward movement of the oboes and violins denote the call to comfort - "cheer up" in the first moments of the Cantata; likewise the joy-motif; the mention of despair brings in trills and repeated quavers. A lovely modulation from G minor to E flat and thence to a cadence in B flat reinforces the call to confidence. The punishment deserved by sinners is accompanied by a downward tumult in the lower voices and then the joy motif reappears at "bekennen", when all are to know that they cannot exclude themselves from the need to achieve comfort by confessing their sinfulness.

Bach's virtuoso flautist provides another aria of high quality, Mvt. 2, leading to the "Spruch", the bass recitative Mvt. 3 setting out the thesis of the work : through a blessed (i.e. contrite) death, mankind attains innocence and glory. At the injunction against "Pompous bearing", ( i.e "schwülstigen Gebärden") Bach has the bass descending in scales to illustrate the word "humbled".

The soprano Chorale Mvt. 4 has the depiction is of the sowing motion in the continuo; the alto aria Mvt. 5 has a powerful modulation to the subdominant emphasising the solemnity of "Tod". At "es muss ja so einmal gestorben sein" (One must indeed one day die) voice and oboe wail together in slurred sixths and descend to the "dark regions of E flat minor".(Boyd)

Selected Commentaries

*Robertson: (Mvt. 1) The orchestral prelude is an excellent example of Bach's superb musical architecture.
(Mvt. 2) It is the beautiful obbligato for the flute which carries the deep emotion of this aria, the tenor's part being declamatory.He asks the question seven times and his patience is rewarded in the vivacious and lyrical music of the middle section of the aria, with the flute contributing wide-flung phrases of delight.

*Whittaker: (Mvt. 2) A marvellously beautiful flauto traverso solo depicts the pilgrim wandering disconsolately in the valley, [with] poignant leaning tones, arabesques , and weary curving melodies. Towards the close the flute provides the answer - which is identical with figures used in Bach's great organ chorale prelude on "Vater unser" in Part III of the Clavierubung. was it a deliberate quotation?

*Boyd (Anderson): (Mvt. 1, Mvt. 4, Mvt. 7) It is worth remarking how Bach in this Cantata, as in others, minimises the demands placed on his least experienced singers, the trebles of the Thomasschule. The chorale cantus firmus in the opening movement is reinforced (for safety?) by a horn, as is the soprano line of the final chorale. there is no recitative for soprano, and in the only aria for that voice the soprano soloist only sings the chorale melody, only lightly decorated and in the second line. the trebles therefore needed only to learn (and probably alrknew) one simple hymn tune.

*Dürr: (Mvt. 5) The alto aria ,"Du machst, O Tod,mir nun nicht ferner bange" (You do not make me anxious, O Death, any longer)brings a joyful confident tone into the Cantata. It is the only movement in a major key, though it is repeatedly over-clouded by the minor, with particularly impressive effects at the words, "Then I must indeed die one day".

*Rilling: (Mvt. 6) An expressive recitative leads into the final chorale. Bach uses all his composition skills to darken the word "Satan" with corresponding chromatics and to set the text "To us through Adam cometh death" to a bass-line that spans the huge interval of an eleventh.

Outstanding Question Dürr says Bach marked the opening chorus (Mvt. 1) "Vivace". If he means the score and not the parts, it seems odd that the Cantor to have to remind himself of the fact that the mood is upbeat, despite elements of the text being anything but. Is there any pattern to such tempo indications?

BWV 114 is unusually rich in word painting and, IMO, of numerological significance. In the space of seven days (US notation, 9/24/1724, 9/29/1724 and 10/1/1724) the highly contrasting BWV 130, BWV 8 and BWV 114 have been performed. The integration of texts to original and ingenious musical ideas, execution of parts and score, setting, checking and printing of libretto booklets, selection of choristers and instrumentalists, rehearsal, and performance are an astounding feat in an age of scratchy quill pens and guttering unbleached candles.

In all this Bach provides consciously for a congregation ranging from his newly recruited trebles through pious chorale-loving widows to crusty old theologians amongst the congregation. Perhaps unwittingly, he also marks the score for a possible re-performance, and thus even for the benefit of fortunate generations to come who are enabled by the handing down of his works, as it were, to approach the mind of God.

In BWV 114 is a perexemplar of the unity of Bach's musical idiom with just such a theological objective. I hope others will find in it yet more evidence of the intensity of creative purpose which is his hallmark in the great cycle of Chorale cantatas.>>

Contrasts, Progressive Stylistic Elements

The contrast between despondency and consolation is found in the Cantata 114 opening chorus and succeeding tenor aria, observes Gardiner in his liner notes (Ibid., FN 5). Also found are progressive stylistic elements and the soprano chorale aria (Mvt. 4) set to a post-harvest text. <<Bach seizes on the opposition of moods in the first strophe of Johannes Gigas’s hymn (1561), which serves as the basis of the entire cantata: two lines of proffered comfort – in effect, ‘don’t be so depressed’ – followed by five suggesting ‘you deserve to be punished’. This stark contrast is audible before a word has been sung. Bach presents two themes simultaneously, one assertive and admonitory, derived from the hymn tune and assigned to the two oboes and first violins, the other a friskier affair based on a figura corta pattern (vv–vv–vv–vv–) and played initially by the second violins and continuo. To these he then adds a string of repeated quavers for the first oboe and first violins, at first staccato and with main beat trills, but soon modified in the upper strings as pulsated bow-vibrated quavers (wowwow- anxiety of the believer in contrast to the extended helping hand of God (by means of the figura corta). Once the choir is launched the sopranos, doubled by cornetto, intone the Jonas melody while the lower three voices engage in more active and varied exchanges, dividing up the lines first with vigorous homophonic declamation, then in contrapuntal imitation, always inventive in their commentary and demanding the listener’s attention, especially as they surge into the cadences.

The contrast between despondency and consolation persists in the second movement for tenor, obbligato flute and continuo. This is one in a series of bleak but hypnotic arias epitomising the beleaguered soul at which Bach excels. The predictable austerity of texture is offset by the strong gestural rhythms of a French overture in 3/4 time over slow, throbbing Ds marked pianissimo on the first two beats of each of the first five bars before moving off it as an appoggiatura. Bach screws up the tension by means of grinding dissonances and hemiola-style phrasing. The piece creates its own rapt atmosphere of pained dejection. A back-dotted or ‘Lombard’ figure for the flute with the continuo in close pursuit – in staccato quavers and a rising chain of first and second inversion chords – is the only glimmer of wordless optimism in this wintry landscape, one that must sufficiently have lodged itself in his mind for Bach to quote it years later in his organ chorale ‘Vater unser im Himmelreich’ (BWV 682). The question mark at the end of the recurring opening strophe – ‘Where within this vale of sorrow / will my spirit find refuge?’ – means that our disconsolate tenor-pilgrim never arrives on the tonic. After these variations of anguish throughout the A section a change of mood and metre is overdue, but I can’t imagine anyone other than Bach switching to vivace for a 12/8 gigue at this point, however welcome, for a B section in which the words carry on in low-spirited resignation (‘I have no other place to turn’). The way out of the Slough of Despond seems assured, but since this is a da capo aria, any reprieve can be only temporary.

Another outstanding movement is the chorale strophe (No.4) set to a post-harvest text (‘the grain of wheat will bear no fruit / unless it fall into earth’) – or, more correctly, a warning to the farmer to get his timing and seedbed spot on when drilling his winter cereals. The accompaniment consists entirely of a ten-note figure split by two quaver rests and is assigned to continuo unisono. We took this to mean just the two keyboards together, and as such it sounded very striking and a plausible metaphor for the flick of the sower’s wrist. It is followed by an aria for alto with oboe solo and strings, its theme similar to last week’s four meditations on death, yet very different in mood and treatment: we are to overcome our fear of death by seeing it as a source of freedom enabling us to depart, like Simeon, in peace. Bach writes a rising chromatic sequence for the approach of death (‘es muss ja so einmal gestorben sein’), the alto moving in sixths with the oboe over pulsating pedal Fs in the continuo. He then repeats it in the strings enriched by a Brahmsian series of dark, sustained contrapuntal lines with the oboe line descending in plaintive seventh chords. The effect is spooky and chilling – and in contrast to those entrancing bell-chimes of last week (see Vol.8), not in the slightest bit consoling. © John Eliot Gardiner 2009; From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Gospel References, Opening Lamento

The Gospel references and the opening lamento are among the features of Catata 1114, says Klaus Hofmann’s liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIA complete cantata recording.8 <<Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost (BWV114, Ah, Dear Christians, Be Comforted). The chorale cantata that was heard at the main church service in Leipzig on lst October 1724 -- the seventeenth Sunday after Trinity - is based on a hynm by the theologian Johannes Gigas, alias Heune (1514-1581) from Tübingen, to a melody usually assimilated with the text 'Wo Gott der Hen nicht bei uns hält' ('Where the Lord God is not with us') from pre-Reformation times. Bach's librettist in Leipzig this time not only used the first and last of the original verses unchanged but also one of the inner stophes ('Kein Frucht das Weizenkitmlein bringt' - 'No fruit is bore by the grain of wheat', fourth movement); the remainder, as usual, were transformed into recitatives and arias. Going beyond the original material, he forged links with the gospel reading for that day - Luke 14. verses 1-ll - which tells of the healing of a man with dropsy and then wars against self-exaltation. The bass recitative (third movement) in particultar is concerned with this, addressing the sinner with thwords 'Das Unrecht saufst du ja / wie Wasser in dich ein, / und diese Siinden-Wassersucht / ist zum Verderben da / und wird dir töddlich sein': and later: 'Der Hohmut aß vordem von der verbotnen Frucht, / Gott gleich zu werden...' ('You imbibe injustice / As though it were water, / And this dropsy of sin / Will end in destruction / And will be fatal for you'; 'Pride first [i.e. in paradise] consumed the forbidden fruit, / So as to be like God').

For the introductory chorus, Bach has recourse to a structural idea that he had already used three weeks earlier at the beginning of the cantata “Jesu, der du meine Seele” (Jesus, you who have my soul). Here, too, he writes a sort of chaconne, and here too it is in G minor; but this time it is unequivocally in the French style - without the Italian stylistic components, especially the lamento bass, the expression of mourning and lamentation. The emotional content is determined by festive earnestness, and also by a certain strictness in accordance with the warning expressed by the text. In the instrumental introduction, Bach presents a variety of thematic material that reappears in new combinations and variations all through the movement. Line by line we hear the hymn melody from the soprano; here - unlike in "Jesu der du meine Seele” - as a cantus firmus in broad note values, while the lower voices (alto, tenor and bass) join in unobtrusively but with great artistry, sometimes homophonically and sometimes in polyphonic imitation.

As in the opening movement, despondency and consolation are the expressive qualities of the first aria (second movement). The question 'Wo wird in diesem Jammertale / vor meinen Geist die Zuflucht sein?' ('Where can the refuge of my spirit be found / In this valley of woe?') inspired Bach to produce an extraordinarily expressive duet for transverse flute and tenor. As an answer to this question there follows, in total contrast, a lively and animated section with the text 'Allein zu Jesu Vaterhänden / will ich nich in der Schwachheit wenden' ('Only to Jesus's paternal hands / Do I wish to turn in weakness'). Then the da capo returns us the question posed at the outset.

Strictness returns in the fourth movement, the unchanged hymn verse presented by the sopranos' ‘Kein Frucht das Weizenkörnlein bringt' ('No fruit is borne by the grain of wheat'), which Bach accompanies very sparingly, with just a few constantly repeated continuo motifs. The fifth movement, the alto aria 'Du machst, o Tod, mir nun nicht ferner bange' ('O death, you make me fearful no longer') is all the more emotional: totally filled with the expression of confidence, his is the only movement of the cantata in a major key, indulging in harmonious parallel sixths and thids between the vocal line and the oboe. Its shift to the minor at the words 'es muß ja so einmal gestorben sein' ('One day, indeed, one must die') thus becomes even more striking. A simple chorale setting (seventh movement) ends the cantata with terse, dogmatic statements and with the expression of confident faith in God. © Klaus Hofmann 2004


1 Petzoldt, 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: Cantata 114, 494, text, 490-94, commentary 494-98).
2 Cantata 114 BCW Details & Discography,
3 Braatz commentary, Cantata 114 BCML Discussions, Part 2; BCW
4 Streck, Harald, “Die Verskunst in den poetischen Texten zu den Kantaten J. S. Bachs.” diss. (Hamburg, 1971), 214p; described in Arthur Hirsch’s “Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas in Chronological Order,” AUTHOR’S NOTES: 19 (BACH, Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute 11 [July 1980]: 18-35).
5 Gardiner 2009 liner notes to the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage,[sdg159_gb].pdf; BCW Recording notes,
6 Scoring, Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: 2 oboes, flute, 2 violins, viola, continuo (horn added [C.f.] for Mvts. 1 & 7). Score Vocal & Piano [1.67 MB],; Score BGA [2.33 MB], References: BGA XXIV (Church cantatas 111-120, Alfred Dörffel, 1876), NBA KB I/23 (Cantatas for Trinity +17, Helmust Osthoff, Rufus Hallmark, 1984, Bach Compendium BC A 139, Zwang K 90. Provenance (score, parts, date of composition),
7 Smaill Introduction, Cantata 114, BCML Discussions, Part 2;
8 Hofmann liner notes,[BIS-CD1361].pdf; BCW Recording details,


To come, Cantata 114, Part 2: The changing mood in the late Trinity Time chorale cantatas (Linda Gingrich), biblical meanings in Cantata 114 (Paul T. McCain), the “Musical Context: Motets & Chorales for 17th Sunday after Trinity,” and the theme of the Ten Commandments.

William Hoffman wrote (September 21, 2014):
Cantata BWV 114, Part 2: Lectionary, Allegory, Chorales

CANTATA 114 Part 2

The 17th Sunday after Trinity establishes the shift in mood in the late Trinity Time with the preparation for Advent that brings the baby Jesus who ultimately will be sacrificed as Christ on the cross. Beyond the unity and use of hymns of Passion and “Death and Dying,” the three cantatas BWV 148, 114, and 47 and the appropriate assigned hymns explore various associated biblical and theological themes as well as the Lutheran catechism theme of the Ten Commandments by which all believers are bound. Of particular note is the lectionary emphasis found in Cantata 114, as related in Paul T. McCain’s writing, as well as Linda Gingrich’s notes on the “Fifth Sequence” of Trinty Time cantatas emphasizing “alternation and Unity” in cantatas with contrasting allegorical tools, as well as the usual “Musical Context: Motets & Chorales for 17th Sunday after Trinity” and theirn use in Bach’s cantatas.

Lectionary Emphasis in Cantata 114

“There is now an ongoing conversation on the Internet devoted to the historic lectionary of the Lutheran Church and with some regularity one of the authors of this particular blog site will post their observations about the Cantata Bach prepared for the upcoming Sunday in the Church year, in this case, the 17th Sunday after Trinity Sunday,” says Paul T McCain in BCML Discussion Part 2.1 <<It is refreshing to see Bach's Cantatas being used in the setting for which Bach intended them and analyzed from a musical point of view, from the standpoint of the theology conveyed in the Cantata text. Here is a link to the site, and the text of the post follows: Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost BWV 114 "Ah, dear Christian, be comforted"

An excellent cantata in itself that preaches on suffering in the world, our repentance over sin, and confidence in Christ's salvation. It is especially appropriate to consider this year, since it is tailored around both the Gospel appointed for Trinity 17 (healing of the dropsical man) as well as the Gospel appoifor Holy Cross Day (fruitful grain of wheat).

The opening chorale (Mvt. 1) calls to suffering Christians in comfort, and to urge them to repent- not because they are worse sinners than any other, but precisely as Jesus teaches in Luke 13 concerning those killed by Pilate and by the falling tower of Siloam. It confesses the truth that God sends suffering and affliction upon us, just as he sends days of gladness also. As always, our trust is not in the world or our own selves to keep us through affliction, but it is in Christ who himself sends this cross. The tenor aria (Mvt. 2) echoes the language of Luther's "In the very midst of life". Who can we trust and seek refuge in times of suffering? "Thou Only, [Jesus], Thou Only." It sets up the idea that we come to Christ in weakness.

The Bass sings a recitative (Mvt. 3) paralleling the text of the Sunday Gospel-fitting since the Bass voice sings the part of Christ in the Passions, as the lowest notes are used for Christ's Words in chanting the Words of Institution. This then is Christ speaking to the Christian, first speaking a harsh Word of Law. He rightly accuses us of suffering at our own hands, the suffering of our own making. The sin of Adam in the garden is primarily against the first commandment, exalting himself above God. The Law humbles sinners, bringing them to repentance. It is death that ultimately humbles sinners, but it is death that is life and deliverance for the Christian.

The third stanza of the chorale (Mvt. 4) brings in the Feast Day text, and connects our death to the way of Christ to the Father (Gang zum Vater), that is, the cross. The grain going into the ground in order to spring into glorious fruit is our death that yields eternal life precisely because we are connected to Christ's death yielding His glorious resurrection.

The alto sings (Mvt. 5) a comforting aria in defiance of Death. Now is Death but the gate to life immortal, and the Christian can live without fear of Death. The Savior will keep the body safe in the tomb and recall it on the last day.

And so the Tenor gives a final recitative of exhortation (Mvt. 6) to humble ourselves and suffer God's work on us, entrusting ourselves to the One who made our body and soul, eyes ears and all our members. and still takes care of them. His Love is apparent in both death and life. He preserves us in life, whether He gives suffering or gladness, and He brings us through death into His bosom.

The final chorale (Mvt. 7) gives the connection between life and death that has been hinted at earlier: Baptism. Baptism is where we have been connected with Christ's death, where we have died. Death comes through Adam, and we have continued in his image. Christ is life, and He brings us into Him through Baptism, keeping us safely from Satan's grip. In Confession as in Baptism, we are humbled by the Law's accusing work and brought down from our self-exalting. Thus humbled, it is Christ who exalts us.>>

The Middle Trinity Time Gospel lessons emphasize "Thematic Patterns of Paired Parables or Teachings & Miracles," according to Douglas Cowling in the Bach Cantata Website (BCW). The current pairs are: * Trinity 16: Luke 7: 11-17 Miracle of the raising of the son of the widow of Nain, And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise! * Trinity 17: Luke 14:1-11 - Miracle of healing the dropsical man & parable of the wedding guest. 4And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 7When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room.

Trinity Time ‘Fifth Sequence’: Alternation & Unity’

Trinity 17 marks the move into the “Fifth Sequence” of Trinity Time Cantatas, emphasizing “alternation and unity,” says Linda Gingrich in her dissertation:2 The Cantatas are BWV 114, 96, 5 and 180. She notes that Bach has moved “fully into the narrowing of the late-Trinity season favoring the preparation for Advent.” Bach “moves away from unusual metaphorical concentrations” to “strings of cantatas chained together through allegorical tools.” The new sequence is “bound in a theological progression that contrasts death versus life, light, versus darkness, sin versus salvation, the water of iniquity versus the cleaning spirit of Christ’s blood and culminates in an invitation to the wedding feast of the lamb as exemplified in the sacrament of communion” (p.84).

“A strong change of character marks the new sequence, which began on October 1, 1724, the seventeenth Sunday after Trinity. The Michaelmas cantata just two days before, Cantata 130 [Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir” (Lord God, Thee praise all we], was festive and triumphant; BWV 114, Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost (Ah, dear Christian, be comforted), on the other hand grabs itself in somber hues as it focuses on the “dropsy” of sin and Christian death as the only means out of corruption into glory. In actuality it picks up and develops further the fear of death theme which Cantata 8 addressed on the previous Sunday and forms the bottom of the precipitous tonal plunge for the E major heights of Cantata 8 through the C major midpoint of Cantata 130 to the penitential depths of Ach lieben Christan.” More very informative details of Cantata 114 are found in the four succeeding pages.

Trinity 17 Motets, Chorale, Cantatas 148, 114, 47

See: Motets & Chorales for 17th Sunday after Trinity


1McCain, BCML Discussions, Part 2 (September 17, 2008);
2 Gingrich dissertation, The seen and the unseen: Hidden allegorical links in the Trinity season chorale cantatas of J. S. Bach, D.M.A., University of Washington, 2008, 146; 3303284: 84f; (
3 Musical Context: Motets & Chorales for 17th Sunday after Trinity, BCW
4 BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION: Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein " Schünigen: Kaminsky,1927 ML 410 B67R4; Partial Index of Motets in Florilegium Portense with links to online scores and biographies: and; Dissertation on Bodenschatz Collection.
5 NLGB, BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682)", Berlin: Merseburger, 1969. ML 3168 G75.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 21, 2014):
Cantata BWV 114 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 114 “Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost” for the 17th 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 2 oboes, flute, 2 violins, viola& continuo (horn added for the opening chorus and the closing chorale). See:
Complete Recordings (9):
Recordings of Individual Movements (15):
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 three complete recordings of this cantata. Two are audios: a studio recording conducted by Helmuth Rilling from his cantata cycle (1974/1981) and a live recording conducted by Gustav Leonhardt in Paris (1988). The third is a video of a live performance from Budapest Bach Weeks 2012, conducted by Salamon Kamp.

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this chorale cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 114 missing from these pages, or want tocorrect/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.


Cantata BWV 114: 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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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 05:25