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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: 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

Cantata BWV 120
Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille
Cantata BWV 120a
Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge
Cantata BWV 120b
Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of April 28, 2013

Linda Gingrich wrote (April 29, 2013):
Introduction to BWV 120 & 120a

This week's discussion centers on BWV 120, Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille (O God, they praise You in the stillness) and 120a, Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge (Lord God, ruler of all things)-and 120b, and in a backdoor kind of way several other Bach works, for Bach recycled several of the movements in these cantatas. No one knows the precise chronology; scholars used to think that Cantata 120 preceded 120a and b, but the autograph score dates from around 1742, and most musicologists now embrace the later date. Several past discussions concerning this can be found at, and Thomas Braatz, from 2001, offered the following likely chronology:

From Cöthen: a middle movement of a lost violin concerto and a lost soprano aria, and BWV 1019a mvmt 3.
BWV 120a, a wedding cantata, 1729? (Only fragments of the performing parts survive; the score begins at the 4th mvmt.)
BWV 120b, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, June 26, 1730 (only the libretto is extant).
BWV 120, Leipzig council elections cantata, c. 1742.
B Minor Mass, mvmt 21 (Et expecto), during the last years of Bach's life.

The interweaving of the various parodies is rather fascinating, and the only way I could keep track of them was to create a chart, which I offer below, with some other suggested borrowings from Dürr.

Dürr, p. 737
BWV 120a & b
BWV 120
B Minor Mass
Vln partita BWV 1006
Dürr p. 748
Cöthen cantata?
6th mvmt
1st mvmt

1st mvmt
2nd mvmt
Et expecto
Cöthen cantata?
3rd mvmt
4th mvmt

4th mvmt sinfonia

8th mvmt chorale

BWV 137 chorale

Nothing is known about the couple for whom Cantata 120a was composed, but Julian Mincham speculates ( that, because of the cantata's size and large performing forces, they must have been people of some distinction.

As with the other council elections cantatas, the libretto thanks God for protecting the city through its government, and prays for future blessings. It quotes Psalm 65:1 for the opening alto aria, which also provides the themes for the second and third numbers: praise, and paying of vows to God. Numbers 4 and 5 pray for future blessings, and the last movement draws on Luther's German Te Deum of 1529.

One of the delights of BWV 120 is the second movement, which Bach extensively reworked as the stirring *Et expecto* in his B Minor Mass. And one of the mysteries is why Bach didn't begin the cantata with this festive movement. It's quite unusual to begin a celebratory cantata with a quiet aria, as this one does, but Bach may have been guided by the motto-like nature of the biblical passage, and by the word *Stille* (stillness). Then again, Douglas Cowling speculates, in a fascinating discussion from 2008, that perhaps this aria is "orphaned" in a way, for it seems out of place in the tonal plan.

1st mvmt Aria - A Major
2nd mvmt Chorus - D Major
3rd mvmt Recitative - B minor
4th mvmt Aria - G Major
5th mvmt Recitative - F# minor
6th mvmt Chorale - D major

The opening aria certainly relates tonally to the 5th movement's F# minor. And leaving things as is creates a fairly deep tonal descent from A major down to number 4's G major, which seems to work against the idea of climbing to heaven as found in the second movement. But then again, Bach often used allegorical antitheses to make his point, in this case perhaps the idea of kneeling in prayer. Then again, maybe he just wanted to do
something different.

This is all speculative of course!

There is a wonderful Youtube of Maasaki Suzuki conducting this work with the Bach Collegium Japan. As a conductor I appreciated his economy of gesture, his gracefulness, and the ineffable way in which he invites his performers to play and sing. Perhaps it's the openness of his hands and body language. And watching counter-tenor Robin Blaze sing the opening aria was phenomenal. Although he makes it appear effortless, it made me aware of the sheer technique involved, the working together of bone and muscle to toss off those florid passages.

Aryeh Oron wrote (April 29, 2013):
[To Linda Gingrich] Thanks, Linda, for the intro.

Linda Gingrich wrote:
"There is a wonderful Youtube of Masaaki Suzuki conducting this work with the Bach Collegium Japan. As a conductor I appreciated his economy of gesture, his gracefulness, and the ineffable way in which he invites his performers to play and sing. Perhaps it's the openness of his hands and body language. And watching counter-tenor Robin Blaze sing the opening aria was phenomenal. Although he makes it appear effortless, it made me aware of the sheer technique involved, the working together of bone and muscle to toss off those florid passages"
This video as well as the Harnoncourt recording of BWV 120 can be watched/listened to directly from the Home Page of the BCW:
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will find them in the box: "Listen to the Week's Work".
This box is regularly updated at the beginning of each week.

Linda Gingrich wrote (April 29, 2013):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks, Aryeh, I didn't catch that.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 29, 2013):
BWV 120 & 120a - German vs. Latin

Linda Gingrich wrote:
< Several past discussions concerning this can be found at:, and Thomas Braatz, from 2001, offered the following likely chronology:
B Minor Mass, mvmt 21 (Et expecto), during the last years of Bach's life. >
Listening to this marvelous cantata reminds me of a question which has always nagged me:

When writing his five masses, why did Bach not simply write new original music in Latin? Why did he choose the infinitely more complicated compositional task of adapting a German text to the very different demands of a Latin text?

We know he could do the former brilliantly. The Magnificat is not just a microcosm of Bach's entire vocal oeuvre, but it is THE most inventive and sensitive setting of a Latin text -- only Beethoven's Missa Solemnis is comparable.

And yet he chose to take superbly-crafted German music and transform it into something equally superb. Surely it would have been easier to just write it fresh in Latin.

I know it's a commonplace of Baroque technique. Handel endlessly adapted across four languages and each time produced masterworks. I guess I just assume Bach has to be different.

Julian Mincham wrote (April 29, 2013):
[To Original Cowling] I have spent a lot of my life trying to work out why Bach set himself enormous and seemingly unnecessary challenges of this kind. Why the apparent need to produce all those complex cantatas in his first three years at Leipzig, for example?

The issue arises equally in secular works. The turning of the third movement of Brandenburg 1 into a massive chorus in BWV 207 is a good example. Not only does he turn a massive and fully scored instrumental piece into a chorus but he transposes it and replaces the horns with trumpets and drums, adds flutes and turns the piccolo violin part into a four part choral texture. I cannot imagine the labour that must have gone into this, probably more than if he had composed a new chorus from scratch.

For what it is worth I have reached a couple of tentative conclusions. Firstly, Bach was the kind of creative genius who found inspiration through challenge--if the challenge did not already exist, he often created it. But more importantly I think that he probably had an image of the absoluright and proper movement for any particular occasion---the music had to be ideally fit for purpose. In my website I a make a suggestion about the connection between the image contained in the text of this chorus and the musical figuration of the Brandenberg movement.The same situation arises with the several precomposed sinfonias he chose to redraft for the later cantatas.I suspect he had a clear idea of just what sort of movement would fit the bill in each case, often with a single dominating textural image in mind, and he looked at what he had available to see if any earlier movement was suitable. It so he adapted it--if not he composed anew. Personally I cannot find any other reason which might explain this continually doing a demanding job when a much easier task would have sufficed.

A fascinating issue upon which to speculate.

Ed Myskowski wrote (April 29, 2013):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< But more importantly I think that he probably had an image of the absolute right and proper movement for any particular occasion---the music had to be ideally fit for purpose. >
Bach as esthetic perfectionist seems to fit all the evidence, extensive reworking (AKA parody) of his own material notwithstanding.

Linda Gingrich wrote (April 29, 2013):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I have spent a lot of my life trying to work out why Bach set himself enormous and seemingly unnecessary challenges of this kind. Why the apparent need to produce all those complex cantatas in his first three years at Leipzig, for example? >
Something about this and the question Douglas Cowling proposed is ringing a bell in my mind, maybe from one of my three favorite Bach books, Marshall's Sources, Styles, Significance, or Pelikan's Bach Among the Theologians, or Wollf's Learned Musician. I don't have time to track it down today--even if it really exists, which it may not!--but hopefully tomorrow I can. These books tend to delve into the sources of inspiration, genius, in Bach. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

Julian Mincham wrote (April 29, 2013):
[To Linda Gingrich] I think there is general acceptance that Bach liked, or needed to set himself challenges , speaking generally. I was interested in the specific nature of some of these as I think he often had very particular reasons for his choices of movements beyond the general need for 'challenge'.

William Hoffman wrote (April 30, 2013):
BWV 120 etc.: Picander Collaboration & Chorales

In 1728, the collaboration between composer Johann Sebastian Bach and librettist Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander) began reaching full maturity. They were immersed in the expansion to double forces of the original 1727 version of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) for Leipzig Good Friday vespers, while adding dramatic dialogue arias/choruses with both poetry and commentary. In addition the music would serve a dual purpose as a large funeral cantata pasticcio, BWV 244a, for Cöthen Prince Leopold that parodied music of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and the Funeral Ode, Cantata BWV 198.

Meanwhile, there were two immediate commitments. Cantata BWV 120, "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille" (God, one praises Thee in the stillness), was the first of four such consecutive collaborations, becoming one of Bach's most significant works for the annual Leipzig Town Council installation. In addition came the secular homage cantata for the council in 1729, BWV 216a, "Erwählte Pleißenstadt" (Chosen Pleisse-Town), acquiring new recitatives from the secular wedding Cantata 216, "Vergnügte Pleißenstadt" (Pleasant Pleisse-Town), of 1728.

Their council cantata collaboration began on August 27, 1725, with BWV Anh. 4, "Wünschet Jerusalem Glück" (Wished-for Jerusalem fortune). Starting in 1727, Bach and Picander produced a series of probably five consecutive Town Council cantatas: BWV 193, 120, 216a, Anh. 3, and 29. Collectively, these are a chronicle of Bach's shifting, diverse creative vocal music interests, endeavors, and accomplishments. These involve: Cantata 193 (discussed last week) as a secondary parody from Cöthen excerpted from a civic birthday piece with missing parts; the impressive Cantata 120 (this week's BCW Discussion), with two arias from Cöthen violin music; Cantata 216a, a mini-drama homage cantata parody of alternating recitatives and arias; BWV Anh. 3, "Gott, gieb Dein Gerichte dem Könige" (God, give now thy judgment unto the King), another parody presented in 1730; and, finally, another masterpiece of reinvention in Cantata 29 (next week's BCW Discussion), in 1731.

3 Council Cantatas

The three council cantatas for discussion this week, BWV 120, 216, and Anh. 3, are the published work of (or based on) Picander:

+Cantata 120, "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille" appears to have been premiered on August 30, 1728, or August 29, 1729. It may have been repeated on August 29, 1735, and again on August 27, 1742. It was twice parodied: for a sacred wedding, probably 1729, BWV 120a, "Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinger" (Lord God, ruler of all things), and as BWV 120b, "Gott, man lobet dich in der stille," for the Augsburg Confession Festival 2, June 26, 1730. It is catalogued as BC B 6, BWV 120, BGA XXIV (Alfred Dörffel, 1876), NBA I/32.2 (Town Council, Christine Fröde 1994). Details are found at BCW: The council text is attributed to Picander, the Augsburg revision text published by Picander, but the wedding text may be the work of Leipzig clergy.

+Cantata 216a, "Erwählte Pleißenstadt"), with characters Apollo and Mercurius, dates to about 1729 and may have been performed by Bach Collegium musicum members at Zimmerman's Coffeehouse. Only the written text survives as a Picander text adaptation of Bach student Christian Gottlob Meissner. It is catalogued as BC G 47, BWV 216(a), BGA XXXIV Forward (Paul Graf Waldersee, 1887), NBA KB I/39 (Leipzig secular music, Werner Neumann 1977). Its four arias were parodied from a secular wedding cantata, BWV 216, "Vergnügte Pleißenstadt" (Pleasant Pleisse-Town) February 5, 1728. It is catalogued as BC B 43, BGA XXXIV, NBA KB I/40 (wedding/secular, Werner Neumann, 1977), Picander published text. Details, BCW

+Cantata BWV Anh. 3, "Gott, gieb Dein Gerichte dem Könige," was presented at the Leipzig Town Council annual installation on Monday, August 28, 1730, two months after the three-day Leipzig celebration of the bicentennial of Philipp Melanchthon's Augsburg Confession, June 25-27, when Bach parodied New Year's Day Cantata 190 and two council cantatas, BWV 120 and Anh. 4. The Picander published text of BWV Anh. 3 shows that the work may contain parodied movements. It is catalogued as BC B 7, BWV Anh 3, BGA none, NBA KB I/32.2 (Town Council, Christine Fröde 1994). Details are found at BCW, including text and Z. Philip Ambrose translation,

Cantata 120

Cantata 120 of 1728/29 contains two of Bach finest free-da-capo arias in 6/8 tempo, derived from Cöthen violin music, as well as a new festive chorus that 20 years later would become the triumphant "Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum" (And expect the resurrection of the dead), that closes the <Credo> central section of the B-Minor Mass. Cantata 120 closes with Martin Luther's German setting of the <Te Deum laudaumus> (Praise be to God), "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" (Lord God, we thank You), a song of praise and thanks with multiple Bach uses and traditionally sung at the end of the councilservices. Overall in Cantata 120, Bach uses descent/ascent (sacred parabola) tonal allegory representing benevolent divine and temporal authority, in a hierarchy with God at the apex, similar to the Greek-Christian concept of the Great Chain of Being.

Picander's two arias and chorus texts in Cantata 120 use Psalms of both praise and thanks: the opening biblical dictum alto aria, from Psalm 65:2, "God, one praises Thee in the stillness"; the soprano aria (No. 4), "Heil und Segen" (Salvation and blessing), paraphrasing Psalm 85:10, "so that justice and loyalty must/ Kiss each other in friendship"; and the chorus (No. 2), "Jauchzet, ihr erfreuten Stimmen" (Shout, ye joyous voices), from Isaiah 12:6, "Shout and sing for joy" and Psalm 150:1, "Praise God in his sanctuary." The two interspersed male recitatives describe the Leipzig council experience: No. 3, "Auf, du geliebte Lindenstadt" (Up, you beloved of the city of lindens), and No. 5, "Nun, Herr, so weihe selbst das Regiment mit deinem Segen ein" (Now, Lord, may you yourself consecrate this government with your blessing,).

Cantata 120 closes with a plain chorale setting of the last part of "Herr Gott, dich loben wir": "Nun hilf uns, Herr, den Dienern dein, (Now help us, Lord, your servants) of Martin Luther 1529. For the text with Francis Browne English translation, see BCW In formation on the anonymousd melody (Zahn 8652) of Luther's German Te Deum, is found at BCW, Other Bach uses are plain chorale closing Cantata 119/9, "Hilf deinen Volk" (Help Thy people); Cantata 16/1 (New Year's 1726), chorale chorus; Cantata 190/1, chorus with melody, and 1725 New Year's Cantata BWV 190/2, BAT recitative with melody (repeated as Cantata 190a/2, Augsburg Confession 1, 1730). NLGB No. 167, Apostles' Feast.

Cantata 120 itself also provided multiple uses through new text underlay for a 1729 wedding, BWV 120a, "Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge" (Lord God, Ruler of all things) and Cantata BWV 120b, "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille," for the 1730 bicentennial three-day festival of the Augsburg Confession, June 25-27. The wedding Cantata BWV 120a, possibly for the daughter of Bach's St. Thomas Pastor, Christian Weiss, is an expansion of BWV 120, divided into the customary two parts. It opens with the joyful chorus, followed by an original recitative/chorus and then the parodied soprano aria with violin obbligato, set to a new text, "Leit, o God, durch deine liebe" (Guide, O God, through thy love) with violin obbligato, based on the adagio from the Cöthen "Sonata in G for Violin and Clavier, BWV 1019a). This aria also may have been parodied in Bach's 1731 <St. Mark Passion>, BWV 247, with a new Picander text, "Welt und Himmel, nehm zu ohren" (Earth and Heaven, listen), at Jesus' death. Part 2 following the wedding opens with the orchestral sinfonia setting of the "Preludio" from the Cöthen Violin Partita, BWV 1006, also repeated with trumpets and drums to open the 1731 council Cantata BWV 29, "Wir danken dir, Gott" (We thank Thee, God). The alto aria parody that opened council Cantata 120, now "Herr, fange an und sprich den Segen" (Lord, begin and give your blessing) is inserted between two male recitatives and Cantata 120a closes with a repeat of the closing chorale from chorale Cantata BWV 137, "Lobe den Herr" (Praise to the Lord), possibly presented as a council cantata in 1726 and repeated in 1732.

The 1730 Augsburg Confession parody, Cantata 120b (text only extant), is a perfunctory adaptation with little more than some text changes. Like Cantata 120, it opens with a repeat of the alto aria, "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille), followed by the chorus with new text, "Zahle, Zion, die Gelübde" (Pay, O Zion, all thy pledges), then a possible parody of the Cantata 120/3 recitative, now "Ach, du geliebte Gottesdtadt" (Ah, thou beloved city of God). It closes with a possible repeat of Luther's Pentecost chorale "Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott" (Come Holy Spirit, Lord God), from the 1729 funeral motet, BWV 226, "Der Geist hilf unsre Schwacheit auf" (The Spirit uplifts our weakness).

Bach-Picander Collaboration

The Bach-Picander relationship had been grounded in their mutual outlook, temperament and wide-ranging, common interests. Beginning in the summer of 1723, soon after Bach began his tenure as Leipzig music director, Picander brought to their relationship a liberal university education, literary ability, religious sensibility, and civic engagement. He would serve well Bach's vocal music needs. In particular, Picander had an enlightened education, although he was neither a learned Renaissance Man nor a man of-the-world adventurer in the manner of Lorenzo da Ponte, author of Mozart's greatest Italian operas. The Mozart-Da Ponte collaboration was sheer serendipity, as the latter brought out the former's strengths, especially characterization and interaction.

Success and diversity probably best characterize the Bach-Picander experience. Picander was adept at functioning under Bach's fundamental work ethic, fashioning all manner of texts on demand. Most significantly, the two soon achieved a successful process of adaptation, called parody, or new text underlay. This enabled Bach to transform his language of musical invention from a world-focused context to a sacred one, while embracing and utilizing both spheres simultaneously. They also shared a common interest in the materials that made the sacred cantatas, oratorios, and passions a teaching sacred musical sermon or an entertaining, profane <dramma per musica>. Particularly the former probably first brought Picander to Bach's attention. Above all, the two were able to engage a pragmatic view of the synergistic forces converging in flourishing Leipzig: the political interests and factions, the spiritual values and pursuits, the commercial interests and civic involvement, and the wide-ranging knowledge and learning that included the St. Thomas boys school and Germany's foremost university.

Their production of sacred cantatas for the annual installation of the Leipzig Town Council was a developing and sustaining force in their joint accomplishments. Their work began during Lent 1725 when Picander produced a libretto for an extensive birthday celebration for the Duke of Weißenfels, a second mythical shepherd cantata, with festive praise and pomp. Like the first one, Cantata BWV 208, in 1713, this raised Bach's vocal composition to a new level. Picander also rewrote the German text for an Italianate Easter Oratorio, BWV 249, produced a month later. Soon after, Bach turned to Picander to write the lyrics for his ambitious St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244).

That summer 1725, one of Bach's handful of original cantatas was the festive annual Council work, with Picander writing the libretto. Only the text survives for BWV Anh. 4, "Wünschet Jerusalem, Glück" (Wished-for Jerusalem fortune), showing a traditional Bach sacred cantata in the established standard form of the first Leipzig sacred annual cycle: opening biblical dictum chorus, two alternating arias and recitatives, and closing plain chorale. The great mystery is what happened to the music. It was repeated twice with textual modifications but none of the movements was found as parody in a surviving cantata. The music could have originated in Cöthen and later been utilized in one of the numerous <drammi per musica> Bach parodied for the Dresden Court in the last half of the 1730s. It is even possible that the music's commissioner or dedicatee receivthe manuscript score and parts set as a gift, subsequently lost.

Council Cantatas: Tonal Allegory

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 11, 2003): BWV 119 - Commentaries: Eric Chafe:

The relationship described between God and humankind and between `Obrigkeit' and `Untertanen,' for example, is the subject matter of Bach's several cantatas for the changing of the town council, in Leipzig as well as Mühlhausen. Those cantatas, like "Gott ist mein König," generally project a very festive character, primarily in association with praise and thanks to God, but also in keeping with the idea that worldly government derives its authority from God and serves, as an aria from BWV 119 puts it, as God's image ("Ebenbild") on earth.

The opposition of worldly and divine authority prompted Bach to use tonal descent and ascent in the cantatas written for the changing of the town council in both Mühlhausen and Leipzig. The first of these works for Leipzig, Cantata 119, "Preise Jerusalem, Den Herrn" (Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; 1723), is a C major composition of highly extrovert, festive character - with French overture beginning, prominent trumpets and drums and the like. Its central movement, a G minor alto aria with recorders, follows a powerful bass recitative for full orchestra, framed by trumpet fanfares, asserting government as God's representative on earth. Coming after such a display of pomp, the minor key asserts the humanity of the ruling authorities as the tie between them and the community at large.
[Cantata 119 Commentary, BCW

"The other <Ratswechsel> cantatas all exhibit to some degree the descent/ascent patters: 29 (D, D, A f sharp-e, h, D, D, D); 69, (D, b-G, e-f sharp b D); 120, (A, D, b, G, D-f sharp, D), and 193 (DS, b, e, G, D). In most cases the tonal distance covered is not great, but in general the descent is related to God's protection of man -- "Denn er versorget und erhält,/ beschützet und regiert die Welt" (For he looks after and upholds,/ protects and rules the world) [E minor] - tenor recitative No 4 in Cantata 69, the contrast between the "most high" and his subjects on earth (A major aria, "Hallejuah, Stärk und Macht,/ sei des Allerhöchsten Namen" (Alleluia, power and might/be to the name of the Highest, tenor aria No. 3) versus the B minor aria, "Gedenk' an uns mit deiner Liebe,/ schleuss' und in dein Erbarmen ein" (Think of us with your love,/ enclose us in your pity! in Cantata 29), or an appeal to God (all six <Ratswechsel. Cantatas). God's blessings and salvation must be bestowed on the rulers in order for them to provide justice and truth (G Major aria, Cantata 120. Bach's picture of the world here is not at all tinged with pejoratives. Within the Lutheran frame of reference it is perfectly consistent; the tonal plan helps to represent a baroque hierarchy with God at the top. The two cantatas that use flat-minor movements (Nos. 71 and 119), point out that wherever the assertion of worldly glory is greatest, it is necessary to bring out there the contrast between the power of the divinely invested ruler and his humanity. [Erich Chafe, "The Leipzig Cantatas," <Tonal Allegory in the Cantatas of JSB>, Univ. of Calif. Press, 1991: 155f]

Cantata 120, Tonal Schema

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 14, 2008): Cantata 120 - Tonal schema

There is something very peculiar about this cantata. Not only does the second movement "feel" like an opening chorus but the first aria is orphaned in A major when the cantata is clearly centered in D major:

1. Aria - A Major

2. Chorus - D Major
3. Recitative - B minor
4. Aria - G Major
5. Recitative - F# minor
6. Chorale - D major

It appears superficially that the opening aria has become attached to the cantata without any logic. Just looking at the tonal relationships, I would reposition Mvt 1 after Mvt 4 and introduce it with a recitative which doesn't exist. That would give us a fairly standard 7-movement cantata.

The other odd thing is that the oboes do not have independent parts in that bif festive chorus but play colla parte with the violins. I noticed this when looking at the "Et expecto" which has independent parts for oboes and flutes as well. The oboes never appear again although presumably they double in the final chorale which the BGA edition doesn't have markings for orchestral doubling. [Julian Mincham addresses this in the alto aria of his BCW Cantata 120 Commentary,]

The BCW Discussion 2 of Cantata 120(a,b) is available at for those interested in the convoluted compositional history, Cöthen origins, and premier date of Cantata 120; the interrelationships with the wedding and Augsburg Confession parodies; the B-Minor Mass connections of the chorus; and possible genesis and multiple uses of the aria with violin obligatto, "Heil und Segen" (Health and blessing).

Council Homage Cantata 216a

Music in the 1729 secular council homage cantata, BWV 216a, "Erwählte Pleißenstadt" (Chosen Pleisse-Town), exists in the four arias from the 1728 wedding work, BWV 216, that has been reconstructed from the surviving parts for soprano, alto, as well as two double-parodied arias: one in the 1726/27 home cantata, BWV 204/8 for soprano, flute, strings and continuo, and the other, the closing alto-tenor duet with two flutes and continuo, in the 1725 university name day <dramma per musica> (Picander text!) BWV 205/13. For the 1729 council parody all the arias were retained with the opening and closing as duets, now for tenor replacing soprano, representing learning, and the alto representing commerce. The Cantata 204/8 aria (Hunold/Menantes 1711 text), "Himmlische Vergnügsamekeit" (Heavenly contentment) also may have been parodied in the St. Mark Passion (BWV 247) as "Angenehmes Mordgeschrei" (Pleasing murder-cry) when the crowd shouts, "Crucify him!" The closing duet, BWV 216a/7, has the same incipit, "Heil und Segen" (Health and blessing), as the soprano aria in council Cantata BWV 120.

Two reconstructions of the wedding Cantata BWV 216 are from Georg Schumann (with English translation by C. Sanford Terry), published in Berlin in 1724, and the work of Bach scholar and conductor Joshua Rifkin from the rediscovered soprano-alto parts,, and his recording, BCW

Picander Parody Council Cantata BWV Anh. 3

The 1730 council Cantata BWV Anh. 3, "Gott, gieb Dein Gerichte dem Könige," survives in Picander's published text with possible parodies. Cantata BWV Anh. 3 has an opening chorus, two internal da-capo arias, and central and closing recitatives with the same interpolated chorale, Paul Gerhardt's 1647 "Wach auf, mein Herz, und Singe" (Wake up, my heart, and sing), Stanzas 8 and 9, free translation. The movements, incipts (and possible parody relationship) are:

1. [Chorus] Dictum (Psalm 72:1-2): God, give the king Thy judgment (*Cantata BWV 195/1, festive chorus (3 trumpets, timpani), "For the righteous the light must rise again [Psalm 97:11), c.1727, ?wedding cantata.
2. Aria (d.c.): "Highest, show thy judgment "(*bass aria "Domine Deus, Rex coelestis" (O Lord God, Heavenly King) with violin, Kyrie-Gloria Mass No. 2 in A Major, BWV 234/3, late 1730s).
3. Recitative, "Lord, Zabaoth, you are faithful"; chorale, "Speak yea to your deeds" (S.9).
4. Aria (d.c.), "We see, we build, from Your calling alone.
5. Recitative, "Therefore grant that our authority"; chorale, "Cover us with blessing" (S.10).
*Source: Klaus Häfner, "Aspekte des Parodieverfahrens bei JSB" (Laaber 1987: -161, 366-370, 471f), cited in NBA I/32.2 (Town Council, Christine Fröde 1994: 13).

"Domine Deus, Rex coelestis" is also the text of the soprano-tenor duet in the Missa Gloria, BWV 232I of 1733, a contrafaction from the 1727 Augustus Nameday <dramma per musica> BWV 193a/3. Aria (Providence), but not used in the 1727 council Cantata BWV 193, "Ihr Tore/Pforten zu Zion."

BWV Anh 3/3, 5 are two recitatives with the same interpolated chorale: Paul Gerhardt, verses 9 and 10 of "Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe" (Wake up, my heart, and sing), 1647 (Fischer-Tümpel, III, #380). The chorale melody is "Nun laßt uns Gott dem Herren" (Now let us God the Lord), Nikolaus Selnecker (1587) [Zahn melody 159, NLGB No. 222, Communion hymn]. Bach's uses of the chorale are the same Stanzas 9 and 10 in closing plain chorale, Cantata 194, Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest" (Highest wished-for joy-feast), Trinity Sunday 1724. Thus, it is possible that Bach took this plain chorale and interspersed the Picander recitative texts. Gerhardt text and Francis Browne chorale translation, BCW

The sermon for this occasion on August 28, 1730 was given by Friedrich Wilhelm Schütz (1677-1739) who was the designated preacher for Mondays in the Nicolai Church from 1721 to 1737. The sermon was based on Roman 13:3: For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same." There is, however, no connection between the sermon text and the cantata text.


Cantatas BWV 120, BWV 120a & BWV 120b: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 120 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 120 | Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 120a | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 120a | Details of BWV 120b | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: 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

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Last update: řApril 30, 2013 ř21:37:08