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Cantata BWV 137
Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of August 17, 2014 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (August 17, 2014):
Cantata 137, "Lobe den Herrn": Intro.

BWV 137, “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren” (Praise the Lord, the mighty King of honour), pure-hymn (unaltered, per omnes versus), Chorale Cantata for 12th Sunday after Trinity, is based on Joachim Neander’s folk-like hymn August 19, 1725; reperfromance 1746-47. Given its festive setting with trumpets and drums, it also may have been used for the Inauguration of the Leipzig Town Council. It uses all five stanzas as well as the melody and had three successive internal arias.1 Its English language title is “Praise to theLord, the Almighty, the King of Creation” as a hymn of praise.

“Although it fits well with the gospel of the day (the healing of the deaf and dumb man [Mr 7:31-37]), it is not among the hymns for this particular Sunday,” says Walter Blankenburg in the liner notes to Karl Richter’s Archiv recording of the Cantatas for the Sundays after Trinity 1.2 “This is explained by the fact that it was not very well known and was not included in the hymn-books in use at Leipzig in Bach’s time.”

The use of trumpets and drums in the opening chorale fantasia and closing plain chorale, as well as the tenor aria (Mvt. 4) with trumpet playing the chorale melody, is rare in Bach’s chorale cantatas, as is the use of all five stanzas unaltered with no internal recitatives. “The employment of the text of a chorale without recitatives of biblical orientation or arias of poetic reflection is relatively rare in Bach’s total output of cantatas; extremely rare are cantatas, like this one, that employ only the stanzas of the hymn and use the associated melody in every movement,” says Robin A. Leaver in his monolgue on Cantata 137 in the Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach.3 “Being closely based on the text and melody of this hymn of praise meant that the cantata could be used on occasions other than the 12th Sunday after Trinity.”

Cantata 137 also could have done double duty as a Town Council cantata, given its festive nature and the proximity of the 12th Sunday after Trinity to the Council installation service on a Monday in late August. In addition festive Cantata 69a, “Lobe den Herrn, Meine Seele I” (Praise to the Lord, my soul (Psalm 103/2), composed for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, August 15, 1723, was much later altered as Cantata 69 with new recitatives and closing chorale for the Town Council installation, probably on October 26, 1748. Further, Martin Petzoldt in BACH Commentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays,4 insists that Bach could have used two other, undesignated pure-hymn chorale Cantatas BWV 117, “Sei Lob Her dem Höchsten Gut” (1728-31) and BWV 100, “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan III" (1732-35) since their chorales, while appropriate for weddings, also are appropriate for middle Trinity Time.

Unaltered Chorale Cantatas

The connections among unaltered chorale cantatas, their character and uses are discussed in Julian Mincham Commentary introduction “Chapter 3 BWV 137 Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren,” 5 << But, as always, Bach is never that easily pigeonholed. A glance at the movement structure confirms the lack of recitatives. This was a characteristic of his earliest cantatas and was most recently apparent in C 4, resurrected for the Easter celebrations of the second cycle and the first cantata to break the fantasia pattern. But whilst recitatives, often highly experimental, were a definite feature of the cycle two chorale cantatas, they appear less often in the later ones. Cs 112, 177, 100 and 129 all dispense with them (vol 2, chapters 54, 56 and 57; vol 3 chapter 16).

The text of C 137 takes the five stanzas of the original hymn, basing one movement upon each. There is no paraphrasing nor any additional lines or biblical references. An earlier model of this pattern is C 107, the seventh work of the second cycle (vol 2, chapter 8), although it does contain one recitative, immediately following the fantasia. Thereafter four arias follow each other closing, as usual, with the four-part chorale. Bach later returned to the practice of setting the hymn verses without additional lines in C 117, although there he uses a more balanced combination of arias and recitatives.

We cannot miss Bach's obsessive use of the chorale melody in every movement of C 137, a process that may be recalled from many earlier works (e.g. C 93, vol 2 chapter 7 and C 4, ibid chapter 42). It is also worth comparing this cantata with Cs 69a and 35, also written for this day. Cs 69a and 137 both begin with magnificent choruses. C 35 is one of the solo alto cantatas which boasts no choruses but, most unusually, two powerful and ebullient sinfonias. Perhaps Bach felt the need to bolster its energy so that it would appear no less imposing than its illustrious chorus-led predecessors.

The first notable characteristic of the C 137 text is that the stanzas do not develop ideas to any extent. Each begins with the exhortation----Lobe den Herren----praise the Lord (Master, Almighty). There is no delving into different or opposing states such as doubt and certainty, fear of death, joy of salvation, faith and scepticism. Those who know the second cycle will be aware how Bach frequently plans the shape of an entire work around contrasting themes. The fact that he had far less opportunity to do that in this cantata was bound to create some structural challenges. However, the lack of specific nuance in the text would have made C 137 available as a 'general purpose' cantata, suitable for all sorts of 'secular' occasions: see also C117. It therefore comes as no surprise that the reinforced closing chorale is also to be found in the later Wedding Cantata, C 120a in the higher key of D.

Nevertheless it has to be acknowledged that with the chorale text appearing unaltered in every movement and its melody forming the basis of the musical invention throughout, this cantata has a claim to be the most perfectly unified of the entire canon (see also the other chorale cantata of this period C 129, chapter 16).>>

Readings for 12th Sunday after Trinity

The Readings for the 12th Sunday after Trinity are: Epistle: 2 Corinthians 3:4-11 (Ministers of a new Covenant); Gospel: Mark 7:31-37 (Miracle of the deaf man cured). Martin Luther 1545 German translation and English translation of the Authorised (King James) [KJV] Version 1611, see BCW “Lutheran Church Year, Readings for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, In the previous chorale 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 is Psalm 34, Benedicam Dominum (I will bless the Lord at all times, KJV,, says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 303) which he calls a “Note of thanks for God’s friendliness.” Bach also had the opportunity to use a polyphonic motet setting of Psalm 70, Deus, in Audutorium (Make haste, O God), perhaps the Orlando Lassus version (to be discussed in This Week’s Discussion, Part 2). Cantata 137 was performed on August 19, 1725, at the early service of the Nikolaus Church before the sermon of Salomon Deyling, Superintend, but it is not extant, says Petzold (Ibid.: 317)

Cantata Text author is Joachim Neander 1679 (5 stanzas unaltered, per omnes versus. Bar form (3/4 time), 4 measures Stollen A&B, Abgesang C 8 measures. It is not found in the NLGB of 1682.6 Melody, Stralsung Gesangbuch (1665) German text and Francis Browne English translation and “Notes on the text”, BCW, Note on the text: “BWV 137 is a chorale cantata for the 12th Sunday after Trinity but was not performed in 1724 as part of Bach’s series of chorale cantatas but on 19th August 1725. It differs also from other chorale cantatas as for the first time since BWV 4 Christ lag in Todes Banden (1708 or earlier) Bach sets all the text of the chorale without recitatives or arias of poetic reflection. The text is by Joachim Neander (1650-1680) and was part of a collection published in his native city of Bremen in 1679 with the title Glaub- und Liebes-Uebung:auffgemuntert durch einfältige Bundeslieder und Dank-Psalmen. Without direct quotation it seems based on Psalm 103 and the psalms of praise that conclude the Psalter (145-150). The hymn and its associated melody are familiar in English as Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.” Neander (1650-80) Short Biography is found at BCW, An ornamented variant of the melody, “Hast du denn, Liebster,” is found in Cantata 57/8 closing plain chorale to the text of the same incipit by Ahasverus Fritsch 1668, in the Saubert Gesangbuch Nürnberg 1676, music also published in the Stralsung Gesangbuch (1665)

More details on Neander, translator Catherine Winkworth and the tune (BCML Discussions Part 1,, scroll down to “Michael Grover wrote (September 9, 2001):”

<<Joachim Neander, called the greatest of all German-Calvinist Reformed hymn writers, was born in Bremen, Germany on May 31, 1650. He wrote approximately sixty hymns and composed many tunes. Nearly all of his hymns are triumphant expressions of praise. Neander, though only thirty years of age when he died, was a noted scholar in theology, literature and music, as well as pastor of the Reformed Church in Dusseldorf, Germany,. The Julian Dictionary of Hymnology calls this hymn "a magnificent hymn of praise, perhaps the finest production of its author and of the first rank in its class."

Catherine Winkworth was born in London, England, on September 13, 1827. She was a pioneer in the higher education of women. Miss Winkworth was regarded as one of the finest translators of the German language while expressing the text in English. Her translations helped to make German hymns popular in England during the nineteenth century. Prior to her work, very little of the German hymnody had been translated after the work of John Wesley in the eighteenth century. Miss Winkworth translated several books of German verse which became widely known. One of these books, The Chorale Book for England, 1863, contained the translation of this hymn. She also translated the well-known German chorale, "Now Thank We All Our God" (No. 62).

The tune, "Lobe Den Herren" ("Praise To the Lord"), first appeared in the Stralsund Gesanbuch, 2nd edition, in 1665. It is said that Joachim Neander personally chose this tune for his text, and his words have never been used with any other melody. The tune first appeared in England in the 1904 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern.>>

Cantata 137 Movements, Scoring, Initial Text, Key, Meter.7

1. Chorale Chorus (Verse 1) two parts with ritornelli, dal segno (mm. 2-16), S(C.f.)ATB; Tromba I-III, Tamburi, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo: A section, Stollen A, “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren (Praise the Lord, the mighty king of honour); Stollen B, “Meine geliebete Seele, das ist mein Begehren” (My beloved soul, that is my desire); B section, Abgesang C, “Kommet zu Hauf, / Psalter und Harfen, wacht auf! / Lasset die Musicam hören.” (Gather together / Psaltery and harps , awake ! / Let the music be heard); dal segno; C Major, ¾ time.
2. Aria (Verse 2), two parts with ritornelli, dal segno (mm.2-14, 9/8 time), chorale ¾ time (Alto; Violino solo, Continuo C.f.): Section A., Stollen A, “Lobe den Herren, der alles so herrlich regieret” (Praise the Lord who rules all things so excellently); Stollen B, “Der dich auf Adelers Fittichen sicher geführet”; “Who bears you on eagle’s wings securely”; Section B, Abgesang C, “Der dich erhält, / Wie es dir selber gefällt; / Hast du nicht dieses verspüret? (Who supports you / As you yourself wish; Have you not felt this?; dal segno, G Major; 9/8 ¾.
3. Aria (Verse 3) in canon four parts (A A’ A’’ A’’’) dal segno (mm.2-8) with ritornelli (Duet) (Soprano, Bass, Oboe I/II, Continuo: Section A, Stollen A, “Lobe den Herren, der künstlich und fein dich bereitet” (Praise the Lord who endows you with such subtle art); Section A’, Stollen B, “Der dir Gesundheit verliehen, dich freundlich geleitet” (Who grants you good health and guides you in a friendly way); Section A’’, Abgesang C “In wieviel Not / Hat nicht der gnädige Gott / Über dir Flügel gebreitet! (In how many desperate circumstances / Has not God in his mercy / Spread his wings over you!), Section A ’’’, repeat of “In wieviel Not . . . .”; da segno; e minor, ¾.
4. Aria & Chorale (Verse 5), dal segno (mm.2-8) with ritornelli), (Tenor Tromba [C.f.], Continuo) Stollen A, “Lobe den Herren, der deinen Stand sichtbar gesegnet” (Praise the Lord, who has clearly blessed your position); Stollen B., “Der aus dem Himmel mit Strömen der Liebe geregnet” Who from heaven has rained down streams of love upon you); Abgesang C, “Denke dran, / Was der Allmächtige kann, / Der dir mit Liebe begegnet.” (Think about / What the Almighty can do,); / Who meets you with his love); dal segno, a minor, ¾.
5. Chorale (SATB; Tromba I-III, Tamburi, Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo): Stollen A: “Lobe den Herren, was in mir ist, lobe den Namen!” (Praise the Lord, all that is in me, praise his name); Stollen B, “Alles, was Odem hat, lobe mit Abrahams Samen!” (Let all that has breath praise him with Abraham’s seed!); Abgesang C, “Er ist dein Licht, / Seele, vergiss es ja nicht / Lobende, schließe mit Amen!” (He is your light, / My soul, do not forget this; / End your praise with Amen!); C Major, ¾.

The chorale cantatas for the 12th Sunday after Trinity provide festive music after dire warnings in the earlier Trinity Time works, says John Eliot Gardiner 2007 liner notes to his Bach Cantata 2000 Pilgrimage Soli Deo Gloria recordings.8 His performance of the three Cantatas (69a, 137, and 35) for the 12th Sunday after Trinity was <<one of the most cheerful programmes of the whole Trinity season. After so many consecutive weeks of fire and brimstone and dire warnings against devilish temptations, forked tongues, false prophets and the like, it came as a huge relief to encounter three genial, celebratory pieces, one with an organ obbligato and two featuring Bach’s talismanic trumpets and drums. Fears that these C or D major trumpets-and-drums opening choruses might become slightly formulaic and repetitious are misplaced: in fact they are subtly differentiated in mood, texture and Affekt.

Two years later in 1725 Bach came up with another winner, BWV137 Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren, this time in C major and still for three trumpets and drums, though unusually for only two oboes. It is a comparative rarity, his first cantata to have been constructed as a series of chorale variations in over twenty years, since BWV 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden, in fact. It is based entirely on the five stanzas of Joachim Neander’s thanksgiving hymn of 1680 and its associated melody. This means that there are no recitatives, no biblical quotes, no poetic commentary; but on the other hand, this being one of the most glorious of all hymn tunes, familiar to Englcongregations as ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation’, there are immense and satisfying musical delights. The opening fantasia is jazzy, shot through with syncopation for the majority of its bars, Italianate in sonority and irrepressible in its rhythmic vitality. The opening fugal theme – vocally awkward – begins with the altos and needs very careful and accomplished negotiation so as not to emerge as though from a disturbed poultry house. It becomes less perilous at the second of its three appearances, where the words call for a more lyrical approach (‘Meine geliebete Seele’). Bach is wise to the potential swagger of the tune, so that instead of writing long note values for its first statement in the sopranos he assigns it to them in sturdy crotchets. After repeating the first phrase this has the effect of pulling the other voices into a chordal declamation, ‘Kommet zuhauf, Psalter und Harfen, wacht auf!’ (‘Come in multitudes, psalteries and harps, awake!’). The festive exuberance of the writing makes this movement, indeed the whole cantata, suitable outside the Sunday liturgy, perhaps for the inauguration of the new Town Council in Leipzig which occurred a few days later, or for some other day of rejoicing. On both occasions Gottfried Reiche, the star trumpeter of his day and capo of the Leipzig Stadtpfeiffer, would have figured prominently. But whether the fanfare fragment he is holding in the portrait Haussmann painted of him two years later is of his own invention or a quotation of bars 27-28 of this particular cantata of Bach’s (as Eric Lewis Altschuler has suggested) is impossible to say.

Whittaker [Cantatas of JSB: I:451] appears to make a good point when he claims that Bach, in this example of a per omnes versus cantata, is beginning to learn ‘how to outwit the unyielding character of such a hymn’. But didn’t he always? Surely Christ lag in Todesbanden, written when Bach was twenty-two, is the supreme example, compared, say, to Pachelbel’s setting, of how to uncover expressive variety and achieve narrative thrust and drive in all seven verses of Luther’s Easter hymn, without ever varying the tonality.

Eighteen years on, Bach is alert to the possibility of extrapolating all the motivic features of the new glorious tune and now has the experience to arrange its five verses not only symmetrically in outline: chorus – aria – duet – aria – chorale, but also to give it a satisfying modulatory shape: C –G – e – a – C.

There is exuberance on a more intimate scale in the second strophe (really a trio sonata) where the chorale, now lightly ornamented, is assigned to an alto solo over a sweeping 9/8 continuo line with violin obbligato. The metaphor of being held safely aloft on ‘eagle’s wings’ guides Bach in his choice of lively string crossings for the violin and detailed patterns of slurred and staccato notes, though it is the chorale tune itself which dictates the melodic shape. It does so again in the writing for paired oboes in verse 3, which, like the soprano and bass, enter in canon. But, as in mixed doubles, each person in the couple takes it in turn to ‘serve’: bass first, then soprano; oboe 1, then oboe 2. Up to this point all has been conducted in full sunlight, but with the lines ‘How often in your distress has merciful God not spread His wings over you!’ a cloud passes over the music. The believer’s distress (‘Not’) can be read in the grinding chromatic descent, the movement of God’s protective wings by lively chains of dactyls. The last three phrases of the hymn tune are repeated, tilting the overall balance towards its expressive, darker side for the only time in this cantata.

A battle for harmonic supremacy plays itself out in verse 4: not between the tenor and continuo, the latter full of slurred scales, acrobatic leaps and strong rhythmic gestures, but between the two of them complicit in A minor set against the trumpet’s delivery of the unadorned chorale tune as a brass-plated C major orison. The tenor/continuo partnership brushes aside the final notes and cadence of the trumpet; yet the last word belongs to him and to his three colleagues in the uncontested victory of C major: a majestic seven-voiced harmonisation of the chorale (verse 5). Nobody could do a more festive Danklied than Bach when so minded. He knew exactly how best to use the resources of the ceremonial trumpet-led orchestra and choir of his day to convey unbridled joy and majesty – more than a match for the most imposing organ voluntary.>> © John Eliot Gardiner 2007; From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Unique Work, Special Appeal

Bach composed Cantata 137, a unique work with special appeal, during the half-year Trinity Time hiatus of 1725, observes Klaus Hofmann’s 2007 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS cantata recordings.9 <<The four cantatas on this recording come from the second half of 1725 and thus from Johann Sebastian Bach’s third year of service in Leipzig. Whereas from the previous two years cantatas have survived for virtually every Sunday and feast day, with effect from the beginning of the third year the situation changes fundamentally: for many Sundays and feast days no cantata can be traced. Sometimes Bach performed works by other composers, including many by Johann Ludwig Bach (1677–1731), a relative of his from Meiningen. Of course we cannot rule out the possibility that for some reason an unusually large proportion of his own works from this time has been lost. It is more probable, however, that Bach did not devote himself to the writing of cantatas as regularly as previously. The only spell of regular cantata writing seems to have taken place around the Christmas festivities of 1725–26, resulting in a series of nine cantatas for the period from Christmas until the third Sunday after Epiphany. The four works on this disc come from the months just be fore that time. Two of them, Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort (BWV168) and Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet (BWV 164) were performed four weeks apart and come from the same textual source, Salomon Franck’s Evangelisches Andachtsopfer of 1715. Both linguistically and structurally they show a certain similarity. The other two cantatas on this recording are independent works [BWV 137 and 79].

Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren (Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation), BWV 137. The cantata Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren was probably first performed at the Leipzig church service on the 12th Sunday after Trinity in 1725, which that year fell on 19th August. There is, however, some evidence that suggests that it was actually composed some months earlier for Midsummer, 24th June (Feast of John the Baptist). Both the text, which focuses entirely on praise and thanks, and the magnificent orchestral scoring with trumpets and timpani are much better suited to the gospel passage for Midsummer (Luke 1: 57–80) with its account of the birth of John the Baptist and Zechariah’s song of praise (‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel’) than to the passage for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, in which the story of the healing of a deaf and dumb man (Mark 7: 31–37) sets the tone.

Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren is a chorale cantata of a special type in that the hymn text is retained in its original form rather than being reworked as recitatives and arias. Bach includes all five strophes of a hymn by Joachim Neander (1650–1680), and also uses the familiar melody in all five movements to a greater or lesser degree. Bach’s decision to retain the original text and melody was both a limitation and also a challenge to him as a composer, and we can only be amazed at the imagination and formal skill with which he fulfilled his self-imposed task. In his hands the sequence of five strophes is developed into a symmetrical [palindrome] baroque construction. At the extremities are two choral movements in the main key of C major; in between come movements in various keys that feature all four vocal soloists – alto in the second and tenor in the fourth, each with an obbligato melody instrument, and soprano and basin the central movement, a duet accompanied by two oboes.

In each of the five movements the hymn melody is allocated a specific role. In the introductory chorus, as a soprano cantus firmus, it forms a contrast with a lively ritornello theme, first heard from the orchestra. The opening motif of this theme is then taken up by the alto, tenor and bass; combined with new wording, it serves as a fugato introduction to the first, second and fourth lines of the text. The third line, ‘Kommet zu Hauf’ (‘All draw near’) is an exception: here the polyphonic choral writing yields to a block-like, chordal texture as a musical image of the masses of the people. In the alto aria (which Bach re used in an organ transcription in the col ection Sechs Choräle von verschiedener Art [Schübler] in 1748–49) the cantus firmus appears in a highly

coloured form, in 9/8-time and in the dominant key of G major, surrounded by agile violin figures by means of which Bach takes up the image of the‘Adelers Fittichen’ (‘under his [the eagle’s] wings’). By using the parallel key of E minor, the duet follows on from the G major of the alto aria; the minor key is moreover motivated by the keyword ‘Not’ (‘need or grief’), which is also expressively emphasized by means of chromatic writing. The vocal parts have clear references to the hymn tune; there are also allusions to it in the oboe parts. In the tenor aria with its striking basso ostinato, the vocal line – rich in coloratura passages – unfolds with great

melodic freedom, with the exception of isolated references to the hymn tune. The tune itself appears in the trumpet, the C major of the cantus firmus forming an effective contrast with the A minor of the aria. The final strophe is given a compact eight-part setting in which the musically independent timpani and trumpets lend an air of radiant splendour.>> © Klaus Hofmann 2008


1 Cantata 137 Details & Discography,
2 Blankenburg notes (Martin Cooper English Translation), BCW Recording details,
3 Leaver, “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren” OCC: JSB (Oxford University Press, 1999: 269).
4 Petzoldt, Martin. BACH Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: Commentary 303f, Cantata 137 text & commentary 316-23.
5 Mincham, Julian. The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
6 NLGB, BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius

(Leipzig 1682)", Berlin: Merseburger, 1969. ML 3168 G75 (Douglas Cowling).
7Scoring, Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: 3 trumpets, timpani, 3 oboes, 2 violins, viola, continuo. The five movements in palindrome form have an opening chorale fantasia and closing chorus plain chorale with three internal arias for alto, soprano and bass, and tenor. Score Vocal & Piano [1.59 MB],; Score BGA [2.29 MB], References: BGA XXVIII (Church cantatas 131-40), Wilhelm Rust 1881, NB KB I/20 (Cantatas for trinity +13, Ernest May 1985, Bach Compemdium BC A 124, Zwang K 129.
8 Gardiner notes,[sdg134_gb].pdf; Recording details, BCW
9 Hofmann notes,[BIS-SACD1671].pdf; Recording details, BCW


To Come: Cantata 137 Part 2, Motets & Chorales for the 12th Sunday after Trinity; Bach’s performing calendar for Trinity+12, including Cantatas 117, 100, and 189.

William Hoffman wrote (August 17, 2014):
Cantata 137, Trinity 12 Motets, Chorales, Cantatas

See: Motets & Chorales for 12th Sunday after Trinity

William Hoffman wrote (August 17, 2014):
Cantata 137/Topic: Hidden Allegorical Links, Trinity Chorale Cantatas

The seen and the unseen: Hidden allegorical links in the Trinity season chorale cantatas of J. S. Bach by Gingrich, M. Linda, D.M.A., University of Washington, 2008, 146; 3303284

Abstract (Summary)

It has long been recognized that musical elements not easily perceived by eye or ear operate within Bach's larger works and collections, and more recently that these elements appear within certain of his Leipzig cantatas as well. What has hardly been recognized, however, is that these same elements, tantalizingly hidden, work within the cantata cycles and appear to bundle consecutive cantatas into purposeful groups. Bach's second Leipzig cycle in particular, the chorale cantata cycle, is rich in this veiled allegory, the hidden musical and textual components that link individual cantatas together into larger-scale theological narratives driven by the ever-changing face of the church year. Tonalities, forms, number symbolism, instrumentation, motives, symmetries, vocal patterns and the like, unify his chorale cantata cycle on an unseen level, and stretch across weeks at a time to create two-, three-, four-, even five-cantata storylines. This paper explores the unseen connections tucked among Bach's 1724 Trinity season chorale cantatas, and in the process reveals something of their purpose--the service of humanity and the glory of God--and something of Bach's own inner life and imaginative energy.

Current: Chapter 6, Third Sequence; Cantatas 178, 94, 101, 113; Interlocking Design
Next: Chapter 7, Fourth Sequence; Cantatas 33, 78, 98, 130; The Metaphorical Apex

William Hoffman wrote (August 17, 2014):
Cantata 137/Topic: Hidden Allegorical Links, Trinity Chorale Cantatas

The seen and the unseen: Hidden allegorical links in the Trinity season chorale cantatas of J. S. Bach by Gingrich, M. Linda, D.M.A., University of Washington, 2008, 146; 3303284

Current: Chapter 6, Third Sequence; Cantatas 178, 94, 101, 113; Interlocking Design
Next: Chapter 7, Fourth Sequence; Cantatas 33, 78, 98, 130; The Metaphorical Apex

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 18, 2014):
Cantata BWV 137 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 137 “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren” for the 12th 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 3 trumpets, timpani, 3 oboes, 2 violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (27):
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 137 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on theBCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.


BWV 137 Vocal Cover

Johannes Flecker wrote (July 7, 2015):
Thanks for doing this website!

Cantata BWV 137 “Lobe den Herrn” is one of my favorite ones. I did a vocal cover of the chorus for 14 pieces. I thought you might like it:

Cantata BWV 137: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 09:14