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Cantata BWV 138
Warum betrübst du dich, mein Hertz?
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Discussions in the Week of September 13, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (September 12, 2015):
Cantata BWV 138, 'Warum betrübst du dich,' Intro.; Trinity 15 Chorales

Chorale Cantata BWV 138, “Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?” (Why do you cause distress to yourself, my heart?) for the 15th Sunday after Trinity, September 5, 1723, was first performed at the early service of Nikolaikirchke, before the sermon on the gospel, Matthew 6:23-34 (Sermon on the Mount, Avoid worldly cares), says Martin Petzoldt in his Bach Commentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Time Sundays.1 The seven-movements running almost 20 minutes are a dialogue between the soloists representing anxiety and the chorus representing belief. It is scored for four voices with an orchestra of 2 oboi d’amore, 2 violins, viola, continuo.2

Cantata 138 is based on an anonymous hymn (previously attributed to Hans Sachs) reflection on the gospel. It is found in Das neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) No. 275, as a pulpit/communion hymn for Trinity 15. It is an omnes tempore hymn under the thematic category "Of the Cross: Persecution and Tribulation," for Trinity 7, 9, and 15. Sunday. It also is found in other hymnbooks under the categories Wider aller Welt Sorge [“Against All the Cares of the World”] and Vom christlichen Leben und Wandel [“About the Christian Way of Life and Its Changes”]. Chorale Text and Francis Browne’s English translation are found at BCW, The chorale melody, and Bach’s uses are found at BCW,

Readings for the 15th Sunday after Trinity are: Epistle, Galatians 5: 25-6:10, “The fruits of the Spirit”; Gospel, Matthew 6:23-34 (Sermon on the Mount, Avoid worldly cares); full texts,, The German text is that of Luther’s translation published in 1545, the English is the Authorised (King James) Version 1611. The Introit Psalm for the 15th Sunday after Trinity is Psalm 23, Dominus regit me (The Lord is my Shepherd), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 438). The full text KJV, is on-line at There is no record of Bach performing a Latin polyphonic motet setting of Psalm 23 as the Introit Psalm. One of the three chorales for pulpit and communion hymns for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in the NLGB is “Der Herr ist mein Hirt” (The Lord is my shepherd

Three Chorale Choruses

An experimental hybrid chorale cantata that is unique in Bach’s works has three different chorale chorus musical settings: troped chorale fantasia in plain setting, troped chorale fantasia with polyphonic chorale setting, and extended plain chorale chorus with interludes between lines.

An opening chorale fantasia where the tenor enters alone to sing the first line, followed by the full homophonic chorus with extended interludes between the second and third lines, then an alto troped recitative with strings, “Ach, ich bin arm” (Ah, I am poor), singing original text from an unknown librettist, concluding with the four-part plain setting of the final two lines.

Following a secco bass recitative (no. 2), “Ich bin veracht'” I am despised), the third movement opens with a four-part setting of the first three lines of chorale Stanza 2, “Er kann und will dich lassen nicht” (He can and will not abandon you), followed by a troped recitative for soprano and strings, “Ach, wie?” (Ah, how?), followed by a polyphonic setting of the final two lines of Stanza 2, “Dein Vater und dein Herre Gott” (Your father and the Lord your God), followed by another recitative trope, alto with strings, “Ich bin verlassen” (I am forsaken), closing with a choral repeat of the final two lines in polyphony.

Following the traditional tenor secco recitative (no. 4), “Ach süßer Trost! Wenn Gott mich nicht verlassen” (Ah, sweet consolation! If God is not willing to abandon me) where the mood shifts from distress to joy, the centerpiece of Cantata 138, the work’s only aria (no. 5), for bass and strings in minuet-style, “Auf Gott steht meine Zuversicht” (On God depends my confidence), comes a traditional alto recitative (no. 6),”Ei nun! / So will ich auch recht sanfte ruhn”(So then! I shall rest completely at peace), and closing with the third stanza set as an elaborated chorale chorus, “Weil du mein Gott und Vater bist” (Since you are my God and Father) in four- part harmony, reminiscent of the chorale chorus, “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Cantata 147, presented two months before for the Feast of the Visitation).

Cantata 138: Bach’s Motives, Methods

Bach’s motives and methods are questioned in Julian Mincham’s Commentary Introduction to Cantata 138, Chapter 18 BWV 138 Warum betrübst du dich mein Herz, <<Bach often seems to adhere to a plan for a limited period of three or four weeks before striking out in new and unexpected ways. After the solo cantata C 199 he produced a trio of works identical in structure: Cs 69a, 77 and 25 all with paired recitatives and arias between the opening chorus and closing chorale. Did he tire of producing ′stock patterns′ of this kind? Did he have a desire to keep the music fresh by constantly presenting the congregations with new and unexpected forms? Or did he make use of a particular format simply because he judged it ideally suited to a particular text? We know very little of his input into the shapes of the libretti apart from an occasional surviving example of alterations in his own hand. Did he discuss them, add or reject lines or stanzas or play any positive part in their choice and initial development? All we know is that the texts had to be vetted, approved and printed some time in advance of the Sunday performances so Bach would have been thinking out his compositional strategies well ahead of the performance dates.

Whatever his reasons, there is no doubt that after three weeks of sticking to a clearly defined format, Bach decided to deliver something quite different from anything he had hitherto presented in Leipzig. Both first and second movements of C 138 are highly innovative combinations of chorus, chorale and recitative, the last of which, in fact, dominates the entire cantata. There is, quite unusually, only one aria. Bach′s experiments with the integration of chorus and recitative continued further in the startlingly original cantata of the following week, C 95, but thereafter he returned to more established patterns. Could it have been that it was indicated to him that his innovative structures were not to the taste of his conservative congregations?>>

Trinity 15 Cantatas: ‘Rich Darkness’

Cantata 138 offers music that is representative of Trinity 15, with a “rich darkness” with “shafts of light, says John Elliot Gardiner in his 2004 liner notes to the Bach 2000 Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.4 “Some of Bach’s cantata music contains more darkness than light; but in the case of those cantatas that he composed for Trinity 15 it is a deep, rich darkness with shafts of light that are both subtle and brilliant. BWV 138 Warum betrübst du dich is a case in point: a poignant work from Bach’s first Leipzig cycle, it charts the beleaguered Christian’s journey from profound distress of mind and soul, punctuated by (choral) injunctions to hold fast, to an eventual solidity of faith. The cantata’s structure has come in for some harsh criticism: Philipp Spitta (1881) found it unintelligible that ‘two chorale movements treated in various ways [sho] follow consecutively’ (but why not?), while Albert Schweitzer (1911) felt ‘that Bach had set to work on it without any very clear plan’.

“I found that these strictures largely disappear in performance. There is no question that BWV 138 is a highly original, experimental work, one that is simultaneously archaic, especially in the motet-like writing in Nos 1 and 2 (which put one in mind of his early Mühlhausen and Weimar pieces), and modern in Bach’s way of grappling with three successive stanzas of a sixteenth-century chorale, in anticipation of the chorale-based cantatas of his second Leipzig cycle. It is a clever device which allows him to pile on the tension between anxiety (the solo recitative interjections) and belief (the choral delivery of the hymn stanzas). The cantata’s turning-point occurs midway – a dawning realisation that God will come to the believer’s rescue (in No.3), with an outspoken declaration of trust in His providential care (in No.4). The elaborate fantasia in 6/8 for the final chorale is a perfect – and well-planned – counterbalance to the gloom and distress of the opening movements.

Cantata 138 “marks the first of Bach's experiments in intermingling chorale verses with recitatives, arias and ariosos to a variety of modern texts. For this reason this composition serves as precursor to the whole group of chorale cantatas of later years. The chorale on which the piece is based is the anonymous chorale Warum betrübst du dich. mein Herz? (1561). The librettist has selected the initial three verses from the original 14-verse chorale, matching them with free verse to create a text with significant inner drama; the text states the suffering of mankind, which cannot turn from concern with worldy treasure, amplifying the chorale. It goes without saying that this presupposition is also found in the Gospel reading for this day (Matthew 6, vv. 24-34, 'Take no thought of clothing or food; seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness'). With wonderful changes and contrasts. Bach's music describes how dependence on God brings relief from suffering.

“Movement 1 is a chorale and recitative (B minor, 4/4). The choral setting of the first verse of the chorale is interwoven with alto and tenor recitative. The B minor music uses many dissonances and a descending chromatic line in the bass (bass lamento) to reflect the 'anxiety' of this world, and the oboe d'amore is active with a presentation of the previous chorale melody and characteristic motifs.

“Movement 2 begins with a bass recitative. This world daily fare of sighs and tears is described through out the harmony of harsh dissonances. At this point the chorale disappears (B minor, 4/4). Entwined with the chorale that sings of God's blessing filling heaven and earth is a recitative (soprano, alto) on the subject of the impoverished and lonely 'self'. Very similar in concept to No. l, it is still more concise. In the second half, the chorus strengthens the polyphonic activity.

“As we enter the third movement (tenor recitative), faith in God converts anxiety to comfort. A joyful G major is established, and leads into the following aria. This bass aria (No. 4, D major, 3/4) is in minuet form and punctuated with the 'joy motif' (Schweitzer). The cantata, which starts in deep sorrow, now arrives at brightest conviction. This music was later revised for the Mass in G Major, BWV 236.

“In a short recitative (No.5), the alto bids a complete farewell to worry. At the end. the chorale reappears a third time (No. 6, B minor. 6/8). Weaving into the flow of a rich orchestral accompaniment, the chorale sings of unshakeable faith in God.”

“A musical setting of theology,” emphasizing death and dying is described in Philippe Herreweghe’s 1998 liner notes on Harmonia Mundi.5 “The texts of Bach’s cantatas embrace a very wide range of subjects, from the jubilant praise of God to the contrite confession of human sinfulness. One of the principal themes that seemed to fascinate Bach (and his contemporaries) was the constantly recurring reflection on death and dying. The subject of death, which has to a large extent become a taboo in modern society and is banished from our immediate experience, was, in Bach’s time, a phenomenon with which people found themselves confronted from day to day. The task of providing comfort and understanding in the face of death was mainly undertaken by the church, and it is in the sense of a kind of musical setting of an aspect of theology that Bach’s cantatas should be understood.”

A variety of topics are explored in-depth in the first two BCML Discussions of Cantata 138. “Whittaker's Viewpoint of the aria for Bass” is found in Part 1, In Part 2,, Stephen A. Crist’s Cantata 138 commentary from the OCC: JSB is cited by Thomas Braatz, and there is Peter Smaill ‘s (October 9, 2005) insight, as well as Braatz’s “BWV 138/4 Parody Comparison.”

Cantatas and Chorales for Trinity 156

The cantatas Bach performed in Leipzig for the 15th Sunday after Trinity suggest a most well-ordered plan fostering the later Trinity Time repetition of popular chorales blended with didactic poetry that emphasize triumph through struggle in the most varied musical forms and structures.

The music ranges from the 1723 inaugural, experimental hybrid chorale Cantata BWV 138, “Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?,” with its early Reformation hymn; to the iconic Trinity Time newer hymn, “Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan” (What God does, that is well done) in Cantatas BWV 99 and 100; on to the popular, Handelian gallant soprano tour de force – and utilitarian – Cantata BWV 51, “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” (Praise God in all the lands); and finally – when all is well-done and well–sung, a cantor’s holiday with two very palatable cantatas of Bach’s popular colleague from Gotha, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, in the mid-1730s.

Along the way, Bach may have relied on a collaboration to provide varied poetic perspectives on the Sunday’s Gospel of the Sermon on the Mount teaching of “God and Possession” (Matthew 6:23-45) and its theological underpinning, the Christian core teaching, “Care not for worldly goods.” 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 third group of original chorale cantatas whose work began with the 13th Sunday After Trinity and dominated from Christmas 1724 to Lent 1725 when Bach ceased to compose chorale cantatas set to paraphrased texts. Meanwhile Bach found respite and renewal through repetition and variation of hymns and a serendipitous convergence of the Feast of St. Michael on the 15th Sunday After Trinity, Sept. 29, 1726, indicative of Bach the Recycler.

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 15: Matthew 6:23-34, Teaching: Avoid worldly cares if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! * 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.

The Gospel and Bach’s treatment through chorales and poetic text in the cantata as a musical sermon shows that the 15th Sunday after Trinity is the culmination of the third Trinity Time mini-cycle of New Testament teachings on the “Works of Faith and Love,” that is, the meaning of being a Christian, says Paul Zeller Strodach in The Church Year.7 During this time from the 12th to the 18th Sunday after Trinity, the lectionary presents affirmative teachings of parable and miracles, and the Lutheran hymnbook prescribes thematic <omnes tempore> timely hymns first introduced in the early TriniTime and repeated once or twice in cyclic fashion for particular Sundays that occur primarily between mid August and late September. The Gospel reading from the Sermon on the Mount about Christian Life and Conduct emphasizes contentment through abundance harmonized with action through service (Strodach: 228). This third cycle is a progression of Trinity Time quarterly Sundays of six each from the cycle of the Kingdom of Grace and the Call, to the cycle of the New Life of Righteousness, to the current cycle of the Life of Action defining the Christian.

Bach’s Trinity 15 Calendar

For the record in Leipzig, Bach was particularly active on this 15th Sunday after Trinity. Besides Cantata 138, here are the cantatas Bach probably presented and their chorales:

A. First performed on Sept. 17, 1724 (Cycle 2); Chorale Cantata BWV 99, “Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan II” (What God does, that is well done) was written by Samuel Rodigast in 1675, melody by Severus Gastorius in the 1690 Nürnberg hymnbook. It has six stanzas of eight lines each. (ABABCCDD). A newer hymn, it is not found in the 1682 NLGB but is found in the Dresden hymn schedules in Bach’s time for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, says Günther Stiller in JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.8 It is still found in the current <Evangelical Lutheran Worship> hymnbook as No. 776, “What God Ordains Is Good Indeed” (8787877 syllables per line) under the heading “Trust, Guidance.” It is listed under “Cross and Comfort” as No. 521, “What God Ordains Is Always Good,” in the 1941 Concordia <Luthern Hymnal> (Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod). The dictum, “Was Gott tut, das its wohlgetan,” opens each stanza. 1. Chorale chorus (S.1) concerto; . . . “Es bleint gerecht sine Wille” (His will remains just), reused as Cantata BWV 100/1. 6. Plain chorale (S.6) . . . “Dabei will ich verbleiben” (I will abide by that).

B. On Sept. 9, 1725 for Cycle 2a, it is possible that Bach reperformed Cantata BWV 99, opening with the plain chorale setting using Stanza 1.

C. On Sept. 29, 1726 for Cycle 3, the Feast of St. Michael fell on Trinity 15, when Bach presented Cantata BWV 19, “Es erhub sich sein Streit” (There arose a strife), text after Picander (1724/25). The original score source critical evidence for Cantata BWV 51 (c. 1730) suggests an interesting genesis: Bach planned a soprano solo cantata for the third cycle, perhaps for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in 1726, then set aside his sketches to compose Cantata BWV 19, then he took it up and crafted it for another birthday cantata for the Duke of Weißenfels (23 February ?1729; see Alfred Dürr’s Cantatas of JSB,9 perhaps with Anna Magdalena; finally, under the spell of the gallant stylistic trend, especially in Dresden, about 1730, Bach parodied the text (?using Picander) with allusions to the 15th Sunday after Trinity) and added the closing acrobatic “Allelujah,” preceded by the soprano chorale aria.

D. On Sept. 21, 1727, there was no performance during the mourning period of Sept. 7, 1727, to Jan. 8, 1728, for deceased Saxon Queen Christiane Eberhardine.

E. On Sept. 5, 1728 in the published Picander so-called Cycle 4, the Cantata text P-58 is entitled “Arm und dennoch frölich sein” (Poor yet be joyous). It closes with No. 6, plain chorale (S.12), “Ich leb' indes in Gott vergnüget” (Meanwhile I live content in God) from “Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende” (Who knows how near is my end), text by Ämilie Juliane von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt in 1688, set to the associated chorale melody, “Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten” (Who only dear God lets reign), of Georg Neumark in 1657. It appears as a plain chorale, BWV 434 A Minor/Major, and opens Cantata BWV 27 for Trinity 16 in 1726, as another polyphonic chorale chorus with interpolated recitative, and will be in the coming BCW Discussion for the week of March 25. A contemporary hymn, it does not appear in the 1682 NLGB.

F. About Sept. 17, 1730 in the undesignated, miscellaneous Cycle 5, solo Cantata BWV 51, “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” (Praise God in all the lands) was first performed. A variant text revision, Cantata BWV 51a, may have been performed between 1732 and 1735. The chorale usage is in No. 4 soprano canto aria (S. 5), “Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren” (Be honor and praise with glory) from “Nun lob nein Seel” (Now praise my soul), by Johann Graumann 1548. The author of the cantata text is unknown, possibly a collaboration of Thomas church pastor Christian Weiss Sr. and Bach.

G. On Oct. 3, 1734 (year according to John Elliot Gardiner, Ibid.) pure-hymn (<per omnes versus) Cantata BWV 100, “Was Gott tut, das its wohl getan III” (What God does, that is well done), was inaugurated. It was repeated about 1737 and about 1742. The hymn has been variously designated for Trinity 6, 15, and 21 as well as <per ogni tempo> for anytime, and for weddings. Cantata 100 is listed for the 15th Sunday after Trinity (after 1732) in the Karl Richter Archiv 1978 recordings of “Bach’s Cantatas for the middle Sundays after Trinity” (Sixth to the 17th Sunday). “We do not know for which Sunday Bach intended the work, but like BWV 98 it is perfectly suited for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, whose Gospel contains the passage “Sorget nicht” [care not] (Matthew VI, 24-34) from the sermon on the Mount,” says Martin Cooper’s translation of Walter Blankenburg’s recording notes.

H. On Sept. 18, 1735, Bach performed Stözel’s two-part cantata “Sorgen sind die Steine” (Cares are the stones); from cycle “Saitenspiele des Hertzens” (String Music of the Heart), text by Benjamin Schmolck, with two chorale settings:

4. Plain chorale “Laß 0 Hertze dein Betrüben” (Let O heart thy concerns), poet unknown (?Schmolck, who wrote choral texts), with the melody, “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Rejoice greatly, O my soul), Psalm 42 chorale, NLGB No. 358; and

8. Plain chorale “Verlieh das ich stehts nach deinem Reiche dringe” (Grant that I stand petitioning in thy kingdom), S.5, Herzallerleiebster Gott, der du mir dieses Leben ” (All beloved God, you who me this life) 1661, with the melody, “O Gott, du frommer Gott” (O God, Thou very God), <omnes tempore> “Morning Song,” NLGB 202/

I. About Sept. 9, 1736; Bach may have performed Stözel’s two-part cantata “Ich bin arm und elend, der Herr aber sorget für mir” (I am poor and wretched, the Lord yet cares for me), from cycle “Das Namenbuch Christi,” (Book of Names of Christ), Schmolck text, No. 57. No chorales are listed in the sources.

Provenance: Estate Division, Performances After 1750

In the estate division among Bach’s heirs in 1750, the Cantata 138 surviving score was found in Emmanuel’s 1789 estate division, while the parts set, presumably inherited by Friedemann, is lost. Chorale Cantata 99 materials survive as part of the inheritance of the second (chorale) cantata cycle: Friedemnn receiving the score and Anna Magdalena the parts set. Cantata 51 materials survive with Friedemann receiving the score and Emmanuel the parts set.

Two of these cantatas, BWV 51 and 99, were presented later by others. Perhaps before 1750, Friedemann Bach presented “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” at the Halle Marienkirche for an unspecified feast day, as part of being Halle director of music. He added parts for a second trumpet and timpani, similar to the scoring in Cantata BWV 80, “Ein feste Burg ist under Gott” (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) for a Reformation Festival in 1761-63. With advocacy from his father, Friedemann assumed the post in May 1746 and presented at least 20 cantatas of his father, most of which he inherited in 1750 (Peter Wollny, “W.F.B.’s Halle performances of cantatas of his father.10 On Sept. 21, 1755, Cantata BWV 99, “Was Gott tut II,” was performed by Bach student and St. Thomas Choir Prefect Christian Friedrich Penzel, who copied the score from the original performing parts set on August 25, 1755, according to Penzel’s notes.

NLGB Chorales for Trinity 15

Bach made use in his music of three of the four chorales assigned for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) des Gottfried Vopelius 1682.11 Two are for various Trinity Time Sundays: the “Cross Hymn,” "Wbetrübst du meinen Herz” (Why troublest thou thyself, my heart?), found in hybrid chorale Cantata BWV 138, same title, for the same Sunday (Trinity 15), and the “Lord’s Prayer” hymn-setting, “Vater unser im Himmelreich,” the Martin Luther text set to various melodies in Bach’s cantatas and organ chorale preludes, mostly for <omnes tempore> Trinity Time. The third hymn is based on the chorale settings of Psalm 23, “Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt (The Lord is my trusting Shepherd) in three Easter Season cantatas (BWV 85, 104, 112).

The fourth designated chorale, “Verzage nicht o frommer Christen, der du von Gott” (Fear not, O devout Christian, you who from God), is also a “Cross Hymn” on the theme of “Persecution and Tribulation,” and closely related in sentiment to various other hymns in that category, especially to the next one in the NLGB (No. 283), “Frisch auf, mein Seel, verzage nicht” (Cheer up, my soul, fear not), the tune of which Bach planned to set in his< Orgelbüchlein> (Little Organ Book).

A. HYMN OF DAY (de tempore)
“Vater unser im Himmelreich” (Our Father in the Heavenly Kingdom, Lord’s Prayer), NLGB No. 175, is a Catechism hymn and is the most designated <omnes tempore> chorale in the NLGB for Epiphany 3, Septuagesima, and Trinity 5, 7, 11, and 22. For details, see: BCW:, Luther’s Lord’s Prayer.

B. CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns:
1. "Warum betrübst du meinen Herz” (Why do you cause distress to yourself, my heart?); NLGB No. 275, is an omnes tempore hymn under the thematic category "Of the Cross: Persecution and Tribulation," for Trinity 7, 9, and 15. For details, see, Bach’s Trinity 15 Calendar 15; and BCW, Chorales from Bach Cantatas for 7th Sunday after Trinity.
2. Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt (The Lord is my trusting Shepherd, Psalm 23:1) is one of two NLGB settings Bach used in cantatas for the Second Sunday after Easter (<Misericordias Domini>) but are found in the Trinity Time <omne tempore section>. Both use the German Mass Gloria melody, "Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr'" (To God alone on high be glory), of Nickolaus Decius (1522). Neither communion hymn is designated in the NLGB for a particular service in the church year but often are sung during <omnes tempore> services, such as the Third Sunday in Trinity where the Gospel lesson relates to lost sheep. NLGB No. 252, "Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, hält mir," (The Lord is my faithful shepherd, he holds me) Wolfgang Meusel, (1530), 5 stanzas, Chorale Cantata BWV 112; text translation Francis Browne, BCW, The other, NLGB No. 251,"Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, dem ich" (The Lord is my faithful shepherd, in whom I) Stanza 1 only, Cornelius Becker (1598), opening chorale fantasia, BWV104/6 (S.1), and soprano aria, BWV 85/3 (S.1).
3. “Verzage nicht o frommer Christ, der du von Gott” (Fear not, O devout Christian, you who from God) is first found “Included as one of Drey schöne geistliche Lieder, Constanz, 1607, in 22 stanzas of 5 lines, and thence in Mützell, No. 584; Wackernagel, v. p. 427; and the Unverfälschter Liedersegen , 1851, No. 581. Sometimes erroneously ascribed to Nicolaus Herman;” source: Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630), set the hymn as an SATB motet in Cantional oder Gesangbuch Augspurgischer Confession (4, 5 or 6 voices), Verlag des Autors; Leipzig 1627. Dédicacé au maire et au Conseil de Leipzig. Augmenté en 1645 : « mit 27 schönen Gsgn. vermehr », J. Schuste, Leipzig 1645. It is listed in the as NLGB No. 282, <omnes tempore> “Of the Cross: Persecution and Tribulation" (Trust in God), reference Matthew 16:21-28 (Jesus speaks about his suffering and death), Zahn melody 1712. The next hymn in NLGB, No. 283, “Frisch auf, mein Seel, verzage nicht” (Cheer up, my soul, fear not), is listed in the Weimar <Orgelbüchlein> as No. 103 (Christian Life and Conduct) but not set. The NLGB describes this as another sacred song from the spoken word, “Who God trusts has built well,” using the J. H. Schein eight stanza version for SATB, with Zahn melody 7578. No texts could be found.

Thus Bach’s Leipzig hymn book, the NLGB, continues in the later Trinity Time to repeat familiar topical hymns, as well as introduce popular Psalm hymns for their first and only designated use, as well as lesser-known hymns with important teachings.

Bach’s Erhard Bodenschatz Florilegium Portense,12 polyphonic motet collection contains Sethus Calvisius (Thomas cantor, 1594-1615) setting Quaerite Primum (8 voices) of the Gospel, Matt. Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV). Another setting of Quaerite Primum (6 voices) is Nicolas Zangius (1570-1619. The Collection of motets is for Introit, Before Sermon at mass and vespers for Choir II, and During Communion. See Calvisius BCW Short Biography, (1556-1615),


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: 430).
2Cantata 138, BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [1.98 MB],; Score BGA [2.09 MB], References: BGA XXVIII (Cantatas 131-140, Wilhelm Rust 1881), NBA KB I/22 (Trinity 15 cantatas, Matthias Wendt 1988), Bach VCompendium BC A 132, Zwang K 43.
3 Mincham, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
4 Gardiner notes,[sdg104_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details,
5 Hereweghe’s notes from BCW Recording details,
6 Source material from BCW Motets& Chorales for 15th Sunday after Trinity,
7 Strodach, The Church Year (United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA, 1924: 216).
8 Stiller, JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis, Concordia, 1984: 246).
9 Dürr, Cantatas of JSB (Oxford Univ. Press 2005: 540),
10 Wollny, “W.F.B.’s Halle performances of cantatas of his father, Bach Studies 2, ed. Daniel Melamed, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995: 202-230).
11 BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682)", Berlin: Merseburger, 1969.
12 BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION, Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense" Schünigen: Kaminsky, 1927

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 14, 2015):
Cantata BWV 138 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of Cantata BWV 138 "Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?" (Why do yocause distress to yourself, my heart?) for the 15th 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 d'amore, 2 violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (17):
Recordings of Individual Movements (4):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

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

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 138 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.

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


Cantata BWV 138: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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 09:14