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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 143
Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of July 26, 2009

William Hoffman wrote (July 26, 2009):
Week of July 26, 2009: BWV 143: Fugitive Notes

Cantata 143: Fugitive Notes:

Below are some of my notes on both all the works Bach possibly performed on New Year's Day (in whatever settings) and Cantata BWV 143.

The first is a summary of the New Year's works Bach may have presented, including pieces at Köthen. One of these, Cantata BWV 134a, we will discuss next week. I will add some notes on both the secular works (serenades) and the pieces for the sacred observance that may have occurred on the same day at church. The latter works often involve either music previously written in Weimar (BWV 199, BWV 172) or possibly initiated in Köthen (BWV 145, BWV 193, BWV 190, BWV 32). The sources primarily involve Neumann's Cantata Handbuch and Smend's Bach in Köthen.

I have reviewed the previous BCW discussion of BWV 143 and am impressed with the research Thomas Braatz has done, particularly with sources and compositional technique, so that we can get a better understanding of the elements in the work that may or may not reflect Bach's hand and mind.

In the coming days of discussion, I want to present wide-ranging commentary and pursue various threads.

Initially, I would suggest that in the context of Bach's total New Year's efforts, we may have in BWV 143 what I call a Bach "proto-cantata," meaning "beginning" or "first-formed." These would be early works, in progress, where we have no original manuscript or sketches, only remnants of surviving parts copies or source-critical indications in later manuscripts suggesting changes.

With BWV 143, the situation is complicated (a box of pandoras?) by a lack of source documents connected in some manner to Bach. Thus, conversely, we may have in BWV 143, a work with an intermediary or imposed foreign hand. The best examples are the Bach organ chorale preludes, mostly transmitted by his students or copyists with the result in a particular piece that we have many traces of Bach's hand but some possibly by students who were studying with Bach -- thus a "mixed bag," so to speak.

I would even suggest BWV 143 might be an example of Bach preserving an earlier work and having his students dissect and learn from it or something which he toyed with to enable him to perfect his later cantatas, a self-test piece.

Meanwhile. Some of the BWV 143 topics I hope to pursue, casting a wide net, include similarities and differences involving Bach's New Year's efforts, Bach's use of the chorale "Du Friedefürst," text sources and comparisons with Bach cantatas composed at the same presumed time, contemporary stylistic and compositional technique involving Bach chorale-based compositions such as organ chorale preludes, and other related issues involving Bach possible motive, method, and opportunity involving contexts and connections.

NEW YEAR'S DAY: NAME OF JESUS, FEAST OF CIRCUM.* (NBA KB I/4, Neumann 1964)
Gospel, Luke 2: 21 (Jesus Named, Circumcised); Epistle, Galatians 3: 23-29 (One in Christ)

Date(Cy.) BWV Title Type
1708-14 BWV 143 Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele II Chorus, sacred
=====================================================================
?1/1/17-23 (BWV 199) Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut Solo, sacred
?1/1/17-23 (BWV 172) Erschallet, ihr Lieder...erklinget Chorus, sacred
?1/1/17-23 BWV 145a title unknown ?
?1717-23 BWV 193 (b) title unknown ?
??1717-23 BWV 190 (b) Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied ?
??1/1/17-23 BWV 32a Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen ?
=====================================================================
??1717-23 (BWV 143) Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele II
?1/1/18 BWV Anh. 197 Ihr wallenden Wolken Secular, lost
?1/1/19 BWV 134a Die Zeit, die Tag, die Jahre macht secular, parodied
?1/1/20 BWV Anh. 6 Dich loben die lieblichen Strahlen der Sonne Secular, parodied
1/1/21 BWV 194(b) title unknown Secular, parodied
1/1/22 BWV 184a title unknown Secular, parodied
1/1/23 BWV Anh. 8 title unknown ?= BWV 184a secular, ?parodied
=====================================================================
1/1/24(1) BWV 190 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied Chorus
1/1/25(2) BWV 41 Jesu, nun gepreiset Chorale
1/1/26(3) BWV 16 Herr Gott, dich loben wir Chorus
1/1/27 BWV 225 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied Motet
1728-35 (BWV 143) Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele II repeat
?1/1/29(4) BWV 171 (P9) Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm Chs, parody
?1/1/29-35 Gehet zu seinen Thoren ein J.F. Fasch
1/1/31 (BWV 16) Herr Gott, dich loben wir repeat
1732-35 (BWV 41) Jesu, nun gepreiset repeat
1/1/35(5) BWV 248IV Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Leben* Chorus, Parody
?c1736-37(BWV 171) Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm repeat
1736-39 (BWV 190) Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied repeat
1/1/49 (BWV 16) Herr Gott, dich loben wir repeat

NEW YEAR: BWV 143, Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele II [Chorus]
?1708-14; ?? 1717-23; 1728-35 (Cycle ?, repeat); original text with additions;
authenticity questioned.
Sources: (3) score copy "Kirchwey 1762", to H. W. Stoltze.
Literature: BG XXX (Waldersee 1884); NBA KB I/4 (Neumann 1964), 111 ff; Whittaker II:221-5; Robertson 39 f, Young 141-3; Dürr Mf 1977 299-303, Cantatas 160-62.
Text: #1, 3, 5, 7, Ps. 145; #2, 7, Ebert cle. "Du Friedefürst" ("Thou Prince of Peace") (S. 1, 3); #4, 6, ?Bach or C. Weiss.
Forces: TB, 4 vv, 3 hns, timp., bn. str, bc.
Movements: chorus, 2 chorales, recit.(T), 3 arias (T, B, T).
1. Chs. (tutti): Praise the Lord, my Soul (Ps. 146:1).
2. Cle. (S,vns): Thou Peace-Prince, Lord Jesus Christ (Cle.).
3. Rec.(T): Well for him...who help...God...is (Ps. 146:5).
4. Aria (T,str,bn): ...we are a blessing year.
5. Aria(B,tutti): The Lord is King everlasting (Ps. 146:10).
6. Aria(T,str,bn): Jesus, Saviour of the flock (cle. instr.).
7. Cle.(tutti): Think, Lord Jesus, on Thy ministry (ATB, "Hallelujah," Ps. 146:10) (?revised after 1723).

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 26, 2009):
A preludes' prelude

Aryeh's respectful solicitation and benevolent disposition to enlist me during six weeks are the pertinent reasons to introduce myself; for, as honest as possible, I am nothing, and even ask some extra generosity from the refined reader, to compensate the involuntary inadequacy of an outlandish writer, whose struggle to please the considerate list members suffers his inability. From sympathy, no vehement criticism will follow; and magnanimity will not disapprove that, myself whenever I write, I dare to write here. For it is my confidence that a positive reaction will be like those affects the composer certainly aimed to express and conduct soli Deo gloria. Incidentally, my approach is existentially captured from Bach's motto, which has increased in me since 1985, when, abandoning a philosophical-atheistic attitude, I searched for a music to express my new existential posture.

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 26, 2009):
July 26, 2009: Introductory remarks on Cantata 143

I will divide my introductions to BWV 143 as follows:

1. Sunday:
Authenticityof BWV 143, a bridle to the speculative chariot
2. Monday:
A word on simplicity, and on the uncommon simplicity of BWV 143 in relation to the "soli Deo gloria" as an existential principle
3. Tuesday:
Do those Bible readings associated to BWV 143 still concern us?
4. Wednesday:
A consequent exposition of Cantata 143 for those interested in apprehend it existentially before the future

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 26, 2009):
1. Authenticity of BWV 143, a bridle to the speculative chariot

Speculation may confound science a good deal, and usually forms the imaginary stratum from a system of apparent knowledge, primarily fancifully made. We do not even understand the allurement encountered in such figments, but it seems as if, electing doubt as a starting point, a variety of erudition goes from one doubt to another in search for an illusory certainty. Anyway, and although the nature of such a cogitative affect is not found in any cantata whatsoever, its uncertain nature is not nevertheless uncommon. In fact, it should even be observed, in a legion of available instances, that an author is positively the writer of his books until an erudite sows the first hesitation. After this shifting point, such an irresolution provides the speculative food for thought, that huge mass of conjectural writings promoted till the work's essential point be completely lost in the ocean of academic speculation. In like a manner, an indecision on ascribing BWV 143 to Bach has supplemented much food for the subject, but let us not be so satisfied with its quality, and since speculation is like an insalubrious sweet that spoils the meal, furthermore usually not even tasty. No, let us not act likewise, and inasmuch as, in trying to fathom the infinitude of the uncertainty and imaginary, we will probably neglect what is certain and cardinal.

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 27, 2009):
2. A word on simplicity...

2. A word on simplicity, and on the uncommon simplicity of BWV 143 in relation to the "soli Deo gloria"
as an existential principle

A salutary way of expression does not aim at expressing the authenticity of authorship, as if an artist who expressed something was above all interested to express that HE expressed it, this SOMETHING being nothing for him, nothing else than a way of egotripping, an ordinary target that merely prompts narrowness to restrain from art and richness of expression, and since it was fairly said that if the eminent wise had something else to do, it was a due time to invite those simple and illiterate to laud him who is indeed laudable. In fact, if a highly developed music structure cannot prompt the distinguished ones to eulogize nothing more than the structure, it is not surprising that less than an unpretentious music is honoring God nowadays. For a worthy method is certainly fair, inasmuch as it does not overshadow the end. Indeed, if we did not forget to will the end, we would not need to be reminded of it; and if there were no risk of being captured by the means, the composer would not need to verbalize his intention of solely glorifying the end. Yes! If the unexpected use of horns and timpani suggests the exuberant kingship of Jesus, it aims to celebrate his royalty rather than the medium of expressing the highest sovereignty. Similarly, the concise chorus, the archaic forms, and whatever the means are, they would be feckless without the end. But when "soli Deo gloria" is the existential principle involved, it is undoubtedly significant to take such a promotion seriously.

He who promotes God's glory, as sacred cantatas themselves was designed to, cannot expect notoriety when God himself is not popular. Moreover, trying to be the public's favorite cannot be the aim of maturity, being rather a concern of childish teenagers. For even if the Father seeks worshippers who worship him in spirit and in truth, he is certainly not interested in a prestige easily gained by losing the qualities of respectability. He who promotes God's glory in truth is not easily heard, but since it would not avail to be received by cheapening the price, as God himself does not seek untruthful and fleshly worshippers, no one shall truly serve him without this consolation, that the prophets were not received because, beforehand, God himself is not popular, being generally a misled clergy that tends mistakenly to seek popularity by turning God largely approved through misrepresentation. To the same extent, and as an existential principle, "soli Deo gloria" finds in hypocrisy an insidious antagonist, for precisely hypocrisy spoils God's glory and nurtures distrust, being hypocrisy a large chapter in ecclesiastic history, particularly in peaceful times, for a quick praise disembogues in widespread irreverence and distrust. The easy celebration of hypocrisy promotes further blasphemies, being hypocrisy a natural tendency, prevalent both in Jewish and in Christian history as the history of a hollow and passable aspect of the true piety, whose genuine history is lamentably shadowed. Hypocrisy is therefore a darkening, but also an external strength to skepticism, which, paying constant attention to hypocrisy, takes its sap from it and grows along with it. The spectacle of hypocrisy is an usual diet to fearless irreverence, a diet that, after a long time, engenders generalized indifference, which takes the true God as a culture of the past, and believes that no seriousness will care to know him. Let us, nevertheless, rejoice and celebrate the victory of the day, no matters if darkness stretches its shadows, wildly anxious of its long awaited brevity.

William Hoffman wrote (July 27, 2009):
Cantata 143: Fugitive Notes 2

The observance of New Year's Day in Bach'stime was one of the most important festivals, both in the secular and sacred worlds. In Saxony, the regal New Year's Day enabled the Saxon Catholic monarch to bid best-wishes to his subject and realm and its prosperity, especially in Leipzig, and to encourage his primarily Lutheran subjects in a period of religious freedom to celebrate both the sacred and secular.

Bach had observed and participated somewhat less in this duality in his previous tenure in Köthen. There the Calvinist court observed both a secular celebration to honor the court and the land it governed, as well as religious observances, primarily at the Calvinist court church, in deference to the community Lutheran Church. Music did play a role, apparently at both venues, and Bach may have furnished secular serenades as well as sacred cantatas with the most progressive music. The sacred would have had restricted texts containing mostly familiar, acceptable Biblical passages similar to Bach's first cantatas a decade previously in Mühlhausen.

Bach responded in both communities with extensive works, perhaps providing both sacred and profane cantatas on New Year's Day in Köthen from 1718 to 1723. He may have recycled acceptable portions of some of his sacred cantatas written in Weimar between 1712 and 1716. In Leipzig, the liturgical requirements and practices gave Bach a certain degree of flexibility for the New Year's festival. Bach responded with more works for this occasion than any other church service, excepting Christmas Day. New Year's was a pivotal time for the turning of the year, observes Günther Stiller in <JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig> (p.236f). The New Year's Festival was an essential part of the 12-day, six-event Christmas season, which extended to The Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, when the commercial Leipzig Winter Fair began. In fact, Christmas chorales were allowed until the Feast of the Purification, February 2, the earliest date the Lenten season of penitence could begin.

Bach's choices of hymns and texts for New Year's Day was somewhat open, subject to established practice and the sermons to be preached by the resident pastors, who generally soto express the spirit of dual celebration, especially praise and thanksgiving. For hymns, Bach chose familiar general, seasonal, New Year's and Christmas chorales, such as, respectively, "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ" (BWV 143); "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" (BWV 190, BWV 16); the appointed "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset" (BWV 190, BWV 41, BWV 171) and "Helft mir Gotts Gütte preisen" (BWV 16); and "Nun lob mein Seel" (BWV 225).

Interestingly, the exclusively New Year's chorale,"Das alte Jahr vergangen ist," Bach set vocally only the four-part free-standing chorales, BWV 288 and 289, and instrumentally as early church year organ preludes for that appointed day, in the Neumeister Chorale Collection, BWV 1091, which clearly anticipates the later setting in the Orgelbüchlein, BWV 614, composed about 1712-14, says Peter Williams, <The Organ Music of JSB> (rev. 2003, p.546). It is possible that Bach (and his pastors) chose not to use this truly New Year's chorale in Leipzig since it already was a stalwart in Freylinghausen's long-established pietist hymn- and songbook. A Google search of the BCW shows many piano transcriptions of BWV 614 as well an old listing: Thomas Braatz, BCW, Bach Choral repertory, in <Florigelius Portense>, "Sethus Calvisius (Seth Kalwitz) (1556-1615)&#8232; Thomaskantor in Leipzig, represented by 7 motets . . . »Das alte Jahr vergangen ist« . . . for 8 voices from the 1618 collection.." Although the hymn does not appear in the Schemelli song book, it is quite possible that Bach produced the two versions, BWV 288 and 289, for the proposed Schemelli second edition. They show many of the hallmarks of Bach's last chorales: numerous accidentals, shifting tonalities, running bass, elaborate inner voices, and harmonic syncopation. All four organ and voice settings are found together in the Rilling Hänssler Bach edition, No. 78, Book of Chorale Settings (Vol. 1), Advent and Christmas. Enjoy!

So, to make a long story even longer - no, back to our discussion: liturgical requirements and practices. The lessons for New Year's Day are: Gospel, Luke 2:21 (Jesus Named, Circumcised) and Epistle, Galatians 3:23-29 (One in Christ). Turning to Bach's eight extant works for this day, five cantatas (BWV ?143, BWV 190, 41, BWV 16, BWV 171), motet BWV 225, and Christmas Oratorio section, BWV 248IV, only the last composed at the end of 1734, uses one reading: Luke 2:21 the shortest liturgical lection in the church year, found in the brief tenor narrative recitative, No. 2 (BWV 248/37). The many chorales used extensively in Bach's New Year's works contain various biblical illusions.

The appointed readings offer insight into the meaning of New Year's as the joint feast of circumcision and naming. "This very happy and expressive union is distinctively an appointment of the Church of the Reformation," says Paul Zellert Strodach, <The Church Year: Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles and Gospels>, United Lutheran Church, 1924. "The (original Roman Catholic) observance of this Day and its spirit has been wholly intended to be associated with the Christmas Cycle; but as years passed the New Year's Day idea made itself felt, and gradually came into ascendency." Thus the concept of naming, that is signifying individuality and humanity in the world, became the focal point of the general thanksgiving and praise to both divine and profane authority, with the sacred former grounded in the spirit of the Te Deum or praise to the Triune God. Thus the incipits of Bach's New Year's works clearly announce their basic, often psalmic theme: Praise the Lord, my Soul; Sing to the Lord a new Song; Jesus, now be praised; Lord God, we praise Thee; Lord God, as thy Name, so also thy Glory.

As a calculated digression, I would like to point out the connections between Bach's New Year's cantatas and those for the annual installation or inauguration of the town council on the Monday in late August following the Feast of St. Bartolomew. Both celebratory feasts are extensively observed in Bach's vocal music. Bach may have presented town council cantatas annually throughout his Leipzig tenure; his only other annual observance being the Passion Oratorio on Good Friday. Thus Bach's New Year's and Town Council cantatas render both unto Caesar and God, the common principle which may have precipitated Christ's Crucifixion by Roman and Jewish authority.

Specific connections between New Year's and Town Council works, besides the psalmic and instrumental celebration, are significant. Cantata BWV 143 has the same title as Cantatas BWV 69 and BWV 137, thought to have been presented for both the Town Council and adjacent Sundays after Trinity. New Year's Day Cantata BWV 16 begins with the chorale chorus glorious setting of the incipt of Luther's German Te Deum, "Lord God, we praise Thee." It also is set in the first two movements of Bach's first Leipzig New Year's Cantata BWV 190, using the canto instrumentally and vocally, as well as the melody in the closing four-part chorales of Town Council Cantatas BWV 119 and BWV 120. Further, the setting of the bass aria, "The Lord is the eternal King," BWV 143/4, has been compared with the opening chorus of Bach's first and only published cantata, BWV 71, for the Mühlhausen Town Council, February 4, 1708. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that Bach's second annual commissioned cantata for the Mühlhausen Town Council, BWV Anh. 192 (lost), could be a version of Cantata BWV 143? Think about it!

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 28, 2009):
The Bible readings here

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/New-Year-Day.htm

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 28, 2009):
3. Do those bible readings associated to BWV 143 still concern us?

In the battle of cultures, no culture remains but the values of jungle, cunning being its main weapon, and everything, a political party and a faction, a struggle between men and women, white and black, native and immigrant, race and nation, one against the other in a conflict excited and presided by revolting ideological speeches that, after destroying the values, are now trying to change the laws.

Inside out, those still kept under the law undoubtedly valorize it, not trying to change the law, always a disastrous aim. On the other hand, under the law, if we do not deliberately defraud it, we certainly cannot fulfill it, for love alone, in faith, is above the law. This turns to be a highly illusive idea if a person is suppose to take natural love as a premise of being above the law, as if through a romantic one a lover could not turn to be an adulterer, not therefore fulfilling the law. And law is a schoolmaster inasmuch as it shows us that love is not what is under the law; a schoolmaster when, alone before God, we care to understand ourselves without deluding ourselves as if we were above the law; a schoolmaster when, recognizing our need of forgiveness and remission, we are in humble before Christ who came to give us what we need. And when, through faith in Christ, we are not anymore in need, there is no essential difference, nothing able to divide us, if we are indeed in Christ. For this is indeed what circumcision symbolized as a shadow of a new reality, that we are not anymore slave of the flesh and its animosities, of anger and its impetuosities, of envy and its resen, of lust and its infidelities, but rather free to love each other without pride, and to love even those who hate us, if we are indeed in Christ.

William Hoffman wrote (July 28, 2009):
BWV 143: Fugitive Notes: Authenticity

Authenticity

First, attention is called to Thomas Braatz' "BWV 143 - Stylistic Analysis to Determine Authenticity" (January 10, 2003, etc.) in Part 1: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV143.htm

An examination of the chorale used in Cantata BWV 143, "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ" (Thou Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ), and Bach's other settings of the chorale can be helpful in understanding the possibility of the work's "authenticity" or at least linkages to Bach. The chorale was primarily used for weekly Penitential (Confessional) services on Fridays (Stiller, <JSB & Liturgical Life in Leipzig, p. 114) and occasionally during Easter season. Bach employed all seven verses in his chorale Cantata BWV 116 for the final Sunday in Trinity, 1724, and as the closing plain chorale in Cantata BWV 67 for the first Sunday after Easter in 1724. The Jakob Ebert 1601 chorale originally was written as a prayer for peace, similar to the Dona nobis pacem. In Bach's time, peace through praise and thanksgiving was particularly appropriate on New Year's Day.

The chorale is set three times in Cantata BWV 143. Initially it follows the brief opening chorus as a cantus firmus setting for soprano in a trio movement with violins and basso continuo. Despite its brevity, it could have been a candidate for an untransposed organ transcription in the Schübler Chorale Collection, except for high compass above c''', says Peter Williams, <The Organ Music of JSB> (2003, p. 322). The canto appears as a long-note-instrumental accompaniment, in the sixth movement, a tenor aria with unison strings. The substantial tutti chorale chorus follows, with the sopranos singing the third verse while the rest of the chorus sings the "Hallelujah." The simple and effective treatment of the chorale is reminiscent of the three similar chorale settings in the 1707 Mühlhausen memorial Cantata BWV 106, as well as the single settings in Cantata BWV 71 and 131, in addition to stylistic elements found in Bach's early organ chorale prelude settings from the same period. Cantatas BWV 150 and 196 contain no chorale settings.

Bach's five vocal works composed in Mühlhausen for special services in 1707-08, called "concerto" or "motetto," were usually through-composed in the former style of music not suitable for reperformance or adaptation in Leipzig, Christoph Wolf observes in <The World of the Bach Cantatas: JSB's Early Sacred Cantatas> (p.8f). Consequently, none was found in Bach's collection of sacred works distributed among his surviving family members. Instead the Bach manuscripts probably were disseminated to various local sources in Leipzig such as the Thomas School and publisher Breitkopf, where they were first copied in the 1760s. Cantata BWV 143 apparently was transmitted in similar fashion, ascribed in its only surviving form, an 1836 score "copy," to the source "Kirchwey, 1762," according to the cover page, shows Alfred Dürr, "Zur Problematik der Bach-Kantate BWV 143," Die Musikforschung, 1977, p. 299.

"Kirchwey" may be the name of a Leipzig score copyist, says Klaus Hofmann in his "Forward" to the most recent edition of BWV 143, Carus-Verlag, 1994. Hofmann, who edited the oldest known Franz Hauser copy, offers some telling observations. The cantata libretto is modeled on the 1700 Erdmann Neumeister new evangelical poetry for the church cantata: biblical verses from Psalm 146:1, 5 and 10; strophes 1 and 3 from the church song "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ" (movements 2 and 7); and two free-poetry aria verses (movements 4 and 5). The free-recitative form (movement 3) is first found in Bach's Hunting Cantata, BWV 208, of 1713, along with initial da-capo arias and closing chorus. Thus, BWV 143 dates to 1708-13.

Reviewing the previous BWV 143 studies, Hofmann calls attention to a later copyist's probable updating of the instrumentation, given established practice of the use of wind and string instruments at the Weimar Court, where Bach began as court organist. Hoffmann also discusses the older style of Bach's earlier cantatas, found in BWV 143, the use of the chorale, based on Bach's Weimar organ compositions and practices, and the use of disparate key signatures and tones common in Weimar.

Because of these and other source-critical anomalies, there is the possibility that Bach's Cantata BWV 143 was a cantata in process, perhaps a transitional piece between the old style Mühlhausen vocal works of 1707-08 and the post-1713 modern style. Further, as he did in Leipzig with his Weimar church cantatas (but not the earlier works), Bach expanded and altered more than 20 for his first church year cycle, 1723-24, particularly adding free-verse recitatives and closing chorales with the "message" for the particular service.

Lacking the original sources, it is only conjecture, based on collateral and circumstantial evidence (other practices), that Bach may have repeated BWV 143 not only in Weimar but also in Köthen, where New Year's works, both secular and sacred, were welcomed, as we shall see in next week's BCW discussion of BWV 134a. These "anomalies" also suggest that Bach may have repeated BWV 143, in some form, in Leipzig between 1728 and 1735.

Unfortunately, these "anomalies" and the faulty transmission of Cantata BWV 143 only serve to obscure the origins and genesis of this intriguing work with its lasting, compelling elements of Bachiana. Nevertheless, like the variant student and copyist versions of transmitted Bach organ chorale preludes, this mixed-style work of "MB (mature Bach), YB (young Bach), or NB (not Bach)" (Thomas Braatz) could be a fascinating glimpse into the workshop of an emerging master.

Neil Mason wrote (July 29, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< 2. A word on simplicity, and on the uncommon simplicity of BWV 143 in relation to the "soli Deo gloria" as an existential principle >
I'm sorry to have to say this, but I could understand hardly a word of this post.

The irony is of course that the subject is simplicity.

Could I please ask that your future posts be in words of one syllable, so that dumb clucks like me can read them?

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 29, 2009):
[To Neil Mason] I refuse to believe that, dear Neil. Words are intelligible, even if in an adagio pace. So, please, do not depart from a sentence before understanding it, if it matters to you.

Respectfully,

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 29, 2009):
[To William Hoffman, regarding Cantata 143: Fugitive Notes 2]
I would argue that it was important less because of the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland (hence the reason [ascenion to the Polish throne required the would-be King to be Catholic] why that branch of the Wettins [that is, the Albertine branch] reverted back to Catholicism after having previously adopted Evangelicalism [Lutheranism] in the mid-16th century) and more to do with the sacred nature of the festival (the Feast of the Circumcision [also known as the Feast of the Holy Name]), which is celebrated everywhere on 1 January (established by the fact that according to Mosaic Law, all new-born males must be circumcised on the eighth day of their lives--hence the Feast falling on 1 January [eight days after Christmas (25 December)]).

Neil Mason wrote (July 29, 2009):
[To Henri N. Levinspuhl] To be peblunt, it is a matter of how much time and effort it takes to understand what you are trying to communicate.

For me, at the moment, it is too much effort, so I am afraid you are not communicating with me.

Respectfully, also

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 29, 2009):
Neil Mason. wrote:
< I'm sorry to have to say this, but I could understand hardly a word of this post. The irony is of course that the subject is simplicity. >
Ironic indeed.

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 29, 2009):
4. A consequent exposition of Cantata 143

for those interested in apprehend it existentially before the future

In opening chorus, as brief as the music who guides its affect, there is an exhortation, not to the spirit, but from it to the soul. Let this brevity be the concentrated potential of a relevant meaning, which is offered to be spiritually investigated rather than psychically distorted. Let it be the humble robe of those eternally rich, royal and godly principles, through which spirituality gathers its inner strength, being even more what humanity was designed to be. Let it hides, in unpretentious structures, what the three horns reveal with joy, that, under the garments of a servant was the King - Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele! For when there is no affect to change, neither bitterness nor quarrel to overcome, the glory is at hand, and an exhortation is enough to stamp a reflex of God's majesty on the countenance of innocence. What usually would be a result to pursue is here already available in the opening chorus, and the cantata has nothing to do but partaking in a jubilant celebration, joyful as a dance. Properly speaking, the composer assigned it to the merriment of a spirituality already able to praise God, and the unity in plurality is the same essence of piety in each single individual, a unity in praising the Lord no matter what gender, race, nation, color, rank, status and condition are present in the royal festive occasion of fanfares.

But since in life's texture there is always some gradation of grief, at least some hidden or disclosed anxiety that shakes our confidence before an uncertain future, consequently, even the most favorable moment does not entirely ignore the defiant roar of incertitude, and the chorale aria takes the opportunity to cry in the festive occasion, which therefore does not turn to be a hiding place for desperation. For although faith celebrates the eternal victory, it does not conceal the battles ahead. Indeed a gladness is sought, but not a torpid inside a closed moment. On the contrary, as it is been sometimes recognized in Christmas, a pious feast is a place for conscience, certainly invited to take part in a joy spiritually sensitive, and also aware of those inner fears that shall indeed cry to the King's protection, to Jesus, able to understand us as man, and to help us as God.

After the violin figure, the answer arrives clearly in a brief recitative:

"Fortunate is the man whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope depends upon the Lord, his God."

Should we rejoice over that? Straight and rightly, we should; but it is a farsighted celebration, not implying that every single time endorses it - otherwise, our hope would be a disappointment, whereas it is a triumph in its yet unseen bounties. In fact, it may be pleasant to expect, without the pressures of anxiety, a particular pleasing moment that will indeed be achieved in a near future; but it would be a sign of fall to grapple with a particular good, as if we were gods knowing exactly what good and evil are, and as if we should not rather trust in God, who really knows what is good for us. This could be interpreted as the immature side of BWV 143, whose recitative shortly psalms into the particulars of the tenor aria. For injustice abides in temporality, and it is always possible to see a just man, unto whom it happened according to the work of the wicked. On the other hand, and here the cantata is by no means immature, if all of our earthly hopes disappointed, and we should not expect any earthly good from the Almighty, we certainly would have no experience of God's goodness. And, behold! Things turn even more complicated nationally. For it is blessed the nation whose God is the Lord, and even more the single individual who, living in a nation greatly infected by irreverence and disdain against the Holy One, nevertheless conserves for him an untouched love. But such is like an obedient man in the middle of rebellion, or like a prophet in a misled age. For his blessings, although in truth enormous and advantageous, is surrounded by the demand of justice, and indirectly threatened, although only earthly, by the sinful nation in which he is living. Being fortunate is therefore piously enigmatic, if eternity is not regarded. And even a wretched and undeniable wickedness is not necessarily sensed unfortunate in temporality, although, in truth, a momentary welfare is a net and a delusion. For men cannot attain anything by themselves, and whatever a nation or a group achieves by God's allowance may be misunderstood as a sign of chance or human value. God may spare a crew in a shipwreck, because his apostle is there, and if ten righteous are peradventure found in a greatly impious city, they may refrain God from the anger that impiety continuously provokes. And, perhaps, there are a thousands of godly reasons, which by oneself no one can fathom; but we know for sure that, strictly speaking, justice is far from prevailing in temporality. Even when there is some degree of calmness, even if there is a semblance of justice, iniquity is frequently the secret hidden in the underworld of a cauterized consciousness. And now more than ever, the particulars of the tenor aria are very dubious, since nations are rather working for deserting faith, the great majority of them threatened by scythes or swords that aim to behead any single tract of piety from national culture. So, who are able to sing the tenor aria without sensing an anguish for the future? For even if a person is unrivaled in righteousness, he is perhaps apprehensive with the thorns coming from corruption and bribe, from lies and machinations, and all the seeds sown by evildoers. Even if prosperity is at hand, it is a prosperity in anxiety before a somber future also at hand. A blessed nation, not only blessed by its fathers, but even more by its current citizens, would perhaps sing it properly - but how could Lot sing it in Sodom? Even if Lot was just and in this way unrivaled in Sodom, even if God himself blessed him, he was nevertheless vexed in his righteous soul from day to day with the unlawful deeds of the wicked. For all those who suffer the abundance of sin, the minor mode is therefore heard as a paradox of disturbance; for even justice and faith know that grace is being too much trodden around the globe to prompt an year of grace, and that almost all nations are, contrariwise, threatened by those thousand-fold misfortune, terror, sadness, fear and sudden death.

So, as long as we celebrate the King's entrance with sincere praise, in him we attain courage, recognizing our blessing in its eternal validity, what is appropriately emphasized in the subsequent bass aria. For if the whole world is trying to change the laws to forbid public prayers and interdict our freedom of speech, and if the huge beast of State is reviving to persecute us, this harmful dominion will fall and only our Lord is king eternally. This is consequently a courageous aria, resounding confidence as the horns and timpani remind us the omnipotent power that guarantees our everlasting victory, and not merely recalling the opening chorus, since it affirms what was sung previously more consciously, and in spite of every anxiety and earthly perils.

But, sung before the new year, another aria dealing with temporal pleads is welcomed; for future is constantly the main fountain of worries, and faith battles with its representation in other to gain confidence. In fact, if present must be lived, by no means as a closed moment; for human beings are not animals unconscious of the dimensions of time, and what is natural and even delightful in a , in man is drunkenness and a violence against his conscience. We cannot live in the future, but it certainly shall not be consecrated to a complete oblivion. We conquer it through faith, and a certainty able to give thanks to whatever it brings. For consciousness abides in faith, as faith in spirit, and spirit in God; and as faith is straightened by good consciousness, our spirit is sustained by faith in Christ. With good conscience, faith is strong before the future, and the good battle of faith is therefore fighting against our own sin, and not therefore as a war against someone's else sin, and as terror and militia, which are the battle of sin, prompted by its false understanding, which is the nexus of malice.

But even if we are not in battle against someone's else sin, we may be worried about its arrows, the organized crime and a growing hostility, the malevolent rulers and the popularity of their lying tongues, the astuteness of evildoers in devising horrors and all those things that are reinforced when nations dive in iniquity. And we shall love all those who hate us, not engaged in a combat against them; on the contrary, let us forgive them even if they only devise evil against us; for if we hate each other, we have already our guns and shields, but if we love in Christ's faith, we are like an innocent flock, conquering the future this way, for he will be our shield and refugee, watching us in every place, as the second tenor aria proclaims, and taking care of our peace as powerfully as the horns and timpani of the final chorus once again suggest.

Jean Laaninen wrote (July 29, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< But, sung before the new year, another aria dealing with temporal pleads is welcomed; for future is constantly the main fountain of worries, and faith battles with its representation in other to gain confidence. >
Bach's complexity musically seems to speak to your mind and bring out a variety of concerns that exist even today. I think, regarding yesterday's post that many still regard the scriptures meaningfully even though you feel God is not popular today. Many cannot find the reassurance or lift in Bach because of the complexity, yet Bach did get at the essence of life's struggle against sin and powers in a very meaningful fashion, and we are fortunate today to be able to listen to these works and find perspective in them. In Bach, there is also hope for the future, as I see it.

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 29, 2009):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< Many cannot find the reassurance or lift in Bach because of the complexity, yet Bach did get at the essence of life's struggle against sin and powers in a very meaningful fashion, and we are fortunate today to be able to listen to these works and find perspective in them. >
Aside from taking this opportunity to apologize for complexities emerging from not mastering English as my own native language, I have always been thankful to the intricacies easily won by interest. And, yes, such a perspective easily detects reassurance and lift as you positively have found, dear Jean.

Paul T. McCain wrote (July 31, 2009):
[Henri N. Levinspuhl, regarding 4. A consequent exposition] Henri, your posts have been profound, but since English is not your native language, difficult for many of to understand. But I do appreciate your effort.

Neil Halliday wrote (July 31, 2009):
BWV 143

I've enjoyed giving the Rilling CD [1] a spin. BWV 143 is quite enjoyable; Playing it through, my main criticism of this particular recording is the insipid timpani in Mvt. 5 and Mvt. 7. Regarding authorship, it seems to me that Mvt. 6, with the chorale tune on unison upper strings, in long notes, over the trio of tenor voice, bassoon and continuo in running quavers, is particularly Bachian in form.

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (July 31, 2009):
[To Paul T. McCain] Thank you for sympathetic response, dear Paul. My posts need some revision, but since I cannot count with anyone to correct me, I count with benevolent readers; for, at the moment, I cannot produce better English.

Friendly,

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 31, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< My posts need some revision, but since I cannot count with anyone to correct me, I count with >benevolent readers; for, at the moment, I cannot produce better English. >

An example from Henris previous posts:
< "Fortunate is the man whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope depends upon the Lord, his God."
Should we rejoice over that? Straight and rightly, we should; but it is a farsighted celebration, not implying that every single time endorses it — otherwise, our hope would be a disappointment, whereas it is a triumph in its yet unseen bounties. >

IMO, the lack of simplicity is not with the language, but with the logic. We are fortunate to depend on the promise of unseen bounties, despite the disappointment of the present? If you happen to find that hope soothing, so be it. OTOH, if you prefer the perspective that we are living in Gods created world, in the present, is that not an equally acceptable, more logical alternative? A simple alternative, despite the possible disappointment in the lack of day-to-day perfection?

Indeed, if the imperfections are not Gods creation, whence do they arise?

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 31, 2009):
BWV 143 - simplicity

from a Google searck [hell exothermic endothermic]:
<Dr. Schambaugh, of the University of Oklahoma School of Chemical Engineering, Final Exam question for May of 1997. Dr. Schambaugh is known for asking questions such as, "why do airplanes fly?" on his final exams. His one and only final exam question in May 1997 for his Momentum, Heat and Mass Transfer II class was: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof."

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, We postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave.

Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, then you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and souls go to hell. [...] (end quote)

All of a sudden, Bachs spiritual beliefs (Lutheran?) appear optimistic, indeed!

From my 2007 posts (BCW archives), I suggested that the simplest (some might say simplistic) explanation for the transmission of the BWV 143 score is a forgery, for profit. I suggested Salieri or Beethoven as potential suspects, without checking the chronology very carefully.

I still have not checked the chronology carefully, but I believe both these technically qualified gentlemen (?) were born too late. I am presently considering the wily (and worse) W. F. Bach as qualified, timely, and temperamentally suited to fraud for profit. The whole topic came to the forefront [tautology?] from a radio broadcast of a piece by C. M. von Weber, whose reputation, for fraud was mentioned by the announcer, specifically to the point that it does not compromise the quality of his music. In the spirit of internet standards of accuracy, I pass this slander along without confirmation. Webers biography in the Grove Concise Encyclopedia does not mention it, but it does indicate that his birth (1786) leaves him (along with Beethoven and Salieri) just a bit too late to have profited from the BWV 143 creation or copying. (Note to self, and all): is that date certain, or is it a possible forgery, as well?

Which reminds me of a detail, not to be overlooked. If the copy is authentic, how is it that the copy survives but not the original materials? My 2007 opinion, that forgery is the explanation, is now reinforced. Anyway, what is the deterrent to forgery of a sacred work? You could rot in hell!

Not much of a deterrent, see above.

Josh Kalsinski wrote (August 1, 2009):
[Henri N. Levinspuhl, regarding 4. A consequent exposition] It took me some careful attention, but I finished reading your exposition. It causes me all the more one day to desire a listen to the cantata BWV 143.

I have just finished reading this part of Eder's "Bible History" and for a little encouragment for you in your task, humbly share:

"And as his sons Issac and Ishmael, both aged men, stand by his sepulchre in the cave of Machpelah, we seem to hear to the voice of God speaking it unto all times: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

Henri N. Livinspuhl wrote (August 1, 2009):
[To Josh Klasinski] And you have encouraged me, dear Josh. In fact, your share alludes to our yet unseen bounties - the ocean of eternity, into which the river of temporality discharge.

I am ready to BWV 134a and its parody.

As to Cantata BWV 143, if someone wants a PDF file, please send me a personal mail.

Thank you again,

 

Cantata BWV 143: Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: żAugust 4, 2009 ż16:03:25