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Cantata BWV 146
Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of May 7, 2017 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (May 7, 2017):
Jubilate Cantata 146, “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal"

Bach’s Jubilate Cantata 146, “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen” (We must pass through great sadness that we God's kingdom may enter, Acts 14:22) is a substantial chorus cantata c. 1726-28 that moves from sorrow to joy while displaying significant invention with its use of the solo organ through transcription of two concerto movements to provide an opening sinfonia with brief cadenza and a the biblical doctum chorus with text overlay, as well as an extended da-capo aria and dance-like duet possibly derived from a Köthen instrumental dance suite or lost vocal serenade. Composed for the festive opening of the annual Leipzig Spring Fair, Cantata 146 also suggests Bach’s exploitation of new compositional methods and the combination of motives based on personal, civic, and theological opportunity (see below, “Jubilate Gospel, Epistle Impact”). The text may have been written by Picander, Bach’s favorite adaptive librettist and arranger.

The symmetrical eight-movement form is an expansion of Bach’s favorite first-cycle form from the first cycle, with added sinfonia, opening biblical dictum chorus, closing plain chorale and interspersing three arias and two recitatives. The slow, sicilano-style, Passion-like opening chorus uses a biblical text overlay to the concerto instrumental accompaniment. It is followed with a da-capo alto trio aria (No. 3), “Ich will nach dem Himmel zu (I would unto heaven go) with organ or violin solo ( The central soprano aria (No. 5), “Ich säe meine Zähren / Mit bangem Herzen aus” (I shall my tears of sorrow / With anxious bosom sow), uses woodwind accompaniment. The festive tenor-bass duet (No. 7), “Wie will ich mich freuen” (How will I be joyful), a transcription of a passepied-style da-capo movement with organ obbligato and strings ( The 30-40 minute work (depending on tempi taken) closes (No. 8) with a congregational harmonization of the chorale ““Werde munter, mein Gemüte,” best-known as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” possibly set to the related Death& Dying text, “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Rejoice greatly, o my soul). The two plain recitatives are for soprano (No. 4), “Ach! wer doch schon im Himmel wär!” (Ah! Were I but in heaven now!), and for tenor (no. 6), “Ich bin bereit, / Mein Kreuz geduldig zu ertragen” (I am prepared / My cross with patience e'er to carry).1

The Sinfonia and the first choir are arrangements of the first two movements (Allegro and Adagio) that may have originated as a lost concert for violin solo, 2 violins, viola and basso continuo in d minor (BWV 1052R), as early as 1715 in Weimar ( Later, in the 1730s Bach adapted the movements as the Clavier Concerto No. 1 in d minor, BWV 1052. The third movement (Allegro) of this concerto Bach adapted in 1728 as the opening sinfonia of Cantata 188 to a Picander text for the 21st Sunday after Trinity 1728. Recent research suggests that the source music may have been composed as an organ concerto in 1725 (see below, “BWV 146/1-2 Violin or Organ Concerto Source”).

Cantata 146 probably was premiered at the early main service of the St. Thomas Church before the sermon (not extant) on the Johannine Gospel Farewell Discourse (16:16-23) by Pastor Christian Weise on 12 May 1726 or 18 April 1728, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2 Since the music survives only in a score copy complied after 1750 with no extant parts set, the performances dates cannot be determined, although it is quite possible that Bach repeated the work at least once, possibly as early as 1727.

The Gospel theme of sorrow turned to joy or the sorrow-joy-antithesis is found in all four cantatas Bach presented in Leipzig on “Jubilate” or the Third Sunday after Easter as also revealed in the Epistle: 1 Peter 2:11-20 (Suffer patiently for well-doing). Complete biblical text is the Martin Luther German translation (1545), with the English translation Authorised (King James) Version [KJV] 1611; for complete texts, see BCW Readings, This Jubilate Sunday, which opened the Leipzig Spring Fair in Bach’s day, gets its name Jubilate from the opening Introit antiphon, “Make a joyful noise,” which is the beginning of Psalm 66(1-2): “Jubilate Deo” (Be joyful in God all ye lands). In German, the incipit is “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” (Shout for joy to God in every land!). The Introit Psalm 66 is described as a work of great praise for the unfathomable works of God (Lob und Preis der sonderbaren Werke Gottes), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 811). The full text of Psalm 66 (KJV) is found at Polyphonic motet settings of Psalm 66, “Jubilate Deo,” are among the most popular and Bach had access to some of the finest compositions.

Cantata 146 movements, scoring, text, Key, meter:3

1. Sinfonia concertante (190 mm) [Organ; Oboe I/II (d’amore), Oboe da caccia; Violino I/II, Viola; Continuo]; d minor; 4/4.
2. Chorus (Adagio) free polyphony, framing ritornelli & episodes, Choreinbau (choral insertion) Dictum Acts 14:22 [SATB; Organ; Oboe I/II (d’amore), Oboe da caccia; Violino I/II, Viola; Continuo]: “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen.” (We must pass through great sadness that we God's kingdom may enter, Acts 14:22); g minor; ¾ siciliano style.
3. Aria da capo [Alto; Violino or organ, Continuo]: A. (mm 1-56) “Ich will nach dem Himmel zu, / Schnödes Sodom, ich und du / Sind nunmehr geschieden.” (I would unto heaven go, / Wicked Sodom, I and thou / Are henceforth divided.); B. (mm 56-68) Meines Bleibens ist nicht hier, / Denn ich lebe doch bei dir / Nimmermehr in Frieden.” (My abiding is not here, / For I'll live, indeed, with thee / Nevermore at peace now.); B-flat Major; 4/4.
4. Recitative accompagnato [Soprano; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: “Ach! wer doch schon im Himmel wär! / Wie dränget mich nicht die böse Welt! / Mit Weinen steh ich auf, / Mit Weinen leg ich mich zu Bette, / Wie trüglich wird mir nachgestellt! / Herr! merke, schaue drauf, / Sie hassen mich, und ohne Schuld, / Als wenn die Welt die Macht, / Mich gar zu töten hätte; / Und leb ich denn mit Seufzen und Geduld / Verlassen und veracht', / So hat sie noch an meinem Leide / Die größte Freude. / Mein Gott, das fällt mir schwer. / Ach! wenn ich doch, Mein Jesu, heute noch / Bei dir im Himmel wär!)”; (Ah! Were I but in heaven now! / What threatens me not the evil world! / With weeping do I rise, / With weeping in my bed I lay me, / How treach'rous do they lie in wait! / Lord! Mark it, look at this, / They hate me so, and with no fault, / As though the world had pow'r / As well to slay me fully; / And though I live with sighing and forbear, / Forsaken and despised, / Yet doth it take in my sorrow / The greatest pleasure. / My God, this weighs me down. / Ah! Would that I, / My Jesus, e'en today / With thee in heaven were!); g to d minor; 4/4.
5. Aria two-part with ritornelli, dal segno to opening (mm 1-17) [Soprano; Flauto traverso, Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo]: A. (mm 17-36) “Ich säe meine Zähren / Mit bangem Herzen aus.” (I shall my tears of sorrow / With anxious bososow.); B. (mm 36-83) “Jedoch mein Herzeleid / Wird mir die Herrlichkeit / Am Tage der seligen Ernte gebären.” (And still my heart's distress / To me will splendidness / Upon the day of the glad harvest deliver [Psalm 126:6 paraphrase].); d minor; 4/4.
6. Recitative secco [Tenor, Continuo]: “Ich bin bereit, / Mein Kreuz geduldig zu ertragen; / Ich weiß, dass alle meine Plagen / Nicht wert der Herrlichkeit, / Die Gott an den erwählten Scharen / Und auch an mir wird offenbaren. / Itzt wein ich, da das Weltgetümmel / Bei meinem Jammer fröhlich scheint. / Bald kommt die Zeit, Da sich mein Herz erfreut, / Und da die Welt einst ohne Tröster weint. / Wer mit dem Feinde ringt und schlägt, / Dem wird die Krone beigelegt; / Denn Gott trägt keinen nicht mit Händen in den Himmel.” (I am prepared / My cross with patience e'er to carry; / I know that all of these my torments / Won't match the splendidness / Which God unto his chosen masses / And also me will make apparent (Cf. Rom. 8:18). I weep now, for the world's great tumult / At all my mourning seemeth glad. Soon comes the time / When my heart shall rejoice; / Then shall the world without a savior weep. / Who with the foe doth strive and fight / Will have his crown then on him laid; / For God lifts no one without labor into heaven.); a minor; 3/8 passepied dance style.
7. Aria (Duetto) da capo in canon [Tenor, Bass; Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. (mm 1-104) “Wie will ich mich freuen, wie will ich mich laben, / Wenn alle vergängliche Trübsal vorbei!” (How will I be joyful, how will I take comfort, / When all of this transient sadness is past!); B. (mm 104-144) “Da glänz ich wie Sterne und leuchte wie Sonne, / Da störet die himmlische selige Wonne / Kein Trauern, Heulen und Geschrei.” (I'll gleam like the heavens, and shine like the sunlight, / When vex shall my heavenly bliss / No grieving, weeping, and lament.); F Major; 3/8 dance style.
8. Chorale plain BAR Form [SATB; no orchestra designation; presumably with Oboe I/II (d’amore), Oboe da caccia; Violino I/II, Viola; Continuo doubling SATB]; F Major; 4/4.

Closing Chorale Text Options

Bach’s harmonization of the Cantata 146 closing chorale melody, “Werde munter mein Gemute” (Be alert, my soul), is based on the Johann Schop melody found in Das neu Leipziger Gsangbuch of 1682 as NLGB No. 208, “Morning Song.” Possible texts settings to this melody, suggested by various Bach scholars, are found in the NLGB under the category “Death and Dying,” NLGB Nos. 324-389.

The closing chorale (No. 8) without text or instrumental designation is a harmonization of the BAR Form Johann Schop (1642) Evening Song melody, “Werde munter, mein Gemüte” (Zahn 6551), known as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s desiring” (ABABCCDD), see Bach Digital, Text and melody information and Bach’s uses with alternate texts, see BCW

Rudolf Wustmann, Joh. Seb. Bachs Kantatentexte (1913), proposed Stanza 1 from Christoph Demantius’ “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Freiberg, 1620; see Bach Digital, German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW Most recordings use this stanza (see Suzuki, below “Performance Date, Source Problems”). As an alternative, Wustmann suggested Stanza 9, “Denn wer selig dahin fähret,” from “Lasset ab von euren Tränen” by Gregorius Richter (1658) (Fischer-Tümpel, I, #309). Alfred Dürr prints this stanza.4 Much later, Werner Neumann, Sämtliche von J. S. Bach vertonte Texte (1974), suggested Johann Rosenmüller/Johann Georg Albinus, verse 7, “Ach, ich habe schon erblicket,” of "Alle Menschen müssen sterben," 1652 (Fischer-Tümpel, IV, #311), but it has not been accepted.

The preferred text, supported by scholar Martin Petzoldt (Ibid.), is the Christopher Demantius (1620), “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Rejoice greatly, o my soul), NLGB 358, “Death & Dying), which is a 10-stanza paraphrase of Psalm 42, “As the hart panteth” (Quemadmoden), an iconic Lutheran psalm. The full text of Stanza 1 is “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele, / Und vergiss all Not und Qual, / Weil dich nun Christus, dein Herre, / Ruft aus diesem Jammertal. / Aus Trübsal und großem Leid / Sollst du fahren in die Freud, / Die kein Ohre hat gehöret / Und kein Ewigkeit auch währt.” (Rejoice greatly, o my soul, / and forget all misery and torment / since Christ your Lord / calls you from this valley of misery! / From affliction and sorrow / you will journey to the joy / no ear has ever heard / that awaits you in eternity.).

“Lasset ab von euren Tränen” (Let us yet from our tears) by Gregorius Richter (1658), is found in the NLGB as No. 379 “Death and Dying,” 11 stanzas in BAR Form. “Denn wer selig dahin fähret, / Da kein Tod mehr klopfet an, / Dem ist alles wohl gewähret / Was er ihm nur wünschen kann. / Er ist in der festen Stadt, / Da Gott seine Wohnung hat; / Er ist in das Schloss geführet, / Das kein Unglück nie berühret.” (For who blessed passeth thither, / Where no death will knock again, / He shall all those things obtain then / That he ever could desire. / He'll be in that stronghold sure / Where God his own dwelling hath, / He'll have in that mansion lodging / Which no misery afflicteth; Z Philip Ambrose trans). Gardiner uses this text setting (audio

The Rosenmüller/Albinus, verse 7 of "Alle Menschen müssen sterben" (All men must die), NLGB No. 383, “Death & Dying” (8 stanzas). “Ach, ich habe schon erblicket / Diese große Herrlichkeit! / Jetzund werd' ich schön geschmücket / Mit dem weißen Himmelskleid / Und der goldnen Ehrenkrone, / Stehe da vor Gottes Throne, / Schaue solche Fruede an, / Die kein Ende nehmen kann.” (Ah, I have already witnessed / This enormous majesty; / Now shall I have fine adornment / In the shining robe of heav'n; / With the golden crown of honor / I shall stand before God's throne then, / And shall such great gladness see, / Which can never have an end.). German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW

Cantata 146: Impressive Opening

Cantata 146 opens with an impressive organ concerto sinfonia followed by a slow chorus overlay with obbligato organ (, observes John Eliot Gardiner’s 2005 liner notes to his 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage recording on Soli Deo Gloria.5 <<Bach’s third Jubilate cantata to have survived is BWV 146, “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal,” dating from either 1726 or 1728. What started out as a (now lost) violin concerto and later emerged as the famous D minor harpsichord concerto (BWV 1052a) resurfaces here as the cantata’s opening two movements, both with organ obbligato, the second with a four-part chorus superimposed. The latter would be impressive enough as a piece of incredibly clever grafting, if that is what it was. We shall never know for certain whether Bach had seen this particular solution at the outset, or whether, with the flair of a Grand Master of chess, he was able subsequently to anticipate so many possible permutations of future moves – the way, for example, the four vocal lines were liable to intersect with one another at certain moments, and at the same time fit with the pre-existing violin (now organ) concerto adagio movement. Admittedly, the structure Bach provides – an ostinato bass line heard six times in the course of thmovement – gives a wonderfully solid and satisfying grounding for the twin processes of invention and elaboration at which he excelled. This is all highly speculative; what is irrefutable is the enormous control and restraint required by both singers and players to sustain the hushed, other-worldly atmosphere of this movement over 87 slow bars – an effect we tried to capture in performance by placing the choir at the far end of the chapel.

Each of the subsequent movements is a gem. First comes an alto aria [No. 3] with a radiant violin obbligato, predicting the future schism between ‘wicked Sodom, you and I’, then an agonised accompagnato for soprano and strings in which every single beat of its nineteen bars has an expressive function. This is followed by a galant-style aria for soprano with flute, two oboes d’amore and continuo (No. 5) in which the pall of gloom is lifted for the first time in this amazing cantata, to a text based on the psalm verse [126:6] ‘They that sow in tears shall reap in joy’. A fine tenor recitative leads to the rousing tenor/bass duet ‘Wie will ich mich freuen’ with oboes and strings, constructed as a passepied of the sort at which Bach excelled as a composer of secular music at Cöthen. It has a sturdy, irresistibly rhythmic élan which comes at precisely the right juncture in this journey’s course from tribulation to joy and the anticipation of eternity.

The final chorale [No. 8, Stanza 9 of Gregorius Richter’s “Lasset ab von euren Tränen” (Let us yet from our tears)] ends with the words ‘He lives in that fortified town where God dwells; he has been led to that mansion which no calamity can touch’. It so happened that at this precise moment in the concert I exchanged glances with our young organist, Silas Standage. We both of us smiled. For just before embarking on the colossal organ solo at the start of this cantata (itself an allegory of worldly ‘tribulation’) poor Silas had discovered a cipher on the upper manual of the great Trost organ, and an intermittent hiss. We were forced to call for an intermission in an attempt to make running repairs. Tools and expert advice were proffered, and after much banging and hammering we were able to continue. I was reminded of a passage in Bach’s private copy of Calov’s Bible commentary which he chose to underline: ‘Lord, I attend to my duties and do what you have commanded of me, and I will gladly labour and do whatever you will have me do. Only help me also to manage my home and to regulate my affairs, etc.’>>
© John Eliot Gardiner 2005; From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Performance Date, Source Problems

The first performance date of Cantata 146 as well as the source of the first two movements are among the problems posed for scholars, observes Klaus Hofmann’s 2008 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIA complete cantata recording.6 <<This cantata, which survives only in copies made after Bach’s death, poses a number of problems for scholars. The text – by an unknown author – is intended for Jubilate Sunday, but so far it has proved impossible to determine with certainty the year in which the piece was first heard. The earliest possible date would be 12th May 1726, but it is more likely that it was composed later. In terms of content, the cantata refers to the gospel passage for that day, John 16:16–23, with Jesus’ prophecy: ‘your sorrow shall be turned into joy’. For the music, Bach dug deep into his metaphorical drawer. The opening movement is an organ arrangement of the first movement of a (lost) violin concerto in D minor, probably from around 1715, during Bach’s Weimar period; this has survived only in a later version as a harpsichord concerto (BWV 1052). Similarly the following chorus, ‘Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal’ (‘We must through much tribulation’) is derived from the slow middle movement of this concerto. The former violin part has been allocated to the organ, but Bach has added the four choral parts to the existing instrumental setting. This experiment has given rise to some truly marvellous music. Filled with lamenting in the spirit of the Passion, the movement gains its intensity from the dense and dissonant harmonic expressiveness, and incorporates ostinato phrases whose regular appearances seem to illustrate inevitability.

If this chorus represents the keyword ‘Traurigkeit’ (‘sadness’), the pendulum swings, in the alto aria that follows, towards ‘Freude’ (‘joy’), even if the repudiation of ‘schnöde Sodom’ (‘despicable Sodom’) of this world is repeatedly associated with darker harmonies. The surviving sources do not make it clear whether the instrumental solo part is intended for the organ or for a violin with continuo. Both are possible, and in fact both may have been used by Bach in different performances.

We are taken back into the realm of sadness by the deeply expressive soprano aria [Nop. 5] ‘Ich säe meine Zähren’ (‘I sow my tears’), strikingly scored with flute and two oboi d’amore. Certain features – such as the unusually extensive sequences in the opening ritornello – might cause us to doubt Bach’s authorship, but they may simply indicate that he based the movement on an earlier piece. The dance-like duet indisputably represents the keyword ‘Freude’. It is a passepied for voices, a joyous ending that is in many ways reminiscent of the homage cantatas from Bach’s Köthen period and may very well have been adapted from one such work, with minor adjustments to the text.

In the case of the final chorale, the source materials leave us guessing: it has survived without a text. The melody is traditionally associated with the hymn “Werde munter, mein Gemüte” (Be of Good Cheer, My Soul), but this can be ruled out owing to its content. Of the many texts that have been suggested over the course of time, the most convincing comes from the Bach researcher and theologian Martin Petzoldt (Ibid.), who proposes the strophe ‘Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele’ (‘Rejoice greatly, o my soul’; Freiberg 1620).>>
© Klaus Hofmann 2008

Suzuki Cantata 146 Production Notes

<<The lost violin concerto origin of the first two movements of Cantata 146 is accepted in Masaaki Suzuki’s recording “Production Notes,” as well as the organ 16-foot stops. <<Bach’s own manuscript of the full score of this cantata has been lost, along with the original parts, and the work has been handed down in the form of various copies. The first and second sections of the work use the same music as the first two movements of the famous Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052, and will have been borrowed from the original work that formed the basis for this concerto, namely a now lost violin concerto. Bach appears to have transposed the solo violin part down an octave when rewriting it for the organ, and it has generally been thought that the organ part should be played an octave higher throughout, in other words in the four-foot register rather than the eight-foot register. This assumption is partly based on the frequent appearance of parallel fifths and octaves between the solo part as notated and the parts for strings and winds, for instance in bars 66 and 74 of the first movement. There are also passages in the second movement where the solo part, if played in the lower octave, would end up at a lower pitch than the continuo.

To perform the whole of this magnificent organ part without using the eight-foot register seems mistaken to me, however, as this would severely limit the registrational possibilities offered by the organ. It would furthermore be difficult for the organ to pit itself against the large-scale instrumentation (including three oboes) that was probably not a feature of the original violin concerto. Moreover, the range employed in the second movement is abnormally low for a performance using only the four-foot register. As a result it would be difficult for the organ to stand on an equal footing with a four-part choir, no matter how small the forces involved. It is true that if the eight-foot register is used, the organ part – as notated by Bach – will sound an octave lower ththe violin part of the original concerto. But this would merely be the equivalent of playing the original part using sixteen-foot stops – a common practice which sounds entirely natural on the organ.

BWV 146 /3. As regards the third movement, it is debatable whether the obbligato part should be performed on the organ or on the violin. Documentary evidence seems to suggest the organ, but it is quite possible that the original part might have been given to the violin. In this movement the range covered by the obbligato part fits easily within the ranges of both instruments and it is therefore not possible to determine which instrument would have been used on the basis of the pitch range alone. For this performance we have decided to use the organ because of the documentary evidence and because the figurations in the part seem to be better suited to a keyboard instrument than to a stringed instrument.
© Masaaki Suzuki 2009>>

Jubilate Sunday 1726: Unique Occasion

If Cantata 146 was premiered on Jubilate Sunday 1726, it was unique occasion since Bach had stopped composing weekly cantatas during Epiphany Time to begin composition of the St. Matthew Passion, substituting

previously-composed cantatas of Meiningen cousin Johann Ludwig through the end of the Easter/Pentecost season. The reasons for presenting this special composition, the occasion, its musical features and the featured organ soloist are considered in Julian Mincham’s Cantata 146 commentary <<This cantata assumes some significance in retrospect since it is the first one Bach presented after his ′sabbatical′ of February, March and much of April 1726. Following C 72 he had performed cantatas by a relative Johan Ludwig Bach (Wolff Bach: Learned Musician: 282) and in the intervening period of almost three months apparently produced no new ones himself. Perhaps he was ′resting′ but it is equally likely that he was planning ahead for the future requirements of the Leipzig churches and working on the St Matthew Passion.

What is undeniable, however, is that when he did return to presenting his own work, he did it with a typical Bachian flourish. He had, of course, begun cantatas with extended sinfonias previously (as early as C 21, the third work of the first cycle, although the only example from the second is C 42). Here he is again commencing a cantata, not with an impressive chorus or aria but with an instrumental movement of massive proportions. This is the largest and most imposing sinfonia that Bach has yet presented as an introduction to a cantata. But presumably it was well received for several more will follow in due course. Additionally, the organ makes its entrance as a virtuoso soloist rather than, as previously, a more modest member of the continuo group.

Sinfonia/chorus. Why Bach chose to resurrect a previously composed movement rather than produce a new one cannot be explained. Either he was heavily involved in the composition of the St. Matthew Passion or, as with the opening movement of C 110 (chapter 6), he may have felt that the perfect work for his current purposes already existed and there was no reason to create another. Interestingly, both of the earlier extant works composed for this day begin impressively. C 12 (vol 1, chapter 52) commences with an oboe sinfonia of searing beauty followed by the movement which was later to become the Crucifixus of the B-Minor Mass. C 103 (vol 2, chapter 45) boasts one of the most explosive opening choruses of the cycle. In scale and dramatic force the first movement of the Dm keyboard concerto more than matches the cantatas which preceded it. If, as has been previously suggested Bach looked back over cantatas written for the same day when planning a new work, he would have reminded himself that he had a lot to live up to. Perhaps this is the essence of the argument: he sought an extended, intense and impressive movement and the Dm concerto fulfilled that requirement perfectly.

Another question is, who would have played the organ solos in C 146? Might Bach have been looking for a vehicle for one of his students or sons? The solo organ part, adapted from the harpsichord concerto, was simplified in various bars, particularly making the left hand part easier; for example, the original two-part writing immediately following the ritornello is now reduced to one line and the arabesques from the cadenza (bars 166/171) have become held chords. But this may simply have been Bach adapting to the different and more sustained sound of the organ. It is possible that he expected the player to improvise idiomatic patters upon the chords from bar 166. Furthermore, he strengthened the instrumental support (originally just strings) by adding three oboes, mostly doubling but with a degree of independence.

However, the general structure of the movement and most of the figuration was unaltered. It remains one of the most focussed of Bach′s extended movements, developed with great economy from a mere six bars of ritornello melody, initially stated without harmony. The dramatic power of the lengthy cadenza is, if anything, intensified when played on organ rather than harpsichord.

The sustained power and energy of this fine movement must have declared in no uncertain terms, the Cantor is back! It could be, of course, that Bach had initially decided that the second movement of the concerto (now the only chorus in the cantata aside from the closing chorale) was particularly suitable for adaptation for this work. In that case the inclusion of the sinfonia, still trailing its concerto heritage, may have been an afterthought. Still, Bach′s regard for this concerto is further demonstrated by the re-use of the third movement in C 188 (vol 3, chapter 45) from the fourth cycle, a couple of years later.

The textual theme of C 146 is little different from its two predecessors also composed for this day; weeping and sorrow are necessary precursors to the entrance to heaven. The chorus (second movement) sums this up in one succinct line—-we must undergo much trial and sorrow before we may enter God′s Kingdom. Interpreted as a desire for death, the pulsating continuo line and quasi-tragic character inherited from the original model both make perfect sense within the new context. Bach, however, has taken great pains in adapting this secular concerto movement for its religious purpose. Four largely independent vocal parts have been added, the vocal writing employing the minimum of imitative techniques (although the simplest of stretti entries may be found emphasising the final statement of the single line of text just before the end, from bar 74). (…) This momentous adagio, seemingly complete in its version for strings and harpsichord, has taken on a whole new dimension of musical meaning. It is now the embodiment of the inevitable sorrows that must be undergone on our pathway through life towards death and salvation.>>

Jubilate Gospel, Epistle Impact

Both the Jubilate Sunday Gospel and Epistle texts have significance in Bach Cantata 146, says Thomas Braatz’s Commentary to BCML Discussion Part 1 (April, 2009).7 Gospel Verse John 16:22, “You now have sadness,” later inspired the soprano aria in Brahms’ “German Requiem,” while the entire Epistle, 1 Peter 2:11-20, may have had special relevance to Bach’s vexation and tribulation with Leipzig authority as he toiled with his third (and perhaps last) cantata cycle in the later half of then 1720s. << Again we have an anonymous poet who uses as his springboard this time the Gospel text for Jubilate: John 16:16-23. After telling his disciples that he will 'disappear' for a short while only to reappear a short while later, Jesus finds it necessary to explain that their sadness will be short-lived, to be replaced quickly by joy. He uses the analogy of a woman in childbirth as being similar to thepredicament that the disciples are in during this time between Ascension and Pentecost: The woman, at the moment of birth is sad, 'her hour has come,' but once the child is born, she forgets her fear and becomes joyful because a human being has been born. Jesus continues (Verse 22], "Und ihr habt nun Traurigkeit" ('You now have sadness') [the very words Brahms included in the extremely beautiful soprano segment of his Requiem, only that this section was added later, and did not exist at the time of the first performance.] Jesus promises to see his disciples again, "Eure Traurigkeit soll in Freude verkehret werden" ("Your sadness will be transformed into joy.").

The Gospel text does not speak of dying and then experiencing great joy, yet the anonymous poet describes numerous situations where the individual, who has suffered in many ways, wishes to leave this earth in order to join God in heaven. The Epistle text for Jubilate, which also would have been heard read in Bach's church on that Sunday is 1 Peter 2:11-20. I would like to quote verses 13 - 20 from the New Living Testament (a modern translation) and ask you to think of Bach's rapidly deteriorating situation with regard to his duties and the lack of understanding from those in whose charge he was: "For the Lord's sake, accept all authority – the king as head of state, and the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish all who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God's will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you. You are not slaves; you are free. But your freedom is not an excuse to do evil. You are free to live as God's slaves. Show respect for everyone. Love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God. Show respect for the king. You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters. Do whatever they tell you -- not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are harsh. For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing right and are patient beneath the blows, God is pleased with you."

Somehow I feel that Bach at this point in his life (1726? or 1728 are the possible dates for the 1st performance of this cantata - he had already completed the second Leipzig cantata cycle and was working on his third, but no longer with great enthusiasm) could identify completely with the poet's words which he set to music. Beginning with the quote from Acts 14:22 (NLT), which are not in either the Epistle or Gospel for this particular Sunday: [NLT] "They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that they must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations." Or (King James Version - KJV) "exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Luther's choice of "Trübsal" allows for a meaning that includes grief and sadness, which the actual Greek original word, according to modern scholarship would not include in its meaning. Perhaps the poet saw in this word "Trübsal" the key link between the Epistle and Gospel, since this word emphasizes the depressed feelings of sadness that come about as the result of having faced many 'tribulations.'

Mvt. 3 Is 'Sodom' for Bach the city of Leipzig, after he discovered that it presented to him a much more difficult situation than he ever could have imagined: "ich und du sind geschieden, meines Bleibens ist nicht hier." ('You [City and Church authorities] and I are parted - I'm not staying here')? Bach had a number of 'irons in the fire' as he searched about for another possible location where his creative genius could unfold without all the hindrances and difficulties that he experienced from the authorities.

Mvt. 4: "Wie trüglich wird mir nachgestellt! Herr! Merke, schaue drauf, sie hassen mich, und ohne Schuld..So hat sie [the world having the power] ("They're all after me with their deceptive means. Lord, listen and see how they hate me, and that without any reason for doing so. In this way, the world takes great pleasure in seeing me suffer."

Mvt. 6 "Ich bin bereit mein Kreuz (meine Plagen) geduldig zu ertragen..Wer mit dem Feinde ringt und schlägt, dem wird die Krone beigelegt." (I am prepared to bear my cross patiently. Whoever battles the enemy will eventually have the crown placed on his head.")[Remember the crown on Bach's seal! These are thoughts, words, and beliefs that were very close to Bach's heart! Consider what he later wrote in 1730 and 1738: "...da [i] nun finde, daß [ich] mithin fast in stetem Verdruß, Neid und Verfolgung leben muß...." " muß [ich] mein Creütz in Gedult tragen..." {that I find that I am forced to live in a continual state of annoyance and to suffer envy and persecution constantly}{so I must bear my cross patiently}.

There is indeed something very strange about this entire cantata. It is as though the statement Bach is making here is expressed more through the words than the music, the music, with the exception of the soprano aria (Mvt. 5), and despite the ingenious inclusion of voices super-imposed upon an existing instrumental slow mvt.(Mvt. 2), simply does not 'hang together' very well, nor is it very rewarding, even if sufficient effort has been expended in making the music sound properly. What a strange imbalance between the 1st mvt. and the rest of the cantata, even if you consider that Mvt. 2 was part of the same instrumental concerto, that had been composed at a different time! The 1st mvt. is simply too expansive and monumental, hence it detracts from what is to follow. Add to that the fact that this was originally a violin concerto! There are certain musical figures that are idiomatic or 'at home' on a violin, and although they can be transported to another instrument, inevitably, even under Bach's expert hand, something is invariably lost. This happens here when two different types of keyboard, harpsichord and organ, have to break in the middle of a running pattern and switch to a lower octave to accommodate the phrase. Here, in the case of the cantata as a whole, Bach, in frustration, is 'scraping the bottom of the barrel' to come up with something that will serve as an answer to his critics as he 'vents his spleen' musically to a text that he may have even co-authored, or concerning which he may have made some strong suggestions to the poet. In Mvt. 3, alto aria, Bach does not even bother to indicate which solo instrument should play the part, a very atypical thing for him to do. Yes, there is the usual development of the strong antithesis between sadness and joy, but all of that is capsulized in one aria, Mvt. 5 for soprano. Even the connection of the final chorale (Mvt. 8) is left to happenstance. It is as if Bach, having tired of the continual production of cantatas which were required of him, now simply says nonchalantly, "Go ahead, you choose a verse for the conclusion of the cantata." Very unlike the usual Bach, who might even attempt to include some musical interpretation of the chorale text in his 4-part harmonization. As a result I heard at least three different verses sung on the recordings.

I find all of this very moving and frustrating at the same time. I empathize with Bach's situation and the choice of weapon he uses to speak to those who are persecuting him. He again uses double-entendre to put his point across (knowing that a few in his audience will be able to make the proper connections between the text and his personal situation), the only difference here is that the manner in which the music is composed and presented leaves much to be desired on the part of the listener and the performers as well.

Having stated the above, I nevertheless, feel an obligation to present a few reactions from the expert commentators, so that you will have more information on which to base your opinion of this music.

Mvt. 1 & Mvt. 2: Sinfon& Chorus. Spitta comments that Mvt. 2 is remarkable, because Bach succeeded in 'building into' (superimposing) the existing instrumental piece the four voices of the choir without essentially modifying it. He calls it 'a virtuosic deed accomplished by a composer's adeptness and facility." Schweitzer points out that the first mvt. is enriched with 3 (in part) obbligato oboes, and that in the 2nd mvt. Bach superimposes the main chorus, "an achievement on the level of the D major overture into the opening chorus of the Christmas cantata, "Unser Mund ist voll Lachens", BWV 110." Schweitzer detects a 'grief' motif consisting of the rhythm of two tied notes, only that here there is periodic interruption of the natural motion by the use of wider intervals. He says that "the elegiac mood harmonizes with the words, "wir müssen durch viel Trübsal." Dürr [Cantatas: 314] calls the 1st mvt., as an introductory sinfonia, "überdimensional" ("inordinately large") and "gewaltig" ("enormous"). After pointing out, how the choral parts were composed 'into' the existing piece, Dürr comments on the difficulty of producing a satisfactory performance, which he maintains is only possibly with a choir consisting of no more than 12 voices. Anything larger would suppress the organ soli as well as the string tutti. David Schulenberg (Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd) sees in the 1st mvt.'s length and difficulty a representation of wordly labor or even 'tribulation.' In Mvt. 2 he hears a suggestion of "Trübsal" [word explained above] through the sustained dissonances on that word.

Mvt. 3 (Alto aria). Spitta senses here a deeply-felt masculine emotion. "The overstatement of the death wish (longing for death) seems to have been more internalized here." Schweitzer notes the excessive length of the arias, hoping that this would not prejudice the potential listener. Schulenberg points to the rising scale motif that underlines the words, "Ich will nach dem Himmel zu" ("I want to go in the direction of heaven.")
Mvt. 5 (Soprano aria). Schweitzer is the first, to my knowledge, to point out the 'tear' motif in this aria: "the oboes let fall a tear in each bar." Dürr calls this mvt. "the musical highpoint" of the cantata.

Mvt. 7 (Duet for tenor and bass). Schweitzer points out the 'joy' motif. Dürr senses that this mvt. could possibly be a parody of a mvt. from a secular cantata with many running parallel thirds and sixths. The instruments provide a dance-like ritornello. Schulenberg sees a connection between section B of the alto aria and the opening motif here.>>


1 Cantata 146 BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano,; BGA Score References, BGA XXX (Cantatas 141-150, Paul Graf Waldersee, 1884), NBA KB I/11.2 (Jubilate cantatas, Reinmar Emans, 1989: 68).
2 Martin Petzoldt, 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: 836).
3 Cantata 146 German text,; Z. Philip Ambrose English translation,
4 Alfred Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 313)
5 Gardiner notes, BCW[sdg107_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details,
6 Hofmann/Suzuki Cantata 146 notes, BCW[BIS-SACD1791].pdf; BCW Recording details,
7 Cantata 146, BCML Discussion Part 1,; Examples from the Score, BCW


To Come: Cantata 146: Violin or Organ Concerto Origin, Köthen Sources, Tonal Allegory, Possible Provenance.

William Hoffman wrote (May 11, 2017):
Jubilate Cantata 146: Transcriptions, etc.

Jubilate Cantata 146, “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen” (We must pass through great sadness that we God's kingdom may enter, Acts 14:22), has the distinction of being Bach’s first major transcription-parody overlay work. It may have originated as a keyboard or violin concerto in Weimar with stylistic violin features as early as 1715. It also was the first of a series of obbligato organ sinfonia, chorus and aria adaptations in the third sacred cantata cycle in the later part of the 1720s in Leipzig involving BWV 146, 35, 169, 49 and 188. A version of the concerto, BWV 1052, as well as BWV 1053, may have been performed in Dresden as an organ concerto in 1725, one of the first keyboard concertos if dated to 1715, suggests Christoph Wolff in recent research in “Did J. S. Bach Write Organ Concertos?.”1 About 1738, Concerto BWV 1052 was the first of a collection of eight harpsichord concerti, BWV 1052-1059. Recent research also suggests that music from various French Overtures and orchestral suites, BWV 1066-69, could date to as early as 1715 (see “Other Transcriptions,” below).

Bach’s Jubilate Cantata 146, is a substantial chorus cantata c. 1726-28 that moves from sorrow to joy while displaying significant invention with its use of the solo organ through transcription of two concerto movements to provide an opening sinfonia with brief cadenza and a the biblical dictum chorus with text overlay, as well as an extended da-capo aria and dance-like duet possibly derived from a Köthen lost vocal serenade or instrumental dance suite. Composed for the festive opening of the annual Leipzig Spring Fair, Cantata 146 also suggests Bach’s exploitation of new compositional methods and the combination of motives based on personal, civic, and theological opportunity. The Cantata 146 text may have been written by Picander, Bach’s favorite adaptive librettist and arranger, who provided the text for BWV 188 for Trinity 21 probably in 1728. A probable librettist for BWV 35, 169, and 49 for Trinity Time 12, 18, and 20 respectively in 1726 is Bach student Christoph Birkmann, according to other recent research by Christine Blanken.2 Chances that Birkmann wrote the libretto for Cantata 146 are virtually non-existent since his 1728 Nuremberg published annual cycle -- that also includes published works of other librettists Erdmann Neumeister, Salomo Franck, Rudolstadt Meiningen, and Picander -- does not include the text of Cantata 146 among those found in Bach’s third cycle from 1725 to 1728.

The Cantata 146 symmetrical eight-movement form is an expansion of Bach’s favorite first-cycle form from the first cycle, with added sinfonia, opening biblical dictum chorus, closing plain chorale and interspersing three arias and two recitatives. The slow, Passion-like opening chorus uses a biblical text overlay to the concerto instrumental accompaniment. It is followed with da-capo alto trio aria (No. 3), “Ich will nach dem Himmel zu (I would unto heaven go). The central soprano aria (No. 5), “Ich säe meine Zähren / Mit bangem Herzen aus” (I shall my tears of sorrow / With anxious bosom sow), uses woodwind accompaniment. The festive tenor-bass duet (No. 7), “Wie will ich mich freuen” (How will I be joyful), is a possible transcription from a Köthen secular celebratory serenade or instrumental dance suite. The 30-40 minute work (depending on tempi taken) closes (No. 8) with a congregational harmonization of the chorale “Werde munter, mein Gemüte,” best-known as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” possibly set to the related Death & Dying text, “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Rejoice greatly, o my soul) [for further details, see below, “Cantata 146: Tonal Allegory].

The Sinfonia and the first chorus are arrangements of the first two movements (Allegro and Adagio) of the concerto ( that may have originated as a lost concerto for violin solo, 2 violins, viola and basso continuo in d minor (BWV 1052R), as early as 1715 in Weimar ( Later, in the 1730s Bach adapted the movements as the Clavier Concerto No. 1 in d minor, BWV 1052 ( The third movement (Allegro) of this concerto Bach adapted in 1728 as the opening sinfonia of Cantata 188 to a Picander text for the 21st Sunday after Trinity 1728 (

The extensive Siciliano first movement of the Concerto BWV 1052, transcribed as an organ sinfonia in Cantata 146, is examined in its various facets by Wolff in his article, “Did J. S. Bach Write Organ Concertos?.” The dating to Weimar as early as 1715 Wolff accepts (Ibid. 67), particular due to its Italian-style ritornello form. Because there were no established keyboard concerto models in 1715, Bach utilized “specific violin manners like bariolage [string crossings with double stops] as points of departure for the development of virtuoso keyboard figuration.” This movement, although “shaped by violin technique,” says Wolff (Ibid. 68), “on both technical and musical levels . . . bears little resemblance to Bach’s genuine violin concertos” composed in Köthen, says Wolff (Ibid.: 65).

While the melodic line of this sinfonia movement is easily adapted to the violin, it also could be reconstructed as a concerto for oboe or flute (recorded versions exist), BWV 1052, as well as solo instrument reconstructions for the other seven harpsichord concertos. However, “the movements lacks idiomatic woodwind writing,” says Wolff (Ibid.: 64). Nonetheless, the fragmentary version only of the initial bars of Keyboard Concerto No. 8, BWV 1059, strongly suggests that its remaining movements also were found in alto solo Cantata 35 comprising the opening Allegro sinfonia with organ solo and two da-capo arias as the slow movement Adagio: Alla Siciliana and closing Presto (music, The extant Cantata 35 music is Other Bach cantatas may contain movements that originated as solo concertos, such as the entire BWV 209 with its opening sinfonia, Cantata 54, and an amalgam of Cantatas 105/5, 170/1, and 49/1.

Wolff suggests that Bach initially wrote organ concertos, which eventually made it into cantata movements from the third Leipzig Jahrgang (Ibid.: 68), particularly BWV 1052 and 1053 with their extant 1726 cantata adaptations and chronological proximity, and “would be likely candidates for the Dresden Programs of September 1725” when Bach performed two recitals on the new Silbermann organ in the St. Sophia Church in Dresden, says Wolff (Ibid.: 64). With their adaptive movements found in Cantatas 49, 146, 169 ad 188, Keyboard Concertos BWV 1052 and 1053 “provide considerable evidence for their origin as keyboard concertos,” Wolff concludes (Ibid.: 75.

Bach as Borrower 3

Bach was a prodigious borrower of his own music, both instrumental and vocal, sometimes involving both forms and multiple recycling of the same music, whether called adaptations, transcriptions, or transfers, as well and vocal parodies, known as new-text underlay. Bach’s art of borrowing began as early as 1715 in Weimar when he adapted Italian-style concerto movements, primarily from Vivaldi violin pieces, for solo keyboard, BWV 592-596 (organ), and BWV BWV 972-987 (harpsichord). Bach also may have begun composing original keyboard concertos, according to recent research.

Later, Bach selectively had utilized Cöthen vocal congratulatory serenades and instrumental dance suites as resources to forge mostly parodied sacred cantatas for feast days and occasional secular events in Leipzig primarily in 1724. Other music such as the first three movements of Cantata BWV 249 strongly suggested other salvaged instrumental music from a vast corpus of music Bach composed there between 1717 and 1723 when he came to Leipzig. An estimated “well over 350 compositions, mainly chamber and orchestral music, but also serenades and other vocal works,” were composed, calculates Christoph Wolff in JSB: The Learned Musician.4 While most of the music is lost Bach had various opportunities as court composer to access the library during subsequent visits c. 1724, 1725, 1726, and 1729.

Jubilate Sunday, Appropriate Music

Besides the 12th Sunday after Trinity often in late August around the time of the annual Town Council installation, another festive Sunday in Bach’s time in Leipzig was the Third after Easter, known as Jubilate Sunday, “the traditional opening Sunday for the spring trade fair,” observes Wolff (Ibid.: 61). On 12 May 1726 or perhaps a year later (or both), Bach premiered Cantata BWV 146. As with the first two movements of Clavier Concerto No. 8 in Cantata 35 and Clavier Concerto No. 2 in Cantata 169, which were adapted as opening Sinfonias followed by the slow movements transcribed as alto arias in Sicilano dance style, Bach took the iconic, striking and bravura Clavier Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052, and adapted the first two movements, possibly set to an unpublished Picander text. The orchestration is the same: three oboes, strings and obbligato organ, this time even more prominent. All three of Bach’s cantatas for this Sunday (BWV 12, 103, 146) follow the pattern of sorrow turned to joy, based on the Gospel, John 16: 16-23.

The concerto transcription proved to be quite successful for the entire Cantata 146, with the dazzling opening movement setting up the contrasting, somber G Minor Adagio in 3/4 in motet style with four-part chorus superimposed ( Coincidentally, the chorus text, Acts 14:22), is the same as the alto arioso (no. 3) in the Weimar is the same a 1714 Jubilated Sunday Cantata BWV 12, “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen” (Weeping, lamentation, worry, apprehension) ( The Cantata 146/2 chorus motet has a striking resemblance to the Cantata 12 opening da-capo chorus, which Bach adapted through contrafaction as the chaconne “Crucifixus” chorus in the Credo of the B-Minor Mass in the later1740s, the oldest identifiable borrowed music (

The two final arias iCantata 146 are in the courtly style Bach may have composed with the Saxon Court in mind, which visited during the Jubilate Easter Fair in 1727. The two-part gallant soprano aria with flute and oboe d’amore (no. 5), “Ich säe meine Zähren mit bangem Herzen aus” (I sow my tears with an anxious heart). The joyous tenor-bass da-capo duet (no. 7) with two oboes, organ obbligato and strings in 3/4 passepied time, “Wie will ich mich freuen, wie will ich mich laben, / Wenn alle vergängliche Trübsal vorbei! (How I will rejoice, how I will delight, / when all mortal sorrows are over!) (

The “relatively simple style and construction set it apart from the rest of the cantata [146]; it might be a parody of an older (possibly secular) movement,” says David Schulenberg in his Cantata 146 essay.5 Interestingly, “both the opening motive and its sequential, imitative treatment have been presaged in the B section of the first aria” (no. 3), with organ or violin solo (, with the text beginning, “Meines Bleibens ist nicht hier” (My abiding is not here). “As in the initial chorus, says Schulenberg, “Vokaleinbau [vocal insertion] is the prevalent compositional technique in the present A section; the written instrumental parts (two oboes and strings) drop out in the B section, but the organist must improvise a solo in one passage for continuo only” (mm 120-122), says Schulenberg. The vocal writing mostly is in imitative canon and the five-part texture lends itself to brass quintet arrangement (see BCW The aria is quite similar to the soprano-alto da-capo duet (No. 2), “Wir eilen mit schwachen,” in chorale Cantata 87, “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, 1724 (

Bach may have repeated Cantata BWV 146 on Jubilate Sunday, 4 May 1727, says Wolff (Ibid.: 61. On Monday, 12 May 12 1727, Bach produced his first serenade for the Saxon court, BWV Anh. 9, "Entfernet euch, ihr heitern Sterne" (Disperse yourselves, ye stars, serenely!), for the birthday of the visiting August the Strong and family at the Leipzig marketplace during the Spring Fair.

Other Transcriptions

Subsequently, in 1728, Bach used the third movements Allegro of the Clavier Concerto No. 1, as a Sinfonia with organ obbligato to Cantata BWV 188, Cantata BWV 188, "Ich habe meine Zuversicht" (I have my confidence), also for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, probably 1728, to a published text of Picander. Only the last 45 bars exist in Bach’s original autograph score, the remainder has been reconstructed from the concerto version. The Sinfonia, like most of the other Sinfonias from concertos, is scored for three oboes, strings and organ obbligato, and is in 4/4 sarabande style (music,

The chorus text overlay to Cantata 146 is similar to other superimposed choruses with original texts, most notably in the joyous French Overture adaptations from music originally composed in Cöthen or earlier in Weimar found opening Cantata 194 for Trinityfest 1724, Cantata 119 for the Town Council 1723, and pure-hymn chorale Cantata 97, appropriate for Exaudi Sunday (6th after Easter). In addition, Bach adapted at least one and possibly two similar prelude and fugue French Overtures from the Orchestral suites throughout to have been composed as early as Weimar. For Christmas Day 1725 at the beginning of the third cycle, Bach set the French Overture to Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major, BWV 1069, to a text of Georg Christian Lehms, as a chorus to open Cantata BWV 110, “Unser Mund sei voll Lachens” und “May our mouth be filled with laughter, Psalm 126:2) (music, To the full orchestra of three trumpets and drums, three oboes, strings and continuo, Bach overlayed a polyphonic chorus in the fugal section, sometimes copying or simply doubling the instrumental lines with solo vocal passages in ripieno style. Bach also may have set the comparable French Overture opening the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068, as the opening chorus to the partially lost c. 1728 Christmas Day Cantata BWV 197a, “Ehre sei Gott in der Hohe” (Glory to God in the Highest, Luke 2:14), to a published Picander text. Another example of possible parody text overlay is the French Overture with chorus for Bach’s first Leipzig Town Council Cantata BWV 119, “Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn” (Praise, Jerusalem, the Lord, Psalm 147:12), 30 August 1723. Reconstructions of the early versions of Orchestral Suites and Cantatas BWV 119 and 97 opening French overtures, without trumpets is found in Siegbert Rampe’s recording and liner notes.6

In addition, Bach utilized instrumental and vocal music thought to have been composed originally in Köthen, particularly dance-related movements as well as vocal duets and arias with obbligato instrument from serenades.7 Of particular note are the French Overture and four dance movements (Nos 3, 5, 8, 10; pastorale, gavotte, gigue, minuet) in Cantata 194, “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Most greatly longed for feast of joy), for Trinityfest in Leipzig, 4 June 1724. The original source, supposedly an instrumental dance suite, is lost but all five movements are set to new texts, including the soprano-bass da-capo menuett-style aria with two oboes (No. 10, 199 mm), “O wie wohl ist uns geschehn, / Daß sich Gott ein Haus ersehn!” (O how wonderful it is for us / that God has chosen a house!), in mostly unison form with the vocal lines embedded in the five-part texture, usually repeated, developed or doubled instrumentally, with extended opening and closing ritornelli as well brief (4 mm) interludes.

Two other cantata movement adaptations from violin movements have their origins in the Leipzig 1728 or 1729 Festive Town Council Cantata 120, “Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille” (God, one praises thee in the stillness Psalm 65:2), opens with an alto aria which also is thought to have originated as a lost violin concerto movement in Köthen ( The Cantata 120 soprano aria, “Heil und Segen” ( is an alternate instrumental movement, “Cantabile ma un poco adagio,” in the Violin Sonata in G, BWV 1019, which dates to Köthen. Both the alto and soprano free da-capo arias subsequent were adapted to new vocal parody texts in the1729 wedding Cantata 120a, and the 1730 Augsburg Confession Cantata 120b. The other violin movement adaptation is the Preludio from the unaccompanied violin Partita in E Major, BWV 1006/1, composed in Köthen and arranged as the organ sinfonia opening 1731 Town Council Cantata BWV 29, “Wir danken dir, Gott” (We thank thee, God),

Cantata 146 Tonal Allegory

Bach’s utilization of instrumental music into the extended chorus Cantata 146 appears to be more than simply the pressure of time to fill the void with previously-existing music, given the result in this eight-movement work with it ingenious tonal design, as Eric Chafe oberves.8 As with Weimar 1714 Jubilate chorus Cantata 12 , “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen” (Weeping, lamentation, worry, apprehension), Cantata 146 uses tuplifting “device of tonal anabasis,” in the d minor rising third pattern of g minor, B-Flat Major, d minor, and f minor. This vocal sermon “allegorizes the progression from the tribulation articulated in the first chorus, “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen” (We must pass through great sadness that we God's kingdom may enter, Acts 14:22), to the joy and anticipation of eternity in its final duet, “Wie will ich mich freuen” (How will I be joyful), and closing chorale, the melody “Werde munter, mein Gemüte,” best-known as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” possibly set to the related Death & Dying text, “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Rejoice greatly, o my soul) – both movements (Nos 7 and 8) in F Major.

“The extraordinary affect of joy in the duet [initially sounded in the first movement sinfonia in d minor) culminates the longing for eternity that pervades the cantata, says Chafe. Despite the tonal distance in Cantata 146 from beginning to end moving only from the d minor tonic to the relative F Major, “the combined sense of spiritual ascent and fulfillment at the close is truly impressive.” The cantata moves through rejection of the world in the alto aria (No. 3 in B-Flat Major), “Ich will nach dem Himmel zu (I would unto heaven go) to the central soprano aria (No. 5 in d minor), “Ich säe meine Zähren” (I shall my tears of sorrow), which “mediates between the world and the hopes to transcend it.” Cantata 146 is “a perfect example of the Leidensethik (Sorrow ethic) that is central to Lutheran spiritual life. This is realized eschatology, the growing sense of the ‘possession’ that faith creates in the individual, of the transformation of present life under the promise of the future one,” embracing Luther’s Theology of the Cross.”

Cantata 146 Possible Provenance

Because there is no contemporary source-critical materials of Cantata 146 dating to 1728, only a score copy, written after 1750 in Berlin, it is virtually impossible to determine how the original score, probably in Bach’s hand, was transmitted to Johann Friedrich Agriciola (1720-1774). Only collateral evidence of Bach’s 1750 estate division and distribution patterns of the original scores and parts sets can suggest possible provenance, using as an exemplar the meticulous 1790 Emmanuel Bach estate catalogue of his potion of the inheritance from the first and third cycles, with the other half probably going to oldest son Friedemann, who left no accounting and eventually sold his portion, part of which is lost. Bach’s manuscripts for the cantatas composed and designated for Jubilate Sunday shows that in the first cycle, Cantata 12 parts set went to Friedemann and the score to Emmanuel while the Cantata 103 materials were part of the third-cycle distribution, with Emmanuel receiving the score and presumably Friedemann the parts – all of which survive.

As for Cantata 146, it may have been part of the second-cycle, mostly chorale cantata distribution between Friedemann, usually scores, and Anna Magdalena, usually parts sets. However, Friedemann, who probably selected the materials in 1750 from his father’s work room shelves stored by church-year services, kept both the scores and parts sets for Cantata 111 (Epiphany 3), Cantata 128 (Ascensionfest), Cantata 34 (Pentecost), Cantata 68 (Pentecost Monday), Cantata135 (Trinity 3), Cantata 113 (Trinity 11), Cantata 130 (Michaelfest), Cantata 180 (Trinity 20), Cantata 115 (Trinity 22), and Cantata 80 (Reformation). It is possible that Friedemann chose both the score and performing parts to for use in Halle where he was required to present works on festivals such as Ascension, Pentecost, St. Michael, and Reformation. At the same time, Friedemann’s scores for Cantatas 34, 135, 113, 20, and 115 survive while the parts sets are lost and never were given to step-mother Anna Magdalena whose inheritance of 43 chorale cantata parts sets was consigned to the Thomas School were they still are housed today, in order to allow her to stay in the Cantor’s home with family members until the end of 1750. Interestingly, Friedemann probably performed Cantata 34 outside Leipzig in 1746, perhaps for his Halle probe, and the score finally came into the possession of the Amalianbliothek in Berlin, directed by Agricola. It can only be conjectured that Friedemann also received the original score and parts set of Cantata 146 for use in Halle and that the score was made available to Agricola who copied it and returned the original to Friedemann, perhaps for a copying price.


1 Christoph Wolff, “Did J. S. Bach Write Organ Concertos?,” in Bach and the Organ, ed. Matthew Dirst, Bach Perspective 10, American Bach Society (Urbana Ill: University of Illinois Press, 2016: 60-75). The Clavier Concerto BWV 1053 may date to 1722-26, suggests Gregory Butler in “The Choir Loft as Chamber: Concerted Movements by Bach from the Mid- to Late 1720s,” Bach Perspectives 10: 77). In all, the organ functions as an obbligato instrument in 27 cantata movements, mostly arias, observes Matthew Cron in :Music from Heaven: An Eighteenth Century Context for Cantatas with Obbligato Organ,” Bach Perspectives 10: 87.
2 Christine Blanken, "A Cantata-Text Cycle of 1728 from Nuremberg: a Preliminary Report on a Discovery relating to J. S. Bach's so-called 'Third Annual Cantata Cycle'", in Understanding Bach, Bach Network UK, Vol. 10, 2015: 18-20;
3 Yahoo Group BachCantatas, ”Secular to Sacred Parody, Contrafaction (1725-27),” No. 39106, Yahoo Group BachCantatas: No. 39106.
4 Christoph Wolff: Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013 Updated Edition: 200).
5 Schulenberg, see Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd (Oxford University Press, 1999: 528).
6 Siegbert Rampe, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Early Overtures (BWV 97a, 119a, 1066, 1067a, 1068a, 1069a), BCW details,
7 See William Hoffman Bach Cantata Website Article, “Royal Court at Köthen: Serenades,” in “Bach’s Dramatic Music: Serenades, Drammi per Musica, Oratorios,”
8 Eric Chafe, Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991:191ff).

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 25, 2017):
Cantata BWV 146 - Revised & updated Discography

Cantata BWV 146 "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen (We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for Jubilate Sunday [3rd Sunday after Easter] of 1726 or 1728. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of transverse flute, taille, 2 oboes, 2 oboes d'amore, 2 violins, viola & continuo.

The discography pages of BWV 146 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (17):
Recordings of Individual Movements (40):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options as part of the recording details. When you click a link to video/audio, a new window will open above the discography page and the video/audio will start to play.

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 thmost comprehensive discography of this cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 146 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 146: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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Last update: Sunday, June 18, 2017 15:09