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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 158
Der Friede sei mit dir
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of August 1, 2010 (3rd round)

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 31, 2010):
Week of August 1, 2010: ³Der Friede Sei Mit Dir², BWV 158

Week of August 1, 2010:

³Der Friede Sei Mit Dir², BWV 158

Cantata for the Third day of Easter (Easter Tuesday)
Or
Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin

Performance History:

1st performance: Weimar - March 25, 1713-17?
or Leipzig - April 15, 1727

* BCML page: (texts, translations, scores and readings): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV158.htm

* Live streaming: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV158-Mus.htm

* Commentary (Mincham): http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-70-bwv-158.htm

* Provenance (Braatz): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV158-Ref.htm

* Previous Discussions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV158-D.htm

* THE SUNDAY MUSICAL CONTEXT OF BACH¹S CANTATAS IN THE EASTER SEASON

The sequence of chorale and motet texts prescribed for each Sunday and more generally for seasons such as Easter to Pentecost gives us an invaluable insight into the musical context in which Bach¹s music was performed. In particular, a glance at the liturgical order shows us that Bach frequently alluded to the prescribed ³proper¹ texts and music in the cantatas, just as a playwright might allude to other literary works. These allusions are an important part of the way in which Bach¹s listeners heard and understood Bach¹s music as part of a larger aesthetic and theological whole.

The only systematic work on the Leipzig music was undertaken by C. Terry in ³Joh. Seb. Bach: Cantata Texts². He listed titles from the Leipzig hymn books and the Bodenschatz motet collections. Unfortunately, he only included the chorales whose texts and music had been used by Bach in his vocal and organ works, and he did not include the names of the motet composers. Below is an annotated outline of the sequence and a list extracted from Terry of the hymns and motets of the Easter season (The Three Days of Easter to the Three Days of Pentecost inclusive.)

1) Introit:
In Luther¹s Latin version of the mass (³Formula Missae²), which was followed in Leipzig, the entrance of the clergy was accompanied by a Gregorian chant As the first words of the Lutheran mass, the introit gave the Sunday the name which Bach normally used (e.g. Easter 3, ³Sonntag Jubilate² from the text ³Jubilate Deo omnis terra.²) The introits were a staple of the choirboys¹ educational program: Bach himself could probably have sung them from memory. Although Bach¹s chant books preserved the regional chants of pre-Reformation Germany, the general shape of the music is readily accessible in the modern ³Liber Usualis² (LU) collection published by the Benedictines of Solesmes. The ³Graduale Romanum Ratisbon (1871) has older versions of the chant closer to Bach¹s: online at: http://musicasacra.com/communio/

2) Motet or Hymn as Introit Substitute:
In large urban churches with a resident choir school like St.Thomas, the chant Introit was regularly replaced by a polyphonic motet or hymn. We can suggest that Choirs 1 and 2 under Bach¹s direction might have sung from the motet repertoire while the less expert Choirs 3 and 4 sang the Gregorian chant or chorales. The motet collections, which were so well-used that Bach ordered new copies, contained 16th and 17th century motets from 2 to 10 voices by German composers such as Schütz and Lassus and Italians such as Palestrina and Gabrieli.

3) Hymn ³De Tempore¹ (of the Season):
This chorale replaced the old Gradual, Alleluia and Sequence of the pre-Tridentine Roman rite, In some cases, a hymn such as the Easter ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden² is a reworking of the Latin sequence, ³Victimae Paschali Laudes² and had been sung at mass for centuries before the Reformation.

4) Pulpit Hymn:
A congregational chorale sung after the cantata before the sermon.

5) Hymns:
Other hymns were sung after the Creed before the Preface and Sanctus (Chancel Hymn), during the Communion, and at the end. These tend to be grouped seasonally rather than prescribed for particular days. Bach considered it his prerogative to choose the hymns and complained officially when the Archdeacon, the second-in-command, usurped this function.

6) At Vespers, the same hymns were sung as at mass in the morning. Motets are prescribed for only Easter and Pentecost.

THE EASTER SEASON IN LEIPZIG

EASTER DAY (First Day of Easter)

Introit: ³Resurrexi (LU 777)
Motet: ³Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ ist Erstanden²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Heut triumphret Gottes Sohn²
Vespers Motets:
³Dum Rex Gloriae²
³Vespere Autem²
³Quem Quaeris Maria²

EASTER MONDAY (Second Day of Easter)

Introit: ³Introduxit Vos² (LU 785)
Motet: ³Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden² (until Ascension)
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ ist Erstanden² (until Ascension)
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Ach Bleib Bein Uns²

EASTER TUESDAY (Third Day of Easter)

Introit: ³Aquae Sapientiae² (LU 789)
Motet: ³Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ ist Erstanden²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Erscheinen ist der Herrlichen Tag²

EASTER 1 (Quasimodogeniti)

Introit: ³Quasimodo geniti² (LU 809)
Motet: ³Christus Resurgens²
³Jam Non Dicam²
³Tres Sunt ³
Hymn de Tempore: ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ ist Erstanden²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Erscheinen ist der Herrlichen Tag²

EASTER 2 (Misericordia)

Introit: ³Misericordia Domini² (LU 816)
Motet: ³Alleluja Serrexit²
³Surrexit Pastor Bonus²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ ist Erstanden²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Der Herr is mein getreuer Hirst²

EASTER 3 (Jubilate)

Introit: ³Jubilate Deo Omnis Terra² (LU 821)
Motet: ³Jubilate Deo Omnis Terra²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ ist Erstanden²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Erscheinen ist der Herrlichen Tag²

EASTER 4 (Cantate)

Introit: ³Cantate Domino² (LU 826)
Motet: ³Cantate Domino²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ ist Erstanden²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Erscheinen ist der Herrlichen Tag²

EASTER 5 (Rogate)

The title, ³Sonntag Rogate², does not come from the introit. It is a reference to the traditional pre-Reformation Rogation processions which blessed the newly-seeded fields but were suppressed by Luther. The theme of ³asking² appears in the Gospel reading.

Introit: ³Vocem Jucunditatis² (LU 830)
Motet: ³Vocem Jucunditatis²
³Exivi a Patre²
³Pater Noster²
³Oremus Praeceptis
Hymn de Tempore: ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ ist Erstanden²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Vater Unser²

ASCENSION DAY (Himmelfahrt Thursday, 40th Day after Easter)

Introit: ³Viri Galilaei² (LU 846)
Motet: ³Omnes Gentes²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Nun Freut Euch²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ fuhr gen Himmel²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn²
³Du Lebensfürst²
³Aus Christi Himmelfahrt Allelin²
³ Gott fahret auf gen Himmel²

SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION (Exaudi)

Introit: ³Exaudi Domine² (LU854)
Motet: ³Deus AdjutFortis²
³Exaudiet Te Dominus²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Nun Freut Euch²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ fuhr gen Himmel²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Zeuch ein zu Thoren²

PENTECOST (First Day of Pentecost)

Introit: ³Spiritus Domini² (LU 878)
Motet: ³Spiritus Sancte Gratia²
³Des heilgen Geiste²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Komm Heilger Geist²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Nun Bitten Wir²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Gott Vater, Sende deiner Geist²
Vespers Motets:
³Veni Sancte Spiritus²
³Si Qui Diligit Me²
³Apparuerunt Apostolis²

PENTECOST MONDAY (Second Day of Pentecost)

Introit: ³Cibavit eos² (LU 887)
Motet: ³Spiritus Sancte Gratia²
³Des heilgen Geiste²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Komm Heilger Geist²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Nun Bitten Wir²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Also Hat Gott²

PENTECOST TUESDAY (Third Day of Pentecost)

Introit: ³Accipite Jucunditatem² (LU 890)
Motet: ³Spiritus Sancte Gratia²
³Des heilgen Geiste²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Komm Heilger Geist²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Nun Bitten Wir²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Gott Vater, Sende deiner Geist²

* NOTES ON MOVEMENTS OF BWV 158:

A Missing Sinfonia?

Although much has been made of the confused libretto (is it Easter or Purification?), it has to be admitted that the work has a satisfying unity, especially because of the recurring bass voice. I always wonder at these ³ex
abrupto² cantatas whether Bach played an exceptional organ work as a prelude, or whether he brought another folder of parts for an instrumental sinfonia or overture to preface the work.

Mvt. 1: Arioso & Recitative (Bass)
The bass voice sings the scriptural dictum with increasing lyrical urgency. When a bass voice sings the words of Christ, there is always a spur to see an allegory throughout the cantata. Here there isn¹t a ³dialogus² narrative, but the bass voice as Christ resonates in the background. Bach¹s consummate ease in moving back and forth between arioso and recitative is beautiful. It should be noted that the ³walking² bass also appears in both the following duet and recitative.

Mvt. 2: Duet (Soprano & Bass)
I hear a distinct resemblance to the ³Laudamus Te² of the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) in the exquisite violin solo and the walking bass. The musical texture is so complete that the first entry of the chorale comes as somewhat of a surprise.

Mvt. 3: Recitative & Arioso (Bass)
The reappearance of the a bass recitative with arioso over the walking bass is striking and gives the work a unified structure. The angular, diminished harmonies on ³Kronen² suggest the Crown of Thorns/Crown of Life dichotomy which we encounter so often in Bach.

Sidebar: T.A. Smith has a fascinating online article ³That Crown of Thorns² which analyses Bach¹s enigmatically-titled canon ,³Christus Coronaberis Crucfigeres² (Christ will crown the cross-bearers) showing Bach¹s contrapuntal play with the images of the earthly and crowns. I think the entire life and work of Bach can be explained in those two and a half bars. http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/crownofthorns.html

Mvt. 4: Chorale

It is always instructive to compare Bach¹s harmonizations of the same chorale, in this case with BWV 4. Here there is much more florid passagework in the bass, although it is hard to top the poignant suspensions in the ³Hallelujah² of BWV 4. As an example of the musical context outlined above, it¹s worth noting that the congregation sang ³Christ Lag in Todesbanden² before the Gospel every Sunday from Easter Day to Ascension Day. Thus, Bach¹s listeners would have sung the chorale shortly before the cantata was performed and undoubtedly made the musical and theological connections. Given the familiarity of the melody and the text, this movement is a likely target for the congregational ³sing-along² which was observed by contempraries in the performance of Telemann¹s cantatas. Bach may have been complicit in the possibility, as he did not transpose the chorale to a high key with a new text as he did in the Passions and cantatas such as ³Wachet Auf².

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (July 31, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
"The motet collections, which were so well-used that Bach ordered new copies, contained 16th and 17th century motets from 2 to 10 voices by German composers such as Schütz and Lassus and Italians such as Palestrina and Gabrieli."
Just a little correction about Lassus, who indeed worked and settled in Munich, but was not German. He was born in Mons (now in Belgium) and belongs to the so-called French-Flemish school, like Dufay, Josquin des Prés, Obrecht, Ockeghem and many others.

On the other hand, like Schütz, he stayed for some time in Italy (he is indeed sometimes named Orlando de Lasso) and his work was influenced by Italian music of the time. There were many interactions: for example Gabrieli studied with Lassus and was a teacher of Schütz!

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 31, 2010):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Just a little correction about Lassus, who indeed worked and settled in Munich, but was not German. >
You're absolutely right: I over-generalized. He in fact was like Josquin, a true international star. The music written for the Munich court, both in Latin and German, was widely influential on the generation of composers at the turn of the 17th century.

Bruce Simonson wrote (August 1, 2010):
Once again, thanks Doug, for your introduction to 158.

I haven't scanned the Bach-Cantatas archive yet (my bad), but I'm wondering about the violin part in the duet. My Barenreiter edition goes to pains to say that flute would also be suitable (especially since the part doesn't need to hit the G string, as I recall).

Anybody have thoughts on this? My druthers is violin, because of the strength of this part, but I have flute players who would probably jump at the opportunity.

I also remember the Barenreiter write-up in the score talks about the incompleteness (disjoint) nature of this cantata. I'll scan the Bach-Cantatas site (I'm guessing there's a lot on this), but this strikes me as one of the interesting idiosynchracies of this cantata.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 1, 2010):
[To Bruce Simonson] Some of these issues are dealt with in the essay on this work on the website: www.jsbachcantatas.com

Neil Halliday wrote (August 2, 2010):
Bruce Simonson wrote:
>I have flute players who would probably jump at the opportunity.<
Yes, the lowest note of this obbligato line is D above middle C, so it's playable on the flute as written.

Here is a sample: Amazon.com

------

Interestingly, Gardiner has by far the slowest tempo (8.16), heard in this sample on the violin (third track from bottom, on Disc I): Amazon.com

The frequent demisemi passages maintain their scintillating nature even at this tempo.

----

Does The violin better suit the character of the piece (more evocative)? I'm inclined to think so.

William Hoffman wrote (August 3, 2010):
Cantata BWV 158: "Der Friede sei mit dir" Origin, Use

EASTER TUESDAY: BWV 158, Der Friede sei mit dir [Solo SB, borrowed material]

4/11/1724 (Cycle 2); borrowed (#2, 3, ?BWV 258(a), Welt Ade, 2/2/1716 Purification)

Sources: original materianot extant; (1) score lost (?WFB); (3) score copy SPK P1047 (incomplete, Penzel ?1770); (3) parts set copy SPK St. 634 (Penzel ?1770)

Literature: BGA XXX (Naumann 1886), NBA KB I/10 (Dürr 1956); Whittaker I:328-36, Robertson 113f, Young 27f, Dürr 288-290; min. scores, Eulenberg/Hänssler *Grischkat 1959), Bärenreiter (Dürr 1960)

Text: unknown (#1-3); chorales, (#2) G. Albinius “Welt ade” (S.1),
(#4) Luther “Christ lag in Todesbanden (S.5)

The Weimar origins of Cantata BWV 158 may be pinpointed to a serendipitous situation in 1716, a leap year, when the Feast of Purification fell on a Sunday. This enabled Bach, who composed cantatas in Weimar only for Sunday services, usually four weeks apart, to create a cantata for a festival that rarely fell on a Sunday and in Leipzig also was observed as a Marian feast on February 2.

Bach had begun his four-week Weimar cantata cycle on Palm Sunday, March 25, 1714, with Cantata BWV 182, <Himmelskönig, sei wilkommen>, adapted later in Leipzig for the Feast of Annunciation during Lent on March 25 and performed in 1724 and repeated in 1728. Owing to multi- month periods of mourning in late 1714 and later 1715, Bach resumed his every four-week assignment with BWV163 in 11/24/1715, BWV 132 on 12/23/1715 (Fourth Sunday in Advent), and BWV 155 on 1/19/1716, all using texts specifically written for him by court poet Salomo Franck, <Evangelisches Andachts-Opffer> published in Weimar in 1715).

Two weeks later, on Sunday, February 2, Bach may have presented the original version of Cantata BWV 158, although no Franck text exists. Two weeks later, on Sexagesimae Sunday, February 16, Bach resumed his four-week output, presenting Cantata BWV 181 to an anonymous text or set a Franck text, “Mein Jesus, lass mein Herze sein,” with music that is no longer extant. Bach continued his four-week compositions to Franck texts as late as the last (24th Sunday) of Trinity, November 22, 1716.

Three facts about the surviving Bach cantata materials for Easter Tuesday show that there is no primary chorale for the third day of the Easter Festival, that Bach omitted chorales from his first cycle Cantata BWV 134 and JLB-11 in the third cycle; and that it appears for the second cycle that Cantata BWV 158 was presented on a double bill, with a repeat of Cantata BWV 4, <Christ lag in Todesbanden>, on April 3, 1725. This collateral evidence could suggest that Bach had no need to compose a chorale cantata for this feast day, and that, with the collaboration of St. Thomas Pastor Christian Weiss, chose to repeat the Easter Sunday Cantata BWV 4 on a double bill with the hybrid cantata BWV 158, which had materials surviving from a Purification cantata possibly composed in Weimar.

EASTER TUESDAY (NBA KB I/10, Dürr 1956)

Gospel, Luke 24:36-47 (Jesus appears to disciples); Epistle, Acts 13:26-33 (Paul: Christ risen)

Date (Cycle) BWV
Title
Type
/Notes

4/11/1724 (1) BWV 134I Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß Chorus/parody

4/3/1725 (2) (?BWV 4) Christ lag in Todesbanden ?repeat

and (?158) Der Friede sei mit dir solo SB/ borrowed

4/23/1726 (3) (JLB11) Er machet uns ledenbid solo, J.L. Bach

?4/19/1729 (4) BWV 145=P.30) Ich lebe, mein Herz, in deinem Ergötzen chorus/borrowed

3/27/1731 (BWV 134II) Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß repeat, revised

?4/12/1735 (BWV 134III) Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß repeat, revised

Summary of chorales Bach used for Easter Tuesday:

1724: BWV 134 (no chorale),

1725: BWV 158/2, G Albinius <Welt ade, ich bin dein müde>; 158/4 Luther <Christ lag> (S.5) (new); also ?repeat of BWV 4

1726: JLB-11 no chorale

1729: BWV 145 (P-30); a, Neumann “Auf, mein Herz” (S.1); 5, Hermann “Erschienen ist (S.14)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 3, 2010):
[To William Hoffman] Here is an example of a possible component in a Telemann blog/E-mail list,WIkipedia (with of course cantata analysis of Graupner or Stölzel too! ;)( - insert whatever format you can think of. This is a sample of Will Hoffman's extensive contributions to the Bach Yahoo cantata E-mail group (which is linked to the Bach Cantatas Website).

Any ideas or thoughts would be greatly welcomed.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 3, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Three facts about the surviving Bach cantata materials for Easter Tuesday show that there is no primary chorale for the third day of the Easter Festival, that Bach omitted chorales from his first cycle Cantata BWV 134 and JLB-11 in the third cycle; and that it appears for the second cycle that Cantata BWV 158 was presented on a double bill, with a repeat of Cantata BWV 4, <Christ lag in Todesbanden>, on April 3, 1725. This collateral evidence could suggest that Bach had no need to compose a chorale cantata for this feast day, >
The chorales were principally assigned to a season ("tempore") rather than a specific festival. Thus "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" was sung during the Easter season on every Sunday (and weekday) until it changed on Ascension Day. The absence of a "proper" hymn doesn't mean that the festival did not require a cantata. The reappearance of BWV 4 reenforces the recurring use of "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" during Paschaltide. Bach wrote three surviving cantatas for Easter Tuesday. That pretty much establishes that a cantata was required on that festival day, whether Bach wrote it himself or used another composer's.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 3, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
<< This collateral evidence could suggest that Bach had no need to compose a chorale cantata for this feast day, >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< That pretty much establishes that a cantata was required on that festival day, whether Bach wrote it himself or used another composer's. >
I believe that Will has been presenting his thought that Bachs chorale based (second cycle) cantatas were structured in response to external requirements, rather than to Bach’s own large-scale (annual cycle, or more) conception. I am doing my best to keep an open mind.

In that context, for Will to say that Bach had no need to compose a chorale cantata is not at all to say that Bach had no need to compose a cantata, period, as Dougs reply suggests.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 3, 2010):
Nice to hear a conductor who agrees with one's stated views: Amazon.com (last track)

The extension of the notes under the fermatas gives the chorale a pleasing rhythmic flexibility.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 3, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< In that context, for Will to say that Bach had no need to compose a chorale cantata is not at all to say that Bach had no need to compose a cantata, period, as Dougs reply suggests. >
Please correct me if I misunderstood. I was only saying that the lack of a "proper" hymn for a particular festival is not an indicator that there wasn't a required cantata. In general, chorales were assigned by season.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 3, 2010):
Douglas Cowling :
< Please correct me if I misunderstood. I was only saying that the lack of a "proper" hymn for a particular festival is not an indicator that there wasn't a required cantata. In general, chorales were assigned by season. >
Thanks for the clarification. I see that your point is not in contradiction to Will’s statement.

 

BWV 152 & 158 this weekend in San Francisco Bay Area

Richard Mix wrote (January 6, 201):
I will be singing in a program of Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn plus odds and ends that the Freeway Philharmonic (http://www.freewayphil.com/) have put together before at various church jobs. Below are details and my program notes, a bit of an exercise in six degrees of separation at moments, but the music hangs together quite nicely, I think. Let me publicly thank Francis Browne for making translations available and for graciously assenting to a tweek or two!
Walking the line:
Arias and cantatas Bach & his contemporaries

Friday, 7 January 2011 at 11:15 AM
St. David of Wales Catholic Church
5641 Esmond Ave., Richmond

Sunday, 9 January 2011, 8:00 PM
St. Luke’s Lutheran Church,
2491 San Miguel Dr., Walnut Creek

Meine Seele hört im Sehen G. Fr. Händel
Ad te levavi oculos Fr. Couperin
*Wie zittern und wanken (from BWV 105) J. S. Bach
Komm, süsses Kreuz (Matthew’s Passion) J. S. Bach
Ich folge dir gleichfals (John’s Passion) J. S. Bach

*** Intermission ***

*Der Friede sei mit dir, BWV 158 J. S. Bach
*Concerto for recorder, oboe, violin, bassoon & continuo, P. 403 A. Vivaldi
Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn, BWV 152 J. S. Bach
* Sunday night only

Jennifer Owen, soprano
Richard Mix, bass
Ondine Young, violin
Marion Rubinstein, recorder
Moira Little, baroque oboe
Amy Brodo, bass & treble viols
Roy Wheldon, bass viol & violone
Yueh Chou, baroque bassoon
Jonathan Salzedo, organ & harpsichord
Ann Callaway, harpsichord

can be traced back much further. This attitude to nature is evident in the poetry of BrockesIrdisches Vergnügen in Gott, from whose 1724 printing Handel, already resident in London but much more at home in his mother tongue, drew the text for Meine Seele hört in Sehen.

The Old Testament portrays the wilderness as a refuge from oppressors as well as a terrifying desert. Couperin’s motet Ad te levavi oculos meos would originally have been sung during the first part of low masses (up to the Elevation of the Host) at the chapel of Versailles.

Bach’s two surviving Passions contain descriptions of the contrasting journeys of two followers of Jesus. The aria Komm, Süßes Kreuz comments on Simon of Cyrene helping to carry the cross, while Ich folge dir gleichfalls is sung after the Evangelist recounts the scattering of the disciples after Jesus’ arrest, with only Simon Peter following (albeit at a safe distance). The cantata BWV 105, Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht describes a sinner’s faltering steps toward repentance. The 3rd movement makes telling use of the shivering effect on string instruments pioneered by Lully in Isis (1677) and familiar to Mark Morris fans from the chattering chorus in Purcell’s King Arthur (1691).

The shortest of Bach’s cantatas, Der Friede sei mit dir (BWV 158) has come down to us as a cantata for Easter III in a posthumous copy by Bach’s last pupil, Christian Friedrich Penzel, who also noted an alternate designation as a cantata for the Purification (Feb. 2, nowadays known as the Presentation or Candlemas). For this reason it is assumed that the central aria, paralleling the canticle of Simeon (see 201 in the pew hymnal), is a fragment of some original version, possibly from Bach’s Weimar period (1708-1717). 1724 and 1735 have both been proposed as the possible date of the reworking for Leipzig, with the opening arioso on the resurrected Jesus’ greeting to the disciples and the closing chorale on Luther’s Easter hymn (see hymnal 370 for the other verses).

Vivaldi’s Concerto per flauto [dolce, i.e. recorder], aubois, [sic, a witness to the ascendacy of French woodwind builers] violino, fagotto e basso (403 in Pincerle’s catalogue) is one of a series of chamber concerti that circulated throughout Europe in spite of being unpublished. Bach most likely became acquainted with them at the court in Dresden; the transcriptions he made of other works by Vivaldi suggest that he was an admirer.

In 18c Weimar the government year officially began on a Monday, so the Sunday following Christmas was both an occasion for a New Year’s cantata exhorting citizens to start off on the right foot and a vacation for the choir. The text for the sermon (Luke 2: 33-40) relates the second part of Simeon’s prophesy at Jesus’ presentation in the temple: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 158: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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