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Cantata BWV 158
Der Friede sei mit dir
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of March 23, 2014 (4th round)

Wiliam Hoffman wrote (March 23, 2014):
Cantata 158, Der Friede sei mit dir: Intro. & Commentary

Bach’s bass solo Cantata BWV 158, "Der Friede sei mit dir" (Peace be with you) is a brief, unique, hybrid work involving two lesser feast days, based on passages in Luke’s gospel. Its outer movements are for the Easter Tuesday festival when Christ appeared to his disciples after his Resurrection. The inner two movements are appropriate for the Feast of the Purification (February 2). Its four movements have an unusual format of a recitative with one-measure introductory arioso in refrain, the central aria with soprano chorale trope and ritornelli, a two-part recitative-arioso, and the closing four-part chorale. It is scored for a quintet chamber ensemble of bass with soprano, oboe, violin, and continuo. Its unusual text includes biblical phrases with two verbal mottos in the opening and third movements. Because only a later copy of its score and parts set survives it has been dated to Leipzig only before 1735, with no actual performance dates. Its musical and textual parallels in the first three movements, however, are found only in Bach’s third annual church cycle of 1725-28. Also, the movements are firmly rooted in G Major ( Nos. 1-4, Easter) or its relative e minor (Nos. 2-3, Purification).

Lasting about 11 minutes with the sole aria taking half that time, Cantata 158 has elements designed to appeal to the Leipzig congregation. The opening arioso refrain, “Peace be with you,” Jesus’ blessing to his disciples, begins the gospel for the Easter Tuesday festival (Luke 24:36-47), with an anonymous poetic text, possibly by Picander, that reflects on the post-resurrection situation of Christ and his disciples. The succeeding extended duet with a popular chorale, "Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde" (World, farewell, I am weary of thee), shares sentiments involving Simeon’s canticle, the Nunc dimittis (Luke 2:28-31), of the servant departing in peace, that is the theme of the Feast of the Purification. In the bass recitative-arioso, the believer while in this world becomes a child of peace and dies in peace, with the arioso again quoting the believer’s closing line from the preceding Purification aria, “Da prang ich gezieret mit himmlischen Kronen” (there I shall be resplendent adorned with heavenly crowns), replacing the Crucifixion cross of thorns. The signature closing congregational Easter hymn, Luther’s “Christ lag in Todesbanden” (Christ lies in death’s bondage), celebrates in Stanza 5 the sacrifice on the cross of the “true Easter lamb.” 1

Cantata 158 embraces both ends of Luke’s gospel with its emphasis on redemption, from Simeon’s canticle in praise of the infant Christ to the risen Christ’s benediction to his gathered disciples. A brief yet satisfying work that has strong, unified character and inherent appeal, this solo bass cantata speaks of the affirmation of discipleship, a meditation on Christian death, the seeming dichotomy of the “Crown of Thorns/Crown of Life,” and a blend of mature Bach with older elements, as found in previous BCML Cantata 158 discussion comments from Thomas Braatz, Peter Smaill, Douglas Cowling, and Julian Mincham.

The two Purification movements (Nos. 2 and 3) are thought to have originated in Weimar and may have been performed on the Feast of the Purification, February 2, 1716 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany), as BWV 158(a), "Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde" (World, farewell, I am weary of thee). The three original movements would have been: 1. bass aria with soprano chorale, "Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde" (same dictum); 2. bass recitative and arioso, "Nun, Herr, regiere meinen Sinn" (Now, Lord, govern my thoughts); and 3. probably an appropriate closing plain chorale such as BWV 382, "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (With peace and joy I journey therein). In its surviving form, Cantata BWV 158, "Der Friede sei mit dir" (Peace be with you), was composed for Easter Tuesday (Third Day of Easter Feast), possibly April 11, 1724 or April 3, 1725; Rifkin suggests as possible dates April 15, 1727 and March 30, 1728).

Biblical Readings & Chorales

For the record, these are the readings for the two feast days, involving the beginning and ending of Luke’s Gospel:

+Event 1 (Mvts. 2 & 3), Feast of Purification of Mary. Readings: Epistle: Malachi 3:1-4 (The Lord shall suddenly come to his temple); Gospel: Luke 2: 22-32 (Presentation and Simeon’s Canticle), see BCW, [German text is Luther 1545, English is Authorised (King James) Version 1611]. The Introit Psalm is 48:10-11, 2 (Roman Catholic Proper of the Mass): Suscepimus, Deus, misericórdiam tuam (We have received Thy mercy, O God”), says Martin Petzoldt in his Bach Commentary.2
+Event 2, (Mvts. 1 & 4) Easter Tuesday (3rd day of Easter), Readings: Epistle: Acts 13:26-33 (Paul at Antioch preaches Christ is risen); Gospel: Luke 24: 36-47 (Jesus appears to the Twelve); see BCW Introit Psalm 16, In domino fido (Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust, KJV), Prophecy of Christ’s Suffering and Resurrection. 2

The two chorales on the theme of “Death and Dying” and the “Resurrection,” respectively, are:

+No. 2. Chorale Text & Melody, "Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde": Johann Georg Albinius 1649, Johann Rosenmüller 1649 (Zahn No. 6531) [no BCW Albinius Short Biography, chorale text or melody listed]; see sidebar article below.
+No. 4. Chorale Text & Melody: Luther’s Easter season “Christ lag in Todesbanden (S.5)3

The movements, scoring, text first line, key and time signature are:4

1. Recitative (Bass, Continuo): “Der Friede sei mit dir” (Peace be with you, Luke 24:36c, arioso); “Du ängstliches Gewissen!” (You anxious conscience!, ); D—G, 4/4.
2. Aria (Bass): “Welt, ade, ich bin dein müde” / Salems Hütten stehn mir an (World, farewell, I am weary of you /the tents of Salem suit me better); and Chorale (Soprano): “Welt, ade, ich bin dein müde / Ich will nach dem Himmel zu (World, farewell, I am weary of you / I want to go to heaven); accompaniment (Violino solo, Oboe col Soprano, Continuo); G, 4/4.
3. Recitative and Arioso (Bass, Continuo): “Nun, Herr, regiere meinen Sinn” (Now, Lord, govern my thoughts) arioso, “Da bleib ich, da hab ich Vergnügen zu wohnen” (There I shall stay, there I shall have delight to live); closes with repeat of last line, aria (No. 2), “Da prang ich gezieret mit himmlischen Kronen” (there I shall be resplendent adorned with heavenly crowns); e, 4/4.
4. Chorale (SATB, instrumentation not extant) “Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm” (Here is the true Easter Lamb), e minor, 4/4.

Cantata 158 Commentary & Discussion

Cantata 158 uncertain history and genesis is summarized in Alfred Dürr’s The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach5 in the BCML Discussions - Part 2 (2nd round), He concludes: “Despite all the open questions that remain concerning this cantata and its limited dimensions, it is nonetheless a work of high artistic rank that makes considerable demands upon its vocal and instrumental soloists. We should therefore be grateful that, at least in its present state, it has survived.”

Thomas Braatz's BCW Provenance discusses questions and theories involving Cantata 158, particularly why Bach reworked conflicting materials, the state of the presumed original Purification materials with what materials might have been omitted, and the conflict with the extant instrumentation. Additional information is found in Discussion 2 (Ibid.), “Thomas Braatz wrote (January 21, 2007),” responding to Peter Smaill, who wrote (January 21, 2007) with these two observat:

+ Cantata 158 “incipit "Der Friede sei mit dir" ("Peace be with you") actually relates in the Lutheran lectionary to the First Sunday after Easter, "Quasimodogeniti", and indeed Bach does set the text emphatically in BWV 67/6, also set for Bass (the voice of Jesus) and rendered there as "Friede sei mit Euch", for that day in the Church year, not the third day after Easter.
+ Possibly “this pastiche Cantata was assembled as a funeral piece, or at least a meditation more generally on Christian death, a possibility heightened by the second use by Bach of his predecessor Johannes Rosenmüller's ‘Welt ade, ich bin dein müde.’ This chorale was associated with the contemplation of death in BWV 27, [“Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende?” (Who knows how near my end is to me?), Trinity +16, 1726, c--Bb] which is also suspected by Dürr as being an assembly job.

Other Cantata 158 themes and issues are found in Douglas Cowling’s Round 3 Discussion Introduction, “NOTES ON MOVEMENTS OF BWV 158.6 He describes the opening arioso refrain and recitative, “Peace be with your,” with its Jesus dialogue character; the soprano-bass duet, “Welt, ade, ich bin dein müde” (World, farewell, I am weary of you), a musical resemblance to the duet, Laudaumus te in the B-Minor Mass; the bass recitative-arioso, “Nun, Herr, regiere meinen Sinn” (Now, Lord, govern my thoughts), “angular, diminished harmonies on “Kronen” suggest the “Crown of Thorns/Crown of Life” dichotomy which we encounter so often in Bach”; and the closing chorale setting of the popular congregational “Christ lag in Todesbanden” (Christ lies in death’s bondage). “Sidebar: T.A. Smith has a fascinating online article ‘That Crown of Thorns’ which analyses Bach¹s enigmatically-titled canon, ’Christus Coronaberis Crucfigeres’ (Christ will crown the cross-bearers) showing Bach’s 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.” ( )

The origin of Cantata 158 and the lack of contextual comparisons to the other two Bach Cantatas, BWV 134 and 145, for the Easter Tuesday feast day are found in Julian Mincham’s introductory Commentary (revised 2012): 7

Easter Tuesday Cantatas & Cantata 158

<<This is another of those problematic works which is almost certainly incomplete and about which little is known. Dürr [Ibid.: 289], quoting Spitta, suggests that the second and third movements may have originally been part of a cantata for the Purification and that the outer movements were added subsequently when it was performed for Easter celebrations. Whether other movements may have been lost is unknown.

The various purposes to which these two arias and recitatives may have been put mean that there is little point in making contextual comparisons with other cantatas for Easter Tuesday. In any case the history and, indeed the very authenticity of C 145, is doubtful and C 134, from the first cycle, was itself a parody of a secular cantata, much altered for subsequent performances (ibid p 289-290).

Thus it seems that there is no complete extant cantata which is known to have been definitively composed especially for this day. Nevertheless, we should be grateful for whatever has survived if only, as in the case of C 158, for the superb bass aria.

Like three of the later cantatas from the second cycle, C 158 begins with a recitative. Unfortunately nothing can be inferred from this as it may well have originally been preceded by an aria or chorus; or, indeed both. It is a hybrid movement of the type that Bach was often want to use in early works, a combination of arioso and recitative. However, its peaceful confidence and persuasive tranquility both sit happily with Bach’s later styles.>>

Mincham now adds this comment: “The main issue with this cantata would seem to be the dating of it. The aria is a fine example of mature Bach quite probably, as you say, from around the time of the 3rd cycle, but I suspect it may have been inserted into a much earlier work of which movements have possibly been lost. I listed it, for that reason, as an 'early work' despite the maturity of the bass aria but it really is a case of 'you pays your money and you make your choice!'”

Gardiner & Hofmann Liner Notes

A brief description of Cantata 158 is found in John Elliot Gardiner’s 2007 liner notes to the Soli Deo Gloria recording:8 “The final piece in our programme is sometimes considered an oddity, a composite work, even a fragment. Presented in its present form some time during the late 1720s for Easter Tuesday, BWV 158 Der Friede sei mit dir is a fine addition to Bach’s two celebrated cantatas for solo bass (BWV 56 and 82). It condenses and at the same time refines the mood of the bass aria in BWV 67, Jesus’ words ‘Peace be unto you’ this time addressed not to the disciples but to the ‘troubled conscience’. The ravishing, world-weary aria with high violin obbligato and a superimposed chorale (No.2) seems an entirely appropriate accompaniment to the distribution of the Eucharist, the function of Part II of all Bach’s doubledecker cantatas. It ends with the fifth verse of Luther’s great Easter hymn ‘Christ lag in Todesbanden’" [© John Eliot Gardiner 2007, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage]. Thus, it is possible that Cantata 158 was presented on a double bill, with Cantata 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," before the sermon.

The problems with Cantata 158 and a brief description of the work are found in Klaus Hofmann’s 2008 liner notes to the Masaaki Sazuki BIS recording: 9 <<The problems . . . begin with the form in which this cantata has survived. It exists only in copies from the late eighteenth century and, according to these sources, it was intended for two separate occasions – for Easter Tuesday and for the Feast of the Purification of Mary (2nd February). The text as a whole, however, is not ideally suited to either occasion. Two movements – the opening recitative and closing chorale – refer to Easter, whilst the other two – an aria with integrated chorale, and the recitative that follows – allude to the Purification of Mary. In all probability, movements from various sources have here been rather thoughtlessly assembled into a new cantata, perhaps by an arranger rather than by Bach himself.

From a purely musical perspective there is nothing wrong with this combination of movements; at any rate, it has allowed valuable cantata movements to be preserved. The arioso-like treatment of the appeal for peace, which appears three times, provides the introductory recitative with clear structural divisions and a harmonic conclusion. The centre piece of the cantata is the large-scale bass aria with its demanding violin solo (which admittedly was originally intended for the flute); here a hymn strophe by Johann Georg Albinus (1649) is inter foliated line by line, set for soprano and oboe. By alluding to the last lines of the aria, the following recitative creates an attractive connection with what has gone before it. The work then concludes with the fifth strophe of Martin Luther’s Easter hymn Christ lag in Todes Banden (Christ lay in death’s bonds; 1524) in Bach’s simple, powerful setting.>> © Klaus Hofmann 2008

Although earlier Bach scholars, beginning with Spitta, thought that the middle two Purification movements of Cantata 158 originated in Weimar, more recent scholarship, on the basis of musical and textual parallels to Leipzig works in the second half of the 1720s, suggests that Cantata 158 was composed entirely in Leipzig during the time of the third cantata annual cycle, 1725-28. Joshua Rifkin in liner notes to his 1984 recording suggested possible Easter Tuesday dates of 15 April 1727 and 30 March 1728. 10

Cantata 158 Cycle III Characteristics

Cantata 158 “exhibits enough of the characteristics of the late Cycle III cantatas to render an origin in 1726/27 highly likely,” says Richard D. P. Jones in his new The Creative Development of JSB: Volume II: 1717-1750.11 Jones cites correspondencesin the first three movements, including the second and third, which were presumed to have been composed in Weimar 10 years earlier for the Feast of the Purification. The first movement arioso-recitative alternation form of a b a1 c a2 is “just like the equivalent movement” in alto solo Cantata 169, “Gott soll allein mein Herze haben” (God shall alone my heart have), for the 18th Sunday after Trinity, October 20, 1726 (?Christian Weise Sr. or ?Picander text). “And in both cases the arioso highlights a motto text, sung at the beginning, and end to variants of the same theme.” In this opening internal motto text blessing, “Der Friede sei mit dir,” Christ’s first words to his disciples after his Resurrection (Luke 24:36),” the “bass might be viewed as the vox Christi, were it not that Jesus’ arioso is troped by a commentary, sung as secco by the same singer.”

“The second movement is a chorale aria of the type not found in Bach before cycle III [1725-28], where it occurs in [two soprano-bass dialogues,] Cantata BWV 49 [Ich gehe und such mit Verlangen” (I go and search with longing), Trinity +20, 1726; ?Picander text), Movement No. 6], and BWV 58 [“Ach Gott wie manches Herzeleid II (Ah God, how many a heartache, Sunday after New Year’s, 1727; Anonymous, ?Picander text), “Nos. 1 and 2. Like those two cantatas (BWV 49 and 58), the Cantata 158/2 aria is sung by the bass and the troped chorale by a soprano, says Jones. Here there is no Soul-Jesus identification and the two singers are not separate characters.”

The succeeding bass recitative-arioso is another motto movement, this time external, repeating the closing line of the second movement aria “in music closely related,” says Jones. “This joint textual-musical link between movements clearly parallels those that have already been noted” in [bass solo] Cantata 56, “Ich will den Kreutzstab gerne tragen” (I would gladly bear the cross-beam; Trinity +19, 1726; text ?Picander from Neumeister I), Nos. 1 and 4, and Cantata 49, Nos. 2 and 3.

Easter Tuesday Hybrid Cantatas 134, 158, 145

As Julian Mincham has noted above (Ibid.), all three Bach works for the Easter Tuesday feast day [BWV 134, 158, and 145) have hybrid or parodied materials allowing little textual comparisons. Three facts about the surviving Bach cantata materials for Easter Tuesday show that Bach had no primary chorale for the third day of the Easter Festival, that Bach omitted chorales from his first cycle 1724 Cantata BWV 134 and JLB-11 (1727) in the third cycle; and that it appears for the second cycle that Cantata BWV 158 could have been presented on a double bill, with a repeat of the Easter Season de tempore Cantata BWV 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden,” on April 3, 1725. As Gardiner observes above (Ibid.) “The ravishing, world-weary aria with high violin obbligato and a superimposed chorale (No.2) seems an entirely appropriate accompaniment to the distribution of the Eucharist, the function of Part II of all Bach’s doubledecker cantatas.”

All the cantatas quickly assembled for the annual three-day Easter Festival (Sunday to Tuesday), show Bach struggling to find music following the annual Good Friday vesper service oratorio Passions. He usually resorted to reperformances from Weimar or earlier (BWV 31 and 4) and Leipzig-Köthen parodies (BWV 249a, 66, 134) or cantatas of Johann Ludwig Bach (JLB 15, 10, 11) and Georg Philipp Telemann (TVWV 8:6 or 1:877) or the Telemann-Bach hybrid, BWV 145, “Ich lebe, mein Herze, zu deinem Ergötzen” (I live, my heart, for your delight,” ?1729, to a Picander cycle published text.

As to the exact date of the first Easter Tuesday performance of Cantata 158, 1725 is possible, 1726 probably not since Cantata JLB 11 is a two-part work presented before after the Sermon or Communion, 1727 shows no Bach recorded Easter season performances; 1728 usually suggests possible reperformances; and 1729 is assumed to be Cantata 145. Further collateral evidence suggests that in the 1750 estate division of Bach’s works, for Easter Tuesday Friedemann got the score of first cycle Cantata 134 (now lost) and Emmanuel the parts set, and Friedemann probably got the score and parts set of Cantata 145, since it was not found in Emmanuel’s 1790 estate catalogue.

Cantata 158 Provenance

The second cycle distribution between Friedemann (scores) and Anna Magdalena (parts) shows that she received only the chorale cantatas, some 44 of 48 for the period of Trinity Sunday to Easter Sunday, and only one, Cantata 112, of the 12 in the Easter-Pentecost season of mostly non-chorale cantatas. Friedemann generally took the Easter season cantata scores and parts sets or they were part of the third-cycle distribution shared with Emmanuel, because in 1726 Bach had presented almost entirely works of Johann Ludwig Bach from late Epiphany Time to the Pentecost three-day feast, excepting Cantata 43 on the Feast of Ascension.

Thus, it can be assumed that Friedemann inherited Cantata 158 score and parts set. It is quite possible that the extant score and parts set copied in the hand of Christian Friedrich Penzel, Bach student and later copyist, and dated “1770” with the double reference to Easter Tuesday and the Feast of the Purification, was loaned from Friedemann. At that time Friedemann also had loaned two chorale cantata scores (BWV 9 and 97) to Bach first biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel, who was unable to purchase from Friedemann all 52 chorale cantatas presumed to be in his possession, all of which later were sold and many lost. Friedemann also had a history of loaning the works to be copied by the Leipzig publisher Breitkopf as listed in the catalogs beginning in 1761.

The most likely premiere of Cantata 158 is 1725, 1728 or later. If indeed Cantata 158 was composed and performed on Easter Tuesday 1725, it would be the first example of later Cycle III cantatas with mottos and troped aria-chorale duets, as Richard D.P. Jones shows above (Ibid.). On the other hand, it is possible that Cantata 158 was performed on March 30, 1728. Later performances also are possible, with involvement of young son Emmanuel. As has been noted recently, three cantatas with published Picander texts may be linked to Emmanuel in the early 1730s: BWV 145, the text of BWV 84, and lost Cantata BWV Anh. 191.12


1 See BCW Cantata 158 Details & Discography, Scoring: Score Vocal& Piano [1.16 MB],; Score, BGA [O.93 MB], References: BGA XXXII (Cantatas 151-60, Ernst Naumann, 1886), NBA KB-I/10 (Cantatas for Easter Tuesday, Alfred Dürr, 1956), Bach Compendium BC A 61& A 171, Zwang: K 172.
2 See 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, 20042007: 735) text 755f; commentary 656ff. The unknown librettist, possibly Picander could have been assisted by Bach’s pastor Christian Weise Sr. (1671-1736), who preached the sermon after Cantata 55 at the St. Thomas church that day in 1726 (Ibid., 627).
3 BCW chorale text and melody information, see (Francis Browne English translation) and melody
4 See German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW
See Dürr’s conclusions in The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 290).
6 BCML Discussion Week of August 1, 2010,
7 See Mincham Commentary, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Chapter 70,
8See Gardiner liner notes,[sdg131_gb].pdf, and BCW Recording details
9 Hofmann liner notes, see[BIS-SACD1691].pdf, BCW Recording details,
10 See Rifkin liner notes, BCW; cited in David Schulenberg’s “Der Friede sei mit dir,” in Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 134).
11 Jones, “Music to Delight the Spirit,” The Cöthen and early Leipzig Years: 1717-29, Sacred and secular: the vocal works (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 180).
12 See Peter Wollny, “Zwei Bach-Funde in Mügeln: C.P.E. Bach, Picander and und Leipzig Kirchenmusik in den 1730er Jahren,’ Bach Jahrbuch 96 (2010), pp. 111-51, as summarized and cited in Jones’ book (Ibid.: 195). A summary, “Introduction - CPE Bach: The Complete Works,” also is found on line

To come: Albinius’ funeral chorale, “Welt, ade! ich bin dein müde” (World, farewell, I am weary of thee), text and music, and other uses of Bach, Johann Kuhnau, and in the Schemelli Songbook of 1736.

Wiliam Hoffman wrote (March 25, 2014):
Cantata 158: Chorale 'Welt, ade! ich bin dein müde'

Would be added later.


Cantata BWV 158: 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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