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Cantata BWV 164
Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of August 21, 2016 (4th round)

William Hofgfman wrote (August 26, 2016):
Cantata 164 & Trinity 13

Bach’s solo SATB Cantata BWV 164, “Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet” (You, who take your name from Christ), was likely his last work composed to a text of Weimar Court poet Salomo Franck, for the 13th Sunday after Trinity in 1725. This intimate 17-minute near-symmetrical work chamber involving three arias interspersed with two recitatives. It closes with a tutti plain BAR form chorale, “Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn” (Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God) by Elizabeth Creutziger (1524). It is a Catechism Penitence hymn, the melody published in 1540 with the text, “Herr Christ, der einge/einig Gottes Sohn” (Lord Christ, God’s only son), using Stanza 5, “Ertöt uns durch dein Güte” (Mortify us by thy grace). Bach’s musical sermon is scored for pairs of flutes and oboes, with string and continuo.

To Franck’s traditional Gospel-focused text, Luke 10:23-27, the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Great Commandment, Bach set multi-sectional two dance-style pastorale arias, the opening 9/8 tenor aria with strings and the central 6/8 alto aria with two flutes, “Nur durch Lieb und durch Erbarmen” (Only through love and through compassion). For the soprano-bass duet in 2/2 alle breve old style (no. 5), “Händen, die sich nicht verschließen, / Wird der Himmel aufgetan” (Hands that are not clasped shut / will open heaven), Bach uses the tutti winds and violins in unison. In the first recitative (no. 2) for bass, Bach sets as Vox Christi Franck’s verses from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:7, 7:7), blessed are the merciful (Beatitudes 5) and the neighbor’s sighs, with a closing admonition to the Priest and Levite who pass by their wounded neighbor. Bach sets the second recitative for tenor and strings (No. 4) as a contrasting lyrical Christian reflection.1

Cantata BWV 164 was first performed on August 26, 1725, during the abbreviated Trinity Time at the Thomas Church before the sermon of Pastor Christian Weise (1671-1736), says Martin Petzoldt in BACH Commentary, Vol.1, Trinity Sundays.2 The Gospel for this Sunday is the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan and the Great Commandment to love God found in the paired thematic pattern of parable and the next Sunday’s teaching or Lukan (17:11-19) miracle of the healing of lepers. Here Franck’s text offers Bach a musical exegesis linking the Lutheran contrast between the Old Testament strict law and the New Testament spiritual emphasis on faith involving the “recognition of sin” and “how one should rightly live before God,” says John Eliot Gardiner (see below, “Cantata 164: Chamber-Like Proportions).

“Cantatas for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, performed at Dreikönigskirche, Frankfurt),” says Gardiner. “Sure enough, after the breezy pleasures of last week’s celebratory pieces – a brief reprieve – came the cold shower of our man’s resumption of the earnest process of musical exegesis Bach saw the exposition of scripture-al exegesis as the main meditative goal of his church music, in particular the need to forge audible links in the listener’s mind between the ‘historical’ (‘what [is] written in the book of the law’) and spiritual attributes of the texts to be set. Here, on the 13th Sunday after Trinity, he is faced with a Gospel (Luke 10: 23-37) centered on the parable of the Good Samaritan which stresses man’s slipperiness in evading his responsibilities to his neighbour, and an Epistle (Galatians 3:15-22) in which Paul probes the distinction between faith and the law. This was adopted by Luther in his twelve-verse hymn paraphrasing the Ten Commandments, ‘Dies sind die heil’gen zehn Gebot’, insisting that their purpose, and the first step in the believer’s understanding of them, was the ‘recognition of sin’ and ‘how one should rightly live before God’, a theme that had preoccupied Bach from the outset of his first Leipzig cycle.”

On the 13th Sunday after Trinity in Bach’s Time, the day’s teaching Epistle, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (3:15-22), further emphasizes the distinction between faith and law, here God’s inittial covenant promise to Abraham. The full German and English texts are found at BCW, (The German text is that of Luther’s translation published in 1545, the English is the Authorised (King James) Version 1611). The Introit Psalm is Psalm 70, Deus in Adjutorium (Make haste, O God), says Petzoldt (Ibid: 349). This text is found at “David’s plea of relief [Hülffe?] from the enemy” is Petzoldt’s description of Psalm 70. Psalm 70 also is an alternate Introit Psalm for the12th Sunday after Trinity as Bach had the opportunity to use a polyphonic motet setting of Psalm 70, perhaps the Orlando Lassus (1532-94) version (6 voices), says BCW contributor Douglas Cowling (hear

In the readings for the Sundays in Trinity Time, the 13th Sunday after Trinity in Bach’s time was the beginning of the third mini-cycle, “Works of Faith and Love.” Extending through the Feast of St. Michael and all Angels on September 29, these readings from the New Testament Gospel and the Epistle Letters of Paul are teachings practical in character and application.

The closing chorale in solo Cantata BWV 164, “Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet” (1725), “Herr Christ, der einge/einig Gottes Sohn” (Lord Christ, God’s only son) is found in the NLGB as No. 231 (P. 614). It is an omnes tempore Catechism Peintence hymn and also can be sung on the 18th Sunday after Trinity and the First and Sixth Sundays After Epiphany. Bach’s uses are as the plain closing chorale in Weimar solo Cantata 132/6 for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, 1715 (based on its use at Advent 3 and 4 in the Weimar hymn books of 1708 and 1713); in Cantata BWV 22/5 (S. 5, Estomihi 1723); and as chorale Cantata BWV 96 (Tr. 18; 1724; repeated 1734, 1745). Cantata BWV Anh. 156 (Breitkopf Catalog 1761, JSB attribution), “Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn,” is now attributed to Telemann as an Annunciation Cantata, TVWV 1:732 (text Neumeister IV, 1714-17)

Cantata BWV 132/6 (1715 text) is a setting of the closing verse 5 of Elisabeth Kreuziger’s (1524) “Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn”. “It is called for at this point in the librettto, but Alfred Dürr believes that there is no missing chorale setting and that Bach may have intentionally dropped the idea of performing a chorale at this point,” says Francis Browne (BCW, Browne Text & Translation of Chorale, Bach also may have used this setting instead to close Cantata 164, transposed from A to B-flat Major. Information on the text and melody are found at BCW

Zreutziger’s BCW Short Biography (c.1500-1535) is found at

Trinity 13 Cantatas, Chorales3

In his first three successive years in Leipzig, Bach was able to set three cantatas in each cycle appropriate for the 13th Sunday after Trinity: chorus Cantata BWV 77, “Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben” (You must love God, your Lord, Luke 10:27) in 1723, possito a text of Pastor Weise; chorale Cantata BWV 33, “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, / Mein Hoffnung steht auf Erden” (Alone towards you, Lord Jesus Christ, / my hope on earth looks) in 1724, to the Conrad Hubert 1540 penitential hymn text); and Cantata 164 to the Franck text. Having completed three Bach cantatas for this Sunday as a “well-ordered church music to the glory of God,” Bach was context in 1727 to present cousin Johann Ludwig Bach’s Cantata JLB 16, “Ich aber ging für dir über, und sahe dich” (I again go above for thee, and see thee, Exodus).

Textually, these four cantatas and their congregational hymns for the 13th Sunday after Trinity are as significant as their musical character. While all four works embrace fundamental Christian concepts, they show Bach increasingly using poetic madrigalian, plain-verse and hymn texts of a more didactic yet synchronistic, all-embracing spiritual character. They reflect the teachings as found in the Trinity Time omnes tempore half of the Church Year as well as the sentiments of Pietism and the theme/practice of Christ’s Great Commandment and the Law, and, finally, the Christian principles of discipleship and service. Thus among the challenges Bach faced in securing effective libretto texts to set to music was not only their inherent literary quality and adaptability to musical setting but also their theological emphases and sentiments.

<<The title and subject of Bach’s first cantata (BWV 77) for this Sunday in 1723 is the “Great Commandment,” “Du sollst Gott, deinen Herren, lieben vom ganzen Herzen (Thou shalt, God, thy Lord, love from the whole heart), as the Lutheran Church year cycle enters its mid-point in the half-year Trinity Time. The opening chorus fantasia in mixolydian mode quotes in the solo trumpet the canto of Martin Luther’s fundamental Catechism teaching hymn of 1524, “Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot” (These are the sacred Ten Commandments), while the chorus itself gives Jesus’ summary of the Law, quoting the day’s Gospel, Luke 10:27, as found originally in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. The libretto, possibly by Bach’s pastor, Christian Weiss Sr., is considered “wholly original, connected, and well-reasoned,” says W. Gilles Whittaker in the Cantatas of J. S. Bach.4 The attendant three Luther chorale preludes in G Major reinforce the Cantata BWV 77 basic theme of “Discipleship” through the “Coming-to-Life of the New Self,” says Calvin R. Stepert in My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance and Discipleship in the Music of Bach.5

The central Lutheran Catechism teaching theme of “Confession, Penitence, and Justification” is portrayed in the 1724 Chorale Cantata BWV 33, “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” (Alone with Thee, Lord Jesus Christ), Bach’s meditation on Konrad Hubert’s singular Trinitarian Catechism hymn of 1540. It links the essential Lutheran practice asking for Jesus’ release from the oppressive burdens of sin, leading to penitence and justification through faith alone (sola fide), with the act of unconditional love for one’s neighbor, quoted in the Sunday Gospel lesson, Luke 10: 27, and found harmoniously in all three synoptic Gospels.

On September 15, 1726, Bach presented cousin Johann Ludwig Bach’s Cantata JLB-16, “Ich aber ging für die über, und sahe dich” (I again go above for thee, and see thee, Exodus) to a Rudolstadt text, composed for the Meiningen Court, c.1715. It closes with a plain chorale, “Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit” (It is certainly time) with its judgment overtones, (NLGB Trinity 26). The third cantata cycle Rudolstadt texts, written in 1704 with popular closing chorales, constitute Bach’s furthest venture into sacred cantata poetry and hymn verses that express the widest range of theological and personal sentiments.>> It was the last of a series of 18 Ludwig Bach cantatas Bach performed in 1726, beginning with the Purification Feast with a series is 12 through the 1st Sunday after Trinity, with the exception of BWV 43 for Ascension Day, then alternating these seven Rudolstdadt texts he set mostly to those of Ludwig. The exception in this third cycle period were two works to Franck texts, solos Cantatas 164 and 168, “Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort” (Give an account, Thunderous Word) which linguistically and structurally are quite similar.

Further Trinity 13 Performances6

<<While there is no documentation that Bach later reperformed any of the cantatas for the 13th Sunday after Trinity (BWV 77, 33, 164 or JLB 16), there is evidence that he may have composed a chorale setting (BWV 399) for that Sunday in 1728, presented a Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel cantata on that date in 1735, and that Chorale Cantata BWV 33 was, after Bach’s death, presented in Leipzig in 1755.

Plain chorale, BWV 399. Picander’s cantata cycle published text (1728) for the 13th Sunday after Trinity, August 22, 1728, Cantata P-56; “Können meine nassen Wangen,” closes with chorale, “Herr/O Jesu Christ, meines Lebens Leben” (Lord/O Jesus Christ, my Life’s Life), using Stanza 11, “Auf deinen Abschied, Herr, ich trau'” (In your farewell, Lord, I place my trust). Bach’s setting of Stanza 1 of Martin Behm’s 1610 14-stanza text set to Seth Calvisius’ 1594 adaptation of the melody Rex Christe factor omnium. The Behm-Calvisius hymn setting is found the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) as No. 374 in the final, Miscellaneous section as a sacred journey of Christian death to eternal life. It is found in Volume 84, “Jesus Hymns” of the Hanssler Complete Bach Edition of CDs.

Stölzel's "Saitenspiel" (String-Playing) Jahrgang cantatas for the 13th to the 19th Sundays after Trinity probably were performed by Bach at the Thomas Church in 1735, according to Andreas Glöckner, “Ein weiterer Kantatenjahrgang Gottfried Heinrich Stölzels in Bach’s Aufführungsrepertoire? (Further Details of a Cantata Annual Cycle of GHS in Bach’s Performance Repertory), Bach-Jahrbuch 2009: 95-110.10. The work in question for September 4 is “Wie schon und lieblich du, du Liebe in Wollüsten” (How lovely and loving thou, thy love in desiring). It was a two-part cantata in eight movements, similar to the Rudoldtadt works of 1726 with biblical dicta opening each part and chorales closing each, flanked by a recitative and aria in each part. The cycle, text by Benjamin Schmolckens, was first presented in the 1731-32 church year at the Scholß-Capelle of Friedenstein in Gotha.

Chorale Cantata 33, “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,” was performed as part of a revival of the Chorale Cantata Cycle in 1755. It probably was presented on the 13th Sunday after Trinity (September 7) by Bach student and St. Thomas Choir Prefect Christian Friedrich Penzel, who copied the score from the original performing parts set on August 25, 1755, according to Penzel’s notes. Bach's successor, J. G. Harrer, had died on July 9, 1755, and Penzel served as the temporary cantor, presenting Bach’s chorale cantatas until the cantor post was filled later that year by J. F. Doles, who served until 1789.

Cantata 164 Movements, Scoring, Incipits, Key, Meter:7

1. Aria four parts ABA’B’ with ritornelli [Tenor, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet / Wo bleibet die Barmherzigkeit, / Daran man Christi Glieder kennet?” (You, who take your name from Christ, / where is to be found the mercy / by which people recognize members of Christ?); B. “Sie ist von euch, ach, allzu weit. Die Herzen sollten liebreich sein, / So sind sie härter als ein Stein” (It is far, far away from you. / Your hearts should be rich in love, / but they are harder than a stone); g minor; 9/8 pastorale-style.
2. Recitative secco/arioso/secco [Bass; Continuo]: A. Recit. “Wir hören zwar, was selbst die Liebe spricht:” ” (We do indeed here what love itself says; Arioso Vox Christi, “Die mit Barmherzigkeit den Nächsten hier umfangen / Die sollen vor Gericht / Barmherzigkeit Erlangen” (those who here embrace their neighbour with mercy / when they come to judgement shall / omercy. Matthew 5:7); B. Recit. “Jedoch, wir achten solches nicht! / Wir hören noch des Nächsten Seufzer an / Er klopft an unser Herz; doch wirds nicht aufgetan!” (And yet we pay no attention to this! / We hear our neighbour's sighs, / he knocks at our heart, but it is not opened. Matthew7:7); c to a minor; 4/4.
3. Aria three parts ABB with ritornelli [Alto; Flauto traverso I/II, Continuo]: “ Nur durch Lieb und durch Erbarmen / Werden wir Gott selber gleich” (Only through love and through compassion / do we become like God); B. Samaritergleiche Herzen / Lassen fremden Schmerz sich schmerzen / Und sind an Erbarmung reich” (Hearts like that of the Samaritan / are moved to sorrow for the sorrow of others / and are rich in pity); d minor; 6/9 pastorale style).
4. Recitative secco [Tenor; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo); “Ach, schmelze doch durch deinen Liebesstrahl / Des kalten Herzens Stahl” (Ah, melt through the rays of your love / the steel of cold hearts); closing, “Mein Herz sei liebreich, sanft und mild, / So wird in mir verklärt dein Ebenbild.” May my heart be filled with love, gentle and tender, / then your image will be transfigured in me.); E-flat Major to g minor; 4/4.
5. Aria (Duet) canonic to free polyphony, in four parts ABCA’ with ritornelli, [Soprano, Bass; Flauto traverso I/II e Oboe e Violino I/II, tutti all'unisono, Continuo]: A. “Händen, die sich nicht verschließen, / Wird der Himmel aufgetan.” (Hands that are not clasped shut / will open heaven); B. “Augen, die mitleidend fließen, / Sieht der Heiland gnädig an.) “eyes that flow with compassion / are looked upon with mercy by the Saviour); C. “Herzen, die nach Liebe streben, / Will Gott selbst sein Herze geben.” (To hearts that strive for love / God himself will give his heart); g minor; 4/4.
6. Chorale plain, BAR form [SATB; Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo]: A. “Ertöt uns durch dein Güte, / Erweck uns durch dein Gnad!” (Kill us with your kindness, / awaken us through your grace!); A’. “Den alten Menschen kränke, / Dass der neu' leben mag” (weaken the old man / so that the new man may live); B. “Wohl hier auf dieser Erden, / Den Sinn und all Begehrden / Und Gdanken habn zu dir.” (even here on this earth, / and we may devote / all our mind and desire / and thoughts to you.); B-Flat Major

Note on the text (January 18, 2012)

<<BWV 164 was written for 13th Sunday after Trinity and first performed on 26 August 1725. The text is taken from Salomo Franck’s Evangelisches Andachts-Oppfer published at Weimar in 1715. This is the source of the texts of 13 of Bach’s Weimar cantatas (31, 72, 80a, 132, 152, 155, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 168, 185) and the question arises whether an earlier version of this Cantata was written at Weimar. In 1715, the 13th Sunday after Trinity occurred during the period of mourning for Prince Johann Ernst and there is no record of any performance in 1716. Dürr suggests that “if a Weimar setting of this text by Bach ever existed it must have differed so much from the setting we know that it would practically amount to a different composition.” An attractive suggestion by Julian Mincham is the Bach wrote both this Cantata and BWV 168 from texts by Franck in the summer of 1725 as homage to his friend who had recently died [14 June, see below, ‘Comparison: Cantatas 164, 168’].

The gospel for this Sunday is Luke 10: 23-37, the lawyer’s question to Jesus about what he must do to inherit eternal life and the parable of the good Samaritan. As often the cantata text moves from an opening generalisation which is then developed in various ways to reach a personal appreciation of the truth. Starting from the rarity of compassion that is implied in Jesus's parable Franck in the opening aria addresses a question to the whole Christian community: where is the compassion that should distinguish Christians. Their hearts are harder than stone.

The following recitative makes use of what Christ says in the sermon on the Mount (the merciful will obtain mercy, knock on the door will be opened) and imagery from the day’s gospel (the priest and Levite who should give the lead in compassion riding by the stricken Samaritan) to bring home to us how far our current behaviour differs from what it should be. The Alto Aria puts forward the solution that we should imitate God's mercy and compassion and so develop Samaritergleiche Herzen (Samaritan-like hearts instead of the hearts harder than stone mentioned in the first Aria). The second recitative changes to the first person for an impassioned prayer and plea that ‘my heart’ may be liebreich, sanft und mild so that God image will be ‘in mir verklärt’. After this personal application the last aria for soprano and bass generalises using the imagery of hands, eyes and hearts to suggest the positive consequences that will result from more compassionate attitude. The cantata concludes with the only choral movement, a setting of the fifth stanza of the hymn “Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn” by Elizabeth Creutziger (1524)

Comparison: Cantatas 164, 168

Like Cantata 168 set to a Franck 1715 text and performed four weeks earlier, Cantata 164 has a similar, chamber-line character, text as a musical sermon, and the same types and order of movements, observes Julian Mincham in his Commentary introduction to Cantata 164,

<<This cantata has obvious, yet slightly puzzling connections with C 168 (chapter 2). The libretti of both were written a decade earlier by Salomo Franck and neither contains, except for the closing chorale, a movement for the choir. The scorings are light and the movement structures identical. Furthermore, both are almost relentlessly written in minor keys. Is it possible that both works were intended as tributes to Bach′s recently deceased friend and collaborator?

An oddity about the scoring is that in C 168 Bach makes use of a pair of oboes for woodwind colour, in C 164 he calls upon two flutes. Nevertheless the oboes were still available since they double strings and flutes in the obbligato line of the duet, clearly a melody Bach intended to stand out! They also double the sopranos singing the chorale at the end, as is traditional.

But why no further use of them in a somewhat restrained, minor-mode cantata where their colour would seem to have been particularly appropriate? Might this be an indication that both this work and C 168 were composed in considerable haste (consequently with minimal scoring requirements) as a continuing tribute to Franck? Might C137, performed the previous week, have been composed some time earlier, originally intended for a more significant day and moved into a revised schedule when Bach decided to make use of the Salomo Franck texts?

The underlying theme is that of the Good Samaritan, one which Bach returned to on several occasions (see C 77, vol 1 chapter 16 and C 33, vol 2 chapter 13, also written for this Thirteenth Sunday). The good Christian is enjoined to love his neighbour and it is a matter to be regretted that this injunction is so often ignored. Kindness to one another rather than fealty to the Lord is the principal theme and it is made abundantly clear that God′s blessing will only fall upon those with charitable hearts that perform bountiful actions. Within the wider canon this may be seen to be something of a contradiction because elsewhere we are told that good works are not enough in themselves.

Each of the two earlier cantatas composed for this day began with a chorus. C 77 concerns itself principally with the unconditional love of God and one′s neighbour. C 33 conveys us from the anxious, almost desperate chorale/fantasia calling on God′s support to the tranquil certainty of the beautiful alto aria. C 164 is the most personal and enigmatic of the three, thoughtfully rooted in minor keys and stressing the need for charity towards ′s neighbours rather than (subsumed) love of God Himself.>>

Cantata 164, 168 Postscript

The similar texts and forms suggest that in the fallow Trinity Time of 1725, Bach was rarely motivate to compose weekly cantatas, instead creating instrumental music while searching for printed libretti for his third cycle that he easily could set to music while having prior approval of the Leipzig Town Council. By this time in 1725, Bach had virtually completed recycling his Weimar cantatas almost entirely in the first Leipzig cycle, using as many as 22. Bach was responsible in Weimar beginning in 1714 to compose works every fourth Sunday, alternating with court Kapellmeister Johann Samuel Dreise and his son, Adam, and using Franck text where available. Bach turned exclusively to Franck settings published the same year in 1715, beginning with Cantata 152, “Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn” (Step forward on the way of faith), a soprano-bass dialogue for the Sunday after Christmas, December 30, 1714. In 1715 he probably presented almost monthly BWV 72, 18, 80a, 31, Anh. 191, 165, and 185. Public mourning for Prince Johann Ernst, August 11 to November 9, 1715, preempted Bach from presenting works for the 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th Sundays after Trinity. For the 8th and 12th Sundays after Trinity Bach probably had sketched what would become cantata 168 and 164 to Franck texts. On November 24, Bach resumed presentations with Cantata 163 for the 23rd Sunday and final after Trinity. (Fr more details See Thomas Braatz’s BCW Article, “Bach’s Weimar Cantatas” (February 22, 2005),

Cantata 164: Chamber-Like Proportions

The chamber-like proportions Bach adopted from Salomo Franck’s 1715 texts are explored in Cantata 164 notes in John Eliot Gardiner’s 2007 liner notes to his Bach Cantata 2000 Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.8 <<The surviving autograph score of BWV 164, “Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet,” dates from August 1725 and was performed in Leipzig as part of Bach’s third annual cycle. How much of its music, composed to a text by Salomo Franck, can be traced back to one of Bach’s lost Weimar cantatas is far from certain, though the scoring for strings and a pair of flutes, to which two oboes are added as unison reinforcement in the last two movements, would accord with the chamber-like proportions Bach adopted for the other Franck cantata texts he set in 1715.

With no opening chorus, some commentators are disturbed by the apparent discrepancy, in the tenor aria with strings (No.1), between words which fulminate against un-Samaritan-like indifference to one’s neighbour’s plight and the easy pastoral 9/8 flow of the canonic melody. But isn’t that precisely Bach’s point here: to contrast true mercy – God’s mercy – with its human counterfeit, in another expression of the perfect/imperfect dualism featured in his other cantatas for this Sunday? The essence of true compassion is evoked in the alto aria with two transverse flutes (No.3), and followed by the tenor’s prayer that those steely hearts that he referred to in the opening number shall now be melted and become ‘rich in love, gentle and mild’. One can even discern an emblem of this contrast between human and divine mercy in the way the final duet opens as an inverse canon for the unison melody instruments and continuo, and then with each fresh entry of the voice lines develops fresh canons, now at the octave, now at the fourth or fifth, before burgeoning into free polyphony.

As we made our way out of Frankfurt’s rather forbidding and gloomy nineteenth-century Frankfurt Dreikönigskirche, it occurred to me that these three cantatas [BWV 77, 33, 164] best exemplify Thomas Browne’s wonderful definition of music as ‘an Hieroglyphically and shadowed lesson of the whole world, and Creatures of God, such a melody to the eare, as the whole world well understood, would afford the understanding. In briefe, it is a sensible fit with that Harmony, which intellectually sounds in the eares of God.’ (Religio Medici, 1642)>> © John Eliot Gardiner 2007, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Franck’s Good Samaritan Parable Setting

Franck’s text speaks directly to the Gospel of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, as described in Klaus Hofmann’s 2008 liner text to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete cantata recordings.9 <<Bach’s music for the church service on the thirteenth Sunday after Trinity in 1725 (26th August) is, like “Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort,” [BWV 168], based on a text from Salomon Franck’s Evangelisches Andachtsopffer, and similarly it is closely linked to the gospel passage for the day in question (Luke 10: 23–37) and the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. A traveller is attacked, knocked down and left lying half-dead. A priest comes by, sees him but passes by; and so, in turn, does a Levite (temple servant). But then a Samaritan comes along – a member of an ethnic group despised by the Jews; he takes pity on the injured man, treats his wounds with oil and wine, and takes care of him until he has recovered. The theme of the cantata is Christian mercy. Its starting point is a question posed directly to the congregation: you who call yourselves Christians, how merciful are you? Or in Franck’s words: ‘Ihr die ihr euch von Christo nennet, /wo bleibet die Barmherzigkeit?’ (You who call yourselves Christians, / where is the mercy).

In the opening aria Bach has given this question particular emphasis. The striking beginning of the theme, which in the tenor part has the words ‘Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet’ (‘You who call yourselves Christians’), permeates the lively string texture throughout. The theme often appears in close canonic entries in which the vocal lines seem mutually to confirm each other. With its festive emphasis on the prediction that ‘Die mit Barmherzigkeit den Nächsten hier umfangen, / die sollen vor Gericht Barmherzigkeit erlangen’ (‘Those who with mercy embrace their neighbour will, before their judge, also receive mercy’)‚ the bass recitative alludes to the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:7) and then, so to speak, holds up a critical mirror to the listeners in which the priest and Levite appear as images of ‘liebloser Christen’ (‘love-less Christians’). The alto aria, accompanied by two flutes, is a song of praise for love and mercy, bathed in the gentle light of singing figures and expressive melodic gestures. The duet for soprano and bass, however, energetically encourages us to love with the words ‘Händen, die sich nicht ver schließen, /wird der Himmel auf getan’ (‘Hands that are not firmly closed will be opened by heaven’). As in the first movement, each vocal line confirms the declarations of the others, by repeating it in close canon. © Klaus Hofmann 2008


1 Cantata 164 Details & BCW Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [1.31 MB],, Score BGA [1.85 MB], References: BGA XXXIII (Cantatas 161-170, Franz Wüllner, 1887), NBA KB I/21 (Trinity 13, Werner Neumann 1959), Bach Compendium BC A 128, Zwang: K 130; Provenance, BCW
2 Martin Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Die geistlichen Kantaten des 1. Bis 27. Trinitas-Sontagges, Vol. 1; Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs, Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2004: 377).
3 Source material, BCW “Musical Contof Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 13th Sunday after Trinity,
4 W. Gilles Whittaker, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, London: Oxford University Press, 1959: I, 644-50).
5 Calvin R. Stepert in My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance and Discipleship in the Music of Bach (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 2000: 165ff).
6 Source material, Cantata 77 BCML Discussions Part 4 (August 30, 2015),
7 Cantata 164 German Text and Francis Browne English translation and initial “Note on the Text,”
8 Gardiner notes, BCW[sdg134_gb].pdf; BCW Recording Details,
9 Klaus Hofmann notes, BCW[BIS-SACD1671].pdf; Recording details, BCW

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 2, 2016):
Cantata BWV 64 - Revised & updated Discography

Cantata BWV 164 "Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet" (You, who take your name from Christ) was composed in Leipzig for the 13th Sunday after Trinity of 1725. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola & continuo.

The discography pages of BWV 164 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (11):
Recordings of Individual Movements (2):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

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

I believe this are the most comprehensive discography of the cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 164 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 current discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):


Cantata BWV 164: 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: Monday, September 11, 2017 15:21