Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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

Cantata BWV 170
Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

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

William Hoffman wrote (February 21, 2014):
Cantata 170, “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust”: Intro

Cantata BWV 170, “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust” (Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul), Solo Cantata (for Alto) for the 6th Sunday after Trinity, was first performed on July 28, 1726. It is scored for alto; oboe d’amore, 2 violins, viola, organ obbligato, continuo. Bach’s treatment of Georg Christian Lehms’s text is in symmetrical palindrome form with three extended arias interspersed with two recitatives, lasting about 24 minutes. It uses borrowed instrumental material in at least one of the three lyrical arias and possible in all three.

The Cantata 170 premiere was a double bill with cousin Johann Ludwig Bach’s Cantata JLB-7, “Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben” (I will put my spirit within you, Ezekiel 36:27 KJV). “This was presumably heard before the sermon, the present work [BWV 170] during Communion,” says David Schulenberg’s commentary. 1 Both cantatas were repeated in the 1740s, possible again on a double bill. Cantata 170 second performance was either on July 17, 1746, or July 9, 1747. Cantata JLB 7 was repeated between 1743 and 1746.

Cantata 170 is one of a trio of solo cantatas with the theme of “contentment.” The other two are for solo soprano, BWV 82, “Ich bin in mir vergnügt mit meinen Glücke (I am content in my fortune), for Septagesima Sunday in 1727, text by Picander, with oboe and strings, and secular home Cantata BWV 204, “Ich bin in mir vergnügt” (I am content in myself,” also known as “Von der Vergnügsamkeit” (on contentment) to a text with sacred overtones of Christian Friedrich Hunold (Menantes), dating to the same time, with flute, two oboes and strings. Bach two oldest sons, Friedemann and Emmanuel, were influenced to present a cantata each using materials from their father, since both were students and copyists familiar with their father’s works.

The five movements of Cantata 170, the scoring of each, and the initial text is: 2

1. Aria (Alto; Oboe d'amore e Violino I all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo): “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust” Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul);
2. Recitative (Alto, Continuo): “Die Welt, das Sündenhaus, / Bricht nur in Höllenlieder aus” (The world, that place of sin, / bursts out only in hellish songs);
3. Aria [Alto; Organo obligato a 2 claviature, Violino I/II e Viola all' unisono, Organo): “Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen” (How sorry I feel therefore for those perverted hearts)
4. Recitative (Alto; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo): “Wer sollte sich demnach / Wohl hier zu leben wünschen” (Who in these circumstances would / wish to live here at all);
5. Aria da-capo (Alto; Organo obligato e Oboe d'amore, Violino I all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo): “Mir ekelt mehr zu leben” (I feel revulsion to prolong my life); B. “Mir graut vor allen Sünden” (I am horrified by all the sins).
[Francis Browne English translation, BCW]

Placed in context, observes Schulenberg (Ibid.), Cantata 170 “is the second of Bach’s four cantatas for solo alto [BWV 54, 170, 35, 169] and the first of three he composed in 1726 incorporating movements with obbligato organ [in the second and third arias]. Unlike the two later ones (nos. 35 and 169), it has no opening instrumental sinfonia. It would have required a second keyboard instrument to furnish the continuo realization, and it was possible in order to avoid this complication that Bach reassigned the obbligato part in the last movement to the flute when the work was repeated in 1746 or 1747.”

Third Cycle Dynamics, Components

The dynamics of Bach’s third cycle and its components are described in Christoph Wolff’s liner notes to the Ton Koopman Erato recording. 3 <<The cantatas in this sixteenth volume are all from the third cycle of Bach’s Leipzig cantatas. This yearly cycle began on the First Sunday after Trinity (3 June) 1725 and extended over a period of about three years – unlike the two preceding cycles of 1723–24 and 1724–25. Bach’s rhythm of composition had slowed down markedly in the middle of 1725. It is also significant that from February to September 1726 he performed a long series of [18 mostly two-part] cantatas by his cousin Johann Ludwig Bach (1677–1731), Kapellmeister at the ducal court of Meiningen. But even if the proportion of original compositions declined markedly, these include a series of particularly accomplished and extended works, such as Cantatas BWV 43 [Ascension], 39 [Trinity +1], 170 [Trinity +6], and 102 [Trinity 10; three to Rudolstadt texts, BWV 170 to a Lehms text].

Bearing in mind that Bach was performing his cousin’s cantatas, it is evident that Bach had recourse to the same [Rudolstadt two-part] text source as Johann Ludwig Bach for seven of the cantatas of the third yearly cycle: BWV 17, 39, 43, 45, 88, 102 and 187 – of which three may be found in the present volume. The source in question is a collection of cantata texts from 1704, attributed to Duke Ernst Ludwig von Sachsen-Meiningen, who had a liking for spiritual poetry. These cantata poems use words from both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. Musically, Bach’s third yearly cycle of cantatas is distinguishable by the fact that they do not begin with large-scale instrumental symphonies, nor do they have unusually extended or richly scored opening movements.>>

Of the 10 extant cantatas Bach set to texts of Lehms, 4 eight were composed for the third cycle: BWV 110, BWV 57, and BWV 151 for Christmas 1725; BWV 16, BWV 32, and BWV 13 for New Years and the first two Sundays after Epiphany in January 1726. J. S. Bach's two remaining Lehms cantatas are solo alto works, BWV 170 and BWV 35, written during the following summer for the benchmark Sixth and 12th Sundays after Trinity, respectively.

Alto Cantatas, Third Cycle

Cantata 170 is placed in the context of the alto cantatas and Bach’s third cycle in Julian Mincham’s BCW Commentary introduction: 5 <<This must rank as one of Bach’s most original cantatas. It is not his first for solo alto, the claim for which goes to C 54 (vol 1, chapter 66), a particularly early work written in the Weimar years. C170 was certainly the first written during the Leipzig years, but not the last; Cs 35 and 169 were to follow within three months.

C 170 has, perhaps, more in common with its ancestor that with the succeeding two cantatas for solo alto. C 54 has only three movements, two arias separated by a recitative. But like 170 it has no introductory sinfonia and no concluding chorale. Both Cs 35 and 169 (chapters 23 and 28) have extended sinfonias, in each case arrangements of earlier works, and C 35 is the only one of the four to conclude with the conventional four-part chorale setting. Cs 35 and 169 are the largest in scale, each comprising seven movements. The essential compactness of C 170 is all the more apparent when one notices that it comes amongst a clutch of seven large compositions, all conceived in two parts [BWV 43, 39, 88, 170, 187, 45, 102 – all but BWV 170 to Rudolstadt text]

There are no cantatas for the sixth Sunday after Trinity from the first and second cycles, the only other extant cantata for this day being C 9, thought to be composed in the early 1730s. That is one of the later chorale cantatas (vol 2, chapter 58) and structurally it has virtually nothing in common with C 170. However, some musicologists believe it to have been a late addition to the second cycle, filling the existing gap.

[Mincham discusses the importance of the obbligato organ, a BCW General Topic, March 30, “The use of obligato organ in all the cantatas,” by Douglas Cowling]

A glance at the top of this page will show that this cantata is symmetrically structured [a-r-a-r-a], two recitatives separating the three arias. The instrumentation is modest and of chamber proportions, strings (the first violins doubled by one doubling oboe thus adding weight and colour), continuo and the aforementioned solo organ.

The theme of the work is that popular Lutheran one of sin and the necessity for us to renounce it in order to claim inner peace and salvation. It moves from an expression of true concord to a statement of renunciation of the sins against the word of God, thence to a final expression of the desire to die and thus be freed of all past transgressions. It is interesting that the poet begins with the representations of peace and rest rather than ending with them. This, as we shall see, may have set Bach some structural challenges.>>

Musical Details, Alto Singer, Double Bill

Musical details of the five movements as well as the Lehms text; the possible alto singer for the three solo Cantatas BWV 170, 35, and 169; the double bill use of the J. L. Bach work; and Friedemann’s later involvement are discussed in John Eliott Gardiner’s liner notes to his Bach 2000 Cantata Pilgrimage recording. 6

Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust is the first of two solo cantatas for alto that Bach wrote in the summer of 1726 to texts published fifteen years earlier by the Darmstadt court librarian Georg Christian Lehms. In that year Bach seems to have had an outstanding singer available, perhaps Carl Gotthelf Gerlach, then a university student who had been a Thomaner under Johann Kuhnau, and was keen to make the most of his talents [see BCW Short Biography,]. On the face of it Bach was setting a pithy but decidedly old-fashioned text rich in baroque imagery at a time when the galant style was coming into fashion and was even beginning to take a purchase on his own church music. It is fascinating to see how he manages to achieve a convincing synthesis of these diametrically opposed modes of expression. The opening aria is pure enchantment, a warm, luxuriant dance in 6/8 in D. You can almost feel Bach’s benign smile hovering over this music, an evocation of ‘Himmelseintracht’, ‘the harmony of heaven’.

One of those ineffable Bach melodies that lodges itself in one’s aural memory, it takes a whole bar to get going but once launched, seems as though it will never stop (actually it is only eight bars long, but the effect is never-ending). Yet this expansive melody given to oboe d’amore and first violin acquires its beauty and its mood of pastoral serenity only as a consequence of its harmonic underpinning. The gently lapping quavers in the lower strings are slurred in threes, suggestive of ‘bow vibrato’, or what the French referred to as balancement, while the downward-tending bass line sounds as if it might be the first statement of a ‘ground’ – in other words, the beginning of a pattern that will repeat itself as though in a loop. Well, it does recur, but not strictly or altogether predictably. With Lehms’ text in front of him, Bach is searching for ways to insist on spiritual peace as the goal of life, and for patterns that will allow him to make passing references to sin and physical frailty.

A vigorous and impassioned wordsmith, Lehms really gets into his stride from No.2 (a recitative) onwards, paraphrasing and synthesising the day’s Gospel (taken from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:20-26) and its Epistle (Paul to the Romans 6:3-11). Thus the world, he tells us, is a ‘house of sin’, its mouth filled with ‘viper’s bane’, spewing out insults like ‘Raca! Raca!’ (‘Fool! Fool!’) towards neighbour and brother alike. Bach, as you would expect, is alert to the possibility of matching every declamatory gesture and expressive nuance, and in the process shifts the tonality to the remote sharp key of F sharp minor. Now in this upside-down world comes an unusual, lengthy aria in A major [No. 3]. It is assigned to a two-manual obbligato organ, though we followed what seems to have been Bach’s practice at the cantata’s first performance in using two instruments, one for each manual, one notated in Chorton, the other in Kammerton. To this he adds just a middle register line for violins and violas in unison. This special texture, known as bassettchen, is one that we have encountered on a number of occasions this year when Bach decides that a special mood needs to be created and removes the traditional support of basso continuo. He uses it symbolically in reference to Jesus (someone not requiring ‘support’), protecting the faithful from the consequences of sin (as in ‘Aus Liebe’, the soprano aria from the St Matthew Passion), and at the other extreme to serial offenders, as in that other marvellous soprano aria, ‘Wir zittern und wanken’ from BWV 105, or (as here) to those ‘perverted hearts’ who have (literally) lost the ground under their feet in their rejection of God. The aria is written from the standpoint of a passive witness to the ‘Satanic scheming’ of the backsliders as they ‘rejoice in revenge and hate’, so that one can sense the observing singer’s anxiety in the fragmented rhythm of the bassettchen line. Bach departs from the chromatic, fugal intertwining of the two organ lines on two occasions in favour of faster, diatonic exchanges clearly calibrated to coincide with Lehms’ mention of ‘Rach und Hass’ (‘revenge and hate’) in the A section, and with the words ‘frech verlacht’ (‘boldly flout’) in the B section. As a non-organist, it all seems to me a little strange and impersonal. With more flexible, plangent instruments, like the unison violins used in the ‘Et incarnatus’ of the B minor Mass, say, I could imagine this aria exerting a stronger tug on one’s heartstrings.

Evidently Bach was short of time, having decided to couple this cantata on 28 July 1726 with one by his Meiningen cousin Johann Ludwig (Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben); this was given before the sermon, and Vergnügte Ruh during the distribution of the Eucharist. For me the prancing D major da capo aria (No.5) which rounds off the cantata makes more sense of the solo organ, though that too may have been a last-minute, time-enforced change, obliging Bach himself to play the organ solo. His first intention for this movement may have been a melodic wind instrument – perhaps an oboe d’amore – and certainly when he revived Vergnügte Ruh in his last years, around 1746-7, he opted for a flute obbligato in this movement and thereby skirted the need for the second organ used at the first performance. One sees why his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, would have been keen to revive the first aria, but not the rest of the cantata, in Halle in 1750.>>

Solo and Instrumental Music

The importance of Bach’s solo cantatas and the use of instrumental movements as well as librettist Lehms sacred theme in Cantata 170 are discussed in Bach scholar Klaus Hofmann’s liner notes to the Masaaki Sazuki BIS complete cantata recordings.7 <<Among the multitude of forms and instrumental forces that we encounter in the almost 200 surviving church cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach, the so-called ‘classical’ variety of Bach cantata for choir, several soloists and an colourful orchestra comprising wind instruments, strings and continuo stands at the opposite extreme from the solo cantata for a single voice. Cantatas of the latter type make up only a small minority of the total. From Bach’s Weimar period, only two such works survive [both set to Lehms text]– one for alto (Widerstehe doch der Sünde [Stand firm against sin], BWV54) and one for soprano (Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut [My heart swims in blood], BWV199). In Leipzig, Bach was initially frugal as regards new compositions in this genre. Only after he had produced what amounted to a kind of ‘standard repertoire’ of church cantatas in his first years of service there did he begin, in the summer of 1726, to explore new ground in various directions. Within the space of a few weeks he composed the three cantatas for alto on this disc [BWV 36, 169, 170], and these were followed in the subsequent weeks and months by five more solo works, including such splendid compositions as the bass cantatas Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne t (I will the cross-staff gladly carry, BWV56) and Ich habe genung (I have now enough, BWV 82) [BCML Discussions, March 9 and 16]. In the three alto cantatas, Bach takes another step into the musical unknown: he increasingly uses instrumental movements in his cantatas, and is particularly fond of giving significant soloistic duties to the organ, an instrument that had hitherto only served to accompany the basso continuo. As has sometimes been suggested, this may have been a way of testing the mettle of his eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, then an adolescent.

Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust (Contented Rest, Beloved Joy of the Soul), BWV170. Bach’s first Leipzig solo cantata was heard at the church service on the sixth Sunday after Trinity in 1726, which that year fell on 28th July. The libretto, comprising three arias and two recitatives, comes from the collection Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer published in 1711 by the Darmstadt court poet Georg Christian Lehms (1684–1717), for

which Bach was also to turn shortly afterwards for the alto cantata Geist und Seele wird verwirret. Lehms refers only in vague terms to the gospel reading for the day – Matthew 5, 20–26 – an extract from the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus demands from his disciples a stricter code of conduct than that of the Jewish scribes and Pharisees who are only concerned with fulfilling the letter of the law. For Bach’s librettist, their hypocritical righteousness represents the general sinfulness of the world. The goal of the text is the Christian’s longed-for peace of the soul, his rejection of the world and his desire for the hereafter. Lehms’ text provides everything that a baroque composer could desire as sources of inspiration: arias with clearly defined emotional states and a linguistic style that is rich in imagery and sometimes even as graphic as a wood-cut.

In the opening aria, the inner repose and peace of the soul that are praised in the text find expression in a musical idyll that acquires its pastoral character from its gently lilting 12/8-time and from the attractive timbre of the oboe d’amore. The second aria, ‘Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen’ (‘How I lament the wayward

hearts’), is one of the most remarkable movements in all of Bach’s cantatas. Among the instrumental parts a leading role is assigned to the organ. It plays strictly imitative, two-part writing in the descant register, a lower part being supplied by violins and viola in unison. The sound image is confined exclusively to the upper register; the continuo instruments and the bass are absent – perhaps as an image of the ‘waywardness’ of the sinful hearts mentioned in the text. The emotions of lamentation, disgust and pain are expressed by means of numerous ‘lamenting’ sighing figures, dissonant progressions, chromatic writing and labyrinthine modulations. In addition, words such as ‘ich zittre’ (‘I tremble’), ‘Schmerzen’ (‘pains’), ‘Rach und Hass’ (‘revenge and hate’), ‘erfreun’ (‘take joy’), ‘frech’ (‘impudently’) and ‘verlacht’ (‘deride’) are set to music as vivid images.

Despite its dismissive opening words ‘Mir ekelt mehr zu leben’ (‘I am sick of living any longer’ – a concept to which Bach pays homage by incorporating a ‘forbidden’ tritone interval at the beginning of the melody), the concluding aria is characterized overall by confidence and relaxed, joyful hope. A significant contribution to this is made by the lively organ writing – with all sorts of echo effect – with which the orchestra and vocal part establish a dialogue.

Bach & Graupner Lehms Settings

Insight into Bach’s treatment of the Lehms text in Cantata 170 in comparison and contrast to Christoph Graupner’s treatment of the same text is found in Andrew Talle’s new article, “Bach, Graupner and the Rest of Their Contented Contemporaries.” 8 “Lehms’s poetry was unusually conservative for the early 18th century and particularly out of step with the show culture of the 1720s, when Bach seems to have engaged Lehms most intensively,” Talle says (Ibid.: 51). Bach’s settings of Lehms texts in Cantatas 170 and 199, Mein Herz schwimmt im Blut, show his knowledge of Graupner’s earlier 1712 settings. Both composers use full texts and solo voices, and in Vergnügte Ruh, Graupner has a soprano and Bach an alto in the same aria-recitative format in the same keys with other common features.

In the opening Vergnügte Ruh aria, both composers “cultivate a pastoral tone” (Ibid.: 53), Graupner in 4/4 common time and Bach in 12/8. Bach also uses similar text declamation and a similar initial instrumental motive, perhaps “to evoke peace in the minds of the listeners” (Ibid.). The two recitatives (Nos. 2 and 4) are of similar length but Bach’s is more harmonically challenging, especially in the texts settings, which include a few key word changes in Bach’s version. “The two settings of the final aria text,” “Mir ekelt mehr zu leben” (I feel revulsion to prolong my life), “have much in common,” says Talle (Ibid.: 71). Both “use a simple da-capo form” set in common time and integrate the music into the earlier four movements using similar motives.

The differences in the treatment of the arias are striking. In contrast to his contemporaries, Talle observers, Bach’s settings “are almost always considerably longer,” there “are elisions at virtually every cadence” and “at most phrase boundaries,” and “the prominence of the instrumental introduction highlights the extraordinary importance Bach places on music without words” (Ibid.: 53-57).

“More than his contemporaries,” Talle summarizes (Ibid.: 75), “Bach sought to move beyond the specific texts he set, relying heavily upon the wordless rhetoric of instrumental music to make their emotions palpable. As a result, his cantatas have proven better able to sever their denominational tethers. All of us, regardless of religious views, have felt the joy of psychological peace, the oppression of a guilty conscience and the longing for stability that Bach evokes in “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust” (Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul).


1 Schulenberg, “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust,” Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 489).
2 Cantata BWV 170, BCW Details & Complete Recordings, Score Vocal & Piano [1.22 MB],; Score BGA [2.27 MB],; Autograph Score (Facsimile): D B Mus. ms. Bach P 154 (BWV 170: Mvts.) | D B Mus. ms. Bach St 94 (BWV 170: Parts) [Bach Digital]. References: BGA: XXXIII (Cantatas BWV 161-170; Franz Wüllner, 1887); NBA KB I/17.2 (Cantatas for the 6th Sunday after Trinity, Reinmar Emans, 1993); BC A 106 l Zwang: K 145.
3 “Bach’s Third Yearly Cycle of Cantatas (1725-1727,)[AM-3CD].pdf, BCW Recording details,
4 Lehms (1684-1717), see BCW Short Biography,
5 Mincham BCW commentary, Chapter 19 BWV 170 Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust; The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide; (; 2010, revised 2012.
6 Gardiner, Soli Deo Gloria CD Liner notes,[sdg156_gb].pdf; BCW Recordings detail, (© John Eliot Gardiner 2009, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage 2000).
7 Hofmann liner notes,[BIS-SACD1621].pdf, BCW Recording details,
8 Talle, J. S. Bach and His German Contemporaries; Bach Perspectives, Vol. 9 (American Bach Society ( (University of Illinois Press, 2013). See the Graupner (1683-1760) BCW Short Biography at

William Hoffman wrote (February 25, 2014):
Cantata 170: Part 2, Fugitive Note

Bach’s Cantata 170, Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust (Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul), was the first of only two cantatas he composed for the benchmark 6th Sunday after Trinity, although Bach provided music of others and reperformances on that Sunday. The third cycle of solo cantatas showed new directions for Bach’s vocal music using borrowed instrumental materials. Beyond a renewed interest in instrumental music, appropriate chorale texts and old-fashion poetry enabled Bach to maintain a sense of intimacy in the “New Life of Righteousness.” Much of the following material is from the Cantata 170 BCW Third Discussion,

William Hoffman wrote (July 25, 2011): Introduction to BWV 170 -- 6th Sunday After Trinity.
While Bach was barely able to compose two cantatas for the 6th Sunday after Trinity (alto Cantata BWV 170 and chorale Cantata BWV 9) during his Leipzig tenure (1723-50), he was quite involved in assuring that there were at least seven documented performances on that Sunday, including a double bill of his and cousin Johann Ludwig Bach's cantata in 1726, Cantata BWV 170 and JLB-7. In the 1740s, original manuscript markings show that all three compositions were repeated.

When he began composing his first two cycles, circumstances enabled Bach to set aside any thoughts about cantatas for this Sunday and simply to continue focusing on producing new works or extensive revisions almost weekly. The original impetus came from the fact that Bach produced no compositions for the first two Sixth Sundays After Trinity in 1723 and 1724. What resulted broadens and enriches our perspective on Bach's music and compositional practice.

6th Sunday after Trinity (Bach's Leipzig Calendar)

Source: NBA I/17.2 (Trinity +5 & +6: BWV 93, BWV 88, BWV 170, BWV 9), Reimar Emans 1993
x 07/04/23 (Feast of Visitation; no Cycle 1 cantata for this Sunday After Trinity)
x 07/16/24 (no performance, Bach in Cöthen; see ?08/01/34)
+ 07/08/25 ? Telemann TVWV 1:1600, "Wer sich rächet, an dem wird sich der Herr wieder rächen," chorale "Ich ruf zu dir"
+ 07/28/26 BWV 170, "Vergnugte Ruh," chorale (none, Lehms Text)
+ 07/28/26 JLB 7, "Ich will meinen Geist in auch gbvbvdfeben," chorale, No. 9 (no information)
x 07/04/28 P.49 "Gott, gib mir ein versöhnlich," text only, no chorale
+ ?08/01/34 BWV 9 "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (chorale cantata)
R ?1740-47 (BWV 9, reperformance)
R 1743-46 (JLB 7, reperformance)
R 1746-47 (BWV 170, reperformance)
x no date, Neumann XXVIII, incipit "Dominica 6. post Trinit. Concerto a 4 voci e 4 stromenti," in CPEB composition P 1130 (no title or music pursued)

For Cantata Cycle No. 1 of 1723, that Sunday fell on the celebratory Feast of the Visitation of Mary, July 2. Bach serendipitously expanded his Weimar Advent +4 Cantata BWV 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" (Heart and mouth and deed and Life), into a two-part festive work with the addition of three interspersed recitatives and the chorale chorus now known as "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," which closes both parts with different stanzas.

For Cantata Cycle No. 2, Bach already had on hand a paraphrase chorale cantata text for the 6th Sunday after Trinity, July 16, 1724, when he made a quick trip to Köthen on pressing business, perhaps to secure instrumental compositions no longer need at the court. Speculation and collateral evidence suggests that the ever-calculating and resourceful Leipzig cantor in all likelihood had his second, Georg Balthasar Schott, present a Telemann 1719 cantata, "Wer sich rachet," with the appropriate Trinity Time <de tempore> chorale "Ich ruf zu dir." This would have been a trial run for Bach's first real vacation the next year in early Trinity Time 1725 when Schott probably presented at least two Telemann cantatas and one of Georg Melchior Hoffman -- all three musicians with a successful history at Leipzig's progressive New Church.

The cantata based on a Neumeister text, probably by Telemann, was presented on the 6th Sunday after Trinity in 1725 when Bach was on vacation.

Third Cantata Cycle, New Directions

With his Cycle No. 3 in 1726, Bach seems to have undertaken a coachman's holiday: pursuing other musical interests and matters while minimizing the governing Town Council's vexations of limited musical resources and petty oversight of such matters as the printed cantata texts. In his own way, Bach would continue to test the waters, to step on the tails of dragons, while exploring new facets and interests involving cantatas and other forms of composition. Meanwhile, Bach could still find the means to have his cake and eat it too. While presenting traditional and less challenging cantatas of J. L. Bach, he chose printed librettos of mostly established poets, composed intimate music for able solo singers and supporting musicians, and begun to repeat or adapt his music, taking this wonderful wine and putting it into new bottles, sometimes even blending it before letting it age a little more.

For the early Trinity Time 1726, while Bach was pursuing publication of his first keyboard Partita, BWV 825, at the Fall Michaelmas Fair, he was able at main services to alternate pleasing traditional, biblically-oriented Johann Ludwig Bach cantatas with his own compositions using acceptable traditional texts. Bach began to mine his mother lode of instrumental compositions, created primarily in Köthen, mostly movements from the <Brandenburg Concerti>, solo concerti, and the < Orchestral Overtures>. These were adapted primarily as cantata opening sinfonias as well as various movements from solo concertos to be adapted, with new vocal lines, as cantata arias. Bach also began to explore his vocal music for next text underlay ("parody"), found particularly in new texts created by Picander, who also was collaborating with Bach on the first version of the St. Matthew Passion, to be presented on Good Friday, 1727.

Other factors gave Bach even more compositional freedom for the 6th Sunday after Trinity. The general Lutheran theme of affirmation amidst conflict enabled him to create a range of musical expression as well as an emphasis on intimate solo arias, interspersed with recitatives, and to have no closing chorales requiring a chorus, a practice found in BWV 170, as well as in Picander's published text for the same Sunday in 1728. For most of the J. L. Bach cantatas performed from late Epiphany Time through the end of Easter Season, Bach naturally divided them into two parts, before and after the sermon, an opportunity he only once had been able to practice in the previous second cycle. For this Sunday, Bachwas able to present a short solo Cantata 170 "Vergnugte ruh, beliebte Seelenlust" ("Contented rest, beloved heart's desire"), on a text of Georg Lehms, and J.L. Bach Cantata JLB-7, "Ich will meinen Geist in auch geben" (I will my spirit in likewise give, in one part after the sermon.

The librettos of Lehms in particular enabled Bach starting in Trinity Time 1726 to recycle and adapt arias for solo cantatas. Bach scholars beginning with Wilhelm Rust and Philipp Spitta have commented widely on Bach's use of some 30 mostly instrumsinfonias to open his cantatas, with the early half being primarily original, shorter, more intimate instrumental introductions and the later half more extended full movements taken from concerti, often with added obbligato organ parts.

Arias from Concerto Movements

More recently, instrumentalists have begun to explore the instrumental sources of certain arias in which the voice line is easily adapted from solo instruments, particularly violin and oboe. Bach scholars and instrumentalists previously had demonstrated beginning more than a half century ago that the nine solo harpsichord concertos, BWV 1051-59, performed by Bach and the Leipzig Collegium musicum in the 1730s were derived from previous solo violin, and oboe concerti. Performers such as flutist James Galway, guitarist Christopher Parkening, and various violinists have presented their reconstructions of earlier concerti, often being accepted by Bach scholars but confounding those who try to assemble catalogues of Bach's works, especially the Bach Compendium.

The latest soloist is oboist Albrecht Mayer, who recently released a CD, "Voices of Bach" (Decca 478 1517) with arrangements of three concerti for members of the oboe family based on vocal movements from cantatas. The most intriguing and speculative is the "Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Continuo," adapted (constructed, some might say "rendered") from da-capo arias in Cantatas 105/5, 170/1, and 49/1, all originally composed for Trinity Time Sundays (+9, +6, and +20 respectively). His performance of the opening alto aria of Cantata 170 is quite striking and convincing. He is on firm ground with the opening sinfonia of Cantata 49, presumed to be from the lost Oboe Concerto in E-Flat. The tenor aria from Cantata 105 is accompanied by a horn.

The other two concertos are straight-forward adaptations: the Italian secular Cantata BWV 209, its opening sinfonia and two soprano arias with flute and strings long presumed to be from a lost concerto, here a "Concerto for Oboe d'amore and Strings," and all three movements of the Weimar alto solo cantata, BWV 54, here a "Concerto for Cor Anglais" (English Horn) that is an astonishing, uncanny adaptation of a pre-Köthen work.

If indeed the opening aria of Cantata 170 originated as an oboe concerto movement, it has characteristics in common with arias from other cantatas through also to be adaptations: da-capo or free da-capo form, adapted by Bach in 1726 to texts Trinity Time of Lehms. The other cantatas are:

1. Cantata BWV 54 for Trinity +7 (with no proof of a Leipzig performance but documented through printed text for Trinity +1 and +20; having no chorale);
2. Weimar Cantata BWV 199, for Trinity +11, also having no chorale; closing aria, "Wie freudig ist mein Herz," da-capo, gigue character, for soprano, oboe, and strings; and
3. The accepted alto solo Cantata BWV 199 for then Trinity +12, 1726, with the sinfonias opening parts one and two from the first and third movements of the fragment Clavier Concerto No. 9 in D Minor, BWV 1059, and most importantly, the first alto aria, a da-capo siciliano originating as the slow movement from the original, lost violin or oboe concerto.

Borrowed Material (addendum)

Like most of the other solo cantatas in the third cycle, Cantata 170 contains borrowed material. The three extended arias may involve pre-Leipzig instrumental music while there is no opening sinfonia derived from a concerto. The possibilities are that the first aria, “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust” (Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul), is the slow movement from an earlier oboe concerto; aria No. 3, “Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen” (How sorry I feel therefore for those perverted hearts), is from an organ trio sonata; and the last aria da-capo, No. 5, “Mir ekelt mehr zu leben” (I feel revulsion to prolong my life), is from a lost instrumental concerto [all BCW text English translations, Francis Browne].

The opening aria, “Vergnügte Ruh,” a modified da-capo in three parts, each with ritornello, could be the Andante of the lost “Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Continuo,” says oboist and conductor Albrecht Mayer in his CD, “Voices of Bach.” 1 The Andreas N. Tarkmann arrangement of movements from Bach cantatas, uses as it first movement Allergro, the tenor aria (No. 5), “Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen” (If only I make Jesus my friend) from the chorus Cantata 105, “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht” (Lord, do not go into court with your servant), for the 9th Sunday after trinity 1723. The concerto closing Allegro could be the third movement of the lost “Concerto in E-Flat Major for Oboes and Orchestra,” surviving as the opening sinfonia of Dialogue Cantata 49 for alto and baritone, “Ich geh und such mit Verlangen” (I go and seek with longing), for the 20th Sunday after Trinity 1726 in the third cycle. It was adapted in 1738 as the final movement in the Klavier Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1053, that also has the opening movement of the lost oboe concerto as the opening sinfonia, and the Ariso slow movement as the first aria, from the alto solo Cantata BWV 169, “Gott soll allein mein Herze haben” (God alone should possess my heart), for the 18th Sunday after Trinity, also 1726 (see BCW Yahoo Group Discussion, Week of February 16, Cantatas 49 and 169, like BWV 170, are among the 12 late Bach cantatas with organ obbligati, many using borrowed instrumental materials.

All three arias in Cantata 170 have organ obbligati and are in three parts with dominant opening ritornellos and interspersed ritornellos. In the third movement, the aria “could almost be a movement from an organ trio sonata,” says David Schulenberg.2 “The ritornello, moreover, takes the form of a fugal exposition that recurs . . . in each of the three main vocal sections.”

The closing movement (No. 5) of Cantata 170 bears resemblances to a lost instrumental concerto movements, says W. Gillies Whittaker in his Cantata of J. S. Bach.3 The “figuration in the organ part just before the voice enters, which is developed considerably in the second part of the aria [B. “Mir graut vor allen Sünden” (I am horrified by all the sins)], is of a type often employed in concertos.” The repetition of certain words “is also evidence that the text was fitted to existing music.” “The dance-like themes, and the brilliant concerto-like passage make this number a delightful conclusion to the cantata. There is no chorale.”

William Hoffman wrote (July 28, 2011): Introduction to BWV 170 -- Lessons & Cantata Texts:
The incipits of chorales as well as the titles of the cantatas Bach used or considered for the 6th Sunday after Trinity can provide a short-hand or a beginning to understanding the readings, teachings and themes of this Sunday (readings from the King James Version). This is rudimentary information and attention is directed to Peter Smaill's recent BCW posting: "Bach Among the Heretics: Inferences from the Cantata Texts,"

I. Lectionary [Revised]

A. Introit Psalm 133, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ecce, quam bonum),4 a Wisdom Psalm (meditation on the good life, the Way of Life which the wise pursue); in Book 5 (Psalms 107-150) one of the Psalms of Degrees (Psalms 120-134).

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; 3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore (
B. Gloria
C. Collect: Deus virtutem (Lord of all power and migh), Gelasian Sacramentary
D. Epistle: Romans 6: 3-11 (titles: "We may not live in sin," "Dying and rising with Christ," and "Dead to sin but alive in union with Christ")
[3] "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?"
E. Gospel: Matthew 5: 20-26 Agree with your adversary
[20] "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Lesson Readings: [ scroll down to: Event, 6th Sunday after Trinity; Epistle, Romans 6: 3-11; Gospel, Matthew 5: 20-26]

II. Trinity Cycle: `New Life of Righteousness'

Smaller Trinity Cycles are shown in Paul Zeller Strodach, The Church Year.5

The lessons of Trinity Time are arranged in groups of cycles, based on doctrine and practice, with a general definite topic. The first group, the First to the Fifth Sunday After Trinity, deals with the Kingdom of Grace and the Call to enter therein. The second group (the Sixth to the 11th Sunday After Trinity) "is rich with practical indications of the <Right Manner of Life in the Kingdom of Grace>," emphasizing the "new life of righteousness." Like the Christian comparison and contrast of the New Covenant in the Blood of Christ" with the Old Testament covenants between God and the People of Israel, the "new righteousness" the Old Testament models of righteousness of the law, from the Scribes and Pharaisees, with the "new" Christian concept of righteousness through the Sacrament of Baptism, also known as the Sacrament of Initiation into Christianity.

Both the Epistle and Gospel lessons for the 6th Sunday after Trinity "lead to the new life of righteousness."

The Epistle (Roman's 6:3-11) speaks of the `"walk in newness of life": [4] "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." The Epistle concludes with the affirmation: [11]" Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." The Epistle reading for the day "describes the nature of Baptism and the duties which it imposes" in order to achieve "the righteousness of the new life." The emphasis shifts from the believer's duty of obedience to God and the Law to the Great Commandment to love God and humanity.

Paired Miracle and Teaching

The teaching of the Gospel for the 6th Sunday after Trinity is found in BCW, Douglas Cowling Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels:

Trinity, PART TWO: Paired Miracles & Teachings
* Trinity 5: Luke 5: 1-11 Miracle: draught of fishes
[3] "And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship."
* Trinity 6: Matthew 5: 20-26 Teaching: Agree with your adversary
[23] "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

Thus, the first miracle Jesus performs for his potential disciples (followers), the draft of the fishes, validates Jesus authenticity as a prophet and leads to Jesus teaching the people from the ship. The teaching emphasized in the Gospel pair (Matthew 5:20-26) is of a greater righteousness than the laand obedience. Jesus suggests that the source of killing, even between brothers, is anger, and that reconciliation is needed and then the offer of a gift before the altar; that one should: [25] "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison." This might be seen as an expression of the doctrine of non-violence.

III. `Worthless," "Good-for-Nothing"

Following the opening of the Gospel lesson, Jesus' counsel for a greater righteousness, is his caution: [22] "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

In the initial BCW discussion of BWV 170, Andrew Oliver wrote (July 31, 2000) about the word "Raca":

"The Harmonia Mundi booklet mistakenly translates it as 'vengeance', apparently assuming that this is the German word 'Rache'. It is not. The English King James (A.V.) Bible uses 'Raca' (the original 1611 version spelled it as 'Racha') and this represents the word 'raka' in the original Greek text, though the word itself is apparently Aramaic, and here means something like 'You worthless person'. My 1956 edition Luther bible renders it as 'Du Nichtsnutz' [good-for-nothing]. I don't know what Luther's early editions said. Anyway, Lehms quotes this word, but I am not sure whether he realized that it is not the German 'Rache'."

BCW, Francis Browne October 2007 translation of the phrase in Movement No. 2, alto recitative:

"Und will allein von Racha ! Racha! sagen." (And only wants to say 'racha' [you worthless person]).

IV. Incipits of Cantata Movements as related to the Lessons

Here are the incipits of Bach's movements in BWV 170 from the Lehms text (Browne translation):

1. Aria [Alto]; Oboe d'amore e Violino I all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo
Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust,
Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul,
Dich kann man nicht bei Höllensünden,
you cannot be found among the sins of hell,
Wohl aber Himmelseintracht finden;
but only where there is heavenly harmony;

2. Recitative [Alto]; Continuo
Die Welt, das Sündenhaus,
The world, that place of sin,
Bricht nur in Höllenlieder aus
bursts out only in hellish songs
Und sucht durch Hass und Neid
and strives through hatred and envy
Des Satans Bild an sich zu tragen.
to bear upon itself the image of Satan.

3. Aria [Alto]; Organo obligato a 2 claviature, Violino I/II e Viola all' unisono, Organo
Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen,
How sorry I feel therefore for those perverted hearts
Die dir, mein Gott, so sehr zuwider sein;
that against you, my God, are so set

4. Recitative [Alto]; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
Wer sollte sich demnach
Who in these circumstances would
Wohl hier zu leben wünschen,
wish to live here at all
Wenn man nur Hass und Ungemach
when only hate and misfortune
Vor seine Liebe sieht?
Are seen in place of God's love?

5. Aria [Alto]; Organo obligato e Oboe d'amore, Violino I all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo
Mir ekelt mehr zu leben,
I feel revulsion to prolong my life,
Drum nimm mich, Jesu, hin!
And so take me away from here, Jesus!

As a comparison, here are the incipits of the movements from Neumeiser's 1711 text for the 6th Sunday after Trinity; July 8, 1725, St. Nicholas Church:

1. "Wer sich rächet, an dem wird sich der Herr wieder rächen" (He who avenges, on him will the Lord again avenge), Sirach 28:1b
2. Recit. "Nichts schwehrer geht dem alten Adam ein" (Nought harder shall the old Adam fall)
3. Aria. "Fried und liebe frönt die Christen" (Love and concord crown the Christian)
4. Recit. "Die Hund beist in den Stein" (The dog will bite the stone)
5. Aria. "Segne dem, der dich verflucht" (Bless the man whom thee doth cure)
6. Chorale: "Verlieh, dass ich aus Herzengrung" (Now grant that I with heart sincere), S.3, "Ich ruf zu dir"

For the Rudolstadt text of 1704 for the Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata, JLB-7 on double bill with BWV 170, July 28, 1726, I am only able to find two incipts, the opening "Ich will mein Geist in auch geben" (I will my spirit in likewise give (Old Testament), and No. 7 "Glaube und Arbeit zusammen" (Faith and Work together)

The incipit for Picander's text for the 1728 cantata, P.49, is "Gott, gib mir ein versöhnlich" (God, give me a reconciliation).

V. Chorale Incipits

The incipts of the chorales that Bach set appropriate for the 6th Sunday after Trinity, include Bach's only chCantata setting for this Sunday, BWV 9 "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (Salvation has come to us). Next week a comparison will be done between Sparatus' original 1523 14-stanza text and Bach's unknown librettist who did paraphrases of Stanzas 2-11 into five movements. The others are:

1. "Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend" (Lord, Jesus Christ, be with us now)
2. "Mensch willtu leben" (Man, if you will live blessedly)
3. "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt Menschlich Natur und Wesen" (Through Adam's fall is completely corrupted manly nature and character).
4. "Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ" (I call to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ).6


1 Meyer liner notes to Decca recording, BCW details, “Bach’s Instrumental Works,”, T-2.
2 Schulenberg “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust,” Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 489).
3 Whittaker, Volume 1, “The Church Cantatas Middle Period” Organ Obbligato Cantatas Using Borrowed Instrumental Material (London: Oxford University Press, 1959: 244f).
4 Martin Petzoldt, Bach-Kommentar Bach Commentary): Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 1, Die Geistlichen Kantaten des 1. bis 27. Trinitas Sontages; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2004: 127) text 129f; commentary 130-33.
FN Strodach, Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles, and Gospels (United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA 1924: pp. 194ff).
FN Much of this information is found at “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Motets & Chorales for 6th Sunday after Trinity,”


To Come: J. L. Bach Cantata JLB-7 Details (Recording), Alto “Cantata” BWV 200, Solo Cantatas & Instrumental Music (Richard Jones), Recordings.

William Hoffman wrote (February 28, 2014):
Cantata 170: Alto Cantatas: BWV 200

The BCML Discussion of Bach’s cantatas for alto solo vice concludes with a single-aria work discovered in the early part of the 20th century, as with Cantata 199, “Meine Herze schwimmt im Blut” (My heart swims in blood). Cantata “Aria” BWV 200, Bekennen will ich seinen Namen (I want to acknowledge his name), was thought to be a fragment from a lost cantata ostensible for the Marian Feast of the Visitation, July 2, presumably about 1742, with violins and continuo in two-part form. The undesignated music has a text that is a paraphrase of Simeon’s Canticle (Luke 2:29-32), the Gospel lesson for the feast of the Purification.

According to recent research, it is Bach’s arrangement of the aria Dein Kreuz, o Bräutgam meiner Seelen (Thy cross, O bridegroom of my soul) from the Gottfried Heinrich Stözel Passion-oratorio Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld (A little lamb goes forth and carries the shield), Bach performed Good Friday, April 23, 1734. The credit goes to Peter Wollny, new director of the Bach Arkiv-Leipzig.1 The original da-capo aria is found in the 13th section of the 22 sections of the poetic Passion.

In 2011, counter-tenor Andreas School recorded Cantata 200, as well as Cantata 53, the alto version of Cantata 82 (BCML Discussion March 16), and Cantata 169, see

Here is Klaus Hofmann’s summary of Cantata 200: “Bekennen will ich seinen Namen (I Want to Acknowledge His Name), BWV 200. Discovered as late as 1924 and not published until 1935, this piece is not a cantata but rather an aria that has survived separately, probably intended as an addition or replacement movement in a work by Bach or indeed by someone else. The text alludes to Simeon’s song of praise (Luke 2, 29–32), part of the gospel reading for the Purification of Mary (2nd February); one might therefore reasonably assume that it was intended for a cantata for this feast day. The type of paper used and characteristics of the handwriting point to a date of origin around 1742. This also accords with the mature style of the aria which, with a certain hymn-like simplicity, develops from the motivic material that is presented concisely by the instruments and combines the arioso element with song-like features.” © Klaus Hofmann 2007

Solo Cantatas for Alto (BCML Discussions)

Feb 2, 2014 35 Geist und Seele wird verwirret, 12th Sunday after Trinity (1726)
Feb 9, 2014 54 Widerstehe doch der Sünde, Oculi [3rd Sunday in Lent] (1726)
53 Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde (funeral; Georg Melchior Hofmann, c.1710)
Feb 16, 2014 169 Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, 18th Sunday after Trinity (1726)
Feb 23, 2014 170 Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust, 6th Sunday after Trinity (1726)
200 Bekennen will ich seinen Namen, Purification (c1742), Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel
JLB-7 Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben (6th Sunday after Trinity), Johann Ludwig Bach), 1726


1 In “‘Bekennen will ich seinen Namen’—Authentizität, Bestimmung und Kontext der Arie BWV 200. Anmerkungen zu Johann Sebastian Bachs Rezeption von Werken Gottfried Heinrich Stölzels.” in Bach-Jahrbuch 2008, pp 123-158.
2 Hofmann liner notes, Robin Blaze, Masaaki Sazuki BIS recording, liner notes,[BIS-SACD1621].pdf, BCW Recording details, (Cantatas 35, 169, 170, 200).

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 28, 2014):
BWV 170 Dicography & Recording recommendations for alto cantatas?

I have finished updating the discography pages of Cantata BWV 170:
Complete (or near complete) Recordings (58):
Recordings of Individual Movements (25):
The discography pages include both official and unofficial recordings as
well as many recordings available only on YouTube.
I have added listening/watching options to every recording of this cantata
I have found on YouTube.

Anthony Kozar asked:
"I am looking for recordings with a lyrical (non-dramatic), female voice.(While I enjoy countertenors singing Medieval or Renaissance music,"
Of the mezzo-sopranos, who have recording albums of solo cantatas for alto,
I highly recommend:
- Monika Groop with Kangas [25]
- Marianne Beate Kielland with Muller-Bruhl [34]

William Hoffman wrote (March 5, 2014):
Cantata 170: Part 3: Cantata JLB-7 Double Bill

In the church year 1726, Sebastian Bach presented 18 cantatas of his Meiningen Court cousin, Johann Ludwig (1677-1731).1 They were primarily presented, along with new compositions from his third cycle, beginning with the extended Epiphany Time from the Feast of the Purification on February 2 to the Second Sunday after Easter (Cantate Sundat) on 12 consecutive occasions. Then, six Johann Ludwig cantatas usually alternating with Sebastian Bach works set to the same Rudolstadt text were presented through the 13th Sunday after Trinity (September 15). Finally, Bach resumed continuous composition using a variety of text sources, published and original, with borrowed instrumental and vocal music, including six for solo voices (BWV 35, 47, 169, 56, 55, and 52) through the shortened end of Trinity Time, the 23rd Sunday after Trinity, November 24.

Originally, the Rudolstadt texts in modern style, with choruses, arias, recitatives and closing chorale, were set for the 1704-05 church year in Meiningen. For the church year 1714-15, Johann Ludwig composed an entire cycle of almost entirely two-part cantatas, averaging eight movements. These pleasing, concise, and easy cantatas set to simple texts fit the bill for Sebastian during 1726. For the Seventh Sunday after Trinity on July 28, Bach found that ’s Cantata (JLB-7), “Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben” (I will put my spirit within you), lasted only a quarter of an hour so he presented it before the sermon. Probably during communion, Bach presented his alto solo Cantata BWV 170, Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust (Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul), lasting about 24 minutes, to complete the double-bill.

Serendipitously, Ludwig’s cantata cycle had works of parallel construction similar to most of Bach’s original musical sermons in the third cycle. Usually in palindrome symmetrical form, Ludwig’s works had biblical dicta for the opening (Old Testament) and central (New Testament) two movements of choruses, arias or ariosi, followed by a recitative and a second aria, and often closing with a chorus-chorale combination. Except for feast days, his orchestra of strings and continuo usually had a pair of pastoral oboes or occasionally horns similar to Sebastian’s cantatas. Cantata JLB-7 has two high horns that accompany the opening soprano-alto duet, similar to Bach’s use of two horns in soprano solo Cantata BWV 52, “Falsche Welt, dir trau ich nicht” (False world, I do not trust you), closing Trinity Time on November 24.

Other highlights of JLB-7 include “a calculated build-up during the course of the work; the full instrumental ensemble with strings and horns for the first time in the second aria [No. 3, two-part repeat], the complete tutti being reserved for the final chorale with chorus,” says Peter Wollny in his Capriccio recording liner notes.2 The text, printed under the aegis of Duke Ernst Ludwig (1672-1724) of Saxe-Meiningen and usually attributed to him, has a general Deist-Universalist orthodox tone referring primarily to God, especially in the opening Old Testament dictum (Eziekel 36:27) about fidelity to God’s Commandments, and the next two movements. There are general references in the second aria (No. 5) and the closing chorus (No. 7) to Christ Jesus. The pivotal New Testament dictum (quotation) in the tenor arioso (No. 4), a quotation from the epistle of 1 John 2:3 repeats fidelity to God’s commandments.

The closing chorale emphasizing works righteousness, “Our works come truly / from a righteous faith,” is an original text by the Rudolstadt librettist set to a familiar chorale melody. While the apostle James in his general epistle speaks of the relationship between works of righteousness and faith (James 2:14-26), Martin Luther’s central theology is that humans are justified by faith through grace alone, not good works. This may have caused Bach some discomfort, as Peter Smaill suggests, “later on, the specific possibilities are that the ‘Meiningen’ cantatas as a whole, or the Ascension Oratorio, or the St. Mark Passion at some point caused trouble for Bach [with the Leipzig Town Council], judging by the 1739 altercation over the St. John Passion.3

Cantata JLB-7 movements, scoring, and intial texts, are:4

1. Duett (SA, 2 hns., bc): “Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben” (I will put my spirit within you)
2. Rezitativ (B, bc): “Das Gute, das ich kann” (The goodness that I can do)
3. Arie (B str., bc): “Lass mich deine Hilfe spüren” (Let me feel thy help)
4. Arioso (AT, str, bc): “An dem merken wir, dass wir ihn kennen” (By this we see that we know him)
5. Arie (S, tutti orch.) : “Seele, wilst du Christum kennen” (Soul, wilt thou know Christ)
6. Rezitativ (S, bc): “Dies ist die Prob', die er von dir begehrt” (This is the test that he desires of you)
7. Chor (SATB, tutti orch.): Hilf, Jesu, hilf (Help, Jesus, help); Choral: “Die Werke kommen wahrlich her / Aus einem rechten Glauben” (Our works come truly / from a righteous faith).

The biblical dicta are:

1. “Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben und will solche Leute aus euch machen, die in meinen Geboten wandeln und meine Rechte halten und danach tun.” I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Eziekel 36:27 KJV (
4. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:3 (KJV) (


1 Johann Ludwig Bach biography, J. S. Bach connection, and works, see BCW
2 Recording details, BCW Also found in Hermann Max’s Johann Ludwig Bach Collection (3 CDs): “Funeral Music,” Motets (5), and Missa sopra “Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr“ and three cantatas, including “Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben” Johann Ludwig Bach (1677-1731) Trauermusik (für Soli,Doppelchor,2 Orchester) (JPC)
3 Smaill, "Bach among the Heretics: Inferences from the Cantata Texts, Understanding Bach, 4, 116, Network UK 2009;,
4 Cantata JLB-7, BCW Details,

Antony Kozar wrote (March 13, 2014):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks very much for your recommendations, Aryeh! I will check out both of those recordings as well (or again).

Your comprehensive discographies for the alto cantatas have been extremely helpful to me in my search. In general, your site has been simply invaluable to me in the process of researching Bach works, recordings, and performers (especially in finding the rare recordings of incomplete or apocryphal works). I have also used it extensively while retagging my MP3 tracks with more comprehensive information. It is wonderful to be able to find the title, scoring, chorale melody, etc. of every movement in one place!! I have even gone so far as to write an Applescript that allows me to select a track in iTunes and automatically open the corresponding page on

the BCW

Thank you so much!!!


Cantata BWV 170: 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


Back to the Top

Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 07:08