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Cantata BWV 180
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of October 12, 2014 (4th round)

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 14, 2014):
Cantata BWV 180 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 180 “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele” for the 20th Sunday after Trinity on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part chorus; and orchestra of 2 recorders, 2 transverse flutes, oboe, oboe da caccia (English horn), violoncello piccolo, 2 violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (24):
Recordings of Individual Movements (12):
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:
four complete recordings of this cantata. Two are audios: a performance from the 1984 Oregon Bach Festival prepared by Helmuth Rilling and conducted by his student, and Christophe Coin (1993) from his mini-cycle of cantatas with violoncello piccolo. The other two are videos of live performances: Rudolf Lutz and the Choir & Orchestra of J.S. Bach Foundation (including a lecture, 2009), and David Chin in OVPP performance with forces from Eastman School of Music (2013).

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this chorale cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 180 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.

William Hoffman wrote (October 15, 2014):
Cantata BWV 180, “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele”: Intro.

CANTATA 180, Part 1

“Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele” (Adorn yourself, O dear soul), Chorale Cantata for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, was first performed on October 22, 1724, at the St. Thomas Church before the sermon by Pastor Christian Weise on the Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14 (Parable of the marriage of the king’s son). It is based on the 1649 9-stanza/8-line Communion Hymn of Johann Franck with paraphrases of the two da-capo arias (Mvts. 2 & 5) and three recitatives (Mvt. 3, 4, 6), one (Mvt. 3) leading to a soprano chorale arioso of Stanza 4. The festive music involves three dance-style movements: opening chorale fantasia as a gigue, succeeding soprano aria as a bouree, and (Mvt. 5), a soprano aria as a polonaise. The outdoor pastoral wind ensemble in the opening chorus involves two recorders (one becoming a transverse flute in the distinctive tenor trio aria duet, Mvt. 2), an oboe featured in the soprano aria, an oboe da caccia, and the renewal of a violoncello piccolo in the soprano arioso.1

In addition to the Johan Eliot Gardiner and Klaus Hofmann liner notes is Julian Mincham’s commentary on the opening chorale fantasia of Cantata 180. In Part 2 are extensive excerpts from BCW Musical Context: “Motets & Chorales for 20th Sunday after Trinity,”

Readings for the 20 Sunday after Trinity are Epistle, Ephesians 5:15-21 (Paul: Avoid bad company); Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14 (Parable of the marriage of the king’s son); complete text, Martin Luther 1545 English translation, English translation Authorised (King James) Version [KJV] 1611, BCW The Gospel emphasis in Cantata 180 has been described as either a regal supper communion or the acceptance feast of God’s love for humanity.

The Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels (Douglas Cowling) are not found in the final Trinity Sundays. The Gospel passages are: Parables - short moralized allegories within the larger narratives of events in the life of Christ; Miracles - short self-contained narratives of miraculous healings; and Teachings ­ excerpts from longer hortatory discourses by Christ. 1) Trinity 1-4 is a four week sequence of parables; 2) Trinity 5-8 has a series of paired miracles and teachings; 3) Trinity 9-19 generally alternates a parable with a teaching or miracle. For Trinity 20-24: the following types are used: Trinity 20 parable, Trinity 21 parable, Trinity 22 miracle, Trinity 23 teaching, and Trinity 24 miracle.

Introit Psalm for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, is Psalm 1, Beatus vir qui non abit (Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, KJV), says Martin Petzoldt BACH Commentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.2 in full text, Petzoldt call Psalm 1 “Teachings and blessings of the pious.” Bach probably had access to the Orlando di Lasso 1568 six–voice setting (SSATTB) of Psalm 1 with Doxology. The setting is similar to that of the Penitential Psalms, each psalm verse is in a separate movement (Selectissimae cantiones, 4-6 vv Nuremberg); source ChoralWiki,

The Cantata Text is based on Johann Franck (Mvts. 1, 3, 7 [same stanzas unaltered] and an anonymous librettist(s) (Mvts. 2, 4-6), in a near-symmetry with back-to-back recitatives (Mvt. 3-4) to accommodate Franck’s nine stanzas. Francis Browne BCW English translation, see and Franck (1618-1677) BCW Short Biography, The Chorale Text, a revised version of Franck’s hymn in Bar Form, “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele” (EKG 157) is found at, the Richard Jordan English translation at The related melody (Zahn 6923, EKG 157) of Johann Crüger (1649) is described at BCW, and Crüger (1598-1662) BCW Short Biography,

Cantata 180 Movements, scoring, text, key, and meter:3

(Stanza 1 unaltered) Chorus imitative, two-part with ritornelli [S, A, T, B; Flauto I/II, Oboe I/II (Oboe da caccia), Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele” (Adorn yourself, O dear soul); B. “Denn der Herr voll Heil und Gnaden / Läßt dich itzt zu Gaste laden” (for the Lord, full of salvation and mercy / has now invited you as a guest); F major, 12/8 gigue style.
2. (Stanza 2 paraphrased) Aria da-capo [Tenor, Flauto traverso, Continuo]: “Ermuntre dich: dein Heiland klopft” (Stir yourself: your saviour is knocking): B. “Ob du gleich in entzückter Lust / Nur halb gebrochne Freudenworte / Zu deinem Jesu sagen musst” (Even if in enchanted delight / only words of joy half broken / you have to say to your Jesus); C major 4/4 bouree style.
3. Recitative (Stanza 3 paraphrased) &Chorale arioso (Stanza 4 unaltered) [Soprano; Violoncello piccolo, Continuo]: recit., “Wie teuer sind des heilgen Mahles Gaben!” (How valuable are the gifts of the holy meal!); chorale, “Ach, wie hungert mein Gemüte / Menschenfreund, nach deiner Güte!” (Ah, how my spirit hungers / Friend of man, for your goodness!); a minor – F major; 4/4.
4. (Stanzas 5-6 paraphrased) Recitative secco, arioso 1 mm[Alto; Flauto I/II, Continuo]: recit., “Mein Herz fühlt in sich Furcht und Freude” (My feels in itself fear and joy;); last line, “Die Freude aber wird gestärket (Our joy however is strengthened); B flat major; 4/4.
5. (Stanza 7 paraphrased)Aria da-capo [Soprano; Flauto I/II, Oboe I/II (Oboe da caccia), Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Lebens Sonne, Licht der Sinnen, / Herr, der du mein alles bist! / (Sun of life, light of the senses / Lord, you who are everything to me!); B. “Du wirst meine Treue sehen (You will see my loyalty); B flat major, ¾ time polonaise style.
6. (Stanza 8 paraphrased) Recitative secco and arioso [Bass, Continuo]: recit., “Herr, lass an mir dein treues Lieben” (Lord, grant that your faithful love for me); arioso (last line): “Und deiner Liebe stets gedenke” (and think of your love continuously); F major, 4/4.
7. (Stanza 9) Chorale [SATB, Continuo]: Jesu, wahres Brot des Lebens, / Hilf, dass ich doch nicht vergebens / Oder mir vielleicht zum Schaden / Sei zu deinem Tisch geladen” (Jesus, true bread of life, / help me so that not in vain /or perhaps to my loss / I may be invited to your table); F major, 4/4.

Cantata 180 Fantasia Compared to Other Chorale Cantatas

The opening fantasia with its surprise pastoral character is compared to other chorale cantatas in Julian Mincham’s Commentary, Chapter 21, Cantata 80 <<Sandwiched between the muscular, fluid rhythms of the chorale/fantasia of C 5 [Trinity 19] and the harsh, almost alien landscape from C 38 [Trinity 21], this opening movement comes as something of a surprise. It has a gentle, pastoral quality of great delicacy and refinement that contrasts strongly with the works surrounding it. Charm, grace and a suggestion of fragility are all communicated through delicate orchestration within the context of the pastoral 12/8 time signature.

This, like the similarly restrained chorale fantasia of C 8 [Trinity 16], leaves the listener feeling that s/he has never come across another piece of music quite like it. Both explore, with incredible subtlety, the tender nature that restrained and imaginative use of major keys can communicate. Traces of the darker emotions do yet remain; they have not been completely abandoned but here they colour delicately rather than assail the emotions.

This is the seventh fantasia set in a major key and the third to use F, the others being C 20 which opens this great cycle and C 96 [Trinity 18]. C 1, which ends the run of forty consecutive chorale cantatas [Annunciation, March 25, 1725], is also in this gentle key. C 20 is a gigantic French Overture expounding themes of eternity, terror and confusion. C 1 is a superb tone poem praising the Lord through the metaphor of the morning star. C 180 is, perhaps, closest in character to C 96, a lyrical pastorale, a private inducement completely devoid of presumption or posturing, tenderly tempting the soul to leave its caverns of sin and emerge into the radiance of the Lord. All four fantasias are contrasting in character but they share an elusive personal connection.>>

The Gospel reading and its importance in all three Bach cantatas for the 20th Sunday after Trinity and details of all the movements in Cantata 180 are found in John Eliott Gardiner’s 2010 notes to the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.5 Gardiner, “The Gospel reading for the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity is the parable of the royal wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14). It prompts many figurative references to the soul as bride, to travel, to clothing and to food, such as Jesus as the ‘bread of life’, and Bach came up with three settings all marked in their way by this imagery, each one creating a distinctive sensuous atmosphere by means of scoring, vocal writing, special sonority, or a mixture of all three.” [The cantatas are: Weimar 1716 SATB solo Cantata BWV 162, "Ach! Ich sehe, jetzt, da ich zur Hockzeit gehe" (Ah, I see sow, as I to the marriage go); Leipzig 1724 chorale Cantata BWV 180, "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele" (Arise thee, O loving soul); and Leipzig 1726 soprano-Bass dialogue Cantata BWV 49, "Ich gehe und such emit Verlangen" (I go and seek with longing)].

<< . . . only the length of each movement, which slightly outlives its welcome. Not so with BWV 180 Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, even though the opening movement is very long – one of those relaxed 12/8 processional movements at which Bach excels. Here he combines sustained passages for the wind (two recorders, two oboes, one of them da caccia) with a theme for unison upper strings, then splits off the wind in pairs with cross-rhythmic exchanges over a fragmented (still unison) string figure. The chorale fantasia begins with a serene cantus firmus theme in the sopranos atop decorative lines for the three lower voices perfectly tailored to the idea of the soul dressing itself up in all its wedding finery. Initially it conveys an atmosphere of tenderness and expectation: the getting dressed and the journey to the wedding feast. Suddenly (at bar 71) the tension mounts: the bride has arrived (there is even a hint of her long wedding train in the sustained string chords), a pre-echo of an equivalent intensification in Wachet auf (BWV 140, No.1). Its sequel, an aria for tenor with flute obbligato (No.2), strongly redolent of the Badinerie from the B minor Orchestral Suite (BWV 1067) only at a slower tempo, suggests a mid-feast entertainment or a dance for pipe and tabor. But instead of the dancing girls comes the injunction to ‘open the door of your heart’ in response to Jesus’ knocking (heard in the repeated quavers in the basso continuo). It is fresh, light-hearted

The final chorale is a model of its kind, drawing all the strands of the previous movements together – the themes of the heavenly wedding feast, food for the soul and union with God. Johann Franck’s Eucharistic hymn is ineffably tender in Bach’s four-part harmonisation. As Whittaker [Cantatas of JSB: 473] says of this cantata, ‘It is one of the most constantly blissful in the series; there are no wars or rumours of wars, no disturbing demons or false prophets, no torture of mind, no thought of past sins, no fear of the hereafter; the soul surrenders herself in ecstasy to the Bridegroom and all things else are forgotten.’ © John Eliot Gardiner 2010, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Cantata 180: Detailed Account

A detailed account of all the Cantata 180 movements is provided in Klaus Hofmann 2004 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzki BIS cantata recordings.6 <<Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (Adron theyself, beloved soul). This cantata, Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (Adorn Thyself, Beloved Soul) . . . was written in 1724 in the context of the so-called chorale cantata year. The idea behind this great (although never completed) project was that, in the main church service on every Sunday and Feast Day for a whole year, a cantata should be played that was based not on the traditional gospel reading for the day in question but on a well-known hymn. The reason for this may have been the bicententry of the Reformation 'Liederjahr' (song year) - 1524 - when the first hymn books of the new Lutheran church were published in Nuremberg, Erfurt and Wittenberg. In the Leipzig church services in 1724, the hymn upon which the cantata was based was probably incorporated into the priest's sermon. The task of Bach's librettist . . . was to rework some of the hymn's verses so that Bach could set them as arias and recitatives; the first and last strophes, however, should always remain unchanged as they would be heard in the cantata with their familiar melody. The hymns were generally chosen so that they would suit the Bible readings for the day in question, especially the gospel readings that formed the basis of the sermon.

Bach's cantata for the twentieth Sunday after Trinity was written for 22nd October 1724. The gospel text that is traditionally read on that day, and which forms the basis of the sermon, is Matthew 22, l-14, Jesus' parable of the Royal Marriage Feast. The parallel version of this story in Lu14, 16-24, speaks in different terms of the Great Supper, and it is from that interpretation that the choice of the hymn that underlies the chorale cantata for that Sunday: Schmiicke dich, o liebe Seele, a communion hymn by Johann Franck (1618-1677) that remains popular to this day. The beautiful, expressive melody is by the cantor of the Nikolaikirche in Berlin, Johann Crüger

(1598-1662). As usual, Bach's librettist left the first and last strophes unaltered, but here he also retained the fourth verse in its original form. The rest were reworked to form aria and recitative texts.

Bach's large-scale introductory chorus sets the chorus, accompanied by the continuo, against three independent, sometimesc complementary and sometimes confrontational instrumental groups: violins and violas, two oboes. and two recorders. The instrumental introduction prepares for the hymn melody with various melodic allusions, but above all it conveys the solemn, meditative atmosphere demanded by the impassioned text. Musically, the movement develops from a recurring, ostinato-like unison theme in the strings and the broad wind lines that are set against it at the beginning. The cantus firmus, in long note values, is in the soprano; the accompanying alto, tenor and bass voices, however, are based on an independent theme which (sometimes in melodic inversion) dominates six of the eight sections of the hymn verse. Only in the fifth and sixth lines, 'denn der Herr voll Heil und Gnaden...' ('For the Lord, full of salvation and mercy...') does Bach separate the lower choir's counter-theme from the hymn melody. Among Bach connoisseurs, this opening chorus has long been regarded as one of the most beautiful in my of his cantatas. 'One can tell from the composition that the master was working on one of his favourite melodies', wrote Albert Schweitzer [JSB II:373]. The second movement, the aria 'Ermuntre dich, dein Heiland klopft' ('Be of good cheer; your Saviour knocks') intensifies the invitation to the feast that has already been extended in the first movement: Jesus himself is knocking at the 'Herzenspforte' ('gates of your heart') of the faithful. As so often in his choralecantata year, Bach combines solo tenor and transverse flute in a virtuosic vocal-instrumental duet filled with the joyous emotion of 'good cheer' and with the clear imagery of 'knocking' portrayed by repeated notes in the continuo. After the rather extrovert tenor solo. The soprano in the third movement strikes a more thoughtful note. The short recitative leads to a melodically ornamented presentation of the original strophe 'Ach, wie hungert mein Gemüte' ('Ah, how my spirit hungers') accompanied by the violoncello piccolo which, with its lengthy interludes, provides space for the considered assimilation of each line of text.

The alto recitative 'Mein Herz fühlt in sich Furcht und Freude' ('My heart feels inner fear and joy'; fourth movement), with its unusual recorder accompaniment (which at first alludes to the hymn melody), uses the key-word 'Freude' ('joy') - later emphasized by striking coloratura writing - to lead our thoughts back to the joyous emotional sphere which also dominates the soprano aria (fifth movement) that follows. With its happy, dance-like character, this aria is very reminiscent of Bach's secular cantatas. Both the text and the music radiate a cheerful, relaxed trust from beginning to end. With a short prayer text -- a request for the preservation and advancement of faith – the bass recitative (sixth movement) leads to the concluding chorale which, as usual, is heard in a simple four-part setting. © Klaus Hoffmann 2004


1BCW Cantata 180 Details & Discography,
2 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: Cantata 180, text 570-75, commentary 576-9).
3 Scoring, Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: 2 recorders, 2 transverse flutes, oboe, oboe da caccia (English horn), violoncello piccolo, 2 violins, viola, continuo. Score Vocal & Piano [2.29 MB],, Score BGA [2.65 MB], References: BGA XXXV (Church cantatas 171-180, Alfred Dörffel, 1876), NBA KB I/25 (Trinity 20 cantatas, Ulrich Burtels 1997), Bach Compendium BC A 149, Zwang K 93.
4 Mincham, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
5 Gardiner notes,[sdg168_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details,
6 Hofmann notes,[BIS-CD1401].pdf; BCW Recording details,

Cantata 180, Part 2

See: Motets & Chorales for 20th Sunday after Trinity


Cantata BWV 180: 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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