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 187
Es wartet alles auf dich
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of July 10, 2016 (4th round)

William Hiffman wrote (July 12, 2016):
Cantata 187, 'Es wartet alles auf dich' (Cycle 3) Intro. & Trinity 7

For the important 7th Sunday after Trinity in 1726, Bach in his third cycle probably spent two weeks instead of the usual one composing impressive two-part chorus Cantata 187 “Es wartet alles auf dich” (Everything depends on you, Psalm 104:27), to a published Rudostadt text. In the music lasting 25 minutes, Bach avoided the repetition of da-capo arias or choruses by composing an elaborate motet-style prelude and fugue opening chorus set to biblical words, and three distinctive arias with elements of dance style. Bach’s juxtaposition of old and new music carefully crafted signified his enjoyment of creating sacred drama invested in two-part musical sermons. As was usual in the Rudolstadt texts, Bach set the opening biblical quotation, Psalm 104:27-28, as a Vox Dei chorus, and the bass aria opening part 2 (no. 4), “Darum sollt ihr nicht sorgen” (Therefore you should not be anxious), Matthew 6:31-31, Sermon on the Mount, as a Vox Dei setting.

In Cantata 187, Bach used the standard orchestra of two oboes, strings and continuo but used them quite effectively by diminishing his forces during the work, beginning with the tutti instruments in the opening chorus elaborating on various melodies, then in the arias using solo oboe with strings, solo violin, and solo oboe, respectively. Ten years later, all three arias as well as the chorus found their way into the Gloria of the Missa in G Major, BWV 235. The three successive arias from Cantata 187 are the bass three-part “Gratias agimus tibi” (no. 4), alto “Domine Fili” (no. 3) 3/8 sarabande style, and the tenor two-part ”Qui tollis” and “Quoniam” (no. 5)passepied-menuet style in 3/8. The closing “Cum sancto spiritu” is the opening ABA’ chorus fugue. All of the Missa in G movements come from three 1726-27 mature Cantatas BWV 102, 72, and 187. The “Kyrie” (BWV 102/1) has two fugues. The “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (BWV 72/1) is a free da-capo chorus in canon.

Cantata 187 was first performed on August 4, 1726, at the early main service of the Nikolaikirche, before and after the sermon on the Gospel, Mark 8:1-9, the miracle of feeding of the 4,000, by Superintendent Salomon Deyling (1677-1755), says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Kommentar, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.2 The Readings in Bach’s time for the 7th Sunday after Trinity were: Epistle, Romans 6:19-23 (“The wages of sin is death”), and Gospel, Mark 8:1-9 (Miracle “Christ feeds the four thousand”) after the Sermon on the Mount; 1545 Martin Luther German translation, English translation Authorised (King James) [KJV] Version 1611; Text, The Introit Psalm was 145, Exaltabo te, Deus (I will extol thee, my God, David’s Psalm of Praises, KJV), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 145).

The chorale as found in the Rudolstadt text is the fourth and sixth stanzas of Hans Vogel’s 1560 “Singen wir aus Herzensgrund” (Let us sing from the depths of our hearts), in seven lines (AABBCCC). Stanza 4 is “Gott hat die Erde zugericht', / Läßts an Nahrung mangeln nicht” (God has set up the earth in such a way, / that he will not allow food to be lacking). Final Stanza 6 is “Wir danken sehr und bitten ihn” (We give great thanks and pray to him). It is found in Das neu Leipziger Gesnagbuch of 1682 as No. 220 as a post-communion hymn (Zahn melody 4816 c-f. Details are found below, ‘Chorale “Singen wir” Details.’

Cycles and Patterns

For the 7th Sunday after Trinity in the 1726 third cycle, Bach returned to the large-scale chorus form which began the Trinity Time cantatas based in two parts using the Meiningen Rudolstadt texts. He continued in a selective process to alternate his new works with those of cousin Ludwig. This enabled him to focus his creative energies on extensive, old motet-style choruses and new dance-style multi-part arias which are among his best compositions. Both types of choruses and arias enabled Bach to infuse sacred drama into his cantatas in a stile misto (mixed style) manner popular at the Saxon Court in Dresden.

Another progressive element in Bach’s third cycle is the recycling of previous instrumental materials primarily in his solo cantatas. Bach used concerto movements as opening sinfonias, similar to extended overtures to opera seria. He also was able to take concerto movements with strong melodies and convert them into accessible arias. These were discussed in the earliest of the BCML 4th Cycle of Discussions in 2014, with the solo and dialogue cantatas found almost entirely in the later part of Trinity Time, The possible librettist is discussed below.

This was Bach’s first systematic use of borrowed materials, which came in the 1730s through the use of parodies and contrafaction, or new text underlay, to dominate his so-called Christological Cycle of extended works or collections involving German-language oratorios, and Latin liturgical works as part of a well-order church music to the glory of God.

Further in this way, Bach composed simple, intimate contentment arias such as “Ich habe genug” (I have enough), opening solo soprano/mezzo-soprano aria for the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, February 2, 1727. Recent Bach scholarship suggests that Cantata 82 (the Visitation feast fell on the 4th Sunday after Epiphany 1727), and soprano-bass dialogue Cantata 58, “Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid” (Ah God, how many a heartache) for the Sunday after New Year (January 5) 1727, are part of a series of six devotional solo and dialogue cantatas for Epiphany Time 1727, possibly by Bach student Christoph Birkmann.3 Birkmann’s 1728 Nuremerg Cycle also has texts for six Bach Cantatas (BWV 169, 56, 49, 98, 55, 62) for the 18th to the 23rd Sundays after Trinity, closing Trinity Time 1726.

If these librettos indeed were written by Birkmann in Leipzig, collaborating with Bach, they fill a major gap identifying authors of third cycle cantata texts. The operatic (or sacred drama) influence so pronounced in the third cycle has been linked to min-cycle published libretti through Bach scholarship in the past 40 years. Previously, Georg Christian Lehms (1684-1717) was identified as author of 10 Bach cantatas (110, 57, 151, 28, 16, 32, 13 [Christmas to Epiphany 2, 1725-25]; 170, 35 [Trinity 2, 6, 12 1727] and 157 (Purification 1727) from 1711. The Rudolstadt texts (1704/19/26) include settings of 18 J. L. Bach Cantatas Sebastian performed in 1726 and seven Sebastian Cantatas (BWV 43, 39, 88, 187, 45, 102, and 17; for Ascension; Trinity 5, 7, 8, 10, 14, 1727). Librettists of three other cantatas have been identified: BWV 28 (Christmas 1 1725), Erdmann Neumeister (1716); BWV 72 (Epiphany 3, 1726), Salomo Franck (1715); and BWV 47 (Trinity 17, 1726), Johann Friedrich Helbig 1720.

These published third cycle cantata texts, as well as the anonymous (?Birkmann) six late Trinity Time cantata are catalogued in Robin A. Leaver’s essay, “Oper in der Kirche” (Opera in the Church). 4 Bach was involved in the debate over dramatic music in churches, based on sacred texts, especially in the second decade of the 18th century when published cantata texts and sacred cantata cycles began to flourish. Among famous poets Bach actively collaborated with were Franck in Weimar, Christian Friedrich Hunold (Menantes) in Cöthen, and Christiane Mariana von Ziegler and Picander in Leipzig,” observes Le(Ibid.: 194).

Especially in Bach’s third cycle, strong compositional patterns are found. Besides particular librettists at certain periods in the church year in so-called mini-cycles or sub-cycles, Bach repeated other patterns. In particular are his alternating Rudolstadt texts of his and cousin Johann’s Ludwig Bach’s cantatas in Early Trinity Time 1726, enabling Sebastian to spend two weeks on the composition of works with published texts that presumably already were approved by the Leipzig Town Council. Earlier, Bach was able to use Lehms texts for consecutive compositions at Christmas and Epiphany. Interestingly, Bach turned to cousin Ludwig’s cantatas for 15 almost-consecutive services in early 1726 from the Feast of Purfication (JLB-9) through the pre-Lenten “gesimae” Sundays and the Easter Season.

The timing is obvious. Bach had begun in earnest to compose the St. Matthew Passion, working with Picander, for Good Friday, although forced to substitute the “Keiser” St. Mark Passion. At the end of the Easter season, Bach reperformed his first Leipzig works for the Pentecost Festival (BWV 34, 173, 184) and the Trinityfest (BWV 194). He composed only one original work during this time, Cantata 43 for the Ascension Feast, an extended (11-movement) two-part work based on Rudolstadt texts of Christoph Helm (Part 1), and Prince Ernst Ludwig.

The remaining six Rudolstadt texts that Bach set as extant cantatas in Trinity have exactly the same, uniform structure. Part 1, Old Testament quotation - Recitative - Aria – (Part 2) New Testament quotation - Aria - Recitative - Chorale. The record for early Trinity Time 1726, as with the previous period in 1725, shows no Bach extent compositions except for Rudolstadt Cantata BWV 39 for the 1st Sunday after Trinity. The remainder of Trinity Time 1725, called post-Cycle 2 or pre-Cycle 3, proved exceedingly sketchy and enigmatic, with no regular Sebastian Bach compositions, only a vague pattern: BWV Anh. 209 (Trinity 7, Lehms 1711 text only), BWV 168 (Trinity 9, Franck text); BWV 137 (pure-hymn cantata, Trinity 12), BWV 164 (Trinity 13, Franck text), BWV Anh. 4 (town council), and belated Cantata 79 for Reformation. There is no record that Bach had works of other composers performed in this period. Instead, he seemed to have pursued instrumental compositions and printed librettos for the third cycle.

Early Trinity Time Pattern

The early Trinity Time pattern is discussed in Julian Mincham’s commentary introduction to Cantata 187, <<One supposes that Bach′s experiment in introducing the solo alto cantata C 170 to his Leipzig congregations was not badly received because in just under three months he composed two more [contentment cantatas], Cs 35 and 169. But immediately following C 170 he returned to the practice of writing large-scale two-part works boasting particularly massive choruses (Cs 187, 45 and 102).

C 187, the first of these, is more widely known as the Mass in G minor BWV 235 for which the opening chorus and all [three] arias were reused. However, it is of interest to place the original form of this work within the context of the two other extant cantatas written for this day. The earliest was C 186 (vol 1, chapter 9), a massive composition written in Bach′s Weimar years but revised for reuse in the first Leipzig cycle. It is also in two parts, the last of a group of bipartite cantatas that Bach was to present at Leipzig for some time. It comprises eleven movements and arias for all voices. C 107 (vol 2, chapter 8) was a chorale cantata built upon the unaltered verses of the chorale text and somewhat oddly structured: one recitative followed by four consecutive arias. C 187, like C 186, is in two parts commencing with by far the longest and most focused of the three opening choruses. Of the extant works for this day it has good claim to be considered the most memorable.>>

Trinity 7, Bach’s Cantatas5

<<The 7th Sunday after Trinity Sunday marks a milestone in Bach's cantata production. It is the beginning of a series of 11 consecutive Middle Trinity Time Sundays with three surviving main service musical sermons each Sunday (and occasionally a fourth) [see Bach Works, Lutheran Church Year Readings,]. This series is followed by another group of five Sundays, from the 19th to the 23rd Sunday After Trinity with at least three cantatas each Sunday. For almost three months or the middle two-quarters of Trinity Time each summer Bach was free from feast day observances between the Visit of Visitation, July 2, and the Feast of St. Michael, September 29.

Beyond the usual requirements of the Christian Church year, for the 7th Sunday after Trinity Bach settled into a routine after having explored various compositional elements in each of the three distinct cycles: the first involving the widest range of cantata forms set to various librettists, the second as a homogeneous cycle showing the chorale cantata in all its forms, and the third yielding mostly intimate works often utilizing previous Bach materials. Each cycle of his cantata trilogy showed Bach exploring significant facets of his compositional art. Bach's three elaborate chorus Cantatas for this Seventh Sunday of Trinity Time -- BWV 186, BWV 107, and BWV 187 -- are emblematic of their respective cycles and the surety Bach acquired as he progressed through the earliest stage of each cycle.

In his ambitious, initial 1723 first year of six Trinity Time Sundays and two feast days, Bach presented five two-part cantatas (BWV 75, BWV 76, BWV 21, BWV 147, BWV 186) and one double bill, BWV 185 and BWV 24, leaving only the Feast of John the Baptist for a single work, Cantata BWV 167, and no extant work for the Fifth Sunday After Trinity. This string of six double-efforts, presented before and after the sermon, ended with Cantata BWV 186, “Ärgre dich, o Seele nicht>\” (Trouble thyself, o soul, not), for the 7th Sunday after Trinity, June 23, 1724. Cantata BWV 186. demonstrated his mastery of the expansion of his some 20 cantata previously composed in Weimar, particularly his crafting of the both the dramatic recitative form and the Lutheran chorale with its challenging permutations and combinations, including the first expansive, polyphonic chorale choruses.

Cantata BWV 186 represents Bach's penultimate essay in the into the two-part cantata form in the first cycle, with Cantata BWV 70 presented on the last (26th) Sunday in Trinity Time (November 21, 1723). Bach opened his second, chorale cantata cycle with two-part BWV 20 for the 1st Sunday after Trinity (June 11, 1724). In the third cycle, he fashioned seven original two-part cantatas to Rudolstadt texts, as well as presenting most of the J.L. Bach 18 Rudolstadt-texted cantatas in two parts.

In his chorale cantata cycle, Bach presented Cantata 107, “Was willst du dich betrüben” (Why do you want to distress yourself), on July 23, 1724, for the 7th Sunday after Trinity. Meanwhile, Bach produced a plethora of opening chorus movements using the chorale melody and its first stanza text: French Overture (BWV 20), motet-style (BWV 2), "violin concerto" (BWV 7) and the chorale fantasia (BWV 135) [Alfred Dürr <Cantatas of JSB> p. 32]. Then Bach created BWV 10 using an ancient psalm tone instead of a chorale for the Feast of Visitation/Trinity +4, followed two weeks later by the full use of both the chorale tune and text in Cantata BWV 93 for the 6th Sunday after Trinity 1724.

For the 7th Sunday after Trinity, Jul15, 1725, when Bach returned from his first vacation, he had on hand possibly two other Weimar cantatas appropriate for this Sunday: BWV 54, “Wiederstehe doch der Sünde) (Resists then the sin, 1714, originally for Oculi Sunday),, and BWV Anh. 209, “Liebster Gott, vergißt du mich” (Loving God, forget me not, 1714), both based on the 1711 cantata cycle libretto, Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer, of Lehms The history of the lost music for BWV Anh. 209 (only the text survives) remains murky. It may have been composed for the same Trinity +7 Sunday, July 15, 1714, in Weimar.

Cantata BWV Anh. 209 was performed in Leipzig in 1725, at the early main service at St. Thomas Church before the Gospel sermon of Pastor Christian Weise (1671-1736), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 164). A second version with essential text was preformed on February 6, 1727, before the sermon at the funeral services in nearby Pomßen of royal chemberlin Johann Christoph von Ponickau (1652-1726), followed by Cantata BWV 157, “Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn!” (I am not letting you go, unless you bless me first!, Genesis 32:26), to a Picander text.6 Cantata 157 was repeated for the Purification Feast (February 2) in 1728 or later.

The Lehms text for BWV Anh. 209 shows seven movements of four each alternating recitatives and arias with the chorale, "Warum betrübst dich mein Herz" (Why grieve thee my heart), placed as No. 5. Bach set it as a plain chorale, BWV 420. Verse 10 (no BCW translation available) of the chorale closes Picander's text in his annual cycle to Cantata P-50 <Ach Gott, ich bin von dir> (Ah God, I am of Thee), for the 7th Sunday after Trinity, July 11, 1728.

In addition, a cantata once attributed to Bach and catalogued as BWV Anh. 1 (the first Appendix work), <Geseget ist die Zuversicht> (Blessed is the confidence), also was set by Telemann in 1719, TVWV 1:617, in the same cycle to the Neumeister text, for the 7th Sunday after Trinity. See BCW: The incipit attributed to Bach was listed in the Leipzig publisher Breitfkopf's 1770 Catalog (NBA KB 1/18 118f) while that music is lost. The Telemann score is available:>>

Cantata 187 Movements, Scoring, Incipit; Key, Meter:7

First Part, 1. Motet Chorus in three parts (ABA’), opening sinfonia and two choruses with ritornello (Psalm 104:27-28) [SATB; Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo): A. free-polyphony with canonic construction (Choreinbau, bars 6-13), “Es wartet alles auf dich, / daß du ihnen Speise gebest zu seiner Zeit” Everything depends on you / so that you give food to them at the right time); B. two-subject fugue, “Wenn du ihnen gibest, / so sammlen see” (When you give it to them, / then they gather), wenn du deine Hand auftust, / so werden sie mit Güte gesättiget) (when you open your hand, / then they will be satiated by your kindness; A’ full text repeat; 4/4, g major.
2. Recitative secco [Bass, Continuo]: “Was Kreaturen halt / Das große Rund der Welt!” (What creatures are contained / by the great circle of the world!; 4/4; B-Flat major to g minor.
3. Aria free da-capo with ritornelli [Alto; Oboe I e Violino I all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Du Herr, du krönst allein das Jahr mit deinem Gut” (You Lord, you alone crown the year with your good); B. “Es träufet Fett und Segen / Auf deines Fußes Wegen / Und deine Gnade ists, die allen Gutes tut” (Oil and blessing trickle / on your footsteps / and it is through your grace that good is done for everyone); 3/8 passepied-menuett style ; B-Flat Major.
Second Part, 4. Aria (Matthew 6:31-32) three-part with ritornelli [Bass; Violino I/II all' unisono, Continuo]: A. Darum sollt ihr nicht sorgen noch sagen: / Was werden wir essen, / was werden wir trinken, / womit werden wir uns kleiden?” (Therefore you should not be anxious nor say: / What shall we eat, / what shall we drink / with what shall we clothe ourselves?); B. “Nach solchem allen trachten die Heiden” (The gentiles strive after all such things); C. Denn euer himmlischer Vater weiß, / daß ihr dies alles bedürfet” (For your heavenly father knows / that you need all this); 2/2; g minor.
5. Aria two-part [Soprano; Oboe solo, Continuo]: A. Adagio 4/4, “Gott versorget alles Leben, / Was hienieden Odem hegt” (God cares for all life / that draws breath here below); B. Un poco allegro 3/8 sarabande style, “Weicht, ihr Sorgen, seine Treue / Ist auch meiner eingedenk” (Give way, you anxieties, his faithfulness / keeps me also in mind; E-flat Major.
6. Recitative secco [Soprano; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo: “Halt ich nur fest an ihm mit kindlichem Vertrauen”; 4/4, c minor to B-Flat Major.
7. Chorale [SATB; Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo]: A. “Gott hat die Erde zugericht', / Läßts an Nahrung mangeln nicht” (God has set up the earth in such a way, / that he will not allow food to be lacking); B. “Wir danken sehr und bitten ihn, / Daß er uns geb des Geistes Sinn, / Daß wir solches recht verstehn, / Stets in sein' Geboten gehn” (We give great thanks and pray to him / that he may give us the capability of mind / so that we may understand this rightly, / always walk in his commandments; 3(/4).

Notes on the Text

Insight into the simple Rudostadt text, beginning with Psalm 104, and the threads of biblical thought are provided by Dick Wursten in the BCML Discussion Part 1 (July 15, 2002),

<<Mvt 2. = a free paraphrase and elaboration (Durchführung) of other elements from psalm 104: 'all creatures great and small' are gathered together in this psalm to praise Gods glory in creation. The mountains (8,13, 18,32) with the birds it (12,17) and the floods (6-9, 25,26) with the fish in it (25) are present; Man is part of it, working on it, and depending on it for 'food' (23). The mentioning of the 'monarch' in the end is the only element that is free invention, but it also makes a nice 'bridge' to the next association: Psalm 65, because this psalm is the psalm of 'the king' which ends with the connection between good regiment and food for all. So the next movement is already announced, because: Mvt 3. = almost litteral quotation of psalm 65:11 Du krönst das Jahr mit deinem Gut, und deine Fußtapfen triefen von Fett. 12 Die Weiden in der Wüste sind auch fett, daß sie triefen, und die Hügel sind umher lustig. (Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side.)

PART II. Lectio and sermon taken from the New Testament. Not the reading of the Sunday (Marc 8:1-9), but of a part of the gospel that is often connected with it (Matthew 6:25-34): Jesus' speech about the uselessness of worrying about the earthly goods and his call to 'trust' in the creator: Don't worry, be happy, by trusting in the Lord (compare the 4th prayer [petition] from the Lords prayer). God is the creator, and thus protector and maintainer. The 'text' of this sermon: Mvt 4. = Matthew 6: 31-32: Darum sollt ihr nicht sorgen noch sagen: Was werden wir essen, was werden wir trinken, womit werden wir uns kleiden? Nach solchem allen trachten die Heiden. Denn euer himmlischer Vater weiß, daß ihr dies alles bedürfet.

(Therefore do not be anxious, saying: "What will we eat, what will we drink, With what shall we clothe ourselves?" The Gentiles concern themselves with all this. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.)

Mvt 5 and 6 can be read as the elaboration (Durchführung) on this central text, with 'Heranbeziehung' of some other (and the same) Old Testament bibleplaces. Mvt 5 f.i. refers to the Old Testament exp'all that has Breath' (Alles was Odem hat/hegt), which is the Hebrew way of saying: every living creature. Psalm 104 (!): 29b du nimmst weg ihren Odem, so vergehen sie und werden wieder zu Staub. 30 Du lässest aus deinen Odem, so werden sie geschaffen. (Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created). Also the famous exhortation to praise God psalm 150: Alles was Odem hat, lobe den Herren (Everything that has breath, praise the Lord) can be named. Seine Treue wird mir täglich neue (His faithfulness is renewed for me daily) is associative referring to the Lamentations 3: 22b,23a (one of the top 10 quotes from the Old Testament). Mvt 6. gives the personal application, worded in the first person singular. Including oneself in the adhoration makes it more easy to the listener to 'get along'. Here the text moves away most from the 'bible-language, idiom' and is more coloured by the 'sermon-language' of 18th century christianity: general providence preaching.

Mvt. 7 can be beautifully interpreted as the summary and conclusion of the whole sermon. The first verse of the hymn is completely in line with the first part of the cantata. Yes even more: The introduction of wine and bread also can be traced back to psalm 104 (verse 15), Yes even more: the whole verse can be understood of a rhymed version of Psalm 104: 13-15: 13 Du feuchtest die Berge von obenher; du machst das Land voll Früchte, die du schaffest; 14 du lässest Gras wachsen für das Vieh und Saat zu Nutz den Menschen, daß du Brot aus der Erde bringest, 15 und daß der Wein erfreue des Menschen Herz, daß seine Gestalt schön werde vom Öl und das Brot des Menschen Herz stärke; (He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.)

The (right) answer to conclude all this is suggested in verse 2: We have to praise and thank God, by living according to his commandments and glorify his name. That is the 'true gratias'.. I hear this twice: 'Gratias sagen' is: 'say thank you'. But 'Das Gratias' in German also refers to the thanksgiving to God after every meal: 'Das Gratias nach dem Essen', which by Luther once was suggested and formulated with the words of Psalm 104: 27-28. 'Aller Augen warten auf dich Herre, das du gibest ihnen ihre Speise etc. followed by the Lords Prayer. (very useful and not-difficult 4-part harmonisation by H. Schütz). Now the circle is complete, we are where we started.>>

Chorale ‘Singen wir’ Details

Francis Browne wrote (August 26, 2011): Cantata 187, BCML Discussion Part 3, BWV 187: chorale

Seek and (sometimes) you will find. From Terry's book on Bach Chorales I found some more information about the chorale used in this week's cantata Cantata CLXXXVII.: Es wartet Alles auf dich. Seventh Sunday after Trinity (1732) - Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach’s Chorals, vol. 2 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts [1917] (Online Library of Liberty),

"The words of the concluding Choral are the fourth and sixth stanzas of the anonymous Hymn, or Grace after Meat, "Singen wir aus Herzensgrund." It appeared first as a broadsheet c. 1560 and later in Hundert Christenliche Haussgesang (Nürnberg, 1569) and in Johann Eichorn's Geistliche Lieder (Frankfort a. Oder, 1569). In the 1589 edition of the latter Hymn book the Hymn is associated with the tune "Da Christus geboren war".

Commentators ascribe the hymn to Hans Vogel - about whom I can discover nothing. I found a text in Wackernagel's Das Deutsche Kirchenlied (Vol. 4, p579). With characteristic generosity Thomas Braatz sent me two subsequent versions and it seems the hymn was used with increasing variations and additions until the 19th century.>> The German text and Browne’s English translation are found at BCW

Meiningen Text Background

The background for the Meiningen-type cantatas are explored in John Eliot Gardiner’s 2009 liner notes to the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.8

<<BWV 187 “Es wartet alles auf dich” is one of the seven ‘Meiningen’-type cantatas Bach wrote between February and September 1726, so called because they are based on texts thought to have been written by Duke Ernst Ludwig of Saxe- Meiningen not later than 1704 and set to music at the time by his progressive-minded Kapellmeister, Georg Caspar Schürmann. By including so-called ‘madrigalian’ verse for recitatives and arias, preceded in each cantata by quotations from the Old Testament at the start of Part I, and from the New Testament to introduce Part II, Duke Ernst was anticipating the so-called ‘reform’ cantatas of Erdmann Neumeister by at least seven years.

This particular cantata opens with a biblical quotation from Psalm 104, stressing the Lord’s providence in gratifying the hunger of His creatures and providing a link to the Gospel text, the feeding of the 4,000. It is a spacious, big-boned piece in G minor divided into three main sections. After a 27-bar sinfonia comes a ‘launch’ by the four choral voices in imitation – this in Bach’s favoured technique of choral insertion (‘Choreinbau’), where the motivic lead given by the instruments now extends to the chorus – and a 17-bar instrumental interlude that prepares for the fugal re-entry of the choir, 46 bars long. Finally there is a summary of the whole psalm verse for choir and orchestra combined. But that simplified schematic preécis does not do justice to Bach’s skill in reconciling two opposed modes of composition, one associated with concerto form and supplying the motivic reservoir that acts as a unifying device to the whole movement, the other text-related, ensuring that each of the individual choral passages is shaped in clearly audible speech rhythms (‘dass du ihnen Speise gebest zu seiner Zeit’ and later, as the fugue subject, ‘wenn du ihnen gibest, so sammlen sie, wenn du deine Hand auftust’). By varying the contributions of his orchestra, first in the foreground as prelude, now as a largely independent accompaniment to the choral insertions, now reduced to continuo alone for the important fugal proclamation of the second clause, now playing colla parte, Bach creates a riveting tableau in which the focus constantly shifts from orchestra to choir and back again. Finally he gives a condensed restatement of the whole text, reviewing and dovetailing all the thematic strands of the movement within a mere twelve bars. Masterly.

All the subsequent movements are of a matching quality. An opening bass recitative celebrating God’s bounty in nature (No. 2) that could conceivably pass as a prototype for one from Haydn’s Creation is followed by a harvest-time aria for alto and strings in 3/8 with a slightly Handelian melody and musical symbols of plenitude, fertility and ripeness. At the start of Part II a witty bass aria with violins (No.4) sets St Matthew’s description of the disciples anxiously asking ‘What shall we eat or what shall we drink’. This is met with the severe put-down, ‘Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things’, set by Bach in the same dactylic rhythm but implying a totally different delivery. Finally there is an intriguing soprano aria with obbligato oboe (No.5), opening with the grand gestures of a French overture with threes-against-fours, a ceremonial build-up leading you to expect not just a single soprano but a chorus at the very least, and with a quicker middle section where worries are banished in celebrating the ‘many gifts of fatherly love’. From this pattern of ever-reducing instrumental forces for each successiaria – oboe with strings (No. 3), unison violins with continuo (No. 4), oboe solo with continuo (No. 5) – one might surmise that Bach is mirroring not just the succession of ideas prompted by the text, but a more subtle shift from the general to the particular. From this one can conclude with Alfred Dürr that the string accompaniment of the penultimate recitative (No.6) is there to serve as ‘a symbol of the security of the individual in God’s love and within the Christian community’. A stirring harmonisation in triple time of two verses of a hymn by Hans Vogel, ‘Singen mit Herzensgrund’ (1563), culminates with the ‘Gratias’, a harvest hymn of collective thanks for the fruits of agriculture. We can sympathise with Bach if all the care he had lavished on the music of this cantata were to disappear after only a couple of performances on 4 August 1726. Sure enough it reappears a decade later in his G minor Missa (BWV 235), where almost the entire Gloria is made up of the opening chorus and three of the cantata’s arias (Nos 3, 4 and 5) in parody form.

Having gone to the trouble of shifting our forces and paraphernalia to the east end of the church, it was not just the acoustics in Haddington that turned out to be so special, the sound bouncing off the back wall truly and without distortion. Shafts of early evening light slanting in through the northern windows, the huge copper beech shimmering in the wind just outside the big east window, and the intimacy of the enclosed space framed by these once-external walls – all contributed to the atmosphere and to the sense of occasion.>> © John Eliot Gardiner 2009, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

The biblical sources for Cantata 187 in the Rudolstadt text are discussed in Klaus Hofmann’s liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki complete cantata BIS recordings.9

<<The cantata “Es wartet alles auf dich,” for the seventh Sunday after Trinity, was first performed at the Leipzig church service on 4th August 1726. As with “Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot” [Bring the hungry their bread, Isaiah 58:7; Cantata 39, Trinity 1 1726], the source of Bach’s text is the Meiningen collection from 1704, and the text is arranged according to a similar pattern: the first part of the cantata opens with words from the Old Testament (Psalm 104:27–28) and the second part with a quotation from the New Testament (Matthew 6:31–32). In terms of content it is associated with the Sunday gospel reading, Mark 8:1–9, with its report of the Feeding of the Four Thousand. The first part of the cantata speaks of the richness of God’s gifts, and of how he assures our welfare and that of all creation. In the second part, however, the faithful are urged (on the basis of Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount) not to worry about their nourishment and daily needs. At the same time they are encouraged to have ‘kindlichem Vertrauen’ (‘childlike faith’) in God, to be confident and grateful.

As was the case with “Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot,” the cantata’s large-scale opening chorus is a masterpiece of musical form and artistry that none of Bach’s contemporaries could have equalled. A lengthy instrumental introduction, in which the strings and two oboes have a lively interchange, prepares the way for the Bible words, by creating a solemn atmosphere that is nonetheless full of activity. At the same time, from a compositional point of view, it presents thematic material that is important for the inner unity and overall form of the entire movement. The text is dealt with in two principal sections: the words ‘Es wartet alles auf dich, dass du ihnen Speise gebest zu seiner Zeit’ (‘These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season’) are presented in a freely polyphonic, partly canonical setting and then developed in a fugato with two themes, accompanied all the time by motifs from the instrumental introduction. By contrast the text that follows, ‘Wenn du ihnen gibest…’ (‘That thou givest them…’) begins as a strict choral fugue, to which the instruments gradually add motivic reminiscences from the introduction. Bach rounds off the movement with a stroke of genius: the voices repeat the entire opening text to the music of the second half of the instrumental introduction.

The alto aria starting with the words ‘Du Herr, du krönst allein das Jahr mit deinem Gut’ (‘O Lord, you alone crown the year with your goodness’) – an explicit allusion to Psalm 65:12 – strikes a beautiful, hymn-like tone and com bines this with flexible imagery, for example on the word ‘krönst’ (‘crown’) where coloraturas imitate the jagged contour of a crown, or the depiction of trickling by means of a rapid sequence of descending figures on the words ‘Es träufet Fett und Segen’ (‘Unction and blessing trickle’). Jesus’ words in the fourth movement are once again given to the bass, accompanied by the violins in unison and by the basso continuo, in a movement full of seriousness and weight. The strict, almost motet-like contrapuntal style also contributes to this expressive attitude. With great skill Bach develops the entire movement from a single thematic device, which appears embellished by the violins at the very start, and at the beginning of the vocal section in its basic form. The following soprano aria forms the greatest possible contrast with its long-held, finely chiselled melodies in the solo oboe and vocal line. It is interrupted unexpectedly by a lively intermezzo on the words ‘Weicht, ihr Sorgen…’ (‘Yield, o sorrows’), where the fleeting oboe figures serve as a graphic emphasis of the exhortation contained in the text, before the movement returns to the peaceful music with which it started.

Some of the movements in this cantata will seem familiar from another context. Bach later used free arrangements of no less than four of them in his Mass in G minor (Nos 1, 3–5) – doubtless an indication of the high regard in which he held his cantata from 1726. © Klaus Hofmann 2008


1 Cantata 187, BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [2.33 MB],; Score BGA [3.21 MB], References: BGA XXXVII (Cantatas 181-190, Alfred Dörffel, 1891), NBA KB I/18 Leo Treitler 1966, Bach Compendium BC A 110, Zwang K 146.
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: 167.
3 See Christine Blanken, “A Cantata-Text Cycle of 1728 from Nuremberg: A Preliminary Report on a Discovery relating to J. S. Bach’s so-called ‘Third Annual Cycle’” Understanding Bach, 10, 9-30, Bach Network UK 2015: 24,
4 “Leaver, “Oper in der Kirche.” Bach und der Katatenstreit (debate) im frühen 18. Jahrhundert” (Bach Jahrbuch 2013: 71-203.
5 The source of this material is BCW “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Motets & Chorales for 7th Sunday after Trinity” (August 8, 2011),
6 The Ponickau service and church are described in detail in the just-released J. S. Bach: A Traveler’s Guide (University of Illinois Press, 2016: 175) of Robert L. and Traute M. Marshall. It was published in cooperation with, and distributed to members of the American Bach Society.
7 German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW
8 Gardiner notes, BCW[sdg156_gb].pdf; Recording details
9 Hofmann notes, BCW[BIS-SACD1801].pdf; Recording details,

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 15, 2016):
Cantata BWV 187 - Revised & updated Discography

Cantata BWV 187 "Es wartet alles auf dich" (Everything depends on you) was composed in Leipzig for the 7th Sunday after Trinity of 1726. It was performed two more times in Leipzig: 1735-1740 and 1749. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, & continuo

The discography pages of BWV 187 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (15):
Recordings of Individual Movements (18):
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 187 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 187: 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: Monday, September 11, 2017 15:22