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Cantata BWV 194
Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest
Cantata BWV 194a
[Text Lost]
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of May 22, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (May 23, 2016):
Trinity Sunday Cantata 194, "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest," Intro.

For the 1724 close of the Temporale first half of the church liturgical year and the end of Bach’s first Leipzig cantata cycle, the Trinity Sunday Festival, the new cantor presented a double bill of revivals: Weimar 1715 Trinityfest solo Cantata BWV 165, “O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad” (O sacred bath of water and the Spirit), and a recycled serenade from his previous post at Cöthen, here chorus Cantata BWV 194, "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest" (Most greatly longed for feast of joy), probably Part 1 only. This was a partial reperformance of the original 12-movement version premiered at a public organ dedication service the previous November 2, 1723, at nearby Störmthal, which lasts 40 minutes.

These seven double bills, part of Bach’s Cycle 1 “mini-cycle” of performances before and after the service sermon, usually with at least one reperformance of earlier music, were: BWV 24 and 185 (Trinity 4), 179 and 199 (Trinity 11), 181 and 18 (Sexagesimae), 22 and 23 (Estomihi 1723), 182 and Anh.199 (Palm Sunday/Annunciation), 31 and 4 (Easter Sunday), and 172 and 59 (Pentecost Sunday). Cycle 1 also involved six two-part cantatas, before and after the sermon, beginning the cycle with new BWV 75 and 76 and Weimar revival BWV 21 (Trinity 1-3), as well as expanded Weimar Cantatas BWV 147 (Purification), 186 (Trinity 7), and 70 (Trinity 26).

Like Cantata 75, Cantata 194 in its original form involved an opening chorus, alternating recitatives and arias, and chorales closing both parts of essentially two cantatas. For Cantata 194, Bach was able to salvage the original Cothen orchestra parts of oboes, strings and continuo with no text incipits for five da-capo arias in dance style (French overture, pastorale, gavotte, gigue, and minuet, from what may have been a single, extended serenade fashioned as a suite of dances. To this Bach added two plain chorales closing each part and interspersed secco recitatives between the arias, totaling 40 minutes, the same length as Cantata 75, ranking them as Bach’s longest-known church pieces.

Cantatas 165 and 194 were performed on June 4, 1724 at the early main service of the St. Thomas Church, before and after the sermon (not extant) on the Gospel, John 3:1-15, unique Jesus and Nicodemus salvation dialogue, by Pastor Christian Weise Sr.. Cantatas 165 and 194I were performed at the afternoon main vespers at the Nikolaikirche before and after the Epistle sermon, Rom. 11:33-36, (The depth of the riches of God). The sermon was given by theology student H. Geyer, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2 The Epistle and Gospel text in German 1545 Martin Luther translation and the English text Authorized (King James) Version of 1611 are found at BCW The opening introit psalm was a polyphonic setting of Psalm 27, Dominus illumiatio (The Lord is my light), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 1053). The KJV text is found at

Each of the two parts of Cantata 194 closes with a setting of two stanzas each of plain chorale texts dating to the mid 1650s, with an associated, popular melody:

*Bach uses Stanzas 6 and 7 of Johann Heerman’s 1630 12 stanza, 8-line “Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen” (Faithful God, I must lament to you NLGB 297; Cross, Persecution & Challenge). German text and Francis Browne English translation are found at BCW, Heerman BCW Short Biography is found at B The melody is “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Rejoice much, O my soul), Louis Bourgeoise 1551 (NLGB 358, Psalm 42, Death & Dying). Text and melody information is found at BCW, Bach also used the hymn’s final Stanza 12, “Ich will alle meine Tage / Rühmen deine starke Hand” (All my days I shall / praise your mighty hand) and its same melody to close Cantata 25 for the 14th Sunday after Trinity 1723.

*The closing Stanzas 9-10 of Paul Gerhardt ‘s 1647/1653 10 stanza, 4-line text (No. 2), “Wach auf, mein Herz und singe (Awake, my heart, and sing) are a morning song (NLGB 196). German text and Francis Browne’s English translation are found at BCW, Gerhardt’s BCW Short Biography is found at The 1587 melody of melody by Nikolaus Selnecker, "Nun laßt uns Gott, dem Herren / Danksagen und ihn ehren " (Now let us to God, the Lord, / give thanks and honour him), is a Communion hymn (NLGB 222). Information on the alternate text and melody is found at BCW:

Cantata 194 Summary

A short summary of Cantata 194 is found in Thomas Braatz’s Introduction to BCML Discussion Part 2, November 27, 2005 ( << Cantata BWV 194 "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest" (Most greatly longed for feast of joy) “had its first performance in Störmthal [for organ dedication] on November 2, 1723. As will be come clear from closer study, 5 arias derive from an earlier secular cantata from the Köthen period (1717-1723); 1 additional aria [menuett] which no longer exists was not taken over into the Störmthal cantata. There were also 5 recitatives (not lost) in the earlier version. For the Störmthal version, Bach created two sections, Part one and 'Parte seconda (Post concionem,)' added an introductory chorus based upon one of the earlier arias, 2 different, simple chorales at the end of each section and the necessary recitatives before and/or after the 4 arias from the earlier version. Mvts. 1, 3, 5, 8, and 10 are parodies of the earlier version.

The texts used for the Störmthal version (unknown librettist) were sufficiently general [see “Notes on the Text, below) to allow Bach to use it as a cantata for Trinity Sunday. This he did on June 4, 1724 with repeat performances on June 16, 1726 (a shortened version, possibly not directed by Bach with opening chorale). and on May 20, 1731 (only 1st half [BWV 194/1-6]).>> Braatz’s summary of the score and parts as related to the various performances is found at “Provenance,” Part 2 Discussion (Ibid.). Extracts from this article are found below under “Provenance.”

Cantata 194 Versions, Movements

A greater summary of various versions and the 12 movements of Cantata 194 are found in David Humphries’ commentary from the Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1999: 221f), as found in BCML Discussion Part 2 (Ibid.):

>>Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest ('Much awaited joyful feast').
Cantata, BWV 194, for the dedication of the restored organ in Störmthal near Leipzig, later revised as a cantata for Trinity Sunday. The earliest surviving form of the work (Bach Compendium BC B 31) is the Störmthal version, which was first performed at the dedication service on 2 November 1723, or possibly on the previous Sunday (31 October). The anonymous libretto, which dwells in an unfocused way on the majesty of God, was of sufficiently generalized content to permit Bach to reuse it without modification for the Trinity Sunday version, which was first performed in Leipzig on 4 June 1724, though the use of high choir pitch required some changes to the vocal lines. For a later revival (probably on 16 June 1726) Bach shortened the work (version BC A 91b), changing the order of the movements and rescoring two of the arias to replace one of the oboes with an obbligato organ. Material has also survived for a still later revival, which took place on 20 May 1731.

Even the Störmthal version was evidently not the original form of BWV 194, however. Some instrumental parts (though unfortunately no vocal parts or text) survive for a still earlier version (BWV 194a, BC G 11), which was apparently a secular congratulatory cantata composed during the Cöthen period. This did not include the two chorales (movements 6 and 12) from the Störmthal version, but it did have a closing minuet [no. 12, B-flat Major] which Bach jettisoned for the church version. Dürr's reconstruction of it in the NBA (Critical Commentary) [Köthen cantatas, I/35, 1964] includes a blank staff labelled 'Singstimme', but despite the title 'Aria' it seems more likely that the movement is an instrumental dance.

For present purposes the Störmthal version will be treated as the 'core' form of BWV 194. In this form it has 12 movements, divided into two groups (1-6 and 7-12) which form a prima and secunda pars (apparently heard, as usual, before and after the sermon). The cantata opens with a grandiose French overture in which the voices enter only at the central section after the double bar. The rapid triple-time section which forms the bulk of the movement is based on the fugal working out of the motif for the opening of the text; it also includes reduced sections for the two oboes and rapid antiphonal writing between the woodwind and strings. The voice parts, which do no more than double the instruments, drop out when the main tempo returns after the central section (indeed, the awkward handling of the voice parts throughout the movement arouses suspicions that they may have been added later to a purely instrumental movement). After a bass recitative, which Bach remodeled for the Leipzig version to lower the range of the voice part, comes the bass aria 'Was des Höchsten Glanz erfüllt', which Bach sets in pastoral 12/8 meter. The accompaniment is for strings and oboe, which Bach replaced by an obbligato organ for the 1726 revival. A soprano recitative leads to a second aria, 'Hilf, Gott, daß es uns gelingt'; this is in da capo form, with a sturdy gavotte-like rhythm which recalls the secular origins of the cantata. Part 1 closes with a plain chorale, 'Heiliger Geist ins Himmels Throne', which Bach added to the original secular cantata for the Störmthal version. It sets the sixth and seventh strophes of Johann Heermann's hymn “Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen” (1630).

Part 2 opens with a tenor recitative, followed by an aria, 'Des Höchsten Gegenwart allein', for tenor with continuo alone. Its material, which expands from an initial motto figure in 'regal' dotted rhythms, poses familiar problems in the synchronization of dotted rhythms and triplets. The following recitative-aria pair are scored for a duet combination (soprano and bass). The duet aria, 'O wie wohl ist uns geschehn' , is set in a minuet tempo to the gently pastoral accompaniment of two oboes (one of which was again replaced by obbligato organ in the 1726 revival). After a final bass recitative in which the dedication theme of the text receives due emphasis, comes the closing chorale, which Bach again added for the Störmthal version to replace the minuet of BWV194a. It sets strophes 9 and 10 of Paul Gerhardt's hymn “Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe.” DLH

DLH = David Humphreys is a lecturer in music at the University of Wales, Cardiff. He graduated at Cambridge University and went on to take the Ph.D. with a dissertation on the Elizabethan and Jacobean motet. He has since taken an interest in symbolism and attribution problems in the music of Bach, on which he has published a book and several articles, and he has also undertaken research on the lutenist and composer Philip van Wilder.>>

NOTE: The readings for the Störmthal service on November 2, 1723, were Epistle, Revelation 21:2-8: The New Jerusalem, and the Gospel, Luke 19:1-10, “The Conversion of Zacchaeus,” according to Dürr (Ibid.: 716). It nis assumed that late Martin Petzoldt has include a full discussion of Cantata 194 in his forthcoming Bach Commentary, Vol. 3, which includes miscellaneous sacred cantatas.

Provenance: Score, Parts

Says Thomas Braatz: <<The autograph score along with original parts (these were not the parts which might be considered the main collection of parts, but rather those which had been left over from BWV 194a and the doublets for Störmthal version) was part of C.P.E. Bach's inheritance and was listed in his possession at the time of his death (1790) as a cantata for Trinity Sunday. The autograph score [in the hand of Bach], as evident from the cover folder, did at one time thereafter belong to the Georg Poelchau (1773-1836) collection of manuscripts. It now resides in the BB (Deutsche Staatsbibliothek Berlin) [as P 43 B].>> “This is not a composing score, but rather a clean copy. Even the two chorale settings seem not to have been composed just before the Störmthal performance.”

“The main set of original parts, as it can be assumed from the evidence, probably went to W. F. Bach. Later Count Voß-Buch (Graf Karl Friedrich von Voß-Buch (1755-1823) acquired the set. In 1851, the Voß-Buch family donated the set to the BB where it is located today [as St 48 M].”

“The Original Parts: The parts were mainly copied by Johann Andreas Kuhnau, with some by J. S. Bach and with isolated help from Anonymus If, Ik and Io.” Their 15 parts are: SATB; 3 Oboes, Fagotto, 4 Violino I/II, Viola, and 2 Continuo. “An additional set of parts probably copied out in Cöthen before 1723” are 3 oboes 4 violins I&II, 2 violas, and continuo. “The main copyist of these parts is quote “unknown” and cannot be identified.3

Filling in some missing movements are Johann Christian Köpping, Christian Gottlob Meißner, and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (only 8b).”

The shortened version of BWV 194 with the reordering to Movements 12, 2-5,7,10 is dated to June 16, 1726, in the third cycle. <<This arrangement is based upon evidence found in the parts. It is not known if a final chorale was performed. It is conceivable, however, that that the introductory chorale [“Sprich Ja zu meinen Taten”] was repeated at the end with a different verse. The cantata must have had a different title in this form, but it is not possible to determine what this might have been. It is, however, possible, that the cantata in this form might have been performed not under Bach's direction.

<<For a later performance documented to have taken place on May 20, 1731, Bach performed the conce again in its original form, but omitted the 2nd part (only movements 1-6 were presented).>> “For this last performance, a printed text is preserved that contains only Part 1 (nos. 1-6); the sources, however, testify to a performance of Part 2 also, no doubt, no doubt after the sermon,” says Alfred Dürr in Cantatas of JSB.4 “Naturally, it is quite possible – indeed it may be assumed – that Bach revised his cantatas more frequently than we are able to establish today.”

NOTE: Since there is no source-critical documentary evidence that Cantata 194 actually was performed on Trinity Sunday, June 4, 1724, it has been suggested that based on later evidence of abbreviated repeat performances on Trinity Sunday in 1726 and 1731, that Bach may have presented only Part 1 on a double bill in 1724. John Eliot Gardiner performed and recorded only Part 1 in his 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage (, see his 2008 liner notes at “Cantatas of ‘Summary Significance’” below). Dürr (Ibid. 374) only lists Cantata 194 in his discussion of the Trinity Sunday Cantatas, taking up the complete Cantata 194 in Chapter 7, “Church and Organ Consecration” (pp.715-20). Here he says the “generalized context on the text” enabled the work to be performed during the church year as a Trinity Cantata (p. 719). “This took place the following year, on June 4, 1724, followed by abbreviated performances in 1726 and 1731. Most Bach scholars assume that Cantatas 194 and 165 were performed on Trinity Sunday 1724 (see 2nd paragraph above, "These seven double bills...").

Meanwhile, Petzoldt in his Bach Commentary, Vol. 2 (2007, Ibid.: 1084), prints the 1726 shortened version of Cantata 194 on the basis of the premiere of plain chorale Cantata Cantata 129, “Gelobet sei der Herr” (Praise be to the Lord, Luke 1:68) on June 16 1726. However, the recent discoveries of other church service libretto text books confirms that the end of Temporale 1727, Cantatas 34, 173, 184, and 129 were presented for the Pentecost Festival and Trinity Sunday (June 1-3 and 8).5

Störmthal Performance, New Text Author

The original Störmthal performance of Cantata 194 and the new text author are studied in Francis Browne’s BCW article, “Provenance” (June 6, 2002), “Occasion” <<I am fascinated also by the occasion of this cantata. Bach was clearly highly respected and in great demand as an expert on all aspects of organ construction. Wolff [Christoph, JSB: Learned Musician],6 following Forkel's Chapter on "Bach the Organist", gives detailed information about the organ projects and examinations of Bach that have been documented (p.142). Presumably there were also others. I wonder whether this cantata served as Bach's 'organ dedication work' on other occasions.

The author of the text is unknown. In the liner notes to the Suzuki recording Klaus Hoffman comments: 'Because the text is unusually rich in biblical allusions - not a single line is without a biblical reference- we can assume that the unknown librettist was a theologian.' Whittaker [Cantatas of JSB]7, suggests (p. 265) that Bach himself may have written the text and then - with assumption soon hardening into fact- argues that Bach ' would naturally write his libretto with an eye to future service at St. Thomas's.' The two suggestions are of course not incompatible. The records of Bach's library and the vocal works themselves make it clear that Bach was very well read in theology and quite capable of writing the libretto. But I have noticed a certain tendency for Bach to be proposed as the author of a cantata text whenever the author is unknown without any further evidence than the convenience of easily filling a gap in our knowledge. And so Whittaker argues (p. 270) :'The recitatives…contain little of musical interest. The texts, however, are indications of Bach's reverence for the House of God, his facility for spinning sermonettes on an equality with those of his clergy, and of his tireless industry. They are thus of interest to all students of his ways of thought…' Interesting if true, but hardly proved.

But whoever wrote it, the text was printed with a dedication to the man who owned the estate in which Störmthal lay and who had paid for the organ: Herr Statz Hilmor von Fullen, Knight of the Holy Roman Empire, of Störmthal, Marck-Klebern and Liebert- Wolckwitz, gentleman-in-waiting to the King of Poland and worshipful honorary Chamberlain to the Princely House of Saxony and Assessor at the Supreme Court of Justice i.e. someone who for us is a footnote in Bach's biography but in his time was important and influential, whom Bach perhaps was anxious to please. Anna Magdalena was the soprano soloist. Zacharias Hildebrandt, a pupil of Silbermann built the organ. Bach was to work with him twenty years later at Naumberg and may well have worked with him on other occasions. The church as well as the organ was restored. Putting all this scattered information together I could not help trying to imagine as I listened to this cantata what may have happened in that village and church on the 2nd November 1723 when Herr Bach, the Cantor of St. Thomas's, and his wife visited for the weekend. Were local forces used or did other musicians and singers come from Leipzig? What did the villagers make of their restored church, the new organ, and the cantata and inaugural organ recital by Bach?>>

Cantata 194 Movements, Scoring, Text Inicpits, Key, Meter 8

First Part: 1. French Overture in three parts (Grave introduction and close in 2/2, fugue in ¾) Chorus [SATB; Oboe I-III, Fagotto, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest, / Das der Herr zu seinem Ruhme / Im erbauten Heiligtume” (Most greatly longed for feast of joy, / that the Lord for his glory / in the sanctuary that has been built); B-flat Major; ¾ generic dance style
2. Recitative secco [Bass, Continuo]: “Unendlich großer Gott, ach wende dich / Zu uns, zu dem erwähleten Geschlechte” (Infinitely great God, ah turn / to us, to your chosen people); B-Flat Major; 4/4. Und zum Gebete deiner Knechte!
3. Aria da-capo [Bass; Oboe I, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Was des Höchsten Glanz erfüllt” (What the splendour of the most high God fills); B. Was des Höchsten heilges Wesen / Sich zur Wohnung auserlesen, / Wird in keine Nacht verhüllt” (what the divine nature of the most high God / has chosen for his dwelling / will not be veiled in night); B-Flat Major, 12/8 pastorale style.
4. Recitative secco [Soprano, Continuo]: “Wie könnte dir, du höchstes Angesicht, / Da dein unendlich helles Licht / Bis in verborgne Gründe siehet, / Ein Haus gefällig sein?” (Most holy countenance, / since your infinite, brilliant light / sees into the hidden foundations, / how can a house be pleasing to you?); g minor to B-flat Major; 4/4.
5. Aria da capo [Soprano; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Hilf, Gott, daß es uns gelingt, Und dein Feuer in uns dringt” (Help us, God, that we may achieve this / and your fire may penetrate within us); B. “Daß es auch in dieser Stunde . . . / Seiner Wirkung Kraft erhält” (so that also at this hour . . . / its power may be effective within us); E-flat Major; 2/2 gavotte style.
6. Plain Chorale [SATB; Oboe I-III, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: Stanza 6, “Heilger Geist ins Himmels Throne . . . / Allen Glauben, den ich find, / Hast du in mir angündt” (Holy spirit on the throne of heaven, . . . / All the faith I can find / you have kindled within me.); Stanza 7, “Deine Hilfe zu mir sende” (Send your help to me); B-flat Major; 4/4.
Second Part: 7, Recitative [Tenor, Continuo]: “Ihr Heiligen, erfreuet euch, / Eilt, eilet, euren Gott zu loben” (You holy ones rejoice, / hurry, hurry to praise your God); F Major to c minor; 4/4.
8. Aria da-capo [Tenor, Continuo]: “Des Höchsten Gegenwart allein / Kann unsrer Freuden Ursprung sein.” (The presence of the most high God alone / can be the source of our joy.); B. “Vergehe, Welt, mit deiner Pracht” (Vanish, world, with your splendour); g minor; 4/4 gigue style.
9. Recitative secco dialogue (Duetto) [Bass, Soprano; Continuo]: Bass: “Kann wohl ein Mensch zu Gott im Himmel steigen?” (Can a man really ascend to God in heaven?); Soprano: “Der Glaube kann den Schöpfer zu ihm neigen.” Faith can incline the creator to him.) Both (in canon) arioso: “Da er den Glauben nun belohnt . . . / So kann die Welt und Sterblichkeit die Freude nicht vermindern.” (Because now he rewards faith . . . / the world and mortality do not decrease joy.); B-flat to F Major; 4/4
10. Aria da-capo, mostly homophonic (Duetto) [Soprano, Bass; Oboe I/II, Continuo]: A. “O wie wohl ist uns geschehn, / Daß sich Gott ein Haus ersehn!” (O how wonderful it is for us / that God has chosen a house!); B. “Schmeckt und sehet doch zugleich, / Gott sei freundlich gegen euch.” (Taste and see then at the same time / that God is friendly towards you.); F Major; ¾ menuett style.
11. Recitative secco [Bass, Continuo]: “Wohlan demnach, du heilige Gemeine, / Bereite dich zur heilgen Lust!)” (Come then, you holy congregation, / Prepare yourself for holy delight!; B-flat Major; 4/4.
12. Plain Chorale [SATB; Oboe I-III, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: Stanza 9, “Sprich Ja zu meinen Taten” (Say yes to my deeds); Stanza 10, “Mit Segen mich beschütte” (Protect me with your blessing); B-flat Major; ¾.

Notes on the Text

Bach himself has usually been considered the author of this parody, given that he already had the original music on hand (now mostly lost) and it was his first full new text underlay in the fall on 1723 when the Störmthal Church dedication was scheduled. Unlike the other Cöthen borrowings (BWV 66a, 134a, 172a and 184a) with their much shorter length, Bach needed sufficient poetic text to fill five madrigalesque da-capo arias. Perhaps he relied upon his theologically-informed St. Thomas Pastor Christian Weise and the word-smithing of Picander. Since this was a festive special service, appropriate congratulatory serenade music was in order, with generic poetry and compatible hymns. In later Trinity Time, the sacred text still usually addressed the trinity Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, particularly in the flexible recitative free poetry such as the opening of Part 2 (no. 7),

Since this event was a remodeling and consecration of the church and a new organ, address God the creator was appropriate, especially with references (recits nos. 2, 4, 7, 11 and arias 3 and 11) to God’s dwelling (heaven) and God’s throne or altar (recits nos. 2 and 4 and chorale (no. 6). Since this service occurred near Reformation Day/Trinity Sunday 23), references were appropriate to Lutheran themes of service and thanksgiving (recit. 2), grace through faith and the spirit (recits. 9 and 12), and particularly the catechism-style question-and-answer dialogue of recit. no. 9 (bass and soprano), probably modeled after the Cöthen original form of a duet between time and fame/fortune enumerating Prince Leopold’s gifts to the people.

Cantatas of ‘Summary Significance’

Bach observed Trinity Sunday with “works of summary significance,” says John Eliot Gardiner in his 2008 liner notes to his 2000 Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.9 <<Trinity Sunday does not register today as one of the more exciting of the church’s festivals. Yet in Bach’s day, it had a climactic importance: it marked the end of the Temporale [de tempore], the first half of the liturgical year which celebrates the events in the life of Jesus. For Bach personally it signified the completion of the annual cantata cycles he composed in Leipzig (his first official cantata as Thomascantor in 1723 happening to be the first Sunday after Trinity), and not surprisingly drew from him works of summary significance: cantatas that were challenging even by his standards. For us in 2000 it was a half-way point, and thus a milestone to look forward to, especially as we were due to travel to the most northerly point on our pilgrimage route, to Kirkwall in Orkney.

Trinity Sunday is a watershed in the Lutheran liturgical year, a time when the ‘themes of the week’ shift to the several concerns of Christian life and conduct. Taking his cue from the set readings, Bach confronts the listener (and the performer!) with a range of knotty subjects, questions of doctrine and faith, challenging enough in themselves, but doubly so in his hands, though beautified by extraordinary multi-layered music.>>

<<A grand French-style overture heralds the start of BWV 194 Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest. The cantata seems to have begun life as a secular Cöthen piece some time between 1717 and 1723, and was then adapted for the dedication of the new organ at Störmthal (2 November 1723) and revived the following summer for Trinity Sunday as the culmination of Bach’s first Leipzig cycle (it was revived again for two further Trinity Sundays in 1726 and 1731). There is one huge problem: that of pitch.

Evidently the Störmthal organ must have been tuned to ‘tiefer Cammerton’ (A= +/-390), considerably lower than that of the Leipzig organs. How else would the trebles have coped with the top Cs in the opening chorus (unique in Bach) or the bass soloist with the multiple F sharp and Gs in his opening recitative? But then, why did Bach not transpose it down for his Leipzig revivals, as we were obliged to do? All he seems to have done is to transpose a few of the bass soloist’s highest notes downwards, thereby sidestepping the overall problem.
Of its original twelve movements Bach retained just the first six for use on Trinity Sunday. Just as in his adaptation of the overture to the Orchestral Suite No. 4 for the Christmas cantata BWV 110, Bach holds back the entry of the chorus until the quick triple-time middle section. Then, instead of repeating the festive entréereeds first (three oboes and bassoon), strings nexthe reverses the process, assigning the cascade of semiquavers to the oboe band before bringing the chorus back for a festive concluding flourish. Of the two arias, the first is for bass, one of those spacious, pastoral 12/8 movements (for oboe and strings) which Bach devised from time to time to convey the reassurance of God’s protective care (here it is his ‘light’); the other for soprano, a spirited gavotte for strings to celebrate the purifying effects of Pentecostal fire.>>

Reformation Trinity Festival10

Bach’s four extant cantatas for the final festival in the< de tempore> half of the Christian church year represent a strong reflection of the meaning of Trinity Sunday as well as exemplars of both unity of sacred purpose, such as Lutheran teaching and chorales, as well as diversity of poetic texts and cantata forms – all emblematic of his goal of a well-ordered church music to the glory of God.

Beginning with the Protestant Reformation in 1517, the Sunday Festival of the Holy Trinity ba pivotal observance in which the Lutheran teachings through the chorales and the Catechism systematically exemplify and illustrate the biblical and doctrinal teachings, often with music. Thus, the original Lutheran hymns and Bach’s resulting cantata musical sermon settings demonstrate and celebrate the meaning and significance of this tradition as found at Trinity Sunday, now usually called the First Sunday After Pentecost.

“In the Lutheran liturgy, Trinity Sunday ends this sequence [Proprium Temporale of “proposer of the time (of Christ, de tempore)], celebrating the completed revelation of God’s triune nature and serving as a kind of symbolic ‘doxology’ to the first half of the year, says Eric Chafe in Analyzing Bach Cantatas (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000: 12). In a very broad sense, the dynamic of the Temporale can be described as a pattern of descent (extending from the incarnation of Jesus’ death and burial) followed by ascent (Jesus’ resurrection and ascension), after which the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, traditionally viewed as the “birthday of the church,” describes another symbolic incarnation, or descent, that returns the liturgical focus of the year to the perspective of the church on earth [omnes tempore].”

Interestingly, Bach in his Trinity Sunday cantatas used none of the established chorale texts associated with the Trinity Festival in Leipzig as found in the Gottfried Vopelius 1682 <Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (The New Leipzig Song Book). Instead, Bach sparingly set the Trinity chorale texts as free-standing plain chorales, used them in cantatas for the last Sunday in Easter, or adapted their associated melodies as organ chorale preludes. Meanwhile, Bach chose mostly popular hymn melodies with different, didactic texts that could relate to the original poetic texts of the Trinity Sunday cantata arias and recitatives. Bach also performed two-part and double-bill cantatas on Trinity Sundays in Leipzig. The most popular two of the four Cantatas, BWV 194 and 129, were repeated several times on Trinity Sundays and even were reperformed in the decade after Bach’s death in 1750 in Halle and Leipzig.

Festival of the Holy Trinity

The Festival of the Holy Trinity (ordered by Pope John XXII, 1332) reflects upon all of the events commemorated during the first half (<de tempore>) of the church year and celebrates them as its culmination. Whereas the other< de tempore> festivals annually observe historic events in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (Christmas, New Year, Epiphany, Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday), the Trinity Festival is the expression of the great Doctrine of the Church, worshipping the Trinity of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The institution of the Trinity Festival came shortly after the end of the Crusades in 1291, emphasizing the Mystery of the Trinitarian Doctrine which previously had been expressed widely in liturgical practice such as the Baptismal Formula, Glorias, Doxologies, and the Terminations of the Collects (Paul Zeller Strodach, <The Church Year>, United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA, 1924: pp. 179-181). Ordinary Time or < omne tempore> are the 33 weeks of the seasons of Epiphany and Trinity, the second half of the Church Year.

Trinity Festival Cantatas, Mass Movements

|Bach four sacred cantatas as well as Latin Mass Movements most appropriate for the Sunday Festival of the Holy Trinity are:

1. Cantata BWV 165, “O heil’ges Geist- und Wasserbad” (O Holy Spirit- and water-bath); premiered in 1715, with repeats ?1716 (K. Hoffman BJ 1993:29, Boyd OCC:JSB:331) and 1724; an intimate solo (SATB) work typical of poet Salomo Franck’s sermon-text with symbols, teachings, and affections.
2. Cantata BWV 194, “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Highest wished-for joy-feast), performed in 1724 (Part 1 only, in a double-bill with BWV 165). Cantata 194 is an extensive two-part chorus cantata parodied from a Cöthen congratulatory serenade (BWV 194a) in the style of a dance suite and originally recomposed for the service of a church remodeling and organ dedication (1723) and partially repeated as BWV 194b (1726, Movements Nos. 12, 2-5, 7, 10), in 1731 (?Part 1 only), and after 1750 in Halle with Friedemann. The other dance-suite setting, also using material from Cöthen, is pure-hymn Cantata 97, "In allen meinen taten" (In all my doings), 1734.
3. Cantata BWV 176, “Er ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding” (It is an obstinate and hopeless thing), premiered in 1725, a chorus cantata with opening biblical dictum, alternating arias and recitatives and closing chorale, typical in form of the first group in the first cycle (1723-24), according to Alfred Dürr, <Cantatas of JSB> (2005: 27); the last in a series of nine cantatas by progressive Leipzig poetess Mariane von Ziegler, and later assigned to Bach’s hybrid, incomplete third cantata cycle (1725-27) in the 1750 estate division.
4. Cantata BWV 129, “Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott” (Praise be the Lord, my God) premiered on June 15, 1727, based on a recently-found cantata textbook (Tatiana Shabalina, Bach UK Network, Understanding Bach 4, 2009) and repeated by Bach in 1732-35, 1743-46, and 1744-47; and 1755 by Bach student Christian Friedrich Penzel); a pure-hymn chorale cantata like BWV 112, “Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt” (The Lord is my faithful shepherd) for Misericordias (Second Sunday After Easter Sunday), both belatedly composed for the Easter Season portion of the chorale cantata cycle (1724-25), BWV 112 composed 1729-31.
5. Mass sections: Sanctus in C, BWV 237 5/15/16 or 5/23/1723; Missa in B Minor (Kyrie-Gloria), BWV 232I, possibly performed in Leipzig in 1732-35); and the four Missae (Kyrie-Gloria), BWV 233-236, possibly performed in Leipzig or Dresden in 1735-38) as part of Bach’s Christological Cycle of sacred works.

In addition, a Picander “fourth” cycle published text exists for Trinity Sunday, June 12, 1729, “Gott will ich mich in dem Himmel haben” (God will have me in heaven). It is doubtful, however, that Bach set it because it contains no chorale and by that time Bach had virtually ceased composing new church-service cantatas; instead, he had assumed full responsibilities for the Leipzig Collegium musicum series at Zimmerman’s Coffee House.


1Cantata 194 BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [2.75 MB],, Score BGA [3.85 MB], References: BGA XXIX (various cantatas, Paul Graft Waldersee, 1885), NBA KB I/31 (consecration cantata, Frieder Rempp, 1988, Bach Compendium BC A 91, B 31, Zwang: K 49.
2 Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 1059).
3 Twelve distince but anonymous Cöthen parts copyists are identified in “Appendix C,” Music attributed to Bach’s Köthen Period.” Köthen Anonymous 6 is identified with the Cantata BWV 194a parts and Cantata 199 “(second traceable performance)” says Stephen Daw, who edited and revised in English version (with a) of Friedrich Smend’s Bach in Köthen (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1985: 220).
4 Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005: 719).
5 Tatiana Shablina, “Recent Discoveries in St Petersburg and their Meaning for the Understanding of Bach’s Cantatas,” Understanding Bach 4 (2009) (Bach UK Network, 85. Also German version in Bach Jahrbuch 94 (2008), “Texte zur Music” (pp.33-98).
6 Wolff, Christoph. Johannn Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000).
7 Whittaker, W. Gillies. The Cantatas of Johannn Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular (London: Oxford University Press, 1959: I:265-271).
8 German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW
9 Gardiner notes, BCW[sdg138_gb].pdf, recording details BCW (BWV 194I only).


To Come: Klaus Hofmann’s liner notes on Cantata 194 and Introduction to Trinity Sunday Cantata BWV 165, “O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad” (O sacred bath of water and the Spirit)

William Hoffman wrote (May 24, 2016):
Trinity Sunday Cantata 194, "Hö chsterwünschtes Freudenfest," Intro.

The Störmthal special service of Cantata 194, “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Much Longed-For Joyous Feast), and its festive predecessor, Town Council Cantata BWV 119, “Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn,” as well as the Köthen celebratory serenade origins of Cantata 194, details of its 12 movements, and succeeding performances are discussed in scholar Klaus Hofmann’s 2001 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete cantata recording (notes, BCW[BIS-CD1131].pdf; and BCW Recording details,

<<The cantata Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest (Much Longed-For Joyous Feast) is an occasional piece and was composed just a few weeks after the other cantata on this CD [Town Council Cantata BWV 119], “Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn.” The performance took place, as Bach himself noted in his score, 'at the inauguration of the organ in Störmthal'. The village of Störmthal, some eight miles southeast of Leipzig, belonged to the estate of the von Fullen family. The chamberlain at that time. Hilmar von Fullen (1691-1751), had managed for the village church to be extensively renovated and equipped with a newly built organ by the famous Silbermann pupil Zacharias Hildebrandt (1688-1757). For testing and inaugurating the organ he had called upon Johann Sebastian Bach, no less, who undoubtedly could also have taken the opportunity to give a public concert on the organ, and who was also commissioned to compose and perform a celebratory cantata for the occasion.

The event was marked with a festive church service on 2nd November 1723 - on which occasion, contrary to what one might suppose from Bach's comment, not only the organ but the new church in its entirety was inaugurated. This explains why the organ does not appear as a solo instrument in the cantata nor, indeed, is it mentioned in the cantata text, which refers exclusively to the consecration of the church. Its biblical starting point is the Solomon's dedication prayer (2 Chronicles, 6-7). This Old Testament text was probably also the subject of the sermon on that occasion, which was framed musically by the two parts of the cantata. One of the central ideas of the cantata text is that the church is the house of God, and that He may enter and take up residence within it in order, by his presence, to ignite (sixth movement), strengthen and preserve faith against 'des Fleisches Schwachheit' ('the flesh in its weakness'), external opposition, against 'Spott ('scorn'), 'welt und Sterblichkeit' ('the world and death'; ninth movement). Because the text is unusually rich in biblical allusions - not a single line is without a biblical reference -- we can assume that the unknown librettist was a theologian.
Bach's cantata for the church consecration begins - in strikingly similar fashion to “Preise, Jerusalem” - with a choral movement in overture form. Like “Preise, Jerusalem,” it is music of initiation: here, what is being initiated is a new era of worship for the community; and similarly it is music depicting arrival: the arrival of God (fourth movement, Wo deine Herrlichkeit einziehet...' ['Where your glory enters. .. ]). As with “Preise, Jerusalem, Bach had recourse to a work that had been composed earlier - and in both cases he altered the fugal theme of the fast middle section, on this occasion by putting the first note of the vocal parts up a whole octave, as a musical illustration of the word 'höchtest' (highest'). ln “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest,” however, he relies to a greater extent on the existing material: the entire cantata can be traced back to a secular original, apparently a piece of congratulatory court music from Bach's Köthen period, possibly a birthday cantata for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen.

The title and text of that cantata are unknown, but a few instrumental parts have been preserved, and these tell us that, apart from the introductory chorus, all of the arias have been re-used with only small alterations to the music. This may also be partly true of the recitatives (in particular the one in dialogue form, the ninth movement). Certainly the entire text is new, however, and it is clear that the two chorale movements the last movements in the two parts of the cantata, and each with two strophes - were written for the Störmthal revision. These chorale movements are 'Heilger Geist ins Himmels Throne ' ('Holy Ghost at the heavenly throne') from the song 'Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen' ('Faithful God, I must complain to you') by Johann Heermann (1630) and 'Sprich Ja zu meinen Taten' ('Say yes to my deeds') from the well known 'Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe' ('Awake, my heart, and sing') by Paul Gerhardt (1647).

The secular original can be detected almost everywhere in the arias, perhaps most discreetly in the gracefully rocking bass pastorale 'Was des Höchsten Glanz erfüllt' ('What the lustre of the highest has filled'; third movement) and in the tenor solo accompanied just by the continuo 'Des Höchsten Gegenwart allein' (The highest presence alone'; eighth movement), but all the more unmistakably in the thoroughly dance-like soprano aria 'Hilf, Gott, dass es uns gelingt' ('Help, God, that we may succeed ; fifth movement), which is a genuine gavotte, and in the minuet-like character of the final duet, 'O wie wohl ist uns geschehn' ('Oh how good it is for us', tenth movement) with its delightful parallel thirds and sixths that speaks so well the well-being of which the surviving text speaks, but which might equally well have been alluded to by the lost original text.
Bach did not contest the underlying secular nature or the cantata; on the contrary, he seems to have regarded the parody as successful and to have had particular affection for the new work. At any rate. he also performed the cantata in Leipzig on at least two occasions, in 1724 and 1731, not at the consecration of a church or organ but on Trinity Sunday. Within the church year this is the feast day of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost: the 'Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfes' ('much longed-for joyous feast') was thus the Feast of the Trinity. The leap of imagination which led to the re-use of the cantata on that particular Sunday was evidently facilitated by the invocation of the Trinity at the end of the first part of the cantata: 'Heilger Geist ins Himmels Throne, gleicher Gott von Ewigkeit mit dem Vater und dem Sohne' ('Holy God at the heavenly throne, equal God eternally, with the Father and the Son'; sixth movement) and the idea of Christ meeting the triune God in church, in the house of Godr 'Man schaut hier Vater, Sohn und Geist' (We see here Father, Son and Holy Ghost': seventh movement).
© Klaus Hofmann, 2001>>

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (May 25, 2016):
[To William Hoffman, regasiding his second message above] Supposedly (???) Air Bus acquired the property and it was or has been scheduled for demolition so that a new runway could be built. There has been a world outcry against this but some people are determine to destroy cultural heritage sites.

Aryeh Oron wrote (May 31, 2016):
Cantata BWV 194 - Revised & updated Discography

Cantata BWV 194 "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest" (Most greatly longed for feast of joy) was composed in Leipzig for the Celebration the New Church and the Organ at Störmthal in 1723. Bach performed this cantata at least 3 more times in Leipzig (1724, 1726,1731) on Trinity Sunday. The cantata is scored for soprano, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 3 oboes, bassoon, 2 violins, viola & continuo.

The discography pages of BWV 194 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (9):
Recordings of Individual Movements (7):
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 and 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 194 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 194: Details & Complete Recording | Recordings of Individual Movements
Cantata BWV 194a: Details
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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