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Cantata BWV 25
Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of September 6, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (September 7, 2015):
Cantata BWV 25, “Es ist nichts Gesundes' Intro.; Trinity 14 Chorales

Bach’s Cantata 25, “Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe” (There is nothing healthy in my body, Psalm 38:3), for the 14th Sunday after Trinity,1 closes a mini-cycle of seven rhetorical mirror A form works for the early-middle to middle Trinity Time, with another unique exploration of text and music. Bach chose another pietist text source from 1720 for the sermon-like opening tenor recitative (BWV 25/2) that focuses on the theme of health and sickness. It is directly related to the day’s Gospel (Luke 17:11-19), Jesus’ miracle healing of the grateful Samaritan leper, with “graphic baroque metaphors” that today “seem barely tolerable and anything but poetic,” observes Alfred Dürr in the Cantatas of J. S. Bach.2

Cantata 25 was premiered on August 29, 1723, at the early service of St. Thomas church, before the sermon on the gospel by Pastor Christian Weise (1671-1736), says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Time cantatas.3 The actual sermon is not extant. The librettist in unknown but may be Weise. Cantata form A has an opening chorus and closing chorale with alternating pairs of arias and recitatives. Besides symmetry of mirror form, Bach uses the rhetorical devices of contrast (chorus-recitative-aria) and repetition of biblical words and metaphors. The final six cantatas in this mini-cycle of the gospel paring parable-miracle emphasizes the theme of “Works of Faith and Love.” Bach would return to this A form, possibly with the same unknown librettist, for the 21st and 22nd Sundays after Trinity (BWV 109-89) and 2nd Sunday after Easter (BWV 104), observes Dürr (Ibid.: 27). All three forms in the first cycle uses opening biblical dictum and closing chorale, with the A& B recitative-aria pairings reversed and form C inserting an internal chorale.

Perhaps to make the Cantata 25 libretto more palatable, Bach uses two chorales as bookends: in the opening chorus, an instrumental harmonization of the “Passion Melody” (“Befiel du deine Wege/Herzlich tut mich verlangen”), found in Cyriakus Schneegass’s 1597 Psalm 6 setting, “Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder” (Ah lord, me poor sinner). Cantata 25 closes with a plain chorale setting of the Trinitarian chorale, Johann Heerman’s 1630 “Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen” (Faithful God, I must lament to you), set to the popular Louis Bourgeois 1551 setting of the1510 anonymous melody, "Freu' dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul). The German text and Francis Browne’s English translation are found at BCW, Details of the melody and Bach’s uses are found at BCW, Further information about these chorales and those used in Bach’s cantatas for the 14th Sunday after Trinity are found below, beginning with ‘Cantata 25, Passion Chorale.’

Trinity 14 Biblical Readings

Lutheran Church Year, Readings for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity: Epistle: Galatians 5:16-24 (Walk in the spirit), Gospel: Luke 17:11-19 (The healing of the grateful Samaritan leper, (see full text, BCW The Gospel involves the Thematic Patterns, Part 3, Paired Parable & Miracle (Douglas Cowling): *Trinity 13: Luke 10: 23-37 - Parable of the good Samaritan, [30] “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead”. *Trinity 14: Luke 17: 11-19 (Miracle of healing of the lepers); The Samaritan leper gives thanks for Jesus’ healing. “[12] And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:” [15] And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16] And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. [17] And Jesus answering said, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? [18] There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. [19] And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” Martin Luther German translation 1545, English translation is Authorised (King James) Version [KJV] 1611.

Introit Psalm for the 14th Sunday after Trinity is Psalm 117, Laudate Dominum (Praise the Lord, all ye nations), says Petzoldt (Ibid: 408). This shortest of all psalms (2 lines), the entire text is (KJV): “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. 2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.” Bach also may have performed a polyphonic motet portion of Psalm 70, that is appropriate for other middle Trinity Sundays. The Jacob Handl (Gallus) motet “Repleatur Os Meum” (5 voices) is taken from “Opus Musicum”, the composer’s collection of motets for the entire church year, says Douglas Cowling (BCW Chorales & Motets for Trinitity 14, These works in the Erhard Bodenschatz Florilegium Portense collection owned by Bach were for Introit, before the sermon at mass and vespers and for Choir II, and communion (Handl BCW Short Biography: The text: Psalm 70 (71):8-9: “Let my mouth be filled with praise, that I may sing thy glory; thy greatness all the day long. Cast me not off in the time of old age: when my strength shall fail, do not thou forsake me.” The same passage is set in the “Repleatur Os Meum” (8 Voice) of Fattorinus (?).

Another opening chorale fantasia with biblical psalm (38.3) dictum reinforces the theme and also uses a related instrumental chorale interlude trope set as a chorale fantasia. The beginning is a double fugue with two subjects independent then in canonic stretto, then combined, says Richard D. P. Jones in The Creative Development of JSB.4 Wind choir of three unison recorders, cornett, and three trombones presents the chorale. Bodily illness is caused by sin (Psalm 38) that “brings down God’s wrath, hence the pleas for mercy” (chorale). In this five-part harmonization, the unison recorders play the melody while the cornett supports it a sixth lower.

The chorus sings a poetic paraphrase of the third line of penitential Psalm 38, Domine, ne in furore (Lord, rebuke me not, KJV), which has the same incipit as Psalm 6, both Davidian penitential psalms appropriate for middle Trinity Time: “O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure” (KJV. Another penitential Psalm, 130 is the introit psalm for the 11th Sunday after Trinity; the de profundis, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord” (KJV). The paraphrase is: “Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe vor deinem Dräuen und ist kein Friede in meinen Gebeinen vor meiner Sünde” (There is nothing healthy in my body / because of your anger, / and there is no peace in my bones / because of my sins). See Cantata 25 German text and Francis Browne English Interlinear format translation with “Note on the text.” BCW

Note on the Text

The sources and challenges of the Cantata 25 libretto and the use of the chorale texts are explored in Francis Browne’s “Note on the text”: <<BWV 25 was first performed in Leipzig on the 29th August 1723. The gospel for the 14th Sunday after Trinity is Luke’s account of how Jesus healed ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). To the one leper who returns to give thanJesus says, “ Thy faith hath made thee whole”. The anonymous librettist of this cantata develops this implied connection between faith and healing, sin and sickness. There is a strong tradition of identifying illness in general and leprosy in particular as a punishment for sin. Hans-Joachim Schulze sees Exodus 15: 26 as a key text, where God promises that if the Israelites will obey him he will not lay upon them the diseases with which he has inflicted the Egyptians “ for O am the Lord that healeth thee” or as Luther translates denn ich bin der Herr, dein Arzt.

A quotation from Psalm 38:3, the third penitential psalm, a lament in the midst of affliction and suffering, is used for the first movement. As the cantata progresses it becomes clear that the text is meant to refer not only to physical suffering but the situation of people without Christ.

In the second movement tenor recitative this spiritual sickness is luridly portrayed and its origin traced to human sinfulness. Here and elsewhere Bach’s librettist seems to have made use of recent work by a contemporary theologian, Johann Jacob Rambach’s Geistlichen Poesien in zwey Theilen which was published in Halle in 1720. Rambach wrote :

Die ganze Welt ist ein Spital
wo eine Schaar von unzählbarer Zahl
an tausend Seuchen lieget.
Der fühlet in der Brust
das hitzge Fieber böser Lust,
den macht der Ehrgeitz mißvergnüget;
wenn die Begierde nach dem Geld
den dritten auf der Folter hält.
Und wer kan alle Martern zählen,
die Adams krancke Kinder quälen; /
wer giebt sich nun auf diesen Jammer-Plan
zum Artzt und Helfer an?"

Bach’s librettist strives to intensify what Rambach has written by vivid examples and by making a personal application of what is said: wo find ich, wer stehet mir etc. (Where in my wretchednesss may I find a cure?)

The bass aria [no. 3] gives the answer to the urgent questions about help in sickness: Jesus is the doctor and healing balm that mankind needs. Rambach quotes Wisdom [of Solomon] 16:12 : Es heilte sie weder Kraut noch Pflaster, sondern dein Wort, Herr, welches alles heilet [For it was neither herbe, nor mollifying plaister that restored them to health: but thy word, O Lord, which healeth all things, KJV]. Bach’s librettist combines this with refers to verses in Jeremiah (8.22,46:12) where the area of Gilead east of Jordan is referred to as the source of balms and spices that were widely sought.

The second recitative is an urgent plea in the first person for healing from Christ and like the first recitative with its mention of the ‘leprosy of sin’ (Sündenaussatz) refers implicitly to the Sunday’s gospel. It is followed by a joyful soprano aria which anticipates the joys of heaven. As often the structure of the text is a progress from statement of problem, suggested solution to concluding celebration.

The final movement is the last stanza of Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen written by the Silesian pastor Johann Heermann in 1630. It sums up the message of the cantata in promising God praise and gratitude for his help in saving us from physical and spiritual distress.

The text of this cantata causes problems for some commentators. Whittaker speaks of ‘nauseating lapses of taste’, Dürr argues that ‘the graphic Baroque metaphors are hardly tolerable and anything but poetic’ and Mincham [see below] refers to ‘an extraordinarily inflated piece of Baroque rhetoric’. For an opposing view in the first discussion on the Bach Cantatas Website Thomas Braatz vigorously defends Bach’s choice of text (June 11, 2001, .

Each reader will decide for himself, but perhaps the problem arises both from most of us fortunately being less familiar with the physical reality of death and suffering in our daily life than Bach and his contemporaries and also from a too narrow conception of what poetry should be. Andreas Gryphius’ Gedancken Uber den Kirchhoff und Ruhestädte der Verstorbenen and other German Baroque poetry are a better preparation for understanding such a text than Gray’s Elegy or Tennyson’s In Memoriam.

What is evident to anyone who gets to know this cantata is the deep humanity and insight of Bach's music which as so often is a sure guide to the deepest meaning of such a text. If we read such a text with our own preconceptions and expectations we may not be impressed, but if we read with Bach's music as our guide we may gain a different and valuable understanding.>>

Cantata 25 Content, Form & Sinner Chorale

Cantata 25 content and form are discussed in Julian Mincham introduction to Cantata 25 Commentary <<Sin, decay, God′s fury and the rotting of bones permeate much Lutheran theology in general and this opening chorus in particular -- my flesh cannot recover nor my bones rest because of my sin and Your anger. The opening chorus is based upon a similar principle to that of C 77 heard the previous week, but the techniques applied ensure that the resultant musical character is very different. The principle is that of taking a chorale and using phrases of it throughout, separated from each other but consistently played by the same instruments. In C 77 the trumpet and continuo lines carried the melody albeit in different rhythmic permutations. In C 25 it is a brass quartet of one cornet and three trombones, liberated from their traditional roles of doubling voices, particularly in motet-like choruses.

Before looking at the specific chorale used, it is necessary to note that it is not the same as that which ends the cantata. In a number of his earlier works it was common practice for Bach to use two or even more within the one composition, a practice he later largely retreated from. The principle characteristic of the great second cycle is the fact that cantatas were united through the use of a single chorale which formed the basis of the opening fantasia, ended the work and frequently generated, or were quoted in, arias and recitatives.>>

Not Passion Chorale texts but a chorale text that uses the Passion Chorale melody, “Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder,” influenced Bach in the composition of Cantata 25, suggests Alfred Dürr (Ibid.: 522), following the lead suggestion of W. Gillies Whittaker in The Cantatas of JSB (Oxford University Press: London, 1958: 1:678). “Not only is the entire content of this hymn closer to the cantata text then that of the hymn previously mentioned [Herzlich tut], but the opening of the second verse, “Heil du mich, lieber Herre, / denn ich bin krank und schwach” (Heal me, dear Lord, for I am sick and weak), would establish a direct connection with the text” of the opening chorus (see German text and Francis Browne’s English translation of “Ach Herr,” a BCW,

The eschatology of the believer’s hopes for eternity and tonal allegory involving Cantata 25 are discussed in Erick Chafe’s book’s, Analyzing Bach Cantatas (first two paragraphs) and Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach (final three ‘graphs),6 as cited in Thomas Braatz’s BCW Commentary summaries on Cantata 25 (September 8, 2002),


Bach’s three extant cantatas for the 14th Sunday After Trinity, Cantatas BWV 25, 78, and 17, reveal significant use of popular chorale melodies with poetic texts emphasizing iconic teaching of this Trinity Time Sunday. This Sunday involves the paired thematic pattern of the Miracle of healing of the lepers (Gospel, Luke 17:11-19) following the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:23-27) as part of the mini-cycle of the Gospel “Works of Faith and Love,” practical in character and application, says Paul Zeller Strodach in The Church Year.7 These works as well as Bach’s other endeavors related to this Sunday also portray in music the eternal struggles between good and evil, faith and reason, and flesh and spirit -- producing music of high caliber and distinction.

The cantatas range from BWV 25 with its instrumental harmonization of the “Passion Melody” (“Befiel du deine Wege/Herzlich tut mich verlangen) found in Cyriakus Schneegass’s Psalm 6 setting “Ach Herr, ich armen Sünder” (Ah lord, I a poor sinner) as proclamation and a popular Trinitarian chorale, Heerman’s “Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen (Faithful God, I must lament to you) to make the libretto more palatable; a striking personal “Jesus Hymn” in BWV 78, and another popular hymn in Cantata 17. Where Catechism Hymns of Penitence played a major role in Bach’s cantatas for the previous 13th Sunday after Trinity, Psalm Hymns dominate the works for the 14th Sunday after Trinity. Bach’s use of chorale melodies was one of a myriad of musical devices in his “tool kit,” so to speak, that he would exploit through invention and transformation throughout his sacred vocal works

Gardiner’s Take on Trinity 14 Cantatas

At the expense of boring some readers, here are extensive and empathetic selections from English conductor and Bach scholar John Eliot Gardiner:8 <<Cantatas for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, Abbaye d’Ambronay: You sometimes get the feeling that Bach would have understood Beethoven’s inner turmoil, even if the musical language in which it came to be expressed would have seemed partially (and at that time terribly) foreign to him. For the fact is that Bach too experienced, and became expert in expressing, the gladiatorial struggles within the human breast between good and evil, spirit and flesh. His music tells us this and so do the private jottings and underlinings he made in his copy of Calov’s Bible commentary. All through this Trinity season he has been offering us example after example of the stark moral choices that face us every day of our lives. Since his terms of reference and the set texts of these Trinitarian cantatas are of course unequivocally Lutheran, we have quickly got used to the way the human actor is positioned in scenarios of faith and the Fall, sin and Satan. But this does not in any way diminish the humanism of Bach’s basic approach on the one hand, or the audacity of his musical response on the other.

Take these three cantatas for Trinity 14, which are all based directly or more loosely on the Gospel reading of the day, the story of Jesus’ healing of ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). In his first attempt, BWV 25 Es ist nicht Gesundes an meinem Leibe, first performed on 29 August 1723, Bach and his anonymous librettist treat the leper theme as an allegory for humankind in general, in language of graphic extremes: Adam’s Fall ‘has defiled us all and infected us with leprous sin’ – the whole world ‘is but a hospital’ for the terminally ill. The solution? ‘Thou alone, O Jesus Christ, my physician, knowest the best cure for my soul’ (No.3). So, characteristically, as in so many cantatas, a spiritual journey is planned for the individual sinner, sick of heart; a path is signposted and the painful process of healing can begin. Some may find the words and the whole concept difficult to stomach, but a sever, we can turn to Bach’s music and find that it goes a long way towards purging the worst of the verbal excesses.

Cantata 25, Passion Chorale

For the second week in a row in his first annual cantata cycle in Leipzig, Cantor Bach introduced an independent chorale melody into the opening chorus, this time in the solemn yet anxious prelude and free double-fugue of Cantata BWV 25, “Es ist nicht Gesundes an meinem Leibe” (There is nothing healthy in my body, Psalm 38:3) on Aug. 29, 1723. As part of his “well-ordered church music,” Bach’s use of well-known chorale melodies served several purposes. It engaged the congregation’s attention, engendered possible associations with related hymn texts designed for use in particular church year services, and, in the case of Cantata BWV 25, it added a greater dimension to the understanding of a difficult cantata text musical sermon based on the day’s Gospel teaching, through the use of affective and effective music.

Trinitarian Chorale, Popular Melody

Cantata 25 closes with the plain chorale using Johann Heermann 1630 text, “Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen” (Faithful God, I must lament to you). Bach sets Stanza 12 of general affirmation, “Ich will alle meine Tag/ Rühmen deine starke Hand” (“I shall all my days/ extol Thy strong hand”), found in Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch9 (NLGB 296, “Weeping and Penitence” under “The Cross, Persecution and Challenges”). Günther Stiller in JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig10 notes that the Heerman hymn in the Dresden and Leipzig hymnals was assigned to the 13th Sunday after Trinity.

The Heermann text is set to the popular melody, "Freu' dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul) originally anonymous c.1510, set by Louis Bourgeois in 1551 and is an <omnes tempore> commentary to Psalm 42(1) (“A Prayer in Sickness,” a David Psalm, < Beatus qui intelligent> [Happy are they who consider], found in the 1682 NLGB as No. 358 in the section “Vom Tod und Sterben” (Death and Dying). The J. H. Schein setting of the Christoph Demantius 1620 associated text is not designated for any particular< omnes tempore> Sunday in the NLGB. Bach set the 6th and 7th stanzas of Heerman’s Trinitarian plea for help and affirmative prayer, addressed to the Holy Spirit, in a plain chorale to close the Trinity Sunday Feast Cantata BWV 194, Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Highest Wished-for Joy-Feast), in 1724, ending his first cantata cycle with a parody of a Kothen vocal dance suite serenade. Francis Browne’s translation of the 12 stanzas is found at BCW:

Bach may have set the melody as still-disputed organ chorale preludes in the BWV Anh. 52 (NBA KB IV/10:67) and 53 (NBA KB IV/10:70); and deest (IV/10:72 and 73) as well as an uncatalogued “[no BWV]” listing in Peter Williams’ <The Organ Music of JSB> 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press 2003: 581), “suggesting only a student’s pale imitation of the master.”

The BCW ( lists various alternative texts set to the melody while the alternate Denicke Text 4 of 1648 is not found in the NLGB. Bach's melody use to the various alternate texts is found in eight <omnes tempore> cantatas: Text 1, anon. 1620, BWV 19/7 (S. 9, St. Michael) and BWV 70/7 (S. 10, Trinity +26); Text 2, J. Heerman, "Zion klagt mit Angst und Schmerzen", BWV 13/3 (S.2, Epiphany +2); Text 3, J. Heermann, "Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen," BWV 25/6 (S. 12, Trinity +14), BWV 194/6 (S. 6 & 7, Trinity Sunday); Text 4, D. Denicke, "Kommt, laßt euch den Herren lehren,” BWV 39/7 (S.6, Trinity +1); Text 5, J. Olearius "Tröstet, tröstet meine Lieben," BWV 30/6 (S. 3, St. John Feast); Text 6, P. Gerhardt, "Weg, mein Herz, mit den Gedanken," BWV 32/6 (S. 12, Epiphany +1).

Passion Chorale: Other Uses

The “Passion Chorale” has many non-Passion uses in Bach’s work. Bach, as Mincham observes above (Ibid.), may have had the melody quotation from Cantata 25 in mind ten months later when he composed his third Chorale Cantata, BWV 135, “Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder” (Ah Lord, me poor sinner) in the second Cycle for the Third Sunday After Trinity, June 25, 1724. Here the opening chorale chorus includes the instruments playing the “Passion Chorale” while the chorus sings the associated text to the opening stanza of the Cyriakus Schneegaß hymn unaltered. Previously for the Sunday After New Year, Jan. 2, 1724, Bach closes Cantata BWV 153, “Schau, lieber Gott, wie meine Feind” (Behold, dear God, how my enemies), with a four-part harmonization of the “Passion Chorale” set to the Paul Gerhardt 1563 associated text, “Befiehl du deine Wege.” Bach also set the melody to the Paul Gerhardt 1653 Christmas hymn, “Wie soll ich dich empfangen” (How shall I then receive thee) as a plain chorale in the <Christmas Oratorio>, BWV 248/5 for Christmas Day 1734.

Bach the “Passion Chorale” beginning in Weimar with Cantata BWV 161, “Komm, süße Todesstunde” (Come, sweet hour of death), initially for the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which fell on a Sunday, February 2, in 1715. The solo Cantata 161 was recycled 20 years later for the 16th Sunday After Trinity, about 1735. The opening movement is one of Bach’s first chorale adaptations, also called trope insertions. While the alto soloist sings the dictum aria, the obbligato organ plays the inserted melody, “which also receives vocal treatment in the concluding movement,” the four-part plain chorale to a Christoph Knoll text, says Stiller (Ibid.).

Bach also uses the “Passion” melody in the pre-Lent Estomihi Cantatas BWV 159, “Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem” (See, we go up to Jerusalem), in the alto aria with soprano cantus firmus (about 1729), and 1725 Chorale Cantata BWV 127, “Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott” (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) in the opening chorale chorus with the second melody “Passion” in the basso continuo.

Bach’s most impressive use of the “Passion Chorale” is found as the closing chorale chorus in the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248/64, for the Feast of Epiphany, set to the Georg Werner 1648 text, “Ihr Christen auserkoren” originally a Christmas song set to the melody “Valet will ich dir geben,” known in English as “All glory, laud and honor,” that Bach set as a plain chorale in the St. John Passion.

Bach did not set the “Passion” hymn, “Herzlich tut mich verlangen/Befiehl du deine Wege” in the <Orgelbüchlein> Catechism chorale prelude, designated No. 73, under "Confession, Penitence, and Justification." He did use it in two early Weimar organ chorale preludes, BWV 727 and BWV 742, and it (in the latter title) is found in the three questionable Bach preludes BWV Anh. 79 and deest (Emans 36 and 37), listed in the recent Neu Bach Ausgabe (NBA) KB IV/10 (Reinmar Emans, 2008). Bach also set the hymn in the mature four-part plain chorales BWV 271 and 272 that probably were used in the 1731 St. Mark Passion. He also set the “Passion Chorale” five times as plain chorales in the 1727 St. Matthew Passion.

The significance of Bach’s use of chorale melodies is perhaps best expressed in Stiller (<Ibid>: 251): “Bach’s interest in Christian proclamation, as expressed in hymn materials, become most spectacular in those movements in which the church hymn is presented only in a purely instrumental medium.” Besides the openings of Trinity Time Cantatas BWV 25, 77, and 161 cited above, Stiller singles out Trinity Time Cantatas BWV 163 (Trinity 23), BWV 185 (Trinity 4), BWV 48 (Trinity 19) and BWV 70 (Trinity 26). He also cites Cantata 12 for Jubilate Sunday, Cantata 23 for Estomihi, Cantata 31 for Easter Day, Cantata 106 for a memorial service, Cantata 172 for Pentecost Sunday, BWV 19 for St. Michael Feast, BWV 10 for Visitation. Many of these cantatas were composed in Weimar, when Bach was focused on organ chorale preludes and church-year cantatas, in the first Leipzig cantata cycle (1723-24) and for festive services. As Minchem noted above (Ibid), Bach turned to using chorale materials extensively in the second cantata cycle, where he composed 44 chorale cantatas.

Chorale Cantata 78, Jesus Hymn

Chorale Cantata BWV 78, “Jesu, der du meine Seele” (Jesus, who this my spirit) was presented on the 14th Sunday after Trinity, Sept. 10, 1724, and may have been repeated on the same Sunday, Sept. 2, 1725. It is based on Johannn Rist’s 1641 “Jesus Hymn” (not in the NLGB). For complete details, see “Chorus Cantata BWV 105, Associated Chorales,” BCW, “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Motets & Chorales for 9th Sunday after Trinity,” Francis Browne’s translation of the 12-stanza text is found at BCW: His interlinear translation of the Cantata 78 text that paraphrases the internal 10 stanzas in three arias and two recitatives is found at BCW:

Interestingly, much later Bach student and St. Thomas Choir Prefect Christoph Friedrich Penzel did not copy and perform Cantata BWV 78 on the 14th Sunday After Trinity, September 14, 1755. Later, however, when he was cantor at Merseberg between 1767 and 1770, Penzel may have presented some of Bach’s cantatas that he had copied. Instead of Cantata BWV 78, Penzel probably performed Cantata BWV 25 that he copied in score (P 1022 M) on August 25, 1770. Bach’s autograph score is lost (Friedemann’s doing?) and the original parts set, probably given to C.P.E. and possibly performed in Hamburg between 1770 and 1780, was not listed in his 1790 Estate Catalog and only later turned up with his collection in the BB (Staatsbibliothek Berlin), says Thomas Braatz, Cantata 25 Provenance, BCW,

Cantata 17 Popular Chorale

Cantata BWV 17 Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich (Who thanks offers, he praises me) was presented on Sept. 22, 1726, as part of the third cantata cycle. It closes with the plain chorale, Graumann’s Psalm 103 Hymn “Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren,” that serendipitously is listed as one of the recommended hymns for the 14th Sunday after Trinity in the NLGB. Stiller: (<Ibid.>: 244) writes that this hymn generally was designated for this Sunday in the hymnbooks, particularly in Leipzig, Dresden and Weißenfels.

As was the trend increasingly in middle Trinity Time, Bach’s< Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> 1682 definitive hymnbook repeats popular hymns introduced earlier in Trinity Time, in clusters of three: “Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren (Trinity 12, 14, 19), “Erbarm dich meine O Herre Gott” (Have mercy on me, a Lord God; Trinity 3, 11, 13, 14), and “Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt” (Through Adam’s Fall is wholly corrupted; Trinity 6, 9, 12, 13). Now a more positive note is introduced on this Sunday with the addition of two Psalm hymns: “Ich dank dem Herren von ganzem Herzen” (I thank the Lord with all my heart, Psalm 111; NLGB No. 186, a Catechism penitential song from old falsbordone) and “Fröhliche wollen wir Allelujah singen” (Joyously would we sing ‘Allelujah’, Psalm 117, Johann Agricola; NLGB No. 262, “Christian Life and Hope”). Bach set neither <omnes tempore> lesser-known hymns nor “Erbarm dich meine O Herre Gott”, perhaps content with the affirmative expression found in the chorales in Cantata 25, 78, and 17.

Piacnder 1728 Trinity 14 Text

Picander’s cantata text P-57, “Schöpfer aller Dinge” (Creator of all things) for Trinity 14 (Sept. 29, 1728) in the published cycle closes with the plain chorale, “O Gott, du frommer Gott” (O God, Thou very God), in the 1630 8-stanza text of Johann Heermann. The chorale is listed in NLGB as No. 202 for Trinity Time ("Christian Life") but is not one of the recommended hymns for a particular Sunday. Francis Browne's translation of the chorale text is found in BCW: Full details are available at BCW, “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas Motets & Chorales for 8th Sunday after Trinity,”

Stölzel’s 1734-35 Cycle

Bach presented Stözel’s two-part Cantata “Ich bin der Herr, dein Artz” (I am the Lord, thy healer) for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, Sept. 11, 1734. The cantata has chorales closing in both parts; Part 2 begins with dictum, No. 5, “Opfere Gott Dank, und bezahle dem Höchsten deine Gelubde” (Offer God thanks, and pay the Highest thy vow); part of annual cycle “Saitenspiele des Hertzens” (String Music of the Heart). More research should determine the chorales presented.

Trinity 14 Chorales (NLGB)

For the 14th Sunday after Trinity, the Neu LeiGesangbuch (NLGB) lists the following: HYMN OF DAY (de tempore): Erbarm dich mein O Herre Gott” CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns: "Nun lob mein Seel den Herren”; “Wohl mir das ist mir lieb”; “Durch Adams Fall ich ganz verderbt”, “Ich dank den Herrn von ganzen Herzen.”

As was the trend increasingly in middle Trinity Time, Bach's NLGB 1682 definitive hymnbook lists popular hymns introduced earlier in Trinity Time, in clusters: "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren” (Now praise, my soul, the Lord, NLGB 261, Psalm 53’ Trinity 12, 13, 17, & 18), "Erbarm dich meine O Herre Gott" (Have mercy on me, a Lord God, NLGB 256, Psalm 51; Trinity 3, 11, 13) and "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt" (Through Adam's Fall is whocorrupted, NLGB 229, Justification; Trinity 6, 9, 12, 13). Now a more positive note is introduced on this Sunday with the addition of two more Psalm hymns: "Ich dank dem Herren von ganzem Herzen" (I thank the Lord with all my heart, Psalm 111; NLGB No. 186, a Catechism penitential song from old falsbordone) and "Fröhliche wollen wir Allelujah singen" (Joyously would we sing `Allelujah', Psalm 117, Johann Agricola; NLGB No. 262, "Christian Life and Hope"). Bach set neither omnes tempore lesser-known hymns nor "Erbarm dich meine O Herre Gott," perhaps content with other harmonized settings of the Psalms as well as the affirmative expression found in the chorales in Cantata 25, 78, and 17.


1 Cantata 25 BCW Details & Discography, Scoring: Soloists: Soprano, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus: Orchestra: cornet, 3 trombones, 3 recorders, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, continuo. Score Vocal & Piano [1.43 MB],; Score BGA [2.39 MB], References: BGA V/1 (Cantatas 21-30a, Wilhelm Rust 1855), NBA KB I/21 (Trinity 14 cantatas, Werner Neumann 1959), Bach Compendium BC A 129, Zwang: K 41.
2 Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005: 521)
3 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: 385).
4 Jones, The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750. “Music to Delight the Spirit” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 126f).
5 Mincham, Julian. The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
6 Chafe, Analyzing Bach Cantatas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000: 126ff), and Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach (Berkeley: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1991).
7 Strodach, “Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles and Gospels” (Philadelphia PA: United Lutheran Publication House, 1924: 216).
8 Gardiner notes,[sdg124_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details,; recording,
9 NLGB, BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682), Berlin: Merseburger, 1969.
10 Stiller, JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis: Concordia, 1984, 252).

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 8, 2015):
Cantata BWV 25 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of Cantata BWV 25 “Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe” for the 14th Sunday after Trinity on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part chorus; and orchestra of cornett, 3 trombones, 3 recorders, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (11):
Recordings of Individual Movements (6):
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 of the cantata. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 25 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 recent discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):


Cantata BWV 25: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 05:53