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Cantata BWV 37
Wer da gläubet und getauft wird
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of November 14, 2010

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 14, 2010):
Introduction to BWV 37 -- Wer da glaubet und getauft wird

This weeks discussion continues the ongoing series of cantatas spanning from Easter to Ascension , Pentecost, and Trinity. With BWV 37, we have reached Ascension Day, from the first Leipzig cycle (Jahrgang I) Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV37.htm

The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham} is especially recommended as an introduction to listening. For readers of French, the commentary by [Role] also appears very thorough. Note that we will be occupied with the cantatas for Ascension and the Sunday after, for the next six weeks, until the end of this year, although in fact they span of only a few days in Bachs liturgical calendar.

Five selected recordings for the current weeks discussion are highlighted on the BCW main (home) page.

Some informative and/or entertaining commentary is also filed under links to specific recordings for BWV 37. A couple selections of the entertaining variety to tempt you, from: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Leusink-Vol1&2.htm

<OY wrote (October 25, 1999):
(To Frank Wakelkamp) Does a HIP performer have Buddha-nature?

Ben Crick wrote (November 24, 1999):
Could it not just be that the soloists are not native German speakers, and so tend to pronounce the words as if they were English or Dutch, which have no Umlaut? Zum Siege instead of zum Kriege [re BWV 80] is evidently proleptic wishful thinking. In this spiritual war, the final Victory (the Resurrection) is assured. Are you sure about those Umlauts?> (end quote)

Definitions and translations:
Siege = victory
Kriege = war
proleptic = anticipatory, especially in the logical sense, as in putting the horse before the cart, or the victory before the war.

I would only add that I have always thought that for Christians, the final victory is the Ascension, rather than the Resurrection.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 14, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Note that we will be occupied with the cantatas for Ascension and the Sunday after, for the next six weeks, until the end of this year, although in fact they span of only a few days in Bach's liturgical calendar. >
* THE MUSICAL CONTEXT FOR BACH'S ASCENSION CANTATAS:

ASCENSION DAY (Himmelfahrt Thursday, 40th Day after Easter)

Introit: ³Viri Galilaei² ["Men of Galilee" - Text from Epistle Acts 1:11]
Motet: ³Omnes Gentes² - ["O Clap your Hands" - Psalm 47 - Matins]
Hymn de Tempore: ³Nun Freut Euch²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ fuhr gen Himmel²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn²
³Du Lebensfürst²
³Aus Christi Himmelfahrt Allelin²
³ Gott fahret auf gen Himmel²

SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION (Exaudi)

Introit: ³Exaudi Domine²
Motet: ³Deus Adjutor Fortis²
³Exaudiet Te Dominus²
Hymn de Tempore: ³Nun Freut Euch²
Pulpit Hymn: ³Christ fuhr gen Himmel²
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing:
³Zeuch ein zu Thoren²

After forty days of singing "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" as the daily Hymn of the Season, the next nine days used "Nun Freut Euch" before the Gospel and cantata with "Christ fuhr gen Himmel" as the Pulpit Hymn after the cantata.

It is always interesting to look at how Bach treated these hymns in the cantatas. In general, there appear to be three groups:

1) The Hymn de Tempore, the principal hymn of the Sunday or festival,

2) General Seasonal Hymns,

3) Hymns without any mandated link to the Sunday or festival.

1) Bach chose not to use the Tempore hymn in any of his Ascension Day or Ascension Sunday cantatas.

2) BWV 11 & BWV 43 use the seasonal hymn "Du Lebensfürst" on Ascension Day, and BWV 183 uses "Zeuch ein zu Thoren on Ascension Sunday.

3) All of the other chorales in the Ascensiontide cantatas have no traditional link and appear to have been chosen personally by Bach and/or his librettist.

BWV 37 shows Bach's often idiosyncratic and untraditional use of familiar chorale tunes. The final chorale is an unassigned general hymn, but "Wie schön leuchtet" was associated with the coming of Christ and used in Advent cantatas BWV 36 and BWV 61 and Marian cantatas BWV 1 and BWV 199. We can only assume that Bach's listeners would have associated the tune with those days.

What did they think when it turns up on Ascension Day? A glance at the whole text ...
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale015-Eng3.htm

... indicates that the lyric is less a Christmas carol than another Christ and the Soul love story. Is Bach using the coming of the Lover as reference to the coming fire of Pentecost?

Pour most deeply within my heart,
your clear jasper and ruby,
the flames of your love,

Marva Watson wrote (November 14, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< ... indicates that the lyric is less a Christmas carol than another Christ and the Soul love story. Is Bach using the coming of the Lover as reference to the coming fire of Pentecost?
Pour most deeply within my heart,
your clear jasper and ruby,
the flames of your love, >

Interesting thought. Along the lines of another "Christ and the Soul love story," ruby is often used in connection with wisdom in the scriptures and jasper is used in Revelation in connection with the heavenly throne. Since the hymn was associated with the second coming of Christ perhaps this is what is referenced here (worship of believers at the heavenly throne)?

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 19, 2010):
From Julian Minchams commentary, re BWV 37/1:
<Having entered, the choir sings continuously until the end but with numerous subtle variations of texture varying between one and four voices. There being no instrumental episodes or repetition of the ritornello at the end, it becomes correct to view the opening twenty-seven bars as an introduction rather than a potentially recurring ritornello. But the listener should be wary of such terminology. This is not an introduction such as we may find prefacing the main themes of a Haydn symphony. In Bach’s case the ‘introduction’ provides all of the music material for the choir and large slabs of it are integrated with and incorporated into the choral textures.> (end quote)

See the BCW archives for previous discussion, which evolved to Julians careful and accurate statement. Still, neither term, introduction nor ritornello, is exactly satisfying. Is there not a specific musical term for relatively brief phrases which introduce all the thematic material for a more extended movement?

With the cantatas for Ascension Day, the confusion between releases on DG Archiv and SDG for the Gardiner Pilgrimage is at its most dense. There is a DG Archiv CD [5] which is deceptively labeled as part of the pilgrimage series. It is a fine recording, but in fact it the performances date from 1993 and 1999. In fact, the same four works were also recorded as part of the pilgrimage, in 2000, according to Gardiners notes for the Sunday after Ascension, in Vol. 25. They are not included in the 28 volume series which was just completed a few months ago. I believe there was a comment at that time to the effect that SDG has hopes (if not plans) to release them in the future.

Julian Mincham wrote (November 19, 2010):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< See the BCW archives for previous discussion, which evolved to Julian’s careful and accurate statement. Still, neither term, introduction nor ritornell, is exactly satisfying. Is there not a specific musical term for relatively brief phrases which introduce all the thematic material for a more extended movement? >
Ed a problem I have often wrestled with in writing about Bach. it is compounded by the fact that he used the initial instrumental sections in such a variety of ways---as orchstral interludes, combined with the choir, as a counterpoint and contrast to it etc etc. The one factor usually in common is that it is used to introduce the main musical material of the movement.

The nearest I could get to it is 'thematic instrumental exposition' which is, I think accurate, but overly ponderous (can't use 'exposition on its own because of the confusion with its use in later sonata form movements).

So here is a challenge for list members to come up with a one word term which accurately describes the function and application of such sections!

William Hoffman wrote (December 27, 2010):
Cantata 37: Ascension Festival & Chorales

Bach's four extant cantatas for the Feast of the Ascension - BWV 37, BWV 183, BWV 43, and BWV 11 -- exemplify the central liturgical theme of joy, in keeping with Christianity's three great celebratory Feasts of our Lord's Godhead - Nativity, Easter, and Ascension (ref. ancient Greek hymn writer Ephrem the Syrian, 4th Century).

Bach in Leipzig pulled out all the stops to celebrate holy joy, using prominent brass instruments, affirmative quotations from Psalms, appropriate double chorales with borrowed, familiar melodies, and four favorite text poets emblematic of his cantata cycles in form and style. The biblical teachings are revealed in both the poetic texts and the chorales. In a period of just over a decade, 1724-35, Bach composed increasingly festive works, with the final two, BWV 43 and BWV 11, having 11 movements each.

The two New Testament lessons for Ascension Day narrate the fulfillment of Jesus Christ's redemptive odyssey and the final swing of the great spiritual parabola, beginning with the descent through human birth and <kenosis> (emptying) on Good Friday, and the reversal beginning with the Resurrection:
Gospel: Mark 16:14-20; Disciples' commission to baptize, Christ's Ascension;
Epistle: Luke's Acts 1:1-11; Easter Prologue, Jesus' last promise (baptism by Holy Spirit), Ascension.

Bach's Leipzig Easter Season,
Musical Context (BCW, Douglas Cowling) shows the following for
Ascension Day (Himmelfahrt Thursday, 40th Day after Easter):

Introit: "Viri Galilaei" ("Ye men of Galilee," LU 846), Acts 1:11a/b (Epistle), chant
Motet (Psalm): "Omnes Gentes" (Psalm 47, "O clap your hands, all ye people)
Hymn de Tempore: "Nun freut euch, Gottes Kinder" (BWV 387)
Pulpit Hymn: "Christ fuhr gen Himmel (not set by Bach)
Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing
"Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn" (Easter Season)
"Du Lebensfürst, Herr Christ" (BWV 43/11, BWV 11/6)
"Aus Christi Himmelfahrt Allein" (BWV 128/1)
"Gott fahret auf gen Himmel" (not set by Bach)

The biblical texts and the specific chorale texts guide the four libretti that Bach set. The first Ascension Cantata 37 has no reference to the Ascension and its two chosen chorales reflect the general, timeless mood of thanks and joy that would continue in the three later Ascension works. Cantatas BWV 183, BWV 43, and BWV 11 use Ascension biblical narrative references and four specific Ascension hymns not used elsewhere in Bach's music. In addition, the three works utilize timeless chorales as well as well-known timeless chorale melodies such as "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" (To God alone on high be glory), "O Gott, du frommer Gott" (O God, Thou pious God), "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist" (He revives thee, my weak spirit), and "Von Gott will ich nich lassen" (From God will I not depart). Thus Bach at the Ascension Feast was better able to engage his congregation in his musical sermons with special, timeless hymn texts set to familiar tunes.

Cantata BWV 37

Bach's Ascension musical journey began almost inauspiciously with the six-movement Cantata 37, "Wer da glaubet und getauf wird" (Who there believes and Baptizes, Mark 16:15), with oboes d'amore. It focuses not on the actual Ascension but on Luther's idea, "Justification by Faith Alone," libretto possibly by St. Thomas Pastor Christian Weiss Sr. It is in the third cantata form of dictum-aria-chorale-recitative-aria-chorale while being bi-partite: 3/3 movements, observes Alfred Dürr, <Cantatas of JSB>: 27, 326. It has no overt dance-style arias or choruses, unlike its three succeeding Ascension counterparts.

Bach uses two chorales in Cantata 37: No. 3, soprano-alto aria, P. Niccolai's versatile seven-stanza 1599 hymn, "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (How lovely shines the morningstar), using Stanza 5, "Herr, Gott Vater, mein starker Held" (Lord, God, Father, my strong hero", primarily for Advent and Annunciation; and No. 6, closing plain chorale, J. Kolrose' nine-stanza 1535 hymn, "Ich dank' dir, lieber Herre" (I thank Thee, Dear Lord), using Stanza 4, "Den Glauben mir verleihe" (The faith to me lends),

Cantata BWV 128

For the second cycle in 1725, Cantata BWV 128, "Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein" (On Christ's Heaven-journey alone), begins with the Ascension chorale as a chorale chorus (with trumpet and two horns), characteristic of the now-abandoned chorale cantata cycle. This is Bach's only use of this chorale, text by Sonnemann/Wegelin, 1661/1636, 3 stanzas; and melody "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" (To God alone on high be glory) by N. Decius, 1526, based on the Latin <Gloria in excelsis Deo> (Glory to God in the Highest).

Librettist Mariane von Ziegler uses the introductory chorale as the theme for the Christian's allegiance to Jesus in Heaven, citing in No. 2, recitative, 1 Corinthians 13:12 ("face to face" with God) and Matthew 17.4 (Christ's Transfiguration), and No. 4, aria, Acts 7:55 and Matthew 25:33 (at God's right hand), says Alfred Dürr, <Cantatas of JSB>: 329)

This movement is the only one in cantatas for the 1725 Easter Season to begin with a chorale chorus. For Pentecost Tuesday, Ziegler also began Cantata BWV 68, "Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt" (So has God the world loved), with a chorale chorus. Because both Cantata BWV 128 and BWV 68 begin with chorale chorus incipits on the original scores, they were put into Bach's Chorale Cantata Cycle 2 at the heirs' estate division in 1750.

Cantata BWV 128 is in Dürr's basic first cantata form of alternating pairs of recitatives and arias, with a closing plain chorale. The da-capo alto-tenor duet, No. 4, "Sein Allmacht zu ergründen" (His omnipotence to fathom) is in the dance style of a pastorale-giga.

Cantata BWV 128 closes with, No. 5, M. Habermann (Avenarius) six-stanza 1673 "O Jesu, meine Lust (joy)," using Stanza 4, "Alsdenn so wirst du mich" (Then so will thou me), set to the A. Fritzsch 1679 melody "O Gott, du frommer Gott" (O God, Thou pious God). "Reflecting a fairly common situation found in 16th, 17th, and 18th century hymnals, Bach would not only use alternate melodies for the same chorale text, but also alternate texts for the same chorale melody." Thomas Braatz and Aryeh Oron show four variants of the melody, ref. BCW: www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/O-Gott-du-frommer-Gott.htm. There are at least four alternate texts that Bach used. The texts/melodies were used primarily in the early Trinity Season and later at Christmas in Leipzig. The hymn is related to the <SchemGesangbuch> sacred song, "Ich freu mich in dir" (I rejoice in thee), four stanzas, BWV 465 (1736), also in Cantata 133/1, 6 (Christmas 3)

"O Gott, du frommer Gott" was set by Bach in the following works: BWV 24/6 (Tr.4), 71/2 (memorial), 164/6 (Tr.13); 45/7 (Tr.8); SG 465, organ partita 767; to other texts: 64/4 (Ch.3), 94/8 (Tr.9), BWV 128/5(Asc.), 129/1(Tr.), 197a/7(Ch.1)=398, 399 (middle Trinity); and plain chorale 1125.

Cantata BWV 43

For the third cycle in 1726, Bach composed an original work, Cantata BWV 43, "Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen" (God ascends with shouting). This is Psalm 47:5-6 from the Ascension Day Propers Motet, referring to Christ's Ascension. Cantata BWV 43 has two parts, like Bach's Leipzig initial new, expansive cantatas early in the Trinity Season 1723 (75, 76, 21, 147), containing 11 movements, with festive brass.

Bach uses two Ascension hymns in Cantata BWV 43: Movements Nos. 5-10, 1726 Rudolstadt six-stanza hymn text "Mein Jesus hat nunmehr" (My Jesus now has more); and No. 11, closing plain chorale, J. Rist's 1641 Ascension 14-stanza hymn, "Du Lebensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ" (Thou life's prince, Lord Jesus Christ); using the opening stanza as well as Stanza 13, "Zieh' uns dir nacht" (Draw us to Thee), using J. Schop 1641 melody "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist" (He revives thee, my weak spirit).

Bach alternates five recitatives with four arias in Cantata BWV 43. The tenor rondo trio aria, No. 3, "Ja tausend mal tausend begleiten den Wagen" (Yea, a thousand times a thousand attend the chariot), is in the style of a passapied-menuett. No. 4, soprano recitative, "Und der Herr. . . ward er aufghaben gen Himmel" (And the Lord. . .was lifted up into heaven), is a reference to the day's Gospel, Mark 16:19.

Ascension 1726 was the first service with a new Bach work since the Second Sunday in Epiphany (BWV 13), followed by 12 Johann Ludwig Bach Cantatas set to Rudolstadt texts published that year. Bach used the Rudolstadt Ascension text for Cantata BWV 43 but no further cantata performances are recorded until Trinity Sunday when Bach sporadically produced new cantatas, often set to Rudolstadt texts, interspersed with eight J. L. Bach cantatas, for the remained of the half-year Trinity Season. Then Sebastian ceased systematically presenting cantatas, except perhaps in the Easter seasons of 1731 and 1735.

Cantata BWV 11 (Ascension Oratorio)

Cantata BWV 11, "Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen" (Praise God in His Kingdoms) [Ascension Oratorio] (1735). Beginning with the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, for the Christmas Season 1734-35, Bach produced major oratorios, parodied from previous secular celebratory cantatas, as a Christological cycle observing the major feast days in the earthly mission of Jesus Christ. For Ascension Thursday, May 19, 1735, Bach produced another 11-movement work to a text probably by his oratorio poet, Picander.

Giving Cantata BWV 11 its oratorio character, four movements (Nos. 2, 5, 7, 9) set biblical narrative recitative with passages from the Ascension Gospel and Epistle lessons, as well as Luke's Gospel, 24:50-52, Christ's Ascension at Bethany and the disciples return to Jerusalem. The trumpeting opening chorus and both arias are parodies, respectively from Cantata BWV Anh. 18, "Froher Tag, verlangte Stunden" (Joyous day, awaited hours), for the 1732 consecration of the rebuilt Thomas School to a Johann Winckler text, and two arias from Cantata BWV Anh. 196, "Auf! Süß entzückende Gewalt" (Up! Sweet, enticing power), a 1725 secular wedding to a Gottsched text. The alto trio da-capo aria, No. 4, "Ach, bleibe doch" (Ah, remain then), later was adapted as the <Agnus dei" of the Mass in B-Minor, BWV 232. The other da-capo aria, for soprano, No. 10, "Jesu, deine Gnadenblicke" (Jesu, Thy mercy-looks), is in menuett-style. Bach newly-composed two ariosi (Nos. 3 and 8), as he had done in the other two pastoral oratorios for Christmas and Easter.

The Ascension oratorio has two chorale settings, as do Bach's other Ascension cantatas, a central plain setting of the Ascension chorale, No. 6, "Du Lebensfürst, H.J.C.," using Stanza 4, "Nun lieget alles unter dir" (Now lies everything beneath Thee); and a closing tutti chorale chorus, No. 11, G. Sacer's 1697 seven-stanza Ascension hymn, "Gott fähret auf gen Himmel" (God Ascends to Heaven), using Stanza 7, "Wenn soll es doch geschehen" (When will it happen), set to the anonymous 1557 melody, "Von Gott will ich nich lassen" (From God will I not depart).

Bach set the melody,"Von Gott will ich nich lassen," as a chorale prelude, BWV 658; harmonized it in three plain chorale settings, BWV 417-419; and listed but did not set it in the <Orgelbüchlein>, No. 93 for "Christian Life." Bach set the melody to its related 1572 L. Helmbold nine-stanza hymn text in Cantata BWV 73/5 (Eph.3)=?186a6 (Adv.3), as well as to the J. Heermann 1630 text, "Was will du dich betrübten" (Why would you grieve) in BWV 107/1 and 7 (Tr.7). The melody of secular origin has Christmas associations while the related Helmbold text has Christmas associations.

Other Chorales

For Ascension 1729, Picander's published cantata text, P-36, "Alles, alles Himmelswärts" (All, all heavenward [ascending]), also has texts for two chorales, Movements Nos. 2 and 7. The first is Stanza 1 of Luther's 1524 Pentecost hymn text, "Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott" (Come Holy Spirit, Lord God). Bach in 1729 did harmonize the associated, anonymous melody to Stanza 3 in his Motet BWV 226, "Der Geist hilf unsre Schwachheit auf" (The Spirit upholds our weakness), as the motet's second movement. The Picander Ascension cantata text closes with Stanza 3 possibly set to Bach's free-standing harmonized chorale, BWV 415, V. Herberger's 1613 five-stanza Passion hymn, "Valet will ich dir geben" (Farewell, I shall bid to you) to M. Teschner's 1613 melody.

The Leipzig Ascension Day "Hymn de Tempore," E. Alberus' 1549 "Nun freut euch, Gottes Kinder" (Now rejoice Ye, God's Child, 16 stanzas), melody Einzeldruck 1546, was listed as <Orgelbüchlein> No. 41 but not set, but was harmonized as free-standing plain chorale BWV 387.

The Leipzig Ascension Day "Pulpit Hymn," "Christ fuhr gen Himmel," melody "Christ ist erstanden" (2 brief stanzas, 1200s/Wittenberg 1529) was not set by Bach.

1. Christ fuhr gen Himmel.
Was sandt er uns hernieder?
Den Tröster, den Heiligen Geist,
zu Trost der armen Christenheit.
Kyrieleis.

Halleluja, Halleluja!
Des solln wir alle froh sein,
Christ will unser Trost sein
Kyrieleis.

The Ascension Day chorale, "Gen Himmel aufgefahren ist" (B. Gesius 1601, 5 stanzas, interpersed Hallelujas), was listed as <Orgelbüchlein> No. 40 but not set.

Chorales for Various occasions:

Ich dank' dir, liebe Herre, 37/6(S.4) (Asc.); 347-348=?P20/5(Septuag.), 147a/6 (S.6, Adv.4, music lost)

Valet will, ich dir geben, 415=?P.36/7 (Asc.), 736; BWV 245/52, OB132 (not set, Death)

Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern: BWV 1/1(Ann.), 1/6, 36/4 (Adv.1), 37/3 (Asc.), 49/6 (Tr.21), 61/6 (Adv. 1), 172/6 (Pent.1), Anh. 199/3=436 (Ann.); 739 (OB 120, "Word"), 763.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 27, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Bach's four extant cantatas for the Feast of the Ascension - BWV 37, BWV 183, BWV 43, and BWV 11 -- exemplify the central liturgical theme of joy, in keeping with Christianity's three great celebratory Feasts of our Lord's Godhead -
Nativity, Easter, and Ascension (ref. ancient Greek hymn writer Ephrem the Syrian, 4th Century).
Bach in Leipzig pulled out all the stops to celebrate holy joy, using prominent brass instruments, affirmative quotations from Psalms, appropriate double chorales with borrowed, familiar melodies, and four favorite text poets emblematic of his cantata cycles in form and s >

I think we have to be careful in referencing patristic or modern commentaries on the liturgy for Bach. If we are talking about the principal festivals for Bach, we seem to have three categories developed from Luther:

1) The Three-Day festivals of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost which each required cantatas, concerted missae, Sanctus and Magnificat, and which frequently use "festival" scorings with brass.

2) Major single-day festivals such as Ascension, Trinity, Michelmas and Reformation which use festival scorings and may have included concerted missae, Sanctus and Magnificat

3) Ordinary Sundays (in its original meaning of the Sunday "ordained" for the week) which did not have concerted missae, Sanctus and Magnificat. However, Bach occasionally used festival scorings for these Sundays so there may be further gradations (Sundays after Epiphany and Trinity).

 

Cantata BWV 37: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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