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Cantata BWV 76
Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of June 14, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (June 14, 2015):
Cantata 76, “Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes” & Trinity 2

The techniques of certain patterns that Bach used to establish his first two church cycle cantatas in Leipzig (1723-25) went far beyond the traditional, simple Rudolstadt/Neumeister type of cantata form. This had involved biblical chorus proclamation followed by arias and recitatives and a closing plain chorale with simple numerology and symbolism. The works basically were repeated with simple orchestration of strings, oboe, and continuo, except for trumpets and timpani for feast days. Now Bach’s first cycle of heterogeneous works, began with two musical sermons virtually identical in form, sister works Cantatas 75 and 76, with similar biblical themes that progress in their interpretive theological meanings and teachings.

Bach used a different technique for the incomplete, homogeneous second cycle involving Lutheran chorales in opening chorus fantasias and closing, usually unadorned congregational chorale, both sung verbatim, with alternating, internal arias and recitatives poetically paraphrased to which Bach transformed special forms in an dramatic (operatic) guise with a duet of hymn and poetry or a poetic recitative with interpolated hymn stanzas. The incomplete, extended third cycle (1725-28) used heterogeneous variety of forms found in the first cycle with simple lyrics from a wide range of librettists, filling gaps in the well-ordered church music, achieving an enigmatic unity through diversity.

Bach’s “articulation of the beginning of a cycle by systematic means was important to him,” given the “close parallel between the cantatas [BWV 75 and 76] of two successive weeks,” beginning Bach’s first cycle, observes Eric Chafe in “Bach’s First Two Leipzig Cantatas.”1 Such has been observed with customary explanation of Bach scholars for at least a century. Further, Bach’s beginning the second cycle of chorale cantatas the next year, 1725, with another repetitive pattern, reinforces this thesis. The two works are Cantata BWV 75, “Die Elenden sollen essen, dab see sat warden” (The wretched shall eat so that they are satisfied), for the First Sunday After Trinity, May 30, 1723, in the Nikolaikirche, and BWV 76, “Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes” (The heavens declare the glory of God, Psalm 19:1) for the Second Sunday after Trinity, June 6, 1723, in the Thomaskirche.2

In both Cantatas 75 and 76 Bach “interweave these related themes (love and duty through action) into a large tapestry,” says Eric Chafe (see below). In addition, the solo trumpet plays a special spiritual role in both works. Surprisingly, neithr of these longest of Bach sacred cantatas (40 minutes each) was repeated although there is documentation that Bach perfromed single parts without choruses, in 1724/25. At the same time Bach composed only two original works for the 2nd Sunday after Trinity, BWV 76, and chorale Cantata BWV 2, “Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein.” Meanwhile, Bach at the beginning of Trinity Time 1725, began repeating his cantata music and started having sacred cantatas of other composers, primarily Telemann, performed. In the category of motets and chorales for Early Trinity Time, “Bach's free use of chorale tunes mirrors the rather general groupings of his hymn book,” observes Dougas Cowling in his BCW series “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas.” Bach commentators Julian Mincham, John Eliot Gardiner and Tadashi Isoyama offer stimulating thoughts on the relationship between Cantatas 75 and 76 as well as special insights into Cantata 76.

Cantatas 75, 76 Similarities

Initially, the repetition in Cycle 1 Cantatas 75 and 76 seemed to involve numerology, Chafe says, citing noted Bach scholar and theologican Friedrich Smend in his 1950 introduction to the Kalmus miniature scores for the first seven Sundays in Trinity Time. Fourteen, the number of movements in both Cantatas 75 and 76, involve Alpha and Omega, beginning and ending, symbolic of describing Jesus as found in the first arias. Chafe goes on to describe the “strong theological links in the Epistle and Gospel readings for these two Sundays” (Ibid.: 72), particularly in the shared, similar biblical themes: Johannine epistles in their definitions of love in relationship eternity through the Lucan Gospel parables of rich man Dives and poor man Lazarus (16: 19-31, Cantata 75) and the Great Supper (banquet) of the rich man for all (14:16-21, Cantata 76), showing love of one’s neighbor (the Great Commandment) and one’s actions (demonstrations of love) in the world.

First, Chafe shows the identical similarities: <<With fourteen movements each, these two compositions are not only the longest of the church cantatas; their “ground plans” exhibit striking and obviously intentional, parallels that exist between no others of Bach’s Cantatas. Both works are divided into two parts, each part comprising seven movements. The four parts are identical in sequence except for the fact that the two opening movements are prelude-and-fugue-like choral interpretations, based on psalm texts, while the introductions to both second parts are instrumental movements [sinfonias]. Apart from these differences, movements two through seven follow the same sequence in all four parts: accompanied recitative with strings, aria, secco recitative, aria, secco recitative, chorale setting with instrumental introduction and interludes. In each cantata, movements seven and fourteen (the chorale settings) are identical except for their texts. In addition, the fugal sections of the two opening choruses are laid out in very similar fashion: four solo vocal entries in the sequence tenor, bass, soprano, alto, followed by a series of tutti entries (in BTAS) order in Cantata 75, the reverse in 76), leading to a climax for full scoring. The four arias of each cantata – one for each – vocal register – are in the keys of C major, G major, A minor,, E minor (not, however) in the same order); and each cantata has a bass aria in C scored for trumpet and strings. The first aria of each cantata is in G major, following in E minor recitative ending. Each of these arias deals with the theme of Jesus as the foundation of all hopes for eternal life”: “Mein Jesus soll mein alles sein!” (My Jesus shall be everything to me!) and “Hört, ihr Völker, Gottes Stimme” (Hear, you peoples, God's voice) with the middle section: “Aller Dinge Grund und Ende / Ist sein eingeborner Sohn: Dass sich alles zu ihm wende.” (The basis and end of all things / is his only begotten son: / so everything turns towards him.).3

Bach’s second cycle of chorale cantatas, begun immediately after the first, also on the First Sunday After Trinity, also has a distinct pattern in its first four works (BWV 20, 2, 7, 135): here the chorale cantus firmus enters, successively, in the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. In addition, the initial Cantata 20, “O Ewigkeit, do Donnerwort” (O, Eternity, though Thunderword), is Bach’s only use of a two-part chorale cantata, the two parts being not a mirror of each other but an extension of the aria-recitative series of alternations, paraphrasing the internal verses, but with plain chorales closing each part. Further, Bach repeats this basic plan in the three succeeding cantatas, opening chorale chorus and closing congregational plain chorale quoting verbatim the first and last stanzas with the internal arias-recitatives paraphrasing the other stanzas in poetic form. It is only in the succeeding two chorale cantatas that Bach adds a mix of the two types of texts, chorale aria with cantus firmus and original poetry (Cantata 10 for the Visitation Feast) and Cantata 93 (chorale with interpolated recitative) for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity – mainstays for the internal settings of the remaining 35 cantatas in the series through the Annunciation Feast in 1725.

Cantatas 75 and 76 Themes and Connections

Turning to the first cycle Cantatas 75 and 76, Bach and his text writer “interweave trelated themes (love and duty through action) into a large tapestry that would exhibit a progression from the antithetical view of the relationship between “time” and “eternity” to the emphasis on the Kingdom of God on Earth,” observes Chafe (Ibid.: 74). Bach strengthens this with the opening choruses singing Psalms: 22:26 (wretched as satisfied eaters (banquet) and seekers praising God) and 19:2 (heavens extolling God’s creation). Bach in Cantata 75 anticipates themes of Cantata 76 that carries over themes from the first. Themes in the first Epistle (1 John 4: 16-21 God is love) are developed throughout the two works.

Bach uses the repeated closing chorale in Cantata 75 and the entire hymn in Cantata 76, “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” (What God does that is well-done), to strengthen both the biblical readings and their interpretive theological meanings. The “Lutheran view of love is not fully expressed” in Cantata 75, says Chafe (Ibid.: 80). “Cantata 75 is directed towards what the Christian receives and feels in faith, Cantata 76 towards the resultant works of faith. In this connection, the ‘purpose’ of Cantata 76 is to teach the understanding that through love the world and human works can, in fact must, be positive concepts. Even worldly prosperity, a hindrance to salvation in Cantata 75, is viewed in Cantata 76 as a gift of God to the faithful. Cantata 75, therefore, completes the ideas set fourth in its predecessor, largely by explaining its ‘fruits’ of love and shifting the theological perspective from anticipating of the afterlife to the present.”

Cantatas 75, 76 Solo Trumpet

Reinforcing this is the symbolism and meaning of the solo trumpet found in both cantatas. In Cantata 75, the trumpet in the opening chorus, the sinfonia opening Parts 2, and the bass aria (No. 12) “assert the glory of god alone and mankind’s role as recipient of God’s ‘invitation’ ” (Ibid.: 81). The trumpet in Cantata 76, opening chorus and bass aria (No. 4), “serves as a reminder that human enlightenment comes from God.” The Opening chorus suggests that this is “bound up with the work of God on earth, the conversion of the heathen,” Chafe continues.

Here is the complete list for movements with a single trumpet with some of the choral mvts. also having superb coloratura trumpet parts, says Thomas Braatz:4

BWV 5/1,5,7 bass aria
BWV 20/1,7,8,11 another bass aria
BWV 51/1,5 (with soprano)
BWV 66/1,6 (choruses only)
BWV 70/1,2,7,9,10,11 (2 bass recitatives+aria
BWV 70a/1,5,6 another bass aria
BWV 75/6,12 another bass aria
BWV 76/1,5,7,14 another bass aria
BWV 77/1,5/6 an alto aria
BWV 90/3,(5?) another bass aria
BWV 127/1,4,5 another bass aria
BWV 128/3 another bass aria
BWV 145/1,3/5 another bass aria(3)
BWV 147/1,6,9,10 another bass aria
BWV 147a/1 & 4 another bass aria
BWV 148/1 (Clarino w/Chorus)
BWV 181/5 (w/Chorus)
BWV 1047/1,3 Brandenburg #2
Cantatas 75, 76 Single Parts Only Reperformed

Chafe goes on to point out that “Part 1” [of Cantata 76] “is suitable on its own for the feast of the Reformation, for which it apparently was used.” Chafe apparently is confusing Cantata 76 Part 1 with Part 2. Cantata 76, Part 2, opening with the sinfonia (No. 8), followed by the bass recitative, “Gott segne noch die treue Schar” (May God bless his faithful flock), probably was performed at Reformation, in 1724 on a double bill with Cantata 80, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (Gerhard Herz, “The New Chronology of Bach’s Vocal Music” in Bach’s Cantata 140 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1972: 17).

Cantata “No. 75, abridged and altered, beginning with the first recitative, was subsequently known as “Was hilft des Purpurs Majestät’.” (W. GilliesWhittaker< Cantatas of JSB>, Oxford Univ. Press, 1959; I:194). “The choruses must have been beyond the capabilities of the singers” says Whittaker, but it is possible that he also did use the first part of Cantata 75, minus the opening chorus, to launch Trinity time on June 3, 1725, with Cantata BWV 75a, beginning with No. 2, the bass recitative: “Was hilft des Purpurs Majestät/ Da sie vergeht?” (What use are royal robes [lit. purple]/since they pass away?, Lk. 16:19); and closing with plain chorale, No. 6, “Was Gott tut” (Rodigast, S.5). During this period of 1725, Bach took a vacation and journeyed to Cöthen, possibly leaving Georg Balthasar Schott, music director of the progressive Leipzig New Church, says Andreas Glöckner in “Observations on the Leipzig Cantata Performances from the Third to the Sixth Sundays After Trinity 1725” (Bach Jahrbuch 1992: 73-76). For the next three Trinity Sundays and the feasts of John and Visitation, cantatas of Telemann and Mattheson were repeated.

For the beginning of his third year as Leipzig cantor, it is also possible that Bach had Cantatas 75 and 76 performed on the First and Second Sundays after Trinity, May 27, 1725, following the completion of his second Cycle with Cantata 176 on Trinity Sunday, May 27. Instead of a full-blown repeat of Cantata 75 and its sister, Cantata 76, source-critical materials show that both two-part works subsequently were greatly condensed into single parts presented before the sermon, with the choruses omitted.

Interestingly, there is no record Bach ever repeated the two-part Cantatas 75 or 75 complete. While Bach’s Weimar-expanded two-parts works with additional recitatives (Cantatas 70, 147, and 186) each totaling 11 movements, were repeated, there is no record that either of the two 40-minute, 14-movement works (Cantatas 75 and 76) was reperformed. Two-part Chorale Cantata 20, “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort,” totaling 11 movements, may have been repeated about 1734 or earlier when Bach may have reperformed Cycle 2 while adding mostly per-omnes versus chorale Cantatas to fill the original three gaps at Epiphany 4 and Trinity 6 & 12, as well as some during the Easter season hiatus in 1725.

Cantatas 75, 76: Bach Showing His Talent

Bach first two cycles works may have been conceived as a template for the entire first cycle or simply showing his mettle, says Julian Mincham’s introduction to Cantata 76, “Chapter 3 BWV 76 Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes,” 5 <<Clearly related to C 75 from the previous week, this was Bach’s second original cantata to be performed as part of the regular Leipzig Sunday services. Comparisons between them may be found in the previous chapter where it was suggested that Bach may have initially conceived them as ideal templates for his subsequent cantata structures. On the other hand, he may have simply set out to impress his congregations and employers by opening his account with two extended and imposing works, each consisting of fourteen movements. The complementary nature of the texts, however, implies a considerable degree of forethought and planning, the one dealing with the transient nature of earthly riches and the other the call to turn away from such distractions and honour God.

Both Cs 75 and 76 begin with a chorus but of very different characters. The first is minor and somewhat introspective, the second ebulliently major with a virtuosic trumpet heralding the proclamation of God’s honour. Later we shall discover that C 21 begins with a sinfonia, C 24 an alto aria, C 185 a duet, C 167 an aria for tenor. It is, thereafter, not until C 147, the seventh of the cycle, when Bach returns to the practice of opening with a chorus one which, perhaps intentionally, has a number of features in common with C 76.

Perhaps, as with the first half dozen chorale/fantasias of cycle 2, Bach is here similarly setting out his stall and demonstrating the sheer range of the possible ways in which a cantata might begin. For whatever Bach’s explicit motives may have been, there is no doubt that his questing need for experimentation and the discovery of new modes of expression meant that he was never going to fall into the trap of becoming a ‘formula composer', forever producing variants upon a well-tested model.>>

The Readings for the 2nd Sunday after Trinity are: Epistle: 1 John 3:13-18 (Christian brothelove); and Gospel: Luke 14:16-24 (Parable of the great supper). The full texts are found at BCW; German Luther 1545, English Authorized King James Version (KJV), 1611.

Cantata 76: Church Year Mid-Point

Cantata 76 falls exactly in the middle of the Lutheran Church year, between “the time of Christ” and “the era of the church,” reflecting both emphases, says John Eliot Gardiner’s 2010 liner notes to the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.6 <<His cantata “Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes” (BWV 76) was the second to be performed after he took up his post as Thomaskantor in the summer of 1723. It occurs at almost exactly the mid-point of the Lutheran liturgical year, the crossover from ‘the time of Christ’ (Advent to Ascension) to ‘the era of the church’ (the Trinity season dominated by the concerns of Christian believers living in the world without the physical presence of Christ but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit). The interesting thing here is the way Bach chose to seize on this coincidence, not just to emphasize the important seasonal time-switch, but to present himself to his new congregations in Leipzig in terms of his fundamental approach to the way music can interpret and intersect with doctrine. This cantata is clearly more than just a sequel to the previous Sunday’s Die Elenden sollen essen (BWV 75, SDG Vol 1): together they form a diptych revealing a thematic continuity extended over two weeks, with plentiful cross-referencing between the two set Gospels and Epistles beyond the obvious parallels between the injunction to give charitably to the hungry (BWV 75) and of brotherly love manifested in action (BWV 76). Unusually for Bach, both works are substantial bipartite cantatas, each comprising fourteen movements divided into two equal parts. After opening with a setting of a psalm verse, each cantata goes on to interpret it by referring to the parable told in the Gospel for the day and pinpointing the way Jesus’ presence on earth fulfilled an Old Testament dictum. In Part II these themes are connected to the believer via a characteristically Lutheran interpretation of the first of John’s Epistles – the relationship of faith to love and of love to good deeds. The two Gospel parables (both from St Luke) are full of metaphors of eating and drinking: the rich man’s table, from which Lazarus tried to gather fallen crumbs (BWV 75), standing in opposition to the ‘great supper’ and God’s invitation through Christ to the banquet of eternal life (BWV 76). Evidently a lot of thought and pre-planning had gone on while Bach was still in Köthen, as well as discussions with his unknown librettist and possibly with representatives of the Leipzig clergy, before he could set the style, tone and narrative shaping of these two impressive works.

The first movement of BWV 76 fans out from a festive, concerto-like opening into a powerful fugue led by the Concertisten. We have no means of knowing how it was received at the time, but there is nothing in the surviving music of Johann Kuhnau, Bach’s predecessor, to match this in complexity or forwardly propulsive energy. New too to the Leipzig congregants, surely, was the musical weight their new Cantor gave to recitative: the way, for example, that a gentle accompagnato for tenor (No.2) could burgeon into arioso with a mimetic use of violins to evoke the spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters. Not that Bach made it hard work for his listeners all the time: he seems to address them very directly in the soprano aria with violin obbligato, ‘Hört, ihr Völker, Gottes Stimme’ (No.3), that unfolds with an easygoing lilt and in canonic imitation with its continuo line.

Bach now introduces his bass soloist to inveigh against Belial, the evil spirit to whom crowds often turn, a theme he elaborates in the ensuing aria with trumpet and strings, ‘Begone, idolatrous tribe!’. What is significant here is less the robust depiction of a topsy-turvy world (‘die Welt gleich verkehren’) than the reference to Christ as ‘the light of reason’, a Lutheran interpretation of reason exactly opposite to the one we heard in BWV 2. There it is seen as the stumbling block to salvation here it is interpreted in a passive sense as being illuminated by faith, God’s gift to man to help him manage his earthly affairs.

Where Part I begins with the stirring sound of a trumpet in celebration of God’s glory as creator of the universe, for Part II, presumably performed after the sermon and during the Communion, and concerned with ‘brüderliche Treue’ (‘brotherly devotion’), Bach introduces a totally fresh, intimate sonority, a viola da gamba in dialogue with an oboe d’amore. This instrumental pairing is presented first in a fetching sinfonia, in effect a sonata da chiesa, and later in the alto aria (No.12), all part of Bach’s strategy to set out a fair sample of his compositorial wares and not hold back as he did back in February in his two tactically cautious audition pieces (BWV 22 and 23). As in Part I, two soothing, euphonious movements precede an ill-tempered outburst, this time by the tenor (No.10) over an ostinato bass line, a masochistic invitation to ‘Hate me, then, hate me with all your might, o hostile race!’. Bach adds a wiggly line indicative, in contemporary parlance, of a ‘shake’ (a violent burst of vibrato) over the tenor’s first dissonant entry. This mood of reveling in being detested by the opposition persists in the middle section, its expression softened only by the singer’s melismas on ‘umfassen’ (embrace) and ‘Freude’ (joy). It takes the arioso section of the ensuing alto recitative (No.11), with its reference to celestial manna and the strengthening of community, to re-establish the mood of ‘brotherly devotion’. This is as a prelude to the E minor aria in 9/8, ‘Liebt, ihr Christen’, its gentle phrases suggestive of the embrace that Jesus extends to his ‘brothers’. . . .

The chorale strophes that conclude both parts derive from Luther’s hymn ‘Es woll uns Gott genädig sein’ (1524), presented in a puzzling form: each strain of the melody is pre-announced by the trumpet (reminiscent of a bugle intoning the ‘Last Post’) accompanied by gently-weaving syncopated contrapuntal lines in the upper strings over a persistently fragmented bass line. The overall effect is wistful and slightly melancholy – more prayerful than celebratory.>> © John Eliot Gardiner 2010, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Cantata 76 Commemorates Bach’s Duties

Cantata 76, following Cantata 75, commemorates Bach’s duties as Kantor at Leipzig, says Tadashi Isoyama’s 1998 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete Bach cantata recordings.7 <<Bach's duty, as Kantor of the Thomaskirche, of producing cantatas for Sundays and feast days began on 30th May 1723. On that day, the First Sunday after Trinity, BWV 75 was introduced, and from that point onward, Bach proceeded to write and perform his cantatas at a pace of about one work a week. The works on this recording [BWV 76, 24, 167] date from June of the same year, when that enthusiastic work of creation had barely been started. BWV 76 was the second cantata performed by Bach as Kantor at Leipzig, premiered on the Second Sunday after Trinity, 6th June 1723. Together with the cantata for the First Sunday after Trinity, BWV 75, which was performed the week before, it is perhaps appropriate to think of this as the work that announced the commencement of Bach's duties there, a sort of commemoration. This is because BWV 76 is built on no less monumental a scale than BWV 75 and exhibits various similar characteristics. Some examples of this similarity are the overall structure (bipartite, fourteen [Bach's number!] movements in all), a great chorus based on a psalm verse to open the first part, an instrumental sinfonia opening the second part, the use of the same chorale melody to close each of the two parts, and the incorporation of two arias in each part for a total of four. The similarity extends to the scale of the content well. The librettist has taken a portion of Luke's Gospel (1,1: 16-24) - the story of the splendid banquet to which the invited guests did not come, so that poor and infirm people were bidden to come instead and interprets it in the light of a grander scene: all things in the universe are coming together to the banquet of God. The text thus unfolds a depiction of the conflict between those who follow idols and those who have received the spirit of God. Built around this, Bach's music contains such variety that the listener never wearies.

The C major chorus which opens the cantata is built on a two-part structure reminiscent of a prelude and fugue, and uses the same two well-known verses of Psalm 19 as does a popular chorus in Haydn's Creation (also in C major). The first half, led by the trumpets, reflects the glory of God, while the fugal last half dwells on the widespread sound of God’s' voice.

Carrying on, the tenor begins the story (No. 2, recitative). All of nature shows God's blessing, and even now He calls all men to his 'Liebesmahl' ('banquet of love'). In the central arioso section (Andante), the motion of the strings reflects the movement of God's spirit at work. No.3 is a soprano aria in G major. With a little motif attached to the words Hört, ihr Völker' ( Listen, ye peoples'), the violin and continuo dodge around the soprano. There is a feel of three-part chamber music. Then the bass begins a severely accusing recitative (No. 4), stating that the greater part of mankind worships inner idols. He continues with a brave C major aria. The big steps in the continuo, the trumpet fanfares and the strings' 'noisy motif’ impeach the idol-worshippers.

The alto follows (No.6, recitative) with a portrayal of the meaning of the banquet as the enjoyment of the spirit of God. The second half changes to a modest arioso prayer closing the first part is a Lutheran chorale (based on Psalm 67) which is a gentle prayer for blessing and guidance, notable for the singular form in which a melody in the trumpet is repeated by the chorus. From the continuo, we hear a lively motif which contains traces of the preceding strife.

Part Two opens with an E minor sinfonia (Adagio vivace). The music makes a reappearance as the first of the Trio Sonatas (BWV 528); it is thought to be an arrangement of an earlier trio, now lost. It is a rare orchestration for oboe d'amore, viola da gamba and continuo. Next, over harmony from the strings, the bass prays to God to protect 'die treue Schar' ('the faithful flock') (No.9. recitative). The tenor continues in an aria (A minor) with sharp interval leaps, declaring his decision to abjure hatred. A characteristic figure is repeated in the continuo. In a sweet arioso, the alto, who has truly felt the love of Christ, examines 'the manna that sustains (No. 11), then sings an E minor aria extolling brotherly love (No. 12). This aria is similar to the sinfonia in key and instrumentation, and through relaxed compound rhythm portrays the streams of love.

To Christians who worship God, nothing proclaims the glory of God more than the heavens the tenor recitative (No. 13) brings back the universal theme with which the cantata began. The word 'erzählen' (proclaim) is given particular emphasis here, The work closes with the return of the Lutheran chorale from No.7. to which a verse of a different hymn is sung this time. © Tadashi Isoyama 1998.

Bach’s performance schedule for the 2nd Sunday after Trinity in Leipzig is one of the barest. Only two original works were composed: Cantata BWV 76 Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes (1723), and chorale Cantata BWV 2 Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein (1724). There is no record of reperformances of either while Cantata 76 Part 2 may have been performed in 1725.

1723-06-06 So - Cantata BWV 76 Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes (1st performance, Leipzig)
1724-06-18 So - Cantata BWV 2 Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein (1st performance, Leipzig)
1725-06-10 So - ? Cantata BWV 76a(II) “Gott segne noch die treure Scharr”
1726-06-30 So - Rudolstadt text only survives, “Und der Herr Zabaoth wird allen Völkern”
1729-06-26 So – Picander text only survives, P42 “Kommt, eilet, ihr Gaste”
1732-06-22 So - possible repeat Cantata BWV 2 Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein
1735-06-19 So 2.So.n.Trin. - G.H. Stölzel: Schmecket und sehet, wie freundlich der Herr ist, Mus. A 15:227 + Esset, meine Lieben, und trinket, meine Freunde, Mus. A 15:228

Bach’s Trinity Time Work Schedule 8

The beginning of the Trinity Time of the Church Year was an important period for Johann Sebastian Bach as he pursued his calling as director of Leipzig's church music and the St. Thomas Church School. Charged with overseeing the presentation of vocal pieces at the main services on some 60 Sundays and feast days, Bach commenced his tenure with performances of his own compositions in annual cantata cycles. He began his first church year, on Sunday, May 30, 1723, with his official installation and the performance of his festive two-part Cantata BWV 75, "Die Elenden sollen essen, daß sie satt werden" (The wretched shall eat so that they are satisfied).

There followed Bach's pursuit of his goal of a "well-regulated church music to the glory of God." In the first two years, without interruption, he presented cantatas on virtually every occasion. The production of these works was an elaborate and demanding process: secure a "musical sermon" text addressing the designated Gospel readings, usually including congregational hymns (chorales), with all necessary preparation, including composition of the score and parts set with rehearsal a day prior to performance.

Coincidentally, Bach began his work on the First Sunday after the Trinity Sunday Festival, which closed the first half, or <de tempore> of the Church Year and initiated the second half of the year, <omnes tempore> or Traditional Time. This also was the beginning of the St. Thomas Church School Year, which required much of Bach's time and energies. Given his primary responsibility as a teacher, he composed with great ambition, deliberation, intention, and efficiency while facing the challenges of acceptable libretti texts, competent musicians and singers, and limited resources.

As Bach proceeded, the emerging historical performance record suggests that the beginning of each succeeding Trinity Time was a bell-weather or bench-mark for changes in cantata forms and text writers, leading to revision and reconstitution of the three extant church-service cantata cycles and eventual cessation of weekly cantata composition in favor of large-scale Passions, Mass segments, and feast-day oratorios as well as collections of church service songs and organ chorale preludes to complete his grand design.

First Cycle: Heterogeneous Forms & Expansions

Wherever possible in the first year, Bach utilized, adapted and often expanded existing compositions, meeting some one-third of his 60 service needs. Initially, Bach planned music both before and after the sermon, either two-part cantatas or two shorter cantatas. Bach - and his musicians - were able to sustain this pace only for the first seven weeks of the Trinity Time, with two exceptions. Within a period of nine days, From June 24 to July 2, Bach provided compositions for the two feast days, respectively, of John the Baptist, with Cantata BWV 167, "Ihr Menschen rühmet Gottes Liebe" (Ye men, extol God's love) and the Visitation of Mary (the mother of Jesus), with Cantata BWV 147 "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" (Heart and mouth and deed and life).

While these two feasts fell on different days during the week (except when one of the feasts fell coincidentally on a Sunday every seven years) Bach apparently omitted presenting new cantatas on the succeeding Sundays, the Fifth and Sixth after Trinity, June 27 and July 4, respectively. Meanwhile, he was able to expand and perform works composed previously in Weimar for the Third, Fourth, and Seventh Sundays After Trinity as well as Cantata BWV 147, originally composed for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, now serendipitously adapted for the Marian Festival. It can only be conjectured that Bach chose thtwo feast days for compositions instead of the two Trinity Sundays because of their festive nature and because he previously had been unable to compose feast day cantatas in Weimar, limited to new compositions every fourth Sunday between 1714 and 1716.

Cycle 1 (1723)

05/30 Trinity +1 BWV 75 Die Elenden sollen essen, daß sie satt werden
06/06 Trinity +2 BWV 76 Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes
06/13 Trinity +3 BWV 21 Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis
06/20 Trinity +4 BWV 185 185 Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe
BWV 24 Ein ungefärbt Gemüte
06/24 John Fest BWV 167 Die Menschen rühmet Gottes Liebe
06/27 Trinity +5 (no performance recorded)
07/02 Visit. Fest BWV 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben
07/04 Trinity +6 (no performance recorded)
07/11 Trinity +7 BWV 186 Agre dich, O Seele, nicht

Second Cycle: Chorale Cantatas, Others & Repeat Works

Immediately following the completion of the heterogeneous first cantata cycle on Trinity Sunday, June 4, 1724, Bach commenced a most-ambitious homogeneous second cycle of original chorale cantatas having elaborate opening choruses with succeeding arias and recitatives paraphrasing the remaining hymn stanzas. On June 11, he began with a two-part Cantata, BWV 20, "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort I" (O Eternity, thou thunder-word) with the opening chorus set as a French Overture, slow <grave> and fugue. From then on, Bach limited himself to one-part, single cantata presentations at each service and, serendipitously, the Feast of the Visitation and the Fourth Sunday after Trinity fell on the same day, July 2, and he was able to present a festive Marian setting of the German Magnificat, Cantata BWV 10, <Meine Seele erhebt den Herren> (My soul doth magnify the Lord). Still pacing himself, Bach composed no work for the Sixth Sunday After Trinity (July 16) but eventually did fill the gap with pure-verse chorale Cantata BWV 9, "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (It is the salvation to us come hither; composed in 1734-35). Bach also composed a cantata in 1732 to fill the gap in the Fourth Sunday after Trinity, with BWV 177, "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" (I cry to thee, Lord Jesus Christ), using the chorale-paraphrased text set in 1724 by the still unknown poet of these chorale cantatas.

Cycle 2 (1724)

06/11 Trinity +1 BWV 20, O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort I
06/18 Trinity +2 BWV 2 Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein
06/24 John Fest BWV 7 Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam
06/25 Trinity +3 BWV 135 Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder
07/02 Visit./Tr.+4 BWV 10, Meine Seele erhebt den Herren
[Trinity +4 BWV 177 Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, 1732]
07/09 Trinity +5 BWV 93 Wer nur den lieben Gott Läßt walten
07/16 Trinity +6 [BWV 9, Es ist dad Heil uns kommen her, 1734-35]
07/23 Trinity +7 107, War willst du dich betrüben

Bach produced 44 chorale cantatas for virtually all services in the second cycle until the 1725 closing Easter season. Then he relinquished the form, due perhaps to the lack of texts and appropriate chorales, as well as restrictions of composing in one very limiting format that often failed to address the day's Gospel. Again, Bach completed a second cycle on the Trinity Sunday Festival, May 27, 1725, with Cantata BWV 176, "Es ist ein trotzig and verzagt Ding" (It is a proud and weak thing). Without respite, Bach had presented cantatas for virtually all services for almost two years, as well as <the St. John Passion> twice on Good Fridays.

As Bach completed the 13 non-chorale cantatas for the 1725 Easter season, he sought uniform texts for future cantata cycles as he developed a strategy or plan for providing future service music. Flexibility became the standard, mixing new compositions, including the monumental St. Matthew Passion> of 1727, when he desired and was able, with works of cousin Johann Ludwig Bach and colleague Georg Philipp Telemann.

For the last half of 1725, in all likelihood Sebastian took a postman's holiday while he evolved a new, more flexible and diverse compositional strategy allowing him to return to instrumental composition and performance as well as other creative pursuits. He continued his policy of overseeing service music presentations during the beginning of the 1725 Trinity Time. He apparently repeated in abbreviated forms his first two initial two-part cantatas, BWV 75 and 76, on the first two Sundays of Trinity, then relinquished the reigns to his second in command, Georg Balthasar Schott, music director of the progressive Leipzig New Church. According to a surviving cantata libretto book, from the Third to the Sixth Sundays after Trinity and the Feast of the Visitation of Mary, between June 17 and July 8, a chorale setting, three Telemann Cantatas and a German Magnificat respectively were presented in the two main Leipzig churches, St. Thomas and St. Nikolaus.

Schott had presented Telemann service cantatas at the New Church and had an able assistant and Bach student in Christoph Gottlieb Frober. The young Frober, a Leipzig University law student, may have composed a cantata for the Feast of St. John to the Neumeister text, "Ich ruft zu dir, herr Jesu." Eventually the cantata was performed as a test piece on the Feast of Annunciation, March 25, 1729, when Frober unsuccessfully sought to replace Schott, who moved to Gotha to be assistant Kapellmeister to Gottfried Heinrich Stözel. Karl Gotthelf Gerlach was chosen for the New Church post and relinquished his directorship of the Leipzig Collegium musicum to Bach.

Pre-Cycle 3 (1725)

06/03 Trinity +1 ?BWV 75a(2) Was hilft des Purpurs Majestät
06/10 Trinity +2 ? 76a(II/9) Gott segne noch die treure Scharr
06/17 Trinity +3 Ich ruft zu dir, herr Jesu Christ (chorale) [cf. BWV 177, chorale cantata, 1732 Tr.+4]
06/24 John/Tr.+4 TVWV 1:596 Gelobet sei der Herr, der Gott Israel
07/01 Trinity +5 TVWV 1:310 Der Segen des Herrn machet reich ohne Muhe
07/02 Visit. Fest ?BWV Anh. 21 (Johann Mattheson) "Meine Seel erhebt den Heern,"
07/08 Trinity +6 TVWV 1:1600 Wer sich rachet, an dem wird sich der Herr wider rachen

For the remained of 1725 only a few Bach cantata performances have been identified: premieres of two festive works with chorus, chorale Cantata 137 (per omnes versus) on the 12th Sunday After Trinity and Cantata 79 for the Reformation Festival, October 31; and possible reperformances of Weimar Cantata BWV Anh. 209 (text only, music lost) on the Seventh Sunday After Trinity, July 15; Cantata 168 on the Ninth Sunday After Trinity, July 29; Cantata 164 on the 13th Sunday After Trinity, August 26; possible repeat of Leipzig Cycle 1 Cantata 148, 17th Sunday After Trinity, September 23, that is another festive work based on a Picander poem that might have done double duty for the important Feast of St. Michael, six days later on September 29, during the Leipzig Fall Fair. In addition Bach presented the now -lost, festive Town Council Cantata BWV Anh. 4, Wünschet Jerusalem Glück," on August 27, according to a recently-found cantata text booklet

Third Cycle: Mixed Cycles with Others' Works

The late and noted Bach authority, Alfred Dürr, considered Bach third Leipzig cantata cycle to be "a <mixtum compositum> of two cycles (or even three if we take account of the [non-chorale] cantatas borrowed from Cycle II)" (<Cantatas of JSB: 36). The record of Bach performances suggests that Bach officially began his third cycle on the First Sunday in Advent, December 2, 1725, possibly with an early version of the cantata parody, "Schwingt freudig euch empor": (Swing yourself joyfully upward) BWV 36c, initially composed to a Picander text the previous April 5 for the birthday of a Leipzig University student.

The heterogeneous and incomplete third cycle involves almost entirely older cantata texts: the bulk - 25 -- constituting a church year cycle of libretti originating in Rudolstadt in 1704 and republished in 1726, attributed to Duke Ernst Ludwig of Saxe Meiningen or Thuringian poet and theologian Christoph Helm. Eighteen service texts for Epiphany-Purification, Easter and Trinity seasons are found in mostly two-part cantatas of Johann Ludwig Bach (JLB 1-17, and JLB 21), with Bach setting seven texts for cantatas for Ascension Day and theremainder for Trinity Time: BWV 43, 39, 88, 187, 45, 102, and 17.

Bach presented 26 of his own cantatas from various other sources. Eleven of these cantatas were possibly settings of hybrid older text sources assembled by Picander for BWV 146, 19 (St. Michael=Trinity +15), 27, 169, 56, 49, 98, 55, 52, 82, 158, with eight (BWV 19-82) for the later Trinity Time, possibly compiled for two church-service libretto books.

Eight services in 1726 for which no music has been found but possible texts exist include Lehms for the Feast of Epiphany and Rudolstadt texts for the of the Annunciation of Mary, Easter +5 and +6 and the early Trinity Times below: Trinity +2, +3, +4, as well as Trinity +9, and Reformation Day. No music has ever been found.

Cycle 3 (1726), During early Trinity Time, Bach established a compositional pattern for the third cycle in which he apparently alternated compositions of Johann Ludwig Bach (JLB) with his own use of the same Rudolstadt texts for original, mostly two-part compositions. Two of the five presumed Bach BWV works are not extant (and may never have been composed) and one JLB (07/14|Tr.+4) has not been found.

Date|Service BWV JLB Text incipit (Rudolstadt)
06/23|Tr.+1 39 Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot
06/24|John 17 Siehe, ich will mienen Engel senden
06/30|Tr.+2 (?) Und der Herr Zabaoth wird allen Völkern
07/02|Mary 13 Der Herr wird ein Neues im Lande erschaffen
07/07]Tr.+3 (?) Wo such aber der Gottlose behekret
07/14|Tr.+4 (?) Ich tue Barherzigkeit an vielen Tausenden
07/21|Tr.+5 88 Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussernden
07/28|Tr.+6 7 Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben
(double-bill) 170 Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust

The June 30, 1726 performance of a cantata for the Second Sunday after Trinity is not documented. It is possible that the appropriate, extant Rudolstadt 1726 text, “Und der Herr Zebaoth wird allen Völkern,” was set by Bach, as he had done for Cantata BWV 39 for the previous First Sunday after Trinity, or that he utilized a Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata, as he had done with JLB-17, for the Feast of John the Baptist, on Monday, June 24, as well as on the following Tuesday, July 2 for the Feast of the Annunciation, with JLB-13. No J. L. Bach cantata for the Second Sunday after Trinity is extant. It is quite possible that Bach composed no setting, given his experience in the initial Cantata Cycle of 1723 of performing no cantatas on the Sundays After Trinity following the Feasts of John the Baptist and the Annunciation – a gap in the otherwise full cycle that he never filled.

Cycle 4 (1728 and 1729, Picander texts only)

06/24/28 John Fest P46 Gelobet sei der Herr, der Gott Israel
06/25/28 Trinity +5 P47, In allen meinen Taten
07/02/28 Visit. Fest P48, Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn
07/04/28 Trinity +6 P49, Gott, gib mir ein versöhnlich
06/19/29 Trinity +1 P42 Welt, der Purpur stinkt mich an
06/26/29 John/Tr. +2 P42 Kommt, eilet, ihr Gaste
07/02/29 Visitation (see P48, 7/2/28)
07/03/29 Trinity +3 P44 Wohin, mein Herz?
07/10/29 Trinity +45 P45 Lass sie spotten, lass sie lachen

Trinity 2 Chorales9

MOTETS AND CHORALES FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY (Douglas Cowling), NOTES for TRINITY 2: * Anyone have biographical details for M. Mart Roth? Or a source for the text (not in Vulgate); * The general hymns include "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" and "Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme," both of which Bach used for famous cantatas on other Sundays. It would appear that Bach's free use of chorale tunes mirrors the rather general groupings of his hymn book.

Sources: * BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682)", Berlin: Merseburger, 1969. ML 3168 G75. Numbers listed below for inidividual chorales, primarily in the 600s and 800s are pages nubers not the hymn numbers, which are much lower.

* BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION: Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense"; Schünigen: Kaminsky,1927 ML 410 B67R4.

1) MOTETS for Introit, Before Sermon at mass and vespers for Choir II, and During Communion: i) "in Domino Gaudet" (8 voices) - M. Mart Roth (?); ii) "Venite ad me" (8 voices) - Vincentius Bertholusius (1550-1608); Text: Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Sample: "Ego Flos Campi" - V. Bertholusius
[The Introit Psalm 72 (Deus judicam, Give the king thy judgments, O God; Psalm for Solomon), speaks of the prophecy of Christ and his kingdom), says Martin Petzoldt in his Bach Kommantar, Vol. 1, Trinity Time.10 The full text of Psalm 72 (KJV) is found at]
2) HYMN OF DAY (de tempore), "Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ"
3) CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns: "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern,"; "Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein [used in BWV 2 also for Trinity 2],,; "Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme"; and "Es spricht den Unwissened Mund wohl"

Trinity 2 Chorales

Hymns for the Second Sunday After Trinity reveal several similarities to those of the First Sunday After Trinity. They reflect the Epistle themes of the Love of God and God’s Love through Grace, and the themes of the Gospel Reading Lukan parables of Dives (the Rich man) and Lazarus (the blind beggar) in Chapter 16:19-31, that he who claims to love God will love his brother, and the Parable of the Great Supper (Chapter 14:16-24) where the downtrodden are invited to come as the guests at the feast in place of those well-off who have refused the invitation.

Specifically, several of the chorales are repeats of the previous Sunday, as Hymns of the Day and Communion Hymns, especially the Trinity Time ubiquitous “Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesus Christ.” At the same time, other popular hymns are introduced, particularly Philip Niccolai’s versatile “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” and "Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme," as well as Martin Luther’s “Es wolle uns Gott genädig sein.”

Chorales are interchangeable, as hymns used in both Sundays after Trinity: for example, “Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein,” a Communion Hymn for the previous Sunday becomes the featured hymn for Bach’s Chorale Cantata BWV 2 on the Second Sunday after Trinity, and "Es spricht den Unwissened Mund wohl," the Hymn of the Day in the First Sunday after Trinity, is the Communion Hymn for the Second, Ninth and 20th Sundays after Trinity.

HYMN OF DAY (de tempore)

"Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ" (I call to you, Lord Jesus Christ) in the <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB Page No. 627) is one of the most ubiquitous Trinity Time chorales. It is assigned as the Hymn of the Day for the Second, 19th and 21st Sundays after Trinity and as a communion hymn on the Sundays after Trinity +5, +6, +8, and +22. Bach chose “Ich ruft zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” as the subject of Chorale Cantata BWV 177 (BCW Discussion June 26), for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity, presented in 1732, to fill that service gap in Cycle 2. Bach also uses the first stanza as the closing chorale with violin obbligato (No. 6) in Cantata BWV 185, “Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe” (Merciful heart of love everlasting [by Richard Stokes]), premiered in Weimar in 1715 and possibly repeated in 1716, in Leipzig in 1723 and 1746-47. During the pre-Cantata Cycle 3 Trinity Time of 1725, a libretto book shows that for the Third Sunday after Trinity, June 17, the entire chorale is printed as a pure-hymn cantata but is not related to Cantata BWV 177. It is also listed as thNLGB Hymn of the Day for the Third Sunday After Epiphany <omne tempore>ordinary time, as well as for Septuagesimae and Sexagesimae Sundays before Lent. The melody of Johann Agricola’s 1529 five-verse hymn appears as a chorale prelude in the Orgelbüchelin (No. 91), BWV 639, in the fifth <omne tempore> listing of 26 after the Catechism, under the heading “Christian Life and Conduct.” Its variant setting is BWV Anh.II 73.

CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns:

"Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (How lovely shines the morning star), Philip Niccolai’s versatile, popular 1597 hymn (7 stanzas), is a general hymn found in the 1682 Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB), Page No. 814, as the Hymn of the Day for the 20th Sunday after Trinity (BWV 49/6) as well as a hymn for the 27th Sunday after Trinity. Other Bach uses are: Cantatas BWV 1/1,6 (chorale cantata, Annunciation), BWV 36/4 (First Sunday in Advent), BWV 37/3 (Ascension), BWV 61/6 (First Sunday in Advent), BWV 172/6 (Pentecost Sunday), BWV Anh 199/3 (Annunciation, lost), possibly surviving as free-standing Chorale BWV 436 in E major; and the miscellaneous Organ-chorale BWV 739. It is listed but not set in the Orgelbüchlein chorale prelude collection <omne tempore> section as No. 129, “The Word of God in the Christian Church,” the first of seven unset chorales for such use.

"Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein ((Ah God, look down from heaven), in the (NLGB) Page No. 660, also Pulpit & Communion Hymn, Trinity +1). Martin Luther 1524 six-stanza setting of Psalm 12, “A Prayer for Help,” is the hymn for the Chorale Cantata BWV 2, for the Second Sunday after Trinity, 1724. The chorale melody is found in the opening fantasia, tenor recitative, alto trio aria, and closing four-part chorale. Chorale text: BCW

"Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme," Philipp Niccolai’s 3-stanza 1599 hymn, is found in the Schein Cantional Hymnbook for the First Sunday After Trinity and in the NLGB Page No. 819, for the 27th Sunday After Trinity, which Bach observes with his 1731 Chorale Cantata No. 140, using the three verses as the opening chorale fantasia the middle (No. 4) tenor trio aria, and the closing (No. 7), his only settings of another popular Niccolai hymn. The remaining commentary texts possibly are by Picander. Text found in BCW , Text.

"Es spricht den Unwissened Mund wohl" (The mouth of fools doth God confess) (NLGB Page No. 662, also Hymn of the Day, Tr. +1). German and English text of all six stanzas are found at

Later, Part II of No. 76 was afterwards used for a Reformation Festival: “Gott segne noch die treure Scharr” (May God bless his faithful flock)

OTHER CHORALES used in Bach Cantatas for the Second Sunday After Trinity

“Es wolle uns Gott genädig sein” (May it be God's will to be gracious to us) is Luther’s three-stanza 1523 version of Psalm 67, “Song of Thanksgiving” (NLGB Page No. 680). Original melody, Mathias Greitter 1524 (cf. Trinity +4, O Herre Gott begnade mich, NLGB 676). Psalm 67 also is listed in the NLGB as a communion hymn and for weddings. Bach’s uses of the chorale are:

1. Cantata 76/7 (S. 1), plain chorale closing Part 1;
2. Cantata 76/14 (S.3), “Es danke, Gott, und lobe dich” (May thanks, God, and praise be given to you), plain chorale closing Part 2.
3. Stanza 3 also is found in Cantata 69/6 plain chorale in D Major, as the new ending for the 1748 Town Council inauguration, parody of Cantata 69a, “Lobe den Herren, meine Seele” (Praise the Lord, my soul) originally for Trinity +12, 1723. The festive setting with three trumpets and timpani could be from Cantata 190a/7, Augsburg Confession 1730. BCW description: <Mvt. 7 (S. 3) is taken from the chorale by Martin Luther “Es wolle Gott uns gnädig sein” (1523) based on Psalm 67>;
4. There are two free-standing, four-part chorales: BWV 311 in F# Major and its variant, BWV 312 in E Major, probably dating from 1730 onwards and likely used as a communion hymn or a hymn closing the main service or in a vesper service on an early Sunday after Trinity.

*German-only translation of all three stanzas found at:, Chorale Text.


1 Chafe, “Bach’s First Two Leipzig Cantatas: A Message for the Community” in A Bach Tribute: Essays in Honor of William Scheide, ed. Paul Brainard & Ray Robinson (Kassel and Chapel Hill NC: Bärenreiter and Hinshaw Music, 1993: 71-86).
2 Cantata 75 BCW Details and Discography,, and Cantata 76, BCW Details and Discography,
3 For another English translation of Francis Browne; see BCW
4 Braatz wrote (July 11, 2005), BCML, Cantata 76 Discussions Part 2,
5 Mincham, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
6 Gardiner’s notes,[sdg165_gb].pdf; BCW Recording notes,
7 Tadashi Isoyama liner notes,[BIS-CD931].pdf, BCW Recording details,
8 Cantata 76 Discussions Part 3, BCML, scroll down to William Hoffman wrote (May 18, 2011).
9 Most of the material is found in BCW, “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 1st Sunday after Trinity,”
10 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).

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 26, 2015):
Cantata BWV 76 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of Cantata BWV 76 “Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes” for the 2nd Sunday after Trinity on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part chorus; and orchestra of trumpet, 2 oboes, oboe d'amore, bassoon, strings & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (16):
Recordings of Individual Movements (13):
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 is the most comprehensive discography of this cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 76 missing from thesepages, 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 76: 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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