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Cantata BWV 77
Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, Lieben
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of August 30, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (September 1, 2015):
Cantata BWV 77: 'Du sollt Gott' Intro. & Trinity 13 Cantatas, Chorales & Lessons

Bach’s chorus Cantata BWV 77, “Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben” (You must love God, your Lord, Luke 10:27), is a deceptive, dualistic work. At first glance, it seems to be a simple, appealing, traditional cantata: concise, lasting 15 minutes, with six movements in mirror Cycle 1 “A” form (chorus, two recitatives alternative with two arias), basic orchestration (2 oboes, solo trumpet [tromba da tirarsi] and strings), with the simple theme of the “Great Commandment” of law and love, based on the day’s Gospel, Luke 10: 23-37, Parable of the Good Samaritan.1 Yet, musically, it’s calculating and intentional compositional technique is highly complex yet satisfying, especially in the monumental, unique opening chorale fantasia, its tonal progression yields allegorical and symbolic motives and associations, and the text, based on a Johann Oswald Knauer (1690-?) 1720 two-part libretto for the same Sunday, shows Bach and his unknown librettist creating a special musical sermon freighted with symbolism, both musically and textually.

Based on a with a simple, positive Gospel reading, Cantata 77 was premiered on August 22, 1723 at the early main service of the Nikolai Church where Leipzig Superintendent Salomon Deyling preached the sermon on the Gospel, which is list, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary I, Trinity Sundays. 2 The title and subject of Bach’s first cantata (BWV 77) for this Sunday in 1723 is the “Great Commandment,” <Du sollst Gott, deinen Herren, lieben vom ganzen Herzen (Thou shalt, God, thy Lord, love from the whole heart), as the Lutheran Church year cycle enters its mid-point in the half-year Trinity Time. The first half of the Cantata 77 text deals with the law, the second, the theme of love.

Bach utilized two early Lutheran chorales as book ends. The opening chorus fantasia in mixolydian mode quotes in the solo trumpet the canto of Martin Luther’s fundamental Catechism teaching hymn of 1524, “Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot” (These are the sacred Ten Commandments), while the chorus itself gives Jesus’ summary of the Law, quoting the day’s Gospel, Luke 10:27, as found originally in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Bach uses another fundamental Luther hymn as the closing chorale, “Ach Gott, vom Himmel siehe darein” (Ah, God, look down from Heaven) is Bach’s harmonization of the 1410 anonymous melody that Luther used in 1524 in six verses to the text setting of Psalm 12 (Plea for help in evil times).

Bach’s original surviving score contains only the melody with no text. Various scholars have accepted four appropriate texts of text writer David Denicke (1603-1680; BCW Short Biography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Denicke.htm), who set the Bar form melody to various texts (see below):

The Cantata 77 German text and Francis Browne’s English translation are found at BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV77-Eng3.htm. The chorales are discussed below in ‘Chorales and Sacred Meanings’ and the four Denicke texts are found below, ‘Closing Chorale: Various Denicke Texts.’

Cantata 77 Internal Movements

The internal recitative aria movements are: 2) A short [10-bar] secco recitative for bass, "So muß es sein! " (So it must be! ), summarizes the ideas [in the chorus]; 3) An aria for soprano, "Mein Gott, ich liebe dich von Herzen" (My God, I love You from my heart), is accompanied by two obbligato oboes which frequently play in tender third parallels; 4) the second recitative for tenor, "Gib mir dabei, mein Gott! ein Samariterherz" (Give me as well, my God! a Samaritan heart), is a prayer to grant a heart like the Samaritan's. It is intensified by the strings. 5) The last aria for alto with an obbligato trumpet, "Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe " (Ah, in my love there is still), takes the form of a sarabande. Bach conveys the "Unvollkommenheit" (imperfection) of human attempt to live by the law of love, by choosing the trumpet and composing for it "awkward intervals" and "wildly unstable notes" which would sound imperfect on the period's valveless instruments (says Gardiner, Ibid). In contrast, Bach wrote in the middle section a long trumpet solo of "ineffable beauty", as a "glorious glimpse of God's realm”(Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Du_sollt_Gott,_deinen_Herren,_lieben,_BWV_77.

Cantata 77: Movements details

Details of the opening chorus as well as the succeeding four movements are discussed in Ludwig Finscher’s 1976-77 liner notes to the Teldec Gustav Leonhardt recording of Cantata 77,3 posted by Aryeh Oron (September 17, 2000), “Background” (BCML Cantata 77 Discussions, Part 1, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77-D.htm. << Diametrically opposed to cantata BWV 76 (which has already been discussed in this group, A.O.), it is one of the shortest and most modest of Bach's cantatas. At the same time, however, because of its opening chorus it is one of the extreme examples of the profound, theologically symbolic compositional manner, which so thoroughly sets Bach apart from all his composing contemporaries. The quotation from the Gospel according to St. Luke, which forms the text of the choir, is compositionally set in accordance with a parallel passage found in Matthew 22: 34-40, where the love of God and of one's neighbours is described as the foundation 'of all the law.' For this reason the motet-like imitative chorale movement is encompassed by a cannon (being the law) of the outer voices, trumpet and bass (being the all-encompassing law) above the chorale 'Dies sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot' (all the Ten Commandments are included in the command to love). In this connection, the bass performs the melody in enlarged note values (the fundamental law) and the trumpet has ten entries (the Ten Commandments) and at the end once more renders the entire chorale, so that it appears to be omnipresent. Finally the motif of the singing voices hints at the chorale, clearly at least in the first motif (retrograde inversion of the first chorale line). Perhaps the most wonderful feature of the movement, however, is that the construction and the symbolism have superimposed upon them a powerful solemn repetitive figure, which culminates in subsequent rendering of the entire chorale melody in the trumpet above the tonic pedal point, while the singing parts intone the second half of the text - 'und deinen Nächsten als dich selbst' (and love by thy neighbour as thyself).

Inevitably, compared with this mighty piece of music-theological text exegesis, the other movements of the cantata fade somewhat in comparison; the unusual simplicity of the two arias and their individual tone - as it were the answer of the individual Christian to choir's promulgation of the law - show that this contrast was fully intended. The soprano aria announces the proximity of the loving Christian to God, emotionally in the gentle melody characterized by suspensions, symbolically in the parallel voice-leading of the oboes. The alto aria is, despite its da capo form, less an aria than an intimate sacred song with simultaneously emotion-laden and almost gallant-measure in the line-by-line melody. In marked contrast to this, as well as to the muted tenor of the text, is the use of the trumpet as the solo instrument. The concluding chorus, a relatively simple cantata movement, has come down to us without text. Judging from the contents of the cantata and the line and verse scheme given for the chorale melody ('Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein' - O God look down from Heaven above), it most likely relates to 'Herr, durch den Glauben wohn in mir' (Lord, through faith, abide in me) David Denicke's hymn 'O Gottes Sohn, Herr Jesu Christ' (O Son of God, Lord Jesus Christ).">>

Comments Oron: “I have to say that I have strong reservation against the above statement, ‘the other movements of the cantata fade somewhat in comparison.’ On the contrary, I believe that Bach found the libretto inspiring, because all the numbers in this cantata are beautiful, even the recitatives, and not only the opening chorus.

Knauer Original Text

For the second time in two weeks Bach found the published Knauer text that he had used first for Cantata 69a, “Lobet den Heren, meine Seele” (Praise the Lord, my Soul), for the 12th Sunday after Trinity. “The text is from a yearly cycle of cantata texts published in Gotha with the title Gott-geheiligtes Singen und Spielen des Friedensteinschen Zions.Nach allen un jeden Sonn- und Fest –Tags –Evangelien, vor und nach der Predigt angegestellet/Vom Advent 1720 .bis dahin 1721,” says Francis Brown’s “Notes on the text” in the previous BCW Discussion, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV69-D4.htm” “The author was probably Johann Oswald Knauer and the cycle seems to have been written for Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Kapellmeister in Gotha and brother in law of Knauer. The texts were popular and fairly widely used. Johann Friedrich Fasch, who was one of Bach's rivals for the post at Leipzig and from 1722 was the Kapellmeister at Zerbst, set the complete cycle of texts and Stölzel probably did the same. Bach also used this source in BWV 64 and BWV 77.”

Bach also presented a Stölzel cantata cycle, "Saitenspiel" (String-Playing) Jahrgang in 1735-36 in Leipzig in lieu of his own music and further Bach possible presentations are found below at” Further Trinity 13 Performances.”

Bach fashioned a work where the original text was revised to drove and motivated the music, says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 356), who presents both the original Knauer text and the Cantata 77 text side by side (Ibid.: 352-57). Bach took the original Knauer text, which in form has two-parts with traditional form of chorus-aria-recitative-aria-chorale, which he eliminated entirely, and a second part of chorus-biblical dictum-aria-recitatve-aria and chorus which he shortened, eliminating dictum and first aria to frame a traditional format while altering the text to fit his “underlying purpose [that] seems to have been to connect the dualism of love of God and brotherly love with a vision of eternity as man’s eschatological goal,” says John Eliott Gardiner in his 2007 liner notes to his Bach Cantata 2000 Pilgrimage Soli Deo Gloria Recordings,4 with his Introduction, “Cantatas for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity” (below), “Overview: Trinity 13 & Bach’s Response.”

Gardiner calls Cantata 77 “the climax of what seems to be a series within a cycle (Ibid.: 10). This series of seven “A” form cantatas, from early-middle Trinity Time, 8 to 14, possibly with the same unknown librettist, focuses on compositional techniques in the opening chorus, special use of instruments such as the high trumpet (tromba da tirarsi); and chorales in the early part of the Trinity Time emphasizing Luther’s catechism teachings and psalm and communion hymns.

4 Gardiner notes, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Gardiner-P06c[sdg134_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec2.htm#P6.

Trinity 13 Readings

Readings for the 13th Sunday after Trinity are: Epistle: Galatians 3:15-22 (The promises made to Abraham) and the Gospel: Luke 10: 23-37, (Parable of the Good Samaritan). The full German and English texts are found at BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity13.htm (The German text is that of Luther’s translation published in 1545, the English is the Authorised (King James) Version 1611). The Introit Psalm is Psalm 70, Deus in Adjutorium (Make haste, O God), says Petzoldt in BACH Commentary (Ibid: 349). The Text is at http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Psalms-Chapter-70/.

Psalm 70 also is an alternate Introit Psalm for the12th Sunday after Trinity as Bach had the opportunity to use a polyphonic motet setting of Psalm 70, perhaps the Orlando Lassus (1532-94) version (6 voices, live streaming sample; (organ arrangement of motet) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Deus-adjutorium-Lasso/dp/B001LA878U; Lassus: "Lauda Anima Mea" [from same collection as "Deus in Adjutorium" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTiUfaKjmyQ (Source Douglas Cowling, BCW “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 13th Sunday after Trinity, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity13.htm).

Trinity 13

Several milestones are found in the cantatas Bach presented for the 13th Sunday after Trinity in Leipzig. They involve the first cantata (BWV 77) of 1723 with Bach’s initial use of a chorale trope or insertion, found in the opening biblical dictum chorus; a straight-forward chorale cantata (BWV 33) in 1724, set to a relevant and popular hymn in the second cycle; an intimate, austere solo cantata (BWV 164) in 1725, set to an older Pietistic text emblematic of Bach’s extended yet incomplete third cycle; and the last use of one of the 18 substitute cantatas (JLB-16), composed by cousin Johann Ludwig Bach, with non-Orthodox Lutheran theological overtones, and performed in 1726.

In the readings for the Sundays in Trinity Time, the 13th Sunday after Trinity is the beginning of the third mini-cycle, “Works of Faith and Love.” Extending through the Feast of St. Michael and all Angels on September 29, these readings from the New Testament Gospel and the Epistle Letters of Paul are teachings practical in character and application.

Textually, these cantatas and their congregational hymns are as significant as their musical character. While all four works embrace fundamental Christian concepts, they show Bach increasingly using poetic madrigalian, plain-verse and hymn texts of a more didactic yet synchronistic, all-embracing spiritual character. They reflect the teachings as found in the Trinity Time omnes tempore half of the Church Year as well as the sentiments of Pietism and the theme/practice of Christ’s Great Commandment and the Law, and, finally, the Christian principles of discipleship and service. Thus among the challenges Bach faced in securing effective libretto texts to set to music was not only their inherent literary quality and adaptability to musical setting but also their theological emphases and sentiments.

Chorales and Sacred Meanings

Cantata 77 uses chorales in the opening chorus and closing four-part hymn setting:

Dies sind die heil’gen Zehn Gebot (These are the sacred Ten Commandments) is Martin Luther’s 12-stanza text using the melody of the German c.1200 folk hymn, “In gottes namen faren wir" (In God's name we are traveling). It is found in <Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> of 1684 (NLGB) No. 170 (p. 490), under Catechism hymns as well as the <omnes tempore> Pulpit and Communion Hymns for the First Sunday after Epiphany and the Sundays after Trinity Sunday 4, 6, 13, and 18.

For details and translation, see BCW, Motets and Chorales for the 4th Sunday After Trinity, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity4.htm, with the full text in English and German of the meaning of each commandment as well as an introduction and conclusion. The hymn has a four-line structure, AABB rhyme scheme, with closing litany <Ky-ri-e-leis’> (Have mercy Lord,); metrical index, 8. 8. 8. 7. 4. Syllables. <The Lutheran Hymnal, Missouri Synod, St. Louis: Concordia, 1941: No. 287, lists Luther’s Catechism hymn as “That man a goodly life may ,” under the heading, “Law and Gospel.”

The genesis of Luther’s teaching chorale is found in Robin Leaver’s Luther’s Liturgical Music.5 (Lutheran Quarterly Books; Grand Rapids MI: Eerdman’s, 2007: 116-121). It exists on-line at: https://books.google.com/books/about/Luther_s_Liturgical_Music.html?id=dD3A8cxPfJoC, scroll down and click on: Dies sind die heiligen Zehn Gebot 116. It also has Luther’s five-stanza shortened chorale version, “Mensch, wiltu leben seliglich” (Wilt thou, O man, live happily), NLGB 171, which Bach did not set.

Bach's other uses of Luther’s full Ten Commandment hymn, Dies sind die heil’gen Zehn Gebot besides the trumpet melody in Cantata BWV 77, are – all in G Major -- the plain Catechism chorale, BWV 298 in G Major, and, most notably, the three organ chorale preludes settings in the < Orgelbüchelin> first Catechism chorale (No. 61), BWV 635, in a striking melodic and repetitive style, and the two <Clavierübung> (Keyboard Exercise) Catechism chorales, BWV 678, the canon setting, and BWV 679, the fugue setting.

Ach Gott, vom Himmel siehe darein is found in the NLGB as No. 249, and is one of the Psalm chorales under the heading “Christian Life and Conduct/Change.” In the NLGB, this <omnes tempore> chorale is sung at the Sundays after Trinity 1, 2, 8, and 20. Bach used the entire hymn in his Chorale Cantata BWV 2 in G Minor for the Second Sunday after Trinity in 1724.

The fascinating history of the melody, “Ach Gott, vom Himmel siehe darein,” used by Luther’s “unity” reformers circle beginning in 1523, is found in BCW, “Chorale Melodies Used in Bach’s Vocal Works,”
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Ach-Gott-vom-Himmel.htm.

Closing Chorale: Various Denicke Texts

Bach’s plain chorale closing Cantata 77 has no text in the manuscript. Carl Friedrich Zelter at the Berlin Singacademy, Bach’s first vocal music advocate, chose (BGA XVIII) the Justus Gesenius/David Denicke 1657 (Hannover Gesangbuch of devotion), “Wenn einer alle Ding verstünd” (Whence one understands all things), using the closing Stanza 8, “Du sellst, mein Jesu, selber dich” (You place, my Jesus, yourself the model). Werner Neumann (Handbuch der Kantaten JSB, NBA KB I-21) suggests Denicke’s 1657, 10-stanza "O Gottes Sohn, Herr Jesus Christ" (O God’s Son, Lord Jesus Christ), using Stanza 8, “Herr durch den Glauben wohn in mir” (Lord, through faith, dwell in me). Neither Denecke chorale is found in Das neu Leipziger Gesangbuch.6 The full German texts of both chorales are provided by Francis Browne and found at Cantata 77, BCML Discussions Part 3 (January 1, 2012), http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77-D3.htm.

Another Denicke closing chorale is proposed by Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary (Ibid.: 357). He suggests David Denicke’s 1637 “Herr, deine Recht und dein Gebot, (Lord, thy Law and Commandment),” the 11th Stanza, “Ach Herr, ich wolte ja dein Recht,” Math. 3:15). The 12-stanza “Law Song (Gesetz-Lied) Dekalog (Ten Commandments) paraphrase, Exodus 2:1-8 (First two commandments). David Denicke (1603-1680), hymn writer, borrowed various melodies (see BCW Short Biography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Denicke.htm.

The closing Stanza 10 of "O Gottes Sohn, Herr Jesus Christ," “Herr Jesu, der du angerzünt, / das Fünklein in mir schwachen” (Lord Jesus, thou hast lit within me the divine in my frailty is found in Ton Koopman’ Erato, liner notes to the complete cantata edition, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Koopman-C08-1c[Erato-3CD].pdf; BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Koopman.htm#C8

Among the other recordings, “Herr, durch den glauben” (NBA) is the preferred text, found in Rilling and Harnoncourt. Petxoldt’s choice, “Ach Herr, ich wolte ja dein Recht,” is found in Gardiner.

Cantata 77: Movement Details

Details of the opening chorus as well as the succeeding four movements are discussed in Ludwig Finscher’s 1976-77 liner notes to the Teldec Gustav Leonhardt recording of Cantata 77,7 posted by Aryeh Oron (September 17, 2000), “Background” (BCML Cantata 77 Discussions, Part 1, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77-D.htm. << Diametrically opposed to cantata BWV 76 (which has already been discussed in this group, A.O.), it is one of the shortest and most modest of Bach's cantatas. At the same time, however, because of its opening chorus it is one of the extreme examples of the profound, theologically symbolic compositional manner, which so thoroughly sets Bach apart from all his composing contemporaries. The quotation from the Gospel according to St. Luke, which forms the text of the choir, is compositionally set in accordance with a parallel passage found in Matthew 22: 34-40, where the love of God and of one's neighbours is described as the foundation 'of all the law.' For this reason the motet-like imitative chorale movement is encompassed by a cannon (being the law) of the outer voices, trumpet and bass (being the all-encompassing law) above the chorale 'Dies sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot' (all the Ten Commandments are included in the command to love). In this connection, the bass performs the melody in enlarged note values (the fundamental law) and the trumpet has ten entries (the Ten Commandments) and at the end once more renders the entire chorale, so that it appears to be omnipresent. Finally the motif of the singing voices hints at the chorale, clearly at least in the first motif (retrograde inversion of the first chorale line). Perhaps the most wonderful feature of the movement, however, is that the construction and the symbolism have superimposed upon them a powerful solemn repetitive figure, which culminates in subsequent rendering of the entire chorale melody in the trumpet above the tonic pedal point, while the singing parts intone the second half of the text - 'und deinen Nächsten als dich selbst' (and love by thy neighbour as thyself).

Inevitably, compared with this mighty piece of music-theological text exegesis, the other movements of the cantata fade somewhat in comparison; the unusual simplicity of the two arias and their individual tone - as it were the answer of the individual Christian to choir's promulgation of the law - show that this contrast was fully intended. The soprano aria announces the proximity of the loving Christian to God, emotionally in the gentle melody characterized by suspensions, symbolically in the parallel voice-leading of the oboes. The alto aria is, despite its da capo form, less an aria than an intimate sacred song with simultaneously emotion-laden and almost gallant-measure in the line-by-line melody. In marked contrast to this, as well as to the muted tenor of the text, is the use of the trumpet as the solo instrument. The concluding chorus, a relatively simple cantata movement, has come down to us without text. Judging from the contents of the cantata and the line and verse scheme given for the chorale melody ('Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein' - O God look down from Heaven above), it most likely relates to 'Herr, durch den Glauben wohn in mir' (Lord, through faith, abide in me) from David Denicke's hymn 'O Gottes Sohn, Herr Jesu Christ' (O Son of God, Lord Jesus Christ).">>

Comments Oron: “I have to say that I have strong reservation against the above statement, ‘the other movements of the cantata fade somewhat in comparison.’ On the contrary, I believe that Bach found the libretto inspiring, because all the numbers in this cantata are beautiful, even the recitatives, and not only the opening chorus.

Overview: Trinity 13& Bach’s Response

Here is an overview of the meaning of the 13th Sunday after Trinity and Bach’s creative response from John Eliot Gardiner,’s BCantata Pilgrimage 2000 (Ibid.), <<Cantatas for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity”; Dreikönigskirche, Frankfurt. “Sure enough, after the breezy pleasures of last week’s celebratory pieces – a brief reprieve – came the cold shower of our man’s resumption of the earnest process of musical exegesis. Bach saw the exposition of scripture-al exegesis as the main meditative goal of his church music, in particular the need to forge audible links in the listener’s mind between the ‘historical’ (‘what [is] written in the book of the law’) and spiritual attributes of the texts to be set. Here, on the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, he is faced with a Gospel (Luke 10:23-37) centered on the parable of the Good Samaritan which stresses man’s slipperiness in evading his responsibilities to his neighbour, and an Epistle (Galatians 3:15-22) in which Paul probes the distinction between faith and the law. This was adopted by Luther in his twelve-verse hymn paraphrasing the Ten Commandments, ‘Dies sind die heil’gen zehn Gebot’, insisting that their purpose, and the first step in the believer’s understanding of them, was the ‘recognition of sin’ and ‘how one should rightly live before God’, a theme that had preoccupied Bach from the outset of his first Leipzig cycle.

<<Although it was a deliberate choice during this year to group the cantatas by feast day, slicing through the years of their composition so as to compare Bach’s differing responses to the same text, yet with each previous week’s offerings still ringing in our ears we were always conscious of the connective tissue that binds cantatas week to week within a given annual cycle. Bach announced himself to his twin congregations in Leipzig with two monumental, fourteen-movement cantatas (BWV 75 and 76) in which he set out his compositional stall. His underlying purpose seems to have been to connect the dualism of love of God and brotherly love with a vision of eternity as man’s eschatological goal. All the signs are there that he intended to stretch these thematic links over at least the first four weeks of the Trinity season, first in BWV 75 and 76, and then by reviving two Weimar-composed works, BWV 21 and 185. Now, for the past six weeks, from the Eighth to the Thirteenth Sundays after Trinity, we have been encountering a sequence of works, all newly composed in Leipzig to theologically interrelated texts, based on the principle of reinterpreting an Old Testament dictum in terms of the New Testament Gospel of the day, and then applying it to the contemporary worshipper. All this was in a poetic style suggesting that the texts may have been the work of a single librettist.>>

The libretto is considered “wholly original, connected, and well-reasoned” says W. Gilles Whittaker in The Cantatas of JSB.8 The attendant three Luther chorale preludes in G Major/Mixolydian reinforce the Cantata 77 basic theme of Discipleship through the “Coming-to-Life of the New Self,” says Calvin R. Stepert in My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance and Discipleship in the Music of Bach.9

Further Trinity 13 Performance

While there is no documentation that Bach reperformed any of the cantatas for the 13th Sunday after Trinity (BWV 77, 33, 164 or JLB 16), there is evidence that Bach may have composed a chorale setting (BWV 399) for that Sunday in 1728, presented a Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel cantata on that date in 1735, and that Chorale Cantata BWV 33 was, after Bach’s death, presented in Leipzig in 1755.

Chorale, BWV 399. Picander’s cantata cycle published text (1728) for the 13th Sunday After Trinity, August 22, 1728, Cantata P-56; “Können meine nassen Wangen,” closes with chorale,< Herr/O Jesu Christ, meines Lebens Leben> (Lord/O Jesus Christ, my Life’s Life), using Stanza 11, “Auf deinen Abschied, Herr, ich trau'” (In your farewell, Lord, I place my trust). Bach’s setting of Stanza 1 of Martin Behm’s 1610 14-stanza text set to Seth Calvisius’ 1594 adaptation of the melody <Rex Christe factor omnium> is found in his funeral motet, BWV 118, as well as various cantata settings of alternate texts and melodies (see BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Herr-Jesu-Christ-meins-Lebens-Licht.htm). Bach also harmonized Behm’s melody in his chorale, BWV 399 in B Major, also known as “O Jesu, du, mein Bräutigam” (O Jesu, thou, my bridegroom), associated with Johann Heerman’s 1630 hymn of 12 four-line stanzas by C.P.E. Bach in his 1786 publication of his father’s 371 plain chorales. The Behm-Calvisius hymn setting is found the <NLGB> Hymn Book as No. 374 in the final, Miscellaneous section as a sacred journey of Christian death to eternal life. It carries the double title of< Herr/O Jesu Christ, meines Lebens Leben> and O Jesu, du, mein Bräutigam” and is found in Volume 84, “Jesus Hymns” (<per omnes versus>) of the Hanssler Complete Bach Edition of CDs.

Stölzel's "Saitenspiel" (String-Playing) Jahrgang cantatas for the 13th to the 19th Sundays after Trinity probably were performed by Bach at the Thomas Church in 1735, according to Andreas Glöckner, “Ein weiterer Kantatenjahrgang Gottfried Heinrich Stölzels in Bach’s Aufführungsrepertoire? (Further Details of a Cantata Annual Cycle of GHS in Bach’s Performance Repertory), Bach-Jahrbuch 2009: 95-110.10

The work in question for September 4 is “Wie schon und lieblich du, du Liebe in Wollüsten” (How lovely and loving thou, thy love in desiring). It was a two-part cantata in eight movements, similar to the Rudoldtadt works of 1726 with biblical dicta opening each part and chorales closing each, flanked by a recitative and aria in each part. The cycle, text by Benjamin Schmolckens, was first presented in the 1731-32 church year at the Scholß-Capelle of Friedenstein in Gotha.

The connection to Bach is thought to have come from Georg Balthasar Schott, cantor and music director serving with Capellmeister Stölzel. Schott previously had been music director at the Leipzig New Church until 1730, and also had relinquished his position as director of the Leipzig <Collegium musicum> to Bach. Prior to the Stölzel 1734-35 cantata cycle in Leipzig, Bach had performed Stölzel’s Passion Oratorio “Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld” (A little lamb goes and carries the guilt) on Good Friday (April 23, 1734) at the Leipzig Thomas Church, probably Bach’s first annual performance of a non-liturgical Passion in Leipzig.

Chorale Cantata 33, “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,” was performed as part of a revival of the Chorale Cantata Cycle in 1755. It probably was presented on the 13th Sunday after Trinity (September 7) by Bach student and St. Thomas Choir Prefect Christian Friedrich Penzel, who copied the score from the original performing parts set on August 25, 1755, according to Penzel’s notes. Bach's successor, J.G. Harrer, had died on July 9, 1755, and Penzel served as the temporary cantor, presenting Bach’s chorale cantatas until the cantor post was filled later that year by J.F. Doles, who served until 1789.

Trinity 13 Hymn Schedules and Biblical Teachings11

The <NLGB> listing of Pulpit and Communion hymns for the13th Sunday After Trinity, shows six scheduled chorales that had previously been listed for Trinity Time Sundays, with three for further Sundays. They are:

“Nun freut euch” (Tr. 12, 13, 17) - (“Es ist gewißlich” -- Tr. 26); “Dies sind die heilige zehn Gebot” (Tr. 4, 13, 18); “Es ist das Heil uns hommen her” (Tr. 6); “O Herre Gott begnade mich” (Tr. 11); and “Erbarme dich mein Gott, o Herre Gott” (Tr. 3).

The chorales from Bach’s three Cantatas BWV 164, 77, and 33 are outlined in Günther Stiller’s JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.12 “Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn,” BWV 164/6, “in the Dresden hymn schedules is listed first among the hymns to be sung”; *“Ach Gott, vom Himmel siehe darein,” BWV 77/6, also is listed for this Sunday in the Dresden hymn schedules”; and *“Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,” BWV 33, “was sung in the Weißenfels services of this Sunday but in the older Leipzig hymnbooks was already assigned to the 11th Sunday After Trinity and in the Leipzig and Dresden hymn schedulof Bach’s time was already assigned to the 13th Sunday After Trinity.”

The Gospel text for Trinity Time 13 and 14 is found in PART THREE: Paired Parable. Teachings & Miracles (BCW, Douglas Cowling): *Trinity 13: Luke 10: 23-37 – The Great Commandment and the Parable of the good Samaritan: 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 (10:30). *Trinity 14: Luke 17: 11-19- Miracle of healing of the lepers. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off.

Motets & Chorales for Trinity 13

NOTES: Motets are not prescribed for Trinity 9, 11 & 13. Is there an intentional pattern here? The omissions seem to indicate that the season of Sundays after Trinity had a generalized “omne tempore” structure. If that is the case, Bach may well have chosen motets from adjoining lists (Trinity 14 has 2 choices). * The “omne tempore” structure is certainly apparent in the chorales: 3 of the hymns are also prescribed for previous and succeeding Sundays.

1) MOTETS for Introit, Before Sermon at mass and vespers for Choir II, and During Communion: No motets prescribed Trinity 13.
2) HYMN OF DAY (de tempore) “Nun Freut euch” (Also Trinity 12 & 19), Translation: http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh387.htm.
3) CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns: "Nun lob mein Seel” (also 12, 17 & 18), http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale136-Eng3.htm; “Dies sind die heiigen zehn Gebot” (also Trinity 4 & 6), “Es ist das Heil” (also Trinity 6, 11, 18), http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Es-ist-das-Heil.htm; “O Herre Gott begnade mich”; and “Erbarm dich mein O Herre Gott” (also Trinity 3 & 11)

Three Other Cantatas for the 13th Sunday after Trinity

The central Lutheran Catechism teaching theme of “Confession, Penitence, and Justification” is portrayed in the 1724 Chorale Cantata BWV 33, <Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ> (Alone with Thee, Lord Jesus Christ), Bach’s meditation on Konrad Hubert’s singular Trinitarian Catechism hymn of 1540. It links the essential Lutheran practice asking for Jesus’ release from the oppressive burdens of sin, leading to penitence and justification through faith alone (<sola fide>), with the act of unconditional love for one’s neighbor, quoted in the Sunday Gospel lesson, Luke 10:27, and found harmoniously in all three synoptic Gospels.

In 1725, Bach turned to a Salomo Franck 1715 published text for his Cantata BWV 164, <Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet> (You, who are yourselves after Christ called), closing (Movement No. 6) with the plain chorale of Elisabeth Cruciger’s 1524 Catechism Hymn, the melody published with the first text, “Herr Christ, der einge/einig Gottes Sohn” (Lord Christ, God’s only son), using Stanza 5, “Ertöt uns durch dein Güte” (Mortify us by thy grace).

On September 15, 1726, Bach presented cousin Johann Ludwig Bach’s Cantata JLB-16, “Ich aber ging für die über, und sahe dich” (I again go above for thee, and see thee) to a Rudolstadt text, composed for the Meiningen Court, c.1715. It closes with a plain chorale, “Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit” (It is certainly time) with its judgment overtones; (NLGB Tr. 26). The third cantata cycle Rudolstadt texts, written in 1704 with popular closing chorales, constitute Bach’s furthest venture into sacred cantata poetry and hymn verses that express the widest range of theological and personal sentiments.

FOOTNOTES:

1 Cantata 77, BCW Details & Discography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77.htm. Scoring: Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: trumpet, 2 oboes, strings, continuo.
Score Vocal & Piano [1.44 MB], http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV077-V&P.pdf; Score BGA [1.82 MB], http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BGA/BWV077-BGA.pdf. References: BGA XVIII (Cantata 71-80, Wilhelm Rust 1870), NBA KB I/21 (Trinity 13 cantatas, Werner Neumann 1959), Bach Compenium BC A 126, Zwang: K 40.

2 Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Die geistlichen Kantaten des 1. Bis 27. Trinitas-Sontagges, Vol. 1; Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs, Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2004: 356).
3 Finscher notes, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/HL-L20-5c[Teldec-2CD].pdf; BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/H&L-Rec6.htm#L20 (p. 15f).
4 Gardiner notes, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Gardiner-P06c[sdg134_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec2.htm#P6.
5 Luther’s Liturgical Music (Lutheran Quarterly Books; Grand Rapids MI: Eerdman’s, 2007: 116-121). It exists on-line at: https://books.google.com/books/about/Luther_s_Liturgical_Music.html?id=dD3A8cxPfJoC, scroll down and click on: Dies sind die heiligen Zehn Gebot: 116.
6 BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682)," Berlin: Merseburger, 1969).
7 Finscher notes, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/HL-L20-5c[Teldec-2CD].pdf; BCW Reocrding details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/H&L-Rec6.htm#L20
8 Whittaker, Cantatas of JSB, London: Oxford University Press, 1959: I, 644-50).
9 Stapert, My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance and Discipleship in the Music of Bach (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 2000: 165ff).
10 Andreas Glöckner, “Ein weiterer Kantatenjahrgang Gottfried Heinrich Stölzels in Bach’s Aufführungsrepertoire? (Further Details of a Cantata Annual Cycle of GHS in Bach’s Performance Repertory), Bach-Jahrbuch 2009: 95-110.
11 Source: BCW “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 13th Sunday after Trinity, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity13.htm
12 Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis: Concordia, 1986: 244.

-------

To Come (hopefully): Summary of essays on Cantata 77 of Eric Chafe, Gerhard Herz, John Elliot Gardiner, and Calvin R. Stapert, and comments of Alfred Dürr, David Humphries, and W. Gillies Whittaker.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 1, 2015):
[Toi William Hoffman] Many thanks to William Hoffman for such detailed write ups about the cantatas.

"For the second time in two weeks Bach found the published Knauer text that he had used first for Cantata 69a, “Lobet den Heren, meine Seele” (Praise the Lord, my Soul), for the 12th Sunday after Trinity. “The text is from a yearly cycle of cantata texts published in Gotha with the title Gott-geheiligtes Singen und Spielen des Friedensteinschen Zions.Nach allen un jeden Sonn- und Fest –Tags –Evangelien, vor und nach der Predigt angegestellet/Vom Advent 1720 .bis dahin 1721,” says Francis Brown’s “Notes on the text” in the previous BCW Discussion, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV69-D4.htm” “The author was probably Johann Oswald Knauer and the cycle seems to have been written for Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Kapellmeister in Gotha and brother in law of Knauer. The texts were popular and fairly widely used. Johann Friedrich F, who was one of Bach's rivals for the post at Leipzig and from 1722 was the Kapellmeister at Zerbst, set the complete cycle of texts and Stölzel probably did the same. Bach also used this source in BWV 64 and BWV 77.”
I just wanted to add, regarding Gott-geheiligtes Singen und Spielen des Friedensteinschen Zions.Nach allen un jeden Sonn- und Fest –Tags –Evangelien, vor und nach der Predigt angegestellet/Vom Advent 1720 .bis dahin 1721,” Knauer definitely wrote the texts to this cycle, and Stölzel set the entire cycle to music (but unfortunately only 86 out of the 144 cantatas survive).

From Bert Siegmund's article on the Stoelzel cantatas On the Chronology and the Libretti [upon which these cantatas are based] of the Cantata Cycles [composed for the liturgical year] by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (very graciously translated by Thomas Braatz)

Musically these cantatas can be characterized as having the Dictum [this is usually a short quotation from the Bible], often based upon a chorale melody, performed as a solo Arioso after a short instrumental introduction. Between the introduction and the Dictum there is usually a change of time signature. By these simple means, the music allows the Dictum to stand out in a rather astonishing manner. Stölzel also uses this feature of performing the Dictum as a solo in several later cantata cycles, but here ‘solo’ means that in this type of passage only a single vocal part [one vocalist] is used. At the Friedenstein Chapel in Gotha, where a choir would be available only for special occasions like for masses, Stölzel’s cantatas were always performed by a quartet of soloists with the high voices being sung by falsettists. It was only under Benda’s direction that female singers were also used.

The cycle Gott-geheiligtes Singen und Spielen was interesting in that it also included a preface cantata, which Stoelzel apparently set to music as well (only the opening chorus survives). You can hear the 2nd Easter Sunday cantata from this cycle in a MIDI audio file from my Sibelius edition for this piece @ https://youtu.be/N1VuWMy1FIU?list=PL6nfjoHcxBOcokc2SGeP7x7B-p5BdN0h2 I aplogize for the bad quality of the MIDI sound, but the music would be much better with real performers, but you get some sense of the music. Wonderful music, I think.

Aryeh Oron wrote (September 2, 2015):
Cantata BWV 77 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of Cantata BWV 77 “Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, Lieben” for the 13th 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/tromba da tirarsi, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola & continuo (including organ). See:
Complete Recordings (10): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77.htm
Recordings of Individual Movements (10): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77-2.htm
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: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/
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 77 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): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77-D4.htm

William Hoffman wrote (September 5, 2015):
Cantata BWV 77: 'Du sollt Gott': Commentary, Essays

A deeper understanding of Bach’s motivation and technique for composing Cantata 77, “Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben” (You must love God, your Lord, Luke 10:27), as well as the theology involved, is found both in the various scholars recent commentaries as well as specific essays that share several important insights. Bach Cantata Website participants are encouraged to read and listen to Cantata 77 Details and updated Discography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77.htm, and the BCML Current Discussions, Part 4, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV77-D4.htm.

The commentaries involve Alfred Dürr’s insights into Bach’s dual love of God and neighbor, and the summary of Cantata 77’s movements in David Humphries and W. Gillies Whittaker’s work. The essays, focusing on theology, and musical technique begin with Gerhard Herz on the elements of symbolism, followed by this and the theology of related writings of John Elliot Gardiner, Martin Petzoldt, and Eric Chafe.

Summary of Commentaries

Exploring and uncovering the details and meanings of Bach’s Cantata BWV 77, “Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben,” begins with the noted Bach scholar of the second half of the 20 century, Alfred Dürr in the Cantatas of J. S. Bach.1 He cites the opening chorus chorale arrangement of Luther’s “Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot” (These are the sacred Ten Commandments), “which, on account of its profound symbolism has acquired considerable celebrity in the Bach literature, though not in present-day performance.”

Bach makes “particularly abundant use of the background” to the Gospel parable of “The Good Samaritan,” Dürr observes. Bach treats equally the love of God and the love of the neighbor, based on the parallel reading of Matthew’s Gospel 22:34-40 in which Jesus emphasizes both love of God AND love of neighbor and self, rather than the Lukan emphasis on the two loves and two commandments. Johann Knauer’s original two-part 1720 text emphasizes the first commandment of love of God, particularly in the first part.

The fifth movement, alto da-capo aria with tromba da tirarsi and continuo, “Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe / Lauter Unvollkommenheit!”(Ah, there remains in my love / real imperfection!) “seems ill-suited to the text’s lament over personal inadequacy” to love, says Dürr. He suggests internal symbolism of the trumpet as the instrument of love, with the “difficult minor mode obbligato for the baroque (slide) trumpet might be particularly effective in capturing the sense of imperfection . . . .”

Humphries, Whittaker; Cantata 77 Movements

A summary of Cantata 77’s movement features is found in David Humphries essay in OCC:JSB.2 The opening chorale fantasia, which often is described as Bach’s sermon because of his elaborate musical treatment, has an unusual design, structured by the original Luther hymn text (see Gerhard Herz essay summary below), with symbolism (see Eric Chafe’s essay below). The use of modality and “striking harmonic effects” are particularly noticeable.

The first aria (no. 3) for soprano, two oboes and continuo, “Mein Gott, ich liebe dich von Herzen” (My God, I love you from my heart), is in “light-weight amatory style” with ritormello form, says Humphries. The second aria for alto, with its “simplicity and regular phrasing of the voice part recall the pious songs of the Schmelli Songbook (1736).

Cantata 77 has similarities to Cantata 105, “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht” (Lord, do not go into court with your servant, Psalm 143:2), for the 9th Sunday after Trinity 1723 (BCML Discussions Part 4, Week of August 2, 2015, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV105-D4.htm), as various Bach commentators have observed, beginning with its Old Testament biblical dictum opening. The “librertti are probably by the same unknown hand; they are admirable models of connected and well-reasoned matter,” says W. Gillies Whittaker in The Cantatas of JSB.3 “The general scheme and development are similar, the orchestrationof the opening choruses shows a like measure of independence, support of the voices, and freedom from high elaboration.

Commentary on the two recitatives is provided by Whittaker (Ibid. 647ff). The secco first (no. 2) of 10 bars for bass, “So muss es sein!” (It must be so!), recalls Beethoven’s use of the same phrase in the String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op.135. The phrase is drawn from Apocrypha, Tobias 12, 13a (Angel Raphael and Tobit’s Song of Praise), says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.4 The recitative “meditates on the necessity for obedience to the decrees of the Almighty, says Whittaker.”

Tenor recitative (no. 4), dwells on the parable of the Good Samaritan (Mat. 22:34-40: “Gib mir dabei, mein Gott! ein Samariterherz, / Dass ich zugleich den Nächsten liebe” (For this purpose, my God, give me the Samaritan’s heart / so that I can at once love my neighbour). “ Here the singer begs that he may always act as did the Samaritan, says Whittaker (Ibid.: I: 649).

Summary of Essays

Cantata 77 introduction “is one of the most astounding chorale-choruses in Bach’s whole oeuvre,” observes Gerhard Herz in his essay, “The First Movement in Bach’s Cantata 77.” 5 Noting that “it was Bach’s duty to submit to superintendent Salomon Deyling beforehand several texts reflecting the Gospel or Epistle for the day,” Herz suggests that the librettist was a “theologically well-versed unknown poet (Ibid. 206). “All passages from the Scriptures that contain or refer to a general commandment are set by Bach, almost without without exception, in fugue or canon form.” “The theologian in Bach had to enforce this juxtaposition of the old and new law in his music” by “the instrumental use of the ten commandment hymn,” “Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot” (These are the sacred Ten Commandments).

Herz outlines the intricate entrances of the forces in the opening movement, finding 10 “different kinds of symbolism (that) are woven into one of the most complex tonal tapestries in music” (Ibid.: 214). They are: “the First and Great Commandment, in “the closely knit patter of the voice proper”; hymn “Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot” on trumpet relating commandment to Decalogue; ten commandments allegorized musically by form of canon between trumpet and continuo; cantus firmus (bass note values) turns commandments into fundamental law; tromba da tirarsi as voice of God; 10 cf entrances in the trumpet; 2x5 continuo sections; final organ point 10 measures; Luke (10:27) in chorus in 10 fugal expositions; and recitative (no. 2) also 10 measures.

“There is perhaps no other cantata by Bach in which the musical and theological weight is concentrated to such an extent in the opening movement,” Hezz concludes (Ibid.: 217). “The closest parallel is the opening chorus of Cantata 80,” “Ein feste Burg is unser Gott” (A mighty fortress is our God), in canon, possibly composed as early as 1723.

Gardiner: Symbolism, Other Observations

The symbolism and other observations cited above are also discussed in John Elliot Gardiner’s 2007 liner notes, Bach Cantata Pilgrimage liner notes.6 Particular emphasis is found in the three movements involving the high trumpet, opening chorus, soprano aria (no. 5), Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe / Lauter Unvollkommenheit!” (Ah, there remains in my love / real imperfection!), as well as the findings of Petzoldt and Eric Chafe regarding theological emphasis and symbolism. Bach in Cantata 77 emphasizes “the core doctrines of faith already adumbrated in the first four Sundays of the Trinity season,” says Gardiner (Ibid.: 10). “Bach aims to demonstrate by means of every musical device available to him the centrality of the two ‘great’ commandments of the New Testament.”

The source of Luther’s “Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot,” the pre-Reformation pilgrimage hymn, “In Gottes Names fahren wir” (In God’s Name we travel), “as an appeal to God for protection – particularly at the start of a sea voyage in which Christ was chosen as the captain or pilot” (Ibid. 11). Comparing the “breathtaking, monumental” opening chorus to the same chorale fantasia opening Cantata 80, Gardiner says, “no other canonic treatment of a cantus firmus we’ve met so far has quite the same air of monumentality or hieratic authority as this.”

“The whole edifice lends itself to allegorical interpretation beyond the obvious meshing of the Old and New Testament Commandments,” says Gardiner (Ibid.: 12). All the elements found in the chorus converge at bar 58 in the rising choral restatement of the incipit, a point called the concord or “correspondence” of God to humanity with the promise of mercy to those he keep the commandments, as Petzoldt describes it in his 1985 Leipzig Universitydissertation, Studien zur Theologie im Rahmen (Framework) der Lebensgeschichte (Life-story) Johann Sebastians Bach.

With this, Chafe suggests that Bach was inspired by the flatted pitch in the opening Luther chorale “to emphasize the subdominant minor” at the climax [bar 58], says Gardiner, citing Chafe’s Analyzing Bach’s Cantatas, Chapters 7 and 8, Cantata 77 theological background and analysis.7 “This acknowledgement of human weakness – mankind’s inability to carryout the second commandment unaided, is given a third illustration in the closing chorale,” says Gardiner (Ibid.: 16), where in Bach’s surviving manuscript score only the melody and figured bass is given, with no text, Luther’s eschatological 1524 “Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh' darein” (Ah God, look down from heaven).

Petzoldt’s suggestion8 of another David Denicke text using the melody to the 1637 “Herr, deine Recht und dein Gebot, (Lord, thy Law and Commandment),” the 11th Stanza, “Ach Herr, ich wolte ja dein Recht”(Ah Lord, I would yet thy laws). Math. 3:15), which Chafe endorses, is “ a convincing case” that Gardiner follows in his recording. The 12-stanza “Law Song (Gesetz-Lied) Dekalog (Ten Commandments) paraphrase, Exodus 2:1-8 (First two commandments) of hymn-writer Denicke (1603-1680), (see BCW Short Biography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Denicke.htm.

Chafe: Cantata 77 Theology & Technique

The “central core of Luther’s theology,” especially the purpose of the Law (Old Testament teachings) “leading the believer to recognition of sin” and the concept of justification through faith by grace alone, is found in the ten commandment hymn, “Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot,” says Chafe in “The Theological Background” (Ibid.: 164). The Pre-Reformation source, “In Gottes Namen” with a final Kyrieleis (“Lord, have mercy” plea, or Leise), “was basically an appeal to God for protection. The flatted pitch in the Luther chorale Bach saw as an allegorical device to support the dualisms he composed in Cantata 77, says Chafe (Ibid.: 171): high and low (trumpet and continuo), ascent and descent (melody and harmony), sharp and flat, and major/minor. “Certainly he amplified all these qualities in the first movement.”

Bach’s unknown librettist’s reshaped Knauer’s original pietist text that emphasized the love of god over self and neighbor. The first half (which Bach omitted), began with the dictum question of the lawyer (Luke 10:25b): “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life (KJV).” The three movements that follow reiterate the question, taking on “the character of a petition to Jesus from one in tribulation,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 176f). “The first part of Knauer’s text ends with a chorale verse,” “Kommt, laßt euch den Herren lehren” (Come, let the Lord teach you), that urges the believer to hear Jesus’ answer,” says Chafe. “The sequence of movements that follows [in the second half], and that constitutes the basis for Bach’s text, this functions as Jesus’ answer. Knauer and Bach then have a chorus dictum (Luke 10:27) of the Great Commandment to love God first, then the neighbor/self, “whereas Bach’s text emphasizes their simultaneity” (AND), observes Chafe.

Petzoldt’s dissertation view is that the word changes in Knauer’s text in Part 2 “fit with the musical character of the opening movement of Cantata 77,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 177), “which likewibrings out the simultaneity of the two kinds of love (God and self/neighbor) and suggests that Bach himself might have had input into the textual revisions to the Knauer original.” “Petzoldt argues very convincingly that in Bach’s text, the commandment to love God and one’s neighbor is not exclusively ‘Law,’ as it is for Knauer, but ‘an expression of the will of God for community with humankind.” Bach’s recitative-aria succession (nos. 2-3), “emphasizes the role of God’s spirit in affecting the believer’s ability to love God,” to recognize and carry out the commandment, the “new law” given by Jesus, “on which his salvation depends.”

In the second recitative (tenor, no. 4), the reference to Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan, “Give me, , my God, the heart of a Good Samaritan,” Bach’s word changes are: adding “zugleich” (at the same time) love my neighbor, and “dereinst” (one day) instead of “einmahl” (once) “give me the life of joy.” These changes emphasize “the eschatological character of the final lines,” according to Petzoldt as cited in Chafe. Here the believer longs for eternity.

The second, soprano da-capo trio aria (no. 5) with high trumpet, “Ah, there remains in my love,” “strengthens the idea” (Ibid.: 179), that to fulfill the Great Commandment “depends on God’s helping him [the believer] to overcome his human nature,” which is imperfect. Thus, in the closing chorale text, Bach intended to emphasize the “idea that human imperfection remain at the end.”

More than at the final chorale of Cantata 46, “Schauet doch und sehet, / ob irgendein Schmerz sei wie mein Schmerz”(Behold and see / if any grief is like my grief, Lamentations 1:12), for the 10th Sunday after Trinity (see BCML Cantata 46, Discussion Part 4), says Chafe, “the ending of Cantata 77 does not ‘overcome’ its emphasis on humanity’s need for God’s intervention but ends with a prayer to God that is permeated by the idea of human weakness.”

To the 11th verse of the Denicke 1637 hymn, “Lord, thy Law and Commandment),” Chafe suggests that Bach intended to add the 12th and final verse, “Drum gib du mir von deinen Thron / . . . Dab ich thu rechte Werke” (Therefore, give me from your throne / . . . That I do good works.” While the verse is eschatological in character, “from you throne,” the reference to “good works” flies in the face of Luther’s principal of justification by faith alone, sola fide.9

Much of Chafe’s next chapter (8), “An Analysis of Cantata 76,” deals with compositional techniques and symbolism, similar to Herz’s essay (Ibid.), to strengthen the theological understanding.

FOOTNOTES

1 Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005: 511ff).
2 Humphries essay in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Boyd, Malcolm (Oxford University Press: New York, 1999144f).
3Whittaker, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach (Oxford University Press: London, 1958: 644ff).
4 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: 355).
5 Herz’ Cantata 77/1 essay (1974) in Essays on J. S. Bach (Ann Arbor MI: UMI Research Press, 1985: 205-17).
6 Gardiner notes, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Gardiner-P06c[sdg134_gb].pdf, BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec2.htm#P6.
7 Chafe, Analyzing Bach’s Cantatas, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000: 161-219).
8 Originally suggested in Petzoldt’s “Schluchoräle ohne Textmarken in der Überlieferung [Sources] von Katanten JSB”, Musik & Kirche: Zeitschrift für Kirchenmusik (Kassel: Bärenreiter. vol. 59 (1989), pp. 235-240.
9 Concerning Luther’s theology, I also would question the closing concept in Cantata 77, according to Chafe, that “humanity’s need for God’s intervention” motivated primarily by human weakness. While I believe that Luther recognizes both the need for divine intervention and the state of human weakness (imperfection), this duality may not be so paramount in Luther’s teaching but in the pietist’s/Calvinist’s response.

 

Cantata BWV 77: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions:
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
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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 06:25