Cantata BWV 78Jesu, der du meine Seele
Discussions - Part 6
Continue from Part 5
Discussions in the Week of August 31, 2014 (4th round)
William Hoffman wrote (August 30, 2014):
[BachCantatas] Re: Cantata BWV 78, Jesu, der du meine Seele: Intro.
In the middle Trinity Time of his intense chorale cantata second cycle, having created some 11 consecutive works in as many weeks, Bachachieved distinction in three works for the Sundays after Trinity: Trinity 12, BWV 137, “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren” (Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation); Trinity 13, BWV 33, “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” (Alone towards you, Lord Jesus Christ); and Trinity 14, BWV 78, "Jesu, der du meine Seele" (Jesus, who this my spirit); and Trinity 14. Having found librettists who could fashion functional, orthodox madrigalian pararphrases, particularly in the arias and recitatives, Bach was able to produce works of the highest order, with particularly appealing arias and texts, as well as a monumental and unique opening chorale fantasias. All three(BWV 137, 33, and 78) are exceptionally popular in recordings, having some 12 each dating to the 1950s.
The best example is Cantata BWV 78, Jesu, der du meine Seele (Jesus, by whom my soul), Chorale Cantata for 14th Sunday after Trinity, 1st performance on September 10, 1724.1 With its stunning opening fantasia in Passion style passacaglia form and three distinctive arias, Cantata 78 was first presented in the Nikolaus Church on September 10, 1724, before the sermon by the Superintendent Salomon Deyling (1677-1755), although his sermon on the lessons is not extant, says Martin Petzoldt in BACH Commentary, Vol.1, Trinity Sundays. 2
Here is a synopsis of writers’ comments on the 25-minute work:3
*“One of his outstanding achievements in this particular type of cantata composition,” says Nicholas Anderson.
*The opening chorale chorus is “no less remarkable for vivid text illustration than for special features of design,” says Richard D. P. Jones.
*“The fantasia is one of the most superb specimens of Bach’s art,” says W Gillies Whittaker. “No description can covey the idea of its great power, of its intense brooding consciousness of sin, of its arresting significance. No technical analysis can do justice to the consummate skill of its use of themes, to the magical way in which its diverse elements are forged into a united structure.”
*“Bach’s setting is remarkable for its immediate impact and the wealth of formats,” says Alfred Dürr. “It is striking that the movements particularly strict in formal structure often achieve the maximum expressive power. This applies, above all, to the opening chorus.”
Memorable Arias, Passionate Recitatives
All three arias have great distinction and appeal. The first (Mvt. 2), “Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten” (We hurry with weak yet eager steps) is a charming skipping duet for soprano and alto with pizzicato continuo, in the florid style of Agostino Staffani. It reflects the opening of the service Epistle (Galatians 5:16-24, Walk in the spirit): “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” The second aria (Mvt. 4), “Das Blut, so meine Schuld durchstreicht, / Macht mir das Herze wieder leicht” (The blood that cancels out my guilt); is a tenor duet with transverse flute in dance-style, the second in the series of seven for Trinity Time featuring a talented tenor and flutist [the others are BWV 113 (Tr. 11); BWV 99 (Tr. 15), BWV 130 (St, Michael), BWV 114 (Tr. 17), BWV 96 (Tr.18), BWV 180 (Tr. 20); plus BWV 55 and 102 in the third cycle]. The third (Mvt. 6), “Nun du wirst mein Gewissen stillen” (Now you will calm my conscience), is “like a miniature concerto for solo oboe and bass voice with tutti interjections from the strings,” says Alfred Dürr (Ibid.: 527f).
As for the paraphrasing and summarizing recitatives that relate to the Gospel, Bach uses crucial direct quotes from the stanzas (without melody) and amplifies on the meanings, in contrast to his earlier chorale recitatives that simply inserted (troped) chorale lines and melody in between free-verse comments, usually by tenor or bass. “The two recitatives are distressful and each is followed by an aria of comfort,” says Whittaker (Ibid.: II:382). “The recitatives are remarkable for their chromaticism and agonized intensity of feeling” (Ibid.: II:384f). The first (Mvt. 3), ] “Ach! ich bin ein Kind der Sünden” (Ah! I am a child of sin, is a traditional tenor recitative that broadens into an arioso. The other (Mvt. 5), ]: “Die Wunden, Nägel, Kron und Grab, / . . . Sind ihm nunmehro Siegeszeichen” (The wounds, nails, crown and grave, / are now signs of his victory), is a four-part scena that closes with the last four lines of Stanza 10. “The pathos-laden recitation of the bass part (Mvt. 6) and the string accampagnato recall similar movements in the Bach Passions,” says Dürr (Ibid.: 527). “Sudden changes on tempo . . . heighten the dramatic effect.”
The libretto rarely relates to the Gospel reading (Luke 17:11-19, Healing of grateful Samaritan leper) beyond the hymn text but the second half of the cantata shows an affinity with the day’s sermon, says Alfred Dürr (Ibid.: 526). “Only in a few places does the librettist enter more closely into the Gospel reading [Luke 17:11-19, Healing of grateful Samaritan leper) than the hymn text (You seek the sick . . . ‘; ‘Sin’s leprosy’). The entire second half of the cantata goes beyond the text if the Sunday Gospel, expanding an interpreting it; and here the libretto’s affinity with a sermon is clearly evident.”
Lutheran Church Year, Readings for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity: Epistle: Galatians 5:16-24 (Walk in the spirit), Gospel: Luke 17:11-19 (The healing of the grateful Samaritan leper). Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels, Part 3, Paired Parable & Miracle: *Trinity 13: Luke 10: 23-37 - 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” (see full text, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity14.htm). *Trinity 14: Luke 17: 11-19 (Miracle of healing of the lepers; The Samaritan leper gives thanks for Jesus’ healing. “ And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:”  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16] And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” Martin Luther German translation 1545, English translation is Authorised (King James) Version [KJV] 1611, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity14.htm.
Introit Psalm for the 14th Sunday after Trinity is Psalm 117, Laudate Dominum (Praise the Lord, all ye nations), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 408). This shortest of all psalms (2 lines), the entire text is (KJV): “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. 2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+117%3A1-2&version=KJV. Bach also may have performed a polyphonic motet portion of Psalm 70, that is appropriate for other middle Trinity Sundays. The Jacob Handl (Gallus) motet “Repleatur Os Meum” (5 voices) is taken from “Opus Musicum”, the composer’s collection of motets for the entire church year. These works in the Erhard Bodenschatz Florilegium Portense collection owned by Bach were for Introit, before the sermon at mass and and vespers and for for Choir II, and dcommunion (Handl BCW Short Biography: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Handl-Jakob.htm). The text: Psalm 70 (71):8-9: “Let my mouth be filled with praise, that I may sing thy glory; thy greatness all the day long. Cast me not off in the time of old age: when my strength shall fail, do not thou forsake me.” The same passage is set in the “Repleatur Os Meum” (8 Voice) of Fattorinus (?)
Notes on the Text
Cantata 78 text is based on the chorale of Johann Rist (Mvts. 1, 7) paraphrase of an anonymous (Mvts. 2-6); in a meditation on Christ’s Passion. <<The unknown author has adapted a 12 stanza hymn by Johannnes Rist which dates from 1641,” says Francis Browne in his “Notes on the text” (BCW, Discussions Part 5, (January 30, 2012): BWV 78, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78-D5.htm).4 “Rist wrote some 650 religious poems and seems unable to express himself in less than 10 stanzas The connection between the gospel reading -Jesus heals 10 lepers -and the hymn is tenuous: both involve appeals to Jesus and the 'leprosy of sin' is mentioned in a recitative. However, Rist's main concern is a meditation on Christ's Passion which heals the faithful and brings peace to the troubled conscience. In general, Bach's librettist revises and adapts the earlier text to express a more confident faith.
Rist's verbal dexterity is at once shown in the opening movement which is an appeal to Jesus expressed in one complex sentence whose words are fitted into a rhyme scheme ababccdd. Adjectives are frequent and conventional -bitter death, dark hell etc -but it is skilfully done and reads fluently.
Bach's setting of this opening stanza is magnificent and monumental - so much so that as Julian Mincham comments: doubtless Bach recognised the need for a little light relief after such intensity. The duet for soprano and alto which follows is sheer delight. The text is based on the second stanza of Rist. But either Bach or his librettist has radically altered the hymn to accommodate the joyful music. Rist's emphasis is on Jesus' care in rescuing the verlorn Schäflein (lost sheep) who are verfluchtet (cursed), fall into Hell etc. In the cantata the emphasis is instead placed on the joyous response to Jesus' call.
Mincham speculates: Bach must often have composed movements of this kind in a single evening. One wonders if he may have put his pipe down on his composing desk after creating a jewel of this kind and allowed himself to think, 'Well, that was a good evening's work'.
I wonder also about Bach's composition of this movement. The text has been purposefully altered. Was Bach inspired to write such music by the revised text or did his compositional process begin with a musical idea to which the text was then accommodated? Of course such a question is unanswerable but it would be fascinating to know how Bach created such joyful beauty
The third movement tenor recitative is based on stanzas 3-5 of the hymn. Two lines are quoted from each stanza. What Rist says about human sinfulness and the contradictory nature of our will is stated more succinctly and Bach's librettist anticipates the aria to follow by adding the idea of handing over the burden of our sins to Jesus.
The tenor aria adapts stanza 6 and 7 of the hymn. From stanza 6 comes the redemptive power of Christ's blood and from stanza 7 his assistance against the hosts of hell. But what in Rist are prayers become factual statements in Bach's text.
The same more positive rewriting is seen in the second recitative for bass which uses stanzas 8-10. Rist says that the details of Christ's passion bring consolation: in the cantata text they are Siegeszeichen, signs of vicory. Rist says that only Jesus can prevent him from hearing words of condemnation at the last judgement. In the cantata curse turns to blessing, sorrow and pain have no more effect and Jesus' heart burns with love for those who follow him. The last four lines of stanza 10 are then used verbatim.
The sixth movement bass aria is an adaptation of stanza 11. There is little difference in content but whoever rewrote Rists stanza has tried to intensify the language : where Rist's conscience torments him (plagt) his successor finds that his conscience cries out against him for vengeance. Rist is confident that no one who believes will be lost, Bach's librettist is sure that no enemy will ever steal them from Christ's hands.
As is usual in the chorale cantatas the last stanza is set unchanged. As is usual in chorales the concluding strophe brings the hymn to a close by repeating earlier themes and prayers and ending with the hope of heaven for the future.
Rist and Bach's Leipzig collaborator have between them provided the basis for a cantata which, as John Eliot Gardner says, is the pick of the cantatas for this Sunday and one in which an exceptional level of inspiration is maintained through all its movements.>>
The original Chorale Text: “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” Author Johann Rist (1641) (Fischer-Tümpel, II, #189) is found in Browne English translation, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale022-Eng3.htm; Chorale Melody: “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” Composer: Johann Rist (1641); see BCW “Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works, Melody & Text (Zahn 6804) | Use of the CM by Bach | Use of the CM by other composers | Chorale Melody (Zahn 6779a) | 1st Alternate Chorale Melody | 2nd Alternate Chorale Melody |
Use of the CM by other composers | Arrangements/Transcriptions; http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Jesu-der-du-meine-Seele.htm. Rist (1607-1667, BCW Short Biography). http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Rist.htm
Cantata 78 Movements, Scoring, Text, Key, Meter.5
1. Chorus fantasia [SATB; Corno col Soprano, Flauto traverso, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: “Jesu, der du meine Seele / Hast durch deinen bittern Tod / . . . Kräftiglich herausgerissen” (Jesus, by whom my soul / through your bitter death / . . . has been mightily torn free); g minor; ¾ giga style.
2. Aria da capo canon& parallel (Duet) [Soprano, Alto; Violone, Continuo]: A. “Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten” (We hurry with weak yet eager steps); B. “Du suchest die Kranken und Irrenden treulich” (You faithfully look for the sick and straying); B-Flat Major, 4/4.
3. Recitative [Tenor, Continuo]: “Ach! ich bin ein Kind der Sünden” (Ah! I am a child of sin, Stanza 3, lines 1-2); closing arioso (Stanza 5, lines 7-8), “Rechne nicht die Missetat, / Die dich, Herr, erzürnet hat!’ (Do not count my misdeeds / Which have angered you, Lord!); d minor to c minor, 4/4.
4. Aria dal segno (12mm) [Tenor; Flauto traverso, Continuo]: A. “Das Blut, so meine Schuld durchstreicht, / Macht mir das Herze wieder leicht” (The blood that cancels out my guilt); g minor; 6/8 passepied-menuett-style.
5. Recitative in four parts [Bass;] Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Die Wunden, Nägel, Kron und Grab, / . . . Sind ihm nunmehro Siegeszeichen” (The wounds, nails, crown and grave, / are now signs of his victory; B. Vivace, “Wenn ein erschreckliches Gericht / Den Fluch vor die Verdammten spricht,” (When a terrifying judgement / pronounces a curse on the damned); C. Lento, “So kehrst du ihn in Segen” (you turn it into a blessing); D. a tempo (Stanza 10, lines 5-8); “Dies mein Herz, mit Leid vermenget, / . . . Geb ich dir, Herr Jesu Christ. (This heart of mine, mixed with suffering, / . . .I give to you , Lord Jesus Christ); E-Flat Major to f minor; 4/4.
6. Aria dal segno (8mm) [Bass; Oboe I, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: “Nun du wirst mein Gewissen stillen" (Now you will calm my conscience); c minor; 4/4.
7. Chorale [SATB; Flauto traverso in octava e Corno e Oboe I e Violino I col Soprano, Oboe II e Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo: “Herr, ich glaube, hilf mir Schwachen” (Lord, I believe, help me in my weakness); g minor 4/4. Alfred Dürr.
Opening Choru& Duet
“Two movements particularly stand out in this work, the massive opening chorus and the enchanting duet which follows it. So perfect are these that there is a danger of them eclipsing those which follow,” says Julian Mincham’s Commentary Introduction to Cantata 78, Chapter 14 BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-14-bwv-78.htm 6<<The opening fantasia is awesome in both scope and scale. The text is one of those that seems to have particularly inspired Bach containing, as it does, a number of contrasting images. As Bach's rich counterpoint indicates, his was a mind that enjoyed the challenge of complexity, several ideas or feelings converging simultaneously or within a very short space of time. The challenge he so often set himself was to find a pathway through intricacy and invent a series of textures that were rich and multifaceted but never overwhelming or impenetrable. This opening movement is a superb example of that art.
The principal images are of Christ on the cross, His pain, the power of the devil in hell and, finally, the safe retreat for those protected by the word of the Lord; all were common themes in the Lutheranism of the day. The point is not that they are original ideas, far from it. It is that all these images are brought together in a single movement that stirs both heart and mind while still retaining complete musical integrity. This is Bach's genius and his ability to achieve it, often transcending inhibiting technical and artistic constraints, still amazes us today.>>
Provenance: Source & Parphrasing
The authentic source and the paraphrasing in Cantata 78 are found in the BCW “Provenance” article of Thomas Braatz (September 18, 2001, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV78-Ref.htm): << Authentic Source: The set of original parts (the autograph score has been lost.) The NBA (KB) does not list any later performance of this cantata in Bach's lifetime. For many years it was thought that Bach performed it a second time, dropping the "Corno" part and only using the flute colla parte. The "Corno" is used in both the opening mvt. as well as in the final chorale (Mvt. 7.) As a result, in some recordings no "Corno" can be heard. In 1978 Harnoncourt uses a very audible instrument from his HIP instrumentarium that includes, "corno naturale," "tromba naturale," and "tromba da tirarsi." Instead of following the only reliable information that we have about this "Corno" part in the NBA, information which was available to him at the time, Harnoncourt decides to substitute the "tromba da tirarsi" (slide trumpet/Zugtrompete) for "Corno" which obviously means something else.
Text: An unknown librettist condensed the 12 verses of the chorale by Johann Rist (1641) into the 7 verses/mvts. of this cantata, and still managed to include two references to the Gospel designated for the 14. Sunday after Trinity: Luke 17: 11-19 (The Cleansing of the Ten Lepers.) The two specific references are "Du suchest die Kranken" and "Der Sünden Aussatz." The librettist did the following with the original chorale text: Verse 1 retained completely as Mvt. 1; Verse 2 one line retained in Mvt. 2; Verse 3 lines 1 and 2 at the beginning of Mvt. 3; Verse 4 lines 5 and 6 become lines 7 and 8 of Mvt. 3; Verse 5 lines 7 and 8 as the final two lines of Mvt. 3; Verse 10 lines 5 to 8 as the end of Mvt. 5; Verse 11 one line retained in Mvt. 6; Verse 12 retained completely as Mvt. 7.
All the remaining text added by the librettist is a madrigal-like paraphrase of the thoughts contained in the chorale. The central thought of the chorale: a focus on Christ's suffering which heals those who have faith and brings calm to their consciences.>>
Gardiner's Take on Trinity 14 Cantatas & Cantata 78
At the expense of boring some readers, here are extensive and empathetic selections from English conductor and Bach scholar John Eliot Gardiner.7 <<Cantatas for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Abbaye d'Ambronay. You sometimes get the feeling that Bach would have understood Beethoven's inner turmoil, even if the musical language in which it came to be expressed would have seemed partially (and at that time terribly) foreign to him. For the fact is that Bach too experienced, and became expert in expressing, the gladiatorial struggles within the human breast between good and evil, spirit and flesh. His music tells us this and so do the private jottings and underlinings he made in his copy of Calov's Bible commentary. All through this Trinity season he has been offering us example after example of the stark moral choices that face us every day of our lives. Since his terms of reference and the set texts of these Trinitarian cantatas are of course unequivocally Lutheran, we have quickly got used to the way the human actor is positioned in scenarios of faith and the Fall, sin and Satan. But this does not in any way diminish the humanism of Bach's basic approach on the one hand, or the audacity of his musical response on the other.
Take these three cantatas for Trinity 14, which are all based directly or more loosely on the Gospel reading of the day, the story of Jesus' healing of ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). In his first attempt, BWV 25 Es ist nicht Gesundes an meinem Leibe, first performed on 29 August 1723, Bach and his anonymous librettist treat the leper theme as an allegory for humankind in general, in language of graphic extremes: Adam's Fall `has defiled us all and infected us with leprous sin' - the whole world `is but a hospital' for the terminally ill. The solution? `Thou alone, O Jesus Christ, my physician, knowest the best cure for my soul' (No.3). So, characteristically, as in so many cantatas, a spiritual journey is planned for the individual sinner, sick of heart; a path is signposted and the painful process of healing can begin. Some may find the words and the whole concept difficult to stomach, but as ever, we can turn to Bach's music and find that it goes a long way towards purging the worst of the verbal excesses.
The pick of the cantatas for this Sunday is undoubtedly the chorale cantata BWV 78 Jesu, der du meine Seele, one in which an exceptional level of inspiration is maintained through all its movements. It is one of the few I remember getting to know as a child, even singing as a treble the wonderful second movement, the duet `Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten'. BWV 78 opens with an immense choral lament in G minor, a musical frieze on a par with the preludes to both the surviving Passions for scale, intensity and power of expression. It is cast as a passacaglia on a chromatically descending ostinato. How characteristic of Bach to take a dance form such as the passacaglia - which has heroic and tragic connotations in music we know but he probably didn't, in the music of Purcell (Dido's lament) and Rameau, to name but two great exponents of it - and to turn it to which has heroic and tragic connotations in music we know but he probably didn't, in the music of Purcell (Dido's lament) and Rameau, to name but two great exponents of it - and to turn it to theological/rhetorical purposes. We have encountered it already twice before this year in the early Easter cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden BWV 4, and two Sundays later in Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen BWV 12. Here the persistence of the chromatic ground is even more pronounced, sung by the basses at every appearance of the chorale.
One of dozens of original but unobtrusive features is the way the ground acts as a counter-balance to the cantus firmus traditionally linked to Johann Rist's hymn of 1641, weaving all manner of contrapuntal lines around and into it. It gives powerful emphasis to the line describing the way Jesus has `most forcefully wrested' the Christian soul `from the devil's dark cavern and from oppressive anguish'. Just where you might expect the three lower voices to give respectful accompaniment to the cantus firmus, Bach gives them an unusual prominence: mediating between passacaglia andchorale, preparing and interpreting the chorale text in the way that the preacher of the sermon might do. Indeed such is the power of exegesis here, one questions whether Bach was yet again stealing the preacher's thunder (inadvertently?) by the brilliance of his musical oratory. At all events it is one of those opening cantata movements in which you hang on every beat of every bar in a concentrated, almost desperate attempt to dig out every last morsel of musical value from the notes as they unfold.
The outstanding feature of BWV 17 Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich, composed in 1726, is not its multi-sectional opening choral fugue, exhilarating and florid though it be. Nor is it the soprano aria with two violin obbligati in E major, nor yet even the bourrée-like concluding tenor aria, which follows a narrative recitative that sounds as though it could have been lifted straight from a Passion oratorio. It is rather the extended final chorale `Wie sich ein Vat'r erbarmet', the third verse of Johann Gramann's hymn Nun lob, mein Seel den Herren. This is a triple-time version of the central movement of the great double-choir motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied BWV 225 and is every bit as poignant here as in the motet (which is nowadays thought to date from around this same period, of 1726/7), with wonderful word-painting for the `flower and fallen leaves' and `the wind [which] only has to pass over it'. © John Eliot Gardiner 2006, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage
The opening fantasia is analyzed in great detail in Klaus Hofmann liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS cantata recordings.8 <<The cantata Jesu, der du meine Seele (Jesus, you who have my soul) was written for 10th September 1724, the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity. The gospel passage for this Sunday -- Luke 17, verses 1-19, tells of Jesus' cleansing of ten lepers. There was apparently no hymn that was suited to this specific incident, and so Bach and his librettist were allowed to select freely: their choice fell upon "Jesu der du meine Seele, which was very populur at the time. The text is by a famous poet of the era, Johann Rist (1607 -1667), who worked as a priest in Wedel near Hambug. The melody – originally associated with one of Rist's secular songs (Daphnis ging vor wenig Tagen [Some days ago Daphnis went. . .]), is either by the Hamburg 'Ratsmusikdirektor' Johann Schop (c. 1590-1667) or by the Hambug-Altona organist Heinrich Pape (1609-1663), Rist's brother-in-law, but since as early as 1663 it had been in frequent use with the religious text.
Bach's librettist reworked the original twelve verses of the hymn into a seven-movement cantata text. As usual, the first and last verses remained untouched whilst the remainder were reworked into an alternating sequence of arias and recitative texts. On occasion, individual lines of the original were retained in the recitative texts, for example the entire ending of the 6th movement, a bass recitative: 'Dies mein Heu, mit Leid vemenget, / so dein teures Blut besprenget, / so am Kreuz vergossen ist, / geb ich dir, Hen Jesu Christ' ('This my heart, with multiplied suffering, / Thus sprinkled with you dear blood, / That was spent on the cross, / I give to you, Lord Jesus Christ'; here Bach's setting also alludes clearly to the melody of the hymn). At times the librettist also refers to the gospel reading for that Sunday, speaking of Jesus as the helper who heals the sick (second movement), in which context sickness is symbolically interpreted as 'der Sünden Aussatz' ('the leprosy of sin'; third movement). Healing, according to the cantata text, consists of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus' 'Blut, so meine Schuld durchsteicht' ('blood that cancels out my guilt'; fourth movement). In his trust in the forgiveness of sins through Jesus' death on the cross, the Christian himself looks forward with confidence and faith to the 'erschrecklichen Gericht' ('terifying judgement'; fifth-seventh movements) at the end of time.
Bach's opening chorus is one of the most resplendent in the entire chorale cantata year. It is unmistakably filled with great expressivity. The aspect of compositional construction, however, also plays a clearly defined role - even if it is less to the fore. At the same time, too, this is a movement which, through the use of historical formal elements, also allows us to perceive something of the peculiar quality of historical consciousness in Bach's music. Here Bach combines the historically influenced form of the hymn with the genre model of the chaconne, itself rich in traditions. Further more, insofar as the movement is a chaconne, he brings together two traditions. On the one hand there is the pattern of the French chaconne. In the configuration that served Bach as a model, it was a strongly stylized dance in 3/4-time that had been the preferred way to conclude an act in ballet or opera since the time of Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687, court conductor of Louis XIV). Formally it was characterized not only by its 3/4 metre and its dance-like four- and eight-bar phrases but also by a rather free basso ostinato technique. On the other hand there was the Italian ciaccoia, like its French equivalent in 3/4-time and with a regular phrase structure, but overall further removed from the dance and with an ostinato technique that was not free but was a strict variation from with a regular and constantly repeated bass pattern. Since the early seventeenth century the ciaccona, as a vocal monody, has been a preferred form of lament in operas and oratorios, especially if combined with a particular bass figure, a falling motif with the compass of a fourth, sometimes descending by the usual intervals of the scale and sometimes chromatically, in semitone intervals - the so-called 'lamento bass', one of the most widespread musical formulas in Baroque music.
In the chorus that begins Bach's cantata, all the characteristic elements of both traditions are gathered together. Typical of the French variety is the long upbeat (two crotchets) that marks out the harmonic course of events and also the free element of the chromatic bass theme, which at times also appears in the middle and upper parts, is varied and inverted, and on occasion is entirely absent. The Italian tradition, on the other hand, is reflected above all in the lamento figure of a chromatically descending fourth in the bass and in the absolute regularity of the eight-bar phrase structure.
All of this is now combined with a hymn that, despite originally being in 4/4-time, is here modified to fit the 3/4-time of the chaconne. The movement's climactic points are the cantus firmus passages, where the soprano presents the hymn line by line, each line introduced by a fugato from the lower parts (alto, tenor and bass). These passages are at the same time crucial points of the musical construction: Bach combines all eight lines of the hymn melody with the chromatic bass theme according to an ingenious plan. It is impossible to find sufficient words of praise for this constructional idea and the manner in which it is executed. It would sell the music short, however, if we limited our admiration to the formal and technical results. Bach's fundamental concept is anchored more deeply, in the totality of the text, which speaks of the 'bittern Tod' ('bitter death') of Jesus and the 'schweren Seelennot' ('heavy grief of the soul') of humankind. It was this, rather than a simple formal excitement, that Bach was concerned to convey in his music.
The solution that Bach found for his setting of the text allocates a central musical role, and thus also a central meaning, to the chromatic sequences. For music of the baroque period this amounted to nothing less than the emotional figure associated with mourning. Beyond this generalized emotional significance, however, the figure possesses another, more definite illustrative meaning. According to the seventeenth-century 'musica poetica' tradition - a theory of composition that was cultivated in particular in Protestant Germany and which oriented itself in accordance with ancient rhetor- the chromatic sequence functioned as 'a line against itself', as the musical line appeared to be directed at itself, so to speak: it uses the note F to 'erase' the preceding F sharp, and the E flat to cancel the preceding E. And, according to the same tradition, the chromatic sequence is also known as the 'passus duriusculus', a 'difficult passage.' The former, the ‘line against itself', is understood as an image of humans who turn against themselves through their sins; the 'difficult passage' can be understood as an image for the 'difficult' path of Jesus to the cross.
For Bach, this figure had all of these meanings: in the Weimar cantata Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV l2 (1714), the same chromatic ostinato bass appeals in a decidedly emotional context, as a figure representing crying an lamentation. Many years later, Bach revised this movement for use in his B minor Mass, and there, with the addition of a new text, an extra dimension is added to the image of the 'difficult passage' to the cross: now the text is 'Crucifixus etiam pro nobis' ('he was also crucified for us'). The music of the present introductory chorus, too, deals with all of this in an unprecedentedly in tense manner: it is filled with the emotion of lamentation and, in its own figurativeness, it speaks insistently and emphatically of mankind's sin and of Christ's way to the cross.
The remaining movements require no detailed commentary. The images and gestures of the wonderful duet 'Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten' ('We hasten with weak yet eager steps': second movement) are self-explanatory - the 'emsigen Schritten' ('eager steps') of the instrumental bass and the illustrative 'hurrying after each other' of the imitative, often canonic vocal parts. The same applies to the powerfully worded, flexible and heartfelt 'preaching' recitatives (movements 3 and 5), to the tenor aria 'Das Blut, so meine Schuld durchsteicht' ('The blood that cancels out my guilt’; fourth movement) in which the concertante flute so beautifully illustuates the continuation of the text 'macht mir das Herze wieder leicht' ('eases my heart once again'), to the bass aria (sixth movement) that almost seems like a little double concerto for voice and oboe, and to the concluding chorale verse (seventh movement), a musically simple prayer full of faith in God and confidence. © Klaus Hofmann 2004
1 Cantata 78, BCW Details & Discography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78.htm.
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: Trinity +14 Commentary 385; Cantata 78 text 403-409, Commentary 408-414).
3 Four synopsis: Anderson, Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Boyd, Malcolm (Oxford University Press: New York, 1999: 246). Jones, The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750. “Music to Delight the Spirit” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 149). Whittaker, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach (Oxford University Press: London, 1958: II: 379). Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005: 526).
4 Browne Cantata 78 text English translation, see BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale022-Eng3.htm.
5Scoring, Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus
Orchestra: transverse flutes, 2 oboes, 2 violins, cello, violone, viola, continuo with organ. There is also a horn in the continuo for the opening chorus. Score Vocal & Piano [2.07 MB], BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV078-V&P.pdf; Score BGA [2.85 MB], http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BGA/BWV078-BGA.pdf. References: BGA: XVIII Church Cantata 71-80, Wilhelm Rust 1870; NBA: I/21 (Cantata for Trinity 14, Werner Neumann, 1859), Bach Compendium BC A 130, Zwang: K 86. Cantata 78 Movements, Scoring, Text; Key, Meter.
6Mincham, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page, http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/index.htm.
7 Gardiner notes, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Gardiner-P07c[sdg124_gb].pdf; Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec2.htm#P7.
8 Hofmann liner notes, BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Rec-BIG/Suzuki-C25c[BIS-CD1361].pdf; BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Suzuki-Rec2.htm#C25.
To Come: Cantata 78, Part 2, Chorales and texts and Bach’s performance calendar for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, further notes on Cantata 78 by Peter Smaill, Linda Gingrich, others.
William Hoffman wrote (September 3, 2014):
Cantata BWV 78, Part 2: Chorales, Liturgical Themes, Passion
In Middle Trinity Time, Bach often was able to utilize popular chorales without particular Sunday designations. Meanwhile the group or sub-cycle of Sundays with the theme “New Life of Righteousness” became “Works of Faith and Love.” Interestingly, Bach was able to use Passion-related hymns in two of his three cantatas for the 14th Sunday after Trinity. Bach chose these particular chorales as part of Christian proclamation. As for assistance with the poetry, it is quite possible that Bach relied on the help of Picander, beginning as early as Middle Trinity Time in 1723, possibly assisting with the chorale cantatas, and taking over the later Trinity Time cantatas in the third cycle in 1726, and especially afterwards.
The significance of Christ’s Passion in the opening passacaglia with similar patterns in other vocal works is the subject of Peter Smaill extensive analysis of Cantata 78, Introduction to BWV 78, "Jesu,du der meine Seele."1 <<In the course of the Chorale cantata cycle of 1724, Bach and his librettist twice lean towards creating Passion music comparable to the quality and style of the SMP (BWV 244) and SJP (BWV 245). In BWV 101, the Gospel inclines the choice of Chorale. In relation to BWV 78, it is the Chorale text itself, little related to the readings for the day, which almost exclusively dictates the purpose of the Cantata; a meditation on identification with, redemption through, and protection by Jesus.
BWV 101, “Nimm von uns” was written for Trinity 10 (August 13]; then, on the 14th Sunday in Trinity [September 10], Bach creates in the most complex and multi-layered fashion, one of the greatest of all Baroque choruses. It is as if he is using this Sunday (numerologically of course appropriate to BACH) as an opportunity to state with all his art the personal meaning of Jesus to the Cantor.
The key IMO to what Bach achieves in Mvt. 1 is the dictum of Mvt. 5, to which central thesis the Cantata libretto builds: “Die wunden, Nägel, Kron, und Grab, / Die Schläge, so man dort dem heiland gab, / Sind ihm nunmehro Siegeszeichen” (“The wounds, nails, crown, and grave / The blows they gave the saviour there /Are now signs of his Victory”).
Bach achieves the musical exposition of this transformation in Mvt. 1 in a most ingenious way. The wistful sighing motif of the opening ritornello is soon overtaken by the chromatic passacaglia. Overlaid like a veil, this occurs 27 times according to Dürr [Cantatas of JSB: 526]; add to Trinity 14 (gematric “Bach”), and we reach 41 (“J S Bach”.)(? !) It was noted before that Bach, as it were, "signs" BWV 150 with his own name due to the acrostic of the last four lines, the initial letters spelling out "BACH", a poinnoticed by Johan de Wael [1594-1663. BWV 78 and BWV 150 have several points of similarity.
The passacaglia, which in Bach is associated with the Passion, is challenged by the frequent repetitions of the upward rising anapaestic joy motif, increasingly insistent that the Passion motif is transformed into a sign of victory, the escape of the soul from death and the devil. The whole, as in BWV 150’s highly related opening chorus, (for this comparison see the discussions at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV150-D4.htm set against a marching bass line, symbolising faith but which nevertheless ploughs the depths in a downward swoop shortly after the script give out “des Teufels finstern Höhle“, the “devil’s hole.“
The chromatic pattern also appears in BWV 63 (at "Aber niemals lass geschehn, das uns Satan mogen quälen") ("But never let Satan molest us") and in BWV 91 (at "Jammertal") ("Valley of distress"). So images of descent and the devil below are closely associated as well as more general suffering and the Passion. No more explicit can be the Bach inscription accompanying the appearance of the motif in the canon discovered by Wolff in 1974 (BWV 1087) [14 Goldberg Canons], "Christus Coronabit Crucigeros", - "Christ will crown the crossbearers"- sentiments shared with Mvt. 5.
Note that the passacaglia in Mvt. 1 IMO subtly mutates to a more embellished, less sombre ground with seemingly brighter orchestral colour as a support to the later entries of the choral layers and orchestral ritornello. The motif of mourning and penitence becomes ameliorated in the progress to victory. Quite unusually, since chaconne type forms usually conclude Baroque works, Bach opens with this form – set against a Chorale in imitation, then relative diminution/augmentation. The parts are flung about from instruments through voices; major chords beginning to break through. Even though the rigid structure dictated by passacaglia and chorale is adhered to, variation is everywhere evident.
And then – there is more; a strident, insistent signal (Whittaker: "a new theme consisting of a sevenfold hammered repetition") [Cantatas of JSB: II:381] ; perhaps the accenting of the five notes allude to the Five Wounds of the nails referred to in Mvt. 5, just as the scourging of Christ for man is hinted at in the abrasion of the strings, the “Schwere sträf “ of BWV 101. “Forcibly torn out” (“Kräftlich Herausgerissen”) is also highlighted with rising imitative themes, marked rhythm and a modulation to F major.
The mood finally changes at the sustained bass pedal point preceding “Sei doch itzt”- “Be even now, O God, my refuge”; the prayer is implicitly answered after the final rendering of the penitential chromatic passacaglia theme, the “cursus duriusculus”, with the tierce de Picardy with which Bach always concludes the harmonisation of this Chorale, giving the accent of victory. Suzuki (Hofmann) [liner notes, BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Suzuki-Rec2.htm#C25] points out that both the Italian and French models of the passacaglia are combined in the ostinato bass theme, exchanging it between parts (à la francaise), but Italianate in the strict form and repetitiveness of the theme.
So there we have it – in just over five minutes: chorale in augmentation/diminution, imitation, stretto, inversion, passacaglia of dual type, modulation, word-painting, tierce, pedal point and (arguably) numerology. The passacaglia theme is the most significant deployment, for it already marks a late point in Bach’s career for original statements in the form. His early experiments with the form (BWV 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden”, but also BWV 12 “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen”, and especially BWV 150, “Nach dich Herr” ) are influenced by Buxtehude, but no-one other than Bach could have combined the form with a chorale in this way.
The final expression of the form is I think the “Crucifixus” of the B Minor Mass (BWV 232); but that is a rework of BWV 12. The chiastic C Minor Passacaglia BWV 582 (see: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/tomparsanalysis.html) is early; c.1708; as is the Capriccio on the Departure of his Beloved Brother, evidently a very personal composition. There is, however, one other, very relevant example.
In the Partita BWV 1004 we have in the final movement the closely related form, a Chaconne; and, written just four years earlier, it too combines chorale(s) and a repetitive bass figure. However, in the case of the Chaconne, it is several chorales that are implicit within the solo violin line, as analysed by Helga Thoene [http://www.helga-thoene.de/]. If Thoene is correct, then it unlikely that the formula of combining chorale with Passacaglia chosen by Bach for the Passion themes of BWV 78 would not have resonated in his mind with the combination of chaconne and passion chorales implicit in BWV 1004. Thus this Cantata must be very personal to Bach since his other experimentation with the combination is intimately connected with the death of his first wife, Maria Barbara, on 7 July 1720.
Thus also it is Bach’s prayer as much as anyone’s in the concluding Chorale (BWV 78/7]: “Lord, I believe; help me in my weakness: / Let me indeed not lose heart; / You, you can make me stronger / When death and sin attack me.”
What a contrast between the opening Chorus and the Duet Mvt. 2! “ Exceptionally charming and therefore well known” says Dürr [Ibid: 527], who gives it but one paragraph. If the repetitive dominant F (et seq.) of the continuo, part of the stepping imagery, is belted out then it can sound trite especially after the intensity of Mvt. 1. Despite being a distillation of part of the long and very graphic blood-and-sweat depiction of the Passion in the full chorale text, the rhetorical form is significant- for those keen on such an exegesis, http://www.musicapoetica.net/bachbwv78.htm by George Dadisman sets out the textual richness of the piece. The final abrupt end in two thirds recalls the turtledoves which close BWV 71 and the depiction is of "erfreuen/erfreulich" ( delight/delighting)in the respective works.
Mvt. 4, the Tenor aria, manages to combine both the theories of the Passion, the classic Christus Victor- Jesus as a battle aid to the Christian; but also the Blood that cancels out guilt- the Satisfaction theory. However, the basic position, as in BWV 150, is depicting Christ as the all-powerful ally of the Christian against the Devil.
Mvt. 5, a very beautiful bass recitative is an unusual structure recalling the treatment of Spruchen in the Passions. There is a remarkable dramatic drop of an eleventh between “Kron” and “Grab.”
The Cantata overall is almost symmetrical in even numbers of lines: Chorus SATB 8 / Aria (duet) SA 8 / Recitative T 16 / Aria T 8 / Recitative B 16 / Aria B 7 / Chorale SATB 8.
The final chorale is indeed simply harmonised with a walking bass “of faith” and the tenor emphasising the final “Ewigkeit”. It achieves its full majesty in the hands of Richter  (in every other respect Suzuki  is preferable) [BCW Cantaa 78, Details Discography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78.htm]. This Chorale was a rightly popular hymn tune at the time. In part the attraction is the verbal felicity of the internal rhymes and alliteration of the first two lines, “Jesu, du der meine Seele/hast durch deinen bittern Tod”. Rist's "Sabbahtische Seelenlust" of 1651 is illustrated by a magnificent woodcut as if of "the music of the spheres", and as Yearsley notes ("Bach and the Meaning of Counterpoint), Bach would have very likely owned the work as it was in CPE Bach's library, and originated in Luneberg. Aryeh has kindly created the following link to the illustration: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV78-Frontpiece.htm
Note too that the inscription, "Die Himmel erzhalen die ehre Gottes", is the incipit of BWV 76 which is itself of 14 movements. This book by Rist and the contemporary work by Kircher which inspired the illustration,"Musurgia Universalis", may also have been a factor in Bach's desire to create such a structurally definitive work, with many hermeneutic aspects, as is evident in the opening chorus of BWV 78. Rist's poetry and likely Chorale melody thus inspired Bach to artistry that is instantly appealing and yet of amazing inner complexity.>>
Discussion: Chorale Cantata Allegorical Connections
Linda Gingrich wrote: (January 26, 2012, BCW, “Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 14th Sunday after Trinity http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity14.htm. <<Bach's three extant cantatas for the 14th Sunday After Trinity, Cantatas BWV 25, 78, and 17, reveal significant use of popular chorale melodies with poetic texts. Some may be interested to know that there are several allegorical connections between BWV 78 and the cantata for the following Sunday, BWV 99. To give a couple of examples, their texts seem to be two sides of the same theological coin, supported by an interesting tonal relationship—BWV 78, in G minor, has a strong emphasis on the cross of Christ; BWV 99, in G major, has a strong emphasis on the cross of the believer. And the ostinato in 78's first movement and an important string motive in 99 appear to be related. There are other connections, but these are among the juiciest.
BWV 78's first movment is also chock full of musical and allegorical weight--number symbolism, an amazingly broad spectrum of musical styles and substance--it's an incredible work on multiple levels. The text is deeply personal and penitential, and in light of Bach's fascination with the number 14 I suspect that its appearance on the 14th Sunday is no accident! It is truly a towering cantata.2
Douglas Cowling wrote (January 26, 2012): Linda Gingrich wrote: < BWV 78's first movement is also chock full of musical and allegorical weight--number symbolism, an amazingly broad spectrum of musical styles and substance--it's an incredible work on multiple levels. > This cantata symbolizes Bach's greatness to me. The opening chorus has a mind-boggling complexity: a sarabande ritornello over a bass ostinato supporting a fugal chorale-fantasy. And it's achingly beautiful!
And if that challenge to the mind was not enough, the following duet has a charm and lightness like a peal of laughter from the Bach household. This is why I'm seriously considering getting the JSB monogram as a tattoo. Could it ever go out of fashion?
Linda Gingrich wrote (January 26, 2012), BCW: Douglas Cowling wrote: < And if that challenge to the mind was not enough, the following duet has a charm and lightness like a peal of laughter from the Bach household. This is why I'm seriously considering getting the JSB monogram as a tattoo Could it ever go out of fashion? > The duet is wonderful, isn't it! JSB tattoo! Maybe his portrait as well?
Chorales for 14th Sunday After Trinity
See: Motets & Chorales for 14th Sunday after Trinity
Picander Collaboration in First Three Cycles?
Cantata 17 was Bach's last sacred cantata set to a Rudolstadt text. For the rest of Trinity Time 1726, Bach resorted to using a variety of old published texts, probably directing Picander to adapt Neumeister and Helbig texts (BWV 27, 56, 47), as well as Picander's own poetry (BWV 19, 49, 98, 55, 52). For the church year beginning in Advent 1726, Bach ceased the regular production of service cantatas, selectively relying primarily on Picander to provide texts to fill gaps in the third cycle at Epiphany/pre-Lent 1727 and special events such as feast days.
Interestingly, Bach had come full circle with his poet Picander. At this Trinity Time exactly three years before in 1723, Bach appears to have first turned to Picander to assist in the assembly of poetic cantata texts, possibly beginning in Cantata 25 with the utilization of Johann Jacob Rambach's pietistic poetry published in Halle in 1720 (see Francis Browne's Cantata 25 Notes, BCW http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/36082. The Rambach original is entitled "Ich seufze Jesu" (I sigh about Jesus). For the next Sunday, the 15th After Trinity, Picander may have assisted with Cantata BWV 138. Cantata 95 for the 16th Sunday After Trinity is an amalgamation of various chorale texts while Cantata 148 for the 17th Sunday After Trinity is attributed "after Picander 1724/25 (Weg ihr ihrdischen Geschafte) stark umgearbeitet" [Werner Neumann Handbuch der Kantaten JSB 5th Edition (Weisbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1984; p. 164).
Speculative conclusions can be drawn from the Picander collaboration. It appears from collateral evidence that Bach found Picander useful in producing texts that were poetically and politically acceptable. Picander increasingly was able to utilize pietistic sentiments favorable to the cantor conservative faction on the Town Council while integrating the lyrics within the context of acceptable Lutheran chorales, especially in his complete annual cantata cycle text published in 1728 that shows the use of acceptable, more general chorales, especially at Trinity Time. In addition, Picander became eminently skillful at adapting new text underlay to established lyrics, called "parody."
It is possible that Picander also assisted in the paraphrasing of chorale texts, working with Streck's proposed four collaborators on groups of texts, especially during middle Trinity Time 1724 when Bach again may have been pushing the envelope with the Town Council, his employer, daring to step on the tails of dragons while mesmerizing them with beguiling music. While Picander's poetry continues to disturb contemporary sensibilities, especially in Cantata 25, and still is an embarrassment to Bach scholars, his wordsmithing could very well have enabled Bach to secure original lyrics to create such unique, appealing, lasting music.
Picander's cantata text P-57, "Schöpfer aller Dinge" (Creator of all things) for Trinity 14 (Sept. 29, 1728) in the published cycle closes with the plain chorale, "O Gott, du frommer Gott" (O God, Thou very God), in the 1630 8-stanza text of Johann Heermann. The chorale is listed in NLGB as No. 202 for Trinity Time ("Christian Life") but is not one of the recommended hymns for a particular Sunday. Francis Browne's translation of the chorale text is found in BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale013-Eng3.htm. Full details are available at BCW, "Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 8th Sunday after Trinity," http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity8.htm.
Heerman's "O Gott, du frommer Gott" must have been a serendipitous hymn for Bach in Leipzig and a favored chestnut all the way around. Bach used four variant melodies to seven associated texts in at lest seven sacred cantatas, three sacred songs, and an organ chorale. Bach librettist Picander in his 1728 cantata cycle designated the Heermann text stanzas as plain chorales closing cantatas for Trinity 9, 12 and 14. It reminds one of the old public relations adage, "If you've got good news, share it."
Stözel's 1735 Cycle
Bach presented Stözel's two-part Cantata "Ich bin der Herr, dein Artz" (I am the Lord, thy healer) for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, Sept. 11, 1735. The cantata has chorales closing in both parts; Part 2 begins with dictum, No. 5, "Opfere Gott Dank, und bezahle dem Höchsten deine Gelubde" (Offer God thanks, and pay the Highest thy vow); part of annual cycle "Saitenspiele des Hertzens" (String Music of the Heart). More research should determine the chorales presented. As early as September 2, 1736, Bach presented another cycle, “The Book of the Names of Christ,” of the Gotha composer Gottfried Heinrch Sölzel and pietist court poet Benjamin Schmolck.
The authentic source and the paraphrasing in Cantata 78 are found in the BCW “Provenance” article of Thomas Braatz (September 18, 2001, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV78-Ref.htm): << Authentic Source: The set of original parts (the autograph score has been lost.) The NBA (KB) does not list any later performance of this cantata in Bach's lifetime. For many years it was thought that Bach performed it a second time, dropping the "Corno" part and only using the flute colla parte. The "Corno" is used in both the opening mvt. as well as in the final chorale (Mvt. 7.)
1BCML Discussions - Part 3, Week of August 20, 2006, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78-D3.htm.
2 Linda Gingrich’s The seen and the unseen: Hidden allegorical links in the Trinity season chorale cantatas of J. S. Bach; D.M.A., University of Washington, 2008, 146; 3303284 (http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/pqdtopen/doc/251359759.html?FMT=AI).
3 “Motets and Chorales for the 14th Sunday after Trinity,” BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Trinity14.htm.
4 Strodach, “Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles and Gospels” (Philadelphia PA: United Lutheran Publication House, 1924: 216).
5 NLGB, BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682)", Berlin: Merseburger, 1969. ML 3168 G75.
Aryeh Oron wrote (September 4, 2014):
Cantata BWV 78 - Revised & updated Discography
The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 78 “Jesu, der du meine Seele” for the 14th Sunday after Trinity on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of transverse flutes, 2 oboes, 2 violins, cello, violone, viola, continuo with organ. There is also a horn in the continuo for the opening chorus. See:
Complete Recordings (43): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78.htm
Recordings of Individual Movements (57): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV78-2.htm
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.
In addition, I put at the BCW Home Page (1st row) 4 videos of this cantata. 2 are complete recordings: by Elaine Comparone and The Queen's Chamber Band, Choir & Soloists from 2009; and by Karl-Friedrich Beringer and Windsbacher Knabenchor & Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, recorded & filmed live in Dresden in July 2011 (several months before his official recording later that year). The other 2 videos are of the popular aria-duet for soprano & alto "Wir eilen mit schwachen": by Rosemarie Landry & Maureen Forrester filmed during Canada 300 Bach Festival in 1985; and by James McCarthy & Brooklyn Boys Chorus recorded & filmed in the early 1980's. I find these two videos as the most charming of over 50 recordings of this duet.
I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this magnificent chorale cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 78 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.
Cantata BWV 78: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Article: Program Notes to Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78 [S. Burton]