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Cantata BWV 79
Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Discussions in the Week of October 30, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (October 30, 2016):
Reformationfest Cantata 79, "Nun danket alle Gtt" Intro.

On the Feast of the Reformation, 31 October 1725, Bach premiered special chorus Cantata BWV 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild (God the Lord is sun and shield, Psalm 84:12). To reinforce the festive atmosphere, he scored the 15-minute musical sermon for two horns, timpani, two transverse flutes (added for a later performance), two oboes, strings and continuo. He achieved a unity within the structure by using the horns not only in the opening massive reprise chorus prelude and fugue but also as obbligato instruments in the two chorales, the first time even playing the same motifs as found in the opening reprise biblical dictum chorus. Next is an appealing alto aria in dance-style using the same biblical dictum as the chorus, a homophonic soprano-bass duet prayer (no. 5), “Gott, ach Gott, verlaß die Deinen / Nimmermehr!” (God, ah God, forsake your people / never again!), and a bass recitative (no. 4), “Gottlob, wir wissen / Den rechten Weg zur Seligkeit” (God be praised, we know / the right way to blessedness).1

The anonymous librettist used a structural form special among Bach’s cantata cycles while showing extensive biblical and theological knowledge. The integral music and text enabled Bach to recycle the chorus and both arias in his Missa: Kyrie, Gloria, BWV 234 and 236. The original author of Cantata 79 may have been Christian Weise Sr., Bach’s St. Thomas Pastor, or Erdmann Neumeister, the Hamburg theologian and librettist for five cantata cycles of church music (see below). Cantata BWV 79 contains two plain chorales: No. 3, Martin Rinckart 1630 “Nun danket alle Gott / Mit Herzen, Mund und Händen” (Now all thank God /with heart, mouth and hands, final Stanza 3), on “Christian Life and Conduct,” and No. 6, Ludwig Helmbold 1575 communion hymn, “Nun laßt uns Gott uns Gott dem Herren” (Now let us to God the Lord), Stanza 8; “Erhalt uns in die Wahrheit” (Keep us in the truth). “Nun danket alle Gott” was sung regularly after the sermon on Reformation Day in Leipzig, says Klaus Hofmann (see below, “Cantata 79: Joyous Celebration”). For details of both chorale settings, see below, “Hymn ‘Nun danket alle Gott’.”

Reformation Festival, Hymns, Liturgy, Readings

The Feast of the Reformation main service was observed in Leipzig on October 31. The date of October 31 for was first established in 1617 at the Jubilee Year Centennial Celebration of the Reformation. In electoral Saxony the date was established in 1667, on the 150th anniversary of Luther's posting of the 95 Theses. The "Reformation anniversary was never considered fully equal to the other festivals of the church year, despite its increasing significance in the 18th century," says Günther Stiller in Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.2 This is reflected in Bach's hymn book, Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682, where there is no separate listing of hymns to be sung at the Reformationfest, also known as "Luther Festival." Meanwhile the recognized Reformation chorales are found in the appropriate NLGB thematic sections of Trinity Time such as "Psalm Hymns" ("Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott," No. 255) and "Christian Life and Conduct" ("Nun danket alle Gott," No. 238).

The “omission of music for the Sacrament [Communion hymns] in the Reformation anniversary, however, is evidently to be traced to the feast that in the main service of that festival there was not only the usual cantata, but after the pulpit service of the preacher” [sermon] “the Te Deum laudamus [NLGB 166, chant HDEKM I,1) was performed with trumpets and drums,” says Stiller (Ibid.), with the Latin Kyrie (NLGB 143) at the beginning of the service “in addition to the usual Introit motet.” The Te Deum laudamus also was performed on the Feast of Michael and All Angels, a Reformation-related service celebrating the defeat of evil and the triumph of the believer as found in the chorales appropriate for the Feast of the Reformation.

The readings for the Reformation Festival in Leipzig in Bach’s time, while not prescribed and subject to the preached sermon, were: apostle Paul’s Epistle, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8, a plea to the congregation to remain steadfast in its faith against the adversary until the Second Coming, and the Gospel, Revelation 14:6-8, two angels with the “everlasting Gospel” to “Fear and Honor God.” The German text of Luther’s 1545 publisged translation and the English Authorised (King James) Version 1611 is found at BCW

The appropriate Introit setting is Psalm 46, Deus noster refugiam (God is our refuge, Gott ist unser Zuversicht). Psalm 46 text (KJV) is found at Zuversicht is a theme found in Bach’s Cantatas BWV 197,” Gott ist unsre Zuversicht” (God is our confidence), a c.1736-37 sacred wedding cantata, and 1728 SATB solo Cantata 188, “Ich habe meine Zuversicht / Auf den getreuen Gott gericht'? (I have placed my confidence / in the faithful God), for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, set to a published Picander text (see Francis Browne’s Notes on Text, “Mvt. 2: Tenor Aria,” BCML Cantata 188 Discussions Part 5 (October 9, 2016), Motet settings of Psalm 46, “God is our refuge,” include: “Gott ist unser Zuversicht,” Psalm 46 by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) and “Deus noster refugium” by Michel-Richard Delelande (1657-1726).3

For the Leipzig annual celebration of the Reformation Feast, the main services were held at the Nikolaikirche and the St. Thomas Church, with Bach also presenting a festive cantata at the University Paulinerkirckhe, as was his responsibility on feast days as Leipzig music director. Reformation Festive Vespers were held in Leipzig on the eve of the festival. The music may have included the organ Prelude, "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott," BWV 720; Psalm 46 setting, "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" (NLGB No. 255); the German Magnificat, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herr" (NLGB No. 153); Cantata BWV 79; Versicles; Nunc dimittis, Canticum Simeonis (NLGB No. 55); Collects; Benediction; Recessional Hymn, "Nun danket alle Gott" (NLGB No. 238); and organ chorale postlude, "Nun danket alle Gott," BWV 657.

Bach’s calendar for performances of cantatas for the October 31 Reformation Festival and special observances involves cantatas designated for that festival, BWV 80 and 79); music probably composed for that event, chorale Cantata BWV 192, “Nun danket alle Gott”; music arranged for that festival, Cantata BWV 76 Part 1, and Cantata BWV 194 Part 1; music composed for another service but appropriate for that observance, pure hymn chorale Cantata BWV 129, composed for Trinity Sunday 1726; and music composed for another service but possibly adapted for Reformation fest, BWV 63, in 1718 in Halle. Also of special note are three Picander published parodies of Town Council Cantatas BWV Anh. 4 (1725) and BWV 120 (1728 or 1729) and New Year’s chorus Cantata BWV 190 (1724) adapted for the 200th anniversary of the singing of the Augsburg Confession, June 25-27, 1730.

In addition to the special services, Bach in 1730 also probably presthree cantatas on Reformation Day, Tuesday, 31 October. Chorale Cantata 80, "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" (A Mighty Fortress is our God,” probably was performed, as well as a repeat of Cantata 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild.” They would have been presented at the Nikolaikirche and St. Thomas Churches. In addition, pure-hymn chorale Cantata BWV 192, “Nun Danket alle Gott” (Now thank we all our God), composed in 1730 but with no service designation on the title page of the surviving manuscript score, could have been performed at the University Church, with either Cantatas 80 or 79. Bach here would have performed the music with trumpets and horns played by members of his Collegium musicum, which he directed beginning in 1729.

Another major observance of the Reformation, took place in Leipzig in 1739, commemorating the community’s acceptance of the Reformation, including an appearance from Martin Luther on Pentecost Sunday, 25 May, at the St. Thomas Church and in an evening vesper service at the Pleissenburg Castle on the Leipzig square, where Luther preached on the day’s Gospel, John 14:23, “He who loves me will follow my word.” Previously in 1719, Luther, had conducted a theological disputation in Leipzig at the beginning of the Reformation.

Cantata 79 Movements, Scoring, Incipits, Key, Meter 4

1. Chorus ABA’ reprise with extended opening sinfonia (44mm), ritornelli, A homophonic with thematic integration, B fugue complex [SATB; Corno I/II, Timpani, Flauto traverso I e Oboe I all' unisono, Flauto traverso II e Oboe II all' unisono, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild (God the Lord is sun and shield, Psalm 84:11); B. Der Herr gibt Gnade und Ehre, / er wird kein Gutes mangeln lassen den Frommen” (the Lord gives mercy and honour, / he will allow no good thing to be lacking to the righteous); G Major, 2/2 alle breve.
2. Aria fee da-capo with ritornelli [Alto, Oboe solo (or Flauto), Continuo]: A. “Gott ist unsre Sonn und Schild! / Darum rühmet dessen Güte / Unser dankbares Gemüte, / Die er für sein Häuflein hegt.” (God is our sun and shield! / Therefore our grateful spirit / praises the kindness / with which he cares for his little flock.); B. “Denn er will uns ferner schützen, / Ob die Feinde Pfeile schnitzen / Und ein Lästerhund gleich billt.” (For he wants to continue to protect us / although our enemies sharpen their arrows / and a blasphemous dog now barks.); D Major; 6/8 passepied-menuett style.
3. Chorale plain, BAR form with interludes, obbligati instruments (horns) [SATB; Flauto traverso I/II e Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Corno I/II, Timpani, Continuo]: A “Nun danket alle Gott / Mit Herzen, Mund und Händen” (Now all thank God /with heart, mouth and hands); A’ “Der große Dinge tut / An uns und allen Enden” (He does great things /for us and all our purposes); B. “Der uns von Mutterleib / Und Kindesbeinen an / Unzählig viel zugut Und noch itzund getan.” (He for us from our mother's womb / and childish steps / countless great good / has done and still continues to do); G Major; 4/4.
4. Recitative secco [Bass, Continuo]: Gottlob, wir wissen / Den rechten Weg zur Seligkeit” (God be praised, we know / the right way to blessedness); “Denn, Jesu, du hast ihn uns durch dein Wort gewiesen / Drum bleibt dein Name jederzeit gepriesen” (for, Jesus, you have shown it to us through your word, / therefore your name forever remains praised.); “Weil aber viele noch / Zu dieser Zeit / An fremdem Joch / Aus Blindheit ziehen müssen, / Ach! so erbarme dich / Auch ihrer gnädiglich, / Daß sie den rechten Weg erkennen / Und dich bloß ihren Mittler nennen.” (But since many still / at this time / must bear a foreign yoke through blindness, / ah! have pity / on them graciously / so that they come to know the right way / and name you as their only mediator.); e minor to b minor; 4/4.
5. Aria (duet) in three parts ABB with ritornelli, homophonic in thirds [Soprano, Bass; Violino I/II all' unisono, Continuo]: A. “Gott, ach Gott, verlaß die Deinen / Nimmermehr!” (God, ah God, forsake your people / never again!); B. Laß dein Wort uns helle scheinen; / Obgleich sehr / Wider uns die Feinde toben, / So soll unser Mund dich loben.” (Let your word shine clearly for us; / although our / enemies rage very greatly against us, our mouth will then praise you.); b minor; 4/4.
6. Chorale plain [SATB; Flauto traverso I/II e Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Corno I/II, Timpani, Continuo]: “Erhalt uns in der Wahrheit, / Gib ewigliche Freiheit, Zu preisen deinen Namen / Durch Jesum Christum. Amen.” (Keep us in the truth, / give us eternal freedom / to praise your name, / through Jesus Christ. Amen.); G Major; ¾ meter.

Cantata 79 Planning

Bach began planning for Cantata 79 in 1725 six months before the Feast of the Reformation in stirring fashion with “his best foot forward,” observes John Eliot Gardiner in his 20005 liner notes to his 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria.5 << We opened [the Feast of the Reformation concert] with BWV 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild,” as stirring a way to celebrate this Reformation Festival as one could ever imagine. It dates from 1725. Bach had missed the opportunity eight years earlier to compose something spectacular for the bicentennial celebrations at Weimar – either he was not asked or, more likely, he declined (he was sulking because of the Duke’s refusal to let him take up a new post at Cöthen). This time he was determined to put his best foot forward, and there is evidence that, contrary to his usual practice, he began composing BWV 79 six months ahead of its scheduled performance.

The opening movement is fashioned as a kind of ceremonial Aufzug or procession – a moving tableau of Lutheran folk on the march. But their militancy is not in the least grim-faced: the 62-bar introduction establishes a mood of outgoing joy and bonhomie. Underpinning the fanfares of the high horns is an insistent drum beat which, interpreted a little fancifully, replicates the hammering of Luther’s theses to the oak door at the back of the church. Even this drops out after twelve bars, time for the horn players to breathe and to make room for an animated three-part fugato between the strings, flutes and oboes. When it returns, the horn theme hovering above the busy working out of the fugato, it is to prepare for the grand entrance of the chorus. The voices enter singly and spaciously with majestic sweep and a glorious arc to their phrases, a lustre more evocative of cherubim and seraphim than of sturdy Lutheran Hausfrauen on the warpath. Bach’s control of his material is consummate. After four segments never lasting more than eight bars he adapts the instrumental fugato to suit his choir, now declaiming [er wird kein Gutes mangeln lassen den Frommen] ‘no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly’. He makes six pairs of entries in strettos, now at half-bar, now at whole-bar intervals, sometimes at the unison, then at the octave, down a fourth, and so on, with the ‘answer’ given twice direct and four times inverted. Gillies Whittaker, who besides writing extensive analyses of Bach’s church cantatas, conducted them all in Newcastle over several years after the First World War, confessed that he ‘rarely felt such spiritual exultation as when conducting this wonderful chorus’.FN I do remember being tremendously stirred when I conducted it in 1972, but on this occasion, here in Wittenberg, its impact was overwhelming.

With his penchant for pronounced changes of scale and abrupt switches from the public to the private, Bach follows this initial pageantry with an aria for alto with oboe obbligato of deceptive simplicity. Both the syncopated stresses of the first two bars and the varying phrasdivisions (6 + 6 bars for the ritornello, 2 + 2, 2 + 2, then 6 in the vocal line) tease the ear. In the last line comes the warning of a ‘blasphemous barking dog’ – could this be an allusion to the dog Luther claimed to have found in his bed up in his Wartburg prison? Convinced that it was the devil in disguise he hurled the poor beast out of his window into the night.

Back come the horns and drums with their marching theme from the first movement [no. 3], now as a backcloth to Martin Rinckart’s hymn ‘Nun danket alle Gott’, familiar in English as ‘Now thank we all our God’. Johann Crüger’s sturdy tune never moves out of the narrow span of a sixth, though you would never guess it from the breadth and majesty it generates. Bach’s harmonisation brings this triptych to a satisfying conclusion, suggesting that originally the sermon may have followed at this point.

The second part of the cantata is perhaps inevitably less impressive, though there is a ravishing duet for soprano and bass (No.5) beginning with parallel motion in tenths, innocent in the way an Adam-and-Eve like couple (pre-Fall) invoke God’s protection, hand in hand. There is even a pre-echo here of Papageno and Papagena, a Mozartian impression reinforced by the hint of Eine kleine Nachtmusik in the violin ritornelli. Though Bach does his best to counter this genial music and to suggest danger in his treatment of the ‘raging of the enemy’ his foes remain a lot less threatening than Luther’s persistent ghoulish tormentors.
© John Eliot Gardiner 2005; From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage>>

Cantata 79: Joyous Celebration

Reinforced with two appropriate chorale settings for the Fest of the Reformation, Cantata 79 is a joyous celebration, observes Klaus Hoffman in his 2008 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki complete BIS cantata recordings.7 << This cantata was written for the Feast of the Reformation in 1725, celebrated in the Evangelical church on 31st October of each year to commemorate Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door on 31st October 1517, thereby setting the Reformation in motion. The unknown librettist does not concern himself closely with the gospel passage for that day (Revelation 14:6–8) but turns his attention to the festive occasion and combines his own words with an Old Testament saying as an introduction (Psalm 84: 12) and with two ‘classic’ hymn strophes: ‘Nun danket alle Gott’ (‘Now thank we all our God’) by Martin Rinckart (c. 1630) and ‘Erhalt uns in der Wahrheit’ (‘Keep us in the truth’) from the hymn Nun lasst uns Gott dem Herren (Now let us thank the Lord God) by Ludwig Helmbold (1575). In Leipzig the first of these two hymns was traditionally sung after the sermon at the Feast of the Reformation.

The text inspired Bach to write a work of festive magnificence, lent particular splendour by the horns and timpani in the introductory chorus and in the chorales. The music is readily memorable and hardly requires any explanation. This opening chorus, which outshines all the other movements, is without equal in terms of its breadth of range and structural complexity. To a large extent the music is dominated by two themes that are presented in the extended instrumental introduction: a festive, march-like theme for the horns and timpani, and a more lively counter-theme that develops from a note that is heard seven times. Whereas the first theme serves primarily as an interlude, the second is initially used above all as counterpoint to the choral parts. It is then developed in a simplified vocal version as a choral fugue (to the words ‘er wird kein Gutes mangeln lassen den Frommen’ [‘no good thing will he with hold from them that walk up rightly’]).

Bach has a surprise for his listeners in the chorale [no. 3] ‘Nun danket alle Gott’ (‘Now thank we all our God’): here the horn theme from the introductory chorus appears again, but now simultaneously with the chorale melody – it therefore must have been conceived before Bach started to compose the chorus, with a view to its subsequent combination with the chorale melody. Each of the cantata’s two arias has its own musical profile. In the alto aria the vocal line and wind part develop in different ways from the same thematic nucleus. The duet for bass and soprano features a laconic contrast between the essentially homophonic vocal passages and the sharply contoured violin theme that appears first as an interlude but then, as the writing becomes more concentrated, is combined with the vocal lines. Bach performed the cantata again some years later, probably in 1730, on which occasion he reinforced the two oboe parts with flutes and transferred the oboe part in the alto aria to the flute. A further indication that he valued the work highly is that he later (around 1738–39) reused the duet, with a new text and in a musically much altered form in his Mass in G major (BWV236) [Domine Deus], and also the alto aria in the Mass in A major (BWV234) [Quoniam, as well as the opening chorus became the Gloria in BWV 236].
© Klaus Hofmann 2008

Hymn “Nun danket alle Gott” 8

Rinckart 1636, three-stanza “Nun danket alle Gott” is found in “Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch” (NLGB) 1682, No. 238, “Christian Life and Conduct,” also in “Das Evangelische Kirchengesangbuch (EKG),” with the melody attributed to Rinckart and adapted by Johann Crüger, 1647. See “Nun danket alle Gott,” Wikipedia,; three-stanza text and Francis Browne’s English translation at BCW,; Rinckart BCW Short Biography,; and Crüger BCW Short Biography,

“Nun danket alle Gott” is the most ubiquitous and versatile of all Lutheran hymns. It is found in all German hymnals and is a general sacred song of thanksgiving and praise, often called the “German Te Deum.” Its text can be dated to the centennial of Philipp Melanchthon’s Augsburg Confession that was celebrated in Saxony on June 25-27, 1630. For this anniversary, Rinckart wrote four sacred plays, entitled “Lutherus augustus,” parodying biblical passages. “One of these was on Sirach 50:22-24, which is the first stanza of Nun danket alle Gott,” says Anne Leahy in J. S. Bach’s “Leipzig” Chorale Preludes.9 The full three-stanza text probably was published in 1636 just before the plague at Eilenberg where Rinckart was Archdeacon. The text with music was published in 1647 by Johann Crüger (Praxis Pietatis Melica, Berlin) for the peace of the religious Thirty Years War.

Stanza 1 is an expression of thanks to God and paraphrases Sirach 50:22-24, “And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth” Rinckart also drew on Sirach 39:35 (KJV), “And therefore praise ye the Lord with the whole heart and mouth, and bless the name of the Lord,” says Leahy (Ibid.: 118, FN 4). Stanza 2 “continues with the theme of God’s goodness,” says Leahy (Ibid.: 110): The reference to delivering humanity from “all distress” is from Palm 25:22 (NIV): “Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!” Stanza 3 is a trinitarian doxology, hymn of praise and thanksgiving: “Glory, honour and praise be to God, to the Father and to the Son and to Him, who is equal to both,” with the important reference to Revelation 4:8b (KJV): “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

The “implicit reference to salvation,” says Leahy, reflects “important eschatological issues,” particularly with the use of “Nun danket alle Gott” that closed the Leipzig Good Friday Vespers after one of Bach’s Passions wasperformed. John Butt’s new recording (Linn CKD419) of the “St. John Passion,” BWV 245, uses the liturgical Vespers music, including the NLGB SATB setting (No. 238), particularly appropriate for the Christus Victor emphasis of Evangelist John [see Butt’s recording notes:].

“Nun danket alle Gott” “was used on any occasion of Thanksgiving and praise in the Lutheran Liturgy, says Leahy (Ibid.), citing Günther Stiller (Ibid.). Bach observed this in his various settings of the Reformation chorale. It was sung along with the Te Deum at festival services for St. Michael, Reformation, and New Year’s Day (Ibid.: 81, 248, 236); the Sundays and festival day Vespers following the Magnificat (Ibid.: 258), and after the closing Benediction in weddings (Ibid.: 94), and possibly at the Trinity Sunday Festival closing the <de tempore> first half of the church year.

For these sacred occasions, Bach also composed “Great 18” organ chorale BWV 657(a) in G Major (composed in Weimar and revised in Leipzig c.1741), as the main service prelude or postlude and the Good Friday Vespers postlude ( ); the wedding chorale, BWV 252, with obbligati horns in G Major (; timing 2:00); and plain chorale BWV 386 in A Major for general use ( . A feast of Bach’s hymn settings of “Nun danket alle Gott,” involving BWV 79/3, 192, 252, 386, and 657 is found at Organ chorale BWV 657 “is both a splendid exercise in the Pachelbel form and a jubilant musical expression of the triumphant hymn,” says Charles Sanford Terry.9

Other Cantata 79 Chorale

Cantata 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild,” closes with Bach’s plain chorale setting of Ludwig Helmbold’s 1575 8-stanza “Nun laßt uns Gott uns Gott dem Herren (Now let us to God the Lord) (NLGB No. 222 Communion), S. 8; “Erhalt uns in die Wahrheit” (Keep us in the truth). Bach’s two other uses, as plain chorales in Trinity Sunday Festival cantatas, are in BWV 165/6 closing chorale with Helmbold text, Stanza 6, "Sein Wort, sein tauf, sein Nachtmahl" (His Word, His Baptism, His Communion), and BWV 194/12, closing chorale with Paul Gerhardt 1647 text No. 2, "Wach auf, mein Herz und singe (Wake up, me heart, and sing, NLGB 553), stanzas 9 and 10. See text and Francis Browne BCW English translation, The melody composer is Nikolaus Selnecker (1587), Zahn melody 159, EKG 348 (Morning Song). Melody and associated texts, see BCW, (Text No. 1). The other Bach use of “Nun laßt uns Gott uns Gott dem Herren is the plain chorale BWV 165/6 in G Major, “O heiliges Geist- und Wasserbad, (O sacred bath of water and spirit), for Trinity Sunday 1715, Salomo Franck text (S. 6), “Sein Wort, sein Tauf, sein Nachtmahl” (His word, his baptism, his supper).

Cycle 1 Cantata Libretto Dilemma

While Bach delayed the use of the libretto of Cantata 42 until 1725, he did set another, almost duplicate form Cantata BWV 67, “Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, der auferstanden ist von den Toten” (Keep in memory Jesus Christ, who has risen from the dead, 2 Timothy 2:8), for the First Sunday after Easter 1724.

Among the various Cantata Type C format works, a “feature worth mentioning among the characteristics related to content is that the introductory biblical passage is invariably drawn from the Gospel reading for the day, the only exception being the cantata for the Reformation Festival, BWV 79, since no fixed reading has been handed down for this occasion,” observes Dürr (Ibid.: 27). “The libretto for this cantata is not closely connected with any particular biblical reading. Instead, with reference to Psalm 84:11 (no. 1), it praises God for the protection He gives to His own people (no. 2), thanks him for His good deeds (no. 3) in the words of the first verse of the well-known hymn by Martin Rinckart (1636), and praises Jesus for showing us the ‘right way to Salvation’” (no. 4). Cantata 79 “ends with a prayer for future protection, first” in the soprano-bass duet (no. 5), then in the concluding chorale.

Cantata 79 Librettist: Weise Sr. or Neumeister

Speculation on the librettist for Cantata 79 has centered on both Christian Weise Sr. and on Erdmann Neumeister (1671-1756), because of the learned character of the text. Speaking from the historical-biographical perspective, Weise the Elder was St. Thomas pastor who delivered many of the sermons following Bach’s cantata performances, was Bach champion and member of the Leipzig University faculty. From Easter 1724 onwards, Weise regularly preached and he may have authored 10 texts of Bach’s cantatas, says Dürr, citing the hypothesis of scholar Rudolf Wustmann.10

“The Reformation was celebrated in Leipzig and other Lutheran towns as a spiritual warfare that was still continuing, a warfare that was still continuing, a warfare against all perversions, of, or attacks upon the Christian Gospel,” observes Robin A. Leaver in “The Libretto of Bach’s ‘Cantata No. 79’: A Conjecture.” 11

The best-known and iconic Reformation chorale, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,” a paraphrase of Psalm 46, has been called “the Battle Hymn of the reformation,” Leaver observes. The pulpit hymn for the Reformation Festival is Luther’s militant “Erhalt uns her, bei deinem Wort / Und steur des Papist und Türken Mord” (Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word / and curb the Turks’ and Papists’ sword). “Thus, if the libretto of Cantata 79 is examined in the light of these hymns,” “it is appropriate for any Reformation Festival,” says Leaver.

Other 20th century Bach scholars besides Wustmann also have suggested Christian Weise Sr. as the Cantata 79 lirettist, notably Werner Neumann, who “conjectures that Weise was responsible for the libretti of 11 cantatas,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 5): 37, 44, 67, 75, 76, 81, 86, 104, 154, 166, 179.12 All of these cantatas were composed in Bach’s first cycle, as well as some 10 reprise cantata Type C texts.

Cantata 79 Librettist Neumeister?

Given Bach’s continuing interest in Neumeister texts into the mid 1720s and their common connections to the Court of Saxe-Weissemfels, an “invitation to Neumeister to write the libretto for Reformation for his third cycle of cantatas in 1725 seems plausible,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 5f). Bach also has an abiding interest in Neumeister’s writings in defense of Lutheran orthodoxy against excessive pietism and its complaint that Luther had emphasized theology at the expense of personal concerns and practices, beginning in 1689. “Neumeister indefatigably poured out sermons, tracts, and books defending and proclaiming the principles of the Lutheran Reformation,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 7).

“The libretto of Cantata 79 breathes a spirit similar to these writing of Neumeister,” suggests Leaver (Ibid: 7f). Cantata 79 begins with the Psalm 84:12 affirmation, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild (God the Lord is sun and shield), that is God is the light for and defense of the believer as well as being Neumeister’s personal motto found in his writings and accompanying art work, Leaves points out. In particular, Neumeister’s Tisch des Herrn (dish or dining table of the Lord), a copy of which was found in Bach’s library at his death in 1750, contains this , which is used in other Neumeister writings.

“Other pointers to Neumeister’s authorship [of Cantata 79] are to be seen in the simple structure of the whole libretto, the Biblical vocabulary, and the choice of the final chorale,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 9), “Nun laßt uns Gott uns Gott dem Herren” (Now let us to God the Lord), Stanza 8; “Erhalt uns in die Wahrheit” (Keep us in the truth). Much of Neumeister’s book “is an exposition of the evangelical understanding of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as against the Roman Catholic understanding of transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Mass,” says Leaver (Ibid.). “As part of his exposition in the latter part of the work, he quotes the whole hymn, a verse at a time.”

Opening Chorus Structure

Musically, the opening chorus has the “most remarkable of these reprise structures,” says Richard D. P. Jones in The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach.13 The reprise structure of ABA’ in da-capo form involves ritornello with derived vocal music, a central fugal structure, and the return of ritornello with derived vocal music having inbuilt choral parts, called Choreinbau technique. Bach first used the reprise structure selectively in Cycle 1 cantatas BWV 136 (Trinity 8), 69a (Trinity 12), 40 (Sun. after Xmas), 65 (Epiphany), 67 (Sunday after Easter) and 104 (Second Sunday after Easter). Cantata 148, probably composed for Trinity 17 1723, used this reprise structure, as well as Cantatas 187 (Trinity 7), 45 (Trinity 8), and 47 (Trinity 17) in 1726 in the third cycle.

“The ritornello-sinfonia is exceptionally long (44 mm), perhaps reflecting the interest Bach showed elsewhere in incorporating instrumental music into the cantatas of Cycle III,” Jones observes. “Integration is achieved not by monothematicism but by thematic combination” and repetition in succeeding plain chorale (no. 3), “Nun danket alle Gott,” with horn and string thematic episodic passages and the militant drum beat. The verbal motto (and Neumeister’s motto) of the opening dictum, Psalm 84:12, is repeated to open the second movement, the alto dance-style aria. Overall, the reprise chorus seems like a prelude and fugue with closing prelude in the manner of a French overture.

All of this “gives the first three movements the semblance of a united complex,” says Dürr (Ibid.: 714). “The close textual and thematic relationship between these three movements has led some to suggest that they must have constituted the earlier form of the cantata, to which movements 4-6 were added later,” observes Leaver in his Cantata 79 essay in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach.14 “The argument is persuasive but it remains unsupported by documentary evidence,” says Leaver. As to Leaver’s essay 20 years before proposing that Neumeister was the librettist, Leaver says that it is possible or that he is “possibly the dedicatee.”

Cantata 79 Division

It is possible that the first three movements of Cantata 79 were presented before the sermon, followed by the final, balanced three, after the sermon, Dürr suggests (Ibid.: 714). Thus, the initial word of the bass recitative (no. 4), “Gottlob, wir wissen / Den rechten Weg zur Seligkeit” (God be praised, we know / the right way to blessedness [salvation],” “would refer not so much to the preceding [hymn] text, with which they have little in common, as to the exegesis of the preacher.”

Following the opening movement, in “each case [Type C cantata], the following aria takes up the ideas of the opening biblical passage, often incorporating literal quotations from it,” Dürr says (Ibid.: 38). “The single recitative is strikingly learned in character and often seems dry to the present-day listener. The aria that follows shows a similar tendency; and instead of the concluding application to the individual Christian otherwise popular in cantata librettos, it provides a generalized conclusion, valid at all times.”

The soprano-bass duet, “Gott, ach Gott, verlaß die Deinen / Nimmermehr!” (God, ah God, forsake your people / never again!), is “in a highly approachable, almost song-like melodic style,” says Dürr (Ibid.: 714) [music,], “in serial rather than cyclical form.” It is “a prayer for God’s continued faithfulness,” says Leaver (OCC:JSB Ibid.: 194.

The closing plain chorale (no. 6), “Erhalt uns in der Wahrheit” (Keep us in the truth) is the eighth and final stanza of the Helbold communion hymn, “Nun laßt uns Gott uns Gott dem Herren (Now let us to God the Lord). While the two obbligato horns return, the setting is shorn of the thematic instrumental motivic interludes found in the opening chorus and sounded again in the plain-chorale setting of “Nun danket alle Gott” (no. 3). This is in keeping with the generalized Reformation teachings preached on this festival.

“Reformation day was often used by contemporary preachers [in Bach’s time] to remind their congregations of the truth of the evangelical teaching on the Lord’s Supper, in contrast to the teachings of the papacy, and to encourage them not to desert the Biblical faith,” says Leaver (Libretto, Ibid.: 9). Thus, the final verse of the hymn that closes Cantata 79 says: “Keep us in the truth, / give us eternal freedom / to praise your name, / through Jesus Christ. Amen.” It is an eschatological theme, based on Revelation 4:8b(KJV): “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”


1 Cantata BWV 79, BCW Details and Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [2.08 MB],, Score BGA [2.61 MB],; Autograph Score (Facsimile): D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 89,, D-B Mus. ms. Bach St 35, Faszikel 1,, D-B Mus. ms. Bach St 35, Faszikel 2 [Bach Digital], References: BGA XVIII (Cantatas 71-80, Wilhelm Rust,1870), NBA KB I/31 (Reformation, Frieder Rempp, 1988), Bach Compendium BC A 184, Zwang K 131.
2 Günther Stiller in Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing, 1984, 85).
3 One Introit motet that Bach probably knew is the cantata “Alles, was ihr tut” (Whatsoever Ye Do, Col. 3:17), BuxWV 4a (c.1668), of Dieterich Buxtehude (1637–1707); Recording: Youtube,; Text & translation:,_was_ihr_tut_(Dietrich_Buxtehude); Music download,, pdf file: main file.
4 German text and Francis Browne English Translation,
5 Gardiner Cantata 79 notes,[sdg110_gb].pdf; Recording details,
6 W. Gillies Whittaker, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular (London: Oxford University Press, 1958: II: 206).
7 Klaus Hoffman Cantata 79 notes, BCW[BIS-SACD1671].pdf; Recording details,
8 Source materials, “Motets and Chorales for the Feast of the Reformation,”
9 Anne Leahy, J. S. Bach’s “Leipzig” Chorale Preludes (Great 18), ed. Robin A. Leaver (Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011: 109).
9 Terry, Bach Chorals. Part III: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 3 (Online Library of Liberty,
10 Rudolf Wustmann, ed., Joh, Seb. Bachs Kantatentexte. Veröffentlichungen der Neuen Bachgesellschaft 14/1 (Leipzig, 1913; 2nd. ed. Leipzig, 1967; 3rd ed. Wiesbaden 1982). Wustmann attributes to Weise the texts to BWV 37, 44, 67, 75, 76, 86, 104, 154, 166, and 179. Cantatas 37, 86, and 166 have the Type C form.
11 Werner Neumann, Johann Sebastian Bachs Sämtliche Kantatentexte (Leipzig: Breitfkop & Härtel, 1967: 578).
12 Robin A. Leaver, “The Libretto of Bach’s ‘Cantata No. 79’: A Conjecture,” in BACH (Bera OH:, Journal of Riemenschneider Bach Institute, Vol. 6, No. 1 (January 1975): 4).
13 Richard D. P. Jones, The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750. “Music to Delight the Spirit” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 177).
14 Robin A. Leaver, Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 194).


To Come: Cantata 79 Intro, Part 2: Special Cantata Forms with biblical dictum chorus and two chorales; genesis of these cantatas texts, possibly by a single librettist; Cantata 79 production notes and genesis; pre-third cantata cycle of 1725; Bach’s Reformation Festival performance calendar and 1730 Augsburg Confession celebration; Reformationfest manuscript distribution, provenance.

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 4, 2016):
Cantata BWV 79 - Revised & updated Discography

Cantata BWV 79 "Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild" (God the Lord is sun and shield) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for the Feast of the Reformation (October 31) of 1725, and was performed again in 1730. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 2 horns, timpani, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola & continuo.

The discography pages of BWV 79 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (35):
Recordings of Individual Movements (40)
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios & 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 are the most comprehensive discography of the cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 79 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 current discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):

William Hoffman wrote (November 4, 2016):
Reformationfest Cantata 79, Part 2; Festival

Bach’s Cantata BWV 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild (God the Lord is sun and shield, Psalm 84:12) is a special form musical sermon which may have involved during almost two years from text conception to actual performance, 1724-25. During his first Leipzig cantata cycle in February 1724, Bach began composing cantatas to mostly six-movement texts with an opening biblical dictum (usually related to this day’s Gospel), an internal usually plain chorale setting (No. 3), a closing plain chorale (no. 6), text-related arias (nos. 2 and 5) and a narrative recitative (no. 4), all showing learned biblical and theological understanding and possibly by the same librettist. The first cantata, BWV 144, “Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin” (Take what is yours and go on your way) Matthew 20:14), began the pre-lenten three “Gesimae” Sundays, “Septuagesmae” Sunday, 6 February 1724.

Cantata BWV 144 was the first of 12 cantatas with virtually the same so-called “Type C” cantata format, first categorized by Alfred Dürr.1 These cantatas, with two exceptions, were for the Easter Season services of the Easter Monday festival through the Sixth (and final) Sunday after Easter (Exaudi), lacking the Easter Tuesday service and the Third Sunday after Easter (Jubilate) when Weimar Cantatas BWV 158 and 12 were reperformed. The exceptions were Cantata BWV Anh. 199, “Siehe, eine Jungfrau ist schwanger” (Lo now, there a virgin is pregnant, Isaiah 7:14), for the Feast of the Annunciation, Saturday, 25 March 1724, (text only, music lost), on a double bill with a reperformance of Weimar Cantata 182, and the Reformationfest Cantata 79.

Cantata Form, Easter Season 1724

As Bach began the Lenten Time 1724 six-week hiatus from composing service cantatas, he finished his St. John Passion, BWV 245, and engaged a local printer to publish the libretto to be distributed at the Good Friday vespers service, April 7. At this time, Bach also began to plan for the Easter Season performances, based on a template of reperformances of Weimar cantatas on hand for Easter Sunday (BWV 4 and 31), Jubilate Sunday (BWV 12), Pentecost Sunday (BWV 172), and the Trinityfest (Cantata 176). At the beginning of 1724, Bach had instituted the process of having collections of service cantata libretti published in advance and distributed, beginning with a book of eight cantatas from the Second Sunday after Epiphany, January 16, through the Annunciation festival, March 25, including the extant-only text of Cantata BWV Anh. 199,

In order to secure libretto book printing, Bach probably had to submit the proposed texts to the local authorities for their approval four weeks prior to the performance of the first cantata in the book, which subsequently involved only four or five consecutive services. Originally during Lenten Time 1724, Bach solicited an unknown librettist for the Easter Season services. Three cantatas for Easter Monday to the Second Sunday after Easter (BWV 6, 42, 85) were delayed a year, according to the theory of John Eliot Gardiner.2 These cantatas could “be considered casualties of a crisis associated with the first performances of his John Passion on 7 April 1724,” he says (Ibid.), involving “what seems to have been adverse criticism by the consistory and attendant pressure to alter its tone and theological slant,” Gardiner suggests.

This 1724 Easter Season schedule began on Easter Monday with the mini-series of Type C cantatas, that also could include Cantata BWV 67, “Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ” (Keep in memory Jesus Christ, 2 Timothy 2:8), for the First Sunday after Easter. The cantatas Bach presented on Easter Tuesday (Third Day of Easter) are an enigma – BWV 134, 145, and 158 -- with their datings and sources still obscured.3 The Type C series is the following: Cantatas BWV 6, “Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend warden” (Luke 24 :29) (Stay with us, for evening is coming, Luke 24:29), for EastEaster Monday); BWV 67 for the First Sunday after Easter (Quasimodogeneti); BWV 42, “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats” (On the evening of the same Sabbath, John 20:19, also for the First Sunday after Easter); BWV 85, “Ich bin ein guter Hirt” (I am a good shepherd), John 10:12, for the Second Sunday after Easter (Misericordias Domini); BWV 166, “Wo gehest du hin?” (Where are you going?, John 16:5), for the Fourth Sunday after Easter (Cantate); BWV 86, “Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch” (Truly, truly, I say to you, John 16:23), for the Fifth Sunday after Easter (Rogate); BWV 37, “Wer da gläubet und getauft wird” (Whoever believes and is baptized, Mark 16:16), for the Ascension Feast; and BWV 44, “Sie werden euch in den Bann tun I” (They will banish you, John 15:26, for the Sixth Sunday after Easter (Exaudi).

The texts of cantatas for Easter Monday and the First and Second Second Sunday after Easter (BWV 6, 42 and 85) were delayed until 1725 and in their place Bach presented Cantatas 66 and 134, Cöthen serenade parodies, for Easter Monday and Tuesday, Cantata 67 for the First Sunday after Easter, and Cantata 104 for the Second Sunday after Easter (cantata Type A text). Following Weimar repeat of Cantata 12 for the Third Sunday after Easter (Jubilate), Bach premiered four new Type C Cantatas successively: BWV 166, 86, 37, and 44 on May 7, 14, and 21, as well as BWV 37 for the Feast of Ascension, Thursday, May 18. Only the libretto book for Easter Sunday to the Second Sunday after Trinity survives, showing the texts of Cantata BWV 31, 66, 134, 67, and 104. The presumed libretto book for the Third to the Sixth Sundays after Easter is not extant.

Thus, Bach moved cantata Type C texts for Cantatas BWV 6, 42 and 85 to 1725, and presumably as well the Cantata 79 text. In the Easter Season 1725, on the iconic third Sunday after Easter, when the Spring Leipzig Fair began, Bach began a new mini-series on April 22 using the nine commissioned texts of Leipzig poetess Christiane Mariane von Ziegler, starting with Cantata BWV 103, “Ihr werdet weinen und heulen” (You will weep and howl, Gospel John 16:20), in the most common Dürr cantata Type A format: chorus dictum alternating pairs of recitatives and arias, and closing plain chorale. The final four Sundays after Easter (Jubilate to Exaudi) and Trinity Sunday are known as the farewell discourses of John, Chapters 14-16.

Easter Season 1725

In 1725 Bach used new manuscript paper for Cantata 79, with the watermark RS, observes Gerhard Herz.4 At this time, Bach may have considered his next Reformationfest Cantata BWV 79. There “is evidence that, contrary to his usual practice, he began composing BWV 79 six months ahead of its scheduled performance,” says John Eliot Gardiner in his 2005 liner notes to the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.5 “The process of composition began when Bach himself drew the staffs on the music paper, since he had to have already decided what instruments he was going to use,” says Dr. Brigitte Schöning in the 2003 Cantata 79 liner notes summarizing Helmut Rilling lecture concerts on Hänssler recordings.6 The Cantata 79 primary parts copyist was Johann Andreas Kuhnau, Bach’s principal copyist since the beginning of the first cycle in May 1723. Kuhnau’s last recorded involvement was the parts set for Cantata 28, “Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende” (Praise God! Now the year comes to an end,” to an Erdmann Neumeister text (Herz, Ibid.: 32).

Assuming that Bach originally had solicited the Cantata 79 text during Lenten Season 1724, along with the other 11 Cantata Type C form for the Easter Season 1724-25, Bach probably contemplated using the text for the Reformationfest, 31 October 1724, until he decided to recycle Cantata BWV 76II (see below, “Bach’s Reformationfest Performance Calendar.” There also is the possibility that Bach, perhaps as early as Refortmationfest 1724, solicited Cantata 79 text in the Cantata Type C form from Erdmann Neumeister (see below, “Erdmann Neumeister Connections”).

Type C Cantata Form Mini Series

In summary, the Type C form of Cantata 79 involves biblical-text chorus, aria, internal plain chorale, recitative, aria, and closing plain chorale. Bach used this form in eight sacred cantatas, beginning in the first cycle, possibly with the same librettist, in Cantata 144 for Septuagesimae Sunday, 6 February 1724 in the pre-Lenten period. Then, Bach used this form for four consecutive Cantatas, BWV 166, 86, 37, and 44, in the first cycle Easter season 1724, for the Fourth through the Sixth Sundays after Easter, 7, 14, and 21 May, as well as Cantata BWV 37 for the Feast of Ascension, Thursday, 18 May. The six-movement form usually begins with a chorus set to a biblical dictum; two usually plain chorales (no. 3 and no 6); two arias (Nos. 2 and 5), and one recitative (no. 4). “These cantatas have in common not only formal elements but clearly tangible characteristics relating to their content,” says Dürr (Ibid. 27f)

Further, the same cantata form with biblical dictum opening chorus and two plain chorales is found in the libretto (no music survives) of first cycle Cantata BWV Anh. 199, “Siehe, eine Jungfrau ist schwanger” (Lo now, there a virgin is pregnant, Isaiah 7:14), for the Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March 1724, on a double bill with a reperformance of Cantata 182, possibly before the sermon.7 In addition, three other cantatas (BWV 6, 42, 85) with the same formatted text, probably originally planned for the first cycle, were delayed until early Easter Season 1725 in the second cycle and substituted for chorale cantatas that Bach originally had scheduled but did not compose.

Cantatas 6, 42, 85: Delayed to 1725

Chorus Cantata BWV 6, “Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden,” (Stay with us, for evening is coming, Luke 24:29), was performed on Easter Monday, 2 April 1724. Two other solo (SATB) cantatas for the early Easter season, with texts possibly written in 1724 by the same librettist, also were delayed a year: BWV 42 for the 1st Sunday after Easter, and BWV 85 for the second Sunday after Easter in 1725. Although the two do not rigidly follow the Cantata Type C format, they are listed as “compositions that belong to this group,” says Dürr (Ibid.: 28).

Cantata BWV 42, “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats” (On the evening of the same Sabbath), John 20:19, for the First Sunday after Easter (Quasimodogeneti), has some elements in common with Dürr’s Type C cantata form. Vocally, it begins with a biblical dictum in the tenor narrative recitative singing the Day’s Gospel, John 20:9-31, Christ’s appearance to his disciples. The middle movement (no. 4) is a soprano-tenor chorale duet, Jakob Fabricius’ c.1635 “Verzage nicht, o Häuflein klein,” (Do not lose heart, oh my dear little flock), NLGB 317, “Word of God and Christian Church.” Cantata 42 opens with an instrumental Sinfonia that may have originated in Cöthen as a concerto for violin or oboe, with the slow movement possibly used with text overlay as the tutti da-capo alto aria (No. 3), “Wo zwei und drei versammlet sind” (Where two or three are gathered together). For the coming third cycle, which began on the 1st Sunday after Trinity 1725, Bach then would fashion nine mostly solo or dialogue cantatas using concerto movements, five adapting the clavier solo for organ obbligato. Closing with a plain chorale, Cantata 42 also alternates two internal recitatives and arias, resembling solo cantatas with sinfonias, a form type not found in the first two cycles.

Cantata 85 closely resembles Cantata Type C format, except that its opening movement is not a chorus but a vox Christi bass aria, “Ich bin ein guter Hirt” (I am a good shepherd, John 10:11), based on the day’s Gospel. The middle movement (no. 3) is a soprano chorale aria arrangement with twoboes, the text is Cornelius Becker’s 1598 paraphrase of the first half of Psalm 23, “Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt” (The Lord is my faithful shepherd). The cantus firmus, played in the basso continuo, is the associated melody, Nikolaus Decius’ 1522 “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr'” (To God alone on high be glory).

The librettist of Cantata 85 previously was thought to be Leipzig poetess Christiane Mariane von Ziegler (1695-1760). She wrote the libretti for nine Easter Season cantatas in 1725, from the 3rd Sunday after Easter (Jubilate) to the Trinity Festival, in place of chorale cantatas and closing the second cycle. Ziegler also was suggested as the librettist for Cantata 79 but there is no printed text of either it or Cantata 42, as there is for the nine cantatas that may have been written in 1724, actually performed in 1725, but found in the 1750 manuscript estate division of 1750 for the third cycle, mostly between sons Friedemann and Emmanuel. Ziegler and Christian Weise Sr. (1671-1737) were possibilities, according to Frieder Rempp in the Cantata 79 Neue Bach Ausgabe Critical Commentary, NBA KB 31/1 (1988: 36).

Trinity Time 1725 Hiatus: Selective Composition

Cantata 79 probably was premiered during the selective 1725 Trinity Time, when Bach presented only a hand-full of cantatas for special events or observances in the pre-Cycle 3 period. He turned his attention to instrumental music particularly his keyboard partitas, first found in the Anna Magdalena Notebook, initiated in 1725, with the six published in 1730 as Clavierübung I (Keyboard Exercises), his Opus 1. Also during this time, Bach reviewed his instrumental music, particularly the concerti and sonatas composed Cöthen, and for his pending third cycle he began searching for published texts as an alternative to submitting new texts to the Town Council for approval prior to publication in service libretto books.

In the first weeks of June 1725, Bach took his first vacation since coming to Leipzig two years before and possibly journeyed to Cöthen, where he also visited in 1724 and 1726, and possibly to Erfurt for an annual Bach Family reunion where he could have met his Meiningen cousin Johann Ludwig. Sebastian probably obtained a cycle of cantatas in manuscript from Ludwig, 18 for performances in 1726 from Epiphany Season to mid-Trinity Time. Their Rudolstadt 1704 texts were republished in 1726, from which Bach composed seven third-cycle cantatas from the Ascension Feast (BWV 43) to Trinity 14 (BWV 17). For Trinityfest, 16 June 1726, Bach presented a double bill of new chorale Cantata BWV 129 and an abridged, reordered version of Cantata 194, previously presumed to have been presented during Reformationfest (see below, “Bach’s Reformation Festival Performance Calendar”).

At the same time, Bach scoured published cantata texts of Georg Christian Lehms of Gotha, beginning the new third cycle at the Christmas Festival 1725 (see Cantatas BWV 110, 57 and 151, BCML Discussions beginning Week of December 11). For the remained of the third cycle, which took two years to acomplish, Bach turned to new texts possibly by Leipzig theology student and amateur musician Christoph Birkmann for adaptations of instrumental music for the six successive mostly solo cantatas with organ obbligato that ended the third cycle in 1726 from the 18th to the 23rd Sundays after Trinity. Selectively, Bach also used Lehms texts with organ obbligato for solo Cantatas BWV 170 (Trinity 6) and BWV 35 (Trinity 12), a Johann Ludwig Helbig Halle text for chorus Cantata BWV 47 with organ obbligato (Trinity 17), and worked with Birkmann on cantatas with texts from Picander (BWV 19, Michaelfest) and Erdmann Neumeister (BWV 27, Trinity 16).

Meanwhile, during his Trinity Time half-year hiatus of 1725, Bach intentionally and selectively composed music for specific services. He also scheduled music of other composers during his vacation and possibly left Birkmann to oversee their text publication while leaving in charge of performances his prefect or Georg Baltazar Schott, New Church organist, from the Second to the Sixth Sundays after Trinity. During this pre-Cycle 3 period, Bach took the opportunity to honor his friend and colleague, Weimar poet Salomo Franck, who recently had died, with performances of solo Cantatas BWV 168 on the Ninth Sunday after Trinity (July 29) and BWV 164 on the 13th Sunday after Trinity (August 26), as well as a reperformance of solo Cantata BWV 161 on the 16th Sunday after Trinity (September 16) and Cantata 152 for the Sunday after Christmas (December 30). All four solo cantatas were set to 1715 published texts. Cantatas BWV 168 and 164 are part of the third cycle distribution, Cantata 152 in the first cycle distribution, and Cantata 161 as a Purification Feast work in a post-1750 copy.

While Weimar-texted Cantatas BWV 164 and 168 may have originated there in 1715 as part of Bach’s requirement as concertmaster, the mourning period for Prince Johann Ernest, 11 August to 3 November 1715, precluded performances from the Eighth to the 20th Sunday after Trinity. Thus Bach, may have completed Cantata 164 but was unable to present either work. During Trinity Time 1725 Bach composed only two other sacred service compositions, these for fixed special events, for which Bach had the opportunity for considerable preparation. Cantata BWV Anh. 4, “Wünschet Jerusalem Glück” (Wished-for Jerusalem Fortune), was composed for the Town Council installation, Bach’s annual requirement as Leipzig music director, Monday, August 27, one day after the premiere of Cantata 164. Only the text survives while the music is lost. Cantata 79 was presented on Reformation Day, Wednesday, October 31.

Erdmann Neumeister Connections

As part of the third cycle, Bach may have presented Cantata 152 and new Cantata BWV 28, “Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende” (Praise God! Now the year comes to an end), on a double bill for the Sunday after Christmas, Friday, December 30 (BCML Cantata 28 Discussion, 25 December 2016). Bach’s choice of an Erdmann Neumeister 1714 text for a new composition on a Sunday in the extremely busy Christmas season, especially when he already had a Weimar work on hand, may involve a special opportunity. Bach may have requested a special Reformation text from Neumeister in Hamburg for the Reformationfest, October 31, resulting in Cantata 79, according to Robin A. Leaver, “The Libretto of Bach’s ‘Cantata No. 79’: A Conjecture.”8

“It seems quite likely that Bach’s plan to assemble a five-year collection of cantatas was inspired directly by a five-years cycle of Neumeister’s [published, 1716/17] libretti, and if so, then an invitation to Neumeister from Bach to write the libretto for the Reformation in his third cycle of cantatas in 1725 seems plausible,” says Leaver. Cantata 79 shows the principals of the defense of the Lutheran Reformation and Neumeister’s personal motto, “God the Lord is Sun and Shield, Psalm 84:12, which is the Cantata 79 incipit. Also, other “pointers to Neumeister’s authorship are to be seen in the simple structure of the whole libretto, the Biblical vocabulary, and the choice of the final chorale,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 8).9

Clearly, Neumeister texts were still part of Bach’s compositional interest. Bach had set two in Weimar, BWV 18 and 61 (both repeated in the first cycle); two in the first cycle, BWV 59 and 24; one in the third, BWV 28; and two in the third cycle that Neumeister did not published but show his influence, BWV 27, 56. In addition, three cantatas of Georg Philipp Telemann are set to published Neumeister texts, TVWV 1:596, 1:310, and 1:1600, for the Fourth to the Sixth Sundays after Trinity, all found in the service libretto book publiat the beginning of Trinity Time 1725 when Bach was on vacation.

Bach’s Reformation Festival Performance Calendar

Bach’s performance calendar for the Reformationfest is quite extensive and complex, being compiled through evidence in the manuscript scores and parts sets, as well as copies and other documentation. The record shows that Bach composed four evolving versions of Cantata 80, “Ein feste Burg ist Unser Gott,” programmed various Trinityfestival-related Cantatas BWV 76, 194, 129, created an undesignated pure-hymn setting of Cantata 192, “Nun danket alle Gott,” may have presented Reformation-type works of Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Friedrich Fasch, and even allowed his son Friedemann access to Cantatas BWV 80, 194, 129 in the 1740s in Dresden and Halle. In addition, Bach created cantatas, mostly parodied for special, Reformation-related services such as the 200th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 1730 (see below).

1717 (Halle) – Cantata BWV 63(a) Christen, ätzet diesen Tag (Christians, engrave this day) my have been presented on the 200th Anniversary of the Reformation, 1717 (Details, BCW; BWV 63: Genesis”). It appears that an altered-text version of Cantata BWV 63 by Gottfried Kirchoff (1685-1746), Halle organist, was presented during the bicentennial Jubilee Festival of the Reformation in Halle’s Liebfrauenkirche, October 31, 1717. Its text is found in a printed collection of festival sermons and commentaries, compiled in 1718 by Johann Michael Heineccius (1674-1722), church pastor, to whom the text is attributed. Heineccius officiated at Bach’s unsuccessful probe on Dec. 13, 1713, to succeed Friedrich Wilhem Zachow, Handel’s teacher. In 1717 it is believed that Bach could have presented a version of Cantata 63 that omitted the original recitatives, later revised for the special Reformation service. This original, festive Christmas Day Cantata 63 was first presented in Weimar in 1713 and/or 1714 (Source, Cantata 63, BCML Discussion 4,

1723-40. For the Reformation Festival in Leipzig in 1723, Bach presented the initial version of Cantata BWV 80(b) “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,” opening with a plain chorale setting, possibly BWV 302 (Cantata 80 Details, BCW The music that followed was Weimar solo SATB Cantata BWV 80a, “Alles was von Gott geboren” (All that is born of God), beginning with the bass aria,” libretto by Salomo Franck, for Lenten Occuli Sunday in Lent 1715. This version originally closed with the plain chorale setting (BWV 304) of Stanza 2 “Mit unsrer Macht ist nichts getan” (By our own power nothing is accomplished), the second stanza of Luther’s “Ein feste Burg,” At this time, or in the subsequent Leipzig version of Cantata 80 about 1728-31, Bach set the Stanza 2 text to the canto oboe melody in the original bass aria, forming a chorale duet. At the same time, Bach composed a chorale chorus (No. 5), with the tutti orchestra accompanying the chorus in unison singing the canto of Stanza 3, “Und wend die Welt voll Teufel wär” (And if the world were full of devils). Bach added the closing (no. 8) plain chorale, Stanza 4, “Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn” (They shall pay no heed to God's word). Finally, in 1735-40, to complete Cantata 80 as a chorale Cantata, Bach set the first stanza as an elaborate chorale fantasia, in place of the plain chorale, The chorale is found in Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682 (NLGB), No. 255, psalm chorales, Martin Luther paraphrase of Psalm 46, Deus noster refugiam, and Luther melody (Zahn 7477a+b), published in 1529. Details of the chorale are found on-line, Wikipedia:

1724. Probably in 1724, Bach presented only Part 2 of Cantata BWV 76II, movements 8-14, “Gott, segne nich die treue Schar” (God, bless still the faithful host), for the Reformationfest, using Cantata 76, “Der Himmel erzählen” (The heavens proclaim), composed for the 1723 Trinityfest. The venue for BWV 76II may have been the Leipzig University St. Paul Church in 1724, with repeats in 1729, 1740, and 1745 (see Giles Cantegral, Les cantates de J. S. Bach, Fayard, 2010, p. 1201 ( See Cantata 76 Details, BCW Cantata 76 closes with Luther’s 1524 three-stanza chorale, “Es wohl uns Gott genädig sein” (May God be gracious to us), Stanza. 3, “Es danke, Gott, und lobe dich” (Thank you, God and praise you). It is a paraphrase of Psalm 67, Deus Misereatur (God be merciful unto us). It is found in the NLGB (No. 258) as a Psalm Choral with the Matthias Greiter (1524) Zahn melody 7247 (EKG 182); text and Francis Browne English translation, see BCW, melody and text, BCW

1725. Chorus Cantata 79 performed.

1726. Bach presented a special, abridged version of Cantata 194(b), Cantata BWV 194(b), “Sprich Ja zu meinen Taten” (Say yes to my deeds), opening with S. 9 of “Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe” (Awake my heart and sing), followed with the closing Stanza 10, “Mit Segen mich beschütte” (Protect me with your blessing.” Bach student Christian Köpping about 1726 made a copy of Cantata BWV 194, “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Most greatly longed for feast of joy), Trinity Sunday, 1724, using only Movements Nos. 12, 2-5, and 10. Details, BCW The chorale is “Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe”; Paul Gerhardt (1647/1653) 10-stanzas; Text and Francis Browne English translation at BCW; Chorale Melody: “Nun laßt uns Gott dem Herren” (Now let us to God, the Lord), composer Nikolaus Selnecker (1587); Zahn melody 159, EKG 348 (Morning Song). Melody and associated texts, see BCW, (Text No. 2). This version uses Bach’s added organ obbligato in two arias (bass no. 2, and soprano-bass duet, no. 7) in the manner of similar passages in third-cycle Cantatas BWV 170/3,5 (Trinity 6), BWV 35/2,4 (Trinity 12), BWV 47/2 (Trinity 17), BWV 169/3,5 (Trinity 18), BWV 49/2, 27/3 (Trinity 20), 188/4 (Trinity 21).10

1726. Cantata BWV 129 “Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott” (Praise be to the Lord, my God; chorale), has quite a history as a Trinity Sunday Festival work. It was performed on June 8, 1727 (Trinity Sunday), when Bach began presenting cantata reperformances at Pentecost, according to libretto text book, Tatiana Shabalina, “Text zur Musik,” BJ 2008). Details, BCW It also was repeated 1732-5, c.1743-46, and ?1744-47. It is a pure-hymn chorale cantata per omnes versus (Zacharias Canticle, NLGB No. 150); “O Gott, du frommer Gott” - Melody 3, set to Johann Olearius (1665), 5 stanzas hymn (not in NLGB). Text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW, Chorale Melody: O Gott, du frommer Gott - Melody 3 | Composer: Ahasverus Fritsch (1679); Zahn: 5206b | EKG: 461

1727. No performance, mourning period, Saxon Princess Christine Eberhardine

?1730 - Cantata BWV 192 “Nun danket alle Gott” (all thank God) (1st performance, Leipzig; incomplete, tenor part missing); chorale cantata (NLGB 238); Details, BCW; BCW Discussion 2,, William Hoffman wrote (July 27, 2008): Intro to BWV 192: Fugitive Notes. Pure-hymn Cantata BWV 192 is dated to 1730, based primarily on the surviving parts from copyist Johann Ludwig Krebs, who did similar work for Cantata BWV 51 for the Fifteen Sunday after Trinity, on September 17. Because of the proximity of the date of the latter and the former's hymn for Reformation Day Festival, BWV 192 is often dated to October 31, 1730. It is possible that Bach presented an intermediate version of Cantata BWV 80, "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott," for Reformation Day, either alone or on a double bill with Cantata BWV 192.

About 1734. Possibly performed was Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) Cantata “Welt und Teufel, tobt ihr noch?” Fwv D:W 2 (World and devils, rage ye yet?) (source “Andreas Glöckner, “Neuekenntnisse zu JSBs Auffurungskalendar (1729-35), BJ 1981: 68).

1735-36. No Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel Reformation cantatas is listed in loinrettist Benjamin Schmolck ”String” or “Names of Christ” cycles that Bach presented in Leipzig. It is possible that Stölzel was not required to present Reformationfest cantatas in Gotha.

Other Reformationfest Connections

Addendum: Three vocal works with Reformationfest connections that also may have been presented during Bach’s Leipzig tenure, but with little supporting documentation, are: BWV 163, “Nur Jedem das Seine!,” for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity, which fell on the Reformationfest, 31 October 1723; Georg Philipp Telemann’s Easter motet, "Der Herr ist König" (The Lord is King); TVWV 8:6, also conducive for Reformationfest performance c.1724, and Bach’s son-in-law Johann Christiph Altnikol’s 1748 Motet, Nun denket alle Gott,” BWV Anh 164.

Bach’s oldest son Friedemann apparently had access to the music of Cantata 80 in Dresden where he was the organist at the Sophienkirche from 1733 to 1746. Between 1740 and 1746, Friedemann probably presented his Latin version of the opening chorale fantasia, Gaudet, omnes populi, and the chorale chorus setting of Mvt. 5, Manebit verbum Domini,” both with three added trumpets and timpani. Three copies of Cantata 80 exist from the second half of the 18th century. Two other cantatas with Reformationfest connections are linked to possible Friedemann performances: Trinity Cantata 194 for a Halle feast day (1746-67), and Cantata 192, for the Dresden peace celebration, January 9, 1746. Apparently Sebastian lent his oldest son these works, as well as Cantatas 79 and 80.11

Bach student and son-in-law Johann Christoph Altnikol (1720-59) copied the final, extant version of Cantata 80 during his time in Leipzig (1744-48). Altnikol compose his own motet (SSATB) setting, “Nun danket alle Gott,” BWV Anh. 164 (c.1748). It opens with a setting of Sirach 50:22-24, on which Stanza 1 of Rinckart’s “Nun danket alle Gott” is based (see above). It closes with Sebastian’s plain chorale setting of Stanza 3, “Lob, Herr, und Preis sei Gott” (Laud, honor and praise be to God), BWV 386, transposed from to G Major from the original A Major. Altnikol married Bach daughter Elisabeth Juliane Friedrike (1726-81) in 1749 and it is quite possible that he composed the motet for their wedding, using Sebastian’s plain chorale setting.

1730: Cantata 79, Augsburg Celebration

Cantata 79 was repeated about 1730 during the time of another special Reformation anniversary, the 200th observance of Reformation theologian Philipp Melanchthon’s Augsburg Confession of Protestant articles of faith, in contrast to Roman Catholic teaching. The special three-day event was held on the exact anniversary dte from June 25 to 27 (Sunday to Tuesday). Bach composed three cantatas (BWV 190a, 120b, and Anh. 4a, set to published parodies by Picander, divided into two parts, before and after the sermon, with new chorale settings and recitatives reflecting the specific sermons. The following dates, venues, cantatas, and chorales are:

*June 25 (St. Nicholas): Cantata BWV 190a, “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” (Sing to the Lord a New Song, Psalm 149:1) has two new chorale settings. Movement No. 2 is recitative with chorale trope, Martin Luther’s 1529 settng of the German Te Deum, “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” (Lord God, we praise Thee, German Te Deum); and No. 7, Luther’s 1524 "Es woll uns Gott genädig sein" (May God be gracious to us), Stanza 3, “Es danke Gott und lobe dich” (Now thank, O God, and praise Thee). From the original Cantata BWV 190 for New Year’s Day 1724 (text ?Picnder), Bach used unchanged the opening chorus and the polonaise-style alto aria (no. 3), “Lobe, Zion, deinen Gott” (Praise, Zion, thy God), he parodied the duet (no. 5), and composed new recitatives (nos. 4 and 6). It is possible that some of the music in Cantata 190 was parodied12 from Cöthen sacred Cantata BWV Anh. 5, “Lobe den Herrn, alle seine Heerscharen” (Praise ye the Lord, all ye of his great armies, Psalm 103:21), for the birthday of Prince Leopold, 7 December 1718, performed at the palace church in the reformed service, set to a text of Hunold/Menantes, says Christoph Wolff 13 Details are found at BCW; Discussion,, “August 19, 2009: BWV 190: Praise & Thanksgiving.”

*June 26 (St. Thomas): Cantata BWV 120b “Gott, man lobet dich in die Stille” (God, one praises Thee in the stillness, Psalm 65:2), has a closing choral, No. 6, Luther’s 1524 “Komm Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott” (Come, Holy Spirit, Lord God); Stanza 3 “Du heilige Brunst, süsser Trost,” (O thou holy flame, comfort sweet). Details, BCW The 1730 Augsburg Confession parody, Cantata 120b (text only extant), is a perfunctory adaptation with little more than some text changes. Like its original, 1728 or 1729 Town Council Cantata 120, it opens with a repeat of the alto aria, "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille), followed by the chorus parodied with new text, "Zahle, Zion, die Gelübde" (Pay, O Zion, all thy pledges), then a possible parody of the Cantata 120/3 recitative, now "Ach, du geliebte Gottesdtadt" (Ah, thou beloved city of God). It closes with a possible repeat of Luther's Pentecost chorale, "Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott," possibly from the 1729 funeral motet, BWV 226, "Der Geist hilf unsre Schwacheit auf" (The Spirit uplifts our weakness).

*June 27 (St. Nicholas): Cantata BWV Anh. 4a, “Wünschet Jeusalem Glück” (Wished-for Jerusalem Fortune, Psalm 122:6-7), closes with a chorale setting, No. 6, Luther/Melanchthon 1579 hymn “Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ” (Oh, bide with us, Lord Jesus Christ). Only the published Picander text survives as a parody of BWV Anh. 4, same title, for the Town Council inauguration, 27 August 1725. A comparison of the texts shows that for the 1730 version, Bach used the same text for the opening chorus and the da-capo section A of the succeeding aria, then composed a new B section and recitative (no. 3). Then Bach composed a new aria (no. 4) in place of an arioso, and a new recitative (no. 6) in place of an aria with an inserted recitative apparent parody in the 1741 Town Council reperformance. Both versions close (no. 6) with different plain chorale settings appropriate to the occasion, as do Cantatas 120(b) and 190(a).

Reformationfest Manuscript Estate Division14

In the Bach vocal works estate division of 1750, Carl Philipp Emmanuel inherited both the Cantata 79 original score and the parts set (see Thomas Braatz’ BCW Provenance article, The Cantata 79 autograph listing is found in Emmanuel’s 1790 estate catalog on Page 71 near the beginning of Sebastian’s manuscripts of works not part of the three cantata cycles listed in order from the First Sunday in Advent to the 18th Sunday after Trinity, including the major Marian Festivals interspersed, between Pages 74 and 81. The other non-cycle sacred works listed include the Christmas and Passion oratorios of John and Matthew as well as the Kyrie-Gloria Masses, BWV 233-36, Town Council Cantatas 71 and 29, “Per ogni tempo” Cantata 21, as well as Latin church music and various secular cantatas.

Estate Distribution. Of the other Bach cantatas possibly associated with Reformationfest performances, Cantata 192, “Nun danket alle Gott, carries no designation in the surviving parts set but probably was inherited by Friedemann (score lost); Trinity Festival chorale Cantata 129 was divided between Friedemann (score lost) and Anna Magdalena (parts set) in the chorale cantata estate division; Emmanuel inherited all the Cycle 1 Cantata 194 materials; and Christmas Cycle 1 Cantata 63 was divided between Friedemann (score lost) and Emmanuel (parts set).


1 Afred Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 27f).
2 John Eliot Gardiner, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013: 293).
3 Eric Chafe, J. S. Bach’s Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for the Spring 1725 (Oxford University Press, 2014: 46).
4 Gerhard Herz, “The New Chronology of Bach’s Vocal Music,” Bach Cantata No. 140 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1972: 29). The Cantata 79 manuscript paper apparently was Bach’s last use of this paper as Bach for the beginning of the third cycle, June 1725, turned to new manuscript paper, except for Cantata BWV 137, “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren” (Praise the Lord, the mighty king of honour), probably presented on 19 August 1725, for the 12th Sunday after Trinity.
5 John Eliot Gardiner Cantata 79 notes,[sdg110_gb].pdf; Recording details,
6 Helmut Rilling, Cantata 79 BCW Details & Discography,, scroll down to No. 16; English translation, Dr Miguel Carazo & Associates.
7 See the Cantata BWV Anh. 199 text and Z. Philip Ambrose’s English translation at, as well as details at BCW, “Lost Cantata BWV Anh. 199,”, and BCW Only the two chorales may be extant: “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern,” no 3) as BWV 436 in E Major, and “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ,” BWV 314 in A Major. Music for the opening dictum and arias (nos. 2 and 5) are lost. This work will be considered next week, November 6, as part of the BCML Discussion, Missa Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233a, possible contrafactions from lost sacred and secular music.
8 Robin A. Leaver, “The Libretto of Bach’s ‘Cantata No. 79’: A Conjecture,” in BACH (Bera OH:, Journal of Riemenschneider Bach Institute, Vol. 6, No. 1 (January 1975: 5).
9 Leaver’s Neumeister connection to Cantata 79 is discussed in considerable detail in the BCML Cantata 79 Discussion, Part 5,
10 Matthew Cron, “Music from Heaven: An Eighteenth-Century Context for Cantatas with Obbligato Organ,” Bach and the Organ, ed. Matthew Dirst, Bach Perspective 10, American Bach Society (Urbana: University if Illinois Press, 2016: `1-9-116).
11Details of Friedemann’s performances of Cantata 80 and 194 are found in Peter Wollny’s “Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s Halle performances of cantatas of his father,” in Bach Studies 2, ed. Daniel R. Melamed (Cambridge University Press, 1995: 202-228. Wollny notes on p. 217 that Cantata 79 survives as an “18th century copy on paper manufactured in Halle.”
12 Christoph Wolff, “Bachs Leipziger Kirchenkataten: Repertoire und Context,” Der Welt der Bach Kantaten, Vol. 3, Der Komponist in Seinen Welt (Metzler/Bärenreiter, Stuttgart/Weimar, Kassel, 1999: 64).
13 Christoph Wolff, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (New York: W. W.Norton & Company, 2013 Updated Edition: 199).
14 Source materials, BCML Cantata 79, Discussions Part 4,


To Come: Chorale Cantata BWV 80, “Ein feste Burg isr user Gott.”

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 4, 2016):
Cantata BWV 79 - Revised & updated Discography

Cantata BWV 79 "Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild" (God the Lord is sun and shield) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for the Feast of the Reformation (October 31) of 1725, and was performed again in 1730. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 2 horns, timpani, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola & continuo.

The discography pages of BWV 79 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (35):
Recordings of Individual Movements (40)
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios & 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 are the most comprehensive discography of the cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 79 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 current discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):



Cantata BWV 79: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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


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Last update: Monday, September 11, 2017 15:25