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Cantata BWV 86
Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of May 1, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (May 1, 2016):
Cantata 86, 'Wahrlich, ich sage euch' Rogate (Easter 5)

On Bach’s first Rogate (petition) Sunday in Leipzig, May 14, 1724, he presented Cantata 86, “Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch” (Truly, truly, I say to you), the beginning of the day’s gospel, John 16: 23-30, “Prayer in the name of Jesus,” to a text possibly by Christian Weise Sr. It is a meditation on the gospel theme: “so ihr den Vater etwas bitten werdet in meinem Namen, so wird er's euch geben” (whatever you ask the Father in my name will be given to you). Lasting just 15 minutes, the intimate six-movement cantata form of double chorales in the middle and end is part of Alfred Dürr’s Cantata Group 3 Form often used during Easter Season: biblical dictum, aria, chorale, recitative, aria, chorale. The symmetrical format is a mini two-part cantata with three movements in each part.

The intimate scoring for solo SATB, two oboes d’amore and strings features four arias with two in dance-style triple meter of ¾ (no. 2 alto aria) and the tuneful joyous tenor aria (no. 5) in 4/4 bouree style. The other two are the 6/8 (no. 3) soprano chorale aria, and the opening Vox Dei arioso-aria in 2/2 alle-breve motet style. The two Reformation chorales appropriate for Easter are (no. 3) Georg Grünwald’s 1530 text and melody, “Komm her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn” (Come here to me, said God’s Son (from Matthew 11:28), with the last of 16 stanzas, “Und was der ewig Gütig Gott” (And what the goodly everlasting God . . . has promised), and (no. 6) Paul Speratus’ 1524 text and anonymous melody, “Es ist das Heil uns kommen her” (Salvation has come to us), using Stanza 9, “Die Hoffnung wart' der rechten Zeit” (Hope waits for the right time).1

Cantata 86 was premiered at the early main service of the Thomas Church before the sermon on the day’s gospel by Pastor Weise, says Martin Petzoldt in his Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2 The Gospel for the Fifth Sunday After Easter, John 16: 23-30, is known as a “Prayer in the name of Jesus” in “Christ’s Promise to the Disciples.” It is the third, or valedictory address, of five Sunday Christ Farewell Discourses used as the Gospel readings from the 12 discourses in John’s Gospel, Chapters 14 to 16, for the consecutive Sundays of Jubilate, Cantate, Rogate, Exaudi, and Trinity in Bach’s time. The Rogate Epistle reading is James 1:22-27, emphasizing “Hearing and doing” but is not quoted directly in either Cantata 86 or 87, Bach’s only extant works for this Sunday in the Easter season. The German text of Luther’s 1545 translation and the English the Authorised (King James) Version 1611 is found at BCW,

The opening introit polyphonic setting uses Psalm 50, Deus deorum (The mighty God, KJV), or Psalm 34, Benedicam Dominum (I will bless the Lord, KJV), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 865). He calls the former “observing God’s service” ad the latter a “notes of thanks for God’s friendliness.” Psalm 50 is also the introit psalm for the 17th Sunday after Trinity. The full texts are found at and

Cantata 86: Arias of Diversity. Depth

At first, Cantata 86 appears to have been written in haste with its simplistic music but the four arias show great diversity and depth, says Julian Mincham in his introduction to the work, BCW <<Certain features of this work might indicate that it was written under pressures of time. The almost naive rhythmic simplicity of the instrumental parts in the first aria and the minimal notation for the violin in the second, allied to the fact that there is no chorus, all point in this direction.

On the other hand, it may be that Bach was simply experimenting with various textures. And counting the third movement as an aria, this work includes four of them! Would not he have been tempted to make more use of secco recitatives had he been composing against the clock? Furthermore, the chorale [6. Es ist das Heil] is a reharmonised version of that which had ended the early C155 (chapter 37) [2nd Sunday after Epiphany] presented in this cycle less than six months earlier (it would also be called upon again, several years later, for C 9 (vol 2, chapter 58) [6th Sunday after Trinity, 1732-35]. If time was a factor, why expend effort reshaping and transposing it? As is so often the case, Bach leaves us with a mass of contradictory evidence and a number of puzzles. Perhaps the safest course is to assume that, consummate practical professional that he was, he knew precisely what he wanted, did not cut corners and, whatever the effort required, produced precisely what he knew to be the right music for any given text and circumstance.>>

The title, “Sonntag Rogate”, does not come from the introit, says Douglas Cowling. It is a reference to the traditional pre-Reformation Rogation processions which blessed the newly-seeded fields but were suppressed by Luther. The theme of “asking” appears in the Gospel reading [John 16:23-33. Introit: “Vocem Jucunditatis” (LU 830); Motet: “Vocem Jucunditatis.” “Exivi a Patre,” “Pater Noster,” “Oremus Praeceptis”; Hymn de Tempore: “Christ Lag in Todesbanden”; Pulpit Hymn: “Christ ist Erstanden”; Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing: “Vater Unser.” The Hymn of the Day and the Pulpit Hymn are the same throughout the previous Easter season services. A non-Easter omnes tempore hymn, Luther’s catechism “Vater unser” (The Lord’s Prayer) was the designated congregational chorale following the sermon in the Vopelius Das neu Leipzger Gesangbuch of 1682 (NLGB).

Cantata 86 movements, scoring, incipits, key, meter.3

1. Arioso/aria, fugal motet in three parts [Bass, Vox Domini; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: “Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch, / so ihr den Vater etwas bitten werdet in meinem Namen, / so wird er's euch geben.” (Truly, truly, I say to you, / whatever you ask the Father in my name / will be given to you. John 16:23); E Major; 2/2 alle breve.
2. Aria da-capo trio [Alto; Violino solo, Continuo]: A. “Ich will doch wohl Rosen brechen / Wenn mich gleich die itzt Dornen stechen.” (I shall indeed therefore pluck roses / even if thorns prick me at the same time.); B. Denn ich bin der Zuversicht, / Dass mein Bitten und mein Flehen / Gott gewiss zu Herzen gehen” (For I have confidence / that my prayers and entreaty /go straight to God’s heart); A major; ¾ polonaise style.
3 Chorale aria [Soprano cf; trio Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo]: “Und was der ewig gütig Gott / In seinem Wort versprochen hat, . . . / Das hält und gibt er gwiß fürwahr” (And what God ,who is eternally good, / has promised in his Word, . . . / he will certainly keep and fulfil); f-sharp minor; 6/8 dance style.
4. Recitative secco [Tenor; Continuo]: “Gott macht es nicht gleichwie die Welt, / Die viel verspricht und wenig halt” (God does not act like the world, / that promises much and keeps little); 4/4; b minor to E Major.
5. Aria two parts dal segno with ritornelli [Tenor; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: “Gott hilft gewiss” (God’s help is certain); B. Denn Gottes Wort bezeiget dies: / Gott hilft gewiss” (For God’s word makes this clear: / God’s help is certain!; E Major, 4/4.
6. Chorale plain [SATB; instruments not indicated, ?tutti]: “Die Hoffnung wart' der rechten Zeit, / Was Gottes Wort zusaget” (Hope waits for the right time for / what God’s word promises); E Major; 4/4.

Musical Treatment oJohn’s Gospel Theme

Bach’s treatment of the Cantata 63 gospel theme, “whatever you ask the Father in my name will be given to you” (John 16:23), is described in detail in John Eliot Gardner’s 2008 liner notes to his Bach Cantata 2000 Pilgrimage recordings.4 <<Bach’s first cantata for Rogation Sunday, BWV 86 Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch (1724), opens with a dictum from Christ’s farewell address to his disciples (John 16:23) sung by the bass soloist as Vox Domini, accompanied by strings and oboes: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you’. In the context of who we were, where we were and to whom we were singing and playing, this opening cantata had a particular poignancy. With almost any other composer the treatment of this subject matter could easily come over as crass, impertinent even, since it invites the listener to ask how these words of Jesus can be reconciled with his or her own experience. In presenting three fugal motifs reverentially and lucidly in the introduction, soon to be taken up by the bass soloist, Bach ensures that these are vocally conceived (as Dürr notes [p.325], it would be easy to sing the entire movement as a four-part motet with just continuo accompaniment).

Bach’s anonymous librettist now expands his theme: we would all prefer to gather roses, even at the risk of being pricked by the thorns, but in the sure knowledge that our prayers will be answered (No.2); for God keeps his promises (Nos 3 and 4), even if his help may be delayed (No.5); and he doesn’t set a time, but knows when it will be for the best (No.6). Bach reinforces the intrinsic optimism of the cantata’s libretto by describing a downward modulatory arc, beginning and ending in E major, a key positioned at the upper limit of his tonal spectrum and hence a-glitter with positive associations and sentiments. The virtuosic breaking of chords by the obbligato violin in the alto aria [da capo in ¾] (No.2) stands of course for the breaking of the rose stems. It illustrates the hazardous business of negotiating the thorns in order to reach the blooms (metaphor for spiritual joy and beauty). The cut here is no easy snip of the secateurs, but a twisting, tearing figure for ‘brechen’, and a dissonance for the ‘stechen’ (pricking) of the thorns. The gently evocative mood of the B section is abruptly intensified at the words ‘that my entreaty and supplication will go straight to God’s heart’ in five bars of intense dissonance over a pedal E, with wild rhapsodic exclamations by the solo violin. Then abruptly the clouds lift, the violin is silent, and the alto (now with continuo alone) sings ‘For He has pledged His word’, Bach’s perfect way of conveying that our prayers have reached their target and will indeed be answered in due course.

|Next comes [no. 3] a chorale setting for soprano with two oboes d’amore and continuo (we chose bassoon) confirming God’s promise and word. In its apparent disregard for the needs of the two d’amore players to refill their lungs (one passage has seventy-two consecutive semiquavers for the first oboe!) this movement feels as if it might have been conceived as an organ chorale. Yet the oboists’ task is to create the illusion of a graceful [6/8] dance, suggesting to us the use of notes ingales, perhaps even the stratospheric circling of the angelic host referred to in Georg Grünwald’s hymn. A short secco recitative (No.4), contrasting the ways of the world (‘making many promises, keeping few’) with God’s delight in granting what he pledges, shows in miniature Bach’s skill and panache in placing angular, dissonant intervals to reinforce his text and its meanings. Finally there is a return to E major for a tenor aria with full strings, a sturdy bourre-like movement in which the singer is assigned only a fragment (just a bar and half) of the introductory motif. Though instrumentally derived, this phrase has sufficient lapidary concision – quirkiness, even – for the singer’s recapitulations to etch the message in the listener’s consciousness: ‘God’s help is sure’, a declaration of faith, and one that is clinched by the closing chorale.>>

Text, Form Comparisons to Cantata 166

Comparisons of text author and form show great similarity between Cantata 86 and Cantata 166 for the previous week (Cantate Sunday), as found in Klaus Hofmann’s liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete cantata recordings.5 <<Bach's cantata 'Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch' ('Verily, verily I say unto you'), first heard on Rogate Sunday 1724, which that year fell on 14lth May, is to some extent a companion piece to 'Wo gehest du hin? (Whither goest thou?), BWV 166, which was first played a week earlier. The text is clearly by the same author, and the overall structure is exactly the same: Bible text - aria - chorale - recitative - aria - chorale. Moreover, the Bible text is again taken from the Gospel reading for that Sunday, John 16, 23-30, from Jesus' farewell discourse: the words “Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch, so ihr den Vater etwas bitten werdet in meinem Namen, so wird er's euch geben' ('Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you). This promise, according to the poet, also holds true if the Christian is threatened by suffering and distress; even in 'Dornen stechen' ('though I prick myself on the thorns: second movement). The chorale and recitative (third and fourth movements) confirm that God keeps his word; similarly, the following aria (fifth movement) states that 'Gott hilft gewiß' ('God surely helps') although the poet adds the proviso that God does not always help immediately: sometimes 'Wird gleich die Hilfe aufgeschoben, Wird sie doch drum nicht aufgehoben' ('though we may have to wait for his help, yet it will never be removed'). The final chorale urges us to trust in God: 'Er weiß wohl, wenn's am besten ist ('He well knows when will be best').

As he had done the previous week, Bach entrusts Jesus opening words to the solo bass, but on this occasion he found a completely different, most unconventional solution: the movement is a sort of motet in which only the bass line is actually sung, while the other parts are played by the instruments of the orchestra. Stylistically, Bach alludes to the motets of the l6th and 17th centuries, and thus lends the piece an archaic quality; the writing is polyphonic throughout, and strictly imitative.

All the more surprising, therefore, is the alto aria 'Ich will doch wohl Rosen brechen' ('l would also wish to pick the roses'), a magnificent concertante piece with a brilliant solo violin part, the figurations of which bring to mind roses in bloom. Bach was plainly inspired to write its virtuoso broken chords by the words 'Rosen brechen' ('pick the roses ). Here, as in the cantata for the previous Sunday, the following chorale (from 'Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn' [Come unto me, says the Son of God] by Georg Grünwald, 1530) is allocated to the soprano. Here, however, the musical setting is richer, in four parts, with two instrumental concertante parts played by oboi d'amore. Bach develops the entire accompaniment from a single theme in a highly disciplined manner.

The tenor aria (fifth movement) is filled with joyful confidence. The vocal part and string orchestra render its striking musical motif in lively alternation: in the tenor part, this motif is associated with the words 'Gott hilft gewiß' (God surely helps'), and it impresses itself upon the listener as the quintessence of the text's meaning. The work is rounded off by the eleventh strophe of the well-known hymn 'Es ist das Heil uns kommen her' ('The Saviour has come down to us') by Paul Speratus (1523). © Klaus Hofmann 2001>>

PRODUCTION NOTES BWV86: Unfortunately, none of the original parts of this work are extant; all that remains is Bach's own full score housed in the Berlin National Library (Mus. ms. Bach P 157). Since there are no surviving parts, the instrumentation in all but the second and third movements is uncertain. In with the recommendation given in the Neue Bach Ausgabe [KB I/12, Dürr 1960] (New Bach Edition), the first movement and the final movement require three string groups (first violin. second violin and viola) and continuo, complemented by two oboes d amore in the fourth movement. © Masaaki Suzuki 2002

Further, Thematic Commentary

The effective, thematic combination of familiar biblical phrases with pleasing musical passages, as well as liturgical, stylistic, and textual factors, are explored in Peter Smaill’s Cantata 86 commentary (BCML Discussion, Part 2 (April 23, 2006), <<BWV 86, "Wahrlich, wahrlich ich sage euch!" is, in its opening Bass representation of Jesus, a fine example of the tendency in Bach to rise to the most theologically significant texts with a vocal line of exceptional declamatory beauty. The unusual linguistic structure of Jesus' words, "Verily, verily, I say unto you; whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, he shall give it to you" was the subject of debate previously. I have the exact related quote to hand from A N Wilson's "Jesus ":

"And then again, like the tiniest clue in a detective story there is that verbal mannerism, which the Christ of the Fourth Gospel shares with the Jesus of the Synoptics: "Amen, amen, lego soi," "Verily, verily, I say unto you...". It is not an idiom; it is an idiolect. We do not find it anywhere else in Greek, nor its equivalent anywhere else in Hebrew or Aramaic".

Bach's setting, in which orchestral imitation verifies the dictum, as if stressing Trinitarian assent to the words spoken after Resurrection and before Ascension, is nevertheless the purest vocal writing for voice: "The utterance of Christ is in terms of calm and dignified beauty, strings and voice pursuing a fugal form in which there is little incident, but where everything is serene" (Whittaker I:415f).

"It is in the same key as the E major Fugue in the second book of the "48" (number 9) and is filled with the same spiritual and melodic beauty" (Robertson 136f). (Conversely it will be remembered by anyone brought up with the Tovey edition of WTC that the Fugue referred to "with the exception of two outlying bass-notes .... is singable by an unaccompanied vocal quartet and has, in fact, been so sung with exquisite effect").

IMO the rhythm and shape of the subject are even more closely related to the opening contrapunctus of KdF (omitting the first two notes). In all cases the same delight in perfect vocal architecture is to be had.

The thorn "dornen" makes its appearance in BWV 86/2, alongside the roses; as was also noted in BWV 136/2; BWV 181/3; BWV 72/2-3; and BWV 161/2. Lucia Haselboeck in her "Bach Textlexikon" notes these incidences, along with the "Dornenkron" in the SJP (BWV 245). So just as the thorn image (here, the "Sündendornen" of sinful man) prefigures the "Dornenkron" in BWV 181 for 13 February 1724, it also appears several weeks after the SJP's first performance on 7 April 1724, in this cantata BWV 86 for 14th May 1724. That the thorn image is not a passing reference is shown by the chromaticism at "stechen" ("pricking") according to Whittaker.

Bach moves from showcasing his (by now exhausted) violinist who finishes off the demanding rose-gathering soprano aria, to concentrating on the oboist in BWV 86/3, breathlessly continuous for 27 bars. Next the Tenor in BWV 86/5, "Gott hilf gewiss" God’s help is certain), has to ascend a high B! Is Bach himself making a stylish theological point based on John 16: 23 and 24, to the effect that he has hitherto asked nothing like this from his own hard-worked disciples?! That whatever he asks of the musicians, they (literally) find inspiration to provide it?>>

E Major Tonality, Allegory

In the reference to the Well-Tempered Fugue in E Major (48, no. 9), the distant, multi-sharp harmony of E Major elicits commentary from Thomas Braatz (BCML 2, Ibid.), citing Eric Chafe’s Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach.6 Chafe’s basic tonal/harmonic principle, E Major in Cantata 86, and Bach’s uses of E Major in his other Cantatas is cited in the following extracts from Braatz’ commentary.

Chafe: “Nevertheless, although the cantatas that feature conspicuous tonal planning cover a wide range of themes and affective spheres, one particular set of associations for the sharp and flat directions runs throughout many works: modulation in the flat direction for the world (and its particular attributes, such as tribulation) and the reverse for the anticipation of eternity, the realm of God, and the like. The present chapter deals with cantatas of the descent/ascent type, in which the world is hardly ever absent.”

<<Bach begins each of the two cantatas [BWV 86 and 87 for Rogate] with a dictum sung by the solo basso as vox Christi accompanied by strings and oboes. The first of these works, "Wahrlich, wahrlich ich sage euch" (Cantata BWV 86), stresses the predominating message of promise in the Gospel text -- "Truly, truly I say to you, that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, to you He will give it" (verse 23). Bach creates thereby a work pervaded by hope and the assurance of God's aid, set in the bright and uncomplicated key of E major. Although the movements move down tonally through A major and F sharp minor to B minor for the start of the first recitative (no. 4: "Gott macht es nicht gleich wie die Welt" [God does not act like the world]), before returning to E major, the descent in no way offsets the sense of promise. In this work the world, although motivating the descent, does not generate affective associations of its own, and we arc probably justified here, as in other E major cantatas, in interpreting Bach's choice of key as a reflection of the place of E major at the upper limit of his tonal spectrum and hence as bearing a very positive association….”

Bach Cantatas, “Footnote: Bach associates E major in the cantatas with positive qualities-completely contradicting the interpretation for E major given by Mattheson (Das neu-eröffnete Orchestre, p. 250) -- among which blessedness (Cantatas BWV 8, BWV 60, BWV 124), salvation (BWV 9, BWV 17, BWV 49, BWV 86, BWV 116, BWV 139), resurrection (BWV 66, BWV 67, BWV 80, 94, 145), and trust (BWV 3, BWV 29, BWV 34a, BWV 107, BWV 139, BWV 171, BWV 200) are the most characteristic.

Rogate Sunday Cantatas, Chorales7

The title, “Sonntag Rogate”, does not come from the OT introit (Isaiah 48:20b-c; “With the voice of singing). It is a reference to the traditional pre-Reformation Rogation processions (with chanted litanies) that blessed the newly-seeded fields but were suppressed by Luther. The theme of “asking” appears in the Gospel reading, John 16:23b, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.”

The Sunday before Christ’s Ascension on Thursday (the 5th Sunday after Easter) is called “Rogate,” meaning “Pray” or “Ask,” only two Bach cantatas survive, the 1724 BWV 86 and the 1725 BWV 87, “Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinen Namen” (Hitherto have ye asked for nothing in my name, John 16:24). Two other cantata texts for Rogate were readily accessible to Bach but lacked chorales. The Rudolstadt Libretto Book of 1726 has a lost Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata, “Der Herr is nahe allen” (The Lord is near all, Psalm 145:18), which Sebastian may have performed on May 26, 1726, but does not survive. A Picander Cycle text exists for May 15, 1729, “Ich schrei laut mit meiner Stimme (I shout aloud with my voice), but no music or parody has been found.

In addition there is a slight possibility that Bach between 1728 and 1731 may have presented his undesignated per omnes versus Chorale Cantata, BWV 117, "Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut!" (Let there be praise and honour for the highest good), with its anonymous melody, "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (Salvation hacome to us) on Rogate Sunday, particularly April 29, 1731, when he presented previous works from his Cycles 1 and 3, for the Easter Season.

Gardiner in his Bach Cantata Pilgrimage 2000 recordings, performed Cantata 117 on the 4th Sunday after Easter (Cantate), observing: “with its assertion that 'The Lord is not and never was severed from His people' it seems to answer that feeling of insecurity experienced by the Christian community during the limbo period between the Resurrection and Whitsun, and as such it provided the perfect riposte to the earlier pair [BWV 108, 166] written for Easter 4. Each verse ends like a litany with the words 'Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre' [Give honour to our God!]."8


As the two-month Easter Season came to a close with the great parabola of Christ’s ascension, Bach increasingly turned to comforting, joyous omnes tempore chorale melodies and texts with devotional themes for the half-year Trinity Season. In keeping with spirit of Rogate Sunday, the music and texts emphasize devotion, affirmation, request, and allegiance and two chorales are set much earlier in the Orgelbüchlein chorale preludes, “Es ist das Heil uns kommen her” and “Jesu, meine Freude.” The two chorale texts Bach used in Cantata 86 are appropriate for the Easter Season.

Cantata 86/3 is set to Georg Grünwald’s 1530 text and melody, “Komm her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn” (Come here to me, said God’s Son (from Matthew 11:28). The final stanza, “Und was der ewig Gütig Gott” (And what the goodly everlasting God . . . has promised), is set in Cantata 86 as a unison chorale aria quartet (no. 3) for soprano, 2 oboes d’amore, and basso continuo). This chorale has 16 stanzas and is found in the NLGB as No. 234 under “Christian Life and Conduct.” German text and Francis Browne’s English translation are found at BCW, The hymn’s final three stanzas close Johann Ludwig Bach’s Cantata JLB 8, “Die mit Tränen säen” (That with tears seen): “Ist euch die Kreuz bitter und schwer” (If this cross is full of woe, S. 14), “Ihr aber werdt nach dieser Zeit” (You, after this short time; S.15). Cousin Sebastian presented this cantata on Jubilate Sunday (the Third After Easter) in 1726.

The original, anonymous c.1390 chorale melody only is used to close Cantata 108, set to Gerhardt’s “Gott Vater, senden deine Geist,” S.10, “Dein Geist, den Gott vom Himmel gibt” (The Spirit God from heaven sends) for Cantate Sunday (4th after Easter) 1725 and also closes Cantata 74 on Pentecost Sunday 1725, with chorale stanza 2, “Kein Menschenkind hier auf der Erd” (No mortal child here upon the earth). Text and melody information is found at BCW,

Cantana 86/6 is a plain chorale setting of Paul Speratus’ 1524 text (14 verses) and anonymous melody, “Es ist das Heil uns kommen her” (Salvation has come to us), Stanza 9, “Die Hoffnung wart' der rechten Zeit” (Hope waits for the right time). It is found in the NLGB as No. 230, for “Justification.” The text and Francis Browne’s English translation is found at BCW,

The text also is found in Chorale Cantata 9, 1731-35, c.1740-47 (repeat), 6th Sunday After Trinity (S. 1-12); also 155/5 (S. 12), 2nd Sunday After Trinity, 1716, 1724; 186/6 (S.10), 186/11 (S.9), 7th Sunday After Trinity, 1723. The anonymous melody is fund in the Orgelbüchlein chorale prelude No. 77 (Confession, Penitence, Justification), BWV 638(a). It is a song of belief and faith, based on Roman’s 3:28, Luther’s doctrine, Justification by faith alone, originally an Easter song, “Freu’ dich du werthe Christenheit,” which was in use in 1478. For further information on the text and melody, see BCW,

On May 6, 1725 Bach closed Cantata 87, “Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinen Namen” (Hitherto have ye asked for nothing in my name), with No. 7, the Johann Crüger 1653 melody “Jesu meine Freude”; text, H. Müller “Selig ist die Selle” 1659; S.9 “Muß ich sein betrübt” (Must I be downcast) cf. 146/2 text Ambrose: BCW: “The theme of metamorphosis from bad to good is found in each of Bach's three cantatas for Jubilate (Easter 3) Sunday (BWV 12, 103, and 146), a theme appropriate to Acts 14:22: "Through many tribulations we must. BCW Z. Philip Ambrose.

“With the sole exception of BWV 87/7, where Bach used instead the 9th verse of Heinrich Müller’s (1659) chorale text ‘Selig ist die Seele,’ all Bach’s settings of this melody use or make reference to Johann Franck’s chorale text ‘Jesu, meine Freude’ (Jesu, my joy) from 1650,” says Z. Philip Ambrtose (BCW: Other uses of the Franck Jesus Song with the six-stanza text are BWV 64/8 (S. 5), 1723 Christmas 3; 81/7 (S. 2), 1724 4th Sunday After Epiphany; motet 227/1, 3, 5, 7, 9 , 11 (all 6 stanzas) in 1723; and plain chorale BWV 328. The melody alone is used in Cantata BWV 12/6, tenor aria, Jubilate Sunday, 1714, 1724; organ chorale prelude BWV 610 (Orgelbüchlein No. 13, Christmas), 713, 753, and 1105.>>


1 Cantata 86, BCW Details and Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [1.35 MB],, Score BGA [1.19 MB], References, BGA XX/1 (Cantatas81-90, Wilhelm Rust, 1872), NBA KB I/12 (Easter 4 to Ascension, Alfred Dürr, 1960), Bach Compendium BC A 73, Zwang K 69.
2 Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 870).
3 Cantata 86 German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW
4 Gardiner notes,[sdg144_gb].pdf, BCW Recording Details,
5 Hofmann notes,[BIS-CD1261].pdf, BCW Recording details,
6 Chafe, Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of JSB (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991: 152ff).
7This material, with slight editing, is originally found in Cantata 86 BCML Discussion, Part 3 (Nov. 21, 2010),
8 Gardiner Cantata 117 notes,[sdg107_gb].pdf, BCW Recording details,

Aryeh Orowrote (May 3, 2016):
Cantata BWV 86 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of Cantata BWV 86 "Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch" (Truly, truly, I say to you) for Rogate [5th Sunday after Easter] on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part chorus; and orchestra of 2 oboes d'amore, 2 violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (12):
Recordings of Individual Movements (3):
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 of the cantata. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 86 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 86: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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


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Last update: Monday, September 11, 2017 15:26