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Cantata BWV 90
Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of November 15, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (November 14, 2015):
Cantata 90, “Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende" Intro. & Trinity 25

Bach’s penultimate Trinity Time (and church year) musical sermon in the first Leipzig annual cycle (1723-24), for the 25th Sunday after Trinity, the Solo (ATB) Cantata BWV 90, “Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende,” was premiered on November 14, 1723. Late Trinity Time, with its emphases on the Final Days and Last Judgment, ended a week later, November 21, with Cantata BWV 70, "Wachet! betet" (Watch! Pray). Like the previous Sunday’s work, Cantata BWV 60, “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort” (O eternity, you word of thunder), Cantata 90 lasting 15 minutes was score for solo voices only with chorus limited to the popular closing plain chorale, in five movement mirror form with pairs of recitatives and arias.1 It was first performed at the early service of St. Thomas church, before the sermon (not extant) of Pastor Christian Weise, says Martin Petzoldt in BACH Commentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.2

Interestingly, both arias are set in dance style against harsh texts. Bach used the symbolic judgment trumpet in the tutti bass aria (no. 3), “So löschet im Eifer der rächende Richter” (Nahum 1:2, Revelation 2:5) / Den Leuchter des Wortes zur Strafe doch aus” (Therefore in his zeal the revenging judge quenches / the lamp of his word as a punishment), which is in sarabande style. The opening tenor “rage” aria is based on 3/8 gigue style. “The tremendous energy and stern vehemence of the two arias place it [Cantata 90] in a class by itself,” says W. Gillies Whittaker in The Cantatas of JSB, Vol. 2.3 “The two recitatives, ii and iv, both with continuo, offer grateful relief from the overpowering arias; they speak of the mercy of the Almighty,” he says (Ibid.: 152). The closing chorale, based on Martin Luther’s Lord’s Prayer provides “a feeling of powerful awe” in its cadence (Ibid.: 153). The full text by an unknown poet and Francis Browne’s English translation and “Notes on the text” (see below) are found at

Popular Reformation Chorales

Cantata BWV 90 closes with the last stanza of Martin Moller’s 1584 7-stanza chorale text, “Nimm von uns”: “Leit uns mit deiner rechten Hand” (Lead us with your right hand). It is set to the chorale melody (Zahn 2561), anonymous/Martin Luther 1539 “Vater unser im Himmelreich” (Our Father in Heaven). Moller’s words are the “1st Alternate Text:” to the melody of the Lord’s Prayer, says BCW notes on the melody and text, Moller’s full text and Francis Browne’s English translation is found at BCW,

The other Bach use of “Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott” is for Chorale Cantata BWV 101, Trinity 10, 1724. The hymn is found in the Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) No. 316, Word of God & Christian Church (omne tempore) general use, no designated Sunday hymn). “Vater unser im Himmelreich” is the Hymn of the Day (de tempore) for the 25th Sunday after Trinity in Bach’s NLGB, Chorale No. 175, under the omne temore general category of Catechism chorales and also is a designated hymn for the omne temore Sundays after Trinity 5, 8, 11, 15, 25 and Epiphany 3.

During his first four years of active composing of three full cycles of church year cantatas in Leipzig, Bach managed to present two new cantatas in extended Late Trinity Time on the 25th Sunday after Trinity, using well-known affirmative chorales. They are “Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott” (Take from us, you faithful God), and “Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ” (Thou Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ). The two works are solo Cantata BWV 90, “Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende” (A dreadful ending carries you away) and Chorale Cantata BWV 116, “Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ.” The chorales in Cantatas 90 and 116, under the omne tempore heading of hymns of the “Word of God & Christian Church,” are used to contrast with the Sunday’s gospel of apocalypse and tribulation. This contrast represents the Christological concept of the “Christus Paradox.”

Trinity Time Cantatas, Especially Last

Bach initial Trinity Time cantatas constitute “a half-year effort to be proud of” and the final three “form a connected group of works,” says scholar Klaus Hofmann 2000 liner notes in the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete cantata recordings.4 <<The four cantatas on this CD [BWV 60, 90, 70, 40] convey us to Bach’s early years in Leipzig and the final weeks of the year 1723. The first three cantatas [BWV 60, 70, 90] form a connected group of works for the last three Sundays of the liturgical year, the 24th-26th Sundays after Trinity (7th, 14th and 21st November 1723), while the fourth cantata was written for the second day of Christmas (26th December). About six months previously, on 30th May 1723 – the first Sunday after Trinity – Bach had commenced his duties as cantor of the Thomas Church with the cantata Die Elenden sollen essen (BWV 75).

Sunday by Sunday thereafter he had performed a cantata. Reckoning from the first Sunday after Trinity, the three cantatas at the end of the liturgical year are the 24th, 25th and 26th Sunday cantatas that the new cantor offered to churchgoers in Leipzig in 1723 (and there were also cantatas for other feast days) – a half-year effort to be proud of. And fundamentally no cantata is like another; on each occasion Bach offered his astonished listeners something new and sometimes highly original. From an historical point of view, Bach’s first period of service in Leipzig appears as a time of wholly exceptional creativity. But equally, Bach’s performance calendar testifies to a remarkable sense of economy: not everything that was performed at the services in Leipzig, was newly composed.

In Bach’s liturgical offerings, new compositions constantly alternate with older cantatas from the Weimar years. By making use of existing material Bach created the necessary time for himself to write his new compositions. This is particularly evident in the period prior to Christmas in 1723. Here it was the tradition for the cantor to take a break of three weeks since it was customary, during the ‘quiet period’ (Tempus clausum) in Leipzig between the 2 and 4th Sundays of Advent, that no cantatas should be performed.>>

Trinity 25 Lectionary, Readings

The eschatological or End Times of the Last Days/Things are the subject of both New Testament lessons in the lectionary for the 25th Sunday after Trinity in Bach’s time. They are: +Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 “Christ’s Second Coming” (sleeping in Jesus, rapture); and +Gospel: Matthew Chapter 24: Verses 15-28, “The Awful Horror,” Christ’s prediction (apocalypse, tribulation). The full texts are found at BCW, The German text is that of Luther’s translation published in 1545, the English is the Authorised (King James) Version 1611. “The Epistle (is) filled with comfort and peace and glory for His own; the Gospel (is) a message of dread and terror and doom for His enemies,” says Paul Zeller Strodach in The Church Year.5

The Introit Psalm for Trinity +25 is Psalm 70, Deus, in adjutorium (Make haste, O God, to deliver me, KJV), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 669). He calls Psalm 70 “David’s plea for help against the devil.” The full text is found at . Polyphonic motet settings for the 12th Sunday after Trinity are found in Bach’s motet collection, Bodenschatz’s Florilegium Portense;6 MOTETS for Introit, Before Sermon at mass and vespers for ChII, and During Communion: Domine in Adjutorium (6 voices) ­ Orlando di Lasso [Rolandus Lassus] (1532-94); Biography: . Live streaming sample; (organ arrangement of motet) U. Lassus: "Lauda Anima Mea" [from same collection as "Deus in Adjutorium," Also, Domine in Adjutorium (8 voices) ­ Anonymous. Monteverdi also composed a setting for his 1610 Vespers for the Virgin Mary.

Cantata 90 Structure, Movements

The balanced form of Cantata 90 in five movements, with alternating recitatives and arias and a closing plain chorale, is a variant to Alfred Dürr’s Form 1 in the first cycle, except that it has no balancing opening dictum chorus. Often, Bach in his solo cantatas began with a concerted aria replacing the chorus. The typical Form 1 is similar to many cantatas of Bach’s time, except for some extended festive works. In the earlier Weimar Cantatas Bach, like the 22 he repeated in Leipzig, usually used printed libretti with preordained basic structures of arias and recitatives, with some choruses. Leipzig Cycle 1 Forms 2 and 3 usually add an internal plain chorale.

Cantata 90 movements, scoring, incipit (biblical citations cited below in “Notes on the text”), key, and meter are:

1. Aria da-capo [Tenor; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Es reifet euch ein schrecklich Ende” A dreadful end carries you away”; B. “Der Sünden Maß ist voll gemessen” (The measure of your sins has been measured out in full); d minor, 3/8 gigue style.
2. Recitative secco [Alto, Continuo]: “ Des Höchsten Güte wird von Tag zu Tage neu” (Lamentations 3:22f, The goodness of the Highest becomes new from day to day); Bb Major to d minor; 4/4.
3. Aria free da-capo with dal segno [Bass; Tromba, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “So löschet im Eifer der rächende Richter” (Nahum 1:2, Revelation 2:5) / Den Leuchter des Wortes zur Strafe doch aus” (Therefore in his zeal the revenging judge quenches /the lamp of his word as a punishment; B. “Ihr müsset, o Sünder, durch euer Verschulden / Den Greuel an heiliger Stätte erdulden” (You must, o sinners, through your own guilt / endure abomination in the holy places); Bb Major; 4/4/ sarabande style.
4. Recitative secco [Tenor, Continuo]: “Doch Gottes Auge sieht auf uns als Auserwählte” (Matthew 24 :22, (But God's eye looks upon us as the people he has chosen); g minor to d mnor; 4/4.
5. Chorale [SATB; no doubling instruments listed]: “Leit uns mit deiner rechten Hand / Und segne unser Stadt und Land” (Lead us with your right hand / and bless our city and country); d minor; 4/4.

<<Notes on the text

BWV 90 was performed in Leipzig on 14 November 1723, the penultimate Sunday of the church year. The gospel of the day deals with the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. Bach's anonymous librettist uses this as the starting point for a stern sermon against those who neglect or despise God's word.

The text contains many biblical allusions. In the discussion on the BCW website Thomas Braatz has conveniently provided the relevant passages in English and German. I gratefully copy them here:

Mvt. 2:
"Des Höchsten Güte wird von Tag zu Tage neu" from Lamentations 3:22-23. Luther 1545 unrevised: "Die Gute des HErrn ist, daß wir nicht gar aus sind; seine Barmherzigkeit hat noch kein Ende, sondern sie ist alle Morgen neu, und deine Treue ist groß." NLT: "The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day."
"Der Undank aber sündigt stets auf Gnade." Romans 6:1 Luther 1545 unrevised: "Was wollen wir hiezu sagen? Sollen wir denn in der Sünde beharren, auf daß die Gnade desto mächtiger werde?" NLT: "Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness?"
"Ach! wird dein Herze nicht gerührt?" / Daß Gottes Güte dich Zur wahren Buße leitet?"
Romans 2:4 Luther unrevised: "Oder verachtest du den Reichtum seiner Güte, Geduld und Langmütigkeit? Weißt du nicht, daß dich Gottes Güte zur Buße leitet?" NLT: "Don't you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don't you care? Can't you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin?"

Mvt. 3:
"So löschet im Eifer der rächende Richter / Den Leuchter des Wortes zu Strafe doch aus.." Revelation 2:5 Luther 1545 unrevised: "Gedenke, wovon du gefallen bist, und tu Buße und tu die ersten Werke! Wo aber nicht, werde ich dir kommen bald und deinen Leuchter wegstoßen von seiner Stätte, wo du nicht Buße tust." NLT: "Look how far you have fallen from your first love! Turn back to me again and work as you did at first. If you don't, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches."
"Ihr machet aus Tempeln ein mörderisch Haus."
Matthew 21:13 Luther 1545 unrevised: "Und sprach zu ihnen: Es stehet geschrieben: Mein Haus soll ein Bethaus heißen. Ihr aber habt eine Mördergrube daraus gemacht." NLT: "He said, 'The Scriptures declare, "My Temple will be called a place of prayer," but you have turned it into a den of thieves!'"

Mvt. 4:
"Doch Gottes Auge sieht auf uns als Auserwählte" Matthew 24:22 Luther 1545 unrevised: "Und wo diese Tage nicht würden verkürzt, so würde kein Mensch selig; aber um der Auserwählten willen werden die Tage verkürzt." NLT: "In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, the entire human race will be destroyed. But it will be shortened for the sake of God's chosen ones."
The text of the opening tenor aria, most dramatically set by Bach, at once establishes the tone of vigorous condemnation and is made vivid by the use of the present tense and the direct address to those who have despised God. The words Verächter and verstockter stress the arrogance of those who sin. It is not clear whether “Der Sünden Maß ist voll gemessen,” means that the sinners have now reached the point where God will no longer overlook their sins or that they are now receiving punishment measured out appropriately to their sins. On either interpretation a crisis point has been reached when they must face the consequences.

The misreading 'reifet' is sometimes found instead of the correct reading reißet.

The following recitative uses a number of biblical passages to complain that God's goodness meets with ingratitude instead of repentance, and his continual kindness is answered by evil conduct. The bass aria in excited dactylic verse uses imagery from Revelation and Jeremiah to stress the disasterous consequences of such behaviour.

Only with the second recitative is a more positive, hopeful view reached. In the midst of enemies and danger God's help is something on which we can rely. This leads to the concluding chorale, the final strophe of Martin Moller’s 1584 hymn “Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott.” (Moller's hymn is based on the Latin poem Aufer immensam, Deus, aufer iram which some may know because of its setting by Heinrich Schütz).

As the Oxford Companions [See Cantata 90 Commentary, below) notes the horrors of the last judgement were a favoured theme in Baroque art. What to many today may seem a grim unpromising text evoked in Bach's imagination a colourful response of tremendous energy and stern vehemence.

Julian Mincham’s telling commentary on the Cantata BWV 90/5 setting of Luther’s chorale melody, and its harmonization as plain chorales in two other Bach words, BWV 245/5 (SJP), and Cantata BWV 102/7 (Trinity 10), is found at BCW,, “telling Chorale.”>>

Cantata 90 Scholarly Commentary

Summaries of certain scholarly, informed and varied commentaries are provided in the BCW Commentary of Thomas Braatz (November 23, 2002) are cited and summarized from Alfred Dürr, Eric Chafe, Klaus Hofmann, and Nicholas Anderson in the following: 7

*Alfred Dürr (Cantatas of JSB): Mvt. 1 Tenor Aria: This intromvt. is a passionate tenor aria containing many coloratura passages. The lively figures and rapid scale passages played by the 1st violin express the threatening punishment that awaits sinners. The middle section, in contrast, is dominated by the continuo group with the strings only entering in the ritornelli or interjecting short phrases from time to time. Mvts. 2 & 4 Recitatives: Both recitatives are of the secco type. Mvt. 3 Bass Aria: In addition to the full complement of strings, Bach adds a trumpet(?) part, which contains not only the usual imitation of trumpet calls based on the triad, but also has fast-moving passages that emulate the figures played by the strings with which it engages in a concertante dialog. In its passionate nature, this mvt. compares favorably with the 1st mvt. with the exception of one distinctive characteristic: the voice also takes up the ‘bugle-call’ motif (based on the triad) announced in the trumpet part. Similar to the structure of mvt. 1 with its reduced role of the treble instruments in the middle section and the emphasis upon the continuo group, however, the more freely formed da capo section includes also a coda-type continuo section before the actual instrumental ritornello at the conclusion begins.

*Eric Chafe: “On the following week, “Es reiffet euch ein schrecklich Ende” (A terrifying end is prepared for you: BWV 90) centers on the opposition between warnings of God’s judgment, graphically represented in the two arias, and God’s protection of the elect, which comes to the fore in the final recitative and chorale. Thus, the “schrecklich Ende” that is prepared for the sinner stands in opposition to the proclamation that God’s blessings are renewed from day to day – “Des Höchsten Güte wird von Tag zu Tag neu”—which sounds like a comforting response to the fearful “Anfang sonder Ende” of Cantata BWV 60.”

*Klaus Hofmann (for Suzuki’s notes) “The cantata’s two arias paint a dismal picture, visualizing the threat of a ‘dreadful end’ towards which sinners, in their obstinacy, are proceeding. Both refer to the divine judge, while the second aria also interprets the terrors and temptations of the end of time as the punishment of God. Bach has given these two relatively similar texts very different musical characters. The first aria, for tenor, is expressively highly intense and very virtuosically written for the soloist, while the string writing is no less fervent (with a vivid illustration of the keyword ‘reißet’ by means of frenetic violin runs.) The second, in the manner of a vengeance aria as common found in Baroque opera, is set as a clattering bass solo in which the operatic model appears in skillfully layered form with a lively brass part of almost breathtaking difficulty. The manuscript does not reveal whether Bach intended this part for a horn or a trumpet. The instrument symbolizes the ‘trump of God’ of the last judgment (as mentioned in the epistle for the same Sunday: 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18. The two recitatives bring a lighter note to the threatening darkness. They speak of goodness and of the concern that God has for his chosen ones. The simple concluding chorale, ‘Leit uns mit deiner rechten Hand’ (“lead us with your right hand’: Martin Moller, 1584,) prays for safe conduct and for God’s protection. [The Suzuki recording can be heard on-line at]

*Nicholas Anderson (Oxford Composer Companions JSB): “The unidentified author of the powerful text took as his basis the appointed Epistle and Gospel, which speak of Christ’s second coming. The attendant horror of the Last Judgment was a favored theme among Baroque artists, and one which, as we can see in several other instances in the cantatas, evoked colorful responses in Bach’s imagination. The cantata begins with one of two da capo arias which, since there is no opening chorus, are its dominant features. It is scored for tenor with strings and continuo and is virtuoso in its writing both for first violins and for the voice. This is the stern aria whose textual warnings are conveyed by Bach in bold passages of chromaticism, wild, upward-swirling demisemiquaver runs in the first violin, vocal coloratura, and almost ferocious declamation. An alto recitative vividly contrasts God’s goodness with worldly ingratitude before we are confronted by the second aria. The robust, supple writing of the previous aria is comfortably matched in this bass aria, whose resonant virtuoso trumpet obbligato provides an additional brilliant dash of color. Virtuosity penetrates almost every strand of the texture, with cascades of demisemiquavers, menacing passages of repeated semiquavers in the continuo, and, dominating all, the trumpet sounding warrior-like, threatening, and doom-laden calls. In short, Bach has conjured up a scene of dreadful horror, an unforgettable vision of God’s anger. A short tenor recitative anticipates heavenly victory over Satan’s brood, and the cantata ends with a verse of Martin Moller’s hymn “Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott” (1584.) The melody, affectingly harmonized by Bach, is that which is associated with Luther’s vernacular version of the Lord’s Prayer, “Vater unser im Himmelreich” (1539.)

Gardiner’s Cantata 90 Summary

Cantata BWV 90 is “Magnificently theatrical and terse,” says John Elliot Gardiner in his 2005 liner notes to the Bach 2000 Cantata Pilgrimage recording notes.8 “It’s theme is eschatological, its subject matter the polarity between the ‘schrecklich Ende’, the terrifying outcome awaiting all sinners at the Last Judgement given graphic articulation in the tenor and bass arias, and the genial protection God gives to His elect described in the final recitative and chorale.”

Cantata 90 <<provided a strong contrast to the sequence of three cantatas, all turning on G minor, composed for Trinity 19. Its theme is eschatological, its subject matter the polarity between the ‘schrecklich Ende’, the terrifying outcome awaiting all sinners at the Last Judgement given graphic articulation in the tenor and bass arias, and the genial protection God gives to His elect described in the final recitative and chorale. It opens with fire and brimstone, the tenor/preacher predicting the fate of the unrepentant, a fury aria which, in its use of tirades (flourishes of fourteen consecutive demisemiquavers), curtailed phrase-endings, big jumps in tessitura and dramatic pauses mid-word (‘schreck...lich’), is as brilliant and theatrical as anything in Handel. Bach seems, in fact, to be taking on his entire generation of Italian opera composers and beating them at their own game. The unflagging energy of his melodic invention and rhythmic propulsion is always directed towards giving truthful expression to the text, and here it is as matchless as it is exciting. In this vein, only Rameau, two or more decades later, is a serious competitor to Bach. The second (bass) aria for B flat trumpet and strings is in some respects still more impressive, a chilling portrayal of ‘the avenging judge’, zealously extinguishing ‘the lamp of His Word’ as punishment. There is a military tread to the pervasive dactylic rhythm which turns especially sinister at the point when the trumpet persists with low Ds against the violins’ A major arpeggio.

Dazed by the seeming intensity of these twin tableaux one can easily overlook the felicitous and intelligent word-setting in the two recitatives, proof, if needed, that Bach was the best composer of secco recitatives since Monteverdi, and the astonishing beauty of the final chorale, a versification of the Lord’s Prayer. It feels like the thanksgiving of a community chastened by some colossal natural disaster – a hurricane or earthquake – and even after repeated hearings I found myself still startled by the sudden lurch to the flattened tonic at the mention of the ‘sel’ges Stündelein’, the ‘blessed hour’ when the faithful are ushered into the divine presence…

Bach’s opening Cantata 90 “rage” aria “is as theatrically extreme as anything his listeners (and performers) might have encountered during the years whenLeipzig had its own opera house (1693-1720) – and not what they would normally expect to hear in church – and the first and the first time he had risked this flagrant breach of protocol,” Gardiner recently observes in his Bach musical biography, BACH: Music in the Castle of Heaven.10

Initial Provenance Source

The initial Provenance dating is found in the Breitkopf Catalogue of 1761, says “An Introduction” by Christoph-Hellmut Mahling in the Jaap Schröder 1969 recording.11 <<The cantata “Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende” (A terrible end is ripening for you) was not, as assumed hitherto, first written around 1740, but again belongs to the yearly cycle from Estomihi 1723 to Epiphany 1724, and was first performed on the 14th November 1723. It can be regarded as one of Bach’s most impressive works, even if not speaking generally, at least among those of similar dimensions. Yet the resources used here are by no means lavish. String orchestra, organ and solo trumpet are the instruments employed; these could only be accurately established on the basis of a catalogue of publications of Breitkopf’s dating from 1761 [p. 10], no details being provided in this respect in the autograph. The author of the text is unknown. The first aria, allotted to the tenor, is very agitated (continuous semiquaver figures), charged with energy (including rising demisemiquaver figures in the violins) and extensive (186 bars without “da capo”). In it, the “sinful disdainers" who live without care and without thinking of God’s judgement are reminded of the “terrible end” that will one day be theirs. The majesty and power of the “avenging judge” are represented by the fanfare motif maintained almost throughout this bass aria (broken triads and a striking, rhythmically taut figure of a quaver and two semiquavers), the use of the trumpet and the character of the entire movement. Lively runs, mostly descending (in semiquaver values), underline the extinguishing of the candle “in passion”. But since God has elected mankind for Himself, He indeed thinks of punishment, but not of destruction, and will thus continue to halt “the rush of the enemy” (tenor recitative). This impressive and moving work closes with the prayer expressed in the final Chorale that God may also hold His protecting hand over mankind in the future.>>

Trinity 25 Chorale Cantata 11612

That Bach late in 1724 chose to set the Christological hymn, “Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ,” as Chorale Cantata BWV 116, for the 25th Sunday after Trinity with its End Times theme may seem paradoxical as it embodies the concept of the “Christus Paradox.” The Christus Paradox is best expressed in the 20th century hymn, “Let all mortal flesh keep silence,” set to the Byzantine Greek Liturgy of St. James and the 17th century French carol, “Picardy” (Wikipedia, “Christus Paradox” is a 1991 “Chorale Variations for SATB and organ, with the text of the late Sylvia Dunstan (incipit, “You, Lord, are both Lamb and Shepherd”) and “Picardy” music arranged by Alfred Fedak (GIA Publications G5463.

Bach’s choice of another chorale for his other cantata for the 25th Sunday after Trinity, also reflects the Christus Paradox found in Late Trinity Time, in the transition from End Times of the Church Year to the Advent of the New Church year cycle. Cantata BWV 90, “Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende” (A dreadful ending carries you away) closes with the affirmative chorale, “Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott” (Take from us, you faithful God), set to the Lutheran melody of the Lord’s Prayer. Both affirmative chorale texts, “Nimm von uns” and “Du Friedefürst,” are< omne tempore> hymns on the “Word of God and the Christian Church.” Both chorales “are found in the Dresden hymnbooks of that time among the “Hymns of Lament and Comfort,” says Günther Stiller in JSB and Luturgical Life in Leipzig.13

Last Trinity Time Lessons

Interestingly, the eschatological Gospel lesson (Mat. 24:15-28) for the 25th Sunday after Trinity in Bach’s historic, mixed One-Year Lectionary of teachings from all four Gospels is not found in the current, Three-Year Lectionary of Catholic and liturgical Protestant denominations, first adopted at Vatican II in the 1960s. The current Gospel readings are: Year A. Matthew, Year B. Mark, Year C. Luke, with John readings primarily in the Easter Season of all three years.

The two teachings from Matthew Chapter 25 for the final two Trinity Time Sundays (the 26th and 27th) in Bach’s one-year lectionary are retained in the final three Sundays in the current Sundays after Pentecost (Trinity) in Year A of the <omne tempore> (Ordinary Time) non-festival half of the church year.

In the contemporary lectionary of service readings for the final three Sundays in Trinity, other Bach <omne tempore> cantatas are particularly relevant in these eschatological Last Days, Omega, or End Times. The Appendix to the 1994 <Evangelisches Kirchen Gesangbuch> (EKG) lists the following as appropriate for the Second to Last Sunday in the Church Year: Cantatas 105 (Trinity 9), 114 (Trinity 17), 115 (Trinity 22), and 127 (Septuagesima); Next to the Last Sunday, BWV 70 (Trinity 26), 94 (Trinity 9), 105 (Trinity 9), and 168 (Trinity 9); and the Last Sunday, BWV 140 (Trinity 27).

Here are the final three Sundays in the current Three-Year Lectionary, with the lessons from Year A, Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel: +Second to Last Sunday after Pentecost, Lectionary 32 (November 6-12), Mat. 25:1-13 (Bach’s 27th Sunday after Trinity), “Parable of the 10 Young Women”; +Next to Last Sunday after Pentecost, Lectionary 33 (November 13-19), Mat. 25:14-30 (no Bach Sundays after Trinity), “Parable of the Three Servants”;

+Last Sunday after Pentecost, Lectionary 34 (November 20-26), Christ the King Sunday, Mat. 25:31-46 (Bach’s Trinity 26), “The Final Judgement.” Thus, in the final three Sundays in the one-year lectionary, Mat. 25:14:30, “Parable of the Three Servants” is omitted, while in the three-year lectionary Year A, Mat. 24:15-28, “The Awful Horror” (25th Sunday after Trinity in the One-Year Lectionary) is omitted.

Christus Paradox Background

Throughout Christian history, writers have explored the richness of what they perceive as the uniqueness of Jesus Christ through the study of Christology. Central to this concept are the two paradoxical doctrines of Jesus’ nature in the gospels as Son of God (fully divine) and Son of Man (fully human) and the three states of Christ in the <kenosis> (emptying) parabola (descent-ascent) hymn of Philippians 2:5-11 or Col. 1:15-20: pre-incarnational glory, death, and resurrection, says noted theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. in the article “Christus Paradox” (Calvin College, Grand Rapids MI, nd). Other paradoxical images include Jesus as lamb and shepherd, prince and slave, steward and servant.

Increasingly within churches using the Three-Year Lectionary, the Christological Feast days of Christmas, Easter, Ascension, and Christ the King Sunday incorporate the Christus Paradox readings of Philippians 2:5-11 or Col. 1:15-20, as well as the two passages in Isaiah that prophesy the two different aspects of Christ’s dual identity, Chapter 53, The Suffering Servant, and Chapter 11, The Peaceful Kingdom.

Christ the King & Christology

Currently. The last Sunday in Trinity (Pentecost) is called Christ the King Sunday, a 20th Century designation begun in the Roman Catholic Church (Google Wikipedia, ): “Originally, the liturgical calendar had this feast on the last Sunday of October prior to All Saints' Day. . . .” Luther’s Reformation rejected the Catholic All Saints Day, occurring on November 1, instituting instead the Feast of the Reformation on October 31. In Bach’s Lutheran tradition, a similar day is the Feast of the Apostles (St. Simon & St. Jude, October 28), listed in Bach’s Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682 (NLGB: pp. 473-90). The Apostles Feast is recognized in Bach’s <Orgelbüchlein> (OB, LOrgan Book) with preludes on two chorales: OB No. 59. “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” (Te Deum, NLGB 167, Feast of the Apostles); and OB No. 60. “O Herre Gott, dein göttlich Wort” (NLGB 308, Word of God & Christian Church). Although Bach set neither chorale in the <Orgelbüchlein>, he previously set both as organ chorale preludes and later as harmonized four-voice chorales.

The concepts of Christ the King and Christology are embedded in Lutheran theology. “The heart of Reformation theology was Christology, the solus Christus aspect of the Christian Gospel that was summarized by three further Latin formulae: sola scriptura, sola fide, and sola gratia” (also known as the Word, Faith, and Grace Alone), says Robin A. Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music. 14

These concepts are expressed in the Lutheran utilization of the Te Deum canticle of praise, both in Latin and vernacular German, and celebrated on the Feast of New Year’s Day when Bach also used the popular hymn, “Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ” (Thou Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ), found in three movements in Cantata BWV 143. It was an evolving work that Bach originally composed in Weimar about1708-14 and may have performed again between 1728-35. Bach did not include it in his three cantatas cycles of music for the church year.

Chorale Cantata BWV 116, ‘Du Friedefürst”

For the final 25th Sunday after Trinity in 1724, on November 26, Bach premiered Chorale Cantata BWV 116, “Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ” (Thou Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ). Cantata BWV 116 BCW cover page is found at Francis Browne BCW English translation is The 1601 chorale text of Jakob Ebert (7 stanzas) is found in Francis Browne’s BCW English Translation,

The associated, anonymous melody is “found in a collection by Bartholomäus Gesius (Gese) (1601) and is loosely based upon ‘Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen’ ” (BCW, Of particular note in Julian Mincham’s commentary on Cantata BWV 116 is the memorable alto trio free da-capo aria, “Ach, unaussprechlich ist die Not” (Ah, unspeakable is our distress), BCW,

Other Trinity 25 Chorales

The NLGB lists four chorales that could be sung on the 25th Sunday after Trinity: “Vater unser im Himmelreich” and two little-known pulplit and communion chorales, all under the heading “Last Days, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Life” that Bach never set: +”Es wird schier der letzten Tag herk,” NLGB 393 (Last Days, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Life); Bohemian brothers and martyrs; German, Michael Weisse 12 stanzas (Zahn 1423); +”Ach Gott tu dich erbarmen”; Erasmi Alberi, Last Days NLGB 396, 12 stanzas (Zahn 7228c).

+It seems likely that Bach composed no cantatas for the Sundays at Trinity Time 1725, that ended with the 24th Sunday after Trinity, November 25. Instead Bach searched for published texts (Lehms, Rudolstadt) for the new and final third cycle, which began at the traditional start of the church year, the First Sunday in Advent, December 2, 1725.

+The Picander published annual cycle of 70 Cantatas for 1728-29, lists a libretto for the 25th Sunday after Trinity (November 14, 1728), P-69, “Eile, rette deine Seele” (Hurry, save thy soul), but with no closing chorale.

+For the 25th Sunday after Trinity on November 11, 1731, it is possible that Bach repeated solo Cantata BWV 90, Es reißet euch ein schrechliche Ende” (There ripens for you a dreadful ending), possibly as part of Bach’s first annual cantata cycle repeat in 1731 when he systematically reperformed cantatas from his first and third cycle during the entire Easter Season (see BCW,

+There is the possibility of a repeat of Chorale Cantata BWV 116 in the first half of the 1730s when Bach composed several <per omnes versus> chorale cantatas to fill gaps and may have presented a revival of the entire Chorale Cantata second cycle. The best possible date on the 25th Sunday after Trinity is November 22, 1733, the final Sunday of Trinity Time that year.

+About November 18, 1736, Bach may have performed a Stözel two-part cantata, from the cantata cycle “Das Namenbuch Christi,” (Book of Names of Christ), Schmolck text, No. 68. No musical source with the presumed chorales is extant.

1731 Reperformances & Provenance

It is possible that Cantata 60 was repeated on November 4, 1731, possibly as part of Bach’s first annual cantata cycle repeat in 1731 when it is documented that he systematically reperformed cantatas from his first and third cycle at least during the entire Easter Season, March 25 to May 20 (see BCW, Six months later in 1731 at the end of Trinity Time, it is documented that Cantata BWV 70, “Wachet, betet” (Watch, pray), was repeated two weeks later on November 18, on the 26th Sunday after Trinity, and that <per omnes versus> Chorale Cantata BWV 140, “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme Der Wächter” (Wake up, cries to us the voice of the watchmen) was premiered on November 25 for the final, 27th Sunday after Trinity, a rare occasion. For the 25th Sunday after Trinity on November 11 it is possible that Bach repeated either solo Cantata BWV 90, Es reißet euch ein schrechliche Ende” (There ripens for you a dreadful ending), or Chorale Cantata BWV 116, “Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ” (Thou Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ).

The provenance of Cantata 90, like those involving the other final nine Trinity Time Sundays in Cycle 1, beginning with Trinity 18 on September 26, 1723, is clouded. The overall pattern of distribution, beginning with Cantata 61 on Advent Sunday, November 28, between Emmanuel and Friedemann shows that they essentially alternated receiving scores and parts sets for virtually all the Sunday and feast day services.

In late Trinity Time, it appears that Emanuel received the still-surviving scores and some parts sets. For the Provenance of Cantata 90, Thomas Braatz explains: “The original parts were lost early on and only the autograph score still exists in the BB. C. P. E. Bach inherited the score but then gave it away some during his lifetime. The catalog of his estate prepared shortly after his death [1789] no longer lists this cantata along with a number of other cantatas that J. S. Bach had prepared for the final Sundays in the liturgical year. The next owner was the Berliner Singakademie” (see BCW

The initial Provenance dating of Cantata 90 is found in the Breitkopf Catalogue of 1761. This music in manuscript was available for copying at a price. Breitfkop sources were Leipzig individuals who knew Bach, estates, churches, and possibly members of the Bach family, particularly Friedemann (1710-84), who made available the chorale cantata scores for copying, particularly Bach student Christian Friedrich Penzel (1737-1801) and biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel (1749-1818). It is known that sons Friedemann and Emanuel (1714-88) exchanged cantata manuscripts and that Carl Friedrich Zelter (1758-1832), later director of the Singakademie, was personally acquainted with Friedemann. Also, the Hamburg circle around Emmanuel had contacts with Berlin as well as Emanual himself who was employed as harpsichordist at the Court of Frederick the Great (1738-68).

In his Provenance article on Cantata 90, Braatz also discusses the spelling problems that caused the [incipit] change of word from ‘rßet’ to ‘reifet,’ the various biblical quotations cited above in Francis Browne’s “Notes on the text,” the date of composition, and the instrumentation.


1 Cantata 60 BCW Details and revised and updated Discography,
Score Vocal & Piano [1.03 MB],, Score BGA [1.49 MB], References: BGA XX/1 (Cantatas 81-90, Wilhelm Rust, 172), NBA KB I /27 (Trinity 24-27, Alfred Dürr, 1968, Bach Compendium BC A 163, Zwang K 51.
2 Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Die geistlichen Kandes 1. Bis 27. Trinitas-Sontagges, Vol. 1; Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs, Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2004, 680).
3 Whittaker, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular (Oxford University Press: London, 1958: II: 149ff).
4 Klaus Hoffmann liner notes to Masaaki Suzuki BIS,[BIS-CD1111].pdf; BCW Recording details,
5 Strodach, The Church Year: Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles and Gospels (Philadelphia PA, United Lutheran Publication House, 1924, 261f).
6 BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION: Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense" Schünigen: Kaminsky, 1927; ML 410 B67R4.
7 Sources: Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005: 638ff); Chafe, Analyzing Bach Cantatas (Oxford University Press: New York, 2000); Hofmann BCW notes,[BIS-CD1111].pdf (BCW Recording details,; Anderson in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Boyd, Malcolm (Oxford University Press: New York, 1999: 165).
8 Gardiner notes, BCW[sdg110_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details,
10 Gardiner, BACH: Music in the Castle of Heaven (Alfred A, Knopf: New York, 2013: 304).
11Liner Notes to the LP of Cantatas BWV 89, 90 & 161 conducted by Jaap Schröder (Telefunken, 1969); see BCW Recording details,
12 Source, “Motets and Chorales for the 25th Sunday after Trinity, BCW
13 Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, Ed. Robin A. Leaver (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing, 1985: 246f).
14 Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music (Lutheran Quarterly Books, William B. Eerdmanns Publishing, Grand Rapids MI: 297).

Aryeh Oron wrote (November 17, 2015):
Cantata BWV 90 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of the Solo Cantata BWV 90 "Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende" (A dreadful end carries you away) for the 25th Sunday after Trinity on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part chorus; and orchestra of trumpet, 2 violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (11):
Recordings of Individual Movements (5):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios and 2 videos of the cantata. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.

I believe this is the most comprehensive discography of this solo cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 90 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.

You can also read on the BCW the recent discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):

Charles Francis wrote (November 21, 2015):
Aryeh Oton wrote:
< ...I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios and 2 videos of the cantata. >
In the Musica Vivax performance three singers take turns in the various arias/recitatives, and then combine with a fourth for the closing chorale:


Cantata BWV 90: 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
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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 05:11