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Cantata BWV 92
Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of February 1, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (January 31, 2015):
Cantata BWV 92: 'Ich habe in Gottes Herz und Sinn' Intro.

Based on progressive poet Paul Gerhardt’s 1647 12-stanza hymn, “Ich habe in Gottes Herz und Sinn” (I have surrendered to God's heart and mind) to put trust in God through good and ill, set to the Claudin de Sermisy (1528) popular, secular lamento melody, “Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit” (What my God wants, may it always happen), Bach’s chorale Cantata BWV 92 for Septuagesima Sunday 1725 is one of his longest, most contrasting, dramatic, and intriguing cantatas. Lasting half an hour, it has nine movements in one part involving the usual opening chorale fantasia and closing congregational prayer, contains all three types of chorale adaptations (recitative with interpolated cantus firmus, chorale aria, and four-part hymn alternating with recitative for all four voices separately), and includes three arias, and a plain recitative.1 In sum, Bach retains five of 12 Gerhardt hymn stanzas complete.

In contrast to chorale Cantata 41, “Jesu, nun sei gepreiset” (Jesus, now be praised), presented four weeks earlier on festive New Year’s Day, which has the typical six movements with fantasia, two da-capo repeat arias, and an extended recitative chorale-scena, Cantata 92 has lengthy texts which employ both the full hymn stanza and length original recitative commentary in two movements (Nos. 2 and 7). While unrelated to the day’s Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16 (Parable: the labourers in the vineyard) which is typical of Bach’s chorale cantatas for Epiphany Time and pre-Lent, the text contains both biblical references to the poetic images such as storms (mvt. 2, which Bach embellishes musically, and didactic phrases that have little bearing on the original Gerhardt hymn text but stimulate Bach’s musical language.

The lengthy work also incites commentators John Eliot Gardiner and scholar Klaus Hofmann in their recording liner notes to interesting scholarship and observations as well as BCW commentators Julian Mincham on the work’s length, Thomas Braatz on melody composer Claudin de Sermisy, and Peter Smaill on “Doctrine & Imagery.” Two elements of particular interest and understanding are scholar Martin Petzoldt’s findings on the sermon preacher following Cantata 92’s main service presentation, Christian Weise Sr., Bach’s confessing pastor and collaborator, and the opening Psalm Introit, penitential Psalm 38, Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me (Lord rebuke me not in thy fury, KJV). It is quite possible that Bach and Weise both enjoyed Gerhardt’s poetry and provided extensive, particular guidance to the still-anonymous librettist. Various major composers did early Baroque motet settings of Psalm 38, one of which Bach may have used to open the service.

Other pleasing characteristics of Cantata 92 include the use of dance-style in all five madrigalian numbers with various instrumental combinations: a pastorale-gigue in the opening fantasia and a passepied-menuett in the lovely, rare soprano aria (mvt. 8), “Meinem Hirten bleib ich treu.” (I stay faithful to my shepherd.) and generic styles in the zest tenor aria with strings (mvt. 3) in cut-time, “Seht, seht! wie reißt, wie bricht, wie fällt, / Was Gottes starker Arm nicht hält” (See, see! how tears, how breaks, how falls / what God's strong arm does not support.); the lilting alto chorale aria with two oboes d’amore in common time (mvt. 4), “Zudem ist Weisheit und Verstand / Bei ihm ohn alle Maßen” (Besides there are wisdom and understanding / in him without any limits.); and the pulsating bass aria in ¾ time (mvt. 6), “Das Brausen von den rauhen Winden / Macht, daß wir volle Ähren finden.”; (The roaring of the rough winds / is the cause that we find full ears of corn).

First performance of Cantata 92 was January 28, 1725, at the early main service of the Thomaskirche before the sermon on the gospel, Mat. 21:1-16, Parable of the laborers in the vineyard, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2 There is no evidence of a reperformance in Bach’s lifetime. Later, one of Bach’s last students and St. Thomas prefect and extensive Bach copyist, Christian Friedrich Penzel (1737-1801), returned home to Oelsnitz and collaborated with his teacher, cantor J. G. Nache, copying parts, to begin presenting a partial cycle of Bach's chorale cantatas, commencing on Advent Sunday, November 28, 1761 with Cantata BWV 62, followed by Cantata 133, Christmas 3 on December 27; Cantata 41, on January 1, 1762; Cantata 123, Epiphany, January 6; Cantata 124, Sunday after Epiphany, January 2; Cantata 125 on Purification, Feb. 2, and Cantata 91, Septuagesima, ?February 7. (sources: Hoffman,, Braatz,

Biblical Readings, Chorale Information

Readings: Epistle: 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5 (Paul’s letter: parable, Our life is like a race; only one receives the prize; Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16 (Parable: The labourers in the vineyard. Complete text is the Martin Luther German translation (1545), with the English translation Authorised (King James) Version [KJV] 1611; for complete texts, see BCW Readings,

Introit Psalm for Septuegesima Sunday is Psalm 38, Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me (Lord rebuke me not in thy fury, Penitential Psalm), says Petzoldt, who calls Psalm 38 “Bußgebet um Erledigung von der schweren Sündenlast (a Penitential Prayer about completion of sins’ burden). The Penitential Psalms are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143. Psalm 38 has the same incipit as Psalm 6, which is paraphrased in chorale Cantata BWV 135, “Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder” (Ah Lord, poor sinner that I am), for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity 1724. Motets based on Psalm 38 were composed by Orlando di Lasso (AATTTBBB),; Josquin des Prez (SATB),; Monteverdi (6 vv.),; Heinrich Schütz, SW 085,,_Heinrich). It is possible that Bach presented some motets, based on his motet collection, the Bodenschatz Florilegium Portense.3

Cantata 92 text is based on progressive writer Paul Gerhardt’s 1647 hymn, “Ich habe in Gottes Herz und Sinn” (Mvts. 1, 2, 4, 7, 9 unaltered) and the anonymous librettist (Mvts. 3, 5, 6, 8 paraphrased). The German text and Francis Browne English translation is found at BCW The Gerhardt (1607-1676) BCW Short Biography is found at BCW

The original Gerhardt 9-line, 12 stanza chorale text of “Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn,” and Francis Browne’s English translation is found at It is not found in Bach’s Leipzig hymnbook, Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682. The associated chorale melody chosen by Gerhardt is “Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit” (What my God wants, may it always happen), composer: Claudin de Sermisy (1528). Gerhardt’s setting was published in 1648.

Detailed information on the melody and Bach’s use are found at BCW, as well as detailed information on composer Claudin de Sermisy in Thomas Braatz’ BCW article, “BWV 92 - The Chorale Melody” (January 30, 2002), opening BCML Cantata 92 Discussion Part 1,, as well as his later, detailed analysis of the opening fantasia (February 4, 2002). Two other chorale sources are the recent Cantata 111, BCML Discussion Part 4,, and Luke Dahn’s seven extant 4-part settings of "Was mein Gott will, das gscheh allzeit" and the hymn as it appears in Vopelius's 1682 Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB), though in modernized notation,4

The Bach’s Leipzig hymnbook, the NLGB, lists Trinity Time chorales for the “gesima” Sundays (three Sundays before Lent), as well as for Epiphany Time. Bach used hymns found in other hymnbooks for cantatas for Epiphany Time and “gesima” Sundays. Gerhardt’s setting of “Ich habe in Gottes Herz und Sinn” is also found as a plain chorale with verse 10, closing (mvt. 7) in Cycle 1 chorus Cantata 65, “Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen,” for the Epiphany Feast in 1724. “In the Dresden hymnbooks of about 1750 this hymn is assigned to the Third Sunday after Epiphany,” says Günther Stiller in JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.5 Cantata 92 second movement bass chorale-recitative makes a general allusion to communion, observes Stiller (Ibid.: 84) who lists the other cantata movements containing illusions to the Sacrament of the altar). The NLGB lists the following Trinity Time cantatas for Septuagesima Sunday: Hymn of the Day, “Vater unser im Himmelreich,” and Sermon and Communion hymns: “Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,” “O Herre Gott, dein Göttliche Wort,” and “Es ist das Heil uns kommen her.” These ones tempore hymns also were used in Epiphany Time and Sundays Before Lent.

Cantata 92 Movements, Scoring, Text, Key, Meter are:6

1. Chorus (Stanza 1 unaltered) chorale fantasia dal segno, two parts with ritornelli in imitation [SATB; Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Ich habe in Gottes Herz und Sinn / Mein Herz und Sinn ergeben” (I have surrendered to God's heart and mind / my heart and mind.); B. “Ich bin ein Sohn des, der den Thron / Des Himmels aufgezogen;” (I am a son of him / who opened the throne of heaven); b minor; 6/8 pastorale-gigue style.
2. Recitative-Arioso and Chorale (Stanza 2 unaltered and paraphrased) [Bass, Continuo] (To make sense of this (and movement 7) in English it is necessary to indicate where Gerhard's hymn has been expanded [with parentheses].); e minor, 4/4.
Es kann mir fehlen nimmermehr!
I shall never lack anything again!
Es müssen eh'r
Before that could happen, . . .
Mein Vater muß mich lieben.
my Father must love me.
Durch Jesu rotes Blut bin ich in seine Hand geschrieben;
Through Jesus' red blood I am written in his hand;
Er schützt mich doch!
he protects me!
Wenn er mich auch gleich wirft ins Meer,
If he throws me at once in the sea,
So lebt der Herr auf großen Wassern noch,
the Lord lives still on the mighty waters,
So will er mich nur üben,
God wants only to test me,
Ob ich an Jonam werde denken,
to see if I will think of Jonah,
(5) Und mein Gemüt,
and make my heart
Das immer wankt und weicht
(that always wavers and gives way )
(5) in seiner Güt,
in his kindness
Der an Beständigkeit nichts gleicht,
(which nothing can equal in constancy )
Gewöhnen, fest zu stehen.
accustomed to stand firm.
Mein Fuß soll fest
My foot should firmly
Bis an der Tage letzten Rest
until the very end of my days
Sich hier auf diesen Felsen gründen.
be established here on this rock.
Halt ich denn Stand,
If I keep this foothold
Und lasse mich in felsenfesten Glauben finden,
and am found to be unshakeable like a rock in my faith,
weiß seine Hand,
God's hand,
Die er mich schon vom Himmel beut,
which he holds out to me from heaven,
zu rechter Zeit
at the right time
Mich wieder zu erhöhen.
knows how to raise me up again.
3. Aria (Stanzas 3-4 paraphrased) in three parts with ritornelli [Tenor; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: 1. “Seht, seht! wie reißt, wie bricht, wie fällt, / Was Gottes starker Arm nicht hält.” (See, see! how tears, how breaks, how falls / what God's strong arm does not support.); 2. “Seht aber fest und unbeweglich prangen, / Was unser Held mit seiner Macht umfangen.” (But see how firm, unmoved and resplendent is / what our hero embraces with his might.); 3. “Laßt Satan wüten, rasen, krachen / Der starke Gott wird uns unüberwindlich machen.” (Let Satan rage, rave, crash; / the powerful God will make us unconquerable.); b minor, 2/2.
4. Chorale Aria (Stanza 5 unaltered) [Alto; Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo]: “Zudem ist Weisheit und Verstand / Bei ihm ohn alle Maßen” (Besides there are wisdom and understanding / in him without any limits.); f-sharp minor, 4/4/.
5. Recitative secco (Stanzas 6-8 paraphrased) with closing arioso Adagio [Tenor, Continuo]: Recit. “Wir wollen uns nicht länger zagen” (We want no longer to live in apprehension); aso. “Geduld! Geduld!” (patience! patience!); D major to b minor; 4/4/.
6. Aria da capo (Stanza 9 paraphrased) dal segno [Bass; Continuo]: A. “Das Brausen von den rauhen Winden / Macht, daß wir volle Ähren finden.”; (The roaring of the rough winds / is the cause that we find full ears of corn); B. “Des Kreuzes Ungestüm schafft bei den Christen Frucht” (The impetuosity of the cross creates fruit among Christians); D major, ¾.
7. Chorale elaborated (four-part) and Bass Recitative (Stanza 10 unaltered and paraphrased) interpolated [SATB/B; Continuo]: Chorale: “Ei nun, mein Gott, so fall ich dir / Getrost in deine Hände.”; (And so, my God, I fall / comforted into your hands); Bass: “So spricht der gottgelaßne Geist” (So speaks the soul that has abandoned itself to God); Chorale: “Nimm mich und mach es du mit mir / Bis an mein letztes Ende” (Take me, and rule over me / until my final end.); Tenor: “Ich weiß gewiß, Daß ich ohnfehlbar selig bin” (I know for certain / that I am infallibly blessed); Chorale: “Wie du wohl weißt, daß meinem Geist / Dadurch sein Nutz entstehe” (for you know well that my soul / gains from what you do); Alto: “Daß schon auf dieser Erden, / Dem Satan zum Verdruß, / Dein Himmelreich sich in mir zeigen muß” (that already on this earth, to Satan's annoyance, / your heavenly kingdom must be revealed in me); Chorale: “Und deine Her je mehr und mehr / Sich in ihr selbst erhöhe.”; (and your honour more and more / be exalted in itself.); Soprano: “So kann mein Herz nach deinem Willen / Sich, o mein Jesu, selig stillen” (Thus according to your will my heart, / o my Jesus, can be calm and blessed); b minor to D major; 4/4.
8. Aria (Stanza 11 paraphrased) three parts with instrumental ritornelli & dal segno intro. [Soprano; Oboe d'amore I, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: 1. “Meinem Hirten bleib ich treu.” (I stay faithful to my shepherd.); 2. “Es wird dennoch, nach dem Weinen, / Jesu Sonne wieder scheinen.” (For after my weeping / the sun of Jesus will shine again.); 3. “Meinem Hirten bleibe ich treu.” (I stay faithful to my shepherd); D major, 3/8 passepied-menuett style.
9. Chorale four-part (Stanza 12 unaltered [SATB; Oboe d'amore I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo: “Soll ich den auch des Todes Weg / Und finstre Straße reisen, / Wohlan! ich tret auf Bahn und Steg”; (Even if I have to travel the way of death / and the gloomy road, / very well ! I tread on the road and path); b minor; 4/4.

Cantata 91 Length/Text, Theme

The great length/text and theme (“put one's love and trust in God no matter what”) of Cantata 92 is Julian Mincham’s introductory Commentary, “Chapter 37 BWV 92 Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn,” <<This is one of the longest cantatas of the cycle comprising nine movements and taking aleast half an hour to perform. Written for the third Sunday before Lent, it retains three complete verses and lines from several others taken from the original hymn by Gerhardt (Boyd, p 231). There are a greater total number of lines of text to set than in almost any other cantata in the canon so it becomes a matter of particular interest to see how Bach deals with them. The narrative is built around a theme commonly occurring in eighteenth century Lutheranism, essentially an encouragement to put one's love and trust in God no matter what privations we undergo. It makes allusions to the Good Shepherd who will surely protect and lead us to salvation and there are a number of images depicting aspects of these themes.

The chorale contains eight phrases, the second, fourth and last of which are three bars long thus somewhat ameliorating the predictability of what might otherwise be a rather pedestrian melody. Its words, as it closes the cantata, must have had a particular resonance for Bach----when I die, I shall follow and honour my Shepherd. Students will notice that Bach used the same chorale, with different words and slightly altered harmonization, to end Cs 111 and103 and further discussion of it may be found in chapter 36. There are similarities of text touching upon the return to God's benefice after the agonies of separation. However Bach does not use the melody as a chorale fantasia in C 103 (chapter 45), perhaps because he had already done so twice in this cycle.>>

Cantata 91 Fantasia Melodic Outline & Mood

Cantata 91 mood and outline are similar to the soprano aria in Cantaa 80, says John Eliot Gardiner in his 2009 liner notes to the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.8 << The third of Bach’s surviving cantatas for this Sunday is BWV 92, “Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn” of 1725, a nine-movement chorale cantata based on a hymn by Paul Gerhardt. Unlike the previous two cantatas, the text, dating from 1647, does not relate specifically to either of the appointed Bible readings, but exhorts the congregation to surrender to God’s heart and mind and to trust in Him through good and ill. This might account for the similarity of the initial melodic outline and mood of the opening oboe theme to the tender soprano aria ‘Komm in mein Herzenshaus’ from BWV 80. The opening chorale fantasia is elaborately constructed with a lot of imitative cut-and-thrust in the lower three voices. You hunt in vain for traces of the chorale melody until you realise that their material is derived from the instrumental ritornellos that punctuate the lines of the chorale. The second movement is an audacious experiment by Bach in which the bass interrupts his own measured singing of the second hymn strophe no less than nine times with his own glosses in free recitative, illustrated by vivid word painting in the continuo. In fact, it is all a bit like a scripture lesson: the Sunday School teacher patiently explains that when the going gets tough ‘it is only because [God] wishes to test me’, hence the passing allusions to Jonah and the whale, which we are helped to identify from the submarine rumblings in the continuo, and to St Peter’s ‘rock-hard faith’, expressed in the singer’s angular, crampon-assisted scramble to the summit (top E). Meanwhile Bach signals to his listeners each time the main hymn strophe is about to resume by announcing (or simultaneously presenting) its outline in diminution in the continuo. There is a danger of the listener being overwhelmed by too much information, like those confusing signposts that motorists are expected instantly to decipher at road intersections, and the whole number is difficult to bring off.

No such problems with the tenor aria that follows, ‘Seht! Wie reisst, wie bricht, wie fällt’. It finds Bach in apocalyptic mood. Here the word-painting shifts onto a much larger canvas: huge vigour is generated by the boldly sweeping Rubens-like brush strokes, the tirades in the first violins (with wide leaps and jagged rhythms) alternating with four-note motifs for the two inner voices and the contrary-moving continuo. All contribute to conveying the fragility of life and how all things ‘snap, break and fall’ when ‘not held by God’s own mighty arm’. It is virtuosic in the extreme for the singer; impressive but deliberately unlovely.

The chorale tune now returns scantily decorated in the fourth movement, which extols God’s ‘wisdom and reason’ as the supreme time-keeper (‘He knows the time, the place, the hour / in which to act or not to act’). It is more objectively presented here than in equivalent models, and suggested to me unison rather than solo treatment for the altos placed behind the instrumental ensemble. As a result the backdrop – two oboes d’amore locked in fugal exchange (with no official place to breathe in fifty-five bars) and creating a type of three-part invention with the continuo – now becomes the foreground.

Gale force winds return in the sixth movement, evoked in vigorous exchanges between cello and bass singer. Bach is here pillaging an idea from his very first cantata (BWV 150, No.5) where the same motif served to describe cedar trees buffeted by the storm. Here the simile is used to reinforce the message of the B section – how the cross’s ‘turmoil’ bears fruit for Christians. (One of the meanings of ‘Ungestüm’ is ‘violence’, referring, I suppose, to the brutality of death by crucifixion.) To me the image of ‘roaring, cruel winds’ leading to ‘full ears [of corn]’ is a puzzling one. Wind usually has the opposite effect for farmers: one of the things we most dread at harvest-time is a freakish gale flattening the standing corn and wrecking the potential yield. For a second time Bach now breaks up the hymn stanza (No.7) with commentary in recitative passing from the lowest to the highest voice. Just at the point where the hymn text becomes intensely personal (‘Ah, my God, I come to Thee, comforted’) and would lead one to expect solo treatment (as in No.2), Bach arranges it as a four-part chorale over a partially independent continuo line.

Balm returns in the pastoral soprano aria with oboe and pizzicato strings, ‘Meinem Hirten bleib ich treu’ (No.8). There is a delicious ambiguity of rhythmic emphasis: Bach sets you up to expect a sequence of two-bar units, then he suddenly braces four bars together. At its enchanting conclusion – ‘Amen: Vater, nimm mich an!’ – innocence, trust and fragility are all rolled into one. © John Eliot Gardiner 2009; From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Cantata 92: Musical Experiment

Klaus Hofmann’s 2006 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS recordings of the Bach sacred cantatas.9 <<The text for Bach’s cantata for Septuagesima Sunday in 1725 (which that year fell on 28th January) avoids both the epistle from 1 Corinthians, chapter 9 – the parable comparing Christian life to a race – and also the gospel passage from Matthew, chapter 20 – the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. Instead it strictly follows the twelve strophes of the hymn “Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn” by Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), a priest who once worked in Brandenburg and Berlin and who is regarded as the most important writer of hymns in the Evangelical Church. The hymn is about unlimited faith in God, the confident surrender to God’s will and God’s hand. The choice of hymn for this particular cantata is less surprising from a textual than from a musical point of view: it was sung to the well-known melody, “Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh all zeit,” and this very song had formed the basis of Bach’s cantata of the same name (BWV111) that had been heard the previous Sunday. Otherwise, Bach and his librettist seem consciously to have avoided melodic repetition within the course of the church cantata year.

Bach evidently did not regard this confluence as coincidental, but saw it as a challenge – to make a very different arrangement of the hymn tune in this cantata. This applied above all to the opening chorus, and here Bach seems to have undertaken a genuine musical experiment. The movement is based on the same formal outline as the aforementionedcantata, and likewise is 136 bars in length. Not only is the cantus firmus once again in the soprano, but also the choral entries, staring in bar 17, follow at exactly the same place and are of equal duration.

But otherwise everything is totally different. The movement has a character all of its own; as the text indicates, it is basically restrained and introverted. The sound picture is greatly influenced by the pre - sence of two oboi d’amore with their amiable, subdued sound. Here they are contrasted in a concertante manner with an orchestral part that is thematic ally independent of the choir, starting with a dainty, slightly dance-like main motif that characterizes the instrumental writing for long stretches and also forms the thematic basis for the lower

parts in the choral sections.

In this unusually long cantata – nine movements – Bach has paid special attention to creating variety, and he has illustrated the text (where appropriate) with powerful musical images. This applies first to the bass recitative, in which the poem – and thus also the music – alternate between original chorale lines and free recitative sections, the latter giving rise to all sorts of tone painting. Thus at the place where ‘mit grausem Knallen die Berge und die Hügel fallen’ (‘The mountains and the hills must fall with cracking and terrible crashing’), the continuo has very fast downward sequences into the depths – very similar to the depiction of the veil of the temple being torn asunder when Jesus dies in the St. John and St. Matthew Passions. Later, when a poetic image conveys the danger of being thrown into the sea and of drowning, the continuo’s constantly circling figurations imitate the motion of waves. The text of the tenor aria is similarly flexible and dramatic: ‘Seht, seht, wie reißt, wie bricht,

wie fällt’ (‘See, see, how [it] is torn, how it breaks and falls’); the tearing, breaking and falling are not only represented by the truly bizarre contour of the vocal line but also by rhythmically disjointed orchestral writing, ‘torn’ apart by pauses. This is also well suited to the words ‘Lasst Satan wüten, rasen, krachen’ (‘Satan may be enraged and furious, and make noise’).

The following alto chorale, a reticent piece based on the original chorale strophe without any alterations, forms a clear contrast to the extrovert tenor aria. A thematically independent trio – comprising the oboi d’amore in duet and the continuo – surrounds the vocal line’s chorale melody, like in an organ choral, but without becoming involved with the textual content. The one exception is that the word ‘traurig’ (‘sad’) in the last line is commented upon by chromatic writing in the two wind parts.

The bass aria is once more devoted entirely to musical imagery. The howling and raging of the rough winds – which are in its turn an image of the hardships that a Christian may encounter – are represented by incessant movement in the continuo part and vocal line.

In the following recitative, Bach’s librettist has once again (as in the second movement) integrated a complete original strophe into his recitative text. This time, however, Bach himself adopts a different approach: he entrusts the recitative sections in turn to bass, tenor, alto and soprano, and has the chorale sections performed in four parts. The soprano’s final words, ‘und ich kann bei gedämpften Saiten dem Friedensfürst ein neues Lied bereiten’ (‘And, with muted strings, I can prepare a new song for the Prince of Peace’) lead immediately into the soprano aria. The poet’s reference to ‘muted strings’ seems less motivated by the content and more concerned with a sensitive musical realization of the following movement: Bach’s string writing is indeed ‘muted’, in fact pizzicato, and he does without the continuo chords from the organ. In front of this backdrop, however, the oboe d’amore seems to hover – no doubt to be interpreted as the shepherd’s shawm in the pastoral metaphor at the start of the text – with its graceful, dance-like melody and poignant ascending sixths and sevenths. Then the soprano enters, and the two join forces in a duet that is full of warmth and intimacy.

The cantata ends with a four-part chorale; its finely ornamented line-endings indicate something of the artistic rigour that was applied even to a movement of such apparent simplicity. © Klaus Hofmann 2006

“Doctrine & Imagery,” Emblemata, “Numerology”

Various interesting topics, including “Doctrine and Imagery” and “Numerology,” are explored in Peter Smaill’s “Introduction” to BCML Discussion Part 3, <<Background: BWV 92 is a puzzle. At 33 minutes, why is it so long? Against the general observation of Stiller- that Bach makes great efforts to set the Chorale associated with the day, there is here only a slight connection. Thirty seven lines to the recitative BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2)? Why the elaborated SATB setting of the Recitative BWV 92/7?

Structure: Bach’s longest Cantatas are placed at the beginning and end of seasons: the longest, BWV 75 (40 minutes) and BWV 76 (35 mins.) in fourteen sections mark his arrival in Leipzig for the first and second Sundays of Trinity; BWV 140 (31 mins.) marks the very end of the Trinity series (27th Sunday) and BWV 70 likewise (26th, 26 mins., in eleven sections). BWV 20 (31 mins.) is for the 1st Sunday in Trinity 1724 and begins Jahrgang II.

Quite why BWV 92 is so very long is problematic. Sexagesima is the beginning of preparation for Lent, but in the case of BWV 84 and BWV 144 a short work is presented. In the disputation over the introduction of new long chorales in 1730 Bach complained that new hymns introduced by church officials disturbed the length of the service; surely the same consideration must have applied to BWV 92? Nor was it performed, according to any of the usual sources, in two parts as is the case for BWV 75 and BWV 76. So it may actually be the longest single stretch Cantata in the repertoire.

Doctrine and Imagery: After the Quietist tendency of BWV 144 the much longer BWV 92 has a spread of theological ideas. The atoning Blood of Jesus appears in BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2); Lutheran solfideism also, in the line “If I keep firm/and am to be found rock-firm in Faith/then his hand /Which he already holds out to me from heaven/At the right time/Knows how to exalt me again”.

As with BWV 81 we are at sea again in a Satanic storm (BWV 92/2 (Mvt. 2), BWV 92/3 (Mvt. 3) and BWV 92/6 (Mvt. 6)) as part of the “navigatio vitae” for which voyage of tribulation we can note further related emblemata:

The zeugma of the work is the call for a “new song for the Prince of Peace”. At this point the incursion of the most enchanting BWV 92/8 marks a change of purpose; we are no longer facing the world with stoic resignation to fate, but contemplating death and heaven. Bach here uses pizzicato, often if not always a sign of time and of awaiting an event. His first cantata usage is I think BWV 61/4 in 1714, where it is used to accompany the vox Christi, “See, I stand before the door and knock”. In BWV 8/1 the likely take is the ticking of the clock as death approaches; in BWV 95 Dürr senses the chiming of funeral bells.

At the risk of stealing from the review of next week’s BWV 84 it is worth noting that it likewise turns to death; for the final chorale as John Eliot Gardiner points out is marked “soprano solo e a 3 ripieni”, implying the vocal parts were not intended to be doubled by the instruments. As he says of the unaccompanied setting, “I found it very affecting”, and it is like the funeral bells of BWV 92 a reminder of mortality: for in Leipzig tradition Chorales were sung a capella at the deathbed. This recording (SDG 153, Vol. 20) of BWV 84 (including all the Septuagesima and Sexagesima works) can be recommended above all others due to this authentic and profoundly significant effect.

Numerology: The sweeping illustrations of tumultuous seas have been linked to word-painting in other stormy Cantatas sucha BWV 150 and BWV 26. However, the closest allied Cantata is by comparison of the bar structure of BWV 92/1 with BWV 111/1, “Was gott tut das is wohlgetan". Hirsch notes that the layouts are identical despite totally different chorales and that this is unique in the cantatas (“Struktur vollkommen identisch- das einzige Mal in Kantatenwerke Bachs, das zwei Choralbearbeitungen identische Struktur haben. Dies kann nicht auf Zufall beruhen” (It cannot be a coincidence).

Bar Structure for BWV 92/1 and BWV 111/1: 31-31-12-30-31. It is also worth noting that, according to Hirsch, the Chorus in BWV 92/1 sing 807 notes, exactly the same number as are played by the oboe d’amore. The wonderful BWV 92/8 has 112 bars, the natural order alphabet score for “Christus”, an allusion noted in seven other Cantatas. It could be chance but then, the number of notes played by the violins and viola (excluding the da capo) totals 224, exactly double.

Conclusion: BWV 92 retains its mystery despite all the allusions- theological, emblematic,numerological and musicological – that can be found within it. It is perhaps best seen as an experimental work: for example, in advance of the Matthew Passion’s (BWV 244) ”Nun ist der Herr zur Ruh’ gebracht”, we have Bach here already deploying (in BWV 92/7) four soloists making individual remarks, rising from bass to soprano; and then, the work is crowned with the final lilting, intertwining aria, the “neues-lied” which H-J Schulze perceptively calls “eine veritable Serenadenmusik”.

The length of the work allows for a complex palette of contrasting ideas and images and indeed, the shading is vital to retaining the interest of the listener over such a sustained period. There is a sense that more can be deduced about the reason for its unusual features and further debate on this work is even more than normally called for!>>

Septugesima Sunday Cantatas, Leipzig Performances

Cantatas for Septuagesimae Sunday: BWV 144, “Nimm was dein ist, und gehe hin” (Leipzig, 1724); BWV 92, “Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn” (Leipzig, 1725); and BWV 84, “Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke” (Leipzig, 1727). Bach’s Leipzig performance calendar for Septuagesimae Sunday:
1724-02-06 So - Cantata BWV 144 Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin (1st performance, Leipzig)
|1725-01-28 So - Cantata BWV 92 Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn (1st performance, Leipzig)
-02-17 So - J.L. Bach: Cantata Darum will ich auch erwahlen, JLB-3 (1st performance, Leipzig)
1727-02-09 So - Cantata BWV 84 Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke (1st performance, Leipzig)
1728-01-25 So - no record
1729-02-13 So - P-19/?BWV 84, Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke
1735-02-06 So – no record.
1736-01-29 So Septuagesimae - G.H. Stölzel: Ich bin der Herr, der das Recht liebt [Not extant]


1 Cantata 92 BCW Details & Discography,
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: Septuagesima commentary, 527-532; Cantata 92 Gerhardt hymn text and libretto, 540-547, Cantata 92 commentary 546-560).
3 BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION: Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense" Schünigen: Kaminsky,1927; ML 410 B67R4.
4 NLGB, BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682),"Berlin: Merseburger, 1969. ML 3168 G75.
5 Stiller, Günther. Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, Ed. Robin A. Leaver (Concordia Publishing: St. Louis, 1985: 237).
6Scoring, Soloists: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; Four-part chorus; Orchestra: 2 oboes d’amore, 2 violins, viola, continuo. Score Vocal & Piano [2.37 MB],, Score BGA [3.20 MB], References: BGA XXII (Cantatas 90-99, Wilhelm Rust, 1875; NBA KB I/7 (Septuagesima Cantatas, Werner Neumann, 1957, Bach Compendium. BC A 42, Zwang K 110. Provenance: Thomas Braatz (February 4, 2002), BCW,
7 Mincham, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
8 Gardiner notes,[sdg153_gb].pdf, BCW Recording details,
9 Hofmann notes,[BIS-SACD1541].pdf; BCW Recording details,


To Come: Aryeh Oron on Cantata 92 latest discography, Alfred Dürr on text and other matters, W. Gillies Whittaker commentary; ??? responses from BCW regular contributors most welcomed.

Aryeh Oron wrote (February 2, 2015):
Cantata BWV 92 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 92 "Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn" for Septuagesima Sunday 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 (14):
Recordings of Individual Movements (9):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I have also added to the movement pages of this cantata an option to move back and forth between the movements and to each movement page the text and relevant portion of the BGA score. See:

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 chorale cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 92 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 William Hoffman's detailed introduction to this week's discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):


Cantata BWV 92: 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: Sunday, May 28, 2017 05:12