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Cantata BWV 98
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan [I]
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of October 16, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (October 19, 2016):
Cantata 98: "Was Got tut, das ist Wohlgetan: Intro.

Bach’s chorus Cantata BWV 98, "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (What God does, that is done well) for the 21st Sunday after Trinity 1726 has an intimate, chamber-like framework involving a concise 15-minute musical sermon with opening chorale fantasia chorus using the popular Samuel Rodigast 1675 chorale, based on affirmative psalms. Cantata 98 theme is the believer’s faith and confidence (“Zuversicht,”also found in Cantata 188) in God, that “What God does, that is well done.” It is an unusual work in form and content with poetic text possibly by Leipzig student Christoph Birkmann. The text is replete with pertinent biblical references and orthodox theology (see below, “Notes on Text, Music”).

Cantata 98 lacks a closing plain chorale while having an opening chorale fantasia and two substantial secco recitatives alternating with two arias for the four soloists. The opening chorus in ¾ time has elements of passepied/menuett/gigue, as well as the soprano “Soul” trio aria with oboe (no. 3) in 3/8 time, “Hört, ihr Augen, auf zu weinen!” (Cease, you eyes, to weep!, Lamentations 3:49). An unusual free da-capo bass aria (no. 5) with violins in the manner of a vox Dei, uses the opening line dictum sung to the varied melody of the popular general chorale by Christian Keymann (1658), "Meinen Jesum, laßt ich nicht" (My Jesus, I will not let go). The two interpretive recitatives are the tenor “Preacher” narrative (no. 2), “Ach Gott! wenn wirst du mich einmal / Von meiner Leidensqual” (Ah God! when will you once and for all / set me free from my suffering and torment), based upon penitential-lamentation psalms, and the alto (no. 4) “Spirit” dicta from Ephesians 2:4a, “Gott hat ein Herz, das des Erbarmens Überfluß” (God has a heart that overflows with mercy).1

Cantata 98 was premiered on November 10, 1726, at the early main service of the Nikolaikirche before the sermon (not extant) on the Gospel (John 4:47-54, faith in Jesus) and Epistle (Ephesians 6:10-17, “Put on the while armour of God”) by Superintendent Salomon Deyling (1677-1755), says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays.2 The complete biblical 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. While Cantata 98 does not refer directly to the text of the Gospel or Epistle, its basic theme from the chorale, “What God does, that is well done,” expresses confidence in God.

Cantata 98 was the last in the series of chorus cantatas Bach composed in November 1726 in Late Trinity Time for the third cycle. The librettist may be Christoph Birkmann (1703-1772), Leipzig University theology student who attended Bach performances and sang in the Leipzig Collegia musica. He was the librettist for seven dialogue and solo cantatas, most with organ obbligato sinfonias, in the third cycle. Except for Cantata 98 for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, 10 November 1726, the five cantatas were presented from the 18th to the 23rd Sundays after Trinity (October 20 to November 24 (BWV 169, 56, 49, 55 and 52) as well in early 1727 Cantata 58 for the Sunday after New Year and BWV 82 for the Feast of the Purification, February 2. Meanwhile, the other large group of third cycle cantatas were the 18 Meiningen chorus cantatas by Johann Ludwig Bach to Rudolstadt texts, presented almost exclusively from late Epiphany Time 1726 to the end of Easter Season on Bach’s favorite first cycle form. In addition, Bach used seven Rudolstadt texts for chorus cantatas, beginning on Ascension Day 1726 with BWV 43, then mostly alternating with Ludwig Bach Cantatas through middle Trinity Time, with BWV 39, 88, 187, 45, 102 and 17, then turning to the solo cantatas.

Bach’s Trinity 21 cantatas move from questioning (BWV 109 and 38) to affirmation in BWV 98 and 188 (see below, “Trinity 21 Cantatas: Comparison, Contrast”). Cycle 3 chorus Cantata BWV 98 begins with the popular dictum, "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (What God does, that is done well), Stanza 1. One of Bach's favorite hymn tunes returns as an opening chorus following the chorale Cantata BWV 99 for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in 1724, and preceding the 1732-34 undesignated pure-hymn Cantata BWV 100, that reuses the opening of Cantata 99 for the 15th Sunday after Trinity, also the Sunday appropriate for undesignated Cantata BWV 100. All three Cantatas 98-100 have lively dance-like movements. Cantata 98 has no designated closing chorale but it is possible to repeat the opening chorus set to the final Stanza 6, give the interrelationship of all three cantatas.3 There is no evidence that Cantata 98 was repeated in Bach’s lifetime or thereafter. The score survives from the estate of Emmanuel Bach while the parts set is preserved, presumably going to Friedemann (see Thomas Braatz’s Cantata 98 Provenance, score, parts set and text references,

Trinity 21 Cantatas 88, 38 Contrasts

There is a striking contrast between the intimate, genial opening chorale fantasia in Cantata 98 [] and the stately pleading in the motet opening the previous year in chorale Cantata 38, “Aus tiefer Not schrei nicht ich zu dir” (Out of the depths I cry to thee, Penitential Psalm de profundis) of the previous year, 1724 (, as John Eliot Gardiner points out in his 2010 Cantata 98 liner notes to the 2000 Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.4 The choral writing of buoyant Cantata 98 expresses confidence in God’s will, taking its cue from the Epistle (Ephesians 6:10-17, Put on the whole armour of God), Gardiner observes << After all that accumulated intensity [of chorale Cantata 38, Trinity 21], BWV 98, ‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,’ dating from November 1726, seems exceptionally genial. It is a considerably shorter and more intimate work than Bach’s other two cantatas based on Samuel Rodigast’s hymn (BWV 99 and 100).

Although it opens like a chorale cantata it is without the typical concertante exchanges we associate with Bach’s second cycle. Whereas the choral writing expresses confidence in God’s will, taking its cue from the Epistle in which St Paul commands us to ‘put on the whole armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-17), the spotlight is on the first violins. Their melodic material suggests an almost speech-like inflection, a striking way to convey the human vacillations between doubt and trust in God, a technique he could have learnt from many examples of his cousin Johann Christoph Bach’s oeuvre. Whittaker5 sums up the cantata’s substance with exemplary concision: ‘the tenor pleads for rescue from misery (No.2), the soprano bids her eyes cease from weeping (No.3), since God the Father lives, the alto breathes a message of solace (No.4) and the bass declares (No.5) that he will never leave Jesus.’ Initial surprise that this cantata doesn’t end with a simple chorale but an aria with a chirpy Handelian unison obbligato for the violins gives way to a smile once it becomes clear that the bass’s words are in fact a lightly decorated variant of a chorale by Christian Keymann [/Andreas Hammerschmidt] (1658) to thsame words ‘Meinem Jesum lass ich nicht’.
© John Eliot Gardiner 2010, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Cantata 98 movements, scoring, incipits, key, meter:6

1. Chorus fantasia with ritornelli in BAR chorale; chordal, homophonic to mm47 “Mich wohl”; strings, chorus unite in Abgesang (C) [SATB; Oboe I col Soprano [cantus firmus], Oboe II coll'Alto, Taille col Tenore, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan / Es bleibt gerecht sein Wille); (What God does, that is done well; His will remains just); B. “Wie er fängt meine Sachen an, / Will ich ihm halten stille” (However he deals with my affairs, / I want calmly to place my whole trust in him); C. “Er ist mein Gott, / Der in der Not / Mich wohl weiß zu erhalten; Drum laß ich ihn nur walten” (He is my God / who in my troubles / knows well how to support me; / therefore I yield power to him alone); B-flat Major; ¾ passepied/menuett/gigue style.
2. Recitative secco [Tenor; Continuo]: “Ach Gott! wenn wirst du mich einmal / Von meiner Leidensqual, / Von meiner Angst befreien? / Und ist kein Retter da!” (Ah God! when will you once and for all / set me free from my suffering and torment, / from my anxiety? / And there is no Saviour!”); “Der Herr ist denen allen nah, / Die seiner Macht / Und seiner Huld vertrauen” (The Lord is near to all those / who trust his might / and his grace); “Drum will ich meine Zuversicht / Auf Gott alleine bauen, / Denn er verläßt die Seinen nicht.” (Therefore I want to build my confidence / on God alone, / for he does not forsake his people.); 4/4; g minor to E-flat Major.
3. Aria in two parts with ritornelli [Soprano; Oboe solo, Continuo]: A. “Hört, ihr Augen, auf zu weinen! / Trag ich doch / Mit Geduld mein schweres Joch.” (Cease, you eyes, to weep! / For I bear / with patience my heavy yoke.); B. “Gott, der Vater, lebet noch, / Von den Seinen / Läßt er keinen. / Hört, ihr Augen, auf zu weinen!” (God the Father still lives, / of those who are his people / he abandons no one. / Cease, you eyes, to weep!); c minor; 3/8 passepied/menuett/guigue style.
4. Recitative secco [Alto, Continuo]: “Gott hat ein Herz, das des Erbarmens Überfluß” (God has a heart that overflows with mercy, Ephesians 2:4a); “Und wenn der Mund vor seinen Ohren klagt / Und ihm des Kreuzes Schmerz / Im Glauben und Vertrauen sagt, / So bricht in ihm das Herz, / Daß er sich über uns erbarmen muß.” (and if within his hearing our mouth laments / and speaks to him about the pain of the cross / in faith and trust, / then his heart breaks, / so that he has to feel pity for us.”); “Er hält sein Wort; / Er saget: Klopfet an, / So wird euch aufgetan!” (He keeps his word; / He says: Knock, / it will be opened to you!, Matthew 7:7); Drum laßt uns alsofort, / Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten schweben, / Das Herz zu Gott allein erheben!” (Therefore let us from now on / when we are hover amidst the greatest troubles / raise our heart to God alone!); g minor to d minor; 4/4.
5. Aria free da-capo [Bass; Violino I/II all' unisono, Continuo]: A. “Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, / Bis mich erst sein Angesicht / Wird erhören oder segnen.” (I do not leave my Jesus / until his countenance first / will hear or bless me.); B. “Er allein / Soll mein Schutz in allem sein, Was mir Übels kann begegnen.” (He alone / should be my protection in all / the evil that I may meet.); B-flat Major; 4/4.

Notes on Text, Music

Psalms of penitence and lamentation, with overtones of the prophet Jeremiah are found in the beginning pleadings of the tenor narrative recitative (no. 2),]: “Ach Gott! wenn wirst du mich einmal / Von meiner Leidensqual, / Von meiner Angst befreien? / Und ist kein Retter da!” (Ah God! when will you once and for all / set me free from my suffering and torment, / from my anxiety? / And there is no Saviour!”). In what Whittaker calls “finely expressive” (Ibid.: 549), the tenor narrative sounds the eschatological theme: “Und ist kein Retter da!” (And there is no Saviour, 2 Samuel 14:6b7) as the music moves from g minor to F Major. This theme is expanded in the alto recitaitve (no. 4), beginning, “Er hält sein Wort” (He keeps his word, Numbers 23:19, “God’s Word”). The affirmative mood begins, “Drum will ich meine Zuversicht” (Therefore I want to build my confidence, Psalm 62:8), then to E-Flat Major for the closing, “Denn er verläßt die Seinen nicht.” (for he does not forsake his people, Psalm 37:28b). The possible librettist, Christoph Birkmann (1703-72), theologian, writer and singer, studied in Leipzig where he was a member of the Collegium musicum of rhetorical teacher and Bach champion, Johann Abraham Birnbaum (1702-1748), while pursuing theology at Leipzig University.8

The poignant soprano two-part trio aria with oboe (no. 3), begins with the Lamentations theme, “Hört, ihr Augen, auf zu weinen! / Trag ich doch / Mit Geduld mein schweres Joch.” (Cease, you eyes, to weep! (Lamentations 3:49b) / For I bear / with patience my heavy yoke (Lamentations 3:27b]). Lasting four minutes, the oboe begins with the sound of weeping in typical two-note groups of 16th notes, also sounded by the soloist at the word “weinen,” followed by two positive themes (music,\ found in the B section, “Gott, der Vater, lebet noch” (God the Father still lives, Psalm 18:47a), which, while the “weinen” theme is heard occasionally, another positive theme from the opening ritornello emerges at “Von den Seinen / Läßt er keinen” (of those who are his people / he abandons no one, Psalm 37:28b, Timothy 2:19b). To reinforce the me4ssage the opening Lamentations dicta is repeated at mm92, “Cease, you eyes, to weep!” elaborated, followed by the dal segno repeat of the opening ritornello, 15 measures.

The poignant alto recitative (no. 4), begins on a positive note from Ephesians 2:4a, “Gott hat ein Herz, das des Erbarmens Überfluß” (God has a heart that overflows with mercy), then takes up the secondary theme beyond confidence involving the late Trinity Time eschatology of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The full statement is: “and if within his hearing our mouth laments / and speaks to him about the pain of the cross / in faith and trust, / then his heart breaks, / so that he has to feel pity for us.” The theme of Cantata 98, the “faithful soul may trust that his prayer for deliverance will find a hearing,” says Dürr (Ibid.: 606) “and this is confirmed in the word of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:7): “Er saget: Klopfet an, / So wird euch aufgetan!” (He says: Knock, / it will be opened to you!). This is similar to the affirmation in the bass vox Chisti arioso, “Siehe, ich stehe vor der Tür und klopfe an” See, I stand before the door and knock”), Revelation 3:20.

The bass free da-capo aria with violins (no. 5) begins with the first line of the Christian Keymann “Death and Dying” chorale (NLGB No. 346), “Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht” (I do not leave my Jesus) with Andreas Hammerschmid melody ornamented in the violins’ opening 15-measure ritornello.8 In lieu of a closing plain chorale setting, Bach closes Cantata 98 with this eschatological statement in chorale form that is restated in rondeau form. The dicta is followed with the statement, “Bis mich erst sein Angesicht / Wird erhören oder segnen” (until his countenance first / will hear or bless me). This is the response to the affirmation in the preceding movement and is a reference to Genesis 32:26 (KJV), “And he [Jacob] said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” This opening is repeated and followed with another ritornello (12 measures), leading to the B section, B. “Er allein / Soll mein Schutz in allem sein, Was mir Übels kann begegnen.” (He alone / should be my protection in all / the evil that I may meet.).

Bach in 1726, Sorrow and Textual Allusions

Some special historical biographical notes on Bach’s composition of Cantata 86 are provided in Ruth Tatlow’s liner notes to the 199Gardiner recording, << 1726 was not to be a year without sorrow for the closely knit Bach family. On 29 June Anna Magalena’s first-born, Christiana, died at the age of three….The account in John 4:47-54 of Jesus’ second miracle, healing the official’s son, is the Gospel reading for the 21st Sunday after Trinity. An anonymous author provided Bach in 1726 with the melancholy libretto from which he composed a 5-mvt. cantata for the occasion, “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” BWV 98, performed on 10 November. The opening mvt. is based on the chorale “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,” which according to contemporary Dresden and Leipzig hymn schedules is a “hymn of lament and comfort.” After the opening encouragement to remain faithful and accept God’s will in times of distress, the work progresses from the anguish of the believer undergoing the dark night of the soul (“Wie lange soll ich Tag und Nacht / um Hilfe schreien? / Und ist kein Retter da!”, through a picture of God’s merciful heart breaking as he hears our pain (“Und wenn der Mund vor seinen Ohren klagt…/ so bricht in ihm das Herz”) to the final resolve to follow Jesus, come what may (“Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht.”)

There are several textual allusions in BWV 98 to the Passion story, and Bach emphasizes these by reusing musical ideas from his own settings. First, he lifts the concluding instrumental figure from “Ruht wohl,” the last chorus of the SJP, and sets it in the orchestral introduction of the central soprano aria (“Hört, ihr Augen, auf zu weinen,”) using the same key and triple meter. Secondly, in the final mvt. of both BWV 98 and Part I of an earlier version of the SMP (Good Friday 1727; BWV 244b) he refers to Christian Keymann’s chorale “Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht,” using a short textual and melodic quotation in BWV 98 (mvt. 5) and a simple 4-pt. harmonization in BWV 244b (no. 29a.)

And finally, there is a striking similarity between the opening phrase of BWV 98 (mvt. 5) and that in the 1st mvt. of the SMP. A closer examination shows that the phrase is simply an elaboration of the ascending chorale melody. Could Bach have been working on the SMP while writing BWV 98?>>

Cantata 98 Theme, What God Does is Well-Done

Accounting of the three cantatas BWV 98-100 with the incipit, “Was Gott tut das ist Wohlgetan,” is found in Klaus Hofmann’s 2010 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIOS complete cantata recordings.9 << Of the three works by Bach that start with the first strophe of Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (What God Does Is Well-Done) – a hymn by Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708) that remains popular to this day – the present cantata is traditionally reckoned to be the first [classified with the incipit]. In fact, however, it sits between its two siblings in chronological terms: later than the chorale cantata of 1724 with different inner strophes (BWV 99) and before a similar piece [pure hymn per omnes versus] from the first half of the 1730s with an identical text (BWV 100). The original score and parts of the present cantata mention that it was intended for the 21st Sunday after Trinity; this, in conjunction with the evidence of paper type and handwriting, dates the first performance to 10th November 1726.

The identity of the cantata’s librettist is unknown [possibly Christoph Birkmann]. The text has no particular connection with the gospel reading for the day in question – John 4:47–54, the story of the healing of a nobleman’s son – but is rather a more generalized treatment of the believer’s faith in God. At the church service it may have been the preacher’s duty to establish a link between the gospel passage and the cantata.
Unusually, the cantata ends not with a chorale verse but with a solo aria. This peculiarity results in the work ending in a musically unsatisfying manner: we miss the sense of closure provided by a tutti of the voices and instruments that had taken part in the opening movement. Another striking feature is that does not burden his musicians with too many technical difficulties. Especially the second violin and viola players are given only modest challenges; and in the opening movement the soprano, alto and tenor are supported by oboes.
Within an almost chamber-music-like framework – an aspect that was evidently constrained by external factors – Bach’s artistry nonetheless displays the full mea sure of its beauty. In the opening chorus he makes use of the plentiful experience he had acquired during the ‘chorale cantata year’ of 1724–25. The multi-faceted instrumental ritornello is contrasted with a simple choral setting, beginning in the soprano with the familiar chorale melody. These elements appear first in alternation and then, as the textures become more complicated, in simultaneous combination. In the soprano aria with obbligato oboe [no. 3] , the solo instrument illustrates the ‘weinen’ (‘weeping’) with sighing figures, whilst later on the voice emphasizes the word ‘lebet’ (‘alive’) in the phrase ‘Gott der Vater lebet noch’ (‘God the Father is still alive’) with lively triplet coloraturas. The concluding bass aria [no. 5, with violins] declaims with explicit tenacity ‘Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht’ (‘I shall not leave my Jesus’). The words are the beginning of a well-known hymn. To emphasize its quotation character, Bach has imitated the beginning of the hymn melody in the opening theme of the vocal part –perhaps also with the intention of compensating at least in a token fashion for the absence of a final chorale.
© Klaus Hofmann 2010>>

Production Notes: Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (I), BWV 98. The main materials for this work are Bach’s own manuscript of the full score (National Library in Berlin, Bach P 160) and the original parts (St 98). There are no major problems related to performance of this work, and the sole unusual aspect of the work is that there is no final chorale, with the work ending on a bass aria. The indication ‘Fine’ is shown at the end of this aria, so there can be no room for doubt that Bach did indeed intend the work to end at this point. © Masaaki Suzuki 2010” Further details of the Provenance are found in Thomas Braatz’s BCW article (October 27, 2002, including textual references and Alfred Dürr commentary,

Chorale “Was Got tut, das ist Wohlgetan”10

In 1650, the incipit “Was Got tut, das ist wohlgetan” was found in a four-part setting of Samuel Scheidt to a different melody in the Görlitzer Tabulatur Buch that contains 100 organ chorales in 4-part harmonizations. It is based on Deuteronomy 32:413 (KJV): “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” The sources of the popular incipit were a conflation of several psalms, says Matin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 1, Trinity Sundays (Ibid.: 338) The psalms (KJV) are: 37:5, “Commit the way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass”; 111:3, “His work is honorable and glorious; and his righteousness endureth forever”; 116:12, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”; and 13:6, “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully to me.”

Bach’s earliest use of the melody of the same name, “Was Gott tut” (Zahn 5629, EKG 299), originally attributed to various composers, is found in the Neumeister Collection of organ chorales, BWV 1116 (1700-1705) as one of seven death-related hymns (BWV 1111-1117, towards the end of the collection listed by church-year use. The melody date and attribution are 1674, 1679 (Severus Gastorius, 1646-82); based upon 1659 (Werner Fabricius, 1633-79), says BCW, “Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works,”

Bach’s first use of the chorale is in Cantata 12, “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen,” libretto probably by Salomo Franck, for Jubilate (3rd Sunday after Easter) in 1714 in Weimar, repeated in Leipzig in 1724, closes with a plain chorale setting, “Was Got tut, das ist wohlgetan” (What God does that is well-done). He repeated it in the Cantata BWV 69a, "Lobe den Hernn, meine Selle," for the 12th Sunday after Trinity in 1723, with obbligato oboe or trumpet. Bach’s initial use in Leipzig is as a chorea chorus closing Part 1 of his 1723 inaugural Leipzig Cantata BWV 75, Die Elenden sollen essen," beginning the Trinity Season. He also set it again as an internal plain chorale (no. 3) in chorus Cantata BWV 144, "Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin," for Septuageisma Sunday in the Epiphany season of 1724 in his first cantata cycle.

Chorale "Was Gott tut das ist wohlgetan" was one of four presented at Leipzig wedding Masses in Bach's time. It was sung before the service, with "In allen meinen Taten," says Günther Stiller (Ibid.: 94). The texts of the four works might fit a wedding ceremony in a very general sense as Bach c.1730 created four special four-part harmonizations with orchestra that were used for "eine halbe Brautmeße," for more modest half-wedding Masses: BWV 250 (Before the Ceremony), BWV 251 (After the Ceremony), and BWV 252 (Postlude, After the Benediction.): Bach Compendium BC B 17, BWV 250-252, Three Wedding Chorales (c.1730): 1. "Was Gott tut das ist wohlgetan," BWV 100; 1732-35; 2. Sei Lob und Ehr' Dem höchsten Gut, BWV 117, 1728-31; 3. Nun danket alle Gott, BWV 192, 1730. It is possible that Bach could have used Chorale BWV 250 in G Major with two obbligato horns to close a repeat performance of Cantata 98, although there is no documentation in the surviving score or parts set and he would have had to transpose the setting and eliminate the horns. The chorale chorus that opens Cantata 99 in 1724 and is repeated in Cantata 100, 1732-34 is in G Major and Cantata 100 was repeated c.1737 and c.1742 although no specific service is identified and is could have been used per ogni tempo for any service, including special thanksgiving services.

Although it “is nowhere in the [Leipzig] hymn schedules mentioned as belonging to this Sunday [Jubilate]; in the Dresden hymnbooks for example, besides specific hymns, also hymns generally in the classification ‘Concerning Cross and Trial’ are recommended, and among hymns of that category, this hymn is often found,” ), says Günther Stiller in JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.11 In Das neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682, the category is called “Cross, Persecution & Challenge” (Vom Creutz, Verfolung und Anfechtung), Nos. 275-304, but does not include “Was Gott tut.”

Was Got tut” remains a popular chorale. The English version, “What God Ordains Is Good Indeed,” is No. 776 under the heading “Trust and Guidance,” in the current Evangelical Lutheran Worship Hymnbook (Augsburg Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 2006). It also is listed under "Cross and Comfort" as No. 521, "What God Ordains Is Always Good," in the 1941 Concordia <Luthern Hymnal> (Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod).

The Samuel Rodigast chorale text of 1675, “Was Gott tut,” although in traditional Bar form (six stanzas, same first line, seven lines each), was first found published with music in the 1690 Nürnberg Gesangbuch. The full text and Francis Browne English translation is found at BCW, . The Rodigast (1649-1708) BCW Short Biography is found at . It is one of Bach’s favorites. It is set as the incipit for three cantatas, BWV 98, 99, and 100, usually designated for Trinity Time, with chorus Cantata 98 for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, 1726 (3rd cycle), and chorale Cantata 99 (with paraphrased internal movements of 1724) for the 15th Sunday after Trinity. Cantata 100 is listed for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, on the basis of textual reference to that Sunday’s Gospel (Mk. 7:31-37) and Epistle (2 Cor. 3:4-11), says Petzoldt (Ibid: 303). “Was Gott tut” is often considered a general chorale (per ogni tempo, for any time) because of its application throughout the church year in various hymnals as well as Bach’s unaltered use of the same chorale chorus or plain chorale in various works. For example, Cantata 100 uses the opening chorale chorus from Cantata 99 of 1724 and closes with the same chorale chorus that closes Part 1 of Cantata 75, Bach’s first church-year work for the 1st Sunday after Trinity 1723.

Trinity 21 Cantatas: Comparison, Contrast

Besides the popular chorale, “Was Gott tut,” another opportunity for comparison and contrast are the four Cantatas BWV 109, 38, 98, and 188 that Bach composed for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, as found in Julian Mincham’s Cantata 98 Commentary Introduction, << There are four extant cantatas written for this Sunday, one from each of the existing cycles: Cs 109 (vol 1, chapter 23), 38 (vol 2, chapter 22), 98 and 188 (vol 3, chapter 45). It would be difficult to conceive of a greater range of contrasts than that which exists between the opening movements of these works.

That for C 109 is a startlingly original chorus encapsulating a fervent cry to the Lord----I do not doubt Thee, yet I need Your help to prevail over my misgivings. The harmonically inventive ritornello introduces the main musical ideas which the chorus so richly develops.

C 38 begins with a chorale fantasia with a similar theme----I cry out to You Lord----hear the prayer of a sinner. The combination of daring, ′modern′ harmonies within the archaic German motet texture (i.e. lacking individual instrumental writing) produces a landscape of stark pitilessness.

Cs 98 and 188 convey a more positive message, asserting confidence in God′s faith and justice. The latter contains no large-scale chorus, commencing with an arrangement of the last movement of the Dm keyboard concerto. This sinfonia has survived incomplete in the cantata score but fortunately may be reconstructed from the original concerto, the first two movements of which had already been resurrected for C 146.

There are numerous contextual connections that C 98 has with other cantatas. It begins with a chorale fantasia which would not have been out of place in the second cycle but, somewhat oddly, it does not end with a four-part version of the chorale melody. The use of a fantasia links it structurally with C 38, although the contrast in character between these two opening choruses could not be greater. In a somewhat tenuous way this also connects it to C 109 the last movement of which is a fantasia, in all but name, the relatively bare chorale phrases accompanied and separated by an almost frenzied instrumental texture.

Finally Dürr (p 606) points out that the chorale melody used in C98, employing the same verse, also formed the basis of the fantasia of C 99 (second cycle) a movement reused in the secular wedding cantata C 100. This allows the student a rare opportunity of studying Bach′s ability to weave equally compelling movements of similar structures but quite different characters from the same basic materials.>>

So we may place the opening fantasia of C 98 contextually within a relatively large group of conjoined yet highly contrasting cantatas.>>


1 Cantata 98 BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [1.19 MB],, Score BGA [1.45 MB], References: BGA XXII (Cantatas 91-100, Wilhelm Rust 1875, NBA KB I/25 (Trinity 21, Ulrich Bartels, 1991, Bach Compendium BC A 153, Zwang K 158.
2 Martin Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Die geistlichen Kantaten des 1. Bis 27. Trinitas-Sontagges, Vol. 1; Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs, Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2004” 601).
3 For details of Samuel Rodigast's newer hymn of trust and guidance, see BCW, Trinity 15 Chorales, Trinity 15B,, and Cantata 100 Discussion 2,
4 Gardiner Cantata 98 notes,; BCW Recording details,
5 W. Gillies Whittaker, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred & Secular (London: Oxford University Press, 1958: 548f).
6 German text and Francis Browne English translation,
7 Biblical references following, Petzoldt, Ibid.: 600f).
8 Christine Blanken, "A Cantata-Text Cycle of 1728 from Nuremberg: a Preliminary Report on a Discovery relating to J. S. Bach's so-called 'Third Annual Cantata Cycle'", pp. 9–30 in Understanding Bach, Bach Network UK, Vol. 10, 2015. The so-called Third Cycle is described in detail in
8The full text of this six-stanza, six line (ABABAA) and Francis Browne’s English translation is found at BCW Text and melody information (Zahn 3449) and Bach’s uses are found at BCW
9 Klaus Hofmann Cantata 98 notes,[BIS-SACD1881].pdf; BCW Recording details,
10 Source material, Cantata 100 BCML Discussion Part 4 (April 26, 2013),
11 Günther Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, ed. Robin A. Leaver (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing, 1985: 240f).

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 24, 2016):
Cantata BWV 98 - Revised & updated Discography

Cantata BWV 98 "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" [i] (What God does, that is done well) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for the 21st Sunday after Trinity of 1726. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 2 oboes, taille, 2 violins, viola & continuo.

The discography pages of BWV 98 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (12):
Recordings of Individual Movements (12):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

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

I believe this are the most comprehensive discography of the cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 98 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 98: 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