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Musical Context of Bach Cantatas
Motets & Chorales for 26th Sunday after Trinity

 

Readings: Epistle: 2 Peter 3: 3-13; Gospel: Matthew 25: 31-46

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event

Motets and Chorales for the 26th Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 26)

 
 

Cantata BWV 70: Trinity 26 Chorales

William Hoffman wrote (October 16, 2012):
Serendipity enabled Sebastian Bach, at the end of Trinity Time in late 1723, to assemble easily a musical sermon from an existing cantata with appropriate music and having the general textual and biblical theme of the "Last Judgement." Chorus Cantata BWV 70, "Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet!" (Watch, pray, pray, watch) uses three relevant chorale sources: "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele," "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit," and "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, weil." Bach readily expanded his standard six-movement Weimar Cantata BWV 70a, same title, into his favored two parts, inserting four alternating, didactic recitatives specifically addressing the new Sunday main service context and adding a plain congregational chorale to close Part 1, as well as an incisive chorale tune on the trumpet in the bass' second recitative.

Bach's sole Cantata BWV 70 for the 26th Sunday after Trinity on November 21 was not his last word for this extended Trinity Time final Sunday in the first church-year cantata cycle. This main service would take place in Leipzig during the rest of Bach's 17-year tenure on an average of every three years: 1725, 1728, 1731, 1736, 1739, 1741, 1742, 1744, and 1747. It is documented that Bach repeated this joyous work on November 18, 1731, followed one week late with the new pure-hymn Chorale Cantata BWV 140, "Wachet auf" (Sleepers Awake), for the very rare, succeeding 27th Sunday after Trinity, on November 25, 1731.

Hymns & Organ Chorale Preludes

Bach wasn't through providing music for late Trinity Time. It is quite possible that he repeated Cantata BWV 70 several more times on this appointed final Sunday of the Church Year. It is documented that about 1730 Bach also composed several harmonized, free-standing plain chorales mostly listed under the last hymnal category of "The Last Judgement, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Life" (Vom Jüngsten Tage, Aufferstehung des Todten und ewigen Leben) in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB) of 1682), and discussed below. They are: Trinity 26 Hymn of the Day, "Es wird schier der letzten Tag herkommen" in e minor, BWV 310; "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein" (alternate title "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit," Trinity 26 Pulpit Hymn) in G Major BWV 388, as well as the same double title in B-Flat Major, BWV 307; "Gott has das Evangelium gegeben" in e major, BWV 319 - all "Last Judgement" chorales; and Trinity 26 Communion Hymn, "Gott der Vater wohn uns bei" in D Major, BWV 317. It is even possible that Bach substitited one or more of these harmonized hymns in further reperformances of Cantata BWV 70.

In addition, Bach had on hand early organ chorale preludes, including "Ach Gott tu dich erbarmen" in G Major, ending in D Major, BWV 1109, found in the early Neumeister Collection; the double title "Nun freut euch/Es ist gewißlich" Miscellaneous Chorale in G Major, BWV 734; the questionable Miscellaneous Chorale, "Es ist gewißlich" in G Major, BWV 755, in G Major; and Gott der Vater wohn uns bei," Miscellaneous organ chorale prelude BWV 748(a) in D Major; as well as the four questionable organ chorale settings of "Freu dich sehr, O Meine Seele" (Death & Dying) in G Major, BWV Anh. 52 and 53, and <Deest> (Emans 72 and 73).


Cantata 70a Expansion

For the last (26th) Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity, falling on November 22. 1723, Bach possessed a striking chorus cantata originally composed for the Second Sunday in Advent in December 1716 at Weimar, but unplayable on the same Sunday three weeks hence during the closed Advent Time in Leipzig. Seven years previous, Weimar Court poet Salomo Frank had begun a cycle of musical sermons without recitatives that Bach promptly set on three successive Advent Sundays before ceasing further composition when he was denied the vacant post of Weimar Court Composer.

An unknown poet - possibly Bach himself, his St. Thomas pastor Christian Weiss Sr. or readily-available handyman and poetic cobbler Picander - in late `1723 provided the text for the four planned recitatives. The free-verses simply amplify the theme of the "Last Judgement" but "do not really follow any sort of logical thread or sequence," observes Thomas Braatz in his BCW "Provenance" essay. "On the contrary, they jump back and forth between two thoughts: Concern about not being sufficiently prepared for the end of the world and the hope to be included among the chosen for whom the end time will be the beginning of true joy." For further details of Bach's expansion of Cantata BWV 70a, see BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Ref/BWV70-Ref.htm

The still-anonymous librettist took Frank's emphasis on Luke's account (Chapter 21) of the last days and judgement and used Matthew's synoptic account (Chapter 25) of the last judgement in the four additional recitatives, says Francis Browne's new BCW posting, "BWV 70 Notes on the Text" [Yahoo Groups (Log in): http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/36838]. "Both the last recitative and aria are unexpectedly dramatic with their references to the last judgement, with the recitative using imagery from the epistle for the 26th Sunday after Trinity (2 Peter 3-13)," says Browne.

Browne summarizes Alfred Dürr's comment (<Cantatas of JSB> 645) that "the expanded cantata text lacks the consistent exposition of a single idea and vacillates constantly between the fear of being inadequately prepared to the end of the world and the hope of one day be numbered among the elect. Some may feel this is a weakness, others may perhaps agree that Bach's reworking of earlier material has led to a richer, more complex text to which Bach does full justice." See Browne's interlinear English translation, BCW:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV70-Eng3.htm.

[For the BCW Bach's Lutheran Church Year, Readings for the Twenty Sixth Sunday after Trinity:
Epistle, 2 Peter 3:3-13 Christ's second coming; Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46, The Last Judgement, see:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity26.htm


Three Appropriate Chorales

Bach reinforced the chorale closing the original Cantata BWV 70a, "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, weil" (I shall not leave my Jesus since) with its theme of "Death and Dying," adding another "Death and Dying" plain chorale to close the new Part 1, "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul), a Liepzig popular hymn paraphrase of Psalm 42. To reinforce the Gospel theme of the Last Judgement, Bach literally uses the symbolic trumpet to play the "Last Judgement" chorale melody, "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit" (It is certainly time) accompanying the extended bass recitative/arioso of the new Cantata BWV 70, Movement No. 9: "Nicht nach Welt, nach Himmel nicht / Meine Seele wünscht und sehnet;" (Not for the world, not for heaven / does my soul wish and long). This is followed with the joyous original BWV 70a bass aria, "Seligster Erquickungstag," (Blissful day of refreshment/new life,) with trumpet and strings, followed by the affirmative closing chorale, "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, weil."

Another "Death and Dying" chorale, "Alle Menschen müssen sterben" (All men must die), is found in Picander's 1729 published church year text for the 26th Sunday after Trinity, Novembert 21, 1728. Cantata text P-70, "Kommt denn nicht mein Jesus bald?" (Come then not my Jesus soon?); closes with a chorale, No. 5, using the sixth stanza, O Jerusalem, du Schöne, / Ach, wie helle glänzest du! (O Jerusalem,you beautiful place, / Ah, how bright you shine!


Bach Favorite Chorale, `Freu dich sehr'

Part 1 of Cantata BWV 70 closes with Movement No. 7) the plain chorale in G Major (Bach addition 1723): Final verse (S. 10) of "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul, Psalm 42) "und vergiß all Not und Qual" (and forget all misery and torment). Christoph Demantius (1620), melody (Zahn 6543 in G Major) is set to the Louis Bourgeois chorale/Psalm melody for the Geneva Psalm 42 "<Ainsi que la biche rée>" (1550), based on the secular song, "<Ne l'oseray je dire>" (c1510); the hymn first published in Freiberg, 1620.

The hymn "Freu dich sehr" is an <omnes tempore> commentary to Psalm 42(1) ("A Prayer in Sickness," a David Psalm, <Beatus qui intelligent> [Happy are they who consider], found in the NLGB as No. 358 in the section "Vom Tod und Sterben" (Death and Dying). The previous verse, Stanza 9, Bach also set: "Laß dein' Engel mit mir fahren" (Let your angel travel with me) closes Cantata BWV 19 for the Feast of St. Michael 9/29/26. Psalm 42 also was used in the main Leipzig services as a general <omnes tempore> Communion hymn. [See Browne English translation of "Freu dich sehr", BCW, http://www.b, 39/7ach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale030-Eng3.htm.].

Bach harmonized the Bourgeois melody to five different cantata texts by other poets:
Text 2: Johann Heermann: Zion klagt mit Angst und Schmerzen (1636, NLGB Cross, Persecution & Challenge), BWV 13/3 alto aria, Eph.2, 1/13/26 (Lehms)
Text 3: Johann Heermann: Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen (1630, NLGB 297, Cross, Persecution, Challenge), BWV 25/6, Tr.14, 8/29/23; BWV 194/6, og. ded. 11/2/23
Text 4: David Denicke: Kommt, laßt euch den Herren lehren (1648, Beatitudes-Trinity, no NLGB), BWV 39/7 (Rudolstadt), Tr. 1, 6/23/26
Text 5: Johann Olearius: Tröstet, tröstet meine Lieben (1671, no NLGB Baptist feast), BWV 30/6 (Picander), John, ?6/24/38
Text 6: Paul Gerhardt: Weg, mein Herz, mit den Gedanken (1647, no NLGB, Luke 15, Parable of Lost Sheep), BWV 32/6 (Lehms), Ep.1, 1/20/26: S. 12, "Mein Gott, öffne mir die Pforten / Solcher Gnad und Gütigkeit, (My God, open for me the gates / Of such grace and goodness,)

Also extant are four questionable settings of early "Freu dich sehr" as Miscellaneous chorale preludes atributed to Sebastian Bach:
+BWV Anh. 52 (G Major, 4/4 [12/8];
+BWV Anh. 53 (fugato, 2/2 alle breve in G Major);
+ BWV deest (Emans 72) manual 4/4 in F Major;
+ BWV deest (Emans 73), fragment (first 7 measures) 4/4 in G Major.

Another source for a chorale setting linked to Bach is the Sebastian Bach <Choral-Buch> (SBCB), c.1740, of some 200 chorales with incipits, divided as a hymn book by Church year usage, from Advent to Trinity Time themes. Like the 1736 <Schemelli Gesangbuch> of sacred songs, it contains the melody with figured bass. On Page 249, under the category "Last Judgement," is the setting of "Freu dich sehr, o meine(r) Seele" See below, NOTES, Robin A. Leaver ABS paper abstract.


Chorale Melody 'Es ist gewißlich'

No. 9. chorale melody of "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit"; is a trumpet canto in No. 9, bass recitative with chorale trope, "Ach, soll nicht dieser große Tag,/ Der Welt Verfall" (Ah, should not this great day, the ruin of the world) in Cantata BWV 70 [Details, see below, NLGB Pulpit Hymn]. "Es ist gewißlich" also is found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB, p. 258) under "Last Judgement."


Chorale `Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht'

Cantata BWV 70, No 11 is plain chorale closing Part 2, earlier the closing chorale in Cantata BWV 70a/6, Christian Keymann, verse 5 of "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, weil" (I shall not leave my Jesus since) 1658: "Nicht nach Welt, nach Himmel nicht / Meine Seele wünscht und sehnet;" (Not for the world, not for heaven / does my soul wish and long;); NLGB 346, Death & Dying, melody Zahn 3449, Composer: Andreas Hammerschmidt (1658); Text, Christian Keymann (1658), 6 stanzas. "Meinen Jesum laß ich" nicht" " also is found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB, p. 242), under the category "Death and Dying." Bach set this chorale for various <omnes tempore> Epiphany and Trinity Time cantatas as well as plain chorale closing Part 1 of the 1735 version of the St. Matthew Passion.
Text and English translation, Frances Browne, BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale054-Eng3.htm
Chorale Melodies (alternate texts), BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Meinen-Jesum-lass-ich-nicht.htm

The Appendix to the 1994 <Evagelisches Kirchen Gesangbuch> (EKG) lists the following as appropriate for the Next to the Last Sunday in Trinity Time, BWV 70 (Trinity 26), as well as BWV 94 (Trinity 9), BWV 105 (Trinity 9), and BWV168 (Trinity 9). The three Cantatas BWV 94, 105, and 168 for the 9th Sunday after Trinity, have the austere message, based on the Gospel Parable of the Unjust Steward, to keep accounting of one's life and be watchful of the impending Last Judgement.

Trinity 26 Assigned Hymns

The <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> of 1682 (NLGB), Bach's favored hymn book in Leipzig, lists the following Chorales to be sung on the 26th Sunday after Trinity:

Hymn of the Day (<de tempore>, Gradual Song between the readings of the Epistle and the Gospel))

+"Es wird schier der letzten Tag herkommen" (Lo, the final day is fast approaching), NLGB 393 (Judgment Day/Doomsday, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Life), has text and melody of Michael Weisse, 20 stanzas (Zahn melody 1423). This is one of the few Trinity Time Hymns of the Day that is assigned only to one other Sunday (Trinity 25, Pulpit hymn) and is not well-known, although the theme Judgement Day is significant. The Source is the Bohemian Bretheran (and martyrs) <Kirchengeseng> church songbook of 1580 (see Wackernagel, p. 253); Text and English translation, Michael Carver, Hymnoglypt 2009/12, http://matthaeusglyptes.blogspot.com/2009_12_01_archive.htm, scroll down to last entry. "The tune (in d minor), later known as the proper for this hymn, in the aforementioned hymnal is named `Ach, Gott, man mag wohl in diesen Tagen' (Ah, God, one may well in this day)."

Es wird schier der letzte Tag herkommen
denn die Bosheit hat sehr zugenommen;
was Christus hat vor gesagt,
das wird jetzt beklagt.


Lo, the final day is fast approaching,
Sin increasing, wickedness encroaching:
Now with grieving we behold
What the Christ foretold.

"Es wird schier der letzten Tag herkommen," Plain Chorale, BWV 310 (BC F64.1, Breitkopf 238, Richter 94) in e minor.
Recordings, BCW, Chorales BWV 250-438, Conducted by Helmuth Rilling, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV250-438-Rilling.htm; CH-12, Hänssler Edition Bachakademie Vol. 85; "A Book of Chorale-Settings for Trust in God, Cross & Consolation / Justification & Penance / Dying, Death & Eternity / In the Evening." "Es wird schier der letzten Tag herkkommen" also is found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB, p. 259), under the category "Last Judgment."

Requiem `Dies ire' Hymn setting

+"Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit" (It is certainly time, NLGB Puplit Hymn) is Bartholomäus Ringwaldt's 1582 seven-stanza setting of the Latin <Requiem, Dies ire> sequence. It is found in the NLGB 390 (p. 996), in the last of the Trinity Time <omnes tempore> topics, "Judgement Day." Its only specific listing in the NLGB as a service hymn is for the 25th Sunday after Trinity. "This hymn was sung in Leipzig and Dresden as the hymn of the day for this Sunday," says Günther Stiller in <JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig> (St. Louis MO, Concordia Publishing; 1984: 252). Text and translation, http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/Lieder/esistgew.htm

It is sung to the Joseph Klug/Martin Luther 1529 melody, also set to the Martin Luther popular <omnes tempore> Catechism Communion text, "Nun freut euch, lieChristen g'mein" ((Now rejoice ye, dear Christians all) often known by the alternate title "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit," appears in the NLGB as No. 2332 under "Justification," following Communion hymns. In addition, "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit" is found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB), Page 258 a (Zahn melody 4429), under "Last Judgment."


Other Settings

Bach set the Ringwaldt text, "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit," to music once as a plain chorale but utilized the melody (Zahn 4429a) four other times:

1. In the four-voice plain chorale setting of B-flat Major, catalogued as BWV 307, found in the Hanssler Complete Bach Edition (Volume 85, Dying, Death & Eternity);

2. As a trumpet canto in No. 9, bass recitative with chorale trope, "Ach, soll nicht dieser große Tag,/ Der Welt Verfall" (Ah, should not this great day, the ruin of the world) in Cantata BWV 70, "Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet!" (Watch, pray, pray, watch) for the 26th Sunday after Trinity, November 21, 1723.

3. With the melody in the tenor voice in the early, Miscellaneous Organ Chorale, BWV 734 in G Major, with the double title of "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit" and "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein." (Editions of the music, for two manuals, also include the melody and figured bass with the pedal playing the bass line);

4. In the four-voice plain chorale, BWV 388, in G Major, with the title "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein."

5. In the four-voice early questionable Miscellaneous Organ Chorale, BWV 755, in G Major, similar in style to the Neumeister Collection, and identified as "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit";

Bach also designated "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein" as No. 85, as Catechism Communion hymn, listed but not set in the <Orgelbüchlein> (Little Organ Book) chorale preludes composed in Weimar.


NLGB Trinity 26 Communion Hymns

+"Gott der Vater wohn uns bei" (God, the Father, stay with us; NLGB 139, Trinity Sunday Hymn of the Day (Gradual between Epistle and Gospel readings), has a Johann Walter melody 1524 (Zahn 8507), Luther text 1524 (3 stanzas); Bach set as plain chorale BWV 317 in D Major, and as an early Miscellaneous organ chorale prelude BWV 748(a) in D Major. The hymn also is listed in the <Orgelbüchlein> as No. 52, for Trinity Sunday, but not set. It is found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB), Pages 86-87.
Text and English translation: http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/hymn/godtfath.htm

+"Komtt her zu mir, spricht Gott's Sohn" (Come here to me, said God's Son) (NLGB 234, Christian Life and Conduct, Trinity 1, Communion Hymn). Text, G. Grünwald 1530 to folksong c.1490 ((Zahn 2496) ; text Easter/Pentecost: (Mat. 11:28; 16 stanzas); Bach Easter season cantata usages: BWV 74/8 (S.2), Pentecost; JLB 8/8 (S.14-16) Easter 3; melody in plain chorale, BWV 108/6, "Gott Vater, senden deine Geist" (God Father, send Thy Spirit) (S.10), Easter 4; and BWV 86/3 soprano aria melody (S.16), Easter 5. It is found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB), Page 193 (Zahn 2496c), as a Communion Hymn. Francis Browne BCW text and translation: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale095-Eng3.htm

"Verzage nicht, O Häuflein" (O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe, NLGB 317, Word of God & Christian Church, no Zahn melody listed), <Stiller> 240, Dresden hymn for Jubilate Sunday; BWV 42/4(S.1) E1, is Stanza 1 of the ?Fabricus text that may be a marching song of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. The melody (Zahn 2496) is derived from "Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn" (Dürr <JSB Cantatas> 297, Whittaker <JSB Cantatas> I:298 ref. Terry Bach's Chorales). Grunwald's text, "Kommt her zu mir," is based on Mat. 11:28, Jesus preaching. Thus the Fabricus texts and Grunwald tune have the related themes of comfort and peace. Verzage nicht" is not found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB).


Other NLGB Last Days Hymns for Trinity 26

The NLGB hymns for the 26th Sunday after Trinity list "Other Jüngsten Tage," etc chorales (Judgement Day, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Life) that may be sung:

+"Gott hat das Evangelium gegeben" (God gave us the Gospel) (Mat. 24), NLGB 390, Judgment Day, text and melody, Erasmus Alber, Wittenberg, 14 stanzas; listed as Communion Hymn for the 25th Sunday after Trinity (melody Zahn 1788). Bach's only extant use is as a plain chorale, BWV 319, in e minor, found in the Hanssler Complete Bach Edition (Volume 83, Christian Life and Conduct).

Recording (BWV 319): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKf3VkGeKBY
Text and English singable poetic translation:

Gott hat das Evangelium
Gegeben, dass wir werden fromm;
Die Welt acht' solchen Schatz nicht hoch,
Der mehrer' Theil fragt nichts darnach,
Das ist ein Zeichen vor dem jüngsten Tag. (S. 1)


Man fragt nicht nach der Guten Lehr;
Der Geiz und Wucher noch viel mehr
Hat überhanden genommen gar.
Noch sprechen sie: Es hat kein G'fahr!
Das ist ein Zeichen vor dem jüngsten Tag! (S. 2)

Man rühmt das Evangelium:
Und wohl doch niemand fromm.
Fürwahr, man spott den lieben Gott;
Noch sprechen sie: Es hat kein Noth! (S. 4)

Darum, komm, lieber Herre Christ!
Das Erdreich überdrüssig ist,
Zu tragen solchen Höllerbrand!
Drum mach einmahl mit ihn ein End;
Und lass uns sehn den lieben jüngsten Tag! (S. 14)



God gave us the Gospel unto men
That they might worthy be of Him;
Of little count the world it recks,
Mor let God's word its conscience vex,
So we may know the Day of Doom is near! (S. 1)

To words of truth man gives no heed,
His mind is bent oin gain and greed,
And all that to the flesh is dear.
He rashly deems there's northing to fear.
So may we know the Day of Doom is near! (S. 2)

The Gospel's praise is on man's lips,
But sin's sweet honey each one sips.
Thus God they shame in very deed,
For better doing find no feed.
So may we know the Day of Doom is near! (S. 4)

So then, Lord Jesus Christ, do Thou appear,
And from the earth right swiftly clear
A race of sinners justly banned!
The hour's at hand, there end is planned.
Come then and speedy dawn, O God's Great Day! (S. 14)

[English Translation, Charles S. Terry, <The Four-Part Chorales of JSB> (London: Oxford Univ. Press, Reprint 1964: 122)

"Gott hat das Evangelium gegeben" is listed in Bach's <Orgelbüchlein> chorale preludes under "Death and the Grave" (/Dying, Death & Eternity)," as No. 141 (Last Days) but not set by Bach. It also is found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB), Page 253 (Zahn 1788), as a Last Judgement hymn.

There are two organ chorale settings of "Gott hat das Evangelium gegeben" (both in A Major) in the complete Neumeister Collection in the Christmas section that are now attributed to Johann Michael Bach (1648-1694): JMB 6 (I, Page 10, no concordances), and JMB 7(II, concordances previously attributed to Pachelbel as PWC 174). They are published in J. M. Bach <The Complete Organ Chorales> with the Christoph Wolff "Preface" (Hänssler Verlag, Neuhausen Stuttgart, HE 30.650, 1988).
Recording (JMB7/PWC174), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg_dyRmjq-A

+"Fritsch auff (Fruh auf) und lasst uns singen" (Rise up and let us sing); (NLGB 392, Judgement Day) of Johann Rist (1607-1667), set by Heinrich Scheidemann (1595-1663), Hamburg (SSATB), 10 stanzas (melody Z8552a) was not set by Bach and is not found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB). English translation: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51243943@N00/4714388979 (Melodie: Nun lob mein' Seel' den Herren" (Zahn 8244)

"O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort" (O Eternity, thou thunderous word) of Johann Rist, was one of Bach's favorite hymns but otherweise of little interest. It was not popular among Bach's predecessors and was not a hymn designated for any main service in the NLGB, where it was listed third from last under the heading of "Judgement Day, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternity." As such, it was one of seven under that heading that could sung during the 26th Sunday after Trinity. Meanwhile, Bach set "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort" at least four times: to begin the dialogue Cantata BWV 60 of the same name for the 24th Sunday after Trinity, 1723, in Bach's cycle; as Chorale Cantata BWV 20 (same title) to open the chorale cantata cycle for the First Sunday after Trinity in late 1724; as a sacred song in the Anna Magdalena Songbook of 1725, BWV 513, No. 42; and in the Garden of Gethsemane scene in the <St. Mark Passion," BWV 247/30, of 1731.

Two other hymns in the NLGB:

+"Herzlich tut mich erfreuen" (O, how my heart rejoices) has a text and tune by Luther colleague, Johann Walther (1496-1570), published in his sacred song book, <Ein schöner Geistlicher und Christlicher newer Berckreyen>, Dresden 1552, 33 stanzas. It is listed in NLGB as No. 395, 25 stanzas (no Zahn melody listed; from original Greek, then German folk song) and is described as "Christ-like and trusting thought and poetry on the account of the fear of the Judgement Day and Eternal Life." It is not found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB). See BCW Biography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Walter-Johann.htm
Music: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/pdf/h/e/r/Herzlich%20Tut%20Mich%20Erfreuen.pdf
German Text (9 stanzas only): http://www.gesangbuch.org/lyrics/h0039.htm (no English translation found). Not to be confused with the Passion chorale, "Herzlich tut, mich verlangen," or the altered 19th century melody found in English language Lutheran hymnals, set to a new text, "Day of Resurrection".

+"Ach Gott tu dich erbarmen" (O God! Have mercy"; M Münzer text c.1550, S. Calvisius melody in G Major, 1597; NLGB 396, Judgement Day, Erasmus Alber, Judgement Day, 12 stanzas Zahn 7228c. Found in Straussborg Songbook 1616. Bach's connections involve three listings: Neumeister Chorale, BWV 1109, four-part chorale with interludes (long fore-imitations) in 3/2 in D Major; Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB), Page 254-55 (Zahn melody 7228), as a Judgement Day hymn; and <Orgelbüchlein> No. 142, Death and the Grave (Day of Judgement), not set by Bach. It also is found in the Sebastian Bach Choral-Buch (SBCB), Page 255-55, as a Last Judgement hymn

German:
Ach Gott, tu dich erbarmen,
durch Christum deinen Sohn,
über reich und über armen,
hilf, dass wir busse tun,
und sich ein jeder erkennen tut,
ich fürcht, Gott hab gebunden ein rut,
er will uns damit strafen,
den hirten mit den schafen,
es wird ihm keiner entlaufen.

English:
Oh, God have mercy
through Christ your Son,
on both rich and poor;
help us, in dealing with our penalties,
to realize our part in creating them.
I fear that God has bound a switch
with which he chastens us,
as a shepherd does with his sheep,
no one can escape his justice.
--Tr. Composite [http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/trak2887.htm


NOTES

American Bach Society (ABS), Bach and the Organ, Session III: Chorale, Preludes, and Fugues.
What is the Significance of the Manuscript <Choral-Buch> Attributed to Bach in Sibley Library?
Robin A. Leaver (Yale University), Sept. 28, 2012.

In September 1936 Eastman's Sibley Library acquired a mid-eighteenth-century manuscript Choral-Buch identified on the spine, in a contemporary hand, as "Sebastian Bach's Choral-Buch." Similarly, in a different eighteenth-century hand, the title-page declares: "Sebast. Bach, 4 Stimmiges Choralbuch." Contrary to this information, the melodies appear with figured bass, rather than with fully written-out inner parts. The chorales are given in a sequence similar to that found in contemporary Gesangbücher - beginning with the Sundays, festivals, and celebrations of the church year. The anthology was apparently intended as a source of organ accompaniments for congregational singing.
Spitta examined the manuscript briefly and concluded: "The volume exhibits, neither in Bach's handwriting nor in the composition of the chorales, a single trace of Bach's style or spirit." In 1981 Hans-Joachim Schulze examined the manuscripts and identified the hand on the spine as that of Carl August Thieme (1721-1795), a pupil of Bach at the Thomasschule between 1735 and 1745. But more recently, however, significant doubts have been raised about the identification. The watermark suggests a Dresden origin, dating from sometime around 1740.
The paper offers a description of the manuscript, an overview of its content, and a discussion of its significance as a possible witness to the practices of the circle organists who studied with Bach in the 1740s. [Handout, "Contents of Sebastian Bach's Choral-Buch," 5 pages]

(When he presented his paper, Leaver listed four possible uses of the chorale settings: hymn accompaniments, harmonizations, compositional exercises, and partita variations. The circle of organists includes J. C. Kittel, J. Ringk, and J. P. Kirnberger. )

ADDENDUM:

The following organ chorale preludes and four-voice plain chorales are found in various Bach hymnbooks under related categories, beginning wth the <Orgelbüchlein> (OB) number:

Death and the Grave (Death & Dying), Last Judgement, Resurrection from the Dead, Eternal Life;

OB
127. "Wenn mein Stundlein vorhanden ist"; BWV 428-30=?247/13(41); Joh. Michael Bach*
128. "Herr Jesu Christ, wahr Mensch und Gott" (Z340c); CC BWV 127, BWV 336(P{C); Zachow, LV 32*
129. "Mitten wir im Leben sind; BWV 383; Walter, LV 106*
130. "Alle Menschen müssen sterben" (various melodies); BWV 262(PC); BWV 1117(NC)*
131. BWV 643 Allen Menschen (alio modo)
132. "Valet will ich dir geben"; BWV 245/26(PC), BWV 415(PC), BWV 735a*(MC)-736
133. "Nun lasst uns den Leib begraben" (Zahn 352); BWV 734(MC)*, BWV 1111(NC)
134. "Christus, der ist mein Leben"; CC BWV 95, BWV 281(PC)=?BC B19/21), BWV 282(PC)=?BC B19/18; BWV 1112(NC)*
135. "Herzlich lieb hab' ich dich, O Herr"; BWV 340(NC), BWV 750(MC-D), BWV 1115(NC)* (also Christian Life)
136. "Auf meinen lieben Gott"/Wo sol lich fliehen hin" (CC BWV 5); BWV 744(NC)*
137. "Herr Jesu Christ, Ich weiss gar wohl" (Riemenschneider 73 et al or Zahn 4525); BWV 1114(NC)*
138. "Mach's mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt'; BWV 245/22(PC), BWV247/15=?BWV 377(PC), BWV 957(N)*
139. "Herr [O] Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht; BWV 118(motet), BWV 335(PC), 750(MC)*
140. "Mein' Wallfahrt ich vollendet hab'" (Riemenschneider 41 et al, or Zahn 5704a)
141. "Gott hat das Evangelium" (Last Days); BWV 319(PC), Johann Michael Bach JMB6-7
142. "Ach Gott, thu' dich erbarmen" (Zahn 7228a); BWV1109*
--- "Ach, daß nicht die letzte Stunde"; BWV 439(SG)
--- "Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid"(Persecution); CC BWV 3(Ep.2)
--- "Aus der Tiefe(n) rufe ich" (Psalm 31, Z 1218, NLGB 366); BWV 246/40a(B,bc)
--- "Denket doch. Ihr Menschenkinder": BWV 1122(PC)
--- "Es ist nun aus mit meinem Leben"; BWV 457(SG)
--- "Es wird schier der letzte Tag herkommen"; BWV 310(PC)
--- "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele"; BWV Anh. 52, 53; deest (Emans 72-73) (MC-D)
--- "Gottlob es geht nunmehr zum Ende"; BWV 321(PC)
--- "Herr, ich denk an jene Zeit"; BWV 329(PC)
--- "Herzlich tut mich verlangen" (NLGB329; also, O Haupt voll Blut und wunden, Befiehl du deine Wege); BWV 727(MC), BWV 244/15,17,44,54,63; BWV 247/23,28,30, SBCB49 (Z5385a)
--- "Ich hab' mein Sach' Gott heimgestellt" (Z1679, NLGB 339); BWV 707-08(a) (KC-D), 1113(NC)
--- "Ich bin ja, Herr, in deiner Macht"; BWV 345(PC), BWV 464(SG), BWV deest (Wiemer 7, PC)
--- "Kein Stündlein geht dahin"; BWV 477(SG)
--- "Komm, süßer Tod"; BWV 478(SG)
--- "Liebster Gott, wann wird ich sterben"; CC BWV 8; BWV 483(SG)
--- "Liebster Herr Jesu, wo bleibst du so Lange"; BWV 484(SG)
--- "Meinen Jesum, laß ich nicht, von mir"; CC BWV 124(Ep.1), BWV 244a/35(PC), BWV deest (Emans 135) MC-D
--- "Meines Lebens letzte Zeit"; BWV 381(PC), BWV 488(SG)
--- "Mitten wir im Leben sind"; BWV 383(PC)
--- "O finstre Nach, wann wirst du doch vergehen"; BWV 492(SG)
--- "O wie selig sind ihr doch, ihr Frommen"; BWV 405-06(PC), BWV 495(SG)
--- "So wünsch ich mir zu gutter Letzt"; BWV 502(SG)
--- "Vergiß menicht, mein allerliebster Gott"; BWV 505(SG)
--- "Was mein Got will, das gescheh allzeit"; CC BWV 111(Ep.3); mel., "Ich hab in Gottes Herz und Sinn"; CC BWV 92(Sept.)

Abbreviations:
AS = Alternate setting
CC = Chorale Cantata
CP = Chorale Partitas, BWV 765-771
D = Doubutful work of JSB
KC = Kirnberger Chorales, BWV 690-713
MC = Miscellaneous Chorale Preludes, BWV 714-64, etc.
NC = Neumeister Chorale Collection, BWV 1090-1120
OB = Orgelbüchlein Collection, BWV 599-644
PC = Plain Chorale, BWV 250-438, etc., c.1730
SC = Schubler Chorales, BWV 645-50 1746
SG = Schmelli Gesangbuch, BWV 439-507 1735
18 = Great 18 (Leipzig) Organ Chorale Collection, BWV 651-668 (1714-40)

 

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Last update: ęDecember 29, 2012 ę13:19:24