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Musical Context of Bach Cantatas
Motets & Chorales for 5th Sunday after Trinity


Readings: Epistle: 1 Peter 3: 8-15; Gospel: Luke 5: 1-11

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

Motets & Chorales for the 5th Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 5)

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 18, 2011):


Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius
(Leipzig 1682)",
Berlin: Merseburger, 1969.
ML 3168 G75

Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense"
Schünigen: Kaminsky,1927
ML 410 B67R4


* Only one motet listed for Sunday.

1) MOTETS for Introit, Before Sermon at mass and vespers for Choir II, and During Communion:
i) "Nisi Dominus" (8 voices) - Composer Unknown
Text: Psalm 127 ("Except the Lord Build the House")
Many 16 - 18th century settings for Roman Vespers
Live streaming example: Monteverdi: "Nisi Dominus" (Double choir):

2) HYMN OF DAY (de tempore)
"Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ"

3) CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns:
"Vater unser im Himmelreich"
"Wär Gott nun"
"Durch Adams Fall"
"Wo Gott zu Haus"


Trinity +5 Texts & Themes

William Hoffman wrote (July 9, 2011):
For the BCW Discussion of the cantatas for the 5th Sunday after Trinity, beginning July 10, below are four interesting topics:

I. Bach's two surviving cantatas, BWV 93 and BWV 88, and three cantata texts available from Salomo Franck, Erdmann Neumeister, and Picander for this Sunday;

II. Lutheran Church Year Traditions & Practices (5th Sunday after Trinity) and the Gospel;

III. The Propers for the 5th Sunday after Trinity;

IV Chorales for the 5th Sunday after Trinity;


I. Cantatas for the 5th Sunday after Trinity

Bach composed only two cantatas, for the chorale cycle No. 2, BWV 93, and BWV 88 for cycle No. 3, but there are three more cantata texts that were available to him or for the services for which he was responsible, from Franck for Cantata Cycle 1, a Neumeister text used in 1725 probably to a cantata by Telemann, and a Picander text for 1728.

A. Chorale Cantata BWV 93, <Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten> (Who only the loving God lets govern) (Leipzig, 1724, repeated 1732 or 1733), is a seven-movement work which uses all seven of Georg Neumark's popular 1657 consolatory hymn in structured and creative fashion, having text tropes with original poetry, possibly by Picander, and the melody presented by Bach, according to Charles S. Terry's study, BCW:, scroll down to the On Line Library of Liberty, then scroll down to Cantata XCIII.

B. Rudolstadt Cantata BWV 88 <Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden> (Behold, I will send many fishers forth), (Leipzig, 1726), from the 1703 Meiningen annual cycle text (reprinted 1726), two parts with opening Old Testament dictum (Part 1, Jeremiah 16:16) and Gospel dictum (Part 2, Luke 5:10); a festive SATB solo cantata (four arias and two recitatives with closing chorale for the full ensemble of pastoral instruments (pairs of horns in G and oboes d'amore and oboe and caccia (hunt) with strings and basso continuo, in single to triple sharp keys (G, D, A Major; e, b, f-sharp minor). The chorale is Stanza 7, <Sing, bet und geh auf Gottes Wegen,>
Sing, pray and go on God's way) of Neumark's chorale, <Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten>.

There may have been as many as three other opportunities for Bach to have presented cantatas on this Sunday in three other cycles, for a total of five possibilities:

C. For Cycle 1 in 1723, it seems that Bach and his still-unknown librettist focused their weekly cantata energies on producing two cantatas for the adjacent feast days of John the Baptist (June 24, BWV 167) and the Visitation of Mary (July 2, BWV 147 from Weimar) instead of on the Fifth and Sixth Sundays After Trinity, June 27, and July 4, respectively. Bach had available for the 5th Sunday after Trinity a cantata text of Salomo Franck from his 1715 annual cycle, <Evangelisches Andachtsopfer> (Evangelical Devotional Offerings), which Bach had used for the previous week in Weimar (July 14, 1717) to compose Cantata BWV 185, which he repeated the previous week in Leipzig, June 20, 1723. Thus no Bach work is extant for Cycle 1 in Leipzig.

D. For pre-Cycle 3, a libretto text book exists for the cantatas presented in the Leipzig main churches in mid 1725 for early Trinity Time from the Third to the Sixth Sundays After Trinity, June 17 to July 8, and the two intervening feasts of St. John and the Visitation of Mary, when Bach took his first break and probably was in Köthen. In the middle of that period, for the 5th Sunday after Trinity (July 1, 1725) the book lists the cantata, <Der Segen des Herrn machet reiche ohne Mühe> (The blessing of the Lord makes right without trouble), from Neumeister's first "modern" cantata cycle, <Geistliches Singen und Spielen> (Sacred Songs and Plays), Gotha 1711. Bach used the Neumeister 1711 cycle to compose Weimar Cantata BWV 18, <Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt> (As the rain and snow fall from Heaven) for Sexageismae Sunday.

The most likely candidate for the 5th Sunday after Trinity in 1725 is Telemann's Cantata TVWV 1:310, using the Neumeister text and composed in Frankfurt in 1719. The work has a brief opening chorus set to Proverbs 10:22, and can be found on YouTube: The seven-movement Telemann work includes a second chorus (No. 3), Bless he who the Lord feareth (Ps. 128:2), two arias, and, significantly, two <omne tempore>plain chorales: No. 5 the popular <Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten> (closing Stanza 7, "Sing, pray and walk on God's own pathways), and No. 7, "Aus meines Herzens Grunde" (From my very heart; S. 7, To this I say thus, "Amen"). For the latter chorale, Bach has two settings of J. Matthesius 1592 text, melody in the Hamburg 1598 <New Catechism Songbook>: in the St. John Passion, No. 26, and plain , BWV 269 for Morning (Hänsler Complete Bach v.83). Neumeister's original text is found in Werner Neumann's <Sämtliche von JSB vertonte Texte>, Leipzig 1974: 106, 435.

Two texts in the 1725 libretto book also are from the Neumeister cycle, "Gelobet sei der Herr," der Gott Israel" (Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel; Luke 1:68) for the feast of John the Baptist, and "Wer sich rauchet" (He who avenges, Ecclesiasticus 28:1-2), for the 6th Sunday after Trinity, both also part of Telemann's 1719 cycle setting of Neumeister's text, TVWV 1:596, and TVWV 1600.

The other two texts were very popular and appropriate for their respective services, the <omne tempore chorale, Johann Agricola's "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" (I call to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ) for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity, and Luther's German <Magnificat setting>, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn" (My soul magnifies the Lord, Luke 1:47) for the Feast of the Visitation of Mary. Given that Bach as cantor was responsible (as he had been the previous two years) for the printing and distribution of the five-cantata libretto book to subscribing congregants four weeks prior to the 3rd Sunday after Trinity, it is highly likely that he worked closely with his second, Georg Balthasar Schott, music director of the progressive Leipzig New Church, who often presented popular Telemann Cantatas as well as the <Little German Magnificat> of his predecessor, Georg Melchior Hoffmann (1679-1715), New Church successor to Telemann in 1705 and whose work previously had been attributed to Bach as BWV Anh. 21.

The composer of the 1725 chorale cantata, "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ," is a complete mystery to Bach scholars. They insist that Bach's pure hymn setting, Cantata BWV 177, dated "1732," was composed belatedly to fill the gap in the 1724 chorale cantata cycle for the 4th Sunday after Trinity, when that date coincided with the Feast of the Visitation on Sunday, July 2, 1724. Bach scholars are quick to point out that Cantata BWV 177 is a working score composed in 1732, with its opening chorale fantasia in the Lombard rhythm, syncopated "Scottish-snap style" that Bach used beginning only in 1731. Perhaps Bach began composing Cantata BWV 177 during Trinity Time 1724 as a pure-hymn work, set it aside and was unable to complete it in 1725. Bach did composed one pure-hymn cantata during the second cycle, BWV 107, for the 9th Sunday after Trinity, August 6, 1724.

E. The most intriguing situation regarding a libretto text for the 5th Sunday after Trinity is found in Picander's annual Cantata Cycle, <Kantaten Auf die Sonn- and Fest-Tage>, published in Leipzig on the Feast of St. John, June 24, 1728, for all coming 70 services of the chrch year, including all eight Sundays in Advent and Lent, the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany and the 26th Sunday after Trinity. Besides beginning the actual cycle in early Trinity Time, the publication, like the same time period in the 1725 Trinity Time libretto book, begins with popular incipits (titles), repeating "Gelobet sei der Herr" for St. John's Day, and <Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn> for Visitation (July 2).

Most intriguing of all is the title for the intervening 5th Sunday after Trinity, June 27, 1728: "In allen meinen Taten," (In all my deeds), the title of Paul Fleming's popular 1642 hymn text of submission and humility set in 1670 to Paul Gerhardt's 1648 Passion melody, "O Welt, ich muss dich lassen" (O world, I must leave thee), found in the 1682 <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB No. 640) for Trinity Time. The Picander libretto uses Stanza 1 for the opening movement and the final stanza 9, "So sei nun, Seele, deine und traue dem alleine" (Therefore, my soul, be true to yourself and trust him alone), as a plain chorale in the final movement, No. 5. Klaus Häfner's study, "Der Picander-Jahrgang," <Bach Jahrbuch> 61 (1965: 70-113), says that none of the three Picander texts with well-known incipit titles is related, respectively, to Bach's pure-hymn Chorale Cantata BWV 97 setting of all nine stanzas of "In allen meinen Taten," autograph date "1734" for unspecified church service; the Neumeister text of "Gelobet sei der Herr," or the G. M. Hoffman setting of the <German Magnificat> or Bach's setting, BWV 10, for Visitation 1724. Nor is there any parody (text substitution) relationship between movements in the three Picander texts and any known Bach cantatas, as there is in most of the nine extant Picander texts Bach set as cantatas.

A work attributed to Bach in the 1770 Breitkopf catalog, BWV Anh. 1, <Gesegnet ist die Zuversicht> (How blessed is the confidence; trans. by Z. Philip Ambrose), possibly was composed by Georg Philipp Telemann for the 7th Sunday after Trinity, Cantata TVWV 1:616.

II. Lutheran Church Year Traditions and Practices

The 5th Sunday after Trinity often falls close to the Day of the Apostles Peter and Paul, June 29, known as the Apostles Day, usually after the summer equinox. In Leipzig, these saints days generally were observed on the actual day (Stiller: <JSB & Liturgical Life in Leipzig>, 1984: 57). The only saints' feast days to be observed with Bach's music were John the Baptist (June 24; BWV 7, 30, 167) and Michael (September 29; BWV 19, 50, 130, 149), as well as the half-holidays of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (December 26; BWV 40, 57), and the Evangelist (Gospel writer) John (December 27, BWV 151), which respectively coincided with the Second and Third Feast Days of Christmas. Thus, Luther's and the Reformation's themes of discipleship and service are paramount during this Trinity Time Sunday in the teachings of the Christian Church.

Historically, the Lutheran Mass Propers for this 5th Sunday after Trinity "closes the first of the smaller internal cycles within the Trinity Season. It may be called the cycle of the `Invitation,' or the `Call to the Kingdom of Grace'" (Paul Zeller Strodach, <The Church Year>, United Lutheran Pub. House 1924: 195ff). The focus of the first five Sundays After Trinity is on Martin Luther's principals of the individual's "Calling" or Vocation and "Grace freely given." The Calling (<Berufung>) is derived from Paul's Letter, 1 Corinthians 7:17: "But as God has distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches." A summary of the subject is found in /default.php?page=article, Sear: Our Calling and God's Glory by Gene Edward Veith. A noted 20th century Swedish theologian writing on <Our Calling> was Einar Billing.

The Calling was particularly relevant and crucial to the 20th Century German Lutheran Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's <Cost of Discipleship>, of the individual's choice between "costly grace" or "cheap grace." Drawn from the "Sermon on the Mount," his 1937 study is a "compelling statement of the demands of sacrifice and ethical consistency from a man whose life (1907-1945) and thought were exemplary articulations of a new type of leadership inspired by the Gospel, and imbued with the spirit of Christian humanism and a creative sense of civic duty," says publisher Touchstone on

The Propers readings of the Introit, Epistle and Gospel focus on Peter (Strodach, ibid.), the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Central is Peter's initial response in the Gospel Lesson, the Call to the Disciples and the Miracle of the Draught of the Fishes, Luke 5:7-8: "7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord," Peter's cry reflecting the Introit Antiphon plea of help from the Lord, while the Pauline Epistle I Peter 3:8-15, shows the Disciple's commitment to service, to follow Jesus.

Interestingly, the New Three-Year Lectionary readings primarily from the synoptic Gospels (A, Matthew; B. Mark; C, Luke) place the original single-year Lectionary Gospel Reading of Bach's day -- Luke 5:1-11 -- earlier in the Ordinary Time to the Fifth Sunday After Epiphany, that relates Jesus' call to the Disciples at the beginning of his ministry, the draft of fish and Peter's response. The Gospel for the other two years of the Fifth Sunday After Epiphany, cover a slightly later period: A. Matthew 5:13-20, Jesus' early preaching (Salt of the Earth, Light of the World, Law and Prophets) and B. Mark 1:29-39, Jesus healing the sick and departure from Capernaum. The original One-Year Lectionary in Bach's time for the same Fifth Sunday After Epiphany, Mat. 13:24-30, the Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat) is now found in the A Year Lectionary, the 8th Sunday after Trinity (now called the Ninth Sunday After Pentecost).

The New Three-Year Lectionary is a much richer account of the Gospels, providing the best of the synoptic (read together) worlds of Matthew, Mark and Luke while accommodating John's unique vision of the Christus Victor. The New Lectionary preserves many of the original one-year <omne tempore readings> elsewhere in Epiphany and Trinity Time. Meanwhile, the <de tempore> section on the Life of Christ offers three and sometime four Gospel versions of the major events. How is the Gospel of John accommodated? One example is that the original One-Year Trinity Sunday reading, John 3:1-15 (Nicodemus, Son of Man) remains in the Three-Year Reading for the same Trinity Sunday (First Sunday After Pentecost) in the B section, instead of a reading from Mark, along with the A Matthew 28:16-20 (Great Commission to Baptize in the name of the Trinity), and replacing C. (Luke) is John 16:12-15 (Work of the Spirit in the Trinity).

III. Propers for the 5th Sunday after Trinity

A. Introit: Psalm 27:1 (A Prayer of Praise): The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
Antiphon: Ps. 27: 7a, 9b, 1a: Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation; the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

B. The Collect or short general opening prayer is <Deus, qui dilgentibus >, originating from the Galacian Sacramentary: O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire," followed by the customary Trinitarian <Lesser Doxology, Gloria patri>. Some words were changed by the Reformers but reinstated by Vatican II in 1968 in the New Lectionary. c.htm

C. Lesson, Ezekiel 36:22-28 (Blessing on Israel)

22 "Therefore say to the house of Israel, `Thus says the Lord GOD: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD," says the Lord GOD, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

D. Epistle: Epistle: 1 Peter 3: 8-15 Be patient in affliction

[8] Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

E. Gospel:
Trinity Time Gospel Patterns, Paired Miracles & Teachings (Douglas Cowing, BWC, Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels)

Trinity 5: Luke 5: 1-11 (The Call of the Disciples) +MIRACLE: draught of fishes

[3] And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that
he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the
people out of the ship.

[10] And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon (Peter), Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men (Mk. 1:17 [Mat. 4:19b] Come ye after [Follow] me and I will make you [to become] fishers of men). John 1:43b (no Miracle): "Follow me." Old Testament illusion: Jeremiah 16:16a: "Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they (the children of Israel) shall fish them.

[11] And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

+TEACHING, Trinity 6: Matthew 5: 20-26: Agree with your adversary
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

[Lectionary: King James Version]

IV Chorales for the 5th Sunday after Trinity

The <omne tempore> chorale, "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten" (Who only the loving God lets govern), was one of Bach's favorites and one of his earliest uses in a cantata, perhaps dating to the lost 1709 MüTown Council Cantata BWV Anh. 192. Found in the 1682 <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB) as hymn No. 787 but not designated for particular services, Bach used the very popular Neumark tune and text in Chorale Cantata BWV 93, for the Fifth Sunday after Easter, the service designation found in the Leipzig, Dresden and Weißenfels hymn books of Bach's time, says Stiller (<JSB & Liturgical Life in Leipzig>: 242).

Bach's third Leipzig cycle two-part Cantata, BWV 21 "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis" (I had much affliction in my heart), was presented on June 13, 1723, the 3rd Sunday after Trinity. Composed in Weimar, it uses two stanzas of the popular chorale, Georg Neumark `s 1657 (7 verses) "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten" (Whoever lets only the dear God reign"). It is found in Movement No. 9, chorus (Psalm 116/7), "Sei nun wieder zufrieden" (Be satisfied again now, my soul), quote from Epistle (1 Peter 5:7), followed by the tenor chorale (S. 2) "Was helfen uns die schweren Sorgen?" (What help to us are heavy sorrows), the continued Psalm chorus response, "denn der Herr tut dir Guts" (for the Lord does good to you.). The soprano chorale setting of Stanza 5 concludes the movement: Denk nicht in deiner Drangsalshitze, / Daß du von Gott verlassen seist, (Do not think in the heat of your distress / that you have been abandoned by God).

The Neumark melody is found in the plain chorale, BWV 434 in A Major, "Trust in God," Hänssler complete Bach Edition V.85, and in the chorale prelude Orgelbüchlein, BWV 642, "Christian Life and Conduct." More about Bach's extensive use of this chorale, also set to two other texts, "Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende" (Chorale Cantata BWV 27 for Trinity +16) and "Ich armer Mensch, ich armer Sünder" (Chorale Cantata BWV 55, for Trinity +22) -- neither in the NLGB -- will be found in the BCW discussion in three weeks (July 10) of Chorale Cantata BWV 93, as well as Rudolstadt Cantata BWV 88 for the following week (July 17). BCW text:


To Come: Doug Cowling's weekly exploration of THE MUSICAL CONTEXT OF BACH'S CANTATAS: MOTETS AND CHORALES FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, early Trinity Time chorales in the Bach's hymnbook, the 1682 <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch, and different text settings of Neumark's chorale melody, "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten," in Bach's cantatas.

Future Discussions: It would be interesting to examine various Bach writers' perspective on the "theme" of Bach cantatas for a particular service, especially those in the half-year Trinity Time of teachings of the Christian Church. This is most possible in the First and Third Cycles, recognizing that each extant libretto has a special perspective of the teachings of that day, as contrasted with the Second, Chorale Cantata Cycle which relies on hymn texts not always originally written for a particular service. There is only one Trinity Time Sunday (the 21st) that has cantatas extant from all four Leipzig cycles: BWV 109, BWV 38, BWV 98, and BWV 188.

For next week's BCW discussion, July 17, BWV 88, we can review the theme of the cantata from the historical perspective of various Bach writers such as Philipp Spitta, Albert Schweitzer, Friedrich Smend (available only in German), W. Gillies Whittaker, and Alfred Dürr.


Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Table of Motets & Chorales for Events in the Lutheran Church Year

Lutheran Church Year: Main Page and Explanation | LCY - Event Table | LCY 2000-2005 | LCY 2006-2010 | LCY 2011-2015
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of Bach’s Vocal Works
Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event | Motets & Chorales for Events in the LCY
Discussions: Events in the Lutheran Church Year: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Readings from the Bible

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Last update: żOctober 1, 2011 ż16:54:03