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Cantata BWV 105
Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht
English Translation in Interlinear Format
Cantata BWV 105 - Lord, do not go into court with your servant

Event: Cantata for the 9th Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10: 6-13; Gospel: Luke 16: 1-9
Text: Psalm 143: 2 (Mvt. 1); Johann Rist (Mvt. 6); Anon (Mvts. 2-5)
Chorale Text: Jesu, der du meine Seele

Biblical quotations in green font, chorales in purple


Chorus [S, A, T, B]

Corno, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht.
Lord, do not go into court with your servant.
Denn vor dir wird kein Lebendiger gerecht.
Psalm 143 :2
For before you no living person is just.


Recitative [Alto]


Mein Gott, verwirf mich nicht,
My God, do not reject me,
Indem ich mich in Demut vor dir beuge,
while I bow in humility before you,
Von deinem Angesicht.
Psalm 51:11
from your face.
Ich weiß, wie groß dein Zorn und mein Verbrechen ist,
I know how great is your wrath and my crime,
Daß du zugleich ein schneller Zeuge
Malachi 3:5
that you are at the same time a prompt witness
Und ein gerechter Richter bist.
and a just judge.
Ich lege dir ein frei Bekenntnis dar
I state my confession freely to you
Und stürze mich nicht in Gefahr,
and do not throw myself into danger
Die Fehler meiner Seelen
Zu leugnen, zu verhehlen!
by denying, by concealing
the errors of my soul.


Aria [Soprano]

Oboe, Violino I/II, Viola

Wie zittern und wanken
How tremble and waver
Der Sünder Gedanken,

the sinners' thoughts
Indem sie sich untereinander verklagen Romans 2:15
while they bring accusations against each other
Und wiederum sich zu entschuldigen wagen.
and on the other hand dare to make excuses for themselves.
So wird ein geängstigt Gewissen
In this way a troubled conscience
Durch eigene Folter zerrissen.
is torn apart through its own torments.


Recitative [Bass]

Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Wohl aber dem, der seinen Bürgen weiß,
But fortunate is the man who knows who is his guarantor,
Der alle Schuld ersetzet,
who sets aside his guilt.
So wird die Handschrift ausgetan,
Then the sentence of condemnation is done away with,
Wenn Jesus sie mit Blute netzet.
when Jesus moistens it with his blood.
Er heftet sie ans Kreuze selber an,
Colossians 2 :14
He himself fastens it to the cross
Er wird von deinen Gütern, Leib und Leben,
He will of your goods, body and life,
Wenn deine Sterbestunde schlägt,
when your hour of death strikes,
Dem Vater selbst die Rechnung übergeben.
to the Father himself give over the account.
So mag man deinen Leib, den man zum Grabe trägt,
Even though your body, that is carried to the grave,
Mit Sand und Staub beschütten,
may be covered with sand and dust,
Dein Heiland öffnet dir die ewgen Hütten.
your saviour opens for you the everlasting tabernacles.


Aria [Tenor]

Corno, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen,
If only I make Jesus my friend,
So gilt der Mammon nichts bei mir.
then Mammon has no value for me.
Ich finde kein Vergnügen hier
I find no pleasure here
Bei dieser eitlen Welt und irdschen Sachen.
in this vain world and earthly things.


Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Nun, ich weiß, du wirst mir stillen
Now I know you will quieten
Mein Gewissen, das mich plagt.
my conscience, that torments me
Es wird deine Treu erfüllen,
Your faithfulness will fulfill
Was du selber hast gesagt:
what you have said yourself:
Daß auf dieser weiten Erden
that on this wide earth
Keiner soll verloren werden,
no one should be lost
Sondern ewig leben soll,
but should live for ever,
Wenn er nur ist Glaubens voll.
if only he is full of faith.

Notes on the text

BWV 105 was first performed in Leipzig on 25th July 1723, two months after Bach's arrival in the city, and so is part of Bach's first cycle of cantatas. The Gospek reading for the 9th Sunday after Trinity is about the unjust steward who facing dismissal attempts to win popularity by writing off debts owed to his master . Without using the gospel text directly the anonymous librettist uses the notions of a servant called to account,debts being rescinded and the right use of money and other worldly possessions to produce a text that explores the relationship between mankind's sinful conscience and God.

The opening movement is a setting of a verse from Psalm 143. The image in the gospel reading of a servant called to account by his master becomes generalised into all mankind facing God's judgement either at death or at the last judgement at the world's end.

The following recitative also echoes the Psalms (51 :11) and the phrase schneller Zeuge ( prompt witness) comes from Malachi 3:5. In contrast to the cunning servant in the parable the text urges humility and acknowledgement of sins since God is a judge impossible to deceive.

This frei Bekenntnis (free acknowledgement)is contrasted in the following aria with the troubled conscience of sinners. A striking phrase from Saint Paul (Romans 2:14) tells how in the internal court of conscience the thoughts of sinners accuse one another.

The second recitative echoes Paul again (Colossians 2:15) and makes extensive use of legal terminology (Bürgen, Schuld, Handschrift, Rechnung) in a way that many people may find unappealing as a model for understanding the relationship between God and humanity But perhaps Bach's contemporaries, familiar with Lutheran debates over law and grace, would see more easily that what is said in this recitative answers the anxieties of the sinners' guilty conscience and so , as often in cantata texts, is the turning point where the initial problem presented in earlier movements finds a solution.

The tenor aria is therefore joyful. The text echoes the mention of Mammon in the gospel reading.
(Mammon is a term, derived from the Christian bible, used to describe material wealth or greed More details at :

The final chorale is the penultimate strophe of a hymn by Johann Rist written in 1641. It is aptly chosen and provides an appropriate conclusion for the cantata .

Bach uses Rist in ten cantatas but it is difficult to share the enthusiasm of Bach's contemporaries for his writings. In German Baroque Poetry Robert M. Browning says of Rist: “ ….nonpoetry by a nonpoet, utilitarian, stolidly bourgeois, soporifically longwinded. Rist could turn a rhyme and construct a well made stanza as easily as eating pudding, and the wide popularity he achieved shows that he struck a common chord, but today his work is only of historic interest.”

The text of BWV 105 is not in itself particularly striking but from it , as Dürr says , Bach produces “a work that might well be numbered among the most sublime descriptions of the soul in baroque and Christian art”.


This Translation in Parallel Format

English Translation by Francis Browne (March 2002; revised & notes September 2011)
Contributed by Francis Browne (March 2002)

Cantata BWV 105: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
German Text | Translations: Catalan-1 | Dutch-3 | Dutch-4 | English-1 | English-3I | English-3P | English-6 | French-4 | French-6 | Hebrew-1 | Indonesian | Italian-2 | Russian-1 | Spanish-3 | Spanish-7
Chorale Text:
Jesu, der du meine Seele

English Translations in Interlinear/Parallel Format (English-3): Sorted by BWV Number | Sorted by Title | Sorted by Event | Note on English Translations

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Discussions: Texts | Translations: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


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Last update: Thursday, June 01, 2017 15:31