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Cantata BWV 199
Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut
English Translation in Interlinear Format
Cantata BWV 199 - My heart swims in blood

Event: Solo Cantata for the 11th Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Epistle: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-10; Gospel: Luke 18: 9-14
Text: Georg Christian Lehms (Mvts. 1-5); Johann Heermann (Mvt. 6)
Chorale Text: Wo soll ich fliehen hin

Biblical quotations in green font, chorales in purple


Recitative [Soprano]

Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto, Continuo

Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut,
My heart swims in blood
Weil mich der Sünden Brut
because the brood of my sins
In Gottes heilgen Augen
in God's holy eyes
Zum Ungeheuer macht.
makes me into a monster.
Und mein Gewissen fühlet Pein,
And my conscience feels pain
Weil mir die Sünden nichts
because my sins are nothing
Als Höllenhenker sein.
but Hell's hangmen.
Verhaßte Lasternacht!
Detested night of vice!
Du, du allein
You, you alone
Hast mich in solche Not gebracht;
have brought me into such distress;
Und du, du böser Adamssamen,
and you, you evil seed of Adam,
Raubst meiner Seele alle Ruh
rob my soul of all inner peace
Und schließest ihr den Himmel zu!
and shut it off from heaven!
Ach! unerhörter Schmerz!
Ah! unheard of pain!
Mein ausgedorrtes Herz
My withered heart
Will ferner mehr kein Trost befeuchten,
will in future be moistened by no comfort
Und ich muß mich vor dem verstecken,
and I must conceal myself from him
Vor dem die Engel selbst ihr Angesicht verdecken.
before whom the angels themseves conceal their faces.


Aria and Recitative [Soprano]

Oboe solo, Continuo (con, Violone)

Stumme Seufzer, stille Klagen,
Silent sighs, quiet moans,
Ihr mögt meine Schmerzen sagen,
you may tell of my pains
Weil der Mund geschlossen ist.
since my mouth is closed.
Und ihr nassen Tränenquellen
And you wet springs of tears
Könnt ein sichres Zeugnis stellen,
can offer certain witness
Wie mein sündlich Herz gebüßt.
of how my sinful heart has repented.

Mein Herz ist itzt ein Tränenbrunn,
My heart is now a well of tears,
Die Augen heiße Quellen.
my eyes hot springs.
Ach Gott! wer wird dich doch zufriedenstellen?
Ah God! Who then will give you satisfaction!


Recitative [Soprano]

Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto, Continuo (con, Violone)

Doch Gott muß mir gnädig sein,
But God must be gracious to me
Weil ich das Haupt mit Asche,
because I wash my head with ashes
Das Angesicht mit Tränen wasche,
my face with tears,
Mein Herz in Reu und Leid zerschlage
I beat my heart in remorse and sorrow
Und voller Wehmut sage:
and full of grief say:
Gott sei mir Sünder gnädig!
God, be gracious to me, a sinner
Ach ja! sein Herze bricht,
Ah yes! his heart breaks
Und meine Seele spricht:
and my soul says:


Aria [Soprano]

Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto, Continuo (con, Violone)

Tief gebückt und voller Reue
Deeply bowed and full of remorse
Lieg ich, liebster Gott, vor dir.
I lie, dearest God, before you
Ich bekenne meine Schuld,
I acknowledge my guilt,
Aber habe doch Geduld,
but still have patience,
Habe doch Geduld mit mir!
still have patience with me!


Recitative [Soprano]

Continuo (con, Violone)

Auf diese Schmerzensreu
Amidst these pains of remorse
Fällt mir alsdenn dies Trostwort bei:
this word of comfort comes to me.


Chorale [Soprano]

Viola solo, Continuo (con, Violone)

Ich, dein betrübtes Kind,
I, your troubled child
Werf alle meine Sünd,
cast all my sins,
So viel ihr in mir stecken
that are fixed so many within me
Und mich so heftig schrecken,
and frighten me so fiercely,
In deine tiefen Wunden,
into your deep wounds
Da ich stets Heil gefunden.
where I have always found salvation.


Recitative [Soprano]

Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto, Continuo (con, Violone)

Ich lege mich in diese Wunden
I lay myself in these wounds
Als in den rechten Felsenstein;
as upon the true solid rock:
Die sollen meine Ruhstatt sein.
they should be my place of rest.
In diese will ich mich im Glauben schwingen
In these I want to soar in faith
Und drauf vergnügt und fröhlich singen:
and content and happy to sing:


Aria [Soprano]

Oboe, Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto, Continuo (con, Violone)

Wie freudig ist mein Herz,
How joyful is my heart
Da Gott versöhnet ist
since God is reconciled
Und mir auf Reu und Leid
and through my remorse and sorrow
Nicht mehr die Seligkeit
no longer from salvation
Noch auch sein Herz verschließt.
or from his heart shuts me away.

Notes on the text

BWV 199 was first performed at Weimar on the 12th August 1714 , though it may have been written the previous year. It is a cantata of striking and original beauty, and it is therefore not surprising that Bach produced further performances not only at Weimar , but also at Cöthen (1717-23),possibly at Hamburg (1720) and Leipzig (first performance August 8th 1723).These later performances were adapted to circumstances by change of key and different instrumentation. Hans Joachim Schulze suggests also that Bach's awareness of the libretto's merit may have led him to give the work a prominent and lasting place in his repertoire.

The text was written by Georg Christian Lehms (1684-1717), court poet and librarian at the court of Darmstadt. He wrote a very great number of cantata texts which were set by Christoph Graupner and Gottfried Grünewald , who were Kapellmeister and vice-Kapellmeister at the Darmstadt court. It is very probable that Bach possessed a copy of Lehms’ yearly cycle of cantata texts printed in 1711 Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer. Around 1714 Bach set the present text by Lehms and also Widerstehe doch der Sunde BWV 54; around Christmas 1725/January 1726 he used Lehms for BWV 110, BWV 57, BWV 151, BWV 16, BWV 32 and BWV 13. In the following summer he again drew on Lehms' cycle for BWV 35 and BWV 170, both cantatas for solo alto.

Lehms’ cycle includes larger texts for morning services and more intimate ones for afternoon services. Among the texts set by Bach only BWV 110 comes from the texts written for the morning services . All the others are for the afternoon services and their intimate character - as in the case of BWV 199 -is reflected in their vocal scoring. Graupner set the text for solo soprano two years before Bach and scholars argue that Bach was familiar with Graupner's piece.
(Hans Bergmann and the Ensemble Musica Poetica Freiburg have recorded both settings. See the list of recordings [33]).

The text deals with sin and repentance , guilt and reconciliation in general terms which allowed Bach to use the cantata on various occasions. His autograph score ,which was not discovered until 1911 in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, is headed 'Cantata a Voce sola'. But the text is tenuously connected with the gospel for the 11th Sunday after Trinity, the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18: 9-14). The tax collector's plea , "Gott sei mir Sünder gnädig" is placed in the centre of the text as the turning point where anguish for sin turns to repentance and hope.

The extensive opening recitative deals with self -accusation with increasing intensity. The opening image -Mein Herz schwimmt Blut - is connected by Schulze with a motif in baroque emblems used earlier by Weißenfels and Sorau and later by Erdmann Neumeister in Hamburg. Nicholas Anderson argues :The images of torment, though out of tune with modern sensibilities,were in accordance with the Baroque concept of piety". Certainly some expressions -Sünden Brut, Ungeheuer, Höllenhenker, Lasternacht - and the repeated apostrophes may seem strained but the text which uses the intimacy of the first person throughout is carefully structured to progress from the initial anguish through self-awareness to contrition, reconciliation and finally joy in God. The chorale in movement 6 - a beautiful setting of Johann Heermann's hymn - Wo soll ich fliehen hin (1630 during the Thirty Year's War)- is skilfully integrated in this structure.

Bach's setting shows how well he understood the text. What may seem alien in the unfamiliar poetic style of German Baroque becomes profoundly moving in his music.


This Translation in Parallel Format

English Translation by Francis Browne (April 2002; revised & notes November 2011)
Contributed by Francis Browne (April 2002, November 2011)

Cantata BWV 199: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Article: Sellars Staging [U. Golomb]
German Text | German-2 | Translations: Catalan-1 | Dutch-6 | English-1 | English-3I | English-3P | English-5 | English-6 | French-3 | French-4 | French-6 | Hebrew-2 | Indonesian | Italian-2 | Italian-3 | Portuguese-1 | Russian-1 | Spanish-2 | Spanish-7
Chorale Text:
Wo soll ich fliehen hin

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

Texts & Translations: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Other Vocal 1081-1089 | BWV Anh | Chorale Texts | Emblemata | Sources | Poets & Composers
Discussions: Texts | Translations: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


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