Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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

Cantata BWV 70
Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!
English Translation in Interlinear Format
Cantata BWV 70 - Watch! Pray!

Event: Chorale Cantata for the 26th Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Epistle: 2 Peter 3: 3-13; Gospel: Matthew 25: 31-46
Text: Salomo Franck (Mvts. 1, 3, 5, 8, 10); Christian Keymann (Mvt. 11); Anon (Mvts. 2, 4, 6, 7, 9)
Chorale Texts: Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele | Meinen Jesum laß' ich nicht

Biblical quotations in green font, chorales in purple

First Part


Chorus [S, A, T, B]

Tromba, Oboe, Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto e Continuo

Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!
Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!
Seid bereit
Be ready
at all times
Bis der Herr der Herrlichkeit
until the lord of glory
Dieser Welt ein Ende machet.
makes an end of this world.


Recitative [Bass]

Tromba, Oboe, Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto e Continuo

Erschrecket, ihr verstockten Sünder!
Be frightened, you impenitent sinners!
Ein Tag bricht an,
A day is dawning
Vor dem sich niemand bergen kann:
from which no one can hide:
Er eilt mit dir zum strengen Rechte,
it hurries you away to strict justice,
O! sündliches Geschlechte,
o sinful generation,
Zum ewgen Herzeleide.
to everlasting heartache.
Doch euch, erwählte Gotteskinder,
But for you, chosen children of God
Ist er ein Anfang wahrer Freude.
it is the beginning of true joy.
Der Heiland holet euch, wenn alles fällt und bricht,
The saviour coomes to fetch you,when everything falls and breaks,
Vor sein erhöhtes Angesicht;
before his own exalted face;
Drum zaget nicht!
therefore do not give way to fear!


Aria [Alto]

Violoncello, Fagotto e Continuo

Wenn kömmt der Tag, an dem wir ziehen
When does the day come, when we depart
Aus dem Ägypten dieser Welt?
from the Egypt of this world?
Ach! laßt uns bald aus Sodom fliehen,
Ah! let us quickly flee from Sodom,
Eh uns das Feuer überfällt!
before the fire overwhelms us!
Wacht, Seelen, auf von Sicherheit
Wake up, you souls, out of your complacency
Und glaubt, es ist die letzte Zeit!
and believe, this is the last time!


Recitative [Tenor]

Fagotto e Continuo

Auch bei dem himmlischen Verlangen
Even in our longing for heaven
Hält unser Leib den Geist gefangen;
our body holds the spirit prisoner;
Es legt die Welt durch ihre Tücke
Through its malice the world lays
Den Frommen Netz und Stricke.
nets and ropes for the devout.
Der Geist ist willig, doch das Fleisch ist schwach;
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak ;
Dies preßt uns aus ein jammervolles Ach!
this drives from us a pitiful sigh!


Aria [Soprano]

Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto e Continuo

Laßt der Spötter Zungen schmähen,
Let the cynics' tongues utter abuse,
Es wird doch und muß geschehen,
it will and must happen
Daß wir Jesum werden sehen
that we shall see Jesus
Auf den Wolken, in den Höhen.
on the clouds, in the heights.
Welt und Himmel mag vergehen,
Earth and heaven may perish,
Christi Wort muß fest bestehen.
Christ's word must stand firm.
Laßt der Spötter Zungen schmähen;
Let the cynics' tongues utter abuse;
Es wird doch und muß geschehen!
it will and must happen.


Recitative [Tenor]

Fagotto e Continuo

Jedoch bei dem unartigen Geschlechte
Yet even among this ill-bred generation
Denkt Gott an seine Knechte,
God thinks of his servants,
Daß diese böse Art
so that this wicked race
Sie ferner nicht verletzet,
harms them no further,
Indem er sie in seiner Hand bewahrt
since he preserves them in his hand
Und in ein himmlisch Eden setzet.
and places them in a heavenly Eden.


Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Tromba e Oboe e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Fagotto e Continuo

Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele,
Rejoice greatly, o my soul,
Und vergiß all Not und Qual,
and forget all misery and torment
Weil dich nun Christus, dein Herre,
since Christ your Lord
Ruft aus diesem Jammertal!
calls you from this valley of misery!
Seine Freud und Herrlichkeit
His joy and splendour
Sollt du sehn in Ewigkeit,
you will see in eternity,
Mit den Engeln jubilieren,
and rejoice with the angels,
In Ewigkeit triumphieren.
triumph in eternity.

Part Two


Aria [Tenor]

Oboe, Violino I/II, Viola e Continuo

Hebt euer Haupt empor
Lift up your heads
Und seid getrost, ihr Frommen,
and be consoled, you devout people,
Zu eurer Seelen Flor!
may your souls blossom!
Ihr sollt in Eden grünen,
You are to flourish in Eden
Gott ewiglich zu dienen.
to serve God for ever.


Recitative [Bass]

Tromba, Violino I/II, Viola e Continuo

Ach, soll nicht dieser große Tag,
Ah, should not this great day,
Der Welt Verfall

the ruin of the world
Und der Posaunen Schall,
and the sound of trumpets
Der unerhörte letzte Schlag,
the unheard-of last blow,
Des Richters ausgesprochne Worte,
the words proclaimed by the judge,
Des Höllenrachens offne Pforte
the open gates of hell's jaws,
In meinem Sinn
[arouse] in my mind
Viel Zweifel, Furcht und Schrecken,
much doubt, fear and panic,
Der ich ein Kind der Sünden bin,
since I am a child of sin?
Jedoch, es gehet meiner Seelen
But there comes to my soul
Ein Freudenschein, ein Licht des Trostes auf.
a gleam of joy, a light of consolation.
Der Heiland kann sein Herze nicht verhehlen,
The saviour cannot conceal his heart,
So vor Erbarmen bricht,
that breaks with pity,
Sein Gnadenarm verläßt mich nicht.
his merciful arm does not forsake me.
Wohlan, so ende ich mit Freuden meinen Lauf.
Come, in this way I end my journey with joy.


Aria [Bass]

Tromba, Violino I/II, Viola e Continuo

Seligster Erquickungstag,
Blissful day of refreshment/new life,
Führe mich zu deinen Zimmern!
lead me to your chambers.
Schalle, knalle, letzter Schlag,
Resound,bang, last stroke
Welt und Himmel, geht zu Trümmern!
Earth and heaven, collapse in ruins!
Jesus führet mich zur Stille,
Jesus leads me to calm,
An den Ort, da Lust die Fülle.
to the place where there is fullness of delight.


Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Violino I/II, Viola, Tromba e Oboe col Soprano, Alto, Tenore e Continuo

Nicht nach Welt, nach Himmel nicht
Not for the world, not for heaven
Meine Seele wünscht und sehnet,
does my soul wish and long,
Jesum wünsch ich und sein Licht,
I wish for Jesus and his light,
Der mich hat mit Gott versöhnet,
he has reconciled me with God
Der mich freiet vom Gericht,
he frees me from the court of justice
Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht.
I shall not leave my Jesus.

Note on the text

BWV 70 is an expansion of a cantata Bach wrote seven years before in Weimar. The music for this earlier work has been almost entirely lost. It was one of a group of three cantatas (BWV 70a.186a,147a) that Bach produced in December 1716 based on texts by the Weimar court poet Salomo Franck published in his collection : Evangelische Sonn- und Fest-Tages-Andachten / Auf Hochfürstlich Gnä­digste Verordnung Zur Fürstlich Sächsisch Weimarischen Hof-Capell-­Music In Geistlichen Arien erwecket von Salomon Francken, Fürstlich Sächsischen Gesamten Ober-Consistorial-Secretario in Weimar." The Kapellmeister Johann Samuel Drese had recently died and Bach may have hoped that this evidence of his industry and ability would help to recommend him for the vacant post. If so he was disappointed, since Drese’s son was appointed.

The cantata texts Franck published for 1716-17 are unusual in not using bible texts or recitatives. Apart from the concluding chorale , he uses freely composed verse . An opening movement for chorus is followed by four arias and a concluding chorale.

BWV 70a was written for the 2nd Sunday in Advent. In Leipzig cantatas could only be performed on the 1st Sunday in Advent but since the readings for both Sundays deal with the end of time and the coming of Christ it was not dfor the anonymous librettist of BWV 70 to take over Franck’s text – based on Luke’s account of the last days and judgement(Luke 21) – without change, and add four recitatives based on Matthew’s account of the last judgement ( the gospel for the 26th Sunday after Trinity) and a chorale verse to conclude first part of the cantata. The six movement cantata of 1716 is thus expanded seven years later into an eleven movement work with a two –part structure. The suggestion is sometimes made that Bach himself may have written the recitatives. This cannot be proved . It is perhaps more plausible that Bach consulted closely with the librettist since the setting of the recitatives - particularly movements two and nine - is particularly striking.

The opening chorus uses the ending of Luke’s Gospel for the 2nd Sunday in Advent (Luke 21: 25-36). With direct address to stubborn sinners and to those chosen by God the first recitative dramatises the scene evoked by Matthew’s account of the last judgement and the division of humanity into sheep and goats, those saved and those who are damned. The second aria for alto uses the images of Israel captive in Egypt and Sodom and Gomorrah threatened with destruction to portray the true nature of the world which should make us long for the last day. The second recitative deals with those aspects of us and the world which hinder our longing for heaven. Christ‘s words about his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane – the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak – are used. The soprano aria contrasts the certainty of Christ’s coming (Luke 21: 27) with what cynics say. The third recitative gives assurance that God thinks of those who serve him and the first part concludes with a more personal expression of the same idea using the fifth strophe of the anonymous hymn Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele (Freiburg 1620)

The tenor aria which opens the second part echoes Luke 21: 28 with its command to the faithful to hold up their heads. 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: 3-13). The cantata concludes with the fifth verse of the hymn Meinen Jesum laß' ich nicht by Christian Keymann (1658).

Dürr comments 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.


This Translation in Parallel Format

English Translation by Francis Browne (October 2002; revised notes: October 2012)
Contributed by Francis Browne (October 2002, October 2012)

Cantata BWV 70 & BWV 70a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 70 | Recordings of Individual Movements from BWV 70 | Details of BWV 70a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2
BWV 70:
German Text | Translations: Catalan-1 | Dutch-2 | English-1 | English-3I | English-3P | English-6 | English-7 | English-10 | French-1 | French-4 | French-6 | Hebrew-1 | Hebrew-3 | Hebrew-4 | Indonesian | Italian-2 | Russian-1 | Spanish-3 | Spanish-7
Chorale Texts:
Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele | Meinen Jesum laß' ich nicht

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


Back to the Top

Last update: Friday, June 02, 2017 05:04