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Literary Origins of Bach’s St. John Passion: 1704-1717
By William Hoffman (March 2010)

Contents

Introduction
Music
Biblical Text
Dramatic Elements
Essential Literary Source
Lyrical Movements
John’s Gospel and Anti-Judaism
Liturgical Oratorio Passion
Reinhard Keiser’s Influence
Brockes Passion
Brockes Passion Oratorio Settings
Other Poetic Passion Oratorios
Liturgical Oratorio Passions
Postel St. John Passion
Mattheson St. John Passion
Postel St. John Passion Lyrical Movements
Literary Influences
Musical Influences of Postel (Serauky)
Sources of Other Lyrical Movements
Selectively Bibliography
Recordings

 

Introduction

In May 1723 Johann Sebastian Bach, age 38, assumed his position as Leipzig church cantor and town music director. He was fully prepared to meet his responsibilities to create all manner of music, including annual cycles of church cantatas and Passion settings on Good Friday, while fulfilling his 1708 calling for a “well-order church music to the glory of God.”

Passion music had occupied Bach’s interest since he began his musical career at age 20 in 1705-06 with an extended visit to the Hamburg area in northern Germany. Together, the dramatic Biblical narrative text format and interpolative lyric movements, originating in Hamburg in the first decade of the 18th Century, enabled him to create the first of three unified, extended liturgical oratorio Passion settings. Passion music would play a critical role in Bach’s career and life in Leipzig, which ended in 1750.

Within a year of his arrival, Bach created his first major sacred work, the St. John Passion (SJP), BWV 245, presenting it at Good Friday Vesper Services at St. Thomas Church, April 14, 1724. This Passion met the basic requirements from local church and civic authorities: an annual, substantial church piece divided into two parts to flank the sermon; alternating on Good Friday between the principal churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas; and using a musical setting of the full text of one of the Gospel two-chapter accounts of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, translated by Martin Luther. The SJP includes appropriate, interspersed lyrical, dramatic commentary in the form of opening and closing choruses, solo arias and ariosi, as well as reflective and instructive congregational chorale hymns.

“In its historic and aesthetic significance, the Passion According to St. John suddenly appears in the heavens like a new comet,” with its “gateway to modern concerted music,” “enormous artistry” and its “selection of text alone (is) extraordinary,” says Martin Geck in his recent (2006) Bach biography: JSB: Life and Work: 385ff. “Where else, in all the eighteenth century, besides Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, does there exist a similarly large-scale vocal-instrumental construct, sublime in character, with such powerfully interpretive language and such symphonic scope?”

All the more remarkable is that Bach probably composed this work entirely in the preceding six weeks of the Lenten Season. He created completely new music without borrowing from previous works, established a personal template for his remaining Passion endeavors, and surmounted numerous narrative and interpretive textual challenges, particularly involving the non-synoptic Gospel of John. Meanwhile, Bach produced a substantial musical sermon, utilizing appropriate Lutheran theological guideposts as well as traditional musical and poetic practices.

Verisimilitude and fidelity characterize Bach’s treatment of his three original settings of John, Matthew and Mark, revealing a faithful realization of the special character of each individual account. The St. John Passion story is an intense, dramatic account of conflict challenging the redeemer, a larger-than-life, engaged, affirmative, unwavering, and ultimately victorious figure. Matthew is the most detailed, expansive yet personal Passion account, with it Lutheran features of the Theology of the Cross, the significance of suffering, and justification by grace through faith alone. Mark, the earliest account of the Passion gospel, is simple, direct, and immediate. With Christ portrayed as a somewhat aloof and vague figure, Mark’s gospel has little commentary, juxtaposed scenes, or crowd participation for dramatic emphasis – at the other end of the scale from John, the fourth evangelist.

Lutheran church tradition helped determined Bach’s choice of John’s Passion story for his first liturgical musical treatment. Gospel readings in Holy Week appointed the Passion accounts as follows: Palm Sunday, St. Matthew, Chapters 26 and 27; Tuesday, St. Mark, Chapters 14 and 15; Wednesday, St. Luke, Chapters 22 and 23; and Good Friday, St. John, Chapters 18 and 19. Thus, John was most appropriate in Leipzig on Good Friday at afternoon Vespers.

Another reason for Bach’s selection of John’s account involves his search for the crucial lyrical commentary appropriate to this highly dramatic, unique account of the Passion. The libretto probably was developed beginning as early as May 1723 with the choice of John’s account. John’s Passion narrative is the shortest of the four Gospel accounts, requiring the least musical treatment. Bach began with a plan or template of the biblical narrative and the interpolative chorales, and poetic commentary. “The planning, which no doubt began in connection with the production of the text,” says Alfred Dürr in his milestone monograph, JSB’s St. John Passion: Genesis, Transmission, and Meaning (2000: 57), “probably comprised an outline of the whole structure in which the succession of movements, a meaningful variation in the scoring and the voices, and, presumably, a tonal plan were plotted out in general terms.”

 

Music

Bach’s musical emphasis in his St. John Passion is on the narrative portion, especially the turbae or crowd choruses, as well as the chorales. Bach’s has 11 chorales (underlined) and 12 lyric (madrigalian) movements (italicized), two choruses, two ariosi, and eight arias. The dramatic central scene of trial and conflict -- Nos. 16-25, Pilate’s questioning and condemnation, and Jesus’ scourging -- has 11 of the 13 turbae, or crowd choruses (bold faced), and no chorales.

Part 1
1. Herr, unser Herrscher (chorus)
2a(2). Jesus ging mit seinen Jüngern über den Bach Kidron; 2b(3). Jesum von Nazareth; 2c(4). Jesus spricht zu ihnen: Ich bin's; 2d(5). Jesum von Nazareth; 2e(6). Jesus antwortete: Ich hab’s euch gesagt,
3(7). O große Lieb (S. 7, Herzliebster Jesu)
4(8). Auf dass das Wort erfüllet würde,
5(9). Dein will Gesche, (S. 4, Vater unser im Himmelreich)
6(10.) Die Schar aber und der Oberhauptmann
7(11). Von den Stricken meiner Sünden (aria)
8(12.) Simon Petrus aber folgete Jesu nach
9(13). Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten (aria)
10(14.) Derselbige Jünger war dem Hohenpriester bekannt
11(15). Wer hat dich so geschlagen (V. 3, O Welt, sieh' hier dein Leben)
12a(16). Und Hannas sandte ihn gebunden zu dem Hohenpriester ;12b(17). Bist du nicht seiner Jünger einer?; 12(18). Er leugneaber und sprach: Ich bin's nicht
13(19). Ach, mein Sinn, wo willt du endlich hin (aria)
14(20). Petrus, der nicht denk zurück (S. 10, Jesu Leiden, Pein)

Part 2
15(21). Christus, der uns selig macht (Patris sapientia, M. Weisse)
16a(22). Da führeten sie Jesum von Caiphas vor das Richthaus; 16b(23). Wäre dieser nicht ein Übelthäter; 16c(24). Da sprach Pilatus zu ihnen; 16d(25). Wir dürfen niemand töten; 16e(26). Auf dass erfüllet würde das Wort Jesu
17(27). Ach großer König (S. 8, Herzliebster Jesu)
Ich kann's mit meinen Sinnen (S. 9, Herzliebster Jesu
18a(28). Da sprach Pilatus zu ihm: So bist du dennoch ein König?; 18b(29). Nicht diesen, sondern Barrabam!; 18(30). Barrabas aber war ein Mörder. [John Chapter 19] Da nahm Pilatus Jesum und geißelte ihn.
19(31). Betrachte, meine Seel', mit ängstlichem (arioso).
20(32). Erwäge, wei sein blutgefarbter (aria).
21a (33). Und die Kriegsknechte flochten ein Krone von Dornen; 21b(34). Sei gegrüsset, lieber Judenkonig!; 21c(35). Und gaben ihm Backenstreiche; 21d(36). Kreuzige, Kreuzige!; 21e(37). Pilatus sprach zu ihnen: Nehmet ihr ihn hin; 21f(38). Wir haben ein Gesetz, und nach dem Gesetz soll er sterben’; 21(39). Da Pilatus das Worte hörete, fürchtet'er sich roch mehr’
22(40), Durch dein Gefängnis (aria)
23a. (41.) Die Juden aber, die weil es der Rusttag war; 23b. (42.) Lässest du diesen los, so bist du des Kaisers Freund nicht; 23c. (43.) Da Pilatus das Worte hörete, führete er Jesum heraus; 23d. (44.) Weg, weg mit dem; 23e (45.) Spricht Pilatus zu ihnen; 23f. (46.) Wir haben keinen König; 23g. (47.) Da überant wortete er ihn;
24(48). Eilt, ihr angefocht'nen Seelen (aria with chorus)
25a(49). Allda kreuzigten sie ihn; 25b(50). Schreibe nicht: Der Juden König; 25c(51). Pilatus antwortet: Was ich geschrieben habe
26(52). In meines Herzens grunde (V. 3, Valet will ich dir geben)
27a(53). Die Kriegsknechte aber, da sie Jesum gekreuzigt hatten; 27b(54). Lasset uns den nicht zerteilen; 27c(55). Auf das erfullet würde die Schrift
28(56). Er nahm alles wohl (V. 20, Jesu Leiden, Pein)
29(57). Und von Stund' an nahm sie der Jünger zu sich
30(58). Es ist vollbracht (aria)
31(59). Und neigte das Haupt und verschied
32(60). Mein teurer Heiland (aria with chorale Er nahm alles wohl (V. 20, Jesu Leiden, Pein)
33(61). Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriss
34(62). Mein Herz! indem die ganze Welt (arioso)
35(63). Zerfliesse, meine Herze, in Fluten der Zähren (aria)
36(64). Die Juden aber, schrien und sprachen
37(65). O hilf, Christe, Gottes Sohn (V. 8, Christus der uns selig macht)
38(66). Darnach bat Pilatum Joseph von Arimathia
39(67). Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine (chorus)
40(68). Ach Herr, laß dein lieb Engelein (V. 3, Herzlich Lieb' hab' ich)

 

Biblical Text

John’s narrative emphasizes conflicts and trials, juxtaposing these with Peter’s denials and remorse:

John Chapters 18 and 19 (Nos. 1 to 20[32]) and 19 (Nos. 21a[33] to 40{68]) with the interpolation of Matthew 26:75 (Peter omen, wept bitterly) after John 18:27 and of Matthew 27:51-52 (temple veil, earthquake) after John 19:30.

Bach’s Musical Division (Terry, Bach’s Passions: 22-51). Part I: I. Prologue, 1; I., Betrayal, Nos. 2-3 (2-6) (Jn. 18:1-8); Section II. Peter Questioned, Nos. 4-5 (7-9) (Jn. 9-12), Section III. Annas, Caiaphas, Nos. 6-11 (10-15) (Jn. 18:12-23); Section IV. Peter’s Denial, Nos. 12-15 (16-20) (Jn. 18:24-27). Part II: Section V. Christ before Pilate, Nos. 16-22 (21-40) (Jn. 18:28-40, 19:1-11); Section VI. Crucifixion, Nos. 23-29 (41-57) (Jn. 19:12-26); Section VII. End, Nos. (30-38) 57-65 (Jn. 19:27-37); Section VIII. Burial, Nos. 39-40 (66-68) (Jn. 19:38-41).

John’s Textual Division: 1. Jesus Arrested, 18:1-11; 2. Jesus Taken to Annas, 18:12-14; 3. Peter’s First Denial, 18:15-18; 4. Caiaphas Questions Jesus, 18:19-23; 5. Peter’s Second and Third Denials, Jn. 18:25-27; 6. Jesus Before Pilate, Jn. 18:28-40. 7. Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified, Jn. 19:1-16a; 8. Crucifixion, 19:16b-27; 9. Death of Jesus, 19:28-37; Burial, 19:38-42.

 

Dramatic Elements

While the Biblical narrative and the choice of chorales were dictated by pre-existing texts, Bach sought appropriate dramatic passages for commentary and reflection at key places in the Passion story. He found no acceptable integral libretto from previously composed Passion oratorio settings. The Postel St. John Passion and the “KeiserSt. Mark Passion – dating back almost 20 years --contained simple music involving opening and closing choruses in the manner of dicta or statements as well as brief interspersed arias, usually not in the new da-capo ABA form with instrumental introduction and repetition of the opening section.

Bach’s essential dramatic material came from the new poetic Passion oratorio treatment of the four Gospels, created in Hamburg in 1712 and known as the Brockes Passion. At the most dramatic events in his St. John Passion, Bach sets ariosi and arias to texts drawn from the same places in the Brockes Passion. At the same time, Bach introduces three dramatic elements in the St. John Passion (SJP) that he would greatly expand in his succeeding St. Matthew Passion (SMP):

(1) The two-dimensional SJP bass aria, No. 24, with chorus commentary, “Eilt, ihr angefocht'nen Seelen,” which commences the via crucis, becomes the form, ultimately, for six dramatic SMP contemplative dialogues which open, close, and in the middle, divide the two parts: Nos. 1, 19-20, 27a-b, 30, 59-60, and 67-68.

(2) The two aria-ariosi, commentary combinations, SJP Nos. 13-14, and 19-20, after Peter weeps bitterly and Jesus is scourged, are increased to seven SMP reflective scenes in the manner of opera seria dual commentary-expressive affect solos by the same singer: Nos. 12-13, 25- 26, 34-35, 48-49, 51-52, 56-57, and 64-65.

(3) The other SJP two-dimensional bass aria with (hybrid) chorale, No. 32, “Mein treuer Heiland,” at Jesus' death, influences the opening SMP chorus where a chorale melody is inserted, and also influences the SMP contemplative dialogue aria with chorus, No. 60, “Behold” Jesus on the cross.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/SMPGenesisWH.pdf

 

Essential Literary Source

Here in sequence are the dramatic solos as the influential text was found in the Brockes Passion text and utilized in Bach’s St. John Passion:

Brockes Passion

Bach St. John Passion

John 18:14, Jesus is led to Annas

No. 2, Chorus of the Faithful Souls
Mich vom Stricke meiner Sünden
(Free me from the rope of my sins)

No. 7(11), aria, Von den Stricken meiner Sünden
(Unbind me from the rope of my sins)

John 18:40, Jesus is scourged

No. 68, A Faithful Soul; Drum, Seele,
schau mit ängstlichem Vernüngen
(Therefore soul look with timid joy)

No. 19(31), *arioso, Betrachte, meine Seel',
mit ängstlichem Vernüngen
(Ponder, my soul, with anxious pleasure)

[*arioso-aria combination]

No. 69, A Faithful Soul; Dem Himmel
Gleich sein buntgestriemter Rücken
(His back is painted in colors like the sky)

No. 20(32), *aria, Erwäge, wei sein
blutgefarbter Rücken
(Consider how his blood-tinged back)

John 19:17, Jesus led to Golgatha

No. 84, Faithful Souls,
Eilt, ihr angefochten Seelen
(Hasten, you corrupted souls)

No. 24(48), *aria with Chorus of Faithful Souls;
Eilt, ihr angefocht'nen Seelen [dialogue chorus]
(Hurry, you besieged souls)

John 19:30b, Jesus dies

No. 109, Daughter of Zion, Faithful Soul,
Sind meiner Seelen tiefe Wunden
4th line, Ist aller Welt Erlösung nah
(Hast thou dressed my soul’s deep wounds)
(Is the soul’s redemption near?)

No. 32(6), *aria with chorale [dialogue]
Mein teurer Heiland, lass dich fragen;
? 4th line, Ist aller Welt Erlösung da?
(My precious Savior, let me ask you)
(Is redemption of the all world here?)

Mat. 27:51-52, Earthquake

No. 114a, Faithful Soul, Bei Jesu Tod &
Leiden leidet . . . die ganze Welt
Der Mond, der sich in Trauer kleidet,
(Jesus’ death & suffering make the whole
world suffer; the moon (is) dressed in mourning)

34(62).*arioso, Mein Herz! Indem
die ganze Welt, bei Jesus . . . leidet,
Der Sonne sich in Trauer kleidet,
(My heart – while the entire world
with Jesus’ suffering; the sun clothes itself in mourning)

[*34-35 arioso-aria combination]

No. 114b, Wast thust denn du, mein Herz?
. . . Gott zu Ihren . . . In bitter Zähren.
(What will you do, my heart?
The glory of God. . .in bitter tears!
[omitted in Handel’s Brockes Passion]

No. 35, aria, Zerfliesse, meine Herze, in
Fluten der Zähren Dem Höchsten zu Ehren….
(Dissolve, my heart, in flood of tears
To honor the Most High?)

John 14:41, Jesus is buried

No. 116, Daughter of Zion, Wisch ab
Der Tränen bitter Ströme. . . . Sperrt dir
den Himmel auf und schließt die Hölle zu.
(Wash away the bitter stream of tears,
. . .Open up heaven and close hell.)

No. 39, chorus, Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen
Gebeine. . . . Macht mir
den Himmel auf, und schließt die Hölle zu.
(Be fully at peace, ye holy bones. . .
Open to me heaven and close hell!)

[from Maria Seiner transl., McGegan CD] Michael Marissen: Bach Oratorios (pp.105-131)

 

Lyrical Movements

Because of the complexity of John’s Passion account, Bach managed to find nine places in which to put dramatic commentary. Here are all 17 lyrical (madrigalian) movements (choruses, arias, ariosi):

1. Herr, unser Herrscher (chorus) (Psalm 8:1,9); Lord, our ruler, whose praise [Ps. 8:1, Your praise reaches up to the heavens] is glorious in all the lands [Ps. 8:9, O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world].
(1a=244/29[35].) O Mensch, bewein dein Sunde groß; O humankind, bewail your great sin (S. HEYDEN chorale. chorus.).
7(11). Von den Stricken meiner Sünden, To unbind me from the rope of my sins (aria, BROCKES); John 18:14, Jesus led to Annas
9(13). Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten, I will follow you likewise with joyful steps and (I) will not let you (go) [Gen. 32:26, Ich lasse dich nicht] (aria, text rev. 1749); John 18:15, Peter follows.
(11a/245a.) Himmel reiße, Welt erbebe; Heaven, tear apart; world, quake] with chorale “Jesu, deine Passion”) (aria, POSTEL influence); John 18:23, Servant strikes Jesus.
13(19). Ach, mein Sinn, wo willt du endlich hin; Oh, my sense [of good and evil], where, in the end, do you want to go (aria, WEISE); John 18:27 Peter weeps bitterly.
(13a/245b). Zerschmettert mich, ihr Felsen; Crush me, you rocks and hills (S. Franck, Spitta).
19(31). Betrachte, meine Seel', mit ängstlichem; Ponder, my soul, with anxious pleasure (arioso., text ev. 1749) (BROCKES); John 18:40, Jesus is scourged.
(19a/245c.) Ach windet euch nicht so, Ah writhe (thou) not so (aria) (POSTEL).
20(32). Erwäge, wei sein blutgefarbter; Consider how his blood-tinged back (aria, omitted 1725, text rev. 1749) (BROCKES).
22(40), Durch dein Gefängnis, Through your imprisonment (aria, chorale text, POSTEL); John 19:12, Pilate seeks to release Jesus.
24(48). Eilt, ihr angefocht'nen Seelen, Hurry, you besieged souls (aria w.chorus) (BROCKES); John 19:17, Jesus led to Golgatha.
30(58). Es ist vollbracht, der Held von Juda siegt mit Macht; It is accomplished. The hero from Judah with power (aria, ? POSTEL); John 19:30a, Jesus: “It is finished.”
32(60). Mein teurer Heiland, lass dich fragen; My precious Savior, let me ask you (aria, w/chorale, Jesu der du warest tot; Jesus, you who were dead) (BROCKES); John 19:30b, Jesus dies.
34(62). Mein Herz! indem die ganze Welt; My heart – while the entire world (arioso) (BROCKES); Mat. 27:51-52, Earthquake.
35(63). Zerfliesse, meine Herze, in Fluten der Zähren; Dissolve, my heart, in flood of tears (aria) (BROCKES partly).
39(67). Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine; Be fully at peace, ye holy bones (chorus, text rev. 1772 CPEB SJP) (BROCKES/POSTEL partly); John 19:42, Jesus buried.
40a =23/4. Christe, du Lamm Gottes; Christ, you Lamb of God (GERMAN AGNUS DEI, chorale chorus)

(English translation: Michael Marrisen, Bach’s Oratorios (Oxford Univ. Press: 2008, 101-131).

The literary borrowings or influences are from the following sources:

1. Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747): Der für die Sünde der Welt Gemarterte und Sterbende Jesus (Jesus who Suffered and Died for the Sins of the World), from the four Evangelists, (Hamburg, 1712 and 1715): Mvt. 7(11), Mvt. 19 (31), Mvt. 20(32), Mvt. 24(48), Mvt. 32(60), Mvt. 34(62), partly Mvt. 35(63) and Mvt. 39(67);
2. Christian Weise (1642-1708): Der Grünen Jugend Nothwendige Gedanken (Leipzig, 1675): Mvt. 13(19);
3. Christian Heinrich Postel (1658-1705): Leiden und sterben Jesu Christi (Johannes Passion, around 1700): Mvt. 19a in the later version, Mvt. 22(40) chorale, possibly Mvt. 30(58), and partly Mvt. 39(67);
4. No literary sources found: Mvts. 1 & 9.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV245.htm

(The earliest Bach scholar to find some of the Brockes sources of the lyric movements of the SJP was Wilhelm Rust, editor of SJP Bach Gesellschaft edition 12.1 of 1863. Philipp Spitta in his JSB biography (1873/85) and follow-up articles 1888/94 provided considerable historical information regarding the immediate predecessor Passions to the SJP. Friedrich Smend, Bach in Köthen (1951/85), Chapter 16, “The St. John Passions of Bach and Handel” showed the literary connections to Postel.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Postel-Christian-Heinrich.htm
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Hunold.htm )

 

John’s Gospel and Anti-Judaism

Michael Marrissen in his 1998 study, Lutheranism, anti-Judaism, and Bach’s St. John Passion points out (p. 28f) that Bach’s libretto versions of the Brockes Passion text “do not contain the egregious anti-Jewish remarks found in their well-known source.” Marrisen cites two examples, Bach’s Nos. 19 and 24. In No. 19, Bach’s last line replaces the final 11 lines in Brockes which identify the soldiers who scourge Jesus as Jews whom Jesus had taught in the temple. In the biblical text in Bach’s SJP, “this brutal action is attributed to Pilate (at no. 18c).”

68. Brockes: A Faithful Soul
Final 11 lines: Schau, wie die Mörder ihn auf Seinen Rücken schlagen
(Look how the murderers strike his back . . . .)

19. Bach: Arioso
final line: Drum sieh ohn Unterlaß auf ihn!
(So behold him without ceasing!)

84. [80] Brockes [Handel], Faithful Souls

24. Bach Aria with Chorus of Faithful Souls:

Eilt, ihr angefochtnen Seelen,
Geht aus [Achsaphs] euren
[Mörderhöhlen] Marterhöhlen,
[Kommt] Eilt – Wohin ? – nach Golgatha!
[Eilt auf] Nehmet an des Glaubens Flügel,
[Fliegt] Flieht – Wohin? – zum
[Schädelhügel] Kreuzeshügel,
Eure Wohlfahrt [blühet da] blüht allda!

Hurry, you besieged souls,
leave [Achshaph’s] your [dens of murder]
dens of torment,
[come] hurry – where? – to Golgatha!
[Hurry towards] Embrace faith’s wings;
[fly] flee – where? – to the [skull’s]
[hilltop] cross’ hilltop,
Your welfare blossoms there

Marrisen offers a literal translation of Handel’s version [bracketed words] and Bach’s version (italicized words).

Brockes shows the Jews in the narrative “leaving Achshap’s dens of murder” while Bach shows them leaving their “dens of torment.”

 

Liturgical Oratorio Passion

In contrast to Bach’s annual Good Friday presentations in Leipzig, the liturgical oratorio Passion was presented in Hamburg at Palm Sunday church services, thence during Holy Week at the services of the other four main churches. The Passion presentation was limited to one-hour duration during the service, beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane and ending with Christ’s death. This practice of annual oratorio Passions in Hamburg continued when Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) began presenting his quadrennial cycle at Holy Week 1722, with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in successive years until 1767.

These are mixed Passion oratorios, including hybrids that blend lyrical pieces divided into sections, with corresponding narrative passages. Richard Petzoldt in his 1974 Telemann biography (p.18) says: “As in Bach’s Passions, Telemann’s settings of these biblical texts are expanded by epic-lyrical commentaries. The composer took passages from Brockes, Hunold and Postel, Rector Müller (at Johanneum) and several teachers and pastors added further verses. Presumably Telemann inserted his own lines as well” (trans. Horace Fitzpatrick).

In 1767 Telemann was succeeded by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), Sebastian’s second son, who continued the annual Holy Week presentations until 1789. These include a pasticcio St. John Passion in 1772 with music of J,S. Bach, Telemann, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749), and Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785).

The Passion narrative text and its treatment had been established through a tradition beginning in 1643 in Hamburg with Seele’s St. John Passion and achieving its basic form in 1704 when the oratorio Passion was first presented. Dramatic lyrical numbers in the manner of Italian cantatas, with choruses, arias, ariosi and a blending if these elements were developed in the next decade.

The first two extant German oratorio Passions, Postel’s St. John Passion of 1704 and the “KeiserSt. Mark Passion of 1707, had direct, formative influence on Bach. Both have full treatment of the gospel text, with narrative recitative and arioso solos for the evangelist and the principal gospel figures as well as four-part turbae (crowd choruses). The Postel Passion provided Bach with commentary lyrical music inserted into important places in the Gospel story using poetic arias and choruses. Inserted chorales and da capo arias are found only in the “KeiserSt. Mark Passion. Postel’s St. John Passion provided specific textual influences in Bach’s St. John Passion for four arias and a chorale, as well as musical influences in the opening chorus plus four crowd choruses and a Jesus solo in John’s narrative.

Bach was influenced by and directly associated with possibly 14 Passion presentations by other composers: 1. Passion oratorios, Postel St. John, Keiser St. Mark (performances 1711-13, 1726), and the apocryphal St. Luke Passion (?1730, 1735, 1745); 2. oratorio Passions, Telemann Brockes (?1720s, 1739) and Seliges Erwägen (1727-29), Handel Brockes Passion (1746, ?4/4/1749), Stölzel’s Ein lämmlein geht (1734), and C.H. Graun’s Kommt her und schaut (by 1750); and 3. two Pasticcio Passions, the Keiser St. Mark with arias from Handel’s Brockes Passion (1747-48), and a Graun Oratorio Passion Ein lämmlein geht with additional music of Kuhnau, Telemann, Bach, and Altnikol (?1740s).

 

Reinhard Keiser’s Influence

The “KeiserSt. Mark Passion influenced Bach’s treatment of the basic oratorio Passion narrative as well as dramatic elements in Bach’s two settings of the Passions in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, BWV 244, and Mark, BWV 247. Eventually, Bach in the 1740s would use the “KeiserSt. Mark Passion as the narrative basis for his Keiser-Handel Pasticcio Oratorio Passion with seven additional interspersed arias from Handel’s Brockes Passion oratorio.

Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739), the guiding force for the Hamburg Opera for many years and music director of the Dom Cathedral (1728-39), was also the leading proponent and pioneer of the new musical Passion settings, which he composed or presented. Keiser in 1704 probably presented both the Postel St. John oratorio Passion as well as his own Hunold Passion oratorio. He may be the composer of the St. Mark Passion (also attributed to Bruhns). In 1711, he presented the second extant modern Passion oratorio in the first known setting of Paul Stockmann’s Passion song, “Ein lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld” (A lambkin goes and bears our guilt). Keiser composed the first Brockes Passion oratorio setting in 1712. He assembled the first extant Passion oratorio pasticcio, Der zum Tode verurteilte und gekreutzigte Jesus: “Weinet ihr getreue Herzen,” in 1715.

1. ?February 17, 1704, Postel St. John Passion, Hamburg Dom Cathedral (details, see below)

2. Lenten Time, 1704, “Der blutige und sterbene Jesus” (The bleeding and dying Jesus). First known poetic Passion oratorio in verse, music of
Keiser (lost); lyricist Christian Friedrich Hunold (1681-1721), no complete text survives; first perf. ?Hamburg Drillhaus; repeated April 6 and 8, 1705. Summa poetic passion paraphrase, contemplative & reflective commentary, no biblical narrative or chorales, modeled after religious drama (Oberammergau Passion play), elevated opera & oratorio style. Vocal music of chorus, aria, arioso, recitative; instrumental sinfonia. Biblical characters present soliloquies; introduces allegorical figure (Daughter of Zion). Repeated in Lenten Season 1719, Gotha castle chapel.

3. Holy Week, 1707, “Jesus Christus ist um unser Missetat Willen verwundet,” Passio Jesu Christe secundum Marcum; first modern extant liturgical oratorio Passion (Melamed Hearing Bach’s Passions:81), music attributed to
Keiser, lyricist unknown; first performance Hamburg Dom Cathedral, music director Friedrich Nicolaus Brauns (served 1685-1718); with da capo arias, “halo
string effect for Jesus’ ariosi, and chorales

4. 1711, Tr
änen unter dem Kreuze Jesus: “Ein Lämlein geht und trägt die Schuld”; second known Passion oratorio; performances in Hamburg Domremter, March 30 and 31, and April 1; text Johann Ulrich König; no libretto survives; most Keiser music lost. Two arias survive in oratorio Passion pasticcio “Der zun Tode verurteilte und gekreutzigte Jesus” (1715): “Dein Bären Herz ist felsenherz” (Pilate orders crucifixion) and “Aus liebe ist Gott Mensch geworden” (Christ laid in the tomb), inserted in Göttingen score, Keiser St. Mark Passion (no date);

5. Lenten Time 1712, Brockes Passion Oratorio, music of Keiser.

6. ?1714, St. Luke Passion, “Wir gingen alle in die Irre” (opening chorus incipit), liturgical oratorio Passion, Keiser music and text lost.

7. Lenten Season 1715, Der zum Tode verurteilte und gekreutzigte Jesus: “Weinet ihr getreue Herzen”; Passion oratorio pasticcio, text Johann Ulrich König. Surviving Keiser music published as “Selige Erlösungs-Gedancken” (1715): includes incomplete closing chorus “Ach Golgatha, wie schemrzlich beugst du unsre Seelen,” two arias from “Tränen unter dem Kreuze Jesus” (1711) and opening chorus, St. Luke Passion, “Wir gingen alle in die Irre,” Passion oratorio (?1714).

 

Brockes Passion

The Brockes Passion oratorio, written in 1712 and initially set to music by Keiser, was the other formative influence in Bach’s St. John Passion. The Brockes epic drama text formed the basis of six arias, one arioso and the closing chorus in the first presentation in 1724. The naturalistic, pietistic, graphic texts furnished Bach with dramatic and contemplative commentary on the story of the suffering and death of Jesus. The text by Barthold Heinrich Brockes is entirely poetic, paraphrasing passages from all four Passion accounts, with appropriate commentary. It is known as a “summa” Passion treatment and includes the so-called Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross. Three are from John, three from Luke, and one from both Matthew and Mark.

Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27).
Eli Eli lama sabachthani? ("My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?", Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
I thirst (John 19:28).
It is finished (John 19:30).
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)

The Brockes Passion text was set to music by at least 10 German composers and was reprinted in numerous editions. Its 117 movements involve choruses, recitatives, ariosi, arias, accompanied recitatives (allegorical soliloquies), and chorales. The characters include the Evangelist or Narrator, Jesus, Pilate, Ciaphas, Peter, James, John, Judas, and Mary as well as the Three Maids, the Centurion, and an Armed Servant. In addition there are four allegorical figures (all sopranos): the Daughter of Zion, and three Faithful Souls, added by Brockes. The Passion story is divided into nine sections:
Part 1: The Last Supper, Movements Nos. 1-9; Dialogue Between Jesus and His Disciples, Jesus Prays (Nos. 10-33); Peter’s Denial and Repentance (Nos. 34-43); Jesus Appears Before the Council of the High Priests; Judas’ Despair, Repentance, and Death (Nos. 44-52).
Part 2: Jesus Is Condemned (Nos. 53-82); The Crucifixion (Nos. 83-92); The Death of Jesus (Nos. 93-110); and After the Death of Jesus (Nos. 111-118).
BCW:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Brockes-Barthold-Heinrich.htm

Like the traditional Passion Play at Oberammergau, the Brockes Passion has three acts and focuses on Jesus’ trials and Peter’s Denial, Nos. 34-82, leading to the Crucifixion, also known as the Road to Calvary (Golgatha) or the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross). The large middle act contains four of the nine sections in 48 movements with 312 lines of verse; the first act, until Jesus’ arrest in the garden, runs 184 lines; and the final act of the Via Crucis and conclusion occupy 185 lines. Like the Passion Play, the “Brockes (poetic) narrative is oriented toward John’s telling of the story,” says Daniel R. Melamed, Hearing Bach’s Passions (2005: 92).

 

Brockes Passion Oratorio Settings

The best known of the settings of the Brockes Passion are from Keiser, Telemann, Handel, and Mattheson. It appears that Mattheson encouraged Telemann and Handel to provide versions. Mattheson then performed all four in Holy Week of 1719 in the refectory of Hamburg Cathedral. Telemann’s faithful version using all of the movements remained the most popular until his own lyrical setting, Seliges Erwägen, focusing on the sufferings and death of Jesus, became in the mid 1720s the most popular performed Passion oratorio until 1755. It was replaced by C.H. Graun’s Passion cantata, Der Tod Jesu, which was performed for more than 100 years, finally replaced in the 1880s by Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, as well as Handel’s Messiah.

1. 1712, Keiser. Der für die Sünde der Welt gemartete und sterbene Heiland Jesus (Jesus martyred and dying for the sins of the world): “Mich vom Stricke meiner Sünden zu entbinden” (To deliver me from the bonds of my sins); first “Brockes Passion oratorio, text Berthold Heinrich Brockes (presented in Brockes’ Hamburg home to large invited audience), Lenten Season 1712. Repeated Lenten Season 1713, Brockes home; adds Nos. 68-69, Faithful Soul recitative and aria; publisher Roger Brown. Repeated Holy Week 1719 (no specific date or venue); repeated 4/2/1721 (Reventher Dom); 36 movements in omnibus Brockes Pasticcio Passion, March 22, 26, 28 & 30, 1722; possibly repeated Lenten Season 1723; and repeated Holy Week 1727 with Overture to Handel’s opera Admeto. All 117 Brockes movements set to music.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Keiser-Reinhard.htm

2. 1716, Telemann, TWV 5:1. First performance during Lenten Season, Frankfurt am Main Barfüßerkirche; repeated Lenten Season 1717 or 1718, Hamburg and Augsburg (no date or venue, source Telemann 1718 autobiography); repeated Good Friday, March 26, 1717 in Leipzig New Church (first Leipzig performance of a Passion oratorio, Gottfried Vogler, organist & music director); repeated April 4 (Tuesday in Holy Week) 1719, Hamburg Reventher Dom; repeated March 21, 1720, Hamburg Drillhaus; 60 movements in omnibus Brockes Pasticcio Passion, March 22, 26, 28 & 30, 1722 (Hamburg Cathedral); possibly repeated Lenten Season 1723; repeated March 28 (Wednesday in Holy Week), 1725, Hamburg Drillhaus; repeated March 25 (Holy Thursday), 1728, Hamburg Drillhaus. Possibly performed by Bach in Leipzig in 1739 (BCW). All 117 Brockes movements set to music.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Telemann-Brockes-Passion.htm

3. 1716-18. Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759, HWV 48. No performances documented untApril 3 (Tuesday in Holy Week), 1719, Hamburg Reventher Dom; repeated March 20, 1721, Hamburg Drillhaus; repeat Hamburg performance Lenten Season 1722 (no date or venue cited); 15 movements in omnibus Brockes Pasticcio Passion, March 22, 26, 28 & 30, 1722 (no Hamburg venue cited); possible Hamburg repeated Lenten Season 1723; repeated Good Friday, March 26, 1723 at Lüneberg; repeated April 5, 1724, Hamburg Drillhaus. Handel made slight word modifications in the Brockes text, and set only 106 movements, omitting occasional repetitive trio-aria commentaries, such as No. 107, Faithful Soul aria. Handel also set the Faithful Soul aria, No. 109 as a duet for two sopranos, and the Centurion tenor aria, No. 113, “How can it be that when the sky weeps,” for the Faithful Soul soprano. Handel provides only the first stanza of the three-stanza concluding chorale, No. 117, “I am a member of your body.”
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Handel-Brockes-Passion.htm

4. 1717-19. Johann Friedrich Fasch (1866-1758). Brockes Passion; 1717-19, Greiz; only 30 movements. includes two Brockes chorales: 6. “Ach wie hungert meine gemute”; and 25. “O Menschenkind, nur deine Sünd.” The manuscript in the Leipzig Municipal Library may date to c. 1760 and lists the chorales (Nos. 13 and 14) as dividing the Passion into two parts.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Fasch-Johann-Friedrich.htm

5. 1718. Johann Mattheson (1681-1764). Brockes Passion, First performance, Palm Sunday, April 10, 1718, Hamburg Domkirche (Director of Music, 1715-28). Repeated March 20, 1719, St. Marie-Magdalene Church; 5 movements in omnibus Brockes Pasticcio Passion, 1722.

6. Brockes Pasticcio Passion; March 22, 26, 28 & 30, 1722 (Hamburg Cathedral). All 117 Brockes movements set to music of Telemann, Handel, Keiser, and Mattheson; selected by Mattheson. Source: Henning Frederichs, Das Verhältnis von Text und Musik in den Brockespassionen Keisers, Händels, Telemanns und Matthesons: Mit einer Einführung in ihr Enstehungs- und Rezeptionsgeschichte sowie den Bestand ihrer literischen und musickalischen Quellen; Musikverlag Emil Katzbichler, München-Salzburg, 1975.

7. 1725 Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749). Brockes Passion, Lenten Season 1725, Gotha Castle Chapel at Friedenstein Castle. Adds three traditional chorales to the five Brockes chorale movements; abridged version.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Stolzel-Gen1.htm

 

Other Poetic Passion Oratorios

1. 1714. Johann Georg Seebach (nds), Passion oratorio Der leidende und Sterbende Jesus, Gotha, 1714. Includes Gospel text paraphrase (beginning at the Last Supper), character arias, as many as 49 interspersed chorales could be sung; libretto only (Spitta JSB2:496, 510).

2. 1719. Joachim Beccau (1690-1754) (librettist, Telemann oratorio “Belsazar,” 7/19/1723), Heilige Fastenlust in desselben Zulässige Verkürtzung müßiger Stunden or Das Leyden und Sterben unsers earrn Jesu Christi nach der Vier Evangelisten; Heidelberg 1719. Includes character and symbolic arias, choruses, opening disciples’ canzonetta at the Last Supper and closing chorale of believers, “O hilf Christe, Gottes Sohn”; libretto only (Spitta JSB2:496)

3. Before 1721, 1725-35. Carl Heinrich Graun (1703/4-1759), Kommt her and schaut (Come here and look); selections from all four gospels, contemplative verse author unknown (?Graun); first version, Dresden (fugal choruses, continuo arias only); revised edition, Brunswick, 1725-35); ?Leipzig performance before 1750. 69 movements: 8 chorales, 24 arias, 24 secco recitatives, 9 accompanied recitatives/ariosi, 4 choruses; Handel borrowings (11); four manuscripts extant; score copy with JSB annotations in Thomas School Library (lost, C.H. Bitter Bach iii (1881:272).

4. 1722. Telemann, Seliges Erwägen des bittern Leidens und Sterbens Jesu Christi (Blessed Reflections on the Sufferings and Death of Jesus Christ): “Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele” (with nine chorales), TVWV 5:2; text Telemann, 51 movements, 11 editions documented 1722-57, most popular Passion until Ramler’s “Der Tod Jesu” (1756). First performance Lenten Season 1722. Repeats in Hamburg 1725, 1728, 1729, etc.; Leipzig New Church 1727-29, and 4/13/1756; performed by J.S Bach in Leipzig on Good Friday 1732-1735 (?BCW)

5. 1720, 1727, 1735, 1749. Stölzel produced four documented Passion oratorios:
A. Die Leidene und am Creutze sterbene Liebe Jesu (The suffering and dying on the cross of the loving Jesus), 1720, Gotha.
B. Jesus the Good Shepherd Suffering and Dying for the Lost Sheep, 1727, Gotha. Non dramatic, includes Evangelist, Faithful Soul, a few chorales of the Christian Church; source: Irmgard , Scheitler, “Passion and Drama in German Literature” Irmgard Scheitler, Understanding Bach, 4: 21-31, c Bach Network UK 2009.
C. 1734. Stölzel, Passion oratorio "Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld"; performed in Leipzig, April 23, 1734.
D. MGG 7 (1997):1485, refers to five movements from Stölzel’s last Passion Oratorio, Des Leidenden und Sterbenden aud der Leidensgeschichte der heiligen Evangelisten (1749) used in C.P.E. Bach’s pasticcio St. John Passion of 1772, which also includes J.S. Bach’s SJP closing chorus, “Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine,” turba choruses from Georg Philipp Telemann’s St. John Passion of 1761, Gottfried August HomiliusSt. Mark Passion, and a few numbers from C.P.E. Bach.

6. 1725. Picander, Erbauliche Gedancken Auf den Grünen Donnerstag und Charfreytag, BWV Anh. 169. Picander modeled his 1725 treatment after Brockes, conflating and emphasizing Christ's trials involving the Chief Priests, the false witnesses and Pilate's questioning, found primarily in John's Gospel. Picander's actual Evangelist narration is limited to 12 recitatives of 32 numbers. For example, Recitative No. 18 narrates Jesus' scourging, dressing, crowning, and cloaking in six lines. Like Brockes there are few chorales (two), with the emphasis on character solos. For example, tSoul has the most, six, involving three arias and three soliloquies or ariosi (accompanied recitatives). [Sources: Terry, Bach, The Passions, 53f; Marrisen's Bach's Oratorios, Passion Synopsis Appendix, pp. 157-67]. Possibly performed in Frankfurt c.1730, composer unknown.

7. c1730. C.H. Graun, Ein lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld (A lambkin goes and bears our guilt), Brunswick, c.1730; selections from all four gospels, contemplative verse author unknown (?Graun); 34 movements: (2 parts, Nos. 1-17, 18-34): 6 chorales, 6 choruses, 9 secco recitatives, 2 accompanied recitatives, 11 arias.

8. 1731. Telemann, Die Bekerung des römischen Hauptmanns Cornelius (The Conversion of the Roman Centurion Cornelius): “Mache dich auf, werde Licht!”, TWV 5:3; March 9, 1731, Drillhaus; text A. J. Zell (arias, choruses, chorales, spoken word; music lost).

9. 1731. Telemann, Die Kreutzigte Liebe oder Tränen über das Leiden und Sterben unserses Heilandes: “Nicht, das Band, das dich bestricket,” TWV 5:4; March 22 (Holy Thursday), 1731, Drillhaus; text Johann Ulrich König (music lost, 41 movements).

None of the Brockes Passions was performed in Hamburg on Sundays during Lenten season (when the opera house was closed). Only liturgical oratorio Passions were presented on Palm Sunday. It can be assumed Hamburg Music Director Telemann began presenting quadrennial Holy Week liturgical Passion oratorios in 1722 partly as an alternative to the Brockes and other Passion oratorios performed at the Hamburg Drillhaus (Armory).

 

Liturgical Oratorio Passions

1. 1704-1720. Georg Böhm (1661-1733) of Lüneberg composed some of the earliest modern oratorio Passions, often vested with many chorales. The Postel St. John Passion of 1704 has been attributed to him although it has no chorale settings. Böhm’s St. Luke Passion, 1711, survives, as well as the librettos for a St. Matthew Passion, 1714, and a St. John Passion, about 1720. Spitta JSB2:510f, lists various liturgical chorale Passions (texts only), similar to the Kuhnau St. Mark Passion and the Bach apocryphal St. Luke Passion (see below). They are the Rudolstadt Passion, 1729 (28 chorales); Gera Passion, nd (25 chorales); Gotha St. Matthew Passion, 1707 (19); Schleiz Passion, 1729 (27 chorales); and Weißenfels Passion, 1733 (33). In these settings, no composer is listed and the lyrics involve hymns as well as Litany and Te Deum passages.

2. 1720. Johann Balthasar Christian Freißlich [Freislich, Fraißlich] (1687-1764) was a German composer, half-brother of Maximilian Dietrich Freißlich. In 1719 or 1720 he became director of the Hofkapelle in Sondershausen, where he wrote a St Matthew Passion (performed in 1720 at St John Church, Danzig) and later composed a Brockes Passion oratorio (1726).

3. 1721. Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722). BCW: Passion According to St Mark (Good Friday), 11 April 1721, lost, formerly RUS-KA (inc.). Spitta JSB2:336,491f: only a sketch survives, showing 18 arias as hymns in verse, and 20 suggested chorales, including the two in the Good Friday Vesper Service, “O Traurigkeit” and Gallus’ “Ecce quomodo.” Repeated in 1722 and possibly 1723.
BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Kuhnau-Johann.htm

4. 1723. Mattheson, (Postel) St. John oratorio Passion: “Das Lied des Lammes”; first performance? Palm Sunday (March 21), 1723; Hamburg Domkirche.

5. 1729. Fröber, Christoph Gottlieb (1704-59), BCW: UL 1726-1731; studied privately with Bach; 1731, became cantor Delitzsch, presented (?Bach’s) St. Mark Passion, 1735; composer of a Brockes Passion oratorio (?1729, Schweitzer JSB II:232: “On the same Good Friday (1729), at the same hour, there was performed at the New Church a Passion by a certain Gottlieb Fröber, a candidate for the vacant post of cantor there.” In 1729, Neukirche organist and music director G. B. Schott relinquished that post as well as the directorship of the Leipzig Collegium musicum (since 1720), replaced, respectively, by C.G. Gerlach and Bach. Schott in 1729 became cantor in Gotha, serving with Kapellmeiser Stölzel. (OCC:JSB). Fröber also is a possible candidate for authorship of the Bach apocryphal St. Luke Passion, BWV 246, c.1730-35.

6. 1730-35. Bach Apocryphal St. Luke Passion, BWV 246 Anh. II, 30: “Furcht und Zittern, Scham und Schmerzen.” Includes 32 chorale settings. Attributed to Johann Melchior Molter (1696-1765) or C.G. Fröber. BCW Discussion: May 8, 2011

 

Postel St. John Passion

Postel St. John Passion (first known; no chorales, da capo arias), HWV deest (attributed to Handel (Chrysander); attributed to Georg Böhm (1661-1733, Steinitz), Johann Mattheson (1681-1764, Baselt); Böhm, Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739), Christian Ritter (1646/50-after 1717); Handel Werke Werzeichnis, Spurious Listings; attributed to Ritter, Alfred Dürr, Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion: Genesis, Transmission, and Meaning.

Composed: Hamburg, 1700-1704; first performance Hamburg Dom Cathedral, Feb. 17, 1704 (Chrysander)

Text: John, Chapter 19 only;
Christian Heinrich Postel (also “William,” HA VXIV; “J.G.”, Chrysander IX). 13 madrigalian verses (arias); printed Berlin: Merseberg, 1959.

Scoring: SATB, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, strings, basso continuo (with bassoon).

Music: 66 movements: sinfonia, 31 narrative recitatives, accompanied recitative, 13 arias, 9 choruses, 11 ariosi

Sources:
Berlin Bibliothek (BB) Mus. Ms. 9001; contemporary Hamburg transcript from Georg Pölchau collection (Chrysander); copyist possibly same as score copyist of Keiser’s St. Mark Passion (Glöckner, dated “1720,” BB/SPK Mus. Ms. 11 471; CPE Bach Nachlass Verzeichnis, p. 87, from Georg Pölchau). ?J.S. Bach owner personal copy of Postel Passion (Bitter, lost).

Editions: score, F. Chrysander (Leipzig: Handel Ausgabe, 1860); abr. & rev. score, M. Diack (London: Patterson’s, 1932); score, F. Schrieder (Heidelberg: W. Müger (Berlin: Mersller, 1957); vocal score, H. Heilm 1958); [Böhm] vocal score, Madison A-R Editions (Yale Univ., Collegium Musicum Series, v. 3, 1971; ed. Beekman C. Cannon); English vocal score, K. Feller (Kassel/Basel): Bärenreiter; Leipzig: Deutsche Verlag für Musik (Hallische Händel-Ausgabe).

 

Mattheson St. John Passion

Das Lied des Lammes,” Postel text; Palm Sunday, 1723, Hamburg Domkirche (music director, 1718-28). Three chorale interpolations (Matthesson): P1, No 2. (after opening sonatina): Michael Weisse’s “Jesu, der du meine Selle” (from “Patris Sapienter, veritas divina”) (Weisse mel. 1553), verse 1 of the hymn, 1531 (Wackernagel, I, #342); Part 2, No. 33 (Part 2 opening chorus), Paul Gerhardt’s “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,” Stanza 7 (Hassler mel.); 45, Paul Gerhardt’s “Als Gottes Lamm und Leve,” Stanza 10 (anon. mel. 1542, “O Lamm Gottes Unschuldig).

Scoring: SATB, flauti dolci, oboe, chalmau, 2 ob. d’a, 2 bn., violins 1 & 2, viole di braccie 1 & 2, viole di gamba 1 & 2; vcli, violone, bc

Music: 69 movements (sinfonia, 31 narrative recitatives, accompanied recitative, 13 arias, 9 choruses, 11 ariosi, three chorales)

Source: autograph score, Hamburg Staats- und Universitätbibliotek, destroyed in WWII (figured bass unrealized).

Edition: [Böhm] vocal score, Madison A-R Editions (Yale Univ., Collegium Musicum Series, v. 3, 1971; ed. Beekman C. Cannon).

 

Postel St. John Passion Lyrical Movements

1704 Version numbering (Mattheson numbering with chorale inserts)

1. Sinfonia (1. Sonatina) (2.) Chorale chorus, Christus de runs Selig macht
3. (4)Aria S (S). Unsere Bosheit ohne Zahl text infuenced 245/19a
9. (8.) Duetto SS (Aria B). Schauet, mein Jesus ist Rosen zu gleichen (Hunold confirmed
Postel)
21.(14) Aria B, Jesus. Du hättest kein Macht über mir /
23. (16) Aria S (SB Duet). Durch dein Gefängnis text influenced 245/22
30. (21.) Aria B (da capo). Erschüttere mir Krachen
36. (25) Aria A (S). Getrost, mein Herz
42. (28.) Aria T. Du mu
ßt den Rock verlieren
48. (32) Duetto TT (bass/chs.). Welche sind des Heilands Erben? Lauter b
öse Kriegesknech
(Part 2)
(33.) Chorale Chorus, Es dient zu meinen Freuden
55. (35.) Aria S. Jesu, wonach dürstet dich (Hunold confirmed
Postel)
58. (37.) Aria B, O grosses Werk! Im Paradies schon angefangen, influenced 245/30
60. (39.) Aria S (B dal segno). Bebet, ihr Berge (Hunold confirmed
Postel) text influenced 245/15a
62. (41.) Duet SB (S Aria da capo). War das Wasser denn zu schlecht
64. (43.) Duetto (da capo). Ich gehe mit in's Grab
66. (45.) Coro (chorale chorus). Schlafe wohl nach deinen Leiden influenced 245/39

 

Literary Influences

Postel St. John Passion

Bach St. John Passion

No. 3 (S.ar.), Unsre bosheit ohne Zahl

No. 19a=245c, (T.ar.) Ach Windet euch nicht so

[Jn. 19:1, Pilate scourges Jesus)
a. Our evil ways without number

[Jn. 19:1, Pilate scourges Jesus]
a. Ah writhe (thou) not so,

 

b. Bei eurer Kreuzsangst und Qual
at your fear of the Cross and sorrow

 

c. . . . unermenße Zahl
. . . immense number

d. . . . Geißelqual
. . . scourging sorrow

d. . . . Der harten Geißelschläge zählen
. . . of the harsh scourging blows (counted)

No. 23(16). Durch dein Gefängnis, Through your imprisonment

22(40). (Same text)

No. 58 (B. aria), O großes Werk

No. 30(58) (A. aria), Es its vollbracht!

[Jn. 19:30 Jesus says:]

[Jn. 19:30 Jesus says:]

a. O great work,

a. It is accomplished.

e. that after the fight
he might say in triumph:
“It is accomplished.”

e. The hero from Judah triumphs with power
and brings the battle to a close.
It is accomplished.

No. 60(39) (S.ar.), Bebet, ihr Berge, zerberstet ihr Hügel

No. 15a (T.ar.), Himmel reiße, Welt erbebe*

[Jn. 19:37: Jesus dies, Postel follows with this aria referring to Matthew 27:51b, the earthquake in which Bach interpolates at the same place in S

[Jn. 18:27: Peter weeps bitterly [Bach may have placed this aria originally JP his 1717 Passion at the earthquake]

Quake, ye mountains, splinter ye crags

Heaven, tear apart; world, quake

No. 66(45) (chorus), Schafe wohl nach deinen Leiden

No. 39(67) (chorus) Ruht wohl, ihr heilige Gebeine**

Sleep well after your sufferings,

Rest well, you holy bones

*Not cited by Smend
** Also influenced by Brockes

 
 

Musical Influences of Postel (Serauky)

Postel St. John Passion

Bach St. John Passion

No. 1, Sinfonia
No. 13 (t.chs.), Sei gegrußet
No. 21 (Jesus ar.), Wenn sie dir nicht
No. 29 (t.ch.), Weg, weg, mit dem
No. 34 (t.chs.), Wir haben sie gesetz
No. 46 (acc. Evang.): Sie haben meine

No. 1. Chs., Herr, unser Herrscher
No. 21b/34 (t.chs.), Sei gegrußet
No. 21g/39 (Jesus rec.), Wenn sie dir nicht
No. 23d/44 (t.chs.), Weg, weg, mit dem
No. 21f, 38 (t.chs.), Wir haben ein gesetz)
No. 27e/55 (t.chs.), Sie haben meine Kleide

 

Sources of Other Lyrical Movements

BWV 245/13(19), tenor aria. Ach, mein Sinn, wo willt du endlich hin (WEISE); John 18:27 Peter weeps bitterly

Christian Weise (1642-1708)

Bach changes

“Der weinende Petrus”
Ach, mein Sinn,
Wo willt du endlich hin,
Wo soll ich mich erquicken?
Bleib ich hier,
Oder wünsch ich mir
Berg und Hügel auf den Rücken?*
Ausser find ich keinen Rath
Und im Herzen
Stehn die Schmerzen
Meiner Missetat,
Das der Knecht den Herren ganz verleugnet hat

(S. Franck, Spitta JSB German ed. Ii. 350)

*Ihr Felsen, reißt! ihr Berge, fallt!



Wo denckst du weiter hin,




Bei der Welt ist gar kein Rath,

Sind die Schmerzen

Weil der Knecht den Herrn verleugnet hat.

Bach BWV 245/13a=245b, tenor aria (1725)

*Zerschmettert mich, ihr Felsen und ihr Hügel

*Weise’s hymn stanza, “The Weeping Peter” (Leipzig 1675), and Franck’s stanza makes reference to Luke 23:28-30 when Jesus, beginning the via crucis, prophesies to the Women of Jerusalem not to weep for him but for themselves for a time will come “when people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Hide us!’ This incident in Jesus’ Passion occurs only in Luke’s Gospel.

 

Selectively Bibliography

Baselt, Bernard. “Händel und Bach: zur Frage der Passionen” in Johann Sebastian Bach und Georg Friedrich Händel. Halle: Martin-Luther Universität, 1975; pp. 58-66.

Bitter, C.H. Beiträge zur Geschichte des Oratoriums. Berlin: Verlag von R. Oppenheim, 1872, p. 93.

Chrysander, Friedrich. Händel-Ausgabe IX. Leipzig: 1860. English version: Händel-Ausgabe XV (German Handel Society) Leipzig: 1860.

Dürr, Alfred. Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion: Genesis, Transmission, and Meaning. 1988. English translation Alfred Clayton, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 44-46.

Glöckner, Andreas. “Johann Sebastian Bachs Aufführungnen Zeitgenössicher Passionsmusicken,” in Bach Jahrbuch 1977, pp. 48f.

Lang, Paul Henry. Georg Frideric Handel. New York: W.W. Norton, 1966; pp. 38-44.

Malina, Janos. “Georg Frideric Handel[?]: St. John Passion.” Budapest: Hungaraton recording CD 12908, 1987.

Mattheson, Johann. Critica musica (II, I et seq). 1722-25. Der Volkommene Cappellmeister. 1738.
Serauky, Walter. “Die Johannes Passion von Johann Sebastian Bach und ihr Vorbild,” in Bach Jahrbuch 1954, pp. 29ff.

Smend, Friedrich. Bach in Köthen. Berlin, 1951. Ed. & rev. Stephen Daw. Eng. Trans. John Page. St. Louis: Concordia, 1985; pp. 143-53.

Steinitz, Paul. Bach’s Passions. New York: Scribner’s, 1978; pp. 29, 99.

 

Recordings:

I have just finished the revised discography of Johannes-Passion BWV 245. The 8 pages (a page for a decade + a page for SJP sung in English) are linked from: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV245.htm 156 complete recordings are now presented in the discography pages of SJP (in the previous version there were 124). During the process of revising this discography, I have found 11 more recordings of SMP, which has now the amazing number of 170 complete recordings! Aryeh Oron, BCW.

 

Contributed by William Hoffman (March 20, 2010)

Johannes-Passion BWV 245: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001 | Sung in English | Individual Movements
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Systematic Discussions:
Part 1: Mvts. 1-7 | Part 2: Mvts. 6-14 | Part 3: Mvts. 15-20 | Part 4: Mvts. 21-26 | Part 5: Mvts. 27-32 | Part 6: Mvts. 36-40 | Part 7: Summary
Individual Recordings:
BWV 245 - F. Brüggen | BWV 245 - S. Cleobury | BWV 245 - P. Dombrecht | BWV 245 - D, Fasolis | BWV 245 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 245 - E.z. Guttenberg | BWV 245 - N. Harnoncourt-H. Gillesberger | BWV 245 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 245 - E. Higginbottom | BWV 245 - E. Jochum | BWV 245 - E. Kleiber | BWV 245 - P.J. Leusink | BWV 245 - H. Max | BWV 245 - P. McCreesh | BWV 245 - H. Münch | BWV 245 - P. Neumann | BWV 245 - A. Parrott | BWV 245 - P. Pickett | BWV 245 - K. Richter | BWV 245 - H. Rilling | BWV 245 - P. Schreier | BWV 245 - R. Shaw | BWV 245 - K. Slowik | BWV 245 - M. Suzuki | BWV 245 - J.v. Veldhoven
Articles:
Saint John Passion, BWV 245 [T.N. Towe] | The Passion of Saint John, BWV 245 [M. Steinberg] | St. John Passion [A. Wong & N. Proctor] | The St. John Passion on stage [U. Golomb] | Literary Origins of Bach’s St. John Passion: 1704-1717 [W. Hoffman]

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Last update: ýMarch 23, 2010 ý12:39:44