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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 101
Nimm von uns Herr, du treuer Gott
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Discussions in the Week of July 30, 2006 (2nd round)

Peter Smaill wrote (July 29, 2006):
BWV 101 "Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott" - Inro to Weekly Discussion

Week of 30 July, 2006

Cantata BWV 101, “Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott”, for the 10th Sunday after Trinity
1st performance: 13 August, 1724 - Leipzig
Second Annual Cantata Cycle, 1723-24 (Jahrgang II)

Main Cantata page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV101.htm
Previous Discussion:
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV101-D.htm

BWV 101 has long been considered of high musical significance, chiefly since its austere opening chorus combines both the motet-like setting of a modal chorale, an orchestral counterpoint motif, and a sequence of disjointed chromatic figurations, endlessly repeated, creating an intensely penitential atmosphere.

However, the work has also considerable theological importance. On the surface it is another warning, as in prior year’s cantata for this Sunday, BWV 46Schauet doch”, to the Leipzigers of the fate of Jerusalem in 60 AD , a gloss on the Gospel and on the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, “Jerusalems Verstörung” read out on this day appointed.

On a deeper level it is in a sense Passion music. The evidence for this interpretation is, firstly, the choice by the librettist of a chiastic structure for the work, which frequently is associated with Calvary. Secondly, the key section, the Duet BWV 101/6, is again a quirky odd number of lines, 9 in all consisting of an identical opening and closing Spruch , “Gedenk an Jesu bittern Tod!” (“Remember Jesus’ bitter death”).

The seven interior lines thus focus on the central dictum, “Die Zahlung und die Lösegeld”:

“Take, O Father, Your son’s sorrows
And his wounds pain to heart!
They are indeed for the whole world
|Payment and ransom; “

In this Bach’s librettist is expressing to the fullest extent the Latin doctrine of the Passion and atonement; the view, originating in St Anselm, that the crucified Christ is being offered by humanity to God as propitiation for since; only He being an offering sufficient to God to efface the sins of the whole world.

This emphasis, as has been pointed out by Jaroslav Pelikan (“Bach among the Theologians”) and also Michael Marissen, is very different from the classic “Christus Victor” images of the Risen Christ, triumphant over death, sinners, centurions and all the panoply of human power structures, the sort of medieval idea of the “Harrowing of Hell”. The Victor is much apparent breaking his bonds of imprisonment in BWV 4, Christ Lag in Todesbanden, but especially at the centre of the chiastic structure of the SJP (BWV 245), in “Durch deine gefägnis”.

The point is that Bach emphatically sets the Latin theology of “satisfaction” in BWV 101 very soon after the SJP and long before the SMP (BWV 244). However, since he re-uses BWV 4 and the SJP (BWV 245) after this time, both he and the librettists were content to interpret the meaning of the crucifixion in either way.

Note that the librettist has changed the first line of the chorale text paraphrased in BWV 101/7, from “Gedenk an deins Sohns bittern Tod!” to “Gedenk an Jesu Bittern Tod”. This creates a powerful ambivalence; Is it God the Father who is to remember Christ’s bitter death; or sinful man? Or both, recalling the sense of the Lutheran doctrine, “simul peccator et iustus?” Musically, the expression is accompanied by a trope or circulatio, an elaboration noted by Timothy A Smith as frequently recurring in passages in Bach dealing with the Passion. (http://jan.ucc.edu/|tas3/pubs/circ/circulatio.html).

Finally, in the tense, close compass of the orchestral motif which opens BWV 101/1, is there not a prefiguring of the SMP’s (BWV 244) initial orchestral figure in the Chorus, “O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig” ? Even the bass line includes a musically chiastic seven note passage.

Quotations from Selected Commentaries

Robertson:
(Mvt. 1) This is one of Bach’s most austere and splendid choruses.
(Mvt. 6) The chorale melody, but not all of it, is woven into this beautiful duet, a heartfelt plea for mercy at all times and a realization of the payment and the ransom money the love of the Saviour gladly gave for us.

Whittaker:
(Mvt. 1) The fantasia is utterly different from everything else in the cantatas. At first it is strongly repellent; one feels that gloom and grimness have completely negatived beauty, but as one becomes familiar with it that opinion disappears, and in performance it is overwhelming in its almost superhuman intensity.
(Mvt. 6) is a very elaborately worked quintet. It is inscrutable at first acquaintance and reveals its beautifully intimate qualities only after lengthy familiarity, it is in 12/8, with many poignant leaning tones and much involved harmony…”pein” is sung to long , slow descending chromatics.

Daw:
Cantata No. 101, “Nimm von uns” , has a magnificently proportioned opening chorus of motet-like solemnity combined with highly dramatic rhythmic momentum: it anticipates something of the spirit of the funeral motet, “O Jesum Christ, meins Lebens Licht” (No.118).

Leaver (in Boyd):
The second movement opens up a ray of hope that enlightens the dark presence of judgement. The lightness of the flute obbligato (replaced at a later performance, probably some time after 1735, by a violin) seems to be completely at variance with the tenor, who prays for God to deal kindly with the sinner.
The concluding chorale prays that “our town” may be blessed, in contrast to the fate of Jerusalem.

Dürr:
The second aria is quite exceptional in form owing to Bach’s attempt to unite a passionately dramatic concertante aria (‘vivace’) with a part-vocal and part-instrumental quotation of every chorale line (‘andante’).

Outstanding Questions

The treatment of three movements – 101/1, 2 and 6 is very unconventional by comparison with the rest of the oeuvre.

Poetically, the reprise of the line “Remember Jesus’ bitter Death”, on which I argue the Cantata turns, is rare outside Chorales inherited with a repeat of the first line (cf. BWV 55/3; BWV 170/3, by Lehms and also of 9 lines in total). For BWV 101/6, Bach creates an unusual ABA structure.

We thus can argue chiastic pattern as follows:
-the overall shape of the Cantata (Leaver analyses this)
-the Bass line in BWV 101/1
-the literary structure of BWV 101/6
-the musical structure of the same

Why did Bach and his librettist go to such esoteric lengths to create structural pattern in BWV 101?

Finally, for those with access especially to the Harnoncourt version, listen to the sequence of the vigorously repeated orchestral chromatic figure which occurs twice in the later development of the chorus. The bows literally rip against the strings again and again; does this attaco figure not bring to mind the words, “and with his stripes we are healed”, as well as the sense of the “schwere straf” (“severe punishment”) due to those who have sins without number?

============================================================

I look forward to contributions on the subject of this powerful and multi-faceted work in which par excellence Bach illustrates the analysis of Alfred Einstein:

“The art of the Bach cantata is an exposition of the foundations and principles of the Christian faith, and none more searching or inexorable, deeper or more precise, has ever been. The temporal life and the eternal, works and faith, mortality and death, sin and repentance, suffering and salvation- all the emotions and inspirations of the Christian soul exalted this, the greatest of preachers since Luther, not to theological abstractions but to a passionate presentation by symbolic means of an incomparably vivid musical imagination”.

============================================================

Additional Resources

Structure (per Robertson)

1 Chorus SATB
2 Aria T
3 Recitative and Chorale S
4 Aria B
5 Recitative and Chorale T
6 Duet S/A
7 Chorale SATB

Libretto:

Anon; possibly Andreas Stübel (per Wolff)

Chorale:

Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott”, by Martin Moller (1584) (Vv. i ii v vii) with its associated melody, “Vater Unser in Himmelreich
Chorale Text:
See : http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale050-Eng3.htm
Chorale Melody:
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Vater-unser-im-Himmelreich.htm

Text:

See: http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~wfb/cantatas/101.html
English Translation:
See: http://www.uvm.edu/~classics/faculty/bach/BWV101.html
Other translations:
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV101.htm

Scoring:

Choir: SATB
Instruments: 2 Ob, 2 Vn, Va, Bc.; Fl trav, Cornetto, Trb I, ii, iii

Liturgical Comments:

Written for the 10th Sunday after Trinity
Other Cantatas written for this Sunday
BWV 46, “Schauet doch und sheet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, wie mein Schmerz” (1723)
BWV 102, “Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben! (1726)

Texts of Readings:

Epistle: 1 Cor. XII 1-11 (Spiritual gifts are diverse)
Gospel: Luke XIX. 41-48 (Jesus weeps over Jerusalem)
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Trinity10.htm

Piano Vocal Score: (free PDF download)
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV101.htm

Recordings
:
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV101.htm

Music (free streaming download):
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Mus/BWV101-Mus.htm

Commentaries:
http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/101.html

Performances of Bach Cantatas:
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Concerts/Concert-2006.htm

Order of Discussion (2006)
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Order-2006.htm

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 31, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< discussing the weekly cantatas. BWV 101?? interesting work?? Provocative intro from Peter? Any responses???? >
Just a reminder of the following, which had slipped by my focus, as well. Archived with the Suzuki series [6] reviews.

Thomas Shepherd wrote (July 19, 2006): (re Suzuki, Vol. 31 [6])
< To my mind the high point of this CD is BWV 101. It was a revelation from beginning to end. In the last round of discussions, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV101-D.htm Thomas Braatz was anxious that there were no recordings of the second movement, the Tenor aria with flute (the original instrument for this movement). Previous recordings have used a violin. Let us hope Thomas is content with the gentle playing of Liliko Maeda. The flute emphasises what a sublimy melancholic and lovely movement it is. However the great revelation in this cantata is the duet "Gedenk an Jesu bittern Tod!" which is another of those masterpieces hidden in the cantatas. Another movement for the top draw. >
I have been a little disappointed in the lack of discussion, after the long flute thread earlier in the year, and much discussion in the archives. Not too late for flautists to catch up!

I will be posting some comments re BWV 101, Harbison [1] and Leusink [5]. I agree, provocative intro, and much good discussion from the first round.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 1, 2006):
BWV 101

BWV 101---the 10th cantata of the cycle. I had not intended contributing comments about this unique cantata, preferring to sit back and hear what others have to say. But apparently some members have been looking forward to some discussion of which there hasn't been much to date and I have been asked, off list, by a couple of them to provide some comments. It would seem a pity to gloss over this work which is really terrific---although I admit it may not be the easiest to 'get into' at first.

Below is an edited and shortened extract from a longer essay, picking out a few points which may be of interest to some.

1 The magnificent opening movement. Boyd (p 316) refers to this 'austere and grave choral fantasia' claiming that it is almost unique in Bach's works. Here he is in agreement with Schweitzer (vol 2 p376) 'we cannot help wishing that Bach had left us more chorale-choruses of this type'. Schweitzer has his criticisms of other aspects of the work as we shall see, but any examination of the opening chorus is at least reinforced by united critical views of its exceptional quality.

This is a movement of epic scale, lasting around eight minutes in performance. It is in D minor, the key of the double violin concerto and one upon which Bach was want to call for choruses of particular gravity (see for example the magnificent opening chorus of Cantata BWV 108, towards the end of the cycle). The massive thirty bar ritornello (it is, despite the fantasia-like suggestion, a strict ritornello/concerto form movement) comes at the beginning and end and, additionally, provides the material for five episodes separating the choral phrases. The cantus firmus is articulated in augmented notes by the sopranos, preceded by a preparation created by the three imitative lower voices. Thus is the scale and shape of the movement clearly determined from the very beginning; it is devised, both in its macro and micro structure with the attention to detail of a complex battle plan.

Bach's penchant for indulging in powerful chromatic harmony over a marching crotchet bass is well in evidence. All these elements combine to create a highly distinctive soundscape of deeply moving intensity.

And it is the harmony which grips us and does much to convey the starkness and desolation of a conquered city laid low with war, plague and fire. This is a landscape of despair and misery, made particularly poignant through the highly dissonant clashes first appearing in the ritornello but intensified with the entries of the lower voices. The dipping three-note figure which emerges in wind and violins, accompanied by rhythmically bare chords, intensifies the feelings of dejection and isolation. In typically Bachian fashion this motive is extended to form two of the later ritornello episodes and it also forms much of the material for the instrumental accompaniment to the voices, constantly producing iridescent flashes of momentary dissonance. The text is a heartfelt plea to remove our punishments and miseries and keep us from war, plague and pestilence. We hear the entreaties of the afflicted and we see the barren world of war-torn despair. This is a powerful tone poem of human wretchedness.

2 The central position of the bass aria is significant. 'Why are you so angry?' it enquires;----be patient with us and restrain your punishments which bear down on us like flames. Bach clearly gave a great deal of thought to this exceptionally constructed aria. It begins (and ends) a furious ritornello wrought from contrary motion scales; three oboes against the bass line depict the flames of fury. We may be temporarily deluded into thinking that this will be an aria in the same mould as that of the 'staggering reason' from Cantata BWV 178, heard by the congregation a fortnight before. But we would be wrong! The moment the bass voice enters, the tempo relaxes, the complex texture dissolves, and the singer articulates the touching question--- why are you so infuriated with us? It is a phrase of enormous poignancy, partly due to its unexpectedness, partly because it is sung to the chorale's first line and partly because of the drooping, sighing-like accompaniment. The flames return: but so, again, does the question, this time extended into a recitative-like line of great sadness.

Then we come to the plea: withhold your punishments and be patient with our weaknesses. An extended arioso section articulates this entreaty with uncomplicated simplicity. Touches of the chorale hover about in both vocal and instrumental lines and the flames also flicker from time to time; but they are now subsiding. But they shall return, completing the movement as it began and reminding us that God's wrath may be both extensive and ongoing. A touching and almost naïve question and a sincere and a simple, childlike plea emerging from the conflagration of Divine wrath. Bach encapsulates them all at the epi-centre of the cantata.

3 As we approach the fifth movement we should, perhaps, spend a moment defending Bach against Schweitzer's waspish attack which I quoted on list last week. As in the third movement, the division of lines into chorale phrases and recitative is neither arbitrary or lacking in artistic judgment. The chorale phrases are used to declaim the moral, the recitative in order to insert more colloquial comment Thus, from the beginning we find;

Sin has seriously injured us (chorale)
Even the most righteous must tearfully admit this (recitative)
The devil continues to plague us (chorale)
Yes, this murderer, like the lion, seeks to devour us (recitative)

And so on, until the end. It becomes an easily approachable discourse, unified and emotionally intensified by the extraordinarily expressive continuo line. It continues to state the premise but with inserted comments verging on the vernacular. One wonders if Schweitzer consider it 'excessively tasteless' because he viewed it as an early example of dumbing down! The process is similar to that of the 3rd movement where the chorale phrases articulate particular supplications to the Lord to help and sustain us. The recitative lines offer examples of how and in what circumstances God's aid might be most needed. Careful thought has been given to the different emphases, which Bach's setting underlines. Schweitzer seems to have missed this point.

4 The penultimate movement is one of the fourteen duets from the cycle. It calls upon God (and man?) not to forget Christ's painful death and, through his sacrifice, to grant us mercy and absolution It returns us to D minor, the key of the cantata and reminds us just how little of the major key we have had in this essentially sorrowful work. The scholar will note Bach's own phrasing which accentuates the falling two note appoggiaturas and consequently the sense of lamentation which lies at the heart of the movement.

This is an aria of such exquisite beauty that it almost seems impertinent to describe or analyse it; best just to listen and enjoy it.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 1, 2006):
BWV 101 Partita cantata

Julian Mincham wrote:
< BWV 101---the 10th cantata of the cycle 1 The magnificent opening movement. Boyd (p 316) refers to this 'austere and grave choral fantasia' claiming that it is almost unique in Bach's works. >
This is an extraordinary cantata, primarily because of use of the chorale in nearly every movement. It reminded me of "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" in its approach to the chorale. In fact, the dominance of D minor makes me wonder if Bach has a set of partita variations in mind. We encountered much the same structure earlier this year (the cantata humber has slipped my mind - help?). The fragmentation and free variations on the chorale melody is quite similar to the organ partitas on "O Gott du frommer Gott" and "Wer nur den lieben Gott". Is the "partita cantata" a "genre" within the chorale cantata category?

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 1, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< BWV 101 - This is an extraordinary cantata, primarily because of use of the chorale in nearly every movement. It reminded me of "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" in its approach to the chorale. In fact, the dominance of D minor makes me wonder if Bach has a set of partita variations in mind. We encountered much the same structure earlier this year (the cantata humber has slipped my mind - help?). >

Julian Mincham wrote (July 1, 2006):
< By this I mean that the unification of BWV 93 comes from the fact that the chorale tune, or phrases of it, were used in every one of the movements. >
Is this the one you are recalling?

Julian Mincham wrote (August 1, 2006):
In my earlier listing today I compared the BWV 101 Dm chorale fantasia to that of BWV 108 (the 46th cantata from the same cycle)

This of course was a silly blunder, as anyone who looks at the key signatures will immediately spot--obviously my numerology let me down! The work I intended to compare it with was BWV 109, Ich glaube, lieber Herr, which comes a third of the way through the first cycle. Apologies for the error--a simple failure to proof read carefully..

I do actually know the difference between A major and D minor---really, I do!

Julian Mincham wrote (August 1, 2006):
Douglas Cowling weote:
< This is an extraordinary cantata, primarily because of use of the chorale in nearly every movement. It reminded me of "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" in its approach to the chorale. In fact, the dominance of D minor makes me wonder if Bach has a set of partita variations in mind. We encountered much the same structure earlier this year (the cantata humber has slipped my mind - help?). The fragmentation and free variations on the chorale melody is quite similar to the organ partitas on "O Gott du frommer Gott" and "Wer nur den lieben Gott". Is the "partita cantata" a "genre" within the chorale cantata category? >
It's an interesting idea, Certainly Bach used clear suite movement structures in many of the cantatas--the flute gavotte from BWV 130 is one of many examples. As to a 'partita cantata' genre I'm not sure. For one thing the partitas and suites tended to have all movements in the same key, a practice that Bach had pretty much dispensed with at this stage (can't offhand think of any apart from BWV 4 of course) Also the chorale fantasia of BWV 101 is nothing like any opening movement Bach had used for suites or partitas.

Having said this there is an awful lot of D minor in BWV 101--movements 1, 3, 5, 6 and 7 are in D minor--leaving only 2 (Gm) and 4 (A m)---precious little 'major' relief. (It's also interesting to note Bach's 'tragic' use of Dm in this work as opposed to the highly energetic uses of it in the outer movements of the violin double, the Dm concerti for one and three keyboards, the (probably reconstructed) concerto for oboe and violin etc).

No doubt that he brought suite patterns into the cantatas--as to whether he conceived of them being 'partita cantatas' or not seems an open question with arguments on both side.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 1, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Having said this there is an awful lot of D minor in BWV 101--movements 1, 3, 5, 6 and 7 are in D minor--leaving only 2 (Gm) and 4 (A m)---precious little 'major' relief. >
I was really struck by the constant presence of D minor and wondered if there any other cantatas which have a similar harmonic pattern. The motet. "Jesu Meine Freude" has a heavy reliance on D minor.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 1, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I was struck by the constant presence of D minor and wondered if there any other cantatas which have a similar harmonic pattern >
BWV 109 is closest I can find at the moment. Movements 1, 6, which are the longest and most extended are in Dm. 4 ends in Dm The other important keys are Em abd F maj.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 2, 2006):
BWV 101

Neil Halliday (July 16, re BWV 178) wrote:
< Rilling allots the chorale sections of the following movement to the choir altos (in answer to Ed's question re the same situation in BWV 93, there is no indication for this in the score). >
Harbison/CantataSingers [1] use the same method in the soprano and tenor recitative and chorale movements, BWV 107/3 & 5, choir section alternating with soloist. I find it a very interesting and effective alternative, whatever its authenticity, clearly setting off the chorale tune. Do we have any idea where it originated?

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 3, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< BWV 101---the 10th cantata of the cycle. I had not intended contributing comments about this unique cantata, preferring to sit back and hear what others have to say. But apparently some members have been looking forward to some discussion of which there hasn't been much to date and I have been asked, off list, by a couple of them to provide some comments. >
Your comments are very illuminating, always. Everyone has an opportunity to post, whenever and whatever they want. No reason to hold back your own ideas, unless you need (or want) the moment to sit back. I started to send this off list, but why?

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 3, 2006):
Neil Halliday (July 16, re BWV 178) wrote:
>>Rilling allots the chorale sections of the following movement to the choir altos (in answer to Ed's question re the same situation in BWV 93, there is no indication for this in the score).<<
wherupon Ed Myskowski (Aug 2) wrote:
>>Harbison/CantataSingers [1] use the same method in the soprano and tenor recitative and chorale movements, BWV 101/3 & 5, choir section alternating with soloist. I find it a very interesting and effective alternative, whatever its authenticity, clearly setting off the chorale tune. Do we have any idea where it originated?<<
If this is a question about using more than one singer per vocal part where a solo voice seems to be indicated, then I would call your attention to Albert Schweitzer's recommendation on p. 466 of "J.S. Bach" Vol. 2, Dover, 1966 (translation by Ernest Newman from the 1911 edition): "Many duets and trios are so simple that, as has already been pointed out, they could be sung by the choir with several voices to each part...." If you listen carefully to Günther Ramin's recordings with the Thomanerchor (broadcast over radio in the early 50's, I believe), you will hear 3 or 4 boys singing the same solo part, sounding almost like a single voice (I believe that even a mvt. marked 'Aria' was once performed this way by Ramin.) Almost certainly Karl Richter and Helmut Rilling were following an 'old' performance 'tradition' that can be traced back at least to the beginning of the 20th century. However, how reliable is this tradition if it cannot be traced back directly to Bach's actual performance practices, regarding which so little is known for certain?

Here are only a few references to previous discussions of this matter:

BWV 140/4 Tenor aria - later transcribed by Bach for organ and appearing in the Schübler collection (Is this famous setting of a chorale melody sung by a soloist, a few select tenors from the choir, or the entire tenor section (possibly of a large choir such as Richter's?):
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV140-D4.htm

BWV 179/5 Aria-Duett Ramin's treatment is discussed here:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV79-D.htm

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 3, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< If this is a question about using more than one singer per vocal part where a solo voice seems to be indicated >
That was the question, precisely. Thanks for the references.

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 3, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Outstanding Questions
The treatment of three movements - BWV 101/1, 2 and 6 is very unconventional by comparison with the rest of the oeuvre.
Poetically, the reprise of the line "Remember Jesus' bitter Death", on which I argue the Cantata turns, is rare outside Chorales inherited with a repeat of the first line (cf.
BWV 55/3; BWV 170/3, by Lehms and also of 9 lines in total). For BWV 101/6, Bach creates an unusual ABA structure.
We thus can argue chiastic pattern as follows:
the overall shape of the Cantata (Leaver analyses this)
-the Bass line in BWV 101/1
-the literary structure of BWV 101/6
-the musical structure of the same
Why did Bach and his librettist go to such esoteric lengths to create structural pattern in BWV 101?
Finally, for those with access especially to the Harnoncourt version, listen to the sequence of the vigorously repeated orchestral chromatic figure which occurs twice in the later development of the chorus. The bows literally rip against the strings again and again; does this attaco figure not bring to mind the words, "and with his stripes we are healed", as well as the sense of the "schwere straf" ("severe punishment") due to those who have sins without number?
I look forward to contributions on the subject of this powerful and multi-faceted work in which par excellence Bach illustrates the analysis of Alfred Einstein:
"The art of the Bach cantata is an exposition of the foundations and principles of the Christian faith, and none more searching or inexorable, deeper or more precise, has ever been. The temporal life and the eternal, works and faith, mortality and death, sin and repentance, suffering and salvation- all the emotions and inspirations of the Christian soul exalted this, the greatest of preachers since
Luther, not to theological abstractions but to a passionate presentation by symbolic means of an incomparably vivid musical imagination". >
This is a head scratcher for sure. I'd look at this cantata as belonging to the Old Testament branch of the family. The English translation on the web page notes that the original hymn was composed during plague and one could easily interpret this as being a plea for help against earthly woe in addition to the inevitable peril created by original sin. The fall of Jerusalem I would think refers to the Babylonian conquest, not the 70AD revolt for two reasons: 1) the revolt against Rome is not mentioned in scripture - an omission that has caused considerable controversy among modern historians of the early Church, 2) the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon was viewed as punishment to the wayward people of Israel and cost them their freedom, their capital and their most holy relics: it would be a clear metaphor for earthly woe resulting from sinful behavior. You also get a clear distinction between needing help both here and in the afterlife:

Wohn uns mit deiner Güte bei
Stay with us with your kindness
Und gib, daß wir
and grant that we
Nur nach dem Guten streben,
may strive only after what is good,
Damit allhier
so that here
Und auch in jenem Leben
and also in the life to come
Dein Zorn und Grimm fern von uns sei.
your anger and rage may be far from us.

And considered the context of the end of Mvt. 5 that the first line of aria Mvt. 6 is indeed a plea for the Father to remember the death of his son: the last lines of the same movement make it clear that the sinner is doing likewise. It does indeed sound as though some of the teachings of Mother Church have crept in here. Not typical Luther is it?

PetSmaill wrote (August 4, 2006):
[To Eric Bergerud]
Returned from France and happy to report that the Cantata tradition is alive and well in Provence - a splendid rendering of BWV 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," conducted with verve by Bernard Viti and le Choeur Domitia in the ancient cathedral of Apt, where lie the bones of St Anne according to Charlemagne himself. With BWV 112, "Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt" promised for next year, and an OVPP/period instrument BWV 106 near Les Baux this time around, it is an area much to be recommended for the number and variety of music events of a high order in the summer.

Back to BWV 101. The presumption that it recalls the destruction of Jerusalem in around AD 70 drives from the unique position of Josephus' eyewitness account being read out on the 10th Sunday after Trinity, perhaps in a sense precisely because there was no Bible account of it , and yet the event fulfilled the (seemingly blasphemous) prediction of Jesus, which occurs in Holy Week, that the Temple would be destroyed.

The key duet, BWV 101/6, emphasises that the offering of Jesus to God has replaced the Old Testament-inspired sacrifice of sheep to the deity. In other words,it follows Josephus' account with the doctrine of the religion that is
intended to fulfil, if not replace, Judaism following the destruction of the Temple.

Sensing Mother Church at the back of the "satisfaction" theology is a point agreed by Pelikan: "the Anselmic doctrine of redemption as satisfaction through the blood of Christ is a crimson thread that runs through Bach's "Passion according to St Matthew (BWV 244) from beginning to end...Bach reached across and over the Reformation to the Middle Ages." And yet, other Lutherans did too-particularly the librettist Erdmann Neumeister in his book 'Solid Proof that Christ Jesus has rendered Satisfaction for Us and our Sins." Pelikan goes on "That was not only Neumeister's doctrine of the atonement, it was the consensus of Protestant orthodox dogmatics across confessions and denominations at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century."

St Thomas' congregation would have not really in my interpretation have referred to themselves as "Lutherans" at this stage, though he was considered a very great figure; they believed themselves to be simply the Church, part of an unbroken tradition but subject to reform.So it is perhaps not that surprising that Bach and the librettists are free to derive doctrines and plainsong from the time of the unified western Church.

On this point, the satisfaction doctrine, there was indeed no break with Rome.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 4, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< St Thomas' congregation would have not really in my interpretation have referred to themselves as "Lutherans" at this stage, though he was considered a very great figure; they believed themselves to be simply the Church, part of an unbroken tradition but subject to reform.So it is perhaps not that surprising that Bach and the librettists are free to derive doctrines and plainsong from the time of the unified western Church.
On this point, the satisfaction doctrine, there was indeed no break with Rome. >
Stiller's book on devotional practice suggests that there was popular continuity in Catholic praxis as well: mass every Sunday, continued use of Latin, vestments, private confession. It is little wonder that Händel fit into the church music establishment so quickly in Catholic Italy.

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 4, 2006):
[To Peter Smaill] I stand corrected concerning the fall of Jerusalem. I'm still unclear as to the symbolism though. The destruction of the Holy City by Babylon could be taken as a clear warning that those neglecting the Lord were taking a serious chance with life & limb as well as soul. But how would Christians read the Jewish revolt and Rome's retaliation? Who is committing what sin? Were the Jews being punished for not following Christ, or were the Romans playing the role of Babylon, making things hot for sinners in general? I was also operating under the assumption that Christ's claim that he could rebuild the temple in three days found in John was thought by the Church to refer to the Resurrection. Missed something somewhere I guess. Not for the first time.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 4, 2006):
Quotations from Selected Commentaries (from the introduction by Peter Smaill.
< Daw:
Cantata No. 101, "Nimm von uns" , has a magnificently proportioned opening chorus of motet-like solemnity combined with highly dramatic rhythmic momentum. >
That is a sentence I wish I had written first. It captures the feeling of Harbison/Cantata Singers [1], timed at a stately 8:37. Compare with Leusink [5] at 5:56. The first time I played these through, without preparation, I at first thought I had picked out the wrong Leusink disc.

< Leaver (in Boyd):
The second movement opens up a ray of hope that enlightens the dark presence of judgement. The lightness of the flute obbligato (replaced at a later performance, probably some time after 1735, by a violin) seems to be completely at variance with the tenor, who prays for God to deal kindly with the sinner. >

RoseMary Harbison [1] does her best to provide that lightness on violin, quite successfully to my ears. Any further comments on the flute in Suzuki [6], by anyone?

An outstanding feature of the Harbison [1] is the use of choir sections for the chorale lines in BWV 101/3 & 5 (I mentioned this previously, incorrectly identified as BWV 107, the comment is correctly filed under BWV 101). The continuo volume is appropriately varied as well, to maintain good balance, creating what I find a very individual and effective interpretation. See Tom Braatz posts for background and references on this method. Plenty of church organ with Harbison, for those on the 16' thread.

If there is a weakness in Harbison [1], it is the S/A duet, BWV 101/6. Not with the singers, necessarily, although the female operatic style, with vibrato, will not be to everyone's taste. I certainly find it enjoyable, especially since it accurately represents live performances, and I can't hear too much D'Anna Fortunato. But the flute line does get overwhelmed. Tom Braatz noted the same problem with Leusink [5], with more delicate (reedy) singers, in the 2002 discussions. Aryeh suggested (2002) a quintet structure rather than duet, with best balance achieved by Koopman [4]. Does Suzuki [6] do as well?

I have already made a few comments on the overall balance and engineering of the Harbison [1], with respect to the couplings, BWV 7 and BWV 44. If you want to read negative comments about the Leusink performance [5], see 2002, I do not need to add any. I find him second best to Harbison in all respects, in direct comparisons. The central B aria, BWV 101/4 is a possible exception. But if I put the Leusink CD on for a complete play through, it is quite enjoyable. The lighter, more transparent textures are consistent with the quicker tempos, the performance is internally consistent, and matches up well with the rest of his very serviceable set. I expect to eventually add Suzuki [6], or possibly Koopman [4].

 

Raymond Joly wrote (August 4, 2006):
Symbolism [was: Cantata BWV 101 "Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott" ]

I suppose we are all aware that the beautiful thing about symbolism is that every symbol can be made to mean anything and the opposite. By which I do not want to discourage research into the meanings most likely to have been intended by Bach. I supposno better instrument for that can be found than the use the symbols are put to in the liturgy. But let us be prepared to have the meaning shimmering from one poet, one Superintendent, one congregation, one week to the other. Symbolism has to do with words and images, not with concepts (and those of theology are certainly as eel-like as any to begin with).

Peter Smaill wrote (August 4, 2006):
[To Eric Bergerud] Since the emergence of the new Christian religion from (but substantially incorporating) Judaism, is at the heart of many Cantata texts including BWV 101 as well as the theology of the SMP (BWV 244), the topic of the destruction of Jerusalem is germane to understanding the intention of the Lutheran pastors and Bach himself in these works .

Here is my take on this theme and it is not far removed from the Biblical sources you choose .

The earlier destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians does indeed resonate with the NT prediction of Jesus and Josephus' historical account, because it was traditionally attributed to a loss of strict religion and obedience amongst certain of the tribes of Judah. Jerusalem had finally been taken by King David and established as the Royal City as well as the site of the Temple and so its loss was of immense significance.

After the death of Solomon, however, the tribes fragmented due to the revolt of Jeroboam who set up a separate kingdom of Israel with its capital at Shechem. Thereafter Jerusalem was lost many times in a succession of wars. In the reign of Zedekiah, the last of the direct line of kings, Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, pillaged the city but worst of all destroyed the Temple.

So Jesus' statement that he would "destroy the Temple and rebuild in three days" struck at the heart of the existing religious order for whom even the mention of such an event was an utter calamity. However, modern theologians such as Geza Vermes would argue that Christ's purpose was symbolic, to shift Judaism away from formal observances, including taboos on work (in his case, healing on the Sabbath), towards inner purity, spontaneous loving actions, keeping the purity of religion and submission to conscience rather than formularies - so that, as it were, Jews became better Jews.

The parallel with the Roman destruction by Titus in AD 70 is that it was taken by the Christian world indeed to be the consequence of a religious failure, just as spiritual disunity had weakened Israel prior to the Babylonian invasion. Josephus was inclined to accept Roman authority and the undercurrent in the cause of the Jewish rebellion of 66-73 AD is the rejection of Jesus' passivist doctrine of "rendering unto Caesar what is Caesars."

The message therefore to the burghers of Leipzig, hearing the Gospel with Jesus' prediction of the destruction and the account of the driving of the moneylenders from the Temple, is that they too must avoid corrupting their religion (cf Rome), obey authority, and realise that Christ paid the penalty which humanity owes to God for its sinfulness. The material of the Cantata is thus pivotal to the claims of Christianity and henece, IMO, the intensity of the structural underpinnings and exceptional musical construction.

Just as Bach premeditated the quality and complexity of the Passions, thus does he react to the text of BWV 101 in creating a truly outstanding composition.

Peter Smaill wrote (August 4, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] Not only did Händel fit in to catholic Italy, so did J S Bach's youngest son Johann Christian (1735-82), who became a Roman Catholic by 1757, and organist of Milan Cathedral in 1760. In 1770 he conducted the Pergolesi Stabat Mater in London, which his father had adapted and introduced to Germany.

Buried in (protestant/anglican) St Pancras Churchyard in London.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 4, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< The parallel with the Roman destruction by Titus in AD 70 is that it was taken by the Christian world indeed to be the consequence of a religious failure, just as spiritual disunity had weakened Israel prior to the Babylonian invasion. Josephus was inclined to accept Roman authority and the undercurrent in the cause of the Jewish rebellion of 66-73 AD is the rejection of Jesus' passivist doctrine of "rendering unto Caesar what is Caesars."
The message therefore to the burghers of
Leipzig , hearing the Gospel with Jesus' prediction of the destruction and the account of the driving of the moneylenders from the Temple, is that they too must avoid corrupting their religion (cf Rome), obey authority, and realise that Christ paid the penalty which humanity owes to God for its sinfulness. The material of the Cantata is thus pivotal to the claims of Christianity and henece, IMO, the intensity of the structural underpinnings and exceptional musical construction. >
As a historical sidebar which was unknown to Bach, both 1st century Orthodox Jews and and Jewish Christians often attributed to the Fall of Jerusalem in 72 C.E. to personal sin and unworthiness in words which echoed the Fall of Jerusalem under the Babylonians.

Although the belief that the Fall in 72 C.E. was the God's punishment for the death of Christ became common with 4th century patristic historians and theologians, that particular event strangely did not enter the New Testament writings except obliquely, even though all the books were written afterwards.

What did enter Christian thought was the traditional belief that the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem was an admonition to personal repentance. The huge popularity of the Lamentations of Jeremiah as a text for Holy Week created a musical genre which lasted from the early 16th centtury to the late Baroque period -- Palestrina, Tallis and Couperin wrote superb settings.

If Bach knew the repertoire of the royal Dresden Catholic Chapel, he would have known this tradition. Although there is not a direct connection with this tradition, the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with its "Daughters of Sion" literary construct has many echoes of the Lamentations which begin in the opening chorus. The allusions in this cantata echo many of these allegorical traditions.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 4, 2006):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Not only did Händel fit in to catholic Italy, so did J S Bach's youngest son Johann Christian (1735-82), who became a Roman Catholic by 1757, and organist of Milan Cathedral in 1760. In 1770 he conducted the Pergolesi Stabat Mater in London, which his father had adapted and introduced to Germany. >
I often wonder what Bach's musical legacy would have been like if he had succeeded in the Dresden application and become a composer of Catholic genres. This list might have had to be the 'Bach Cantatas & Masses' list.

Imagine if Bach had written settings of Dixit Dominus and Laudate Pueri for Vespers (as Händel did) and grandiose settings of the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament and Regina Coeli (as Mozart did)!

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 6, 2006):
BWV 101 "The Ten Commandments" Motif

In the 2002 round of discussions of BWV 101, I uncovered a rather obscure reference by Friedrich Smend pointing to a possible origin of the main orchestral motif with which BWV 101/1 begins. This would seem to fortify the notion that Bach is placing a special emphasis upon Lutheranism by using two chorale melodies directly associated with Luther. At that time I did not get around to supplying score samples, so now I prepared some for BWV 101/1. With Aryeh Oron's kind assistance, these are now available on the BCW as listed below: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV101-M1.htm

From the 2002 round of discussions, see the section under “Smend” (about half way down the page): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV101-Guide.htm

For a comparable use of the untexted chorale reference to "Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot" in BWV 37, see the section under “Smend”:http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV37-D.htm

Score Samples and their descriptions: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV37-Sco.htm

Peter Smaill wrote (August 6, 2006):
Thomas Braatz has developed the suggestion by Smend that the motifs of BWV 101/1 may allude to a further Chorale tune, "Dies sind die heiligen Zehn Gebot".

Aside form the direct melodic comparisons , there is other evidence in favour of this contention:

-BWV 37, like BWV 101 a confessional cantata dealing with the power of Jesus to cleanse from sin. Dürr also identifies this intrusion of this chorale
-BWV 113, the proximate cantata, where Spitta notices the quotation in the doctrinally central Tenor aria (BWV 113/5) of the end of the Chorale , (at "Dein Suend ist dir vergeben"), namely in his case , the title theme, Herr Jesu Christ, du hoechtes Gut
-While BWV 101 is only generally concerned with the breaking of the Commandments in the sense of the text focusing on the reception of sinners by Jesus and the atoning power of his blood, there is one very specific resonance with a commandment

This occurs at the expression "Und straf uns nicht auf frischer Tat" ("And punish us not for recent deed")in BWV 101/3. "Auf frischer Tat" is the precise phrase used by Luther in his rendering of John 8 3:5 to 9-11 (the story of the woman taken in adultery) to refer to the deed which called for stoning under Judaic law.

Of all the commandment-related stories this is the most apposite to the new law, the practising of neighbourly as well as divine love, and forgiveness, which is being expounded .

So, from a hermeneutic point of view, we do seem to have the potential for a pattern where reference to a chorale, twice the chorale "Die heiligen Zehn", occurs when there is allusion to forgiveness of sin under the Old Law/Commandments, by virtue of the new covenant represented by Jesus.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantata BWV 101: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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Last update: ýNovember 10, 2014 ý06:20:38