Cantata BWV 105Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht
Discussions - Part 3
Continue from Part 2
Discussions in the Week of September 18, 2011 (3rd round)
Ed Myskowski wrote (September 17, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 105 -- Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht
This week we continue Trinity season cantatas with BWV 105, the first of three works for the 9th Sunday after Trinity.
Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV105.htm
The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham] is especially recommended as an introduction to listening.
The BWV 105 page also has convenient access to notes from the Koopman  (notes by Christoph Wolff) CD issue, via link beneath the cover photo.
The Gardiner CD  needs special mention. The works for Trinity 9 are one of four actual pilgrimage recordings which were released by DG Archiv, rather than on Gardiners own SDG label. The others are for Trinity 11, Epiphany 3, and the Purification. Notes by Gardiner are not included, so there is no BCW link this week.
The chorale text and melody are also accessible via links at the BWV 105 page. Francis Browne is adding new commentary on the cantata texts to his interlinear translations, linked via [English 3].
Douglas Cowling wrote (September 17, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Introduction to BWV 105 -- Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht >
I hear echoes (or pre-echoes) of the Passions all through this extraordinarily intense cantata: the opening chorus and the opening of the St. John Passion, the soprano aria and "Aus Liebe", and the bass recitative and "Der Heiland Fällt" in the SMP.
I'm curious about the cantata's opening chorus. Bach marks it "Adagio" and Leusink  takes it quite moderately. I wonder if it was meant to be faster with greater urgency. That would heighten the similarity with the SJP. How do other conductors compare with Leusink?
Francis Browne wrote (September 17, 2011):
BWV 105 Notes on the text
Notes on the text
BWV 105 was first performed in Leipzig on 25th July 1723, two months after Bach's arrival in the city, and so is part of Bach's first cycle of
cantatas. The gospel reading for the 9th Sunday after Trinity is about the unjust steward who facing dismissal attempts to win popularity by writing off debts owed to his master . Without using the gospel text directly the anonymous librettist uses the notions of a servant called to account,debts being rescinded and the right use of money and other worldly possessions to produce a text that explores the relationship between mankind's sinful conscience and God.
The opening movement is a setting of a verse from Psalm 143. The image in the gospel reading of a servant called to account by his master becomes generalised into all mankind facing God's judgement either at death or at the last judgement at the world's end.
The following recitative also echoes the Psalms (51 :11) and the phrase schnellerZeuge ( prompt witness) comes from Malachi 3:5. In contrast to the cunning servant in the parable the text urges humility and acknowledgement of sins since God is a judge impossible to deceive.
This free acknowledgement is contrasted in the following aria with the troubled conscience of sinners. A striking phrase from Saint Paul (Romans 2:14) tells how in the internal court of conscience the thoughts of sinners accuse one another.
The second recitative echoes Paul again(Colossians 2:15) and makes extensive useof legal terminology (Bürgen, Schuld, Handschrift, Rechnung) in a way that many people may find unappealing as a model for understanding the relationship between God and humanity But perhaps Bach's contemporaries, familiar with Lutheran debates over law and grace, would see more easily that what is said in this recitative answers the anxieties of the sinners' guilty conscience and so , as often in cantata texts, is the turning point where the initial problem presented in earlier movements finds a solution.
The tenor aria is therefore joyful. The text echoes the mention of Mammon in the gospel reading.( Mammon is a term, derived from the Christian bible,used to describe material wealth or greedMore details at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammon)
The final chorale is the penultimate strophe of a hymn by Johann Rist written in 1641. It is aptly chosen and provides an appropriate conclusion for the cantata .
Bach uses Rist in ten cantatas but it is difficult to share the enthusiasm of Bach's contemporaries for his writings. In German Baroque Poetry Robert M. Browning says of Rist:
“ ….nonpoetry by a nonpoet, utilitarian, stolidly bourgeois, soporifically longwinded. Rist could turn a rhyme and construct a well made stanza as easily as eating pudding, and the wide popularity he achieved shows that he struck a common chord, but today his work is only of historic interest.”
The text of BWV 105 is not in itself particularly striking but from it , as Dürr says , Bach produces “a work that might well be numbered among the most sublime descriptions of the soul in baroque and Christian art”.
Julian Mincham wrote (September 18, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] It is certainly the case that the openings of these choruses share common musical characteristics i.e. key and mode, repeated quavers, rising melodic notes etc. But there is an important point of difference which has a bearing upon the tempi chosen, and that is the structures. That from the SJP is a da capo chorus which, despite the contrast of a middle section, maintains its integrity and tempo throughout. That for BWV 105 is clearly bipartite, a structure which Bach was to explore further in some of the post 2nd cycle cantatas. Dürr, helpfully, compares it to a 'prelude and fugue' and my own analysis of the movement gives a little more detail (obtained through the link Ed gave yesterday). The second part is in 2/2 not 4/4 time and this implies of itself a faster tempo, as does the crotchet-quaver rhythmic structure of the fugue subject (from bar 48). I have little doubt that Bach intended a slower first part to be followed by a faster second part of this chorus.
I confess, however, to finding Bach's setting of these two similar lines of text in such contrasting ways rather baffling. I'd be interested in hearing views of other members if they care to read what i have written of this enigma, and comment upon it.
One must not leave this cantata before pausing over, and thoroughly enjoying the marvelous soprano aria (with oboe obbligato). It is one of the most stunning and moving arias in the canon, in my opinion, showing what Bach could do well before he set about work on the chorale/cantata cycle. This movement is a masterpiece of focussed emotion allied to a fine, economic use of musical material---for example, the opening oboe 4 bar motive) ----the two being related (again, in my view!) .
Douglas Cowling wrote (September 18, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< But there is an important point of difference which has a bearing upon the tempi chosen, and that is the structures. That from the SJP is a da capo chorus which, despite the contrast of a middle section, maintains its integrity and tempo throughout. That for BWV 105 is clearly bipartite, >
Perhaps it's not so much tempo as intensity. Given the text begging for mercy, I expected the movement to have more drive and guts like the SJP. Leusink's approach is very languid and lyrical. Do any other conductors put
the judgment back in Judgment Day?
And speaking of the soprano arias without bass, I was flipping channels last night and found a movie, "You Can Count On Me" (2000), with "Aus Liebe" from the SMP playing as the music behind the credits.
Peter Smaill w(September 18, 2011):
[To Julian Mincham] This is a Cantata of exceptional quality, but also for the numerologists of special note. Under the usual number alphabet A=1, B=2 etc. it was observed by Hirsch that the total score of the incipit "Herr......gerecht" is 719; the continuo has exactly 719 notes. Is it just a coincidence? Does it matter?
158 (twice) and 1580, numbers associated to "JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH" also occur......and we ask the same questions. Some recent discoveries suggest we now have 158/1580 occurring seventeen times in Bach. But, with over known 1100 works, can we deduce a connection from this phenomenon?
Ed Myskowski wrote (September 19, 2011):
Francis Browne wrote:
< The tenor aria is therefore joyful. The text echoes the mention of Mammon in the gospel >reading. (Mammon is a term, derived from the Christian bible, used to describe >material wealth or greed. More details at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammon) >
I was about to cite Francis comment, and point out that Bach reuses the specific reference to Mammon through all three cantatas for Trinity 9. This is in fact quite unusual continuity for Bach, and noticing it is one of the reasons we undertook to relate the current discussion cycle to the liturgical calendar.
Alas, before I ever got to organize that post, my eMail account was hacked by the worshipers of Mammon. How appropriate!
William Hoffman wrote (September 20, 2011):
BWV 105: Franck's Trinity Time Cantata Texts
While much information is documented about Johann Sebastian Bach's sacred cantata compositional activities in Leipzig from 1723 to 1727, little is still known about the genesis of his initial "well-ordered church works" in Weimar between 1714 and 1716. Works in particular for the 8th Sunday after Trinity and 9th Sunday after Trinity offer important clues in the creative history of the Leipzig Cantor. The 1715 text for the 8th Sunday after Trinity was supposed to be set by Bach, as were to others but it is unlikely since Bach would have recycled them in Leipzig. The cantata for the 9th Sunday after Trinity, BWV 168, "Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort" (Make accounting, thunderous words) is one of at least two cantatas originating in Weimar and completed in Leipzig.
Bach's first systematic collaboration with a librettist, Salomo Franck, was intended to produce musical sermons every fourth Sunday performed in the Court Chapel, "Himmelsburg" (Castle of Heaven). Composer and lyricist together created a wealth of 21 progressive and varied church pieces for almost three years, drawn from Franck's cantata annual cycle, "Evangelisches Andachtsopfer" (Evangelical [Lutheran] Prayer Offerings), published in Weimar in 1715. During this period, Bach compositional history shows a gap each year at Trinity Time (1714-16). All of Franck's Trinity Time cantata texts are structured for soloists, without choruses. Thomas Braatz 2005 commentary on the Weimar Cantatas details all the works and some of the conflicts: BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Weimar-Cantatas.htm
The record reveals that Bach during Trinity Time 1714 used other libretti and missed three occasions (Trinity 15, 19, and 23), that in 1715 he set aside four planned cantatas during the three-month mourning period for Weimar Prince Johann Ernst (Trinity 8-20); and in 1716 no cantatas survive for three occasions (Trinity 8, 12, and 23). This suggests a variety of factors inhibited Bach's first regular church-year cantata production. The closed time in 1715 Bach again would experience in 1727 and 1733 in Leipzig. As for the 1714 deviations, these could have been due to the lack of published Franck texts requiring other authors (showing Bach's flexibility) as well as conflicts or challenges at the Weimar Court. In 1716, the internal problems increased and at Advent Time, Bach -- having created three new weekly compositions to Franck 1717 published texts (BWV 70, BWV 147, BWV 186) and expecting to succeed the current <Kapellmeister> -- ceased composing church-year cantatas for the Weimar Court and moved to Köthen 12 months later at the end of 1717.
Initially, on Palm Sunday, March 24, 1714, the newly-appointed Weimar Court <Konzertmeister> (chapel ensemble leader), who had just turned 30 the previous Thursday, presented his first required service Cantata BWV 182, <Himmelskönig, sei willkommen> (King of Heaven, be welcomed). This was part of his duties to compose a work every fourth Sunday (the remaining three monthly church pieces being the responsibility of the Court <Kapellmeister>, Johann Samuel Drese (c1644-1716), and his son, assistant, and successor, Johann Wilhelm (1677-1745), ref. OCC:JSB: Drese, 142.
It is presumed that the Court Secretary and official poet Salomo Franck (1659-1725) authored the required text for the extended, half-hour-long work with the most varied of movements in the modern style: opening instrumental sonata, two da-capo choruses, a chorale chorus, three da-capo choruses in a row, and a plain recitative. Through the remainder of the Easter Season, librettist and composer produced two works of comparable size and diversity, BWV 12 and BWV 172 for Jubilate (Easter 3) and Pentecost Sundays, respectively. See BCW Franck biography: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Franck.htm
With the Trinity Time in the second half of 1714, Bach apparently resorted to his first reperformance, an elaborate, festive chorus court piece probably set to a Franck text, Cantata BWV 21, <Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis> (I had great affliction), for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity. Then, Bach turned to two published, less demanding works of Georg Christian Lehms (1684-1717), solo alto and soprano Cantatas BWV 54 and 199a for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity and 7th Sunday after Trinity, respectively. For his expected cantatas for the 15th, 19th and 23rd Sundays after Trinity in early September, October and November, there is no record. It is quite possible that court poet Franck, seeking to create a unified cantata cycle in the manner of colleagues Lehms and Erdmann Neumeister, spent those three montdoing such.
Franck was able to produce the first of two published cantata annual cycles (1715 and 1717). Bach was responsible for the initial cantata in the cycle for the First Sunday in Advent, December 2, 1714, but chose a popular Neumesiter 1714 published text for chorus Cantata BWV 61, "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (Now comes the heathen's savior).
Bach's next assigned service four weeks later, the Sunday After Christmas, December 30, 1714, yielded soprano-bass solo Cantata BWV 152, <Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn> (Tread on the path of Faith). This began the successful collaboration that produced at least 21 works set to Franck texts for Sunday services, with music for only one officially lost, BWV Anh. 191, "Leb ich oder leb ich nicht" (Live I or live I not), for Cantate (4th Sunday after Easter) May 19, 1715, that was part of Bach's monthly schedule.
A three-month 1715 Trinity Time hiatus (August 11 to November 3) for the official mourning of the death of Bach champion, Prince Johann Earnst (1696-1715), omitted 13 Sundays after Trinity (8-20), with Bach responsible for four cantatas for Trinity Sundays 8, 12, 16, and 20), with Bach performing two of these works (BWV 161, 162) on the same Trinity Time Sundays 16 and 20 in 1716.
In all, there were gaps each year at Trinity Time in Bach's cantata production schedule during those three years, 1714-17, in Weimar. Besides the three-month gap in 1714 (Trinity, 15, 19, and 23) and the closed time in 1715 (Trinity 8, 12, 16, and 20) in 1716, there are no recorded cantata performances for Trinity 8 and 12 on August 2 and 30, 1716. It is possible that Bach planned cantatas for both Sundays in 1715, set to Franck texts, "Laß, Seele, dich Irrlicher nicht verführen" (Let, Soul, the confusing light not tempt you) and "Ach, die Noth ist übergroß! (Ah, the darkness is greatest!). In addition, it is possible that Bach set the scheduled Trinity 24 Franck text, "Süßes Sterben! Sanfftes Schlafen" (Sweetest death! Gentle Sleep), for the last Sunday in Trinity (24), November 22, 1716.
The closing chorales in the printed texts of the three Franck Trinity Time cantata texts are:
"Laß, Seele," chorale, "Ich ruft zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ";
"Ach, die Noth," "Was Gott tut, das ist wohl getan"; and
"Süßes Sterben!," chorale "Ich bin ein Glied an deinem Leib" (S.3, "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist)."
The texts are found in Klaus Hoffmann's "Neue Überlegungen zu Bachs Weimarer Kantaten-Kalendar" (New Observations on Bach's Weimar Cantata Calendar), <Bach Jahrbuch> 79 (1993): 9-29, a later and somewhat different chronology than the studies of Andreas Glöckner (BJ 1985) and Alfred Dürr (BJ 1987).
In addition, Bach performed two Franck-texted SATB solo Cantatas BWV 168 and BWV 164, "Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort" (Make accounting, thunderous words) and "Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet" (Ye who take your name from Christ) in Leipzig for the 9th Sunday after Trinity and 13th Sunday after Trinity, respectively, in the pre-Cycle 3 fragmented Trinity Time of 1725. Since Bach in that six-month period probably limited himself to two original compositions for special occasions - Cantata BWV 137 for the Town Council (later assigned to Trinity 12) and Cantata BWV 79 for Reformation Day -- it is possible that they originated in Weimar in 1715 or 1716, being partially composed, then set aside, and finally completed and utilized in 1725.
In a similar situation, Bach's last documented utilization of a Franck text dates to the early part of the incomplete Cycle 3 of 1726-1727. On the Third Sunday After Epiphany 1726, he presented chorus Cantata BWV 72, "Alles nur nach Gottes Willen" (All things according to God's Will). Franck's 1715 published text fits with Bach's Weimar schedule for the church year 1715, when the Third Sunday After Epiphany fell on January 27, four weeks after he presented Cantata BWV 152 on the Sunday after Christmas, December 30, 1714. Four weeks later for Sexagesima Sunday, February 25, 1715, Bach revived a pre-Weimar Cantata BWV 18, "Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt" for as the rain and snow from Heaven fall), set to a Neumesiter 1711 text.
Bach's other Trinity Time Weimar Cantatas set to Franck texts are BWV 165 (Trinity Sunday), and BWV 185 (Trinity +4), both presented in 1715 before the closed time and repeated in 1716, according to Hoffman (Ibid.: 28f).
Thus, it appears that while Telemann was taking the lead in Frankfurt composing annual cycles to published Neumesiter texts, followed by Bach's other Leipzig Cantor competitors, Bach in 1714 was collaborating directly with Franck to produce works of great musical and textual variety and substance (IMVHO).
Douglas Cowling wrote (September 20, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Thus, it appears that while Telemann was taking the lead in Frankfurt composing annual cycles to published Neumesiter texts, followed by Bach's other Leipzig Cantor competitors, Bach in 1714 was collaborating directly with Franck to produce works of great musical and textual variety and substance >
Could you expand on this a bit. Are you saying that Telemann was content to pick up a published libretto and set it, but that Bach, from the beginning, wanted a deeper more personal collaboration with his poets?
Kim Patrick Clow wrote (September 20, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Could you expand on this a bit. Are you saying that Telemann was content to pick up a published libretto and set it, but that Bach, from the beginning, wanted a deeper more personal collaboration with his poets? >
I don't know if Will is suggesting that, he could be, but I wanted to reply.
If you have this notion Telemann was simply walking over to a bookstore and buying cantata texts to set to music while Bach was sitting down by his cantata poet's side guiding him in hoto write a cantata text, well that's not quite the way it worked. Telemann worked extensively with German poets, and coming from a long line of Lutheran pastors, Telemann was more than prepared to collaborate with them on texts. In fact Telemann commissioned cantata texts along with incidental music and secular pieces, and he collaborated with Neumesiter several times (e.g. Telemann's self published 1745 cantata cycle). The published books came after the booklets were printed and handed out at church services (also used in home for spiritual mediation), not the other way around. When Neumesiter was in Weißenfels, for example he sent several poems to Telemann (in addition to Bach at the same period). There are several letters extant from Telemann's Hamburg period, making specific requests of his cantata authors. Considering the grinding workload Telemann faced-- his need for quality texts was a big priority; and his collaboration with these authors is even more remarkable considering his professional requirements, much less personally engraving and publishing entire cantata cycles and then promoting and selling them. Ute Poetzsch (a leading Telemann cantata expert in German) wrote her doctoral dissertation on Telemann and Neumesiter's cantata collaboration, a local university library could obtain a copy no doubt.
Gottfried Stölzel's cantata texts also warrant inclusion in any such discussion, considering the expertise Stölzel had in writing recitatives (it was a major area of compositional study).
Douglas Cowling wrote (September 20, 2011):
Bach & Telemann
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Telemann worked extensively with German poets, and coming from a long line of Lutheran pastors, Telemann was more than prepared to collaborate with them on texts. >
Thanks for this context. It's always salutary to show how much Bach resembles his contemporaries than to over-emphasize his Romantic uniqueness.
William Hoffman wrote (September 30, 2011):
Cantata BWV 105: Theology & Allegory
Plummeting the depths of Bach's musical settings of the texts in his cantatas, it might be helpful to review some of the BCW thoughts expressed recently in connection with two Cantatas, BWV 105 and BWV 94, for the 9th Sunday after Trinity. It can be helpful in framing the discussion to recall five major points of discussion that have been made and then examine author Eric Café's approach to understanding Bach through the use of theology and allegory (both tonal and rhythmic).
1. Francis Browne's cogent summary of the text;
2. The use of the work "Mamon" in all three cantatas;
3. The "Four Rules for Parables" and their possible application;
4. The thematic pattern of paired parables and teachings in Trinity Time;
5. The Trinity Time (6-11) sub-cycle topic of the "New Life of Righteousness";
6. Eric Chafe on Luther's teachings and Bach's allegorical plan.
1. Francis Browne's Notes on the text (9/17/11), BCW Cantata 105 Discussions - Part 3:
"The gospel reading for the 9th Sunday after Trinity is about the unjust steward who facing dismissal attempts to win popularity by writing off debts owed to his master. Without using the gospel text directly the anonymous librettist [Cantata 105] uses the notions of a servant called to account, debts being rescinded and the right use of money and other worldly possessions to produce a text that explores the relationship between mankind's sinful conscience and God."
2. Mamon. Ed Myskowski wrote (September 19, 2011):
Francis Browne wrote:
< The tenor aria [BWV 105/6] is therefore joyful. The text echoes the mention of Mammon in the gospel >reading. (Mammon is a term, derived from the Christian bible, used to describe >material wealth or greed. More details at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammon [WH: Mammon means "wealth," "worldly possessions.
I was about to cite Francis comment, and point out that Bach reuses the specific reference to Mammon through all three cantatas for Trinity 9. This is in fact quite unusual continuity for Bach, and noticing it is one of the reasons we undertook to relate the current discussion cycle to the liturgical calendar.
3. Four Rules for Parables
(Douglas Cowling; 9/25/11, BCW Cantata BWV 94 Discissions - Part 2)
The parable is about the first person named, not necessarily the most prominent character. Example: the Parable of the Prodigal Son is about the Generous Father.
The first person named is usually God.
Jesus makes a cameo appearance as a lesser figure or a servant.
Images from nature are used to represent the People of God.
Ed Myskowski, September 25:
< Four Rules for Parables
The parable is about the first person named, not necessarily the most prominent character. Example: the Parable of the Prodigal Son is about the Generous Father. >
Here is a possible interpretation of Luke 16:1-9, interspersed with Dougs original post:
< The first person named is usually God. >
The first person named is the rich man, who had a steward
< Jesus makes a cameo appearance as a lesser figure or a servant. >
< Images from nature are used to represent the People of God. >
Luke 16:8-9 has such images, wheat and oil (presumably olive, not unrefined petrol!?), as well as two distinct classes of people. The attitude toward these people is less clear, perhaps at this point difficulties with transmission or translation enter?
The most contradictory point: in verse 2 the steward is being dismissed, while in verse 8 he is commended for his shrewdness in dealing with (presumably) people of the world, as contrasted with (presumably) People of God.
In Luther and King James translations (available via BCW links for Gospel and Epistle readings), or the more recent RSV, mammon is specifically described as *unrighteous*. This is the emphasis, as well, in the Bach texts created for all three cantatas for Trinity 9, including BWV 94. Is the adjective applied to mammon justified by the events of the parable, or is it simply a convention?
In fact, a reasonable interpretation is that the master is indifferent to mammon, wealth, itself. What he condemns as doomed to failure is the spiritual reliance on mammon by the people of the world. Although not so clearly and directly stated, this seems consistent with other scriptural references, for example:
<Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesars, and to God the things that are Gods> Matthew 22:21
<For the love of money [not money itself] is the root of all evils>. 1 Timonthy 6:10
The events of the parable are not relevant to Bachs cantata texts, they share only the reference to mammon in common.
Ed Myskowski, BCW Four Rules for Parables, 9/26/11:
The parable of the dishonest steward (Luke 16:1-9) relevant to the works for Trinity 9 including this week's cantata discussion topic, BWV 94, remains particularly inscrutable with respect to mammon. I am continuing to reflect. I think Doug has raised an important consideration: uncertainties of transmission (and/or translation?) may well be a factor in the difficulty of relating this specific parable to the assumed message regarding mammon.
WH: Wikipedia: A <parable> is a specific human narrative teaching through <metaphor> (abstract representing concrete). An <allegory> is a general narrative with complex metaphor.
Gospel Text, Luke 16:1-9: The Parable of the Unjust Steward (King James Version):
1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
4. Douglas Cowling wrote (May 3, 2011):
THEMATIC PATTERNS IN BACH¹S GOSPELS
The season of Sundays after Trinity has never seen the scholarly interest
that the Christmas and Easter narratives have received and there is a
certain assumption that the Gospel readings do not have the same dramatic
It is worth looking at several literary patterns which Bach would have known
intimately. In general, there are three genres in the Trinity season:
Parables - short moralized allegories within the larger narratives of events
in the life of Christ
Miracles - short self-contained narratives of miraculous healings.
Teachings - excerpts from longer hortatory discourses by Christ.
There is also a series of groupings which would have been part of the
critical apparatus of both theologians and musicians such as Bach who had
such a finely-tuned ear for the literary shape of scriptural passages.
Although there are no formal divisions in the official books, we see some
important groupings which may have influenced Bach¹s cantata composition. A
brief outline of the first half of the season.
1) Trinity 1-4 is a four week sequence of parables
2) Trinity 5-8 has a series of paired miracles and teachings
3) Trinity 9-19 generally alternates a parable with a teaching or miracle
Whether these literary patterns influenced Bach deserves investigation in
both librettos and scores.
Trinity 9: Luke 16: 1-9 - Parable of the unjust steward
There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused
unto him that he had wasted his goods.
Trinity 10 Luke 19: 41-48 Teaching: Jesus weeps over Jerusalem
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
5. Trinity Cycle: `New Life of Righteousness' (William Hoffman, BCW Cantata 170 Discussion - Part 3 (7/28/11),
Smaller Trinity Cycles are shown in Paul Zeller Strodach, <The Church Year: Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles, and Gospels>, United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA 1924: pp. 194ff).
"The lessons of Trinity Time are arranged in group cycles, based on doctrine and practice, with a general definite topic. The first group, the First to the Fifth Sunday After Trinity, deals with the Kingdom of Grace and the Call to enter therein."
The second group (the Sixth to the 11th Sunday After Trinity) "is rich with practical indications of the <Right Manner of Life in the Kingdom of Grace>," emphasizing the "new life of righteousness." Like the Christian comparison and contrast of the New Covenant in the Blood of Christ" with the Old Testament covenants between God and the People of Israel, the Old Testament models of righteousness of the law, from the Scribes and Pharisees is compared and contrasted with the "new" Christian concept of righteousness through the Sacrament of Baptism, also known as the Sacrament of Initiation into Christianity.
Bach was particularly able to address this juxtaposition in his treatment of Cantatas 105 and BWV 94 for the 9th Sunday after Trinity in Leipzig. In particular the text and music of both cantatas move from the darker side of the Old Testament teaching - and the accompanying tonality or key descent -- to the New Testament affirmation in tonal ascendency. Author and Bach scholar Eric Chafe discusses this in his two best known Bach studies of theology and tonal allegory: <Analyzing Bach Cantatas> (Oxford University Press 2000) and <Tonal Allegory in the Music of JSB (University of California Press, 1991).
6. In his <Analyzing Bach Cantatas>, Chafe (p. 5) observes that in Luther's teachings the "juxtaposition" of (Old Testament) Law and Gospel represented the pivot of faith, the shift from recognition of one's sinful nature [the Old Adam] to acceptance of God's forgiveness and love (through Jesus Christ). Luther called this process the `analogy (or allegory) of faith,' describing it as the means by which faith bridged the gap between Old Testament events and the experience of the contemporary believer."
Chafe describes this further as "the perception of a `dynamic' of descent (destruction, the Law) followed by ascent (rebuilding, the Gospel). . . ." This means that (p. 7): "Law and Gospel represent, on the one hand, God's demands from humanity (law) and, on the other, His promise of salvation."
Chafe observers (p. 6) that "Although Bach was not often presented with texts that display the principals of scriptural interpretation so clearly, those principals underlie the texts of a great many of his cantatas, sometimes in their entities, sometimes in part." In his earlier book on Bach's Tonal Allegory and its relationship to biblical teachings, Chafe discusses at length the two cantatas composed for the 9th Sunday after Trinity, a year apart (1723 to 1724), with contemporary texts: chorus Cantata BWV 105, "Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht" (Lord, do not go into court with your servant), and Chorale Cantata BWV 94, "Was frag ich nach der Welt" (What ask I from the world).
Chafe outlines five basic patterns of the unifying element of tonal movement or direction in Bach's cantatas in Chapter 6, "Tonal Planning in the Leipzig Cantatas I: The Image of the World." As found in 40 cantata compositions, they are: descent/ascent (13), ascent or anabasis (sharp keys) (5), descent or catabasis (flat keys) (8), ascent/descent (10), and tonal antithesis (4). Cantatas 105 and BWV 94 are found in the first, largest group, although Cantata BWV 94 has a variation in its later movements. Chafe does not discuss Cantata BWV 168 in either book since it is part of the larger group without particular tonal movement, using a Salomo Franck 1715 libretto in which Bach set 20 original Sunday cantatas without strong key direction(s).
Here is my summary of Chafe's interpretation of Cantata 105 (p. 169, <Tonal Allegory>):
Cantata BWV 105 "utilizes rhythmic and metric devices in conjunction with the antithesis of chromaticism/diatonicism to present the complexity of the Lutheran life."
Chafe shows the direction from the opening chorale chorus -- "Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht" (Lord, do not go into court with your servant) -- to the penultimate movement, No. 5, the tenor da-capo aria with horn, strings and basso continuo [Francis Browne BCW translation]:
Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen,/ So gilt der Mammon nichts bei mir (If only I make Jesus my friend,/ then Mammon has no value for me).
Chafe suggests that "The most prominent dimensions of the allegorical treatment are from (the initial) eight- and sixteenth-note <tremulante> figures - symbols of anxiety - to the ornamental thirty-second-note violin roulades and spirited horn themes" in the tenor aria.
The previous movement, No. 4, bass recitative with string-motive accompagnato, "Wohl aber dem, der seinen Bürgen weiß" (But fortunate is the man who knows who is his guarantor), wherr there is Luther's (and Bach's) "pivot of faith": "But perhaps Bach's contemporaries, familiar with Lutheran debates over law and grace, would see more easily that what is said in this recitative answers the anxieties of the sinners' guilty conscience and so, as often in cantata texts, is the turning point where the initial problem presented in earlier movements finds a solution."
Chafe summarizes Bach's treatment and direction. The second movement alto (sinner's) secco recitative - "Mein Gott, verwirf mich nicht" (My God, do not reject me) -- begins in G Minor (two flats, the same key as the opening chorale chorus) and modulates to deep flats (five flats, D-Flat Major) at the sinner's word "<Demut> (humility) before God, which prepares the B-Flat Major cadence, setting up, on the dominant, the E-Flat of the succeeding soprano (A-A'-B) reflectve aria, No. 3, "Wie zittern und wanken/ Der Sünder Gedanken (How tremble and waver the sinners' thoughts). The bass (preacher's) recitative (No. 4) begins in B-Flat Major and plumbs deeply into the flat minor, (F, A-Flat and B-flat Minor), "before making the reversal to E-Flat Major that prepares the B-Flat (tenor) aria (No. 5)." This preparation, says Chafe, is "the nadir of the work," with the text:
So mag man deinen Leib, den man zum Grabe trägt,
(Even though your body, that is carried to the grave,)
Mit Sand und Staub beschütten,
(may be covered with sand and dust,)
Dein Heiland öffnet dir die ewgen Hütten.
(your saviour opens for you the everlasting tabernacles.)
Following the joyful tenor aria, Cantata 105 closes with the elaborated seven-voice chorale (SATB, strings), No. 6, "Nun, ich weiß, du wirst mir stillen/ Mein Gewissen, das mich plagt (Now I know you will quieten my conscience, that torments me).
The closing G Minor chorale has "the most interesting allegorical device in the work," says Chafe), "the summarizing of the stilling of the sinner's `Gewissensangst' [Conscience-Song]." The ending movement recapitulates the materials found earlier, beginning with the string <tremulante> trembling chords accompanying the chorus in 4/4 time in a five-fold (with interludes) alternation of passages in 12/8 compound quadruple meter, with corresponding changes in the note values of the strings accompaniment: clusters of 16th note tremolos on the four-beat measures in 4/4 for the first 5 ½ measures. Then, after the first ¾ measure interlude of strings with silent voices and without basso continuo to separate each line of text, the trembling becomes triplets on the four-beat measures in 12/8 time as Rist's message of confidence unfolds with the pace gradually slowing to the final cadence.
Within this rhythmic tapestry, observers Chafe, with rhythmic figures that had appeared in previous movements, the tonal plan is repeated, with the chorale beginning in B-Flat Major from the close of the preceding "joy" aria and then quickly turning to G Minor "with the (descending) chromatic tetrachrord ostinato in the bass" (two measures, from B-Flat to low G. This device and the chorale melody are also found in Bach's setting of the Chorale Cantata BWV 78, "Jesu, der du meine Seele," for the 14th Sunday After Trinity, 1725.
Concludes Chafe: "Cantata 105 is, therefore, a descent/ascent cantata in which the tonal element is not the most prominent feature of the musical allegory. But the idea of motion downward to the deeper flats, then upward to the relative major (the one movement [No. 5 in B-Flat Major] that abandons the <tremulante> idea) is a vital part of the hope that comes from trust in Jesus."
To Come Tonal Allegory and Theology in Chorale Cantata BWV 94 and the sacred meaning of solo Cantata BWV 168.
Continue on Part 4
Cantata BWV 105: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4