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Cantata BWV 108
Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of April 23, 2017 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (April 22, 2017):
Cantate Sunday Cantata 108: “Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe”

Bach’s 1725 Cantate Sunday chorus Cantata BWV 108, “Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe” (It is good for you that I should go away, John 20:7), is a most unusual work in its form. It sets two verses from the day’s Gospel (John 20:5-15) from Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, as the opening bass vox Christi, and Verse 13 as the tutti chorus fugal motet placed in the middle (no. 4), “Wenn aber jener, der Geist der Wahrheit, kommen wird” (But when he comes, the spirit of truth). Lasting 16 minutes, Cantata 108 has all the usual elements of a Bach cantata musical sermon in virtual symmetrical form, with two-part arias for tenor and alto (nos. 2 and 5), “Mich kann kein Zweifel stören” (No doubt can disturb me) and “Was mein Herz von dir begehrt” (What my heart desires of you), and a tenor recitative (no. 3), “Dein Geist wird mich also regieren” (Your spirit will therefore guide me). The closing chorale (no. 6), “Dein Geist, den Gott vom Himmel gibt” (Your Spirit, which God gives from heaven), is Stanza 10 of Paul Gerhardt’s 1653 Pentecost hymn, “Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist” (God our Father, send your spirit), set to the anonymous 1490 melody, “‘Kommt her zu mir,’ spricht Gottes Sohn” (“Come to me”, says God’s Son, Matthew 11:28), based on the Georg Grünwald 1530 Ascension Day text.1

Cantata 108 was premiered on 29 April 1725 at the early main service of the Nikolaikirchke before the by Superintendent Salomon Deyling on the Cantata Sunday Gospel, John 20:5-15, says Martin Petzoldt in his Bach Commentary, Vol. 1, Advent to Trinityfest.2 The Gospel reading is “The Work of the Paraclete,” called Holy Spirit, advocate, or intercessor. The passage is found in Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, only in John’s Gospel, Chapter 16. In the Harmony of the Gospels, it is placed in the second section in the Passion Narrative, just after Jesus’ prediction in Gethsemane of Peter’s denial.3 The Epistle is James 1:17-21 “Every good gift is from above.” The German text of Luther’s 1545 translation and the English Authorised (King James) Version 1611 is found at

Cantate Introit, Chorales, Related Cantatas

The Fourth Sunday after Easter in Bach’s Leipzig is called Cantate Sunday, "Sing to the Lord" (Cantate Domino) based on the day’s Introit/Motet, Psalm 98:1: “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things,” says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 845). The entire text of this nine-verse Psalm 98 is found at Other Service Music for this Sunday is: Hymn de Tempore, "Christ Lag in Todesbanden"; Pulpit Hymn, "Christ ist Erstanden"; Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing, Herman "Erscheinen ist der Herrlichen Tag."

In today’s revised common three-year lectionary (Matthew, Mark and Luke), the Gospel of John is reserved almost exclusively for the Sundays in Easter/Pentecost. Cantata 108 is most appropriate today for Year A of the Sixth Sunday of Easter, says John S. Setterlund in Bach Through the Year,4 also known sometimes still as Rogate Sunday. The Cantata 103 Gospel dictum (John 16:7) is: “It is good for you that I should go away; / for if I do not go away / the comforter will not come to you. / But if I go / I shall send him to you.” “The cantata affirms the presence of the Spirit by faithfulness to the word of Christ and a confident look at the future,” says Setterlund.

“Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist,” the Gerhardt 16-stanza, six line (AABCBC) pietist chorale is listed in the Dresden hymnbooks for Cantate Sunday, says Günther Stiller.5 It is listed in the Dresdner Gesangbuch 1725/36 as a de tempore hymn for Cantate and Exaudi Sundays (No. 190: 142), says Pezoldt (Ibid.: 858).

It was first published in the 1653 (Berlin) edition of Cruger’s Praxis Pietatis Melica, to a melody by Johann Crüger, “Den Herren meine Seel’ erhebt.” Bach follows general use in associating the hymn with the tune “Kommt her zu mir,” as it appeared first in Gerhardt’s Geistliche Andachten (Berlin, 1667).

“Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist” also closes Bach’s Pentecost Sunday chorus Cantata BWV 74, “Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten” (Whoever loves me will keep my word, John 14:23), premiered four weeks after Cantata 108, on 20 May 1725, Ziegler text (BCML Discussion week of 21 May 2017). In Cantata 74, Bach sets Stanza 2, “Kein Menschenkind hier auf der Erd / Ist dieser edlen Gabe wert” (No human being here on earth / is worthy of this noble gift; The Gerhardt text and Francis Browne English translation are found at BCW Bach also used another Gerhardt hymn designated for Cantate Sunday, “Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe” (Awake my heart and sing), in Cantata 194, “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Most greatly longed for feast of joy), for Trinityfest 1724, 1726, and 1731. The Gerhardt (1607-1676) BCW Biography is found at

The Bach’s chosen melody, “Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn” also is set to its own Grünwald (1530) text as a chorale aria (no. 3) in solo Cantata 86, “Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch” (Truly, truly, I say to you; John 16:23, for Rogate Sunday 1724, which also probably has the same unknown librettist, possibly Christian Weise Sr., and form as Cantata 166, presented a week earlier. This chorale has 16 stanzas and is found in Das neu Leipziger Gesangbuch as No. 234 under “Christian Life and Conduct.” Information on the melody, “Kommt her zu mir,” is found at BCW The Georg Grünwald (c.1490-1530) BCW Short Biography is found at

Bach’s Leipzig Cantate Performance Calendar

For Cantate Sunday, the Fourth Sunday after Easter, besides Cantata 108 in 1725, only one other cantata is extant, solo Cantata BWV 166, "Wo gehest du hin?" (Where goest thou?, John 16:5), 7 May 1724, possibly Christian Weise text, which is similar in form and content. Both begin with undesignated bass vox Christi movements citing a verse from the Gospel text with oboe and strings, followed with a tenor aria that explains the meaning of the biblical dictum. Cantata 166 follows with a chorale aria and a recitative-aria pair, closing with a plain chorale – together in the form of a double-chorale cantata with opening biblical motto.

Recent scholarship suggests that Cantata 166 in the first cycle may have been presented in 1724 on a double bill with a reperformance of Weimar solo Cantata BWV Anh. 191, "Leb ich, oder leb lich nicht," music lost, based on a text of court poet Salomo Franck.6 It is possible that Bach premiered Cantata Anh. 191 on Cantate Sunday, 19 May 1715, four weeks after the premiere of festive Easter chorus Cantata BWV 31, “Der Himmel lacht! die Erde jubilieret” (The heavens laugh! The earth shouts with joy),” as part of his Concertmaster duties to present church-year cantatas every four weeks, based on Franck published te.

The year after Cantata 108 was presented, Bach on Cantate Sunday, 12 May 1726, presented Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata JLB-14, "Die Weisheit kommt nicht in eine boschaft Seele (Wisdom comes not in a malicious soul), Rudolstadt text. reperformance c.1743-46. It closes (no. 8) with No. 8 the Georg Grünwald text, "O du allersußeste Freude" (Stanzas 1, 5), for which there is no extant Sebastian plain chorale setting. Picander’s printed cycle Cantata text P-34, "Ja, Ja, ich bin nun ganz Verlassen (Yes, Yes, I am now entirely forsaken), was intended for Cantate Sunday, 28 May 1729, but contains no closing chorale. For the same Sunday, 19 April 1736, Bach presented a double bill of Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel cantatas “ Niemand kommt zum Vater, denn durch mich, Mus. A 15:174 + Weise mir, Herr, deinen Weg, Mus. A 15:175

Cantata 108 movements, scoring, texts, key, meter (Ziegler text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW

1. Aria/Arioso vox Dei (John 20:7) concertante two-part with ritornell [Bass; Oboe d'amore I, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe; / denn so ich nicht hingehe, / kömmt der Tröster nicht zu euch.” (It is good for you that I should go away; / for if I do not go away / the comforter will not come to you.); B. “So ich aber gehe, / will ich ihn zu euch senden.” (But if I go / I shall send him to you.); A Major; 4/4.
2. Aria two-part with ritornelli, dal segno to opening ritornello [Tenor; Violino solo, Continuo]: A. “Mich kann kein Zweifel stören, / Auf dein Wort, Herr, zu hören.” (No doubt can disturb me / from hearing your word, Lord.); B. “Ich glaube, gehst du fort, / So kann ich mich getrösten, / Dass ich zu den Erlösten / Komm an gewünschten Port.” (I believe, if you go away / then I can be comforted / that among the redeemed / I shall come to the haven I long for.); f-sharp minor; ¾.
3. Recitative secco [Tenor; Continuo]: “Dein Geist wird mich also regieren, / Dass ich auf rechter Bahne geh; / Durch deinen Hingang kommt er ja zu mir, / Ich frage sorgensvoll: Ach, ist er nicht schon hier?” (Your spirit will therefore guide me / so I walk along the right path; / through your departure he does indeed come to me: I ask anxiously: Ah, is he not already here? ); b minor to A Major; 4/4.
4. Chorus vox Spiritus Sanctus (John 20:13) fugal motet three-part (A B A’), orchestra doubling chorus [SATB; Oboe d'amore I/II e Violino I all' unisono, Oboe d'amore II e Violino II all' unisono, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Wenn aber jener, der Geist der Wahrheit, / kommen wird, der wird euch in alle Wahrheit leiten.” (But when he comes, the spirit of truth, / He will guide you into all truth.); B. “Denn er wird nicht von ihm selber reden, / sondern was er hören wird, das wird er reden;” (For he will not speak of himself, / but whatever he hears, he will say); C. “und was zukünftig ist, / wird er verkündigen.” (and what is to come / He will proclaim.); D Major; 2/2 alle breve.
5. Aria (Largo) two-part with ritornelli [Alto; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Was mein Herz von dir begehrt, Ach, das wird mir wohl gewährt.” (What my heart desires of you / Ah, that will certainly be fulfilled.); B. “Überschütte mich mit Segen, / Führe mich auf deinen Wegen, / Dass ich in der Ewigkeit / Schaue deine Herrlichkeit!” (Pour down upon me your blessing, / lead me in your way / so that in eternity / I may behold your glory!); b minor; 6/8.
6. Chorale plain [SATB; Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo]: “Dein Geist, den Gott vom Himmel gibt, / Der leitet alles, was ihn liebt, / Auf wohl gebähntem Wege. / Er setzt und richtet unsren Fuß, / Dass er nicht anders treten muss, / Als wo man findt den Segen.” (Your Spirit, which God gives from heaven, / leads all those who love him / on well trodden paths. / He places and guides our feet / so that they only have to tread / where blessings are to be found.); b minor; 4/4.

Cantata 108: Venue, Plan

The Cantate Sunday venue and the Cantata 103 plan are considered in John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage 2000 recording on Soli Deo Gloria.7 <<Cantatas for the Fourth Sunday after Easter (Cantate) St Mary’s, Warwick. With those three astonishing Jubilate works still ringing in our ears, the plan was that we would then travel east from Altenburg; but a last minute hitch with the Polish promoter meant that instead of Warsaw we found ourselves in Warwick! In the event, St Mary’s Collegiate Church – surely one of the most impressive parish churches in England – provided a beautiful and sympathetic setting for our programme. Founded by the Beauchamp family (the earls of Warwick) in the twelfth century, it was twice rebuilt after massive fires, one in 1394, the other exactly 300 years later.

After the pathos and emotional depth of last week’s pieces, the two cantatas for Easter 4, BWV 166 and 108, seemed at first gentler and more intimate, as though depicted in subtle mezzotints. But that impression turned out to be only skin deep. The more you immerse yourself in these works the more you experience yet again the exceptional potency of Bach’s post-Resurrection cantatas, which cover such a wide gamut of styles and moods. Bach is constantly challenging his listeners to consider what it is to be alive, using his music to tease new meanings out of the Gospel texts.>>

<< By now we are so used to experiencing those astonishing contrasts of approach and imagery when we move from the first to the second of Bach’s Leipzig cantata cycles, both based on identical doctrinal themes, that it comes as a shock to find him operating in the same structural groove twice in a row. I’m willing to bet that when he sat down to compose BWV 108 Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe in April 1725, there, propped up on his desk, was last year’s Wo gehest du hin [BWV 166]: the similarities between the two cantatas are just too close to be accidental. Both begin not with the usual chorus but with a bass solo (vox Christi), and reserve the chorus for the end (BWV 166) or the middle and the end (BWV 108). Neither cantata has a treble solo, but both have important tenor arias as their second movement, each with a highlight sustained note: ‘stehe’ in BWV 166, ‘glaube’ in BWV 108. Both works are constructed on a sort of arpeggiated tonal staircase of keys suggestive of the imminent descent of the holy spirit at Pentecost (leading downwards in BWV 166 from B flat to g, c, D, B flat, and g, and in BWV 108 from A to f sharp, D to b). It is significant that BWV 108 fleshes out the central issue dealt with more summarily in BWV 166. ‘Whither goest thou?’ carries with it an explanation, ‘It is expedient for you that I go away’, the following year.

The movements which made the deepest impression on me were, first, the tenor aria with violin obbligato, ‘Mich kann kein Zweifel stören’ (No.2) – a powerful number, rather convoluted but brilliantly worked out and a little reminiscent of Brahms in Hungarian gypsy mode. Then, the rigorous piece of choral polyphony, ‘Wenn aber jener, der Geist der Wahrheit, kommen wird’ (No.4) – three tersely arranged fugues in motet style. They look intractable on the page, but emerge persuasively spirited in performance. Finally, the exquisite 6/8 aria for alto and strings, ‘Was mein Herz von dir begehrt’ (No.5): with its broken melodic line and limpid first violin writing it conveys intense longing, a little like the psalmist’s ‘hart desiring the water brooks’.>>
© John Eliot Gardiner 2005, From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Cantate Gospel John 20:7, 13

The emphasis on the Cantate Sunday Gospel, John 16:5-15, is found in the opening bass vox Christi [Verse 7] and the central [no. 4] chorus fugal motet [Verse 13], observes Klaus Hofmann’s 2007 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki Bcomplete cantata recording.8 <<Bach’s second cantata to a text by Mariane von Ziegler was performed at the church service in Leipzig on 29th April 1725, Cantate Sunday – a week after Ihr werdet weinen und heulen. The gospel passage for this day, too, comes from Jesus’ words of farewell (John 16, 5–15). The message he gives to his disciples describes the sadness in which he will leave them, but also the promise that he is going to his Father in order to send the Holy Spirit to them as comforter and as the spirit of truth that will guide them. The cantata text begins with a verse [7] from the gospel: ‘Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe …’ (‘It is expedient for you that I go away …’). It is Jesus who is speaking and, like in the Passions and in many other cantatas, Bach has given his words to a bass voice. Bach has used the cantilena of the oboe d’amore to capture the mood of grief at parting. The oboe and vocal line have the same theme, which they present in a number of variations.

The tenor aria [no. 2] has a decidedly instrumental character. The agile figurations of the solo violin – which sometimes joins forces with the vocal line – unfold above an ostinato bass motif which, with its constant recurrences, expresses steadfastness and firmness of belief – as too, in a different way, do the very long-held notes in the vocal line on the words ‘ich glaube’ (‘I believe’). In the fourth movement, ‘Wenn aber jener, der Geist der Wahrheit, kommen wird’ (‘Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come’), Bach has allocated the gospel text [Verse 13] to the choir and set it throughout as a [motet] fugue. An unusual formal feature here is that Bach sets the words of the final section, ‘und was zukünftig ist, wird er verkündigen’ (‘and he will show you things to come’), to an only slightly altered version of the opening theme, thereby lending the movement a particular feeling of [free da-capo] unity. The alto aria [no. 5] ‘Was mein Herz von dir begehrt’ (‘That which my heart demands from You’), like the earlier tenor aria, emphasizes instrumental characteristics. In the accompanying string orchestra, the first violin is clearly dominant. This does not, however, undermine the textual expression in any way: throughout the orchestra and also in the vocal line, the word ‘Herz’ (‘heart’) has yearning, sighing figures, mostly emphasized still further by being followed by pauses. Also the words ‘überschütte mich mit Segen’ (‘shower me with blessings’) are brought into play musically, and the word ‘Ewigkeit’ (‘forever’) is illustrated by means of an prolonged note.

At the end there is a chorale movement that is simple but also characteristic with its constantly forward-pacing bass line, on a strophe from the hymn “Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist” (God, Father, Send Your Spirit) by Paul Gerhardt (1653).>> © Klaus Hofmann 2007

Cantata 108, Ziegler Texts

The form of Cantata 108 and the poetry of librettist Mariane von Ziegler are descibed in Cantata BWV 108, BCML Discussion Part 3, (November 17, 2010): Cantata 108: Ziegler Text, (revised). << Bach's second cantata to a Mariane von Ziegler text, BWV 108, like three other Ziegler texts – 87, 183, and 175 - contains no opening chorus but places the chorus near the middle as No. 4, “Wenn aber jenes, der Geist der Wahrheit, kommen wird" (But when he, the spirit of truth, will come). It's is a paraphrase of John 16:13, from the day’s appointed Gospel, "The work of the Paraclete," John 16:5-15. The placement of the biblical chorus in the middle of Cantata BWV 108 is untypical of Bach, according to Dürr (Ibid.: 27).9 The other three cantatas contain central recitatives, alternating with arias, and a closing chorale in the basic structure of Bach's first cantata group, according to Dürr, primarily found in Sundays after Trinity and the Second Sunday After Easter (Misericordias Domini) in the 1723-24 first cantata cycle.

Multiple Bible verses are a characteristic of Ziegler cantata texts as well as the use of the vox Christi, found in 11 movements -- five choruses [one with bass recitative], four bass arias, and bass and tenor recitatives -- of eight of the nine Ziegler Cantatas, excepting BWV 128 for Ascension Day, lists Mark A. Peters in his study of the Ziegler cantatas.10

Other Ziegler characteristics found in Cantata 108, says Peters, include: A. The predominant theme of "Speech" compared to the lesser theme of "Silence" in No. 4, with the Vox Dei "text describing Holy Spirit speaking," p. 77. B. The opening innovative Vox Christi bass aria similar to the previous substantial and virtuosic movements in previous Cantatas BWV 89 (Trinity +22, 1723), 166 (Cantate, 1724), 86 (Rogate 1724) and 85 (Misericordias Domini 1725), p. 89f - all possibly by Christian Weiss Sr; pp. 87, 89f and 101. C. The Vox Dei chorus, No. 4, in the old German motet tradition, and with 68/5 are related to the five similar, more conventional, concise Vox Christi choruses in the first Leipzig Cantata Cycle, 1723-24: BWV 24/3 (4th Sunday After Trinity, Neumeister text), 77/1 (13th Sunday After Trinity, ?C. Weiss), 65/1 (Epiphany, ?C. Weiss), 144/1 (Septuageisma, ?Picander), and 37/1 (Ascension 1724, ?C Weiss), pp. 93-95 and 101. D. The overall cantata "singular structure" with the two Vox Dei (Christi and Spiritus) dictum movements, p. 109; E. The cohesion, flow, and continuity of Ziegler's solo texts, especially the No. 2 tenor trio binary aria, "Ich kann kein Zweifel stören" (No doubt can deter me), and the tenor recitative, No. 3, "Dein Geist wird mich also regieren (Your Spirit will so rule me). The tenor aria is the believer's response to the Vox Christi bass dictum and the following tenor recitative tells how the believer will find the aria's desired port of redemption through the path of the Holy Spirit. "More so than the chorale cantatas," says Peters (p.112), "Ziegler's aria texts exhibit close textual and theological connections with their surrounding movements." F. While the instrumental scoring for Cantata 108 is traditional Leipzig - two oboes d'amore, strings, and basso continuo -- Bach employs different scoring in each movement, unlike the chorale cantatas (Peters: 124) and is similar to Bach's scoring in the 1727 Funeral Ode, BWV198, with more instruments and movements.>>

Ziegler Reception History, Cantata 108

Following quite a varied initial Bach Cantata Mailing List Discussion of Cantata 108, Thomas Braatz offers a study of the reception history of poet Ziegler, in his BCW Commentary (May 16, 2001, <<BWV 108 - Of ancient Greek armies advancing into battle; Of finding the 'middle ground' between Pietism & Lutheranism; Of the Holy Spirit controlling you as a puppeteer would a puppet; Of God as a hammer smashing rocks into bits; Of Bach's wife 'embracing' the Air used as the basis for the Goldberg Variations; Of Picander's 'meaningless pile of word-rubbish;' -- I never thought that this short cantata with only one of the three arias being really worthwhile, according to Simon Crouch, would lead into so many different directions. I hope you will find all this material as thought-provoking as I did.

One of this cantata's most interesting aspects, besides the great music that it contains, is the text on which it is based. When Spitta (1873 ff) wrote his comprehensive two-volume work on the life and compositions of J. S. Bach, he still had no idea (nor did anyone else) who the poet was, but he sensed that here was a poet of a different, higher caliber than Picander, whose texts Bach was to use later for numerous cantatas. It struck Spitta, that the manner in which the texts are written is quite noteworthy: the Bible quotations are more frequent, the poet returns again and again to unusual, graforms of poetry, the depth of feeling is greater and purer, and the thoughts expressed are more uplifting. Spitta mused, "One would like to know, if this is a new poet whose text Bach is now using, or if Bach, after having set to music and elaborated on the church chorales, had expressed his dissatisfaction with the "doch leeren Wortkram Picanders" (Picander's, after all is said and done, useless, meaningless pile of 'word'-rubbish) and as usable as they might have been, simply tried to improve on Picander's meager talent by ennobling the cantata text with his own more serious version of the text.

In 1892 Spitta identified the book of poems [Versuch in Gebundener Schreib-Art I, Leipzig 1728] by Christiane Mariane von Ziegler, the daughter of Franz Conrad Romanus, a former mayor of Leipzig, the existence of which book proved that Bach used her texts for the following cantatas: BWV 68, BWV 74, BWV 87, BWV 103, BWV 108, BWV 128, BWV 175, BWV 176, BWV 183. These cantatas become an exception to the rule, since they do not have an introductory choral mvt. Because Bach was given more freedom here in applying his talent than in the more restrictive cantata text based directly on the church chorales, these works belong to a category of compositions of unusual beauty. These are all thoughts paraphrased from Spitta's book.

Modern scholarship attempts to reverse this harsh criticism of Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici) who supplied texts for a later sacred cantata cycle than the one for BWV 108. His most successful effort was the SMP (BWV 244). Christoph Wolff (2000) subscribes to the theory that a superintendent emeritus of the Thomaner School, Andreas Stübel, had been the 'librettist' for the 2nd Leipzig cantata cycle, Bach's first cycle of cantatas having been based on a similar libretto type much like von Ziegler's. But Stübel died before completing the cycle, and Bach was forced to look about for a replacement. Finally with Easter and the weeks that followed, he used von Ziegler exclusively. Bach's collaboration ended just as suddenly as it began, even though she even had the book printed which contained more texts that Bach could have used. This was also the time when Bach no longer regularly produced full yearly cycles as we saw in the discussion of BWV 146. Perhaps there was criticism on a theological level: were the texts too pietistical, too revolutionary for the church hierarchy that remained more firmly on the side of strict Lutheranism?

Schweitzer (1905) sees a rejuvenated Bach as a result of being able to use these texts by von Ziegler: "Now Bach had opportunity to write fine ariosi and motet-like choruses" He reiterates Spitta's evaluation: "The texts are greatly superior to those of Picander." "As we read through the score, we fancy we can realise the delight with which Bach set to work on these new texts. He undoubtedly composed them all in one sequence."

Nicholas Anderson (1999) [Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd: 164] calls von Ziegler, "a Leipzig poet and gifted amateur musician." And he says, "Bach departed from the chorale-based cantata with unifying theme [I assume he refers to the 2nd Leipzig cycle here], reverted to the more heterogeneous patterns of the previous Leipzig cycle [meaning, I believe, the 1st Leipzig cycle.] He also says, "Bach may have adjusted the texts to his own needs."

Some [Cantata 108 text] things that Bach changed were insignificant, others rather substantial. Here is what Bach changed: 1. Dictum 'hingehe, kömmt' becomes 'hingehe, so kömmt' The 'so' comes from the Luther Bible. Bach corrected the poet or needed an extra syllable. 2. Aria 'an gewünschten Port' becomes 'an erwünschten Port' not significant. 3. Recit a major change from three lines compressed into two!! Originally: “Dein Geist wird mich indessen schon regieren, Daß ich , so lang ich hier die Wallfahrth muß verführen, Nicht von der rechten Bahne gleite; Becomes under Bach's hand: “Dein Geist wird mich also regiren [sic] Daß ich auf rechter Bahne geh;” (Bach has removed the idea of our pilgrimage here on earth and changes a negative ' so that I won't leave the correct path' to 'I will be guided so that I will stay on the correct path.' And Bach also changes 'ängstiglich' to 'sorgensvoll' (changed from 'fearful' to 'worried or anxious''). 4. Dictum 'Wann' to 'Wenn' (a grammatical change that was beginning to take place at that time- not important). 5 Aria 'von mir' to 'von dir' this may have been a printer's error that obviously had to be corrected 'Leite' becomes 'Führe' (synonyms) and 'einst in Ewigkeit' becomes 'in der Ewigkeit' ('what will at a future time be in eternity' to simply 'in eternity'). 6. Choral 'Der Geist' becomes 'Dein Geist' ('The [Holy] Spirit' becomes 'Your Spirit, [speaking to Christ and referring to one part of the Holy Trinity]') 'Auf wohlgebähnten Wegen' becomes 'Auf wohl gebähnten Wege' (Change from plural to singular - not very significant) 'unsern Fuß' becomes 'unsren Fuß' (very unclear as to whether this changes the meaning from singular to plural)

Looking at the entire cantata from the standpoint of tonal allegory (an idea first stated by Bukofzer), Eric Chafe (1991) [Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach: 203] refers to BWV 108 as a 'catabasis' cantata. The word, 'catabasis', if I am not mistaken used by analogy to the more famous 'Anabasis,' ['a marching upward, a military advance') refers originally to a historical description by Xenophon of a wartime army movement in ancient Greece. Catabasis, its opposite, simply means 'a going down.' So Chafe describes the downward movement in key signatures as "anticipation of the Spirit's descent and the relinquishing to it of all self-determination. He maintains the descent is from A major (Chorus) [This must be a mistake on Chafe's part. He must be referring to Mvt. 1 which is in A major, but only for bass, not for the usual chorus.], to F# minor (aria) [tenor] to D major (recit. & aria) [here he must mean the main chorus which is in D major] to B minor (aria & chorale) [alto aria + chorale]. [I hope this is no indication of how careless Chafe is with checking his references and reading his proofs!] Elsewhere Chafe says this cantata, with its downward movement by thirds, indicates "a shift from divine to human." He also states about this cantata, "the Spirit controls the individual being," and "God's spirit sinks into man." [I do have a serious problem with the idea of the Holy Spirit controlling me like a puppet! Mvt. 3 states: "Der Geist wird mich regieren" ("The Holy Spirit will rule over me.") As I understand this, this is a fervent wish or desire that only happens, if I allow it to be so; otherwise I may need to reconsider my lifelong commitment to Lutheranism.]

Mvt. 1 Basso Solo ( Schweitzer discovered a 'step' motif in the bass while the 'noble arabesque of the oboe expresses a 'sublime consolation.' He says, "the strings accompany the vaporous arabesques of the oboe d'amore with tender staccato quavers, representing the passing away of the transfigured Saviour." He hears a connection between this mvt. and the section in the SMP where Jesus says, "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." [I have not checked this reference to the SMP. Anybody reading this who agrees with Schweitzer on this and knows what he [Schweitzer] is talking about, simply write to the BCML and elaborate on what he means here.] Dürr tells us that whenever the bass (here as Vox Christi) sings alone the words from the Bible, Bach does not provide a caption such as 'Aria' or 'Arioso.' Here the oboe d'amore has very long phrases of exceptional beauty. Although the string accompaniment tends to be homophonic, simply supplying the chordal structure, there are, nevertheless, hints of the motpresent in the voice and oboe d'amore. Anderson states that the oboe d'amore and 4 pt. string support 'suffuse this piece with radiance, though its dance-like character is counterbalanced by expressive intensity and melismas in the vocal writing.'

Mvt. 2 Tenor Aria ( Schweitzer perceives the word, "Zweifel" ("doubt") as a springboard for Bach's musical painting: "the semiquavers wandering aimlessly, as it were, in the solo violin, symbolize the doubt, while the firmly moving bass represents immovable faith." Because of the powerful, widely ranging figures of the solo violin placed above an ostinato bass, Dürr senses the expression of confidence. This is particularly true in the second section of the aria, where Bach uses an ascending, upward-moving scale of notes on the words, "gehst du fort" ("if you go away") and a long, held tone on the words, "ich glaube" ("I believe, trust.") Anderson adds that the voice enters the key of A major on "glaube" and remains on this sustained note for 3 measures and then once again for 2 measures.

Mvt. 3 Tenor Recitative. Listen how differently each tenor on the recordings sings the final question, "Ach, ist er nicht schon hier?" which should be expressed with genuine concern. A very beautiful moment in this recitative that points directly at the chorus which follows it.

Mvt. 4. Chorus. Spitta indicates that the words, although spoken by Jesus before his crucifixion, are here now spoken/sung in the way the disciples would express it on Pentecost: in an enthusiastic and overpowering manner. "All the barriers are being broken down with the fugal theme." You can almost sense, Spitta says, the words from Jer. 23:29: (Luther translation: "Ist mein Wort nicht wie Feuer, spricht der HERR, und wie ein Hammer, der Felsen zerschmeißt ?" KJV: "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" or NLT: " Does not my word burn like fire?" asks the LORD. "Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes rock to pieces?"). Schweitzer points out that this chorus is really a motet, since there are no independent orchestral parts. Here the instruments simply double the vocal parts to provide an orchestral accompaniment. Dürr has us examine the fugal structure, the first fugue beginning with a double entrance (bass and tenor) in what he calls "Comesgestalt." [I really do not know what point he is trying to make here, but sounds erudite, so I included it for those who can make something of this.] The second fugue on the words, "Denn er wird nicht von ihm selber reden" (NLT Joh 16:13 "He will not be presenting his own ideas" is followed by a third, "und was zukünftig ist, wird er verkündigen" ("He will tell you about the future,") which makes use of thematic material from the first fugue. Thus we have a free da capo form: A, B, A'. This creates an arch or a framework around the center section. Anderson states that this is a fugal motet having a tripartite structure (3 Fugues), "the first is striking in its originality and affirmative in its declaration of faith." [How about Anderson's choice of the word, 'striking' and a possible connection with Spitta's 'hammer of the Lord.'?]

The Wolff-Koopman misguided foray ("The World of the Bach Cantatas') into an attempt to state something worthwhile for those interested in Bach cantatas comes up with this statement about this mvt.: "Among the genuine choral mvts. as middle mvts. in a Bach cantata, there are some motet-like compositions based on abstract spoken texts which can be seen as traditionally connected with this style of composition that is "affektneutral" ('neutral in creating an emotional response in the listener')." [We have gone from one extreme, Spitta's 'Hammer,' to the other, where the music has become placid and non-committal because people are no longer able to comprehend the words that Bach set to music. Listen to the recordings, and you will hear both extremes and everything in between!]

Mvt. 5 Alto Aria ( Schweitzer states that "the first violins give out the "joy" motif in every possible form. The first violin has a prominent, virtuosic part. There are examples of word-painting here also." Dingeman van Wijnen in the notes for the Brilliant Classics cantata series states: "A solemn alto aria expresses how the blessings of Christ are poured out richly, with a beautiful run on "überschütte" ("pour [over me your blessings.]")

It is the extremely beautiful melodic phrase on these words "überschütte mich mit" which occurs twice, the second time being a variation of the first, that reminded me of a similar phrase I had heard elsewhere in Bach: it occurs in BWV 508, a secular love song, "Bist du bei mir" ("When/If you are with me") on the words, "zum Sterben und zu meiner Ruh" ("to death and my eternal rest") and again on the words, "es drückten deine schönen Hände" (your beautiful hands closed [my faithful eyelids after I had died.] This song, most likely composed by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, is found in the second "Clavierbüchlein vor Anna Magdalena Bachin" (1725) ("The Notebook of/for..") [the other one, also for Anna Magdalena was from 1722.]. These were her private collections of compositions that she treasured. Most of the music was in her own hand (she was an excellent copier of music.) For this air and another, "So oft ich meine Tabackspfeife" ("As often as I take my pipe into my hands,") she wrote out the melody line and the words, and Bach filled in the basso continuo - a very touching co-production, particularly when you consider that she would be the one to close the eyelids of her husband when he died. Another unusual aspect (it may simply have been an oversight, or coincidence) to all of this is that she began the air on the right side of one page and continued on, not the next page (left side) but skipped two blank pages before completing the other half. OK, perhaps the pages (of this book) occasionally were not cut, or she may have turned two pages instead of one in a book so important to her at a time when paper pages were relatively expensive, or she deliberately left the two pages blank with two halves of a love song 'embracing' what was to be in between: an untitled piece that we now know as the main theme or air on which the Goldberg Variations are based! Did she copy it into this space after she, how important this was to her husband? Since Bach supplied the figured bass line for the airs, he, at least, must have known about the 'skipped' pages - a family secret?

Mvt. 6 Chorale. The melody of this chorale is "Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn," a chorale whose setting Dürr calls 'simple' or 'plain,' but Ludwig Finscher (1980), in his notes for the Teldec cantata series, calls it a 'richly harmonized four-part chorale,' which I think is closer to the truth. This chorale melody has a different setting as mvt. 8 of BWV 74 "Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten," that text also by C. M. von Ziegler.

Cantata 108 Provenance

Besides Cantata 108, as with the other some dozen 1725 Easter/Pentecost cantatas in the third cycle distribution in 1750, Emmanuel received virtually all of the scores and doublet (duplicate) string and continuo parts, as found in his 1790 estate catalogue. The exception was Pentecost Sunday Cantata 174 score and parts set, which was not found in Emmanuel’s catalogue but survived presumably through distribution to Friedemann who, in Halle, presented cantatas on major feast days such as Pentecost. The parts sets of the remaining 1725 cantatas presumably also went to Friedemann and survive although it is possible that they were inherited by Christian who may have entrusted them to half-brother Emmanuel in Berlin where they stayed. Details of the score and parts set are as follows: Autograph Score (Facsimile, Bach Digital): D B Mus. ms. Bach P 82,; Provenance: J. S. Bach - C. P. E. Bach (Estate 1790: 77) - Sing-Akademie zu Berlin - BB (now Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (1855); Doublets (Violine I, Violine II, Basso continuo): J. S. Bach - ? - Sing-Akademie zu Berlin - BB (1851). Parts Set (Facsimile, Bach Digital), D B Mus. ms. Bach St 28,; copyists: Kuhnau, Johann Andreas (1703–nach 1745) = main copyist; Meißner, Christian Gottlob (1707–1760); Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann (1710–1784); Bach, Johann Sebastian; Anon. IId; Anon. IIe; Anon. IIf; later, Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714–1788); Zelter, Carl Friedrich (1758–1832); Provenance: J. S. Bach - ?Friedemann - Radowitz - Voß-Buch - BB (now Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (1851).


1 Cantata 108, BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano,, Score BGA,; score examples NBA I/12, BCW References: BGA, XXIII (Cantatas 101-1`10, Wilhelm Rust 1876; NBA KB I/12 (Cantate to Exaudi; Alfred Dürr, 1960: 31ff), Bach Compendium BC A 72, Zwang K 120.
2 Martin Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 858).
3 See Synopsis of the Four Gospels (RSV, National Council of Churches, United Bible Societies, 1982: 290-96).
4 John S. Setterlund, Bach Through the Year: The Church Music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the Revised Common Lectionary (Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2013: 60).
5 Günther Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, ed. Robin A. Leaver (Concordia Publishing: St. Louis, 1985: 241).
6 Cantata Anh. 191 1724 double bill performance suggested by Christoph Wolff, "Wo bleib Bachs fünfer Kantatenjahgang?," Bach Jahrbuch 1982, "Kleine Beiträge," pp. 151f. Wolff suggests that certain Weimar cantatas were reperformed in 1723-24 in Leipzig as part of a double-bill internal (?fifth) cycle: BWV 80b, BWV 61, BWV 161, BWV 158, BWV Anh. 191, and BWV 54. Other references to lost Cantata Anh. 191 are found in Alfred Dürr, Studien2 1977: 67, 244f; Dürr, Cantatas of JSB: 315; and Klaus Hofmann, “Neue Überlegungen zu Bachs Weimarer Kantaten-Kalendar,” Bach Jahrbuch 1993: 28.
7 Cantata 103 Gardiner notes, BCW[sdg107_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details
8 Cantata 108 Klaus Hofmann notes, BCW[BIS-SACD1611].pdf; BCW Recording details,
9 Bach cantatas with internal four-part choruses are the early works, BWV 150/4, 6, BWV 71/3, 6, and BWV 131/3; the Weimar Cantatas 161/5 and 182/7; and the Leipzig Cantatas 24/3, 119/7, 138/3, 198/7, 28/2, and 198/7.
9 Bach cantatas with internal four-part choruses are the early works, BWV 150/4, 6, BWV 71/3, 6, and BWV 131/3; the Weimar Cantatas 161/5 and 182/7; and the Leipzig Cantatas 24/3, 119/7, 138/3, 198/7, 28/2, and 198/7.
10 Mark A. Peters, A Woman's Voice, in Baroque Music: Mariane von Ziegler and J. S. Bach (Ashgate: 2008: 87), based on his PhD. dissertation (University of Pittsburg 2003). He is the author of Part IV, “Genres and Forms, Chapter 11, Vocal Music, The Routledge Research Companion to Johann Sebastian Bach, ed. Robin A. Leaver (Routledge, 2017).


To Come: Cantata 108: Holy Spirit Theology in Bach Music and Eric Chafe's Johannine Theology.

William Hoffman wrote (April 24, 2017):
Cantata 108, “Es ist euch gut”: Theology

Bach’s solo Cantata BWV 108, “Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe” (It is good for you that I should go away, John 20:7), for the 4th Sunday after Easter (Cantate) in 1725 reveals the Johannine theology, based on the day’s Gospel (John 16:5-15), centering on Christ’s Farewell Discourse to the disciples that after he departs from the earth the Holy Spirit of the Triune God will be there to advocate and protect the believers. In the Christian Nicene Creed, which is an expansion of the Apostles Creed, the believers vow: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.” It is sung as a bass aria (no. 16), “Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum” (And in the Holy Spirit), in Bach’s B Minor Mass

Cantata 108 follows two week after Misericordias Sunday emphasizing the Trinitarian principle of the Good Shepherd guarding and nurturing the flock, focusing on John’s Gospel (10:12-16), Jesus the Good Shepherd, seeking the lost sheep; while God is the shepherd watching over Israel and the Holy Spirit is the protector of the Church. Cantata 108 emphasizes the concept of the Holy Spirit as the Christian’s guide in place of Jesus Christ in the life of the Church, known as omnes tempore (Ordinary Time) or Trinity Time, the second half of the church year now called the Sundays after Pentecost or the coming of the Holy Spirit. “In the case of Cantatas 103 and 108, the sequence of departure/return ideas expresses the continuity between longing for Jesus’s physical presence [being advocate and protector], as articulated in the preceding group of [Easter] cantatas, longing for eschatological [last things] union with him (Cantata 103), and the coming of the Holy Spirit, which is foretold by Jesus in the opening movement of Cantata 108, then anticipated by the believer” in the Cantata 108 tenor recitative (no. 3), “Dein Geist wird mich also regieren” (Your spirit will therefore guide me), says Eric Chafe.1

The opening “movement projects a remarkable sense of the historical situation of the Farewell Discourse, depicting Jesus’s assurance to the disciples at the Last Supper [in the synoptic Gospels] that he would be with them in the Spirit, the comforter,” says Chafe (Ibid. 451),

This Holy Spirit principle is reinforced in the pivotal shift with the following, second Gospel dictum, a rare internal chorus fugal motet setting of John 20:13, “der Geist der Wahrheit kommen wird” (the spirit of truth will guide you). Here, “Jesus describes the spirit as bringing truth to the disciples,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 453). These second central Johannine dicta also are found or alluded to in the succeeding Cantatas BWV 87, 74, 68, 175 and 176, set to texts of Mariane von Ziegler, for Rogate Sunday, the Pentecost three-day festival, and Trinityfest Sunday, says Chafe, closing the de tempore (Proper Time) of the first half of the church year focusing on the presence of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Martin Luher “viewed this verse [13] entirely in a Trinitarian light, unifying and distinguishing the Father as the one who speaks, the Son as tWord, and the Spirit as the one who listens and conveys,” says Chafe (ibid.: 452).

At this point in Cantata 108, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will replace his physical presence, “further clarifying the work of the Spirit” as “a response to the believer’s anxiety, which the second aria [alto, no. 5] seems to overcome,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 451), singing to the Spirit, “Was mein Herz von dir begehrt, / Ach, das wird mir wohl gewährt” (What my heart desires of you / Ah, that will certainly be fulfilled), “This movement is a remarkable depiction of the believer’s longing to see Jesus . . . and the increasing confidence that comes as the result of his experience of the Spirit,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 462), with the closing that confirms the eschatological emphasis. Then “the Spirit will direct the path of the faithful,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 464), as found in the talking bass in the closing congregational chorale: “Dein Geist, den Gott vom Himmel gibt, / Der leitet alles, was ihn liebt, / Auf wohl gebähntem Wege. / Er setzt und richtet unsren Fuß, / Dass er nicht anders treten muss, / Als wo man findt den Segen.” (Your Spirit, which God gives from heaven, / leads all those who love him / on well trodden paths. / He places and guides our feet / so that they only have to tread / where blessings are to be found.).

Holy Spirit Theology, Filioque

The theology of the Holy Spirit, particularly the concept of filioque, proceeding from the Father “and the son,” is explored in Peter Smail’s Cantata 108 commentary, BCML Discussion Part 2, (April 29, 2007), <<As has been observed, this second Cantata after a text by Mariane von Ziegler is of unusual construction, the motet-like central chorus being preceded by two arias and a recitative. It treats of the matter of St John's Gospel ch.14-16, which is the source of the insistence by the Eastern (Orthodox) Church that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father only. This is because Jesus states: (Jn.14:16): "If ye love me, keep my Commandments; and I will pray the Father; and he will give you another Comforter, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth....">>

The first aria (no. 2) for tenor, continues the intimate atmosphere, “affirming faith in Jesus’s words and the understanding of his departure as a source of the believer’s ultimately attaining the “desired port,” which can be understood only in eschatological terms,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 452), The text of the second part, with held notes, is: “Ich glaube, gehst du fort, / So kann ich mich getrösten, / Dass ich zu den Erlösten / Komm an gewünschten Port.” (I believe, if you go away / then I can be comforted / that among the redeemed / I shall come to the haven I long for.).

“The Western tradition, expressed in the filioque ("and from the Son") disputed this Eastern interpretation, that of the "single procession," says Smaill. << What does Bach make of this point? He is not a closet Orthodox, for the setting of the filioque in the B Minor Mass is fully developed. [no. 16, bass aria “Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum et vivificantem qui ex Patre Filioque procedit (And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; ). But here, a tiny detail suggests a related theological issue. Is it Jesus' Spirit that is sent; or the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost? Hans-Joachim Schulze notes that the text of the final Chorale (by Gerhardt) has been changed from the original (IMO so as to vary the theological meaning), by switching from "The Spirit" to "Thy Spirit": "Um der besseren Anknuepfung willen ist in Bachs Kantate-entgegen den Gesanbuechern der Zeit sowie auch der Textfassung bei Mariane von Ziegler- das erste Textwort aus "Der" in "Dein" veraendert......" Thus it is not just the original Ziegler text that is altered, but also an established Chorale verse.>>

Neil Halliday wrote (April 30, 2007): Ed Myskowski wrote: >(1) I am unclear on the meaning of 'filioque' <The Western (Latin) church believes that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son (hence 'et filioque'). The Eastern "Orthodox" (Greek) church objects to the addition of this 'et filioque' clause to the liturgy (read all about it on google. This dispute was one of the leading causes of the schism of 1054, and also probably one of the events of history that eventually resulted in the loss of Christian Constantinople, to Ottoman Muslims). I don't know whether Gerhardt was aware of an Orthodox 'slant' to his text, and whether Bach or someone else made the "necessary" change, to obviously agree with the Western - and Lutheran (AFAIK) - traditions.

Peter Smaill wrote (May 3, 2007): Cantata BWV 108 - Robin Leaver on Filioque. Quite apart from the emphasis placed by Bach on the source of the Holy Spirit being Jesus (by substituting "Dein Geist" for "Der Geist" in the final Chorale of Cantata BWV 108, there is according to Robin Leaver a further example of the composer emphasising the procession of the Holy Spirit through Jesus. It is in the Magnificat: "[discussion of Trinitarian theology symbolized in BMM (BWV 232)] Bach does something similar at the end of the Magnificat (BWV 243) in the nineteen measures at the beginning of the Gloria, before the music of the opening "Magnificat" returns for the remainder of the text of the Gloria Patri. Trinitarian theology is expressed in three sections, one for each Person, in which the voice entries are in triplets and parallel thirds [, Further, the voice entries for "Gloria patri" progress from lowest to highest, with a pedal-point in the middle of the three measures of the bass part. "Gloria filio" has staggered voice entries, beginning with soprano 1, which is now assigned the vocal pedal-point in the middle of these three measures, that is, the inversion of what appears in the bass part of the "Gloria Patri". Then for the "Gloria et Spiritui Sancto" the voices enter in a simple descending order, in five steps from soprano 1 to bass. Here again Bach gives musical form to Trinitarian theology: the Son is the image of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son." ("Luther's Liturgical Music, Principles and Implications," p290.). As Leaver concludes: "Johann Sebastian Bach was as much a musical theologian as a theological musician. Although there has been some resistance in musicological circles to the suggestion that there are distinctive theological dimensions to Bach's music . . . the connection between theology and music has a long history in Lutheran tradition."

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 30, 2007): <<Martin Petzoldt, a theologian who has discussed "The theological Aspects of Bach's Leipzig Cantatas" (chapter 7, pp. 127ff. in volume 3 of "Die Welt der Bach Kantaten" Wolff/Koopman, Metzler/Bärenreiter, 1999) refers to Bach's remarkable "Skrupulosität" ("scrupulousness") which prevented him from using the entire cantata cycle texts by contemporary poets, texts that were readily available to him, but from which Bach would only select portions for setting to music(p. 129): "bei Bach ist eine bemerkenswerte Skrupulosität zu spüren, die eher das Risiko des Wechsels bestimmter Sorten von Kantatentexten auf sich nimmt als die Bindung an einen geschlossenen Jahrgang, der sich theologisch womöglich als fragwürdig erweist." ("in Bach's case a remarkable scrupulousness can be detected, a scrupulousness which would rather risk a change in a certain type of cantata texts than tie itself down to a complete cantata cycle, one which might prove itself possibly to be thequestionable.") Petzoldt notes that among the cantatas from the 1st yearly cycle (not the repeated Weimar cantatas) with texts by Johann Oswald Knauer, Christian Friedrich Henrici, Johann Jacob Rambach (and possibly also Johann Michael Heineccius), the texts were changed and transformed for theological and poetic reasons. Despite all the pressure caused by a lack of time, Bach must have spent an inordinate amount of time in selecting and changing the cantata texts to make them suit his needs. From the above we can see that there is some merit to the notion that Bach would have preferred to work collaboratively with a poet rather than methodically plan to complete an entire printed cycle without interrupting or dropping it suddenly at some point.>>

Liturgically, Bach repeats the Triune Short Doxology “Gloria Patri,” in a more subdued approach in the soprano-tenor duet of Cantata 191, “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” a contrafaction of the B-Minor Mass duet “Domine Deus, Rex coelestis” (Lord God, heavenly king),, presented in the 1740s possibly as a special service of thanksgiving. Bach also reinforces the summa-Trinitarian concept in the closing fugal chorus of the “Gloria in excelsis Deo” of the B Minior Mass: “Cum Sancto Spiritu in Gloria Dei Patris, Amen” (With the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father, Amen), Further, this same chorus contrafaction closes the four Missa: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233-236. Another significant expression of the Holy Spirit is Part 1, “Veni Creator Spiritus,” of Gusav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8,

“Trinity: The Soul of Creation.” Recently, progressive theologian-writers Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault and William Paul Young provided “a three-dimensional view of the many-sided Mystery,” at a conference in Albuquerque, April 6-9. “The Trinity is the foundation and template for the entire universe, and a metaphor for the nature of reality, both seen and unseen. This pattern of dynamic relationship is found in the structure of an atom, in our families, in ecosystems and economies. It is a pattern of mutual giving and receiving; in a word, Love.” Rohr is the author of The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (New Kensington PA: Whitaker House, 2016).


1 Eric Chafe, J. S. Bach’s Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725, Chapter 10, “Jubilate to Ascension Day: Cantatas 103, 108, 87, and 128”; “Introduction: Jesus’s departure and return, seeing and hearing” (Oxford University Press, 2014: 392).


Cantata BWV 108: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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