Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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

Cantata BWV 147
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben
Cantata BWV 147a
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben
Discussions - Part 2

Continue from Part 1

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 20, 2001):
BWV 147 The 'holiness' motif and the Brandenburgs

Recently I discussed Eric Chafe's discovery of the 'holiness' theme in Bach's music, in particular, the connection with the Brandenburg Concertos. This item came up in the discussion of BWV 52. Aryeh also included part of this discussion under Parodies.

This week BWV 147 presents an excellent example of this connection in Mvt. 9, the bass aria, which begins with this holiness motif in the trumpet part at the very beginning of the mvt. and is repeated again just before and after the voice enters (also in the concluding ritornello.) Compare this motif with the horn motif in the 1st Brandenburg, 1st mvt. I then attempted to expand Chafe's discovery to include all the concertos. Again, check Aryeh's site for further information on this.

Santu de Silva wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Thomas Braatz] While I was at first struck by the idea of the link between the themes of the Brandenburgs, I'm now less impressed. Reading my brand-new copy of the Oxford companion (which most of you list members must have read through several times, by now, I am certain ;-) the article on early concertos says that the concerto as developed by Torelli, Albinoni and Vivaldi all have a certain style of ritornello, deriving from trumpet-call-like themes, in other words, based on arpeggios. The Brandenburg themes are, true to type, all arpeggio-like themes. That pretty much settles the reason for their family resemblance.

There is a very interesting description of a ritornello in general. Reading it, I'm immediately reminded of the classic ritornello of the Vivaldi concertos: the florid beginning, the sequential middle part in cycles of fifths, and the closing part. Bach's ritornelli are more varied and complex, and the functions of the ritornello vs the episodes, and their division between the concertino and the ripieno are said to be much more creative in Bach's case.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Santu De Silva] Has anybody discussed the book The Social and Religious Designs of JS Bach's Brandenburg Concertos by Michael Marissen (Princeton, 1995)? ISBN 0-691-00686-5. I have a copy but haven't read it yet. Its three sections are: "Relationships Between Scoring and Structure in Individual Concertos", "The Six Concertos as a Set", and "Lutheran Belief and Bach's Music".

A higher priority for me is to keep working through the book _Dance and the Music of JS Bach_ by Meredith Little and Natalie Jenne. Indiana, 1991, ISBN 0-253-33514-0 or 0-253-21211-1. I think there's no way really to understand much of Bach's instrumental music (and some of the vocal music) without getting how deeply he was influenced by French dance forms and styles. Phrasing, tempo, structure, articulation, projection, expression, historical context.... This book has the best coverage of that that I've seen yet. And one of the appendices lines up dozens of the cantata movements with their respective French dance forms.

Michael Grover wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Bradley Lehman] I skimmed through that book as a graduate student in '96, right after it came out. I believe this book grew out of Marissen's doctoral dissertation. I read the second section, regarding the concertos as a "meaningful set" (his phrase), very closely. He makes many key points as to how and why the concertos are connected intrinsically, rather than just thrown together randomly to put together a gift for the Markgraf. It's very interesting, and a fairly easy-to-understand read (unlike when Tom Braatz quotes from Eric Chafe, nearly all of which goes straight over my head.) It's been a while, but as I am attempting to recall, he discusses the key structure of each concerto, the fact that the 3rd and 6th are for strings only (closing out two halves?), the 1st is in French overture style (royal greeting), the outstanding variety of the instrumentation, etc. etc. I recommend it - check it out at the library.

Dick Wursten wrote (December 21, 2001):
BWV 147 - phrasing of the ostinato - Myra Hess

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< The second item is a matter of phrasing, clearly marked by Bach, but not apparent in all the recordings that I have listened to: it is the famous accompanying ostinato figure (based directly on the chorale melody as Alfred Dürr pointed out) played by the 1st violin(s) and oboes 1 and 2, a motif that continues almost incessantly throughout the entire mvt. This figure consists of a series of triplet-like groupings which Bach marked as follows: the 1st two notes are slurred, but the third is not. >
I have no access to the score, but possess the transcription for piano solo from Myra Hess. It might be a silly remark, but Myra's transcription I always found difficult to play because she not only uses 3/4 (left hand) against 9/8 (right hand ostinato) but in the right hand she always adds a quarter and an eight accompaning the ostinato. I presume this is one of the parts of Bachs score. More simple transcriptions leave these notes out and make it look like 3 (righthand) against 1 (lefthand). This 'quarter and eight' below the three eights of the ostinato automatically create the phrasing Thomas pointed at above..

Santu de Silva wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Dick Wursten] The extra notes of the right hand are the notes played by the viola, and are my most favorite part of the movement,

Even more confusing, some editors, instead of the quarter + eighth note triple figure use a dotted eighth and sixteenth combination. You're supposed to play them the same way, but boy, do they look scary.

This cantata was my earliest introduction to Bach. My father played it to me off a 78 RPM disk by the Bach Choir, conducted by Dr Reginald Jacques, with Eugene Goossens playing the oboe obbligato. No trumpets. On the reverse side was the Rondeau and the Badinerie from the B minor Suite. To this day, these are my favorite pieces. (You can tell how old I am!)

Dick Wursten wrote (December 21, 2001):
BWV 147 - Visitation of Mary - Mariae Heimsuchung

I always get a little comfused by the title of this feast (2nd july). I always think first that Mary gets a visit (which makes me think that this feast is the feast of the Visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, announcing the conception and birth of Jesus), but the truth is the opposite: Mary pays a visit, to her niece Elisabeth. By the way: the visit of Gabriel to Mary is named: Annunciation of Mary (Maria-boodschap in Dutch / Mariae Botschaft (Verkündigung ?) in German).

Back to 2nd of july Mariae Heimsuchung, Visit / Visitation of Mary. [By the way: Aryeh: you have to correct it in the Lutheran Church Year... 'Visiof Mary' is written there wrongly, slip of the 'pen']

The recitatives of BWV 147 which have to make a Mary-Visitation cantata from an advents-cantata often refer to this lovely story of two pregnant women meeting each other and enjoying the 'advent' they are abiding. Two remarkable things happen:
1. unborn-baby John jumps up in the womb of his mother when he hears Mary's voice greeting hist mother... Beautiful scene. Poets and preachers can't get enough of it. Their whole life, service and vocation is already in this scene. One should read it: Luke 1: 39-45 Recitative 8 is entirely dedicated to this scene. It is a reflection and mini-sermon on this perikope... in a rather moralistic way: to summon us to greet Jesus too.

2. After this scene Mary bursts out in singing, Maginificat anima mea Dominum, but then in Aramaic of course... She is - by the way - not quite original: Her 'canticum' is a elaboration (parody one might say) of the canticum of Channa, the mother of Samuel.

So: both John and Mary give witness to the - still not born - Lord: They are
the exaput to the audience on that 2nd of july:
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben Muss von Christo Zeugnis geben....

Richard Grant wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Dick Wursten] Isn't Elizabeth either Mary's aunt or older cousin? I can't seem to find the passage that describes this visit in scripture so I'm relying on my increasingly unreliable memory.

Michael Grover wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Richard Grant] Cousin is correct. The angel Gabriel refers to her as such in Luke 1:36.

Dick Wursten wrote (December 21, 2001):
BWV 147: Elisabeth and Mary

Please permit me a small exegetical excurs(ion) on the visitation of Mary to Elisabet (her cousin, her aunt?, Lk 1:36 only states that there is 'a family relation', (Greek: Sun-geneis: having the same genes) it doesnot state which one exactly: Because Mary is supposed to be a young woman and Elisabeth very old... most people imagine a generation difference: aunt).

According to biblical genealogy (which always has some aspects of theology) Elisabet was a descendant of Aaron (Luke 1:5), whose own wife by the way had the same name: Elisheba. She and her husband Zacharias (priest) are depicted as ideal prototypes of the Jewish faith. Luke [who can write perfect classical greek - Read his dedication of his book and his 'captatio benevolentiae' Luke 1:1-5 and Cicero is not far away] deliberately 'hebraizes' his Greek (makes it sound as if it is Hebrew). Even the syntax is more Hebrew than Greek. He continues to do this till after all prophecies and commandments around the birth of Jesus are fullfilled, the last being his bar mitswa (Luke 2: 41-51) rounding of with the famous sentence, which Schutz uses as the final concluding statement of his Christmas-history: "and Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour both with God and man" Luke 2:52).

The jewish origin of christianity cannot be made more ecxplicit than by the Christmas story according to Luke. One example, the introduction of Zacharias and Elisabeth: Luke 1:6: "They both were righteous for God and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."

In this phrase Luke uses the greek equivalents of 'tsaddik' (righteous), 'mitswot' (commandments of the synagogue), 'chook' (other ordinances), 'halacha' (walking, the 'way of life') and 'tamiem' (pure, blameless).

Even the fact that during the visitation (also introduced by a hebraism: 'and it came to pass'...) John greets Jesus by 'jumping up' in her womb can have some old-testamentical background... The same verb is used in the greek translation of the prophecies of Maleachi (4:2) to describe the joy about the Advent of the 'day of the Lord'. Three verses later Maleachi announces that the prophet Elijah will come before the great day of the Lord arrives. In chirstianity John the Baptist is generally identified as 'the second Elijah'...

So far.

By the way: Mary's song (sung at this Visitation) of course is the theme of Mvt. 2 (recitative)... and as I already mentioned: Johns pre-natal greeting of Mvt. 8 (recitative).

Final remark: The link between 4th advent (BWV147a) and Mary's visit is that in both occasions next to Mary John the Baptist is present. In Elisheba's womb on the one hand, as the preacher who identifes Jesus as the Lamb of God on the other hand (reading 4th advent: John 1:29-34)

Richard Grant wrote (December 26, 2001):
[To Dick Wursten] My Hebrew is nonexistent but I do remember a bit from my high school and college Classical Greek, and it and it might be applicable in commenting on the Koine Greek in which "Luke", the most literarily Greek of the Gospels, is written.. Throughout the Mediterranean the term "cousin" is used to indicate consanguinity apart from parent and child or siblings. (I believe that in Arabic the word for "brother" is the same as the word for "cousin".)

Even today royals of the old school throughout the world address each other formally as "cousin" in correspondence-- the idea being that the international gene-pool among royal houses is so small that there is likely to be some kind of consanguinity between them all. So that while every translation of "Luke" into English that I've read-- and I'll have to check my Latin Bible-- translates the relationship between Mary and Elisabeth as that of cousins, it is very likely as you indicate that that is merely to establish that there is between them some sort of consanguinity. I frankly don't know what exactly is-- or if in fact there is-- an exegetical reason for the scholar/poets who translate the Bible from the Greek to say that Mary and Elisabeth are cousins. What I questioned was the specific statement that Elisabeth was Mary's "niece". I haven't seen any evidence, exegetical or otherwise, to indicate that specific relationship between the two.

Marie Jensen wrote (December 21, 2001):
Werner [6], Richter [4], Harnoncourt [14], Koopman [19], Leusink [23]..... 5 versions of BWV 147 and not much time. I listened to them, and then I asked myself: Which one would you choose, if you wanted to listen to cantata BWV 147 again some day ?

The answer came immediately : Richter [4]. Should I choose a HIP version: Koopman [19]. No further comments this time.

Nagamiya Tutomu wrote (December 16, 2001):
BWV 147 - Recordings of Individual Movements

[To Aryeh Oron] In the historical 20 CD set that Charles quoted, I found very old and
valuable recording of "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" sung in English, just before Hotter's BWV 82.

TT 3:30
Leon Goossens, Oboe
Chor and Orchestra, Bach Cantata Club
Kennedy Scott, conductor
recorded in 1931

Michael Grover wrote (December 20, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Here are a few additional recordings of the chorale from BWV 147:

CD Now
CD Title: Make A Joyful Noise
Conductor: Jerold Ottley
Choir: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra: Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Label: Sony Classics

CD Now
CD Title: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: 20 Great Bach & Handel Choruses
Conductor: Eugene Ormandy
Choir: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra: Philadelphia Orchestra
Label: Sony Classics

Amazon.com
CD Title: Christmas Classics for Guitar
Performer: Stevan Pasero
Label: Sugo Records
Track Time: 2'58''

Amazon.com
CD Title: Christmas in the Morning: A Celebration in Brass
Ensemble: Michael Laird Brass Ensemble
Label: Decca

Amazon.com
CD Title: Ave Maria
Performer: Kiri Te Kanawa
Conductor: Barry Rose
Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra
Label: Philips

Amazon.com
CD Title: Ceremonial Music for Trumpet & Symphonic Organ
Organ: Michael Murray
Trumpet: Rolf Smedvig
Label: Telarc

There are many, many more. Including them all would be a major task. In fact, I'm not sure you want to include any of these that I've just sent, as the majority of them are "classical greatest hits" albums with no more than 1-3 Bach selectionsper disc (the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Bach & Handel disc is the exception here.)

Incidentally, I highly recommend that Pasero guitar disc. He is amazing. One of my favorite classical guitarists.

Philip Peters wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] There is also a recording by Reginald Jacques and the Jacques Orchestra from the fifties with Kathleen Ferrier a.o. I am currently not near my collection but I will look for more details later. AFAIK none of the Jacues recordings with Ferrier have been reissued on CD. If I am wrong here please let me know.

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Nagamiya Tutomu, Michael Grover & Philip Peters]Thanks for the info regarding additional recordings of individual movements from BWV 147.

I have just finished compiling an updated list of recordings of individual movements of Cantata BWV 147. There are not about 30, as were listed in the Bach Cantatas Website about a week ago, but more than 180!!! I had to split them into several pages, and sorted them alphabetically by the name of the main performer. The pages are:
A-B: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV147-2.htm
C-E: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV147-3.htm
F-J: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV147-4.htm
K-M: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV147-5.htm
N-R: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV147-6.htm
S-Z: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV147-7.htm

There are links to all those pages from the main page of BWV 147:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV147.htm

If I missed anythomg, please inform me.

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 21, 2001):
[To Philip Peters] There is a CD of excerpts from SMP on Decca with Kathleen Ferrier under the baton of Reginald Jacques (sung in English). The CD is included in Ferrier's series on Decca (Vol. 2). You can see the details of this CD in the page dedicated to recordings of individual movements from SMP (M-3): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV244-Rec7.htm

One aria (Mvt. 4) from BWV 11, which has originally appeared on the LP that contains Cantatas BWV 11, BWV 67 and the chorale from BWV 147 (all sung in English) appears on another CD from Ferrier's series on Decca (Vol. 3).

And a list of all Ferrier's Bach's recordings together with her bio appears in the following page of the Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Ferrier-Kathleen.htm

Michael Grover wrote (December 21, 2001):
Here's yet another album with Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring on it. It's not a "classical" album, and although most of this album features singing, the chorale itself is instrumental. It's a very interesting and enjoyable arrangement although hardly recognizable at the end.

Amazon.com
Amy Grant
Home For Christmas
1992 A&M

Philip Peters wrote (December 22, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] I don't know whether I made that clear but the Jacques recording is of the whole cantata of course.

Philip Peters wrote (December 22, 2001):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks very much, Aryeh. I have it on LP and the same goes for the cantatas. I still do LP's (with a certain passion even) and the SMP is still OK while the cantatas are a bit too scratchy. I may buy Ferrier Vol.3 (I want them all anyway, if there ever was an angel singing it must have been Ferrier IMO).

 

BWV 147 - Jumping John

Dick Wursten wrote (December 22, 2001):
Last time I already pulled attention to the fact that in the meeting between Mary and Elisabet (gospel-reading BWV 147, Mary-Visitation) John the baptist makes a prenatal jump when he hears his mother greeting the mother of his lord...

I said that this inspired many poets and I had in mind a hymn, but I couldnot find it that soon... so i left out the quote. But preparing for epiphany I again read 'A solis ortis cardine', germanized by Luther to 'Christum wir sollen loben schon', which we discussed earlier.

By the way: 'Nun komm der Heiden Heiland' is hymn nr. 1... 'Christum wir sollen loben schon' is hymn nr. 2 in Luthers hymnbook.

In this hymn in verse 5 Luther (that is: after Caelius Sedulius) refers to this event:

Die edle Mutter hat geborn / den Gabriel verhiess zuvorn / den Sankt Johann mit Springen zeigt, / da er noch lag im Mutterleib.

Translating Luthers hymns is difficult because of the compactness of his language.. I try:

The noble mother gives life to him / whom Gabriel announced / whom St John identifies / bu jumping up in his mothers womb.

Not satisfied: Here is the original:
Enixa est puerpera, / quem Gabriel praedixerat, / quem matris alvo gestiens / clausus Iohannes senserat.

Rev. Roberet A. Lawson wrote (December 24, 2001):
[To Dick Wursten] One of my favorite hymns until Mark DeGarmeaux & Dennis Marzolf wrecked it for me!

Actually that's one of the very few short comings in one of the best, if not the best, Lutheran hymnals in the English language--The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, published by the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota. Those of you (English speakers) who like Lutheran Hymns, especially the hymns of Luther & Paul Gerhardt, and like the choral settings of J.S. Bach, ought to check out this hymnbook. It can be purchased for the modest price of $15.95 from the Bethany Lutheran College Bookstore, Mankato, MN 1-800-944-1722.

The noble mother bore a Son
For so did Gabriel's promise run,
Whom John confessed and leaped with joy
Ere yet the mother knew her Boy.
(The Lutheran Hymnal, 104:4, CPH - St. Louis, MO)

Dick Wursten wrote (December 25, 2001):
[To Rev. Robert A. Lawson] You made me curious
Who are Degarmeaux & Marzolf ?
And what did they do with "Christum wir sollen loben schon"?

By the way: merry Christmas to you all ! And when fed up with Bach, try Praetorius or Schütz... or try something even older: The polyfonic music around the O-antifones are also very beautiful..

 

New Member

Johan van Veen wrote (May 16, 2003):
Can anyone help this person? He is looking for the German text of the chorale.

In one of Telemanns Christmas Cantatas (recorded on CPO), there is the Chorale "Jesu mein Hort und Erretter ...". I read somewhere that another verse from this hymn should be "Jesu bleibet meinde Freude" in Bachs famous cantata "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" (BWV 147). Does anyone know where to get to all the verses of this hymn?

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 17, 2003):
[To Johan van Veen] This chorale text is by Martin Jahn (ca. 1620-1682). I am unable to locate all 16(?) verses, but here are the verses that Bach used as text (parentheses show the variants that appear in the hymnals of Bach's time):

Verse 1: BWV 359

Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne
Jesu, meine beste Lust,
Jesu, meine Freudensonne,
Jesu, dir ist ja bewußt,
Wie ich dich so herzlich lieb'
Und mich ohne dich betrüb';
D'rum, o Jesu, komm zu mir,
Und bleib bei mir für und für!

Verse 2: BWV 154/3

Jesu, mein Hort und Erretter,
Jesu, meine Zuversicht,
Jesu, starker Schlangentreter,
Jesu, meines Lebens Licht!
Wie verlanget meinem Herzen,
Jesulein, (Heiland! ach) nach dir mit Schmerzen!
Komm, ach komm, ich warte dein,
Komm, o liebstes Jesulein!

Verse 6: BWV 147/6

Wohl mir, daß ich Jesum habe,
O wie feste halt ich ihn,
Daß er mir mein Herze labe,
Wenn ich krank (schwach) und traurig bin.
Jesum hab ich, der mich liebet
Und sich mir zu eigen gibet; (Und sein Leben vor [für] mich gibet)
Ach drum (Drum so) laß ich Jesum nicht,
Wenn mir gleich (schon) mein (das) Herze bricht.

Verse 1: BWV 147/10

Jesus bleibet meine Freude,
Meines Herzens Trost und Saft,
Jesus wehret (steuret) allem Leide,
Er ist meines Lebens Kraft,
Meiner Augen Lust und Sonne,
Meiner Seele(n) Schatz und Wonne;
Darum (O drum) laß ich Jesum nicht
Aus dem Herzen und Gesicht.

Perhaps someone can locate the missing verses of this chorale?

Hugo Saldias wrote (May 17, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] I knew that yu were the only one is this group with the answer. It was not for me, but I want to show everybody here in this group that you are an authority, know more than MOST all of them (including me). If Not: why aren't other answers for the question above?

Thank you Mr Braatz for forming part of this group and helping everybody understand things. You help me a lot and did teach me a lot. Please keep on going,and do not pay any attnetion of what other's say...

 

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring?

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 27, 2004):
While looking at the current thread of titles of messages, I noticed one blaring error. It seems common nowadays to call the tune "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". This is totally wrong, and an error in translation. The tune is actually called "Jesu bleibet meine Freude", which when accurately translated reads "Jesus remaineth my joy" or "Jesus stayeth my joy" or (for more modern language) "Jesus remainss my joy" or "Jesus stays my joy". So please, when talking about this tune, use the correct translation.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (September 27, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] As you may or may not be aware, this is the metrical translation-and it's the way the tune has become famous in the English speaking world in all it's various convoluted and not-so-convoluted contexts. I guess this convulted nature of the millions and millions of piano and organ etc. arrangements (most of them probably being very nearly exactly the same) warrants your complaint, but who's to say that the metrical translation is wrong? Does "Sleepers wake: the voice commands" sound particularly wrong? (True, it does sound quite euphemised for lack of a better word, but still works).

Well that's my 2 cents...

Dale Gedcke wrote (September 27, 2004):
[To Matthew Neugebauer] The loose translation of "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" (Jesus remains my joy) into the established standard title, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" in the English-speaking world points out a typical problem in translating a song into another language. The phonetics of the translated words must match the pattern of the notes in the music. This often results in an inexact translation. If you want to understand the exact meaning of a song, you need to hear or read it in the original language.

Peter Smaill wrote (September 27, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Of course the translation of "Jesu bleibet meine Freunde" as "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"is indeed a title only suggested approximately, but it scans to the metre of the music, unlike any of the more literal translations. It is verse xvii of Martin Jahn's hymn, "Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne" (1661).

Robertson in his survey of the Cantatas does not condemn the derivation; Whittaker notes it , and gives a full and near literal translation but reserves his complaints for the sentimental manner of many renditions .Nor does Malcolm Boyd in his encyclopaedic Oxford Companion bother to criticise the rendering of the title in this form .

If there is a point to the contrast with the literal meaning of the words, it lies in the Lutheran perception of a personal relationship to the second person of the Trinity; the commonly adopted English usage makes an abstract statement about Jesus rather than a personal one .

If we are concerned to encourage our neighbours to love and enjoy Bach, should we start by a critique of the harmless English translation of perhaps the only thing (apart from Wachet auf ) they know of the cantatas (even if they do not know it comes from this treasure trove )?

Eric Bergerud wrote (September 27, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] Just for kicks, has anyone attempted to record an English version of any of the Bach cantatas? It would be news to me. I know there's an English SMP (by Decca as I recall), but can't remember seeing a cantata. I do have Charles Mackerras' version of Handel's Julius Caeser in English - it works pretty well really. A Bach cantata might be much tougher, but it could be interesting. (BTW: I think from the theological stand-point, changing "my" to "ours" is a very big leap, or would have been considered so by an 18th Century Lutheran. That was one of the points of the Reformation.)

Paul Farseth wrote (September 28, 2004):
Eric Bergerud asks if any Bach Cantatas have been recorded in English. The answer is probably available on Aryeh's database and also by searching places like Amazon.com .

Leonard Bernstein did the St. Matthew Passion in English, and maybe also Robert Shaw, though I'm not sure whether any Shaw recordings are available now.

[The chapel (2nd) choir at St. Olaf College in the U.S. did LPs of the two Bach passions back in the middle 1950s. A choir at California Lutheran College recorded "Wachet auf" in English in the 1960s as part of a concert LP. Robert Shaw led a broadcast (FM radio) performance of the Matthew Passion in English at St. Olaf College in the early 1980s, but it may never have been released to the public as a CD. Many of the Bach motets, however, have been available on LP and CD in English (some since the 1950s) in recordings by the St. Olaf Choir and the Concordia College Choir in the U.S., though these were regional releases. ]

Gabriel Jackson wrote (September 28, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] And will you, in return, stop using German words like "Orgelwerke" and "Kantaten" (which are not titles) when writing in English?

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (September 28, 2004):
Paul Farseth wrote:
< Leonard Bernstein did the St. Matthew Passion in English, and maybe also Robert Shaw, though I'm not sure whether any Shaw recordings are available now. >
(1) There is the Kathleen Ferrier SMP (on excerpts on CD AFAIK). On LP was complete(?) and I understand why only the Ferrier portions are transferred to CD. The performance as a whole was pretty inane. (2) OTOH I find Bernstein's abridged English recording very fetching indeed without any of the soloists being supreme. As an aside there is a pirate DLvdE (Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde) with Jennie Tourel in English and I find it terrific. There is also according to Aryeh's site a MP in Swedish. Has anyone heard it?

Eric Bergerud wrote (September 28, 2004):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I was wrong about a Decca performance in English of SMP, or so it seems anyway. There is, however, an English performance of the St. John Passion conducted by Benjamin Britten. The recording is still in stock on Amazon and you can listen to excerpts of every cut which is pretty rare. Actually sounds pretty good and at $17 I might pick it up. I've been through Amazon's collection of Bach cantatas several times and have missed any English language versions if they exist. (I did stumble on one very odd find a few days back: Moreschi - The Last Castrato. The original recording dates from about 1900 and shows its age. Even includes a song sung by Leo XIII who died in 1903. Moreschi was over 60 when he recorded this. Yet the notes are still there. No question that the sound is very strange: more boy-like than soprano I'd say. Anyway, all the cuts on this album also can be listened to on-line. No insight into Bach here, but Händel is a different story.)

John Pike wrote (September 28, 2004):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] You are quite correct, of course, David, and I am sure everyone is aware of this. I referred to "loose translation" when referring to it. The piece has been arranged by many people over the years and has been given the title "Jesu, Joy of Man's desiring" in popular circles. Incorrect, of course, but understood commonly, and faithful in spirit to the sentiments of the original title.

Johan van Veen wrote (September 28, 2004):
[To Eric Bergerud] Just for the record: theris a more recent - even 'HIP'- recording of the SJP in English: Apollo's Fire, directed by Jeannette Sorrell on Eclectra (ECCD 2044).

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Bach in English [General Topics]

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (October 2, 2004):
Dale Gedcke wrote:
< The loose translation of "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" (Jesus remains my joy) into the established standard title, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" in the English-speaking world points out a typical problem in translating a song into another language. The phonetics of the translated words must match the pattern of the notes in the music. This often results in an inexact translation. If you want to understand the exact meaning of a song, you need to hear or read it in the original language. >
However, it could still be done. Just hold the "Jesus" over to the third note sung.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (October 2, 2004):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Of course the translation of "Jesu bleibet meine Freunde" as "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"is indeed a title only suggested approximately, but it scans to the metre of the music , unlike any of the more literal translations. It is verse xvii of Martin Jahn's hymn, "Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne" (1661).
Robertson in his survey of the Cantatas does not condemn the derivation; Whittaker notes it , and gives a full and near literal translation but reserves his complaints for the sentimental manner of many renditions. Nor does Malcolm Boyd in his encyclopaedic Oxford Companion bother to criticise the rendering of the title in this form.
If there is a point to the contrast with the literal meaning of the words, it lies in the Lutheran perception of a personal relationship to the second person of the Trinity ; the commonly adopted English usage makes an abstract statement about Jesus rather than a personal one.
If we are concerned to encourage our neighbours to love and enjoy Bach, should we start by a critique of the harmless English translation of perhaps the only thing (apart from Wachet auf) they know of the cantatas (even if they do not know it comes from this treasure trove )? >
The point is that it is not as harmless as you and others might think.

Here is a case in point:

It is commonplace in the Anglican Communion to use one tune in particular in many different times in the Hymnal, all of which have nothing at all to do with the original Choral or its meaning. The Choral in question is "Alle Menschen muessen sterben". The Anglicans use it at Advent, at Easter, and at other times. However, they do not use it at funerals. This in stark contrast to the meaning and intent of the original. The title itself translates to "All men (or mankind) must die". They also use the harmonization of Bach's rather than the original (not that I disagree with it, for I love it tremendously [it is one of the very few major-key works I like]).

Gabriel Jackson wrote (October 2, 2004):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
"The point is that it is not as harmless as you and others might think."
Here is a case in point:

It is commonplace in the Anglican Communion to use one tune in particular in many different times in the Hymnal, all of which have nothing at all to do with the original Choral or its meaning. The Choral in question is "Alle Menschen muessen sterben". The Anglicans use it at Advent, at Easter, and at other times. However, they do not use it at funerals. This in stark contrast to the meaning and intent of the original. The title itself translates to "All men (or mankind) must die"."

So what? It's only a tune. It does not 'mean' anything in the way that the text does. There is no relationship between the words and music of a chorale or hymn tune other than simultaneity.

Thomas Braatz wrote (October 2, 2004):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< The Choral in question is "Alle Menschen muessen sterben". The Anglicans use it at Advent, at Easter, and at other times. However, they do not use it at funerals. This in stark contrast to the meaning and intent of the original. The title itself translates to "All men (or mankind) must die"." >
Gabriel Jackson responded: >>So what? It's only a tune. It does not 'mean' anything in the way that the text does. There is no relationship between the words and music of a chorale or hymn tune other than simultaneity.<<
This final generalization should be explained to Bach who in his early version of the SMP (BWV 244) had the chorale "O Lamm Gottes unschuldig" played only by the organ. The congregation knew immediately that Bach was referring to the first verse of this chorale without recourse to having it sung as in the later, expanded version.

Even more remarkable is the tenor aria (listen to Peter Schreier singing this, if you can) of BWV 19/5 "Bleibt, ihr Engel, bleibt bei mir!" in which Bach has the tromba play the chorale melody for "Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr" by Martin Schalling (1571) (the same melody that Bach used in the final chorale to the SJP) Which verse does Bach use in the SJP? The 3rd verse beginning "Ach Herr, laß dein lieb Engelein." In BWV 19/5 Bach does not use this melody elsewhere in the cantata, not even as the final chorale. Suddenly, in the 5th movement without any preparation or indication to the congregation, the tromba plays this 'tune' which immediately calls forth within the members of the congregation the association which Bach is trying to establish non-verbally: the listeners all know that the tromba is playing the 3rd verse of Martin Schalling's hymn referred to above. If the congregation had the printed text of the cantata in hand (Bach was responsible for making these available in printed form (actually rather small slips of paper), they would see only the words of the tenor soloist printed there, not the chorale verse which Bach was alluding to. Bach knew that he could rely upon most of the congregational members to know quite a large number of hymn texts by heart and, despite the fact that some chorale melodies did more than double duty (different hymns sung to the same melody), Bach must have known which associations were the strongest so that the congregation would be thinking along (or singing along silently in their minds) with the tromba as it played the 3rd verse of this chorale. Of course, there is not even an underlying text in the tromba part, nor did Bach make any notes in the score or parts to indicate this association, an association which fits in perfectly with the words the tenor is singing.

The above examples given are not the only ones that can be cited to illustrate Bach's practice of using chorale melodies with their associated texts in this manner.

Brendan (Dorian Gray) wrote (October 2, 2004):
>>So what? It's only a tune. It does not 'mean' anything in the way that the text does. There is no relationship between the words and music of a chorale or hymn tune other than simultaneity.<<
I suppose it depends on your point of view.

I have also marvelled at times at the wide variety of poetry, mostly bad, applied to the same chorale tune in the Anglican Hymnal. And yes, it seems to agree with you that there is no exclusive relationship between the music and the words, except when it comes to syllabic structure. Cetainly it attaches no meaning or even general affect to a specific tune, although there are a few exceptions- the two settings of St. Patrick's Breastplate come to mind.

But Bach clearly does NOT share this attitude. Often, his choice to embed a particular chorale tune, or choose a chorale tune to express this week's readings is highly influenced by the original text of a chorale, and EVERY tune, to his mind, clearly had an Affekt and an appropriate specific subject matter. One obvious example of this would be Luther's tune that Bach used for 'Christ lag in Todesbanden.' It is based on an even older cantus which is connected with Easter and the resurrection of the dead. The appropriateness for this tune in Bach's easter cantata is justifiein his mind because of the original funtion of the chorale tune. Not only that, but Bach continued to use the cantus throughout his life in pieces which, for him, meant the raising up of the dead. One rather famous example of recent memory is the fabulous discovery that the Chaccone in d-moll for solo violin not only uses 'Christ lag in todesbanden' as its main theme, embedded in the opening, but that the whole rest of the piece is an accompaniment to other "hidden" chorale melodies which directly related to the proposed "subject" of the piece- the death of Maria Barbara. Somebody help me with the scholar- my memory is horrible about these things and I'm too lazy to go look it up right now!

In this case, Bach clearly uses the actual chorale tunes to express his ideas- there are no words, naturally- and those tunes, to him, had very specific connotations which he would not violate under (almost) any circumstances.

Brendan (Dorian Gray) wrote (October 2, 2004):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
>>>>>>> The loose translation of "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" (Jesus remains my joy) into the established standard title, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" in the English-speaking world points out a typical problem in translating a song into another language. The phonetics of the translated words must match the pattern of the notes in the music. This often results in an inexact translation. If you want to understand the exact meaning of a song, you need to hear or read it in the original language.
However, it could still be done. Just hold the "Jesus" over to the third note sung. <<<<<<<
Good idea, Dale! I think if we had more straightforward approaches to translating poetry to these masterpieces, without trying to be as "poetic" in the new language, some of us might find new meaning (or more accurate meaning!) in old faves. Some translators do this quite well, but in the case of "Jesu..." I think we got stuck with a bad one which is too well-known now to supercede, in the mind's of most. Still, post your favorite! I certainly need to hear something in English which comes even close to the effect of the original.

 

Continue on Part 3

Cantatas BWV 147 & BWV 147a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 147 | Recordings of Individuaul Movements: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Details of BWV 147a | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ęDecember 31, 2012 ę08:23:21