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Cantata BWV 149
Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg in den Hütten der Gerechten
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of February 24, 2013

William Hoffman wrote (February 24, 2013):
Cantata 149: Intro, Chorales & Michaelfest

Bach's final cantata for the Feast of St. Michael and All-Angels, BWV 149, "Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg" (Songs are sung with joy of victory, Psalm 118:15-16) probably was composed in 1728 in collaboration with poet Picander. It was his most extensive expression of the significance of this festival. Bach's three previous festival presentations had utilized the essential elements of the Epistle text, Revelation 12:7-12 (Cantata 50), the popular Paul Eber chorale of praise to God (chorale Cantata 130), and an earlier Picander poetic expression of the heavenly canticle of praise (Cantata 19). Bach's latest work became the culmination of the Lutheran two-century musical and textual tradition as well as the meaning and significance of the Book of Revelation text.

Cantata 149 displays numerous musical and textual similarities to its predecessor of 1726, Cantata 19, "Es erhub sich ein Streit" (There was a war), opening only with this dictum from the Epistle reading. The comparison is found in John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Pilgrimage 2000 Recording notes:

"The fact that Picander had a hand in the text of both this cantata (BWV 19) and the last which Bach composed for this day, BWV 149 `Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg', accounts for certain similarities, particularly in the inner movements. The reference to God sending `horse and chariot' as well as providing a host of supportive angels occurs in both the soprano aria with two oboes d'amore in BWV 19 and in the alto recitative of BWV 149. Even if the soprano aria BWV 149 No. 4 is no match for the ravishing tenor aria in BWV 19 with its imploring gestures, describing the watchfulness of the guardian angels, the underlying idea is basically the same. What separates `Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg' from the other cantatas for St Michael's day is its tone of voice. For example, its opening chorus is festive rather than combative, while using the same apparatus of trumpets, drums, oboes and strings as all the others. This is as we might expect in a movement cleverly recycled by Bach from the closing chorus of his `Hunt' cantata (BWV 208) composed in 1713, his first `modern' cantata in that it employed both recitatives and da capo arias.

"Furthermore, the emphasis here is on the guardian angels as `holy watchmen', which could explain the robust bassoon obbligato added to the alto/tenor duet (No.6), as well as the opening chorus where the bassoon is required to function in dialogue with the principal trumpet, and (by implication at least) its appearance in the bass aria (No.2) to reinforce the image of that visionary `great voice' referred to in Revelation, which now announces the Lamb `that has defeated and banished Satan'." (See BCW Cantata 149 Details,, scroll down to Recording No. 7 [[sdg124_gb].pdf, and scroll down to bottom of p. 9]).

Details of Cantata 149, including Francis Browne's English translation, Julian Mincham's informative commentary, and the Recordings, some with liner notes, are found at Cantata 149 Details, BCW The Brown translation in interlinear format with Note on the text of the biblical sources is found at BCW,

About the time that Bach composed Cantata 149, he apparently began a similar opening cantata movement orchestral introduction that apparently introduced the biblical dictum, "Man" (singet mit Freuden vom Sieg") (Psalm 118:15f). It is a 14-measure, 10-stave single page draft, now cataloged as Concerto in D Major, BWV Anh. 198, with Bach's heading: "J. J. Concerto Festo Michaelis Concerto a 4 Voci (SATB), 3 Trombe Tamburi, 2 Haut. 2 violini, viola e cont. Bach." Below, Bach composed the entire lines for trumpet 1 and continuo in alle breve (2/2) time, the two oboes response beginning in Measure 4, and the bass voice chorus entrance at measure 14 on a low A pick-up note with the word "Man." Bach then began to put in measure rests in the initial pickup to Measure 1 to Measure 3 for the top Trumpets 2 and 3 and timpani and ceased composing, putting an "X" through the entire page. The two violin and one viola staves have no rests.

In his BCW notes, Thomas Braatz observes: "The music of the first 14 bars of the first movement ("Concerto" title) is missing, whatever underlying cantata text is unknown, the first and only word in the text for bass voice is "Man" [see: Cantata BWV 149 Man singet mit Freuden]; M. Helms (KB I/30, p. 112) suggested, therefore, that this abject opening movement might have been planned as a new composition for BWV 149, from unknown reasons. However, the final chorus of the Hunt Cantata BWV 208 has been extended for the opening movement of BWV 149."

Subsequently, Bach took out the ruled score sheet, turned it over and began composing secular Cantata BWV 201, "Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Winde" (Hurry, you whirling winds), to a Picander text, premiered in the autumn of 1729. It is quite possible that Bach began composing the opening orchestral introduction without the Picander text in hand that would include the opening chorus text from Psalm 118:15-16, as well as the closing chorale text probably chosen by Bach.

Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg
(Songs are sung with joy of victory)
in den Hütten der Gerechten:
(in the tents of the virtuous)
Die Rechte des Herrn behält den Sieg,
(the right hand of the Lord wins the victory,)
die Rechte des Herrn ist erhöhet,
(the right hand of the Lord is exalted,)
die Rechte des Herrn behält den Sieg!
(the right hand of the Lord wins the victory!)

When he saw the text, Bach probably realized that it easily could be parodied from his first secular cantata, the Weissenfels birthday hunting serenade, Cantata 208, "Was mir behagt,/ Ist nur die muntre Jagd!" (What pleases me/ is above all the lively hunt!). Besides the festive mood and orchestration, the original chorus (No. 15) had a similar rhyme scheme and line length, combining and repeating the last two lines.

Ihr lieblichste Blicke, ihr freudige Stunden,
(You loveliest glances, you joyful hours,)
Euch bleibe das Glücke auf ewig verbunden!
(may happiness forever remained linked to you!)
Euch kröne der Himmel mit süßester Lust!)
(May heaven crown you with sweetest delight)
Fürst Christian lebe! Ihm bleibe bewusst,
(Long live Prince Christian! May he always know)
Was Herzen vergnüget,
(what pleases the heart)
Was Trauren besieget!
what conquers sorrow!)

Thus, it is quite possible that Bach set aside the original score first page draft and undertook the parody. The composing score is classified as "BWV Anh. I 198 = BWV 149/1a" in the Schmieder 1998 updated Summary Edition catalog. A copy of the sketch, the printed music and notes are found in Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel, pp. 166-68: SUPPLEMENT / Beiträge zur Generalbass- und Satzlehre, Kontrapunktstudien, Skizzen und Entwürfe. Herausgegeben von Peter Wollny. Anhang: Aria "Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn" BWV 1127. Herausgegeben von Michael Maul. 2011. 250 S., mit Farbabbildungen aller autographen Skizzen und Entwürfe.

The nine extant cantatas Bach composed using texts from Picander's 1728-29 printed annual church cycle involve six with borrowed material: BWV 149, 188, 171, 156, 145, and 174. Bach's autograph score and parts for Cantata 149 are lost but originally may have been part of the first cycle estate division between Friedemann and Emmanuel. In the actual manuscript division conducted after Bach's death in Leipzig in 1750, Friedemann probably found three cantatas (BWV 130, 19, and 149) designated for the Michaelfest and simply assumed that BWV 149 was part of thfirst cycle. It is documented that Friedemann received both the score and parts for the final seven cantatas presented in late Trinity Time 1723. On March 12, 1756 in Leipzig, former Bach student and St. Thomas prefect Christoph Friedrich Penzel (1737-1801) completed copying the score and parts of Cantata 149 from the original manuscripts. Penzel is known to have copied other Bach cantata manuscripts in the possession of Friedemann and loaned to him, as well as the chorale cantata parts sets in the possession of the Thomas School.

Picander's Michaelfest Cantata 19 & 149 Texts

A more detailed comparison of Picander's Cantata 19 and 149 texts is found in Alfred Dürr's <Cantatas of JSB> (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006: 702f). Using the Epistle dictum to establish the opening choruses, both works describe the defeat of Satan (the dragon), God's angels' continual protection of humanity, and the human desire that the angels carry the redeemed soul to heaven, found in the chorale reference. "New in the present libretto (Cantata 149) is the notion of the vigilance of the watchmen (`the night is nearly over', sixth movement), which is based on Isaiah 21.11," says Dürr (Ibid.).

Cantata 149 Angel Chorale

Here are my notes from the Cantata 19 previous BCW Discussion:

"Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr" (From my heart I hold you dear, o Lord), Martin Schalling (1569), 3 stanzas, especially Stanza 3, Ach, Herr, laß dein' lieb' Engelein/ Am letzten End' die Seele mein/ In Abrahams Schoß tragen! (Ah Lord, let your dear angels/ at my last end carry my soul/ to Abraham's bosom). It is based on Psalms 18 (The Lord rewarded me) and 73 (Here this, all ye peoples). Besides "Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir," it was the "other hymn attested for this festival in the hymn schedules" of Dresden and Leipzig, as well as Weißenfels, says Stiller (Ibid.). It is found in the NLGB No. 324, "Death and Dying." The full text and Francis Browne's English translation is at BCW,

The anonymous melody (Zahn 8326) was first found in the Orgeltabulatur-Buch, Straßburg (1577). The source of the melody, is found in Thomas Braatz (December 11, 2002): BWV 19 - Commentary: The "music/melody evolved as follows: in its 1st incarnation the melody by Matthias Gastritz appeared in "Kurtze vnnd sonderliche Newe Symbola etlicher Fürsten," Amberg, 1571; it was later modified by Bernhard Schmid in "Zwey Bücher einer Neuen Künstlichen Tabulatur auf Orgel und Instrument," Straßburg, 1577 - [this is the melody that remained associated with the chorale text, "Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr," a chorale that still appears in German Lutheran hymnals up to the present day"; "Lord, Thee I love with all my heart," Lutheran Book of Worship, No 325, "Christian Hope."

"Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr" appears in three Picander texts for Bach cantatas, two for the Feast of St. Michael (SEE BELOW), BWV 149/7(S.3) in the Picander 1728 cycle text, P-62, and Cantata BWV 19/5 from Picander poetry (tenor aria, trumpet melody only), as well as the Pentecost Monday Cantata BWV 174/5 (S.1), Picander cycle text, P-39, and also in the St. John Passion, BWV 245/40 (S.3) plain chorale BWV 340. Francis Browne's English translation of the chorale is found at BCW,

Blood of the Lamb

Most significant in Picander's Michaelfest text of Cantata 149 is the first and only appearance - in any of the four cantatas - of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Blood of the Lamb and the substitute for Michael as the ultimate force that defeats evil in the second half of the Revelation allegorical/eschatological drama, beginning with Chapter 12. This same Christological theme also is the core of John Milton's epic-heroic <Paradise Lost> of 1667. This Cantata 149 reference is found in the text of the second movement, a bass aria:

Kraft und Stärke sei gesungen
(Strength and might be sung)
Gott, dem Lamme,das bezwungen
(to God, to the Lamb, who conquered)
Und den Satanas verjagt,
(and drove away Satan)
Der uns Tag und Nacht verklagt.
(who accused us day and night.)
Ehr und Sieg ist auf die Frommen
(Honour and victory has come upon those who are devout)
Durch des Lammes Blut gekommen.
(through the Lamb's blood.)

Lutheran Theology & Musical Treatment

The Feast of Michael and All-Angels was the Lutheran Reformation core expression of the themes of religious freedom, defeat of evil, and ultimate salvation, as found in the motets and poetic chorales based on the Book of Revelation. Poetically from Renaissance theologian Philipp Melanchthon in 1539 to Enlightened poet Johann Gottfried Herder in 1770, musically from Heinrich Schütz and the Praetorius brothers on the cusp of the Baroque era to Sebastian Bach and his sons Johann Christoph and Emmanuel at the transition to the Enlightenment, the meanings of the angelic heavenly victory of the Blood of the Lamb and humanity were established and celebrated.

Lutheran Reformation interest in Michael and All Angels began with Philipp Melanchthon, theologian and author of the Augsburg Confession of 1530. In 1539, he wrote the first of the Epistle paraphrase chorales found in Bach's Leipzig hymnbook, Gottfried Vopelius' <Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB) of 1682. The NLGB was Bach's primary literary source for the poetic libretti of his Leipzig cantatas.

Michaelfest Communion Hymn, NLGB No. 158, "Dicimus grates tibi" (Thanks unto Thee), is Philipp Melanchthon's 1639 original Latin exegesis in the 11-stanza, 4-line hymn paraphrase of Revelation 12:7-12, the angels' defeat of satanic forces in heaven and the voice of victory. Melanchthon's text is found in the NLGB as No. 158, (Zahn melody 974) in the J. H. Schein early 17th century setting for SATB, No. 158.

In particular, Melanchthon focuses on Christ in Stanza 7, "Yet o'er us watch the heav'nly troops of angels/
Following Christ, their Captain and Commander," as well as the angels in the closing 11th stanza as God's "watchmen o'er Thy temple ever."

Here is Matthew Carver's Hymnoglyph English translation from Melanchthon's original Latin text.

THANKS UNTO THEE, O highest Lord, Creator,
We for Thy faithful ministers now render,
Whose host Thine hand as flames of fire created,
Holy and blameless.

2. Of Thine own light they shine with radiant glory,
Ever Thy face with raptured gaze beholding,
From Thee Thy words and heav'nly wisdom drawing,
Filled by their Fountain.

3. Thou dost not suffer this Thy holy people
Idly to throng, nor futilely to flutter
Round the vast realms of ether, nor unheeding
Through winds to frolic.

4. Them hast Thou bidden to be Christ's attendants,
And to defend the gath'ring of the godly,
Duly revering all Thy holy statutes,
Tending their teaching.

5. For hotly burning with ungodly hatred,
Against Thy camp, the dragon, ever furious,
Wages his war, by whom both sin and dying
This world first entered.

6. Here seeks he naught but ruin and destruction
Of house and city, church and congregation,
And every thought of Law and fitting conduct:-
Fain would he raze them.

7. Yet o'er us watch the heav'nly troops of angels
Following Christ, their Captain and Commander,
Curbing the cruel weapons of the dragon,
Where'er he rages.

8. Angels saved Lot from Sodom's devastation,
Harbored Elisha from the hostile armies;
Ringed round by angels, he beheld unfearing
Banners of battle.

9. Safe mid the circling lions stood the prophet
Daniel, surrounded by a hedge of angels;
Thus doth God ever by His faithful servants
Keep us all covered.

10. Of Thy protection we would now be mindful,
As unto Thee our choirs, their voices blending
With choirs angelic, thankful anthems render,
O kind Creator.

11. Set these Thy watchmen o'er Thy temple ever,
And o'er Thy people, which esteems as sacred
The Word of Christ, Thy Son; this we beseech Thee
With all devotion.
[OriginalLatin and English Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011;, scroll down to <Dicimus grates tibi>.]

Initially, Melanchthon's Latin text was set to the anonymous 1535 Passion melody, "Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ, dass du für uns gestorben" (We thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, that you have died for us). Much later, About 1714, Bach set the same melody "Wir danken dir . . . ," in the Orgelbüchlein organ chorale prelude OB 26, BWV 623, as a Passion hymn. Earlier, about 1700, Bach set the melody as a Neumeister organ chorale prelude, BWV 1096. The melody also is listed but not set in the Orgelbüchlein, OB No. 149, "Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht" (Christe qui lux es, 6th century Latin hymn) as an Evening Song (Zahn melody 343) of Reformer Erasmus Alber (c.1500-1553) (EG 469, EKG 354), that also is a Passion hymn.

Michaelmas Epistle Chorales

Melanchthon himself provided the first German vernacular translation of the Epistle chorale. It is the Michaelfest Communion Hymn, NLGB No. 159, "Laßt uns von Hertzen" (Let us from our hearts), translation of his "Dicimus grates tibi" in 11 stanzas, set to the old German melody, Zahn 966, NLGB SATB setting, composer unknown. Bach did not set this chorale and no text could be found.

Early Lutheran hymn writers Paul Eber and Nikolaus Herman followed with their own versions of Melanchthon's Dicimus grates tibi>, set to other melodies, emphasizing the Hymn of Praise.

The author of "Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir" chorale text is Paul Eber (1511-1569) and the first appearance is in 1554. Francis Browne's English translation of the Eber text is found at BCW, It is Eber's paraphrase/translation of Lutheran reformer Philipp Melanchthon's (1497-1560) 11-stanza, 4-line Latin verse >Dicimus grates tibi> (Thanks unto Thee -- Lord God, to thee we all give praise) which first appeared in 1539. "Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir" is listed in the NLGB as No. 160 under music for the Feast of Michael and All Angels, Zahn melody 368 (anonymous, 1551), in the J. H. Schein setting in F Major for SATB 1627. It is also listed in the Evangelische Gesangbuch/Neu Evagelisches Kirchengesangbuch (EG/NEK) as No. 557. It is best known today as the Doxology, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." Eber BCW Short Biography is found at

Nikolaus Herman (1480-1561). Heut singt die Liebe Christenheit (Today all loving Christendom sings; 1560 text after the version by Philipp Melanchthon's >Dicimus grates tibi> with a later arrangement of Detlev Block) (EG 143). It is not found in the NLGB and was not set by Bach. For the original Herman text and melody, see (SLOW!), 7 stanzas, omits Stanza 6. "Gar oft erregt er Ketzerei"; also see current text (8 stanzas, 6 lines): See Herman BCW Short Biography, Other Hermann texts of Herman include three related hymns:
+Den die Hirten lobeten sehre (2. Textteil) (EG 29, Advent);
+Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ, dass du vom Tod erstanden bist (that you have arisen from the dead; Stanza 1; EG 107, Easter), is a 3-stanza text, based on 2. Tim. 1,10, is found at
+Wir wollen singen ein' Lobgesang (We will sing a hymn of praise; text after the version by Philipp Melanchthon) (EG 141); 6-stanza, 4-line text based on Mark 1:1-8, is found at; after "Aeterno Gratias Patri" of Philipp Melanchthon (1539) folksong for John the Baptist Feast; Melodie: Bartholomäus Gesius 1603.

Other Melanchthon (1497-1560) texts still used include: "Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ" (original Latin text for a later arrangement of Stanza 1) (EG 246, MG 329), "Heut singt die liebe Christenheit" (original Latin text for a later arrangement by Nikolaus Herman und Detlev Block) (EG 143), and "Wir wollen singn ein' Lobgesang" (original Latin text for a later arrangement of Nikolaus Herman).

The other major Michaelmas chorale composed about this time (c.1560), in addition to the Melanchthon, Eber, and Herman Revelation paraphrases, was "Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr" (From my heart I hold you dear, o Lord), of Martin Schalling (1569), discussed above in Cantata 149.

Recent/Current Michaelmas chorales

The 20th century Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirchengesangbuch (EKG) lists two hymns for the Pre-Communion chant (Praefaction) for the Feast of the Archangel Michael and all Angels (Erzengels Michael und aller Engel).

1. Herr, Gott, dich loben alle wir (latin "Dicimus grates tibi" of the Lutheran theologian Philipp Melanchthon (1539) German of Paul Eber 1561) (EKG 115)
2. Heut singt die liebe Christenheit (Nikolaus Hermann 1560) (EKG 116)

The new <Lutheran Service Book> has three hymns for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (September 29), all loosely based on Revelation 12:7-12:
+520, Stars of the morning, so gloriously bright; melody (4 stanzas, 4 lines; Joseph the Hymnographer, c. 810-86); melody "O Quanta Qualia";
+521, Christ, the Lord of hosts, unshaken (6 stanzas, 6 lines; Peter M.Prange); melody Fortunatus New ©; and
+522, Lord God, to Thee we all praise (8 stanzas, 4 lines; Paul Eber); melody "Erhalt uns, Herr."
[Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, St. Louis, Concordia Publishing, 2006]


Next's weeks BCW discussion of motet Cantata BWV 50, "Nun ist das Heil," also will consider other influences on Bach's music for Michaelfest. These include motets and chorales of the second Reformation period, The Period of Lutheran Orthodoxy or Lutheran Scholasticism (c.1577-1617) and the Reformation jubilee year centennial celebration of 1617; the succeeding Period of the Religious Thirty Years War (1617-47) and the emergence of Pietism (1675) during the apocalyptic period of continuing war, pestilence, famine, and fire, as well as the influence of Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) such as salvation and archangels. Also to be considered will be important themes on the significance of angels in the Mass Ordinary canticles of the Gloria and Sanctus and the struggles against evil, as well as the Book of Revelation images of heavenly thrones and voices.

Cantata BWV 149: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | 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
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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