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

Cantata BWV 170
Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of July 24, 2011 (3rd round)

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 24, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 170 -- Vergnügte Ruh', beliebte Seelenlust

Weekly reminder:

This week we continue Trinity season cantatas with BWV 170, the first of two works for the 6th Sunday after Trinity.

Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV170.htm

The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham] is especially recommended as an introduction to listening.

The BWV 170 page also has convenient access to notes from the Gardiner and Koopman (notes by Christoph Wolff) CD issues, via links beneath the cover photos.

Chorale texts are accessible via the BWV 170 home page, and the chorale melody is accessible via the chorale text page.

William Hoffman wrote (July 25, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 170 -- 6th Sunday After Trinity

While Bach was barely able to compose two cantatas for the 6th Sunday after Trinity during his Leipzig tenure (1723-50), he was quite involved in assuring that there were at least seven documented performances on that Sunday, including a double bill of his and cousin Johann Ludwig Bach's cantatas in 1726, Cantata BWV 170 and JLB-7. In the 1740s, original manuscript markings show that all three compositions were repeated.

When he began composing his first two cycles, circumstances enabled Bach to set aside any thoughts about cantatas for this Sunday and simply to continue focusing on producing new works or extensive revisions almost weekly. The original impetus came from the fact that Bach produced no compositions for the first two Sixth Sundays After Trinity in 1723 and 1724. What resulted broadens and enriches our perspective on Bach's music and compositional practice.

6th Sunday after Trinity (Bach's Leipzig Calendar)
Source: NBA I/17.2 (Trinity +5,+6: BWV 93, BWV 88, BWV 170, BWV 9), Reimar Emans 1993

Date
x 07/04/23 (Feast of Visitation; no Cycle 1 cantata for this Sunday After Trinity)
x 07/16/24 (no performance, Bach in Cöthen; see ?08/01/34)
+ 07/08/25 ? Telemann TVWV 1:1600, "Wer sich rächet, an dem wird sich der Herr wieder rächen," chorale "Ich ruf zu dir"
+ 07/28/26 BWV 170, "Vergnugte Ruh," chorale (none, Lehms Text)
+ 07/28/26 JLB 7, "Ich will meinen Geist in auch gbvbvdfeben," chorale, No. 9 (no information)
x 07/04/28 P.49 "Gott, gib mir ein versöhnlich," text only, no chorale
+ ?08/01/34 BWV 9 "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (chorale cantata)
R ?1740-47 (BWV 9, reperformance)
R 1743-46 (JLB 7, reperformance)
R 1746-47 (BWV 170, reperformance)
x no date, Neumann XXVIII, incipit "Dominica 6. post Trinit. Concerto a 4 voci e 4 stromenti," in CPEB composition P 1130 (no title or music pursued)

For Cantata Cycle No. 1 of 1723, that Sunday fell on the celebratory Feast of the Visitation of Mary, July 2. Bach serendipitously expanded his Weimar Advent +4 Cantata BWV 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" (Heart and mouth and deed and Life), into a two-part festive work with the addition of three interspersed recitatives and the chorale chorus now known as "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," which closes both parts with different stanzas.

For Cantata Cycle No. 2, Bach already had on hand a paraphrase chorale cantata text for the 6th Sunday after Trinity, July 16, 1724, when he made a quick trip to Köthen on pressing business, perhaps to secure instrumental compositions no longer need at the court. Speculation and collateral evidence suggests that the ever-calculating and resourceful Leipzig cantor in all likelihood had his second, Georg Balthasar Schott, present a Telemann 1719 cantata, "Wer sich rachet," with the appropriate Trinity Time <de tempore> chorale "Ich ruf zu dir." This would have been a trial run for Bach's first real vacation the next year in early Trinity Time 1725 when Schott probably presented at least two Telemann cantatas and one of Georg Melchior Hoffman -- all three musicians with a successful history at Leipzig's progressive New Church.

The cantata based on a Neumeister text, probably by Telemann, was presented on the 6th Sunday after Trinity in 1725 when Bach was on vacation.

Third Cantata Cycle, New Directions

With his Cycle No. 3 in 1726, Bach seems to have undertaken a coachman's holiday: pursuing other musical interests and matters while minimizing the governing Town Council's vexations of limited musical resources and petty oversight of such matters as the printed cantata texts. In his own way, Bach would continue to test the waters, to step on the tails of dragons, while exploring new facets and interests involving cantatas and other forms of composition. Meanwhile, Bach could still find the means to have his cake and eat it too. While presenting traditional and less challenging cantatas of J.L. Bach, he chose printed librettos of mostly established poets, composed intimate music for able solo singers and supporting musicians, and begun to repeat or adapt his music, taking this wonderful wine and putting it into new bottles, sometimes even blending it before letting it age a little more.

For the early Trinity Time 1726, while Bach was pursuing publication of his first keyboard Partita, BWV 825, at the Fall Michaelmas Fair, he was able at main services to alternate pleasing traditional, biblically-oriented Johann Ludwig Bach cantatas with his own compositions using acceptable traditional texts. Bach began to mine his mother lode of instrumental compositions, created primarily in Köthen, mostly movements from the <Brandenburg Concerti>, solo concerti, and the <Orchestral Overtures>. These were adapted primarily as cantata opening sinfonias as well as various movements from solo concertos to be adapted, with new vocal lines, as cantata arias. Bach also began to explore his vocal music for next text underlay ("parody"), found particularly in new texts created by Picander, who also was collaborating with Bach on the first version of the St. Matthew Passion, to be presented on Good Friday, 1727.

Other factors gave Bach even more compositional freedom for the 6th Sunday after Trinity. The general Lutheran theme of affirmation amidst conflict enabled him to create a range of musical expression as well as an emphasis on intimate solo arias, interspersed with recitatives, and to have no closing chorales requiring a chorus, a practice found in BWV 170, as well as in Picander's published text for the same Sunday in 1728. For most of the J.L. Bach cantatas performed from late Epiphany Time through the end of Easter Season, Bach naturally divided them into two parts, before and after the sermon, an opportunity he only once had been able to practice in the previous second cycle. For this , Bach was able to present a short solo Cantata 170 "Vergnugte ruh, beliebte Seelenlust" ("Contented rest, beloved heart's desire"), on a text of Georg Lehms, and J.L. Bach Cantata JLB-7, "Ich will meinen Geist in auch geben" (I will my spirit in likewise give, in one part after the sermon.

The librettos of Lehms in particular enabled Bach starting in Trinity Time 1726 to recycle and adapt arias for solo cantatas. Bach scholars beginning with Wilhelm Rust and Philipp Spitta have commented widely on Bach's use of some 30 mostly instrumental sinfonias to open his cantatas, with the early half being primarily original, shorter, more intimate instrumental introductions and the later half more extended full movements taken from concerti, often with added obbligato organ parts.

Arias from Concerto Movements

More recently, instrumentalists have begun to explore the instrumental origins of certain arias in which the voice line is easily adapted from solo instruments, particularly violin and oboe. Bach scholars and instrumentalists previously had demonstrated beginning more than a half century ago that the nine solo harpsichord concertos, BWV 1051-59, performed by Bach and the Leipzig Collegium musicum in the 1730s. were derived from previous solo violin, and oboe concerti. Performers such as flutist James Galway, guitarist Christopher Parkening, and various violinists have presented their reconstructions of earlier concerti, often being accepted by Bach scholars but confounding those who try to assemble catalogues of Bach's works, especially the <Bach Compendium>.

The latest soloist is oboist Albrecht Mayer, who recently released a CD, "Voices of Bach" (Decca 478 1517) with arrangements of three concerti for members of the oboe family based on vocal movements from cantatas. The most intriguing and speculative is the "Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Continuo," adapted (constructed, some might say "rendered") from da-capo arias in Cantatas 105/5, 170/1, and 49/1, all originally composed for Trinity Time Sundays (+9, +6, and +20 respectively). His performance of the opening alto aria of Cantata 170 is quite striking and convincing. He is on firm ground with the opening sinfonia of Cantata 49, presumed to be from the lost Oboe Concerto in E-Flat. The tenor aria from Cantata 105 is accompanied by a horn.

The other two concertos are straight-forward adaptations: the Italian secular Cantata BWV 209, its opening sinfonia and two soprano arias with flute and strings long presumed to be from a lost concerto, here a "Concerto for Oboe d'amore and Strings," and all three movements of the Weimar alto solo cantata, BWV 54, here a "Concerto for Cor Anglais" (English Horn) that is an astonishing, uncanny adaptation of a pre-Köthen work.

If indeed the opening aria of Cantata 170 originated as an oboe concerto movement, it has characteristics in common with arias from other cantatas through also to be adaptations: da-capo or free da-capo form, adapted by Bach in 1726 to texts Trinity Time of Lehms. The other cantatas are:
1. Cantata BWV 54 for Trinity +7 (with no proof of a Leipzig performance but documented through printed text for Trinity +1 and +20; having no chorale);
2. Weimar Cantata BWV 199, for Trinity +11, also having no chorale; closing aria, "Wie freudig ist mein Herz," da-capo, gigue character, for soprano, oboe, and strings; and
3. The accepted alto solo Cantata BWV 199 for then Trinity +12, 1726, with the sinfonias opening parts one and two from the first and third movements of the fragment Clavier Concerto No. 9 in D Minor, BWV 1059, and most importantly, the first alto aria, a da-capo siciliano originating as the slow movement from the original, lost violin or oboe concerto.

Other cantata arias (or choruses) originating as instrumental movements include:
1. Alto aria, No. 5, from solo Cantata BWV 169, Trinity +18, 1726, librettist possibly Picander or Christian Weiss Sr., with opening sinfonia in da-capo form, as the first two movements of the Clavier Concerto No. 3 in Eb, BWV 1053, from an original, lost oboe concerto;
2. Cantata BWV 194 for Trinity Sunday (librettist unknown), originally all four da-capo, dance-style arias from a lost Köthen orchestral suite;
3. Soprano free da-capo aria with violin obbligato (No. 4) in the 1728 Town Council Cantata BWV 120 and 1729 parody wedding Cantata BWV 120a (No. 3), librettist ? Picander, found as the Adagio in C in the Köthen Violin Sonata, BWV 1019a (removed in the final version of the sonata) and possibly originating as a Köthen soprano aria (? for Anna Magdalena) and possibly the parody aria, "Welt und Himmel, nehmt zu öhren" at the death of Jesus in the St. Mark Passion, BWV 247;
4. The opening free da-capo alto aria in Cantata BWV 120 and parody No 6 in Cantata BWV 120a, which could have originated as the middle movement in a lost Köthen violin concerto;
5. The opening chorus in Cantata BWV 110 for Christmas Day 1726 (Lehms text) from the French Overture to the Orchestral Suite No. 4, BWV 1069, and possibly the same overture to Suite No. 3 for Christmas Day Cantata BWV 197a in 1728 (Picander text);
6. There has been some speculation that festive choral sections from the B-Minor Mass (BWV 232) may have originated in Köthen instrumental concerti: <Gloria in excelsis Deo>, "Cum sancto spiritu," and "Et resurrexit."

To Come: Chorales and Readings for the 6th Sunday after Trinity.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 25, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Date
+ 07/28/26 BWV 170, "Vergnugte Ruh," chorale (none,
Lehms Text)
+ ?08/01/34
BWV 9 "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (chorale cantata) >
I have selected/emphasized this chronology for others who may be interested in following along, from the ongoing contributions from Will. Thanks, as always.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 25, 2011):
BWV 170 -- Trinitytide & Saints Days

William Hoffman wrote:
< For Cantata Cycle No. 1 of 1723, that Sunday fell on the celebratory Feast of the Visitation of Mary, July 2. Bach serendipitously expanded his Weimar Advent +4 Cantata BWV 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben" (Heart and mouth and deed and Life), into a two-part festive work with the addition of three interspersed recitatives and the chorale chorus now known as "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," which closes both parts with different stanzas. >
The concurrence of Sundays and feast days is something that we should keep a closer eye on, as it provides us with interesting perspectives on Bach's compositional method across the church year.

The Weimer BWV 147a was written for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday before Christmas. It is interesting to note that the Gospel reading has nothing to do with the Coming of the Infancy narratives, but rather refers to John the Baptist hailing the Coming of Christ in his adult ministry.

When the Visitation of Mary (July 2) fell on a Sunday, thatof Trinity 6, Bach connected Advent 4 and the Visitation because the readings thematically refer to the prophecy, birth and ministry of John the Baptist. But even more interesting is the connection with the Epistle of Trinity 6 which expounds the doctrine of baptism.

These extraordinarily nuanced theological connections have always suggested to me that Bach had an over-arching understanding of the church year which informed his compositional method, and that his approach to cantata composition was strategic not tactical.

William Hoffman wrote (July 27, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 170 -- Trinity +6 Chorales

As the first quarter of Bach's Trinity Time Sundays (1-6) closes, it becomes apparent that a repertory of chorales is being established to be presented throughout the entire second half or the<omne tempore> of the church year. This growing collection of hymns relates to the doctrines and teachings of the Christian Church as promulgated by the Lutheran Reformers and found particularly in the music of Bach. To build on the congregation's understanding of the Christian Faith, various types of chorales are introduced, particularly the Catechism teachings of Martin Luther, communion hymns and psalm hymns.

At the same time, the librettists of Bach's cantatas did not always exactingly follow the hymnals' preferences. It is thought that Bach probably had a certain degree of flexibility in the choice of particular hymns, usually to close the cantatas. When Bach first began to compose service cantatas on a regular (monthly) basis in Weimar in early 1714, he previously had relied primarily on established, published texts of Pastor Erdmann Neumeister and Georg Christian Lehms, emphasizing basic Lutheran thought in Italian aria madrigalian and secco blank-verse recitative style with some well-known closing chorales.

Now, Bach turned to his Weimar Court colleague, poet Salomo Franck, who conceived his works as descriptive yet didactic musical sermons designed to instill progressive yet somewhat rigid orthodoxy. This is followed in Franck's cantata texts using the Trinity Time hymn, "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (Salvation has come to us) for the Bach Cantatas BWV 155 and 186 (see below, Hymn of the Day). Interestingly, Franck did not always rigidly adhere to the service assigned hymn, as later Bach and his Leipzig librettists likewise remained flexible.

At the same time, there are occasions when no cantata chorale is necessary or it is optional. Such is the case in Leipzig for the 6th Sunday after Trinity. In 1726, for Cantata BWV 170, Bach chose a Lehms 1711 text, "Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust" (Pleasant rest, beloved stirring of the soul), with three contemplative arias (the first two in ritornello repeat form, the last in da-capo) interspersed with two terse recitatives constituting a symmetrical five-movement palindrome or diamond shape with no concluding chorale.

The choice of chorale to close the 1726 double bill, Johann Ludwig Bach's Cantata JLB 7, "Ich will meinen Geist in auch geben" (I will my spirit in likewise give), No. 9, could not be determined. Picander's text for the 1728 cantata, P.49 "Gott, gib mir ein versöhnlich" (God, give me a reconciliation) text only, also has no chorale. It is assumed that Picander, in creating an annual cantata cycle of texts for Bach, had the approval at least of church authorities, and possibly of the Town Council, which reviewed the actual service libretto books before publication.

Interestingly, Bach in 1724 kept in reserve the appropriate Sunday chorale with parahrased text, "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her," which he belatedly, finally wrought as a chorale cantata, BWV 9, probably in 1734. Meanwhile, Neumeister's choice of the popular Trinity Time hymn, "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" (I call to The, Lord Jesus Christ," filled the bill in 1725, closing the cantata "Wer sich rächet, an dem wird sich der Herr wieder rächen" (He who avenges, on him will the Lord again avenge).

Chorales for the 6th Sunday after Trinity (Douglas Cowing, Musical Context) and Bach's usage:

2) HYMN OF DAY (de tempore): "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (Salvation has come to us). Paul Speratus' 1524 text (14 verses) was set to the anonymous 1524 Wittenberg melody of the same title. Bach's usage of the hymn is found as Chorale Cantata BWV 9, c.1734, repeat c.1740-47, for the 6th Sunday after Trinity (S. 1-12, paraphrases Stanzas 2-11) with the melody found in the opening chorale chorus and closing plain chorale (No. 5). Bach's other cantata usages are in
*Cantata 155 closing chorale (No. 5, S.12; S. Franck text) for the 2nd Sunday After Epiphany, 1716, repeat 1724;
*Cantata 186/6 closing chorales, Parts 1 and 2 (Nos. 6 and 11, Stanzas 10, 9; S. Franck text), for the 7th Sunday After Trinity, 1723, repeat 1746-50; and
*Cantata 86 (closing chorale No. 6, Stanza 9; ?C. Weiss Sr. text) for Easter +4 (Rogate), 1724.
The anonymous melody also is found in the Orgelbüchlein chorale prelude No. 77 (Confession, Penitence, Justification), BWV 638(a). It is a hymn of belief and faith, based on Roman's 3:28, Luther's doctrine, "Justification by faith alone," and originally was an Easter song, "Freu' dich du werthe Christenheit," which was in use in 1478.

"Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" is found in the 1682 <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB), No. 230 in 12 stanzas; also for use at Epiphany +4, Septuageisma, and Trinity +13 and +18. It is found in the Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978; No. 297, "Justification," 5 stanzas, 7 lines 87.87.887, and the melody as LBW No. 194 for Baptism, set to the Danish bishop Thomas Hansen Kingo (1634-1703) text, "All who believe and are baptized" (2 stanzas).

Bach also used the 1524 melody set to the wedding hymn text (Stanza 1), "Sei lob und Her dem höchsten Gut" (Be praise and honor to the highest good) in wedding chorale BWV 251 (?1729), after the vows (Stiller 94) and the same Jakob Schütz nine-stanza 1675 text in the undesignated pure-hymn chorale Cantata BWV 117 (1729-35), with the Wittenberg melody in the opening chorale chorus and the plain chorales Nos./Stanzas) 4 and 9.

3) PULPIT HYMN:
"Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend" (Lord, Jesus Christ, be with us now) is one of four hymns sung in the Leipzig main service every Sunday (Stiller 117, 124) and vespers (p.258). Originally, it was a nominal Pentecost hymn, 1651, closing with the Trinity Time Lesser Doxology. The text is attributed to Wilhelm II, Saxe-Weimar (1598-1662) in 1676 (4 verses, 4 lines, 8.8.8.8.), anonymous melody Dresden 1628, in NLGB 817). There is no extant Bach setting of this chorale in a cantata. Instead, he uses the melody as a plain chorale BWV 332 (G Major, 8 bars; Teldec CD 25712/3), and this setting could have been appended to a repeat performance of Cantata 170, which is in D Major. Bach also uses the melody as organ chorale preludes played as interludes before the pulpit sermon (P. Williams, <Organ Music of JSB>: 296f) in the <Orgelbüchlein> (OB49, Pentecost) chorale prelude, BWV 632, trio super BWV 655 (Great 18); and miscellaneous, BWV 709, 726, and 749. Here is the Catherine Winkworth translation (Chorale Book for England, 1865), also in the Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978; No. 253, "Beginning of Service":

Lord Jesus Christ, be present now!
And let thy Holy Spirit bow
All hearts in love and fear today,
To hear the truth and keep Thy way.

Open our lips to sing Thy praise,
Our in true devotion raise,
Strengthen our faith, increase our light,
That we may know Thy name aright:

Until we join the host that cry
"Holy, Holy art Thou most High,"
And 'mid the light of that blest place
Shall gaze upon Thee face to face.

Glory to God, the Father, Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To Thee, O blessed Trinity,
Be praise throughout eternity!


4) CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns:

A. "Mensch willtu leben" (Man, if you will live blessedly) (NLGB 493), Luther's second hymn on the 10 Commandments; also designated for the Fourth Sunday After Trinity; not set by Bach.

B. "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt Menschlich Natur und Wesen" (Through Adam's fall is completely corrupted of manly nature and character). Lazarus Spengler 1524 (9 stanzas, 8 lines), anonymous melody (Reformation battle sing 1525) in Klug's Sacred Songs, Wittenberg 1529. Catechism chorale (Penitential texts) the need for Saviour and for faith (Williams 303f); NLGB 606, "Christian Life and Belief." "Vindication/Justification)" "is very likely the category to which Bach understood this chorale text to belong" (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Durch-Adams-Fall.htm). Bach's cantata usage is
*BWV 18, text Neumeister III, No. 5 (closing chorale, S. 8), Sexageisma 1713/15, 1724, 1732-35; and
*BWV 109, No. 6 (closing chorale, S.7), Trinity +21, 1723.
Bach melody usage is found in three organ chorale prelude settings: Orgelbüchlein (OB 76; "Confession, Penitence, Justification)" BWV 637; Miscellaneous (Kirnberger), BWV 705; and Neumeister BWV 1101 (b1710).

C. "Dies sind die heilige zehn Gebot" (These are the 10 Holy Comandments), Catechism chorale, NLGB 490; designated for Trinity +4, +6, +13, +18.

D. "Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ" (I call to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ), NLGB 627; designated for Trinity +2, +5, +6, +19, +21.

The incipits of these chorales as well as the titles of the cantatas Bach used or considered for the 6th Sunday after Trinity provide a short-hand or beginning to understanding the readings, teachings and themes of this Sunday: next time.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 27, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
< It is assumed that Picander, in creating an annual cantata cycle of texts for Bach, had the >approval at least of church authorities, and possibly of the Town Council, which reviewed the >actual service libretto books before publication. >
I have not noticed the latter point mentioned previously. Is it documented?

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 27, 2011):
Bach & Censorship

William Hoffman wrote:
<< It is assumed that Picander, in creating an annual cantata cycle of texts for Bach, had the >approval at least of church authorities, and possibly of the Town Council, which reviewed the >actual service libretto books before publication. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I have not noticed the latter point mentioned previously. Is it documented? >
This was the subject of a major flame-war a while ago, although there were never any documents adduced for or against a system of censorship in Leipzig.

If there was an official or body entrusted with issuing an imprimantur, it could not have been a civil body like the Town Council. Although they were Bach's employer, his theological supervisor as cantor was the Superintendant - the Lutheran equivalent of bishop - and the Consistory which was the clerical council which had responsibility for the discipline of the clergy and their published opinions. Robin Leaver has described the oversight and visitations which Superintendents exercised in their geographical jurisdictions.

If Bach's librettos were subject to censorship, the imprimatur must have been pro forma, given the extremely close working relationships which he enjoyed with the clergy. In fact, then as now, top clergy nearly always delegated the reading of books to other clergy and scholars. When the reader gave his approval of orthodoxy with his "nihil obstat" (= nothing prevents [its publication]), the superintendant or bishop would sign off with "imprimantur" (=let it be published). Bach may even have been called upon to be part of the official censorship and judge other people's work.

As I said back in the flame wars, it's hard to believe that a printer in Leipzig would print any theological work - cantata librettos included - without some form of nominal ecclesiastical approbation.

But there are no documents, so the evidence is all collateral.

Ed Myskowski wrote (July 27, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote to Ed Myskowski:
< This was the subject of a major flame-war a while ago, although there were never any documents adduced for or against a system of censorship in Leipzig.
[...]
As I said back in the flame wars, it's hard to believe that a printer in
Leipzig would print any theological work - cantata librettos included - without some form of nominal ecclesiastical approbation.
But there are no documents, so the evidence is all collateral. >
Thanks for the clarification. I did recall the prior discussion topic, just not the definite conclusion which Will made.

William Hoffman wrote (July 27, 2011):
William Hoffman wrote:
<< It is assumed that Picander, in creating an annual cantata cycle of texts for Bach, had the >approval at least of church authorities, and possibly of the Town Council, which reviewed the >actual service libretto books before
publication. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I have not noticed the latter point mentioned previously. Is it documented? >
There are two documented situations:

NBR 115. April 3, 1724, Bach had the libretto of the St. John Passion listing the Good Friday Vesper Performance at the St. Thomas Church. The Town Council had decided to alternate annual performances. Bach was required to have an announcement printed, at Council expense, that the performance would be at the St. Nicholas Church.

NBR 208, March 17, 1739, Town Council clerk reported that the Good Friday Performance "Is to be omitted until regular permission for the same is received." Bach replied that "If an objection were made on account of the text, [he remarked] it had already been performed several times."

There are two Passion church book librettos recently discovered: the 1734 Stoezel Brockes Passion and the 1744 Bach St. Mark Passion, both at the Thomas Church. There also are some eight printed church service libretto books (usually 4-6 services in each book) from 1723-25, 1727, 1731, and 1735-36 (Christmas Oratorio).

Thus, collateral evidence suggests that the Council specifically gave its approval of Passion performances and was at least aware of the other pending publications being printed about four week prior to the performance of the first work in the book.

Peter Smaill wrote (July 27, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] According to the "normally reliable" Rochlitz (this is quoted in "Liturgical Life in Leipzig" by Gunter Stiller) the Superintendent (Deyling) chose from three texts for the forthcoming Cantatas, presumably in groups prior to publication of the text booklets which cover several Sundays. I'm not aware of "imprimatur" and "nihil obstat" expressions being deployed as these are terms almost exclusively associated with the Roman Catholic Church.

Personally I have doubted that Deyling exercised his rights of censorship actively, in view of the theological variability of the sentiments in the Cantata texts, and notwithstanding the Lutheran core. The important moment is the banning of the (? St John) Passion performance in 1739, to which Bach responded " if it was to do with the words, it had been performed many times before". So there may have been a conflict or censorship in the past, but this intervention came from the Council, not from the Superintendent- Deyling had not been informed tthe council objected to the Passion and so cannot have played a part in the ban.

That Bach influenced the choice of texts is apparent from the wholesale adoption of settings and words in the third cycle, from the court of Saxe-Meiningen, whose Duke had quirky emphases on salvation through fulfilling one's duties, and a love of nature-imagery. Bach deployed 18 of his cousin's Johann Ludwig's Cantata settings of Duke Bernhard's texts and Bach himself sets several Cantatas in the third cycle to texts from this source. My favourite of all the Duke's images is the statement in his own Trauermusik, a glorious two-choir work, that "Christians should have their ears pierced" (!). This is not so much a prophetic fashion statement but a reference back to a previous aria likening the willing Christian to the bullocks in the market, i.e., accepting passivity towards fate.

If Deyling was an active promoter of orthodox Lutheranism based on doctrinal (or poetic standards even) I cannot see that he would have wanted the Meiningen texts. But Bach, to please his cousin no doubt, procured that the Duke's texts and works commisioned by him would gain a wider audience at Leipzig.

Possibly, since the St John Passion BWV 245 was revised and performed subsequently, it was actually the St Mark Passion (with its notions of universal salvation) which annoyed the Pietist-dominated council.

All of this in greater detail at http://www.bachnetwork.co.uk/ub4/smaill.pdf

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 27, 2011):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Personally I have doubted that Deyling exercised his rights of censorship actively, in view of the theological variability of the sentiments in the Cantata texts, and notwithstanding the Lutheran core. The important moment is the banning of the (? St John) Passion performance in 1739, to which Bach responded " if it was to do with the words, it had been performed many times before". >
The lack of evidence of any censorship controversy involving Bach would seem to support your notion that he was a trusted and orthodox member of the ecclesiastical hierarchy whose choice of librettos received cursory supervision. Whatever the "imprimatur" process was, it must have been pro forma for Bach.

The St. Passion controversy has always struck me as an administrative not a theological quarrel. If the consistory owned the soul, the council owned the body. Somehow Bach seems to have made an administrative mistake and stepped on someone's toes: did he get the venue wrong? Was there a budget problem? Whatever it was, the Council's hackles went up and an impasse was quickly reached -- perhaps they wouldn't raise the debt ceiling to pay for the extra musicians.

Bach's response seems to indicate that he didn't understand the problem and thought it was a criticism of his libretto and music. The Council may have regarded the Passion music as a civic event for which they controlled the venue and budget. Their individual opinions about new concerted church music could only have exacerbated the crisis, but it's hard to believe that they had the authority to judge matters of orthodoxy without reference to the Superintendant.

William Hoffman wrote (July 28, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 170 -- Lessons & Cantata Texts

The incipits of chorales as well as the titles of the cantatas Bach used or considered for the 6th Sunday after Trinity can provide a short-hand or a beginning to understanding the readings, teachings and themes of this Sunday (readings from the King James Version). This is rudimentary information and attention is directed to Peter Smaill's recent BCW posting: "Bach Among the Heretics: Inferences from the Cantata Texts," http://www.bachnetwork.co.uk/ub4/smaill.pdf.


I. Lectionary

A. Introit: Psalm 28 Prayer for help from one in a hostile community (1-8); thanksgiving for help (6-9)
[1] "Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit."
Antiphon, Psalm 28:8-9:
[8] "The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.
[9] Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever."

B. Gloria

C. Collect: Deus virtutem (Lord of all power and might), Gelasian Sacramentary

D. EpiIstle: Romans 6: 3-11 (titles: "We may not live in sin," "Dying and rising with Christ," and "Dead to sin but alive in union with Christ")
[3] "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?"

E. Gospel: Matthew 5: 20-26 Agree with your adversary
[20] "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Lesson Readings: [http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lutheran-Read.htm scroll down to:
Event, 6th Sunday after Trinity; Epistle, Romans 6: 3-11; Gospel, Matthew 5: 20-26]


II. Trinity Cycle: `New Life of Righteousness'

Smaller Trinity Cycles are shown in Paul Zeller Strodach, <The ChurchYear: Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles, and Gospels>, United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA 1924: pp. 194ff).

The lessons of Trinity Time are arranged in group cycles, based on doctrine and practice, with a general definite topic. The first group, the First to the Fifth Sunday After Trinity, deals with the Kingdom of Grace and the Call to enter therein. The second group (the Sixth to the 11th Sunday After Trinity) "is rich with practical indications of the <Right Manner of Life in the Kingdom of Grace>," emphasizing the "new life of righteousness." Like the Christian comparison and contrast of the New Covenant in the Blood of Christ" with the Old Testament covenants between God and the People of Israel, the "new righteousness" the Old Testament models of righteousness of the law, from the Scribes and Pharaisees, with the "new" Christian concept of righteousness through the Sacrament of Baptism, also known as the Sacrament of Initiation into Christianity.

Both the Epistle and Gospel lessons for the 6th Sunday after Trinity "lead to the new life of righteousness."
The Epistle (Roman's 6:3-11) speaks of the `"walk in newness of life": [4] "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." The Epistle concludes with the affirmation: [11]" Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." The Epistle reading for the day "describes the nature of Baptism and the duties which it imposes" in order to achieve "the righteousness of the new life." The emphasis shifts from the believer's duty of obedience to God and the Law to the Great Commandment to love God and humanity.


Paired Miracle and Teaching

The teaching of the Gospel for the 6th Sunday after Trinity is found in BCW, Douglas Cowling Thematic Patterns in Bach's Gospels:

Trinity, PART TWO: Paired Miracles & Teachings

* Trinity 5: Luke 5: 1-11 Miracle: draught of fishes
[3] "And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship."

* Trinity 6: Matthew 5: 20-26 Teaching: Agree with your adversary
[23] "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

Thus, the first miracle Jesus performs for his potential disciples (followers), the draft of the fishes, validates Jesus authenticity as a prophet and leads to Jesus teaching the people from the ship. The teaching emphasized in the Gospel pair (Matthew 5:20-26) is of a greater righteousness than the law and obedience. Jesus suggests that the source of killing, even between brothers, is anger, and that reconciliation is needed and then the offer of a gift before the altar; that one should: [25] "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison." This might be seen as an expression of the doctrine of non-violence.


III. `Worthless," "Good-for-Nothing"

Following the opening of the Gospel lesson, Jesus' counsel for a greater righteousness, is his caution: [22] "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

In the initial BCW discussion of BWV 170, Andrew Oliver wrote (July 31, 2000) about the word "Raca":
"The Harmonia Mundi booklet mistakenly translates it as 'vengeance', apparently assuming that this is the German word 'Rache'. It is not. The English King James (A.V.) Bible uses 'Raca' (the original 1611 version spelled it as 'Racha') and this represents the word 'raka' in the original Greek text, though the word itself is apparently Aramaic, and here means something like 'You worthless person'. My 1956 edition Luther bible renders it as 'Du Nichtsnutz' [good-for-nothing]. I don't know what Luther's early editions said. Anyway, Lehms quotes this word, but I am not sure whether he realized that it is not the German 'Rache'."

BCW, Francis Browne October 2007 translation of the phrase in Movement No. 2, alto recitative:
"Und will allein von Racha ! Racha! sagen." (And only wants to say 'racha' [you worthless person]).

IV. Incipits of Cantata Movements as related to the Lessons

Here are the incipits of Bach's movements in BWV 170 from the Lehms text (Browne translation):

1. Aria [Alto]; Oboe d'amore e Violino I all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo

Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust,
Contented peace,beloved delight of the soul,
Dich kann man nicht bei Höllensünden,
you cannot be found among the sins of hell,
Wohl aber Himmelseintracht finden;
but only where there is heavenly harmony;

2. Recitative [Alto]; Continuo

Die Welt, das Sündenhaus,
The world, that place of sin,
Bricht nur in Höllenlieder aus
bursts out only in hellish songs
Und sucht durch Hass und Neid
and strives through hatred and envy
Des Satans Bild an sich zu tragen.
to bear upon itself the image of Satan.

3. Aria [Alto]; Organo obligato a 2 claviature, Violino I/II e Viola all' unisono, Organo

Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen,
How sorry I feel therefore for those perverted hearts
Die dir, mein Gott, so sehr zuwider sein;
that against you, my God, are so set

4. Recitative [Alto]; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Wer sollte sich demnach
Who in these circumstances would
Wohl hier zu leben wünschen,
wish to live here at all
Wenn man nur Hass und Ungemach
when only hate and misfortune
Vor seine Liebe sieht?
Are seen in place of God's love?

5. Aria [Alto]; Organo obligato e Oboe d'amore, Violino I all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo

Mir ekelt mehr zu leben,
I feel revulsion to prolong my life,
Drum nimm mich, Jesu, hin!
And so take me away from here, Jesus!

As a comparison, here are the incipits of the movements from Neumeiser's 1711 text for the 6th Sunday after Trinity; July 8, 1725, St. Nicholas Church:

1. "Wer sich rächet, an dem wird sich der Herr wieder rächen" (He who avenges, on him will the Lord again avenge), Sirach 28:1b
2. Recit. "Nichts schwehrer geht dem alten Adam ein" (Nought harder shall the old Adam fall)
3. Aria. "Fried und liebe frönt die Christen" (Love and concord crown the Christian)
4. Recit. "Die Hund beist in den Stein" (The dog will bite the stone)
5. Aria. "Segne dem, der dich verflucht" (Bless the man whom thee doth cure)
6. Chorale: "Verlieh, dass ich aus Herzengrung" (Now grant that I with heart sincere), S.3, "Ich ruf zu dir"

For the Rudolstadt text of 1704 for the Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata, JLB-7 on double bill with BWV 170, July 28, 1726, I am only able to find two incipts, the opening "Ich will mein Geist in auch geben" (I will my spirit in likewise give (Old Testament), and No. 7 "Glaube und Arbeit zusammen" (Faith and Work together)
The incipit for Picander's text for the 1728 cantata, P.49, is "Gott, gib mir ein versöhnlich" (God, give me a reconciliation).

V. Chorale Incipits

The incipts of the chorales that Bach set appropriate for the 6th Sunday after Trinity, include Bach's only chorale Cantata setting for this Sunday, BWV 9 "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (Salvation has come to us). Next week a comparison will be done between Sparatus' original 1523 14-stanza text and Bach's unknown librettist who did paraphrases of Stanzas 2-11 into five movements. The others are:

1. "Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend" (Lord, Jesus Christ, be with us now)
2. "Mensch willtu leben" (Man, if you will live blessedly)
3. "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt Menschlich Natur und Wesen" (Through Adam's fall is completely corrupted manly nature and character).
4. "Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ" (I call to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ).

 

Your thoughts on cantata 70? [Bach Cantatas Maniacs on LinkedIn]

Douglas Starr [Music, Director of Music and Arts, St. Paul's Episcopal, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh), PA] wrote (July 2, 2013):
Your thoughts on cantata BWV 70?

Julian Mincham wrote (July 3, 2013):
See: http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-28-bwv-70.htm

Kyle Renick wrote (July 3, 2013):
I started writing about Alfred Deller and Daniel Taylor and checking my complete cantata sets when it suddenly struck me that I was writing about BWV 170, not BWV 70. So apologies are in order, but at least now I will take out BWV 70, listen to it, and see if I have anything to contribute here.

Alain Bruguieres wrote (July 4, 2013):
Julian's text is remarkable, I strongly advise you to read it.

To me this cantata is one of the most operatic. I particularly enjoy, in the second part, the sequence with the air 'Hebt euer Haupt empor' followed by the recitative "Ach, soll nicht dieser große Tag". I can't help thinking that there's a little irony here. First, you have the Good Christian congratulating himself on his spotless life, and indulging in what will be revealed later as smug confidence in his ultimate salvation. The delightful air, with its dance-like galanterie, suggests a somewhat frivolous carefreeness. And then, all of a sudden, lightning strikes out of a blue sky. It's the end of the World, everything collapses, including the Good Christian's composure: he's a sinner, he's bound to burn in Hellfire, no doubt! But the comforting evocation of the compassion of God gradually brings back a more authentic and humbler form of confidence in the future, less buoyant perhaps, but more solid. This recitative undergoes radical changes in mood in a very short time. And all along, you hear the Chorale melody, played by the trumpet. At first, the trumpet seems to be the very personification of the horrors of the final destruction of the world. Then, it becomes soothing, in its steadfast progress, as if it were leading the Christian through his internal turmoils. But in fact the Chorale melody is quite impervious in its hieratic beauty. It is as if the drama was really happening only in the Christian's mind, a sudden outburst of fear which makes him aware of the shallowness of his faith, and brings him ultimately to a much deeper spiritual level.

Julian Mincham wrote (July 15, 2013):
Thanks Incidentally I just got back from Poland and East germany where I heard 11 Bach concerts including several of the cantatas and the B m Mass.. I was bowled over by the expertise of the players, most particularly those playing 'authentic' instruments repros. I think that the best groups playing this sort of music today are probably mostly European.

BTW the link to the article on BWV 170 (as opposed to BWV 70) is: http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-19-bwv-170.htm . I too have Deller's recording of the solo alto cantatas which are sublime--as is his Agnus Dei from the mass.

 

Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 170: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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

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