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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 190
Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied
Cantata BWV 190a
Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied!
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of August 9, 2009

William Hoffman wrote (August 9, 2009):
BWV 190: Fugitive Notes & Köthen Connections

First, review the BCML discussion of Cantata, BWV 190: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV190.htm
especial Aryeh Oron's Intro, Aug. 10, 2003, and John Pike's Intro, Jan. 15, 2006 (Part 2)

NEW YEAR: BWV 190, Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied [parodied, incomplete]
1/1/24 (Cycle 1), repeated 1736-39; wholly original, parodied in BWV 190a, Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied!, Augsburg 1, 6/25/30.
Sources: (1) score (#3-7 only, SPK P.127, CPEB, Berlin Sing.), (2) 6 parts (SATB, vn 1&2 (doublets), SPK St.88, ?, Berlin Sing.), score #1-2, other parts (3 tp, timp., 3 ob [1 d/a], va, bc) with BWV 190a (lost).
Literature: BG XXXVII (Waldersee 1884; NBA KB I/4 (Neumann 1964); reconstruction Walther Reinhart (Zürich: Hug, 1948); recon. Olivier Alain, 1971; Smend Bach in Köthen, 66-70, 86 (190/3-6 orig. Köthen 1/1/23); Whittaker II:221-5; Robertson 39 f; Young 141-3; Dürr 147.
Score (pf,vv): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV190-V&P.pdf
(Kalmus-?Alain K 06060, Drinker Eng. Trans.); 190, Breitkopf 7190, 1996, D. Hellmann recon.
Text: #1, 2, Luther cle. Te Deum; #4-6, ?? Bach or Picander; Mvt. 7, Herman cle. "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset" ("Jesus, Now Be Praised") (S. 2).
Forces: ATB, 4 vv, 3 tp, timp, 3 ob (1 d'a), str, bc.
Movements: chorus, 3 recit. (BTA, B, T), 2 arias (A, T), chorale.
1. Chs.(tutti): Sing to the Lord a new song (Ps.149:1, 150:4, 6).
2. Rec.(BTA w/cle.): O God, we praise Thee.
3. Aria(A,str): Praise Zion thy God with joy (Ps.23:2) (polonaise).
4. Rec.(B): Let wish to itself the world.
5. Aria(TB,ob): Jesus shall my all be (passepied-minuet).
6. Rec.(T,str): Now Jesus, grant with the New Year.
7. Cle.(tutti): Let us the year fulfill.

Summary: Diethard Hellmann, Bretikopf Ed. Preface. Nos. 3-7 of the New Year's version survive in their entirety, along with the two violin parts (doublets), the choral of Mvt. 1 (Chorus) in four parts and all the vocal parts of Mvt. 2 (Chorale & Recitative), all the parts in the hand of J.A. Kuhnau at the end of 1723.

Much credit goes to Hellmann, and Gustave Theile, for their restoration through reconstruction of important works now recognized by Koopman [4] and Suzuki [8] (both with their own reconstructions of BWV 190). Previously, only Rilling [3] was willing to venture into Bach musicological minefields, which Harnoncourt and Leonhardt shunned in their alleged "Complete Cantatas" edition, notably Vol. 44, blatantly omitting BWV 190, BWV 191, and BWV 193. Shame on them!

Turning to recent commentaries, Dürr's Cantatas says the alto aria (Mvt. 3), because of "Its homophonic string texture, articulated by echo dynamics, suggests a secular origin, though no concrete evidence of this has come to light." Somehow, Friedrich Smend's pioneering <Bach in Köthen> gets short schrift, but is discussed in detail below. David Schulenberg's entry on BWV 190 in the OCC:JSB, p. 452f, points out the similarities of this work with three movements in Cantata BWV 69(a): opening chorus full instrumentation, tenor-bass duet (Mvt. 5) use of oboe d'amore, and closing plain chorale trumpet interludes. Cantata BWV 69(a) is primarily a Town Council cantata and has festive, celebratory music very similar to New Year's cantatas as well as special celebratory events such as similar cantatas parodied for 200th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 1730, especially Cantata BWV 190's sister, BWV 190a, discussed below.

Cantata BWV 190 shows some close connections to both Bach's Köthen New Year's serenades and his presumed first sacred New Year's Cantata BWV 143. Cantata BWV 143 reflects both Bach's command of his vocal art achieved in Köthen, especially the accessible, expansive and technically challenging arias and choruses with their gracious dance style, and, like Cantata BWV 143, the imaginative, commanding and unparalleled use of the chorale, first perfected in the organ preludes composed before Köthen.

Smend argues that the surviving five movements of Cantata BWV 190/3-7 contain material first conceived in Köthen for a sacred New Year's cantata. Besides the two arias with dance style, including one signature duet (Mvt. 5), alternating with proclamatory, utility recitatives, Smends points to textual parallels. Most notable is the choice of particular words in the closing, summary recitative, "Now Jesus, grant," original librettist unknown (maybe J.F. Helbig?). Could this be Bach's first, perhaps partial parody, by Bach's foremost parodist poet, Picander? Smend cites the use of the word "Gesalbter" (Annointed One), no where else found in any original Leipzig work for New Year's Day, referring to a prince or his family with their "Stamm und Zweige" (trunk and branches). Smends suggests that this proto version of Cantata BWV 190 was composed soon after the birth of Prince Leopold's first child, on Sept. 21, 1722, and performed Jan. 1, 1723 as Bach's last extant work before departing Köthen for Leipzig.

It should be noted that Bach's parody of Leipzig regal secular serenades as sacred oratorios, most notably in the Christmas Oratorio, offended certain late-19th century Bach scholars who either avoided or denigrated these works, or, in the case of W. Gillies Whittaker, who went to great lengths and contortions to try to prove that the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) was composed before its parodied serenades. Bach had no apparent reservations transforming or metamorphosing at least five and possibly more Köthen serenades into sacred cantatas for the Easter, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday feast days, and maybe even New Year's.

While Christoph Wolff continues to decry the massive loss of Köthen works, with little supporting evidence, it was Smend who tenaciously suggested that certain Leipzig sacred works had their origins in Köthen sacred works: Cantatas BWV 190, BWV 145, BWV 193, and BWV 32. It was the theologian Smend, whose reach was further than his grasp and who made mistakes of the heart, who more than a half century ago commendable and resolutely took up the cause of Bach's neglected parodies and Köthen vocal music. Smend resurrected the "lost" St. Mark Passion and helped pave the way for the rightful place of the Bach Christological oratorios and the Lutheran Masses, and perhaps influenced the elevation of Bach's stile antico late vocal works first championby Wolff.

Next: Cantata BWV 190a.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 9, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< While Christoph Wolff continues to decry the massive loss of Köthen works, with little supporting evidence. >
I completely disagree with that statement. But many thanks for all the hard work and fine research you've provided in this entry, it's greatly appreciated.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 9, 2009):
I will divide my introductory remarks on Cantata 190 as follows:

1. Sunday:

BWV 190 as another occasion to restore the cantatas to its original purpose

2. Monday:

A reflective miniature of an affect to be properly guided by God through Cantata BWV 190

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 9, 2009):
1. BWV 190 as another occasion to restore the cantatas to its original purpose

More than merely a psychic blow would be necessary in order to excel the vast void in human affairs, although, undoubtedly, the public, bored with such an adequate endeavor, would prompt us to find a higher purpose than conquering an audience. With such a distinction a work avoids popularity, being the single individual the sole addressee of a bunch of masterpieces. Now, a labor like that is intended for few listeners, and precisely because, not deluded, we admit the determined different direction of majority, whereas, along with me, one or two are directed to reconstruct nothing but praise to overshadow infamy, which daily defies even through writings and art, through the base carved language of blasphemy. Farewell, let us say to the blurred appearance of wisdom! Yea, seashore sunk beneath the horizon - adieu! For, beyond the bursting waves of sophistry, the undecided skeptical breakers, we search for divine glory - o that we, worthy of longing, could long worthily not merely to sing an aria, otherwise singing it devotedly to the Lord, and singing the new covenant, his secret counsel revealed in our fear and trembling, the forgiveness of all sins, promise of eternal bliss. For if strong in love, you are immensely apart from sinning; and if weak though fearing, grace is revealed, so that you may praise along with his saints. But those who neither love nor fear, what do they sing, as if praising, else dishonoring the one they should praise not sinning? And if you do not praise in listening to a fearless sin singing an old song, why not to acknowledge the judgment of sin, the hypocrisy that has divorced you from praising? But as soon as you acknowledge God's judgment, you fear, away from sin, but not from praise. For the cantata will be at last restored when we sing TO THE LORD, and either loving or fearing to be ourselves reconstructed to the perfect love that casts out fear.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 9, 2009):
BWV 190 [introductory]

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< BWV 190 as another occasion to restore the cantatas to its original purpose >

The original purpose of Bach's cantatas was specific to time and place. One of the objectives of this discussion group is to make the texts understood (or understandable, at least) to a worldwide audience. That is not an identical objective to endorsing their content as a universal truth.

No one has said it better, more concisely, more simply, than Francis Browne, who described the task of translation as penitential. France is prone (inside joke).

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 10, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< While Christoph Wolff continues to decry the massive loss of Köthen works, with little supporting evidence. >
Kim Patrick Clow replied;
< I completely disagree with that statement. >
Is the disagreement with the statement attributed to Wolff, or with the assertion of <little supporting evidence>? Indeed, <lost works> and <little supporting evidence> go virtually hand in hand, no? Further on, Will notes:
< It was the theologian Smend, whose reach was further than his grasp and who made mistakes of the heart, who more than a half century ago commendable and >resolutely took up the cause of Bach's neglected parodies and Köthen vocal music. >
I read all this as Will essentially agreeing with both Wolff and Smend, that there are likely to be lost Köthen works surviving only in parody, but that the belief is more a matter of heart than interpretation of evidence.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 10, 2009):
"While Christoph Wolff continues to decry the massive loss of Köthen works, with little supporting evidence."
< Is the disagreement with the statement attributed to Wolff, or with the assertion of <little supporting evidence>?
The latter.
< Indeed, <lost works> and <little supporting evidence> go virtually hand in hand, no? >
Maybe. But then, Wolff gives some compelling evidence to justify his claims. I feel the explanations to counter Wolff's "evidence" are more creative than the more simpler explanation, a lot of Bach's music vanished due to a variety of reasons.

Here's an interesting tidbit. There were 12 unique sources for about 10 orchestral suites by Johann F. Fasch in Leipzig. Hugo Riemann mentions them in his writings around 1909, and even prepared a few keyboard reductions of some movements from these suites. Of those 10, only one (!) survives now in the Leizpig archives. A significant loss of music since just 1910. So, the losses Wolff estimates for Bach aren't unusual for a composer of the baroque (I've given details about that in other threads),in fact Bach fared pretty good.

No matter what, the lost Bach and Fasch (and of course, Telemann) is tragic :/

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 10, 2009):
BWV 190: Multiple Settings of texts

William Hoffman wrote:
< NEW YEAR: BWV 190, Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied [parodied, incomplete]
Text: #1, 2, Luther cle. Te Deum; #4-6, ?? Bach or
Picander; Mvt. 7, Herman cle. "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset" ("Jesus, Now Be Praised") (S. 2). >
The opening movement also serves as the dictum with quotations from Psalm 149:1 and Psalm 150:4&6. This cantata is fascinating because it is one of the relatively rare examples when Bach set the same German text twice (the Latin masses provide an encyclopedia of Bach's brilliance in handling common texts). The psalm verses are also part of the libretto for one of Bach's greatest works, the motet, "Singet dem Herrn". I've always felt that the motets are unfairly ignored because they are 'a capella' works: "Singet dem Herrn" and "Jesu Meine Freude" are masterpieces.

There aren't many examples of multiple settings of the same text. A quick skim across the alphabetical cantata list gives these (I haven't looked them up so they many not be identical):

Ach Gott wie manche (3 settings)
Herr wir loben (2)
Ich ruf zu dir (2)
Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele (3)
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (2)
O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort (2)
Schwingt freudig euch empor (2)
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (3)

It's instructive to compare motet and cantata. A quick outline of the motet:

Mvt 1: (bipartite "prelude and fugue")
Prelude: "Singet Dem Herrn"
Fugue: "Die Kinder Zion"

Mvt 2 (Polyphonic "Aria" interspersed with Chorale)
Choir 1: Aria: "Gott, nimm dich ferner unser an"
Choir 2: Chorale: "Wie sich ein Vater erbarmet"

Mvt 3: ("prelude and fugue")
Prelude: Lobet den Herrn in seinen Taten
Fugue: Alles, was Odem hat

Common texts are bracketed:

Cantata text:
[Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied!
Die Gemeine der Heiligen soll ihn loben!]
Lobet ihn mit Pauken und Reigen,
lobet ihn mit Saiten und Pfeifen!
[Alles, was Odem hat, lobe den Herrn!]

Motet text:
Mvt 1
[Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied,
Die Gemeine der Heiligen sollen ihn loben.]
Israel freue sich des, der ihn gemacht hat.
Die Kinder Zion sei'n fröhlich über ihrem Könige,
Sie sollen loben seiNamen im Reihen;
mit Pauken und mit Harfen sollen sie ihm spielen.

Mvt 3:
Lobet den Herrn in seinen Taten,
lobet ihn in seiner großen Herrlichkeit!
[Alles, was Odem hat, lobe den Herrn] Halleluja!

In both "Singet" sections, Bach contrasts homophonic shouts of "Singet dem Herrn" with ecstatic vocalizations on "singet" and "lobet". Both melodies for "singet" have the same prominent dactylic rhythm. In both cantata and motet, the "Singet" section functions as a kind of choral prelude to the fugue which follows.

"Alles was Odem hat" is set in both works as fugues, but they have very different themes and developments. Probably coincidently, they both begin in the basses and rise successively through the tenor, alto and soprano. There is some similarity to the theme of "Sicut locutus est" but ornamented by the dactylic "singet" theme as a counter-subject. The motet fugue is set in quicksilver 3/8 with constantly diminishing stretto which makes the voices sound literally and symbolically gasping for breath.

One other interesting point about this New Year's cantata is the use of the chorale, "Herr wir loben" which is the German version of the Te Deum. The Te Deum was traditionally sung on New Year's Day as a thanksgiving for the preceding year (a continuation of the Catholic tradition). Bach set the long canticle-chorale as a monumental organ chorale prelude and motet setting which the congregation would recognize instantly as THE New Year's hymn -- sort of an ecclesiastical "Auld Lange Syne".

Jean Laaninen wrote (August 10, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< But as soon as you acknowledge God's judgment, you fear, away from sin, but not from praise. For the cantata will be at last restored when we sing TO THE LORD, and either loving or fearing to be ourselves reconstructed to the perfect love that casts out fear. >
>>This is so well said, Henri. Thank you. When one participates with the heart there is little as glorious as singing Bach or hearing it well sung. And if one believes and finds a truth therein the exaltation is almost beyond words. You have captured the purpose in your understanding. Thank you again.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 10, 2009):
[To Jean Laaninen] I am truly glad with your reaction, Jean; and - God is my witness - not as a hunter of recognition. For I cannot expect more than being used to share some depth with those who live the purpose captured.

May God bless you dearly!

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 10, 2009):
2. A reflective miniature of an affect...

to be properly guided by God through Cantata BWV 190

Love and truth are so united that any disjunction turns to be a delusion in our feeble heart, something we regret deeply whenever we acknowledge that there was a better way to expound the pearls of sincerity. On the other hand, to hear is an art that does not demand a perfect proclamation, and since merely a flash of human perfection is hard to achieve, and only a pampered soul would claim to hear ideally what is necessary to be heard. Now, if we had found gold, we would not throw it away by reason of its impurities, and that is how a wise ear enriches accepting the most beneficial statements. Thus, a well said truth is an instrument in God's hand only inasmuch as we humbly receives it from him. Otherwise, it turns to be nothing but a pearl we are eager to trample underfoot. Similarly, a sacred cantata will be an instrument in Almighty's hand to guide our affects toward his glory, but only if we care for God's glory; otherwise, Bach's cantatas are transformed in mere representation, at most godly dramas to distant observers, if not even an occasion to provide subject-matter to some misinformed critics that, unconcerned about exercising piety themselves, presume to understand Christianity through disdain or indifference; aesthetes that, after trying to separate those that were born to live united, portrait a sacred cantata deceptively as if it was absolute music. On the contrary, and since we have found a renewed occasion to celebrate, in this distinguished virtual society, neither the reconstructed score, nor the musical instruments, and since trumpets and drums and strings are but a companion, like dances and pipes with what the psalmist thanked the Lord God along with everything that has breath, so, let us praise him who have waited all our lives long, still thinking of us with mercy when our thoughts were remote or, worse, dared to blasphemously amuse our distinction from simple believers. For God blesses our present acknowledgment among those who harm themselves resisting. Yea! We thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; we thank you, that you make your sun rise on the evil and on the good, and send rain on the just and on the unjust, that while astuteness controls politics, you still show patience in protecting the land; that while utter impieties multiplies, and your name is prohibited in public schools, you refrain pestilence and war; and that your kindness has worked to protect us even when, not attentive of what you have done, we unfairly complained for any sufferance you supposedly ought not to have permitted; that, while we all frequently stumble in many ways, your steadfast love never ceases, and your mercies never come to an end, being otherwise new every morning. We praise you, for even if through a somber valley, you are leading us to green meadows - you, Jesus, who have engraved the truthful idea of safety in embracing you, in whom, directed and guided, we joyfully act to find you, and trusting in the price you have paid, so that, even stumbling in weakness, we may be confident of a good end; that if blessed branches set its top among the clouds, our hearts, not proud of height, will be kept instead in faithfulness and peace, and in all the virtue of love blessedly issued from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Richard Raymond wrote (August 10, 2009):
[To Henri N. Levinspuhl] I hope that Johann Sebastian used to hear better sermons in the Leipzig churches...

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 10, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< otherwise, Bach's cantatas are transformed in mere representation, at most godly dramas to distant observers, if not even an occasion to provide subject-matter to some misinformed critics that, unconcerned about exercising piety themselves, presume to understand Christianity through disdain or indifference; aesthetes that, after trying to separate those that were born to live united, portrait a sacred cantata deceptively as if it was absolute music. >
Frankly, I find this kind of comment about the motivations of list members and the purpose of the historical method offensive.

Evan Cortens wrote (August 10, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Frankly, I find this kind of comment about the motivations of list members and the purpose of the historical method offensive. >
I'm with Doug on this one as well. Henri suggests that in order to even discuss Bach (never mind understand, which would be a different question) we must ourselves practice his particular brand of "piety". Do I need to be an anti-Semite to discuss Wagner?

Furthermore, I've been following the discussions over the past couple weeks, and I'm not quite sure what Henri, Jean and Paul are responding to: I haven't seen anyone suggest that Bach somehow wasn't a believing, practicing Lutheran.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 10, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote, in response and agreement with Doug:
< Furthermore, I've been following the discussions over the past couple weeks, and I'm not quite sure what Henri, Jean and Paul are responding to: I haven't seen anyone suggest that Bach somehow wasn't a believing, practicing Lutheran. >
I agree with both writers, especially the concluding point by Evan.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 10, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I'm with Doug on this one as well. Henri suggests that in order to even discuss Bach (never mind understand, which would be a different question) we must ourselves prhis particular brand of "piety". Do I need to be an anti-Semite to discuss Wagner? >
Do we need to have visited or been involved with brothels to enjoy early jazz? Do we need to be a card carrying Nazi to appreciate the performances of Gieseking and others? Can an atheist not be moved by much of the huge bulk of music generated by the great religions of the world?

We have had bursts of this sort of piety before and they inevitably move us away from rather than towards an understanding and appreciation of this music.

Can we please get back to discussion with the music as the central focus?

William Hoffmann wrote (August 10, 2009):
BWV 190: Multiple Settings of texts

Thank you again, Doug Cowling for your information in Multiple Settings of texts, especially the final verse of the final psalm, "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord," your advocacy of the motets, and the ultimate New Year's chorale, "Herr Gott, dich loben wir."

Before I forget, the John Eliot Gardner Bach cantata release, Vol.17, is available Aug. 11. It has New Year's and Sunday After New Year's Cantatas BWV 143, BWV 41, BWV 16, BWV 171, BWV 153, and BWV 58. I don't see BWV 190. Is it in a previous release?

Connections and Contexts: Re. Psalm 150:6, Alles was Odem hat (All that has breath): there is BWV 223, "Meine Seele soll Gott loben" (questionable fragment, Spitta) , closing fugue in Bb: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV223-D.htm.
Also the phrase is found in the closing tutti fugues BWV 190/1 (NY) and BWV 190a/1 (Augsburg), BWV 120a/8 closing chorale (wedding), and the same text in the closing chorale 137/5 with obbligato trumpet choir (?council). There also is a cantata of the same words by Johann Ernst Bach (1722-1727). He was a Sebastian student (1737-1742).

As for Bach's "monumental organ chorale prelude and motet; setting," BWV 725, says Peter Williams, <Organ Music of JSB> 467f : Luther's rhyming couplets, 53 lines; "BWV 725 often agrees with BWV 328 (plain chorale) when it does not re-harmonize for a new verse." "It is not certain Forkel's MS (the only copy) included the unique text incipits." See the full text on BCML: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale036-Eng3.htm.

The music and a portion of Luther's Te Deum text is found in Cantata BWV 16/1 opening chorale chorus (NY), BWV 190/1,2 unison chorus and chorale trope (NY), 119/9 closing chorale (council), 120/6 closing chorale (council), BWV 190a,1,2 (Augsburg Confession) same as 190/1,2. Incidentally, in a recent BCW discussion, I believe Doug Cowling offered an explanation of why the Latin Te Deum wasn't performed in Lutheran Countries. Dogma, maybe?

Without raining on anyone's parade (or procession), I would point out that historically, the issue of the extent of Bach's spirituality has probably been the leading Bach studies topic in the last half of the 20th century. It began with Friedrich Blüme questioning Bach's sacred commitment. It was followed by a plethora of studies, including the Calov Bible and the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für theologische Bachforschung, beginning in 1977. Beyond some reaction that Blüme was casting pearls or stepping on idols' feet, his challenge was essential to the 19th century idolatry of Bach (the Fifth Evangelist): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Religion-4.htm.
and the growing 20th century revisionist, Marxist dicta, especially in Bach Country, East Germany. From this polarizing, dualistic thinking has come a more unitarian, enriched perspective on the man and his music, which IMVHO cannot be separated, the New Criticism aside.

What especially resonates with me, rings my chimes, is the passage in Bach's Calov Interpretive Bible re. "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. (this means the praise of the mouth, that is from mankind on earth in whom is spirit and breath. The Lord God is to be honored and praised with instruments and voices in the temple and in the sanctuary where he dwells, and also in your prayers to heaven, for the Lord's throne is heaven and the earth is his footstool, Isaiah 66:1)."

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 10, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Incidentally, in a recent BCW discussion, I believe Doug Cowling offered an explanation of why the Latin Te Deum wasn't performed in Lutheran Countries. >
I did? What authoritative statement did I give? (grin).

Hopefully, I said ...

The Te Deum was sung at daily matins and as a stand-alone thanksgiving in German. Stiller might tell us whether the early-morning matins choirboys ever sang it in Latin. They sang the psalms and their antiphons in Latin.

There isn't a significant difference between Luther's German text and the original Latin. I would suspect that Bach's chorale-prelude and chorale-motet settings may have been intended as stand-alone acclamations for services at some civic or state celebration: an accession, military victory, etc.

Like the end of Act 1 of Tosca.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 11, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
> One other interesting point about this New Year's cantata is the use of the chorale, "Herr wir loben" which is the German version of the Te Deum.<
In both the first and second movements.

Most unusual is the chorale's unexpected appearance, in unison SATB, in the first movement, with the first phrase in long notes introducing the fugue ("all that breath have"), and the second phrase closing the fugue; notice the accompaniment to the second phrase 'quotes' the fugue in the 1st violins.

The setting in the second movement is also distinctive; each phrase (in 4-part harmonisation) is separated by recitative (for TBA in succession).

Fortunately the parts for violoins 1 and 2 survive, allowing a reasonable reconstruction of the glorious Mvt. 1. Suzuki's recording [8] shows that a good reconstruction is well worth the effort!

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 11, 2009):
BWV 190: Unison intrusions

Neil Halliday wrote:
< Most unusual is the chorale's unexpected appearance, in unison SATB, in the first movement, The setting in the second movement is also distinctive; each phrase (in 4-part harmonisation) is separated by recitative (for TBA in succession). >
This quotation of the Te Deum surprised me as well: it's almost as if it's aboutto turn into a chorale cantata. Bach sometimes uses unison when he wants to cite a quotation. A couple of examples: In the SMC at the end of the chorus "andern hat er geholfen" the crowd quotes the words of Jesus with a unison "Ich bin Gottes Sohn; in the closing chorus of the Mark Passion (BWV 247), the voices "read" the words on the tomb of Jesus in a very effective unison. In Cantata BWV 190, it's almost as if the chorus exhorts the listener to sing a new song to the Lord, and then quotes the words of that new song: the Te Deum.

In Mvt. 2, I was also struck by the use of successive soloists between the lines of the chorale. I always thought of multiple soloists as a kind of valedictory device used at the end of the SMC and the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). Are there other works in which all the soloists sing in the same recitative movement?

Neil Halliday wrote (August 11, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>Are there other works in which all the soloists sing in the same recitative movement?<
Probably several. In the final (accommpanied) recitative of BWV 207 (and BWV 207a - both versions of this cantata are secular) all four soloists appear with extensive parts; though not separated by choral phrases as in the unforgettable valedictory SMP (BWV 244) movement, and in BWV 190/2.

William Hoffmann wrote (August 10, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] Thank you again, Doug Cowling for your information in Multiple Settings of texts, especially the final verse of the final psalm, "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord," your advocacy of the motets, and the ultimate New Year's chorale, "Herr Gott, dich loben wir."

Before I forget, the John Eliot Gardner Bach cantata release, Vol.17, is available Aug. 11. It has New Year's and Sunday After New Year's Cantatas BWV 143, BWV 41, BWV 16, BWV 171, BWV 153, and BWV 58. I don't see BWV 190. Is it in a previous release?

Connections and Contexts: Re. Psalm 150:6, Alles was Odem hat (All that has breath): there is BWV 223, "Meine Seele soll Gott loben" (questionable fragment, Spitta) , closing fugue in Bb:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV223-D.htm.
Also the phrase is found in the closing tutti fugues BWV 190/1 (NY) and BWV 190a/1 (Augsburg), 120a/8 closing chorale (wedding), and the same text in the closing chorale 137/5 with obbligato trumpet choir (?council). There also is a cantata of the same words by Johann Ernst Bach (1722-1727). He was a Sebastian student (1737-1742).

As for Bach's "monumental organ chorale prelude and motet setting," BWV 725, says Peter Williams, <Organ Music of JSB> 467f : Luther's rhyming couplets, 53 lines; "BWV 725 often agrees with BWV 328 (plain chorale) when it does not re-harmonize for a new verse." "It is not certain Forkel's MS (the only copy) included the unique text incipits." See the full text on BCML:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale036-Eng3.htm

The music and a portion of Luther's Te Deum text is found in Cantata BWV 16/1 opening chorale chorus (NY), BWV 190/1,2 unison chorus and chorale trope (NY), BWV 119/9 closing chorale (council), BWV 120/6 closing chorale (council), BWV 190a,1,2 (Augsburg Confession) same as BWV 190/1,2. Incidentally, in a recent BCW discussion, I believe Doug Cowling offered an explanation of why the Latin Te Deum wasn't performed in Lutheran Countries. Dogma, maybe?

Without raining on anyone's parade (or procession), I would point out that historically, the issue of the extent of Bach's spirituality has probably been the leading Bach studies topic in the last half of the 20th century. It began with Friedrich Blüme questioning Bach's sacred commitment. It was followed by a plethora of studies, including the Calov Bible and the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für theologische Bachforschung, beginning in 1977. Beyond some reaction that Blüme was casting pearls or stepping on idols' feet, his challenge was essential to the 19th century idolatry of Bach (the Fifth Evangelist):
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Religion-4.htm.
and the growing 20th century revisionist, Marxist dicta, especially in Bach Country, East Germany. From this polarizing, dualistic thinking has come a more unitarian, enriched perspective on the man and his music, which IMVHO cannot be separated, the New Criticism aside.

What especially resonates with me, rings my chimes, is the passage in Bach's Calov Interpretive Bible re. "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. (this means the praise of the mouth, that is from mankind on earth in whom is spirit and breath. The Lord God is to be honored and praised with instruments and voices in the temple and in the sanctuary where he dwells, and also in your prayers to heaven, for the Lord's throne is heaven and the earth is his footstool, Isaiah 66:1)."

Next: The Augsburg Confession Cantatas: BWV 190; BWV 120b, "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille"; BWV Anh. I 4a, "Wünschet Jerusalem Glück.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 11, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
>Before I forget, the John Eliot Gardner Bach cantata release, Vol.17, is available Aug. 11.<
William, you will find Gardiner's BWV 190 [7] in Vol. 16: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV190.htm

The amazon mp3 sample of BWV 190/1 sounds excellent, not quite as full- bodied as Suzuki's joyous performance [8]. Gardiner [7] is near the upper speed limit, IMO.

Peter Smaill wrote (August 11, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling] The use of unison writing in Bach is rare; to Doug's examples we can add the Christmas Cantata?"Sie werden aus Saba alle Kommen" .

The techique is striking and in most of these instances the suggestion of unity leads to the hermeneutical interpretation that the unity is of Father and Son, especially in the SMP as quoted " ich bin Gottes Sohn". Ironically the Koopman pastiche reconstruction of the St Mark Passion (BWV 247) disowns the BWV 198 chorus because he feels the unison passage feels wrong. In symbolical terms the opposite is true!

That Bach might be creating a hermeneutical effect is borne out by his marginal notes to the score of the?B Minor Mass where in that instance canonic writing is used to express the Trinitarian relationship.

The existence of the Te Deum proximate to unison writing in BWV 190 does I think also support this interpretation of divine unity expressed via unison writing.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 11, 2009):
A remark from my lawyer

It is said that "quarreling is like the bars of a castle", and I am thus not hopeful to open its closed doors. But since he who complains, though not necessarily with a pertinent reason, does, along with the most unjust criticism, an insalubrious effect on those who pay attention to disapproval and censure, let me clarify that, although my censors are free to speak from their perspective, as far as I am in charge of leading the discussions, I will speak in Aryeh's democratic list, not silenced as if my posts were morally unacceptable, and as if the malcontents could not simply ignore me and read something else. And please note, dear censors, that, no matter if you doubt it or nor, I declare not being in enmity with you, ready to be your friend WHENEVER you want, and I can prove it.

Now, Wagner was not a Jew, and has been even censured for his prejudice against Jews. But suppose he was a Jew, and the nazis denied that. Would it not be a case for asking why they were doing that? I think it is a much more interesting question, by the way, not to ask if Bach was a Christian, but why, having him said to be one, some scholars tried to contradict his own words. Why all that passion in denying that Bach's works and even his hidden praises were bona fide? He said: "I must bear my cross in patience and leave my unruly son to God's Mercy alone, doubting not that He will hear my sorrowful pleading and in the end will so work upon him, according to His Holy Will, that he will learn to acknowledge that the lesson is owing wholly and alone to Divine Goodness." Is it not enough? Certainly not for many, but why not? Do they have a reasoning? Do they work hard to erect a multitude of reasons able to turn Bach's faith into a metaphysical subject, from then on under suspect by Kantian dialecticians? Why did they do that? For Bach wrote: "God who knoweth all things is my Witness". Was he lying? And what about his library, his underlined Bible, his theological books - will anything count? It seems not.

Now, it is also said that "a brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city", and I am thus not able to refrain the grumblings that, not without misunderstandings, do not seem to appreciate my reflections at all. In fact, I would expect nothing but being expelled from this list if my abhorred censors were the ahere. And they may be in their right to suspect me as a most imperfect human being, and, from this perspective, let me surrender to their rebukes with no defense but warning them that, since I also surrendered to Jesus as my lawyer, it would be most suitable if they were kind enough to drive their wails against me directly to him. On the other hand, and since my lawyer was similarly accused, I reaffirm, and sincerely in your behalf, dear censors, that, differently from him, I am a most imperfect human being. So, it is possible that you are duly right - I will let to him the final word. Anyhow, I honestly exhort you to be careful, and since, saying nothing but truth, and for the sake of his listeners, my lawyer was hated in exchange for his love, being, furthermore, expelled from the temple, detracted, condemned, mocked, tortured and crucified. And let us not forget that even his brothers rebuked him, so that, in answer to them, he most appropriately said:

"The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil."

Is it not offensive? The truth? And so, remember, for your own sake, dear censors, this most significant remark from my lawyer respect all those voiced furies against him:

"Blessed is the one who is not offended by me".

P.S. I am done with this subject, and I ask you nicely not to debate this e-mail. Write me personally if you want further clarifications.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 11, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
< Now, it is also said that "a brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city", and I am thus not able to refrain the grumblings that, not without misunderstandings, do not seem to appreciate my reflections at all. In fact, I would expect >nothing but being expelled from this list if my abhorred censors were the authorities here. >
What? Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much?

Along with Evan (and probably many others), I fail to see that anyone on BCML has denied Bachs Christianity, certainly not in the discussion of recent weeks. Is the writers remark directed to the former East German Marxist goveernment?

Evan Cortens wrote (August 11, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
<< Now, it is also said that "a brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city", and I am thus not able to refrain the grumblings that, not without misunderstandings, do not seem to appreciate my reflections at all. In fact, I would expect >nothing but being expelled from this list if my abhorred censors were the authorities here. >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Along with Evan (and probably many others), I fail to see that anyone on BCML has denied Bachs Christianity, certainly not in the discussion of recent weeks. Is the writers remark directed to the former East German Marxist goveernment? >
[To Henri N. Levinspuhl] I'm not sure I've ever been "abhorred"... thanks?

As I said before, and has Ed has just said again, no one here (at least in recent weeks) has denied Bach's Christianity. The argument you're having is with a straw man.

The closest anyone has come to this was, I think, Doug's post of August 7th, wherein he said:
"I'm not sure we can call [Soli Deo Gloria] Bach's motto and posit a uniquely profound spirituality to the composer."

Hardly a denial of Bach's Christianity, but rather simply saying that whether or not Bach wrote S. D. G. on a sheet of paper tells us little about his personal beliefs, especially given that this formula was exceedingly common. (Kim backs this up by saying that Graupner too used this formula to end his pieces.)

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 11, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Is the writers remark directed to the former East German Marxist goveernment? >
Since none of you deny that Bach was a Christian, yes, Sir. It is directed to him.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 11, 2009):
[To Evan Cortens] I am so sorry for any misunderstandings I could possible have made. I am sincere in that I use to write blindly, not thinking in any particular person, let alone interested in offending the list members. I am daring with ideas, but before you or anyone else, I am mild and ask nothing.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 11, 2009):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Ironically the Koopman pastiche reconstruction of the St Mark Passion disowns the BWV 198 chorus because he feels the unison passage feels wrong. In symbolical terms the opposite is true! >
Really?!! I remember as a teenager listening to the old Gönnenwein reconstruction -- I think it was the first -- and being struck how haunting the unison was as the choir "read" the inscription on Christ's tombstone. Still gives me chills.

But then I will never believe that "Schlage Doch Gewünschte Stunde" -- which I also first heard as a teenager -- is not by Bach.

I was a very sensitive child ...

Julian Mincham wrote (August 11, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I was a very sensitive child ... >
What happened subsequently, then?

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 12, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
< I'm not sure I've ever been "abhorred"... thanks? >
I take this opportunity to beg your pardon, Sirs. In Portuguese, "annoyed" is "aborrecido", and I thus used "abhorred" involuntarily. I sincerely did not mean it.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 12, 2009):
BWV 190 - Unison [or not?] intrusions

Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>I was a very sensitive child ... <<
Julian Mincham replied:
>What happened subsequently, then? <
Somehow, that sense of humour does not strike me as precisely British?

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 12, 2009):
Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote:
>In Portuguese, "annoyed" is "aborrecido", and I thus used >"abhorred" involuntarily. I sincerely did not mean it. <
Once again, I find it commendable to make the effort to explain, to eliminate a misunderstanding.

I wonder if something similar might be involved in use of the words censor and censorship, at least with respect to BCML? Some of us who have responded to Henri's introductions have expressed differences with some of his viewpoints and details, but only in the spirit of open discussion, never a suggestion of censorship, of banning from the list, I do not believe.

I often become annoyed (but never abhorred) with my Latino spouse when she construes my use of the word discuss to mean argue. Note that in current American English usage, discussion implies a more civilized, less disputatious conversation than argument (at least in the most familiar usage of argument). The subtleties of the Latin sources appear to be exactly the oppostite, rather more like the habitual interpretation of my spouse.

From loose recollection, without current review, I believe the Biblical story is that we all spoke the same language at one time, but God decided that we were becoming disrespectful and arrogant (see Tower of Babel). He taught us a lesson by creating confusion of language. We are still working out the results of that lesson, as best I can tell.

I would tell you that I think God made a mistake, but that would certainly be disrespectful and arrogant. Who knows what he might try next?

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 12, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Once again, I find it commendable to make the effort to explain, to eliminate a misunderstanding. >
Even climbing some crags, I inevitably make silly mistakes, Ed, for my English is but solitary striving for reading. Also, I acknowledge the annoyance I eventually prompt; but offense is like a guardian of the doors of piety, which, even careful not to harm the listeners, may involuntarily offend them, and inasmuch as, only when, not eager to find fault on it, we dare to understand it patiently, only then it consistently appears incomparably rewarding. Just remember Karl Popper now, and let the deductive steps climb its crags, and you will see what a sacred cantata is from the perspective of a man who has been, in the past, a most declared adversary of piety, that is, your friend.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 12, 2009):
[To Henri N. Levinspuhl] Just to eliminate any misunderstandings.

Firstly I want to say that for many years I dealt with overseas stuat the university many of whom were doing degrees using their second, third and even occasionally their fourth languages! I never failed to marvel at their skills and it taught me great respect for people who set out to express complex ideas in a language which is not their first. I couldn't do it and I continue to take my hat off to those who can do it successfully.

There are two issues with which I think I would disagree with you, however. The first is the assumption (if this is what is intended) that people have to hold certain views or faiths in order to fully 'appreciate' reliously inspired art works. I think that this is an insular view which can be felt to be quite offensive and exclusive. I do not believe that you have to be a Christian, a Lutheran or, in fact, anything but a human being to be deeply moved by Bach's music. This is because he suggests and illuminates many aspects of the human condition which bind us together--loneliness, loyalty, bereavement, love and admitration, concerns about death etc etc etc. An awareness of the social and religious mores of the time may well be of great personal interest?and will certainly add further dimensions of understanding as to how and why Bach composed?as he did; but I do'nt think they much affect that 'touching of the soul' which the music does in its own right.

(A few years ago I flew long haul with an Asian airline which had a complete audio channel given over to the works of JSB. I don't think anyone stopped to ask how many people on the flight were Christian or Lutheran? and whether they enjoyed the music more--or less--because of their respective faiths).

The second point is one of balance. The cantata list is fundamentally about Bach cantatas. This does not mean that all sorts of related topics, historical, religious, social, about texts, word setting, rehearsal practices etc etc may not be (and all of these certainly have been) discussed on list over the years. But if one gets too far away from the music as the essential centrality, I personally switch off. Others may not do so but I am more interested in the structure, performance and effect of the music than in Bach's (possible) beliefs, faith or motivations -- hence my earlier email of a few days ago.

Hope this clarifies my position--one with which people are welcome to dispute.

Henri N. Levinspuhl wrote (August 12, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Just to eliminate any misunderstandings. >
Most grateful for your clarification, respected Julian, I will take it seriously into consideration, think of it, and answer you back politely as soon as possible.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (August 12, 2009):
[To Julian Mincham] Julian, far from disputing your thoughtful and reasoned response, I second it in its entirety. I also admire it as a concise, balanced, and economical statement, the sort of thing I strive for every day and achieve, if ever, only after much analysis and self-editing.

Most poignant for me was your perception that one's faith or lack of same is not necessarily a factor in one's love and appreciation of Bach. If your Christian faith is buoyed and reinforced by the effects (and affects) of this master's music, of course it is an element in the intensity of your rewards. However, you must recognize that many, perhaps most of your fellow believers are not as profoundly moved by Bach or perhaps by any sort of serious music.

However, one of another faith, or one who has no ties whatever to traditional religion in any form is not necessarily at a disadvantage, is not doomed to some sort of second-class appreciation of Bach or of any other sort of faith-related art. My sense of all this is that people limited in their ability to appreciate art tend to be far less fulfilled than are those who, upon reflection, find that they do not resonate with religious faiths.

Again, thank you, Julian!

Julian Mincham wrote (August 13, 2009):
[To Harry W. Crosby] Thanks Harry---well said

 

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