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Cantata BWV 220
Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munden

Discussions in the Week of February 3, 2013

William Hoffman wrote (February 3, 2013):
Intro: Cantata BWV 220, John the Baptist Chorales

This week's discussion, involves anonymous Cantata BWV 220, "Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munden" (Praise him with heart and mouth); appropriate settings of the versatile communion chorale "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul); and a cantata Bach kept on hand from Weimar, possibly to revise for the Feast of John the Baptist, but the only one not recycled in Leipzig, Cantata BWV 132, "Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!" (Prepare the ways, prepare the path!).

Chorale `Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele

The melody, "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul; Zahn 6543, EKG 319) is listed as anonymous c1510), as used by Louis Bourgeois in 1551 in the Geneva Psalter, paraphrasing Psalm 42, Quemadmodum (As the deer longs for the water). In Bach's Leipzig hymnal, Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) it is No. 358, Death and Dying. Bach used the melody (sometimes in triple time, sometimes in common time) as plain chorales in various cantatas: BWV 13/3 (Epiphany 2); BWV 19/7 (Michael and All Angels); BWV 25/6 (Trinity 14), BWV 30/6 (John the Baptist); BWV 32/6 (*Advent); BWV 39/7 (Trinity b1); BWV 70/7 (Trinity 26); and BWV 194/6 (Trinity).

Detailed information on "Freu dich sehr" is found in "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works," BCW,, including the melody set to five alternate texts that preceeded Johann Olearius' setting, as well as melody variants with other titles, particularly "Wie nach einer Wasserquelle" ("Alternate, but not clearly related melody: Zahn: 1294") and set to Psalm 42 (Quemadmodem, "As for a water-source" a deer longs for) in the German Psalter of 1573 (unknown text source). "Freu dich sehr" (Zahn 6543) is found as a melody and figured bass setting in "Sebastian Bach's Choral-Buch"(SBCB, c. 1740, on Page 249.

"Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" is listed as Bach organ chorale preludes BWV Anh. 52 and 53. BCW says, "The entire sequence of numbers in the group BWV Anh II 47-72 [Chorale Arrangements, organ) were listed by the BWV as of doubtful authenticity, and the NBA has not even included them in their complete edition of Bach's works. There is almost no possibility that these organ works will ever be identified as being by J. S. Bach." Both BWV Anh. 52 and 53 are published in "Organ Works: Organ Chorales from Miscellaneous Sources," edited by Reinmar Emans, "Urtext of the New Bach Edition (Neue Bach Ausgabe, NBA IV/10), Bärenreiter Kassel BA 5251, 2008. In his "Forward" (XII, translated by J. Branford Robinson), Emans says that BWV Anh. 52 [12/8, 41 measures, G Major; IV/10:67] has "extensive use of scales, which seems to argue against Bach's authorship" but includes "many stylistic elements to offset these doubts." Emans says that BWV Anh. 53, "Fugato" [2/2 alle breve, 80 measures, G Major; IV/10/70] "is also found in Bach's name under other sources."

"Wie nach einer Wasserquelle" is a Bach organ chorale prelude setting in the Neumeister Collection, BWV 1119 [3/2, 36 measures, D minor], by 1710. It is listed as No. 73 of 82 in the Neumeister Collection as an Evening Song, in a series of 10 consecutive Sebastian omnes tempore chorale settings.

That same melody (Zahn 1294) BCW lists for organ chorale prelude, BWV 743, Miscellaneous Chorale, `Doubtful authenticity - not accepted by NBA, Title: "Ach, was ist doch unser Leben"' (Ah, what is yet our life). It is listed in the NLGB as No. 384, "Death and Dying," 12 stanzas, melody (Zahn 1208b) by Wolfgang Casp. Briegeln. Margaret Greentree's "J.S. Bach Chorales" midifiles lists 16 stanzas of German text, 6 lines AABCCB,, music at

This setting, BWV 743, also is published in the Emans 2008 collection (NBA KB IV/10:11) for two keyboards and pedal, 44 measures in the form of a small chorale partita in alle breve 2/2 time, having a prelude (12 measures) and postlude (8 measures chorale in pedal and closing 12 measure cadence in A) with four one-measure variations framing chorale harmonization interludes (4x2 measures in 4/4 time). "The doubts regarding Bach's authorship, all based on stylistic arguments, are not corroborated by a critical examination of the [copyist's manuscript] sources," says Emans (Ibid.: XIII). Mendelssohn attributed the 8-measure harmonization to Bach, says Peter Williams in The Organ Music of JSB (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2nd. Ed., 2003: 489f), that BWV 743 may belong to Bach's Arnstadt repertory, and with its Neumeister-style closing strengthens the case for Bach's authorship of the 31 Neumeister organ chorale preludes.

Numerous preludes of questionable authenticity, listed as BWV, BWV Anh. and BWV deest (Emans) are unpublished but described by Emans in the NBA KB (Critical Commentary) IV/10. An Emans footnote (p. XIV) says that "Bärenreiter plans to publish a larger number of compositions or arrangements from Groups 1b (those handed down under the name J. S. Bach in alternate versions or with substantial variants), 2 (Works of indeterminate or uncertain authorship), and 3 (Arrangements or variants of works by Bach) in a separate volume unconnected with NBA." The NBA KB IV/10 has two additional listings of "Freu dich sehr" as "BWV deest (Emans Nr. 72)" on Page 148 and "BWV deest (Emans Nr. 73) on Page 157.

Cantata BWV 220, `Lobt ihn mit Herz und Mund'

Cantata BWV 220, "Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munden" (Praise him with heart and mouth), once attributed to Bach is by an unknown composer with an unknown librettist. It is not known if Bach performed it. Details are found at BCW,, including the score (BGA XLI, Alfred Dörffel 1894; miniature score Kalmus LXIV 1968), and Recording with German text, It is scored for alto, tenor, and bass soloists; 4-part chorus (SATB); and an orchestra of transverse flute, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, and continuo. It's movements are:
1. Chorale: "Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munden" (Praise him with heart and mouth), stanza 5, "Von Got will ich nicht lassen" (I shall not abandon God) (details, see above, Telemann `Benedictus' Cantata, No. 3, chorale);
2. Aria (tenor): "So preist den Höchsten, den König des Himmels" (So praise the Most High, the King of Heaven);
3. Recitative (bass): "Aut Gottes Preis muss alle Freude zielen" (All joy should aim at the praise of God), the central movement referring to the Visitation pericope (Luke 1:39-41) and Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1:46-51), preceedingthe Gospel text (Zechariah's Canticle and Prophecy, Luke 1:67-79);
4. Aria (alto): "Sich in Gott und Jesu freuen" (Rejoice in God and Jesus); and
5. Chorus: "Ich freue mich im Herrn" (I rejoice in the Lord), a paraphrase of the Magnificat.

A manuscript copy of the score was listed in the Leipzig Breitkopf publisher's catalog 1761 and attributed to Bach. The manuscript from 1750-1800 was located in the Princess Anna Amalia Library (No. 887), with anonymous writers, attributed to "del Sign. J. S. Bach" (NBA KB I/41, Andreas Glöckner, "Varia: Kantaten, Quodlibet, Einzelsätze, Bearbeitungen," 2000: 120). Other Breitkopf sources include Cantatas BWV 217-219 (BGA XLI, "church cantatas of uncertain authorship"): BWV 217 composer unknown, and BWV 218 and 219, Telemann TVWV 1:634 and TVWV 1:1328 respectively, (Neumeister texts). Cantata BWV 219, "Siehe, es hat uberwunden der Lowe" (Behold, the Lion has triumphed) for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, will be the BCW Discussion for the week of March 10. For more details these spurious works, see BCW,; William Hoffman wrote (December 3, 2009): Cantata BWV 217: The history of a mystery.

Cantata BWV 132

Fugitive Notes, BWV 132, BCW Discussion 3 (Feb. 8, 2009): The biblical key to the Fourth Sunday in Advent is the Gospel lesson, John 1: 19-28, "John the Baptist's Message," which is a reference to Isaiah's Prophecy, 40:3, of the coming of the Messiah. Franck's paraphrase in the second movement, a tenor recitative, is: Meanwhile my heart prepare; this very day; the path of faith for the Lord; and clear out of the way the hills and the heights; which stand in his way! (Francis Browne, August 2008.)

A quarter century later, Georg Frideric Handel set the definitive treatment of Isaiah's Prophecy in "The Messiah," his three-part oratorio about Christ's coming, death, and resurrection.

Why didn't Bach alter this lovely, intimate Cantata BWV 132, "Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!" (Prepare the ways, prepare the path!) for use in Leipzig? He would have had to rewrite Franck's Advent-rooted text with references in the opening chorus to preparing the way, the Messiah is coming; the evangelist's prophecy; John the Baptist's bass Gospel aria railing against hypocrites; the alto's paired recitative and aria about the baptism initiation; and the closing chorale Revelation reference to allowing the "new man" to live.

Theoretically, Bach could best have used much of the Franck-texted material in a cantata for the Advent-related Feast of John the Baptist, June 26. Fortunately, Bach already had an appropriate text for that service (BWV 167) just after taking up his post in Leipzig in late May 1723. The next year, Bach set a popular service chorale for one of his first chorale cantatas, BWV 7, in the second cycle.

The calculating, systematic Sebastian, in his next possible John the Baptist settings, chose a readily-available Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata JLB-17 for his third cycle in 1726.

Obviously, Bach the Borrower kept Cantata BWV 132 handy for use in Leipzig. He could have used it with virtually no text change for the First Sunday in Advent. This Telemann did with his Frankfurt and Eisanach cantatas for Advent Sundays recycled in Hamburg, such as BWV 141, presented on the First Sunday in Advent, 1727. Bach could have used BWV 132 to inaugurate his third cycle on Advent Sunday, December 2, 1725, or for any Advent Sunday Festival in his final two decades in Leipzig.

Meanwhile, Bach still had to set Zechariah's canticle prophecy, Luke 1:57-80, for the Feast of John the Baptist. This Bach did in his parody of the dancing progressive drama per musica, Cantata BWV 30, 1738, to a sacred text by Picander.

In 1750, Sebastian son Carl Philipp Emanuel inherited the score of BWV 132, as well as BWV 30. A listing of BWV 132 appears in his 1789 estate catalog for the 4th Sunday in Advent.


Next week: Archangel Gabriel, the messenger of the Nativity of John the Baptist to his father, Zerachriah, and the Nativity of Jesus to his mother, Mary, joins the warrior Archangel Michael and the heavenly hosts in the defeat of Satan/Lucifer and the forces of evil in Heaven in Bach's cantata presentations celebrating the Feast of Michael and All Angels, September 29.


Cantata BWV 220: Details & Recordings | Discussions | Discussions of Non-Bach Cantatas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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