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Cantata BWV 28
Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende
Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Discussions in the Week of December 25, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (December 26, 2016):
Cantata BWV 28 - Intro

Bach’s Cantata BWV 28, “Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende” (Praise God! Now the year comes to an end), is a distinctive work for the Turning Time of the Year, the Sunday after Christmas, in Bach’s third cycle closing 1725. This 20-minute musical sermon of praise and thanksgiving features a grand, motet-style chorale fantasia in solemn, old-style, Johann Gramann 1530 “Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren” (Now praise, the Lord, my Soul, surrounded by two three-part arias with progressive gigue dance-styles (nos. 1 and 5), and followed by a Vox Christi bass recitative-arioso (no. 3) and a tenor accompagnato recitative, closing with an appropriate plain chorale, Paul Eber’s 1580 “Helft mir, Gotts Güte preisen,” closing Sanza 6, “All solch dein' Güt' wir preisen, (We praise all this goodness of yours).1

Bach found a text of Erdmann Neumeister that met his needs and stirred his imagination. Cantata 28 has a “wealth of forms: no one movement is remotely like another,” observes Alfred Dürr in The Cantatas of J.S. Bach.2 The opening “Soul” (soprano) aria of general praise and thanksgiving for all that God bestows, leads to a collective joy over God’s gifts. Here, Bach inserted as a chorale-motet, the heart of the work and one of Bach’s best.

Cantata 28 was introduced on the Sunday after Christmas, 30 December 1725, at the early main service of the Thomas Church before the sermon on the Gospel, Luke 2:33-40, Simeon’s prophecy of the redemption of Israel, by pastor Christian Weise, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.3

The Introit Psalm for the Sunday after Christmas Day is Psalm 117, Laudate Dominum omnes gentes (O praise the Lord, all ye nations, KJV), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 251). The Gregorian chant was set as a polyphonic motet by Palestrina, Monteverdi, Praetorius, Schütz, and di Lasso, among others. Bach may have presented one of these motets, found in his motet collection, the Bodenschatz Florilegium Portense.4 Handel composed a multi-movement motet setting, HWV 237. The full text is found on-line at

Libretto, Service, Cantatas

The choice of a Neumeister text for Cantata 28 was serendipitous. As Bach searched for printed librettos for his third cycle during Trinity Time 1725, he chose the Christmas Season texts of Georg Christian Lehms. Unfortunately, when this collection was published in 1711, there was no Sunday after Christmas and therefore no appropriate text. Thus, Bach turned to Neumeister to fill the gap. It was the fourth, final, and most advanced of pastor Neumeister’s publications of cantata librettos, Geistliche Poesien mit untermischten Biblischen Sprüchen und Choralen auf alle Sonn- und Fest-Tage durchs gantze Jahr (Frankfurt am Main, 1714). “In his text setting Neumeister renounces any closer connection with the sermons for the Sunday after Christmas, and similarly the obtrusive school-masterly trait which makes so many a Neumeister text appear strange to us, gives way here to thanks and praise for God's goodness in the past year and the prayer for future blessings,” says Dürr in the liner notes to the CD reissue of the original Erato recording.5 “This corresponding division into retrospective and prospective is based on construction of the poetry, with a section each of thanksgiving and worship” (more details are found below at “Commentaries: Dürr, etc.”

Cantata 28 was the third of Bach’s cantatas composed for the Sunday after Christmas. His Weimar dialogue (soprano-bass) Cantata BWV 152, “Tritt auf die Glaubensbahn” (Step forward on the way of faith), was reperformed on 29 December 1726, according to recent scholarship of Christine Banken.6 A German version of her article will appear in the 2016 edition of the Bach Jahrbuch, published 1 January 2017. The Salomo Franck libretto is found in the Nuremberg 1728 published libretti of Bach student Christoph Birkmann. Franck died in mid 1725 and Bach soon after composed and presented Cantata 164 and revived Cantata 161. It is possible that Bach reperformed Cantata 152 on a double bill with Cantata 28, a year earlier in 1725. It was Bach last cantata composed in Weimar (1714) to be reperformed in Leipzig. Bach kept Cantata 152 in reserve since, in 1723 there was no Sunday after Christmas, and in 1724 he presented new chorale Cantata 122 in the second cycle on 31 December 1724.

The Sunday after Christmas service during the extended 12-day Christmas Festival in Bach’s time anticipated the coming Passion. Here the appointed Gospel, Luke 2:33-40, prophesizes in the words of Simeon and Anna to Mary in the temple that Jesus birth leads to the redemption of Israel As to the intention and meaning of the Sunday after Christmas, it is midway between Christmas and New Years. In old Lutheran service books it was known as the "Sunday within the Octave of Christmas," or the eight days of celebration. The Gospel theme is submission to the law, and the Sunday’s Epistle theme (Galatians 4: 1-7) is redemption under the law in the "fullness of the time," says Alfred Dürr’s The Cantatas of J.S. Bach.FN The German text (Martin Luther 1545) and English text (KJV, 1611) are found at BCW

Cantata 28, movements, scoring, incipits, key, meter

1. Aria 3-part with ritornelli [Soprano; Oboe I/II, Taille, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende, / Das neue rücket schon heran.” (Praise God! Now the year comes to an end, / the new ear already draws near.); B. “Gedenke, meine Seele, dran, / Wieviel dir deines Gottes Hände / Im alten Jahre Guts getan!” (Think, my soul , on this, / how much the hands of your God / have done for you in the old year!); C. “Stimm ihm ein frohes Danklied an; / So wird er ferner dein gedenken / Und mehr zum neuen Jahre schenken.” (Begin to sing a joyful song of thanks to him; / so he will think of you in the future / and bestow more on you in the new year.); a minor; ¾ gigue-style.
2. Chorus motet alle breve 2/2 BAR Form [SATB; Cornetto e Oboe I e Violino I col Soprano, Trombone I e Oboe II e Violino II coll'Alto, Trombone II e Taille e Viola col Tenore, Trombone III col Basso, Continuo]: A. (Stollen) “Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren, / Was in mir ist, den Namen sein!” (Now praise, my soul, the Lord, all that is in me, praise his name!); A’. “Sein Wohltat tut er mehren, / Vergiß es nicht, o Herze mein!” (He increases his kindness, / do not forget this, o my heart!). B. (Abgesang) “Hat dir dein Sünd vergeben / Und heilt dein Schwachheit groß, / Errett' dein armes Leben, Nimmt dich in seinen Schoß. / Mit reichem Trost beschüttet, / Verjüngt, dem Adler gleich. / Der Kön'g schafft Recht, behütet, / Die leid'n in seinem Reich.” (he has forgiven your sins / and heals your great weakness, / he rescues your wretched life, / takes you into his bosom. / he pours rich consolation on you, / he makes you young, like the eagle. / The king acts with justice, he protects / those who suffer in his kingdom.); C Major.
3. Recitative secco, Arioso) [Bass (Vox Dei, Jeremiah 32:41), Continuo]: A. Recitative: So spricht der Herr: / Es soll mir eine Lust sein, / daß ich ihnen Gutes tun soll” (So says the Lord: / it will be a defor me / to do good for them); Arioso (mm.9), “und ich will sie in diesem Lande pflanzen treulich, / von ganzem Herzen und von ganzer Seele.” (and I want to plant them in this land faithfully, / with my whole heart and my whole soul.”; e minor; 4/4.
4. Recitative accampagnato [Tenor; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Gott ist ein Quell, wo lauter Güte fleußt; / Gott ist ein Licht, wo lauter Gnade scheinet; / Gott ist ein Schatz, der lauter Segen heißt; / Gott ist ein Herr, der's treu und herzlich meinet.” (God is a fountain, where pure goodness flows, / God is a light, where pure grace shines; / God is a treasure, which means pure blessings; / God is a Lord, whose intentions are faithful and sincere.); B. “Wer ihn im Glauben liebt, in Liebe kindlich ehrt, / Sein Wort von Herzen hört / Und sich von bösen Wegen kehrt, / Dem gibt er sich mit allen Gaben. / Wer Gott hat, der muss alles haben.” (The person who loves him in faith, honours him in love like a child, / hears his word in his heart / and turns away from evil paths to him God gives himself along with every gift. / Who has God must have everything.); G to C Major; 4/4.
5. Aria with continuo in three parts with ritornelli (Duet) [Alto, Tenor; Continuo]: A. “Gott hat uns im heurigen Jahre gesegnet, / Daß Wohltun und Wohlsein einander begegnet.” (God has blessed us in this year, / so that [his] well-doing and [our] welfare have met together.” B. “Wir loben ihn herzlich und bitten darneben, / Er woll auch ein glückliches neues Jahr geben.” (We praise him sincerely and pray / that it may be his will to give us also a fortunate new year); C. “Wir hoffens von seiner beharrlichen Güte / Und preisens im voraus mit dankbarm Gemüte.” (We hope this because of his continuing goodness / and praise him already for this with grateful hearts.); C Major; 6/8 giga I style.
6. Chorale plain, BAR Form [SATB; Cornetto e Oboe I e Violino I col Soprano, Trombone I e Oboe II e Violino II coll'Alto, Trombone II e Taille e Viola col Tenore, Trombone III col Basso, Continuo]: A. (Stollen) “All solch dein Güt wir preisen, / Vater ins Himmels Thron,” (For all this kindness of yours we praise you, / Father on heaven's throne); A’. “Die du uns tust beweisen / Durch Christum, deinen Sohn” (that you have shown to us / through Christ your son); B. (abgesang); “Und bitten ferner dich: / Gib uns ein friedsam Jahre, / Für allem Leid bewahre / Und nähr uns mildiglich.” (and we ask you further: / give us a peaceful year, / protect us from all suffering / and feed us gently.); A Major 4/4.

Commentary Summary

A summary of the music and text of Cantata 28 is found in Daniel R. Melamed’s essay in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach.8 The opening soprano aria with its “particularly rich concerted texture of strings and three oboes calls on the soul to recall God’s gifts in the previous year” that leads to a song of thanks in the ensuing chorale chorus. This motet is a retrospective to the stile antico and a Christmas tradition and forward to its use in contemporary practice. The “theme of God’s gifts continues” in the two recitatives and the soprano-tenor duet (no. 5) that “sums up the themes of gratitude, praise and wishes for further benevolence” with its text in anapaestic metre (6/8).

For the motet second movement, Bach pulls out all the stops, adding coronet and three trombones to the SATB to give “great weight and solemnity to the texture,” observes Richard D. P. Jones in The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750.9 Similar chorale-choruses in motet style with these brass instruments are found in three chorale cantatas (BWV 2, 38, and 121) in the second cycle, Jones observes. Two days later, on Tuesday, 1 January 2016, in Cantata BWV 16, “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” (Lord God, we praise you), Bach turned to a modernized version of the chorale motet (with brass in BWV 101 and 135, Cycle 2). Both have the same style of instrumental support while BWV 28/2 has no introduction but BWV 16/1 begins with a four-bar introduction, and neither has ritornellos or instrumental interludes, Jones points out. Commentaries: Dürr, Spitta, Schweitzer, Voigt, Little & Jenne, Chafe

<<Aryeh Oron wrote (December 31, 2002, BCW BWV 28 - Commentaries:

Alfred Dürr. The commentary below, quoted from the liner notes to the CD reissue of Erato recording, was written by Alfred Dürr (Ibid. : “BWV 28 is one of the only existing cantata which Bach had still composed during his Leipzig period, based on a text by Erdmann Neumeister, creator of the "modern" cantata form It is part of Bach's III Leipzig cantata vintage and was composed for 30th December, 1725. In his text setting Neumeister renounces any closer connection with the sermons for the Sunday after Christmas, and similarly the obtrusive school-masterly trait which makes so many a Neumeister text appear strange to us, gives way here to thanks and praise for God's goodness in the past year and the prayer for future blessings. This corresponding division into retrospective and prospective is based on construction of the poetry, with a section each of thanksgiving and worship.

Bach's composition of the opening aria is entirely attuned to joyful gratitude. Clarity of structure dominates in the choric treatment of the woodwind and string group, as in the dance-like period formation with fore and rear set and various kinds of motivated alternating play - encouraged by the injunction in the text to strike up "a joyful song of thanks".

The choir now sings the thanksgiving song on behalf of the congregation. Bach chose for this the motet-like movement, which seems rather archaic, (with wind and string augmentation) in which every song line is prepared by the three bottom parts in an imitative movement before it rings out in the soprano in long note values. According to more recent research (Robert L. Marshall, The Compositional Process of J S Bach, Princeton, 1972), Bach might possibly have re-used here an already existing movement (of his own composition)

“The three succeeding movements are marked by contrasting minor part elements which, as so often with Bach, are at the same time characterised by a strong, individualised expressive melody. The bible phrase Arioso is composed as a continuo theme, the recitative as an accompagnato featuring strings, and the following aria as a continuo-accompanied duet in the polyphonic style on the Italian pattern.”

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 2, 2003): Spitta: Spitta refers to Mvt. 2 as the grandest use of a choir for any of the Neumeister cantata text settings. The main choral mvt. is placed in a second position, but it makes such a very forceful entrance that the preceding soprano aria with its mature beauty is hardly able to stand up to it and the mvts. that follow it (Mvt. 2 – Choral) can be considered quite ineffective in comparison to this high point in the cantata. Bach had composed this 2nd mvt. earlier than any of the others or, at least, he had sketched it out in advance before composing this cantata because there are so few corrections in the score here when compared with the rest of the cantata. Bach must have been proud of his accomplishment with this mvt. for he counted the measures and placed the number of measures (174) at the end of the mvt. This mvt. is based upon the chorale, “Nun lob mein Seel den Herren,” and is written in a motet style at least considers the fact that the instruments (strings, 3 oboes, cornet and 3 trombones) all play colla parte with only a few deviations from the bass part in the bc. The form that Bach follows is that typical of a Pachelbel chorale prelude with individual lines of the chorale treated contrapuntally but also expressively so as to bring out the ‘sin that cries out for forgiveness’ through painfully chromatic passages, the ‘comfort of God’ as it streams down and flows over poor humanity, and the ‘being uplifted aif by an eagle.’ All other compositions (mvt. 2) of this type are unable to surpass this one.

Schweitzer: The fine text of the cantata for the Sunday after Christmas, ‘Gottlob, nun geht das Jahr zu Ende’ is by Neumeister. The music shows that Bach worked at the text with pleasure. He accompanies the words that speak of the departure of the old year and the “glorious approach” of the new with a merry ballet in the minor (Schweitzer quotes the opening theme of mvt. 1 in the 1st oboe.) Then comes a simple motet-chorus on “Nun lob’ meine Seel’ den Herren,” in which the instruments merely reinforce the voices. At the end of this mvt. Bach has written “174 bars”! Schweitzer lists the cantatas with motet-like choruses: BWV 2, BWV 8, BWV 12, BWV 28, BWV 37, BWV 38, BWV 64, BWV 116, BWV 118, BWV 121, BWV 144, BWV 150, BWV 179.

Voigt: The heart piece of this entire cantata is the powerful, figured chorale [no. 2], “Nun lob’ mein’ Seel’ den Herren,” the most splendid setting of all those that Bach has set in this particular style. Each of the contrapuntal voices moves with complete freedom, despite the fact that it is severely restricted by the form and the chorale melody itself. How much expression there is in each individual line! Worth pointing out are the following passages: the heartfelt “vergiß es nicht, o Herze mein,” the typically Bach Leitmotif-like use of chromaticism where ‘sin’ is mentioned, the caressing movements on “und heilt deine Schwachheit groß,” and the mystical solemnity of “nimmt dich in seinen Schoß.” The sudden reaching for a B natural (ms. 114, after the immediately preceding D minor) is very much like being led out of the dusk into the light. With a slight hint at word-painting Bach describes the fullness of God’s ‘Trost’ [“comfort”] and he does likewise by using powerful “Engführung” [a technical term used in counterpoint-something like 'leading the lines close to each other'] as well as the wonderful upward motion of the bass voice (ms. 138-140) to describe the youthful ascent of the eagle. Finally there are the very proud, heavy half-notes that picture “Der König schafft Recht” and the opening up to 5 pts. (in ms. 153-156 and continuing over a pedal point until ms. 168.) One must be very careful not to diminish the majestic flow inherent in this mvt. (as some performers are prone to do) by introducing breaks that arise from an attempt to allow the end each line to decay into a ‘piano.’ Sincere and heartfelt is the expression at the beginning of the mvt. The 1st 4 lines are to be conceived of as a whole. After that, lines 5 until 8 comprise another such grouping and lead into the depths where He “nimmt dich in seinen Schoß.” From that point there should be a slow but steady crescendo all the way to the very enthusiastic conclusion. There is hardly another piece such as this that will get a choir to be carried away in this fashion.

The solo sections do not attain the same high level that is established by mvt. 2 and yet the latter does not achieve this without the benefit of the surrounding mvts. The 1st soprano aria has in its main section a very nice, serious manner that is contrasted effectively by the content of the middle section. If you want to shorten this aria, you can leave out the intermezzo (p. 254) and the last line (p. 256.) The bass arioso (mvt. 3) with only organ accompaniment is very grand and solemn. The duet (mvt. 5) is a happy, naïve piece which is well suited to form a counterpart to the deeply moving 2nd mvt. The gentle final chorale concludes with an extremely effective, beautiful ending.

Little& Jenne (Dance in Bach’s Music). Mvt. 5 Aria Duetto for alto and tenor is a Giga II-like piece. Structurally, it has three sections, each with distinctly points of imitation, but set as a trio sonata, not a motet. Interestingly, the A solo continuo section begins each section and ends the piece. The unbalanced phrases and imitative texture contain only implicit jigging rhythms, but the joyful affect seems to signal a giga, with a hearty prayer for continued blessings in the new year. The Giga II is a more problematic category than Giga I, with foundations that are cloudy at best. Here is a checklist of Giga II characteristics: 1, 2, or 4 ternary beats per measure in 3/8, 6/8, 12/8 with duple subdivision of the ternary figures, usually with an upbeat: Affect joyful and intense; Jigging rhythms, usually explicit, or else implicit by harmonic changes; Long phrases with few caesuras; Dance-like lilt or character

Chafe: A number of cantatas of the ascent/descent type (e.g., BWV 28, BWV 68, BWV 111, BWV 176) clearly associate upward modulation with God’s glory, so that in a sense the upward/downward curve is an image comparable to that of the triadic theme of “Gott ist mein König.” In Cantata 28, “Gottlob! Nun geht das Jahr zu Ende” (written for the Sunday after Christmas, 1725,) the rising sequence praises and thanks God for his past gifts and hopes for continuing blessings. From its initial A minor it ascends through C major (Mvt. 2, chorus), and E minor (mvt. 3, arioso) to G and D major at the start of the 4th mvt. (Recitative: “Gott ist ein Quell, wo lauter Güte fleußt; Gott ist ein Licht, wo lauter Gnade scheinet“) before returning through C major (mvt. 4, aria) to A minor (mvt. 6, chorale.)

Bach’s cantatas often bring out cyclic elements within the seasons of the liturgical year, mirroring its parallels and antitheses in a variety of ways that may differ from work to work and year to year, but that will usually be clearly discernible in their texts, mvt. layouts, key sequences, and the like. Cantatas BWV 70, BWV 61, and BWV 63 were all written in Weimar, but in different years and order from their grouping in the Leipzig cycle of 1723-24. Whether or not Bach might have planned to form a cycle from his Weimar cantatas even while he was composing them is unknown, but such a plan would be in character. Certainly, in putting together his first Leipzig cycle Bach drew many of his Weimar cantatas into coherent sequences that, as we have seen with the above-mentioned cantatas aid in articulating large-scale cyclic elements in the liturgical year as a whole.

Thus, one of the most common themes of the late-Trinity, Advent, and Christmas seasons was the metaphoric interpretation of the turning of the liturgical, geophysical, and civil years in terms of the turning point of history and of faith that came with the incarnation of Jesus. Any one of several feast days – the 26th Sunday after Trinity, Advent Sunday, the 3 days of Christmas, the Sunday after Christmas, New Year’s Day, the Sunday after New Year’s Day, and Epiphany Sunday – might take up this theme, modifying it according to the more particular character of the feast day in question. In general, the idea of “time” is very prominent in the cantata texts written for those feasts, where it is often expressed in terms of the eras of salvation history and the internalizing of that history in the faith experience of the believer. And in turn, Bach’s cantatas for those feast days often derive their overall designs from the underlying metaphor of the old year as the time of Israel and the new as the time of Christ, utilizing in some cases chorales that change their mode or time signature, juxtaposing archaic and modern styles, and the like. Cantata BWV 61 undoubtedly provides the clearest, most patterned instance of how the four senses of scripture can be aligned with past, present, and future times as well as with the inner dynamic of faith, a process in which the coming of Jesus to the world, the church, and the believer takes place at several levels. But, in fact, we find similar sets of ideas underlying many other cantatas as well. Thus, while “Christen ätzet diesen Tag” utilizes its symmetrical design to emphasize the meaning of Christmas Day as the turning of the ages, Cantata BWV 121, “Christum wir wollen loben schon,” for the 2nd day oChristmas on the following, draws an implied analogy between the unfathomable mystery of the incarnation and the turning of the sun at the sinter solstice, and Cantata BWV 64, “Sehet, welche eine Liebe,” for the 3rd day of Christmas, 1723, emphasizes instead something closer to the division into worlds “above” and “below” rather than present and future, a theme that is more in keeping with its Johannine Gospel reading. Cantata BWV 28, “Gottlob! Nun geht das Jahr zu Ende,” for the Sunday after Christmas, 1725, juxtaposes modern and archaic styles in order to project the idea of looking backward to God’s past blessings and forward to the hope of their renewal simultaneously. Most of Bach’s cantatas for New Year’s Day tend to express the idea of beginning/ending equivalence in association with the name Jesus, whereas those for the 1st Sunday in the new year associate the New Testament narrative of the flight of the holy family to Egypt with the Old Testament story of the captivity of Israel in Egypt in order to underscore the central theme of the believer’s longing for release from the world. All these works are very carefully designed so as to mirror the temporal levels of their text in musical terms.>>

Looking forward to the coming year, Cantata 28 has no comment on the festival of Christmas or
the redemption brought by the new-born, the subject of the lessons for this Sunday, as found in his two previous Cantatas, BWV 122 and 152, for this service, observes W. Gillies Whittaker. The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach.10 The “over-towering peak” is the chorale motet (no. 2), “(p)erfect in general conception and balance of form, consummate in its technical skill and complete satisfaction in every detail,” making it “one of the outstanding chorale fantasias from his pen.” Of the opening soprano aria, the “New Year could not have begun without a more light-hearted song.” Concludes Whittaker: “The valleys below the sublime peak of the chorale fantasia are pleasant for those happy wanderers who are inspired with confidence in the protecting power standing high above them,” he concludes (Ibid.: 194). Turning Time Chorales

<<William Hoffman wrote (February 28, 2015; Motets & Chorales for Turning Time, BCW Bach's uses of the chorale during the pivot time, or turn of the year (Turning Time) from the Christmas season to the Feast of Epiphany, January 6, showed great freedom. In fact, Bach could use Advent and Christmas hymns in his cantatas or musical sermons, based on the day’s Gospel or the theme of the service, for almost two months until February 2, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bach also was able to use penitential hymns as well as songs of praise and thanksgiving, especially for the festive New Year’s (Holy Name or Circumcision of Jesus) and Feast of Epiphany. The other services during the period are the 1st Sunday after the three-day Christmas Day Festival or the alternate Sunday after New Year, also known as the 2nd Sunday after Christmas.

Eric Chafe emphasizes in "Aspects of the Liturgical Year" (pp. 11-23) in Analyzing Bach Cantatas, Bach's varied use in this period of chorales in a dualistic sense: blending birth and death, apocalypse and paradise, the church year divided into the time of Christ (de tempore) and the time of the church (omnes tempore), and what I suggest, the contrasts to weep and laugh and to mourn and dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4) in the three Passion closing choruses, and to deal with both the in-between times and the end-times (eschatology).

During the pivotal time or turn of the year, Bach was able to use general-use chorales for penitential services (“Du Friedefurst, “Jesu meine Freude,” and “Befiel du deine Wege”) and praise and thanksgiving, "Herr Gott, dich loben wir (Luther's Te Deum), as well as the Passion chorale melody, "Herzlich tut, much verlangen" closing the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248IV for the Epiphany Feast). The most popular chorales during Turning Time for the Sunday after Christmas and New Years Day, according to Günther Stiller in JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig11 were: “Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren” (Psalm 103, NLGB 261, Christian Life & Conduct; Z8244), “Nun danket alle Gott” (NLGB 238 Christian Life & Conduct, Z5142), “Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid” (SaC, NLGB 289; Cross, Persecution; Zahn melody 533a).

Chorale, “Nun lob, mein’ Seel’”

The Johann Gramman (Poliander) 1525 BAR Form chorale, “Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren,” is a five-stanza, 12-line (ABA’B’CDC’D’EFE’F’) paraphrase of Psalm 103, Benedic, anima mea (Bless the Lord, O My Soul, KJV), thanksgiving for God’s goodness. It is found in Bach’s NLGB as No. 261, “Christian Life and Conduct” Psalm chorales, with the associated melody by ?Johann Kugelmann 1540 (Zahn 8244), for the 12th and 14th Sundays after Trinity. It is a general Lutheran Communion Hymn, as well as appropriate for New Year’s, and the Feast of John the Baptist, says Günther Stiller (Ibid.: 84, 128, 236, 247, respectively. Gramann’s German text and Francis Browne’s English translation are found at BCW,

Other Bach settings of “Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren” include Stanza 3 again as a plain chorale to close chorus Cantata BWV 17, “Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich” (Who gives thanks praises me), for the 14th Sunday after Trinity, 22 September 1726, in the third cycle, set to a Rudolstadt text. Bach’s uses the closing fifth stanza, “Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren / Gott Vater, Sohn und Heil'gem Geist!” (May there be praise and glory and honour / for God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!) as a plain chorale to close Town Council chorus Cantata BWV 29, “Wir danken dir, Gott” (We thank you, God, Psalm 75:1) in 1731, and as a chorale aria in solo soprano Cantata 51 “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen!”(Shout for joy to God in every land!), for the 15th Sunday after Trinity c.1730, and for anytime.

Chorale “Helft mir Gott's Güte preisen”

Paul Eber’s c.1680 “Helft mir Gott's Güte preisen” (Help me to praise God's goodness), is a BAR Form six-stanza, eight-line (ABABCDDC) New Year’s chorale (NLGB No. 45). The Eber German text ad Francis Browne English translation is found at BCW

Eber (1511-1569) BCW Short Biography at Information on he melody (Zahn 5267) of Wolfgang Figulus (Töpfer) or Cornelius Freundt (Bonamicus) is found at BCW Besides Bach’s plain chorale settings of Stanza 6 closing Cantatas 28 and 16, Bach set the melody as a Christmas chorale, BWV 613 in the Orgelbüchlein collection of organ preludes.

Cantata 28 Provenance

<<Thomas Braatz wrote (January 1, 2003, BWV 28 – Provenance [NBA KB I/3.2]: The Autograph Score: The autograph score went to C. P. E. Bach after Bach’s death and it was still listed among the items in C. P. E. Bach’s estate in 1790. The next owner was Georg Poelchau, who, in turn, gave it as a present to Carl Friedrich Zelter. The latter presented it (sold it?) to the Berliner Singakademie, which, in 1854, sold it to the BB.

The cover page was written by Johann Andreas Kuhnau, but Bach did insert: “1 Cornetto è Tromboni.” At the top of the 1st page Bach wrote: “JJ. Doica post Xsti Nativit: Concerto.” Above Mvt. 2:” Choral. Allabreve.” The time signature of mvt. 5 Bach originally had indicated as 6/4. Above the final chorale: “Choral.” At the very end: “Fine SDG.”

The Original Parts: Thesalso went to C. P. E. Bach as part of his inheritance. A set of parts was auctioned off to a Berlin musician by the name of Hering (or Heering,) after whose death it went to the collection of von Voß, a family also residing in Berlin. In 1851 this set of parts, along with the entire collection of manuscripts was given to the BB where the doublets which had been separated from the main set were once again added to complete the set of original parts. Most of the parts (copied by Johann Andreas Kuhnau, Christian Gottlob Meißner, Anonymous IIe, IIf, IIIa, IIIb, and Johann Heinrich Bach. J.S. Bach copied the Cornetto part alone and completed the text in various place, then revised the parts adding dynamics, embellishments and articulation marks.

The 1st Performance: The cantata was composed for the Sunday after Christmas, December 30, 1725 as part of the 3rd yearly cycle of cantatas in Leipzig. (Alfred Dürr). Later performances during Bach's lifetime may have taken place, but have not been documented.

Text Sources: The text by Erdmann Neumeister was printed in the following books: Geistliche Poesien mit untermischten Biblischen Sprüchen und Choralen auf alle Sonn- und Fest-Tage durchs gantze Jahr (Frankfurt am Main, 1714 and later printing Eisenach, 1717), Neumeister IV, and in Herrn Erdmann Neumeisters Fünfffache Kirchen-Andachten (Leipzig, 1716). Telemann uses the same text in Cantata TVWV 1:1671 (fl, 2 ob., str., bc), of 1721.

Other Connections: Mvt. 2 occurs again in the [pastiche] motet “Jauchzet dem Herrn, alle Welt“ (BWV Anh. 160) with the text, “Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren,” [BWV 231]. The basis of Mvt. 2 is the 1st vs. of the chorale, “Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren” by Johann Gramann (1487-1541) sung to the fairly well-known melody “Weiß mir ein Blümlein blaue.” Mvt. 6 is based on the chorale, “Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen,” by Paul Eber (1511-1569) and is sung to the melody by Wolfgang Figulus (1575). The text, “Es soll mir eine Lust sein” is a quote from Jeremiah 32:41.

Robert Marshall (Ibid.) is of the opinion that the 2nd mvt. is based on an earlier composition, (a parody,) since the score shows a fairly clean ‘picture’ or ‘fair copy’ of an original. It is very likely that the original had been associated with a different vs. of the chorale. The NBA editors disagree with Marshall’s contention. They see the ‘cleanness’ of the score as being caused by the duplication of the vocal parts. Once the voices had been composed, the other instruments, which play colla parte, could easily be copied with few, if any, errors. Also Bach may have made sketches which he then used as a basis for the score.>>

Gardiner notes on Cantata BWV 28 (from his album Vol. 16)

A similar injunction to render thanks to God for all the good things experienced in the course of the year lies at the heart of the cantata Bach composed a year later as part of his third Leipzig cycle: BWV 28 Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende, a fitting title to sum up the parallel sense of loss and fulfilment, relief and regret within the group at the very end of a yearlong life-changing experience. The cantata begins as a spirited concerto-like movement with an antiphonal deployment of oboes and upper strings providing a backcloth to the soprano’s dance-like call for a song of thanks. That song of thanks (‘Danklied’) is none other than the motet ‘Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren’, which I had first learnt as a seven-year-old treble at a German summer school directed by a once-famous German choral conductor, Georg Götsch, then very frail. We sang it every day for a week, and I think I was profoundly bored; but half a century later I found myself galvanised by its stile antico sobriety and complexity, its buried treasures and subtleties, especially those that occur in its last fifty bars, in which you sense some immense cosmic struggle being played out. I fear the choir, too, may have been bored during rehearsal; but in performance, with the vocal lines doubled by strings, oboes, cornetto and sackbuts, they rose to the occasion in this penultimate Te Deum laudamus of the Pilgrimage. I found it immensely stirring. After that great chorus the remaining movements inevitably come as a bit of an anticlimax. Fine though the tenor accompagnato (No.4) and imitative duet for alto and tenor (No.5) undoubtedly are, it is the concluding chorale which makes the strongest impression. Paul Eber’s New Year hymn ‘Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen’ has cropped up several times in the course of the year, but never so powerfully or so movingly as in Bach’s harmonisation of this prayer for protection and sustenance in the year to come.

In many ways it felt appropriate to be ending our Pilgrimage here in New York in the snow and on the cusp of the turning year. Anywhere in Germany it might have felt repetitive, inviting comparison with Weimar from where we had set out the previous Christmas. Anywhere in Britain people might have been inclined to sit at home around the Christmas tree or in front of the telly. Here, on the other hand, was a new audience won over for Bach’s prodigious cantatas, and a challenge met by this hand-picked, travel-hardened team of pilgrims, who through an intensive, year-long exposure to this music had made such impressive individual and collective strides. The music we had spent a year grappling with is technically challenging: it is often a high-wire act demanding phenomenal precision, flexibility and virtuosity, as well as a responsiveness to your fellow musicians. It requires you to soak yourself in the idiom, and you need ‘Bach miles’ on the clock before you feel able to interpret these cantatas with relative ease and full conviction.
© John Eliot Gardiner 2007
From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Klaus Hofmann notes on Cantata BWV 28 (from Suzuki Vol. 39)

This cantata for the Sunday after Christmas was heard in the Leipzig church service on 30th December 1725. The text – by the theologian Erdmann Neumeister (1671-1756), who was also well-known as a poet – pays no heed to the gospel reading for that day but is entirely dominated by thoughts concerning the change of year: it looks back in gratitude and, full of faith in God, looks forward to the new year, asking God for kindness and preservation.

A lively soprano aria, in which a trio of oboes plays in lively alternation with the strings, urges us to strike up ‘ein frohes Danklied’ (‘a happy song of thanks’). The choir – representing the congregation – does exactly as it is bidden, with the chorale strophe ‘Nun lob, mein Seel, den Her ren’ (‘Now, my soul… praise the name of the Lord’ (Johann Gramann 1530, with a melody from the 15th century). Bach’s composition reminds us once again of the big opening chorale settings in the unfinished chorale cantata year. The movement embodies the genre of church motet in the ‘old style’ (stylus antiquus), alluding to the strictly polyphonic writing from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The cantus firmus is presented line by line in the soprano, while the three lower voices form a very skilful imitatory texture, partly from new themes and partly from ideas derived from the chorale line in question. In the manner of a motet, the instruments of the orchestra play in unison with the vocal parts, and – as with the final chorus of BWV68 – are reinforced by a quartet of cornet and three trombones; this, in conjunction with the old-fashioned style, lends the movement an archaic character. With the bass arioso ‘So spricht der Herr’ (‘Thus speaks the Lord’, after Jeremiah 32: 41) we turn our gaze forwards, to the coming year. The centrepiece of this part of the cantata is a duet for alto and tenor (fifth movement), the text of which expresses the hope that divine blessing will remain with us. As in Italian chamber duets, the vocal parts in the individual sections are largely win imitation, coming together each time for a concluding cad ence. A continuo ritornello provides preludes, inter ludes and postludes and, moreover, appears in the vocal sections as a free basso ostinato. Bach ended the cantata year 1725 with a simple chorale strophe (Paul Eber, c. 1580, melody by Wolfgang Figulus 1575).
© Klaus Hofmann 2008


1 Cantata 28 BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano [2.13 MB],, Score BGA [2.25 MB],; digital score, digital parts set, References: BGA V/1 (Cantatas 21-30, Wilhelm Rust, 1855, NBA: I/3.2 (Sunday after Christmas, Klaus Hofmann, 2000, Bach Compendium BC A 20, Zwang K 128.
2 Dürr, The Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 143).
3 Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 269). 4 BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION: Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense" Schünigen: Kaminsky,1927; ML 410 B67R4.
5 Recording, BCW; Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn, Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra, Fritz Werner; Les Grandes Cantates de J.S. Bach; Vol. 10 Erato 1965; BCW
6 Blanken, “A Cantata-Text Cycle of 1728 from Nuremberg: A preliminary report on a discovery relating to J. S. Bach’s so-called ‘Third Annual Cycle’,” Understanding Bach 10, 9-30 (Bach Network UK, 2015: 20,
7 Cantata 28 Neumeister German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW.
8 Melamed essay in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach, ed. Malcom Boyd (Oxford University Press, 1999: 200f).
9Richard D. P. Jones, The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750. “Music to Delight the Spirit” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 176). 10 Whittaker, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach (London: Oxford University Press, 1958: 2:190ff).
11 Stiller, JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing, 1984: 236f).
Gardiner (pp.4-5),[sdg137_gb].pdf
Hofmann/Suzuki (pp. 6-7),[BIS-SACD1641].pdf

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 5, 2017):
Cantata 28 - Revised & updated Discography

The Chorale Cantata BWV 28 "Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende" (Praise God! Now the year comes to an end) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for the 1st Sunday after Christmas Day of 1725. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of cornett, 3 trombones, 2 oboes, taille, 2 violins, viola & continuo.

The discography pages of BWV 28 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (10):
Recordings of Individual Movements (7):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios & 1 video of the cantata. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.

I believe this are the most comprehensive discography of this chorale cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 28 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.

You can also read on the BCW the recent discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):

Happy New Year,


Cantata BWV 28: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
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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Last update: Monday, September 11, 2017 15:24