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Cantata BWV 29
Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of May 5, 2013 (3rd round)

Linda Gingrich wrote (May 6, 2013):
Introduction to BWV 29 Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir

We have an exceptionally fine cantata to introduce for this week's discussion, another council elections work, BWV 29, Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir (We Thank You, God, We Thank You). It was first performed
on August 27, 1731, at the celebratory service for the yearly rotation of the Leipzig city council, with subsequent performances on August 31, 1739 and August 25, 1749.

Like the other city elections cantatas it draws on numerous biblical passages: for example, Psalm 85:10 appears in Mvt. 6 and in Cantata BWV 119/2. After the sinfonia (Mvt. 1) the cantata opens with thanksgiving for God's goodness in Mvt. 2, glorifies God in Mvt. 3 and Mvt. 4, moves into prayers for future blessings in Mvt. 5 and Mvt. 6, returns to thanksgiving once again in the Mvt. 7, and closes with a doxology in Mvt. 8. And like these cantatas it employs a festival orchestra: three trumpets, timpani, two oboes, strings, and continuo, with obbligato organ featured in two movements. And once again Zion (sometimes Jerusalem in the other cantatas) symbolically represents Leipzig.

And again Bach challenges himself with several important adaptations from and to other works. The famous opening sinfonia is a reworking of the Preludio from BWV 1006, the Violin Partita in E major, which we also heard last week in Cantata BWV 120a. The organ takes over the violin part in this brilliantly conceived reworking. There has been some speculation as to who might have played the organ; Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel have both been suggested, but Wolff suggests the Sebastian himself may have been the organist (Learned Musician, p. 444, also 283), at least in the later performance. He surmises that since Bach's handwriting had become clumsy after his 1749 illness, he may have wanted to prove that he was still a consummate organist! The fabulous stile antico Mvt. 2 choral fugue is parodied in the Gratias agimus tibi and Dona nobis pacem in the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), again reminding of Cantatas BWV 120a and BWV 120.

This cantata is rich in detail, far more than can be spelled out in this introduction. To learn more see, as usual:, including some informative liner notes from Suzuki and Harnoncourt, discussion concerning the difficulty of the organ part from several organist list members, and a fascinating entry from Peter Smaill regarding bar-number symbolism in this and other works. Bach Collegium Japan again has a wonderful Youtube video available at the web site. And for a particularly insightful analysis, see Julian Mincham's:

The choral and full scores AND the autograph score can be downloaded at:,_Gott,_wir_danken_dir,_BWV_29_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian)

Most intriguing to me are the allegorical aspects. The easiest way for me to grasp these relationships is to draw them, so I created a table, incorporating some of those elements, which doesn't copy well to e-mail. I've added it as an attachment for those who are interested:


Numbers 3 through 7 create a symmetrical inset balanced around Mvt. 5. This kind of structure is called a chiasm, after the Greek letter chi, an X-shape that mirrors around a central point. Bach incorporated this kind
of structure across whole cantatas that look to the cross of Christ, such as BWV 78, Jesu der du meine Seele, but it seems unusual to see it here inside a portion of a city elections cantata. Mvt. 3 and Mvt. 7 are connected through a shared textual theme, strength and might be to God's name, from Psalm 75:1, and shared music. There is a tonal ascent from Mvt. 2 to Mvt. 3, a tonal descent to the lowest point, the B-minor Mvt. 5's plea to "remember us," and then a rise back to D. Mvt. 5 is further marked by the pastoral siciliano and its unusual scoring: the organ plays no harmonies under the vocal passages until the repeat of the final three lines just before the da capo. Bach also further sets off the chiastic inset with a sharp stylistic antithesis between the antique Mvt. 2 fugue and the concertante tenor aria. It's also curious that Mvt. 1 and Mvt. 7 use obbligato organ, which may lend some added weight to Mvt. 7/Mvt. 3's honor given to the name of God. I haven't seen an allegorical form quite like this one before.

Much food for thought and interpretation!

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 6, 2013):
BWV 29 Organ & Harpsichord

Linda Gingrich wrote:
< Itís also curious that the first and seventh numbers use obbligato organ, >which may lend some added weight to Mvt. 7/Mvt. 3ís honor given to the name of God. >
This cantata gave me one of my first Big Bach Moments. I was a teenaged organ student and bought an old HiFi LP of the cantata. I remember putting on the disc and being frozen by that electrifying opening (Mvt. 1). I still catch my breath.

It's worth noting that Dreyfus's analysis in 'Bach's Continuo Group' asserts that this cantata provides evidence of dual accompaniment with both organ and harpsichord. The Chorton organ part with the solos is figured in the non-solo movements. But there is also a bass part figured throughout in Kammerton.

William Hoffman wrote (May 6, 2013):
[To Douglas Cowling] Last week's BCW Discussion video, Suzuki's Cantata BWV 120, has discreet organ and harpsichord. It seems to work well.

Linda Gingrich wrote (May 6, 2013):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< This cantata gave me one of my first Big Bach Moments. I was a teenaged > organ student and bought an old HiFi LP of the cantata. I remember putting > on the disc and being frozen by that electrifying opening. I still catch my breath. >
The concentration on the face of the organist in the Suzuki video is plain to see, but I thought I saw, for a few fleeting bars, a bit of a smile playing around his lips, as if the joy of the music and the enjoyment of his skill couldn't help breaking through.

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 6, 2013):
Linda Gingrich wrote:
< The concentration on the face of the organist in the Suzuki video is plain to see, but I thought I saw, for a few fleeting bars, a bit of a smile playing around his lips, as if the joy of the music and the enjoyment of his skill couldn't help breaking through. >
The Tallis Choir of Toronto used the Sinfonia (Mvt. 1) as a prelude to a stand-alone performance of the Credo from the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232). The organist was literally bouncing to that cyclonic rhythm.

There is a whole tradition of arrangements of this movement (Mvt. 1) going back into the 19th century by organists who couldn't tolerate Bach's ostensibly "simple" two line organ part and amplified it into a Romantuc extravaganza. The famous French organist, Marcel Dupré, penned an arrangement that makes the Widor Toccata look austere!

William Hoffman wrote (May 8, 2013):
Cantata 29: Town Council Cantatas

Bach's best-known Town Council cantata is BWV 29, "Wir danken dir, Gott" (We thank Thee, God), premiering on August 27, 1731. It has consistently substantial and varied music involving prayerful Psalm texts, festive orchestra with organ and violin solos, and transformation of existing music. Particular pleasures are the Cantata 29 opening sinfonia with brass and organ, the fugal chorus of thanks and peace (?from pre-Leipzig music), two lively arias adapted from earlier violin music, and the closing chorale with flourishes.

Cantata 29 was repeated on August 31, 1739 following a period when no Bach council cantatas were repeated but was followed by a new parodied work, BWV Anh. 193, and two repeats of BWV Anh. 4 and BWV120. It also was Bach's last documented performance on August 25, 1749. Details are found at BCW,

"Wir danken dir, Gott" was composed at a time when Bach had made a major shift in his compositions, from church-year cantatas to instrumental and secular vocal music, including weddings. The common thread was music of praise and thanks. During this time through the middle 1730s, Bach composed a series of chorale cantatas for special use while creating festive <drammi per musica> for Saxon royalty using mostly Picander texts. Bach then had Picander parody these camtatas for feast day oratorios as part of a Christological cycle of vocal music. Bach also presented music for special festive music for weddings and services of thanksgiving and allegiance. Finally, in the 1740s, Bach used contrafaction of German text to complete his great Catholic <Mass in B Minor> for the Saxon Court in Dresden.

Cantata 29, with the text poassibly by Picander, closes with the extended plain chorale (Mvt. No. 8) "Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren" (Now praise, my soul, the Lord), Johann Gramann (Poliander), five stanzas with text (1530). It is found in Bach's hymnbook, the <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB) of 1682 as No. 261, as an <omnes tempore> middle Trinity Time setting of Psalm 103 (<Bendicta anima mea>, Love of God), with the Johann Kugelmann 1540 melody (Zahn 8244). In the NLGB it is the Hymn of the Day for the 12th Sunday after Trinity and a Pulpit/Communion Hymn for 14th and 19th Sundays after Trinity. The full text and Francis Browne's English translation are found at BCW *"The chorale text in mvt. 8 is based on vs. 5, a verse added later (Königsberg, 1548)":

Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren
Gott Vater, Sohn und Heil'gem Geist!
Der woll' in uns vermehren,
Was er uns aus Genad' verheißt,
Daß wir ihm fest vertrauen,
Gänzlich uns laß'n auf ihn,
Von Herzen auf ihn bauen,
Daß uns'r Herz, Mut und Sinn
Ihm festiglich anhangen.
Drauf singen wir zur Stund:
Amen, wir werd'n's erlangen,
Glaub'n wir aus Herzengrund.

May there be praise and glory and honour
for God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
May it be his will to increase in us
what he promised us through his grace,
so that we firmly trust him,
surrender ourselves wholly to him,
build on him in our hearts,
so that our heart, spirit and mind
steadfastly depend on him.
For this reason we sing now:
Amen, we shall achieve this,
we believe from the bottom of our hearts . . .

The first stanza of "Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren" is found in Cantatas BWV 51/4 and 28/2; Stanza 3 in BWV 17/7 and BWV 225/2, and Stanza 5 in BWV 29/8 and 167/5. Besides Cantata 29/8 with trumpets and timpani in D Major, Bach's uses (all plain chorales except BWV 51/4 chorale aria) are: BWV 389 in C Major (Praise & Thanksgiving, Hänssler v. 83), BWV 390 in C Major (Psalm chorales, Hänssler, Bach Akademie Edition v.82); Cantatas BWV 17/7 in A Major (Trinity +14, 1726, S.3); 51/4 in C Major (S. aria, Trinity +15, c.1730, S.3), BWV 167/5 in G Major (Johns Day, 1723, S.5); motet chorales, Cantata BWV 28/2 in C Major (Sunday after Christmas, 1725)=Motet BWV 231=BWV Anh. 160/2 (S.5), and Motet 225/2 (S.3), each plain chorale line interpolated in an aria in C Major, "Gott, nimm dich ferner user an" (O Lord, be merciful to us).

Cantata 29 Biblical & Sermon Texts

"We even know with this cantata who held the sermon and which Bible passage [KJV] was used as a basis," says Thomas Braatz in *Provenance, BCW

August 27, 1731: Friedrich Wilhelm Schütz; Romans 13:4: "For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

August 31, 1739: Christian Gottlob Eichler; 1 Kings 8:57-58: "The LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers: let Him not leave us, nor forsake us, that He may incline our hearts unto Him, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and His statutes, and his judgments, which He commanded our fathers."

August 25, 1749: ???; Psalm 82:7-8: "But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations."

"Only the sermon given on August 31, 1739 shows a connection to the cantata text" [with its emphasis on Trinitarian principles].

Braatz also provides a translation of Alfred Dürr comments on the text's biblical passages.

"Dürr comments as follows on the text:

"The unknown librettist sticks with the model established in other similar cantatas that belong to this category (Ratswechsel): to express gratitude for blessing received and pray for continuing blessings in the future. The initial choral mvt. is based mainly upon Psalm 75:2 "Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare," but there are also numerous references to other biblical texts. So it is that `Zion' no longer points to the geographical location known as Jerusalem, but rather that place where the Lord can be praised: "Zion ist noch seine Stadt, da er seine Wohnung hat" ["Zion is still his city, where he resides."] Accordingly the member of the congregation, who is well-versed in the Bible, present at the performance of the cantata would understand "Der Herr.wird zu Jerusalem wohnen ewiglich" "The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever" from 1 Chronicles 23:25 to mean `Leipzig' rather than `Jerusalem.' Mvt. 4 has quite a number of biblical references: phrases such as "Gott ist noch unsre Zuversicht" (cf. Psalms 46:2 "Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea";; 62:8 "Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us", etc.) or "sein Schutz.beschirmt die Stadt und die Paläste, sein Flügel hält die Mauern feste" (Psalm 122:7 "Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces"; 36:8 "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings") are also found in the earlier Ratswechsel cantatas BWV 119 (mvt. 2); Anhang 4 (mvt. 3) and BWV 120 (mvt. 4) where the reference is made to Psalm 85:11 ".daß Güte und Treue einander begegnen, Gerechtigkeit und Friede sich küssen" ["Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."] In mvt.6, the phrase, "und alles Volk soll sagen: Amen" ["and all the people shall say. Amen"] comes from the 5th Book of Moses (Deuteronomy) 27:15-26."

Details of the Leipzig Town Council installation and Bach's involvement are found at BCW Cantata 29 Discussion 1:, scroll down to "Johan van Veen wrote (August 21, 2001): Here the notes in the booklet of Philippe Herreweghe's recording of three 'Ratswechsel' cantatas on Harmonia mundi France (HMC 901690) [Recordings C6]."

There is no recording of conductor John Eliot Gardiner, as with Cantatas BWV 137 and 120, as well as wedding cantatas.

Town Council Installation Music 1733-49

Here is an accounting of Bach music for the annual Town Council installation, 1732-1749, with gaps of 1732-38 and 1743-48:


[8/25/1732 (?BWV 137), 8/31/1733, 8/30/1734 no evidence of Town Council performance]

(B6) (120) xxx xxx 8/29/35 (Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, not confirmed)

[8/27/1736, 8/26/1737, 8/25/1738 no evidence of Town Council performance]

(B8) (29) xxx xxx 8/31/39 (Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir)

[B 9]Anh. 193 xxx xxx 8/29/40 Herrscher des Himmels, König der Ehren (music preserved only in the prototype of G 1)

[B 4b] Anh 4 xxx xxx 8/28/41 (Wünschet Jerusalem Glück; later version, music lost)

(B6) (120) xxx xxx 8/27/42 (Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille)

&#8594; ]A 193 1045[ XXI/1 I/34 1742-46 Sinfonia in D (?entrada music); BCW,

[8/26/43, 8/41/44, 8/30 45, 8/29/46, 8/28/47, 8/26/48 no evidence of specific Town Council cantata performance]

B 10 69 XVI I/32.2 c.1748 Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele II &#8594; A 123 (BCW Discussion &#8594; 11/27/11 with BWV 69a)

(B8) (29) xxx xxx 8/25/49 (Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir)

Multiple Use Cantatas

Between 1728 and 1735 Bach composed several pure-hymn chorale cantatas that arte not part of the second, chorale cantata cycle of 1724-25. Four of them are grounded in traditional wedding hymns. As festive works these undesignated "cantatas" may also have served as general Town Council Cantata. Undesignated chorale cantatas, pure hymn (per omnes versus), listed in>Bach Compendium as "Sacred Works for Special Occasions," including "Wedding Mass":

A 187 117 XXIV I/34 1728-1731 Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut
A 188 192 XLI I/34 1730 Nun danket alle Gott
A 189 97 XXII I/34 1734 In allen meinen Taten
A 191 100 XXII I/34 1732-1735 Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (III)

B 17 250-252 Three Wedding Chorales:
1. Was Gott tut das ist wohlgetan
2. Sei Lob und Ehr' Dem höchsten Gut
3. Nun danket alle Gott

Council Cantata Anh. 4, "Wünschet Jerusalem Glück" (Wished-for Jerusalem fortune) of 1725 was repeated with minor textual changes on August 28, 1741. The comparison texts and Z. Philip Ambrose's English translation are found at For the recitative, No. 3, "Gott Lob! Der Herr hat viel an uns gethan!" (Praise God! The Lord hath much for us achieved), Bach substituted the recitative, "Herr! weyhe selbst das Regiment," surviving in Cantata BWV 120/5. The full text in English is:

Lord, consecrate the government With thine own blessing now;
Let honor in thy nation dwell;
Let those who here thy people govern
Lead with true wisdom's spirit,
That ev'ry action
Be to thy name's great fame accomplished.

Between 1742 and 1746 Bach virtually completed a revised version of a violin concerto movement as entrada music, called "Sinfonia in D," BEWV 1045, perhaps for a town council cantata presented during that time. Like arias adapted from Cöthen violin music for other Leipzig Town Council cantatas it may have undergone various adaptations. The surviving music adds a closing cadence in another hand. The title in Bach's hand includes four voices and may have been intended as an opening chorus. Thomas Braatz had provided extensive information in his "Provenance and more," BCW Details are found at BCW

Finally, Bach c1748 revised Cantata BWV 69, "Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele II (Praise the Lord my soul), originally presented as Cantata 69a early in Cycle 1 for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, August 15 1723. The movement structure and order remained the same while the recitatives' text and music was variously changed or altered, and closing with a new plain chorale, Cantata 69/6, plain chorale, Luther 1524, "Es woll' uns Gott genädig sein" (May God be gracious to us, Psalm 67); melody, Matthias Greiter; NLGB No. 258, Christian Life & Conduct (Psalms), benediction (blessing). Bach harmonized Stanza 3, "Es danke, Gott, und lobe dich" (Thank You, God, and praise You). Details of Cantata 69 are found at BCW but BCW Discussion No. 3 of BWV 69 and 69a, Week of November 27, 2011, did not include Cantata 69, only Cantata 69a. The full text of Council Cantata 69 and Francis Browne's English translation are found at BCW:

William Hoffman wrote (May 10, 2013):
Cantata 29: Town Council Cantatas II

In the last two decades of his life, Sebastian Bach summarized his art, generously reaping what he sowed. Often he achieved this through new text underlay of existing works. Music of thanks and praise played a key role. In the 1730s, his favored Leipzig venue moved from St. Thomas Church to Zimmerman's Coffeehouse as he reinvented his music, turned to <omnes tempore> chorales of joy, renewed his interest in Town Council cantatas and completed a legacy centered on the Great Catholic Mass in B Minor.

Zimmerman's Coffee House enabled Bach to celebrate the best of both worlds, sacred and profane. Bach had completed three cycles of church-year cantatas as the centerpiece of his well-order church music to the Glory of God. He had perfected the art of parody, ignited primarily through Cöthen celebratory serenades and instrumental concerto movements. He had secured a competent lyricist in Picander to help create and transform secular festive pieces and special sacred music into extended works for the St. Mark Passion (1731), feast day oratorios (1735), and the Mass Ordinary (late 1740s). Bach also had time to work with colleagues, professional musicians, and students to present all manner of instrumental music as well as studies of various Baroque styles and techniques such as the Art of Fugue.

Bach Reinventing Bach

As director of the Leipzig Collegium musicum, beginning in 1729, Bach was able to make new music, including elements of the gallant style and musical comedy. In successive order, he fashioned new house music of concerti, suites, and sonatas; he composed on request music for the visiting House of Saxony; and presented the Kyrie-Gloria Mass refashioned mostly from cantata movements. "The urge to sanctify the secular was more than pious. It was the urge of an artist at midlife," says Paul Elie in his <Reinventing Bach> (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012: 289ff). "As Bach in his first years in Leipzig had used the demands of the liturgical calendar to call fourth a vast new body of work, now he used it as a form to preserve music he had already written. By using parody to transform secular cantatas into liturgical works, Bach was making music for listeners of the future."

Throughout the first half of the 1730s, Bach remained faithful to sacred music and his calling, particularly the Lutheran chorale. He turned from hymns celebrating the major Christolgical feasts and those of passion, mourning and consolation found in his service cantatas and Passion oratorios towards the eternal church Time themes, beginning after the Cathechism and lesser feasts, with Psalm hymns of joy and newer hymns of thanks and joy of the later Reformation. Town Council Cantatas utilized both Psalm canticle texts for the choruses, arias, and recitatives as well as the closing chorales of thanks and praise that also involved weddings, special Reformation observances, and other civic special services of thanks and allegiance to the Saxon Court.

Thanks & Praise Chorales

Of special note were the mostly free-standing plain chorales Bach composed and shared with his composition students. They filled out and completed his abiding interest in Reformation hymns that were the foundation of his well-ordered church music as organ chorale preludes and sacred cantatas. Among the plethora of chorales are those of Thanks and Praise:

--- "Auf mein Herz, des Herren Tag/"Jesu, meine Zuversicht"; BWV 145/1(PC); see Easter
--- "Den Vater dort oben"; BWV 292(PC)
--- "Gott lebet noch"; BWV 320(PC), BWV 461(SG)
--- "In allen meinen Taten"; BWV 97(?wedding), BWV 367(PC)
--- "Lobet den Herren, den Mächtigen König"(Praise & Thanks); CC 137(Tr.12)
*--- "Nun danket alle Gott" (Praise & Thanks); CC BWV 192(?Ref.), BWV 252 (wedding), BWV 386(PC), BWV 657(18)
--- "Sei Lob und Her dem höchsten Gut"; CC BWV 117, BWV 251 (wedding)
--- "Steh ich bei meinem Gott"; BWV 503(SG), BWV deest (Wiemer 14, PC)
--- "Vergiß mein nicht, daß ich dein nchtvergesse"; BWV 504(SG)
--- "Warum soll ish mich denn grämen"; BWV 228/2(motet), BWV 422(PC)
--- "Was betrübst du dich, mein Herz"; BWV 427(PC)
--- "Was willst du dich betrüben" (mel. "Von Gogt will ich nicht lassen); CC BWV 107
--- "Was bist du doch, o Seele, so betrübet"; BWV 435(PC)
--- "Was willt du dich, o meine Seele, kränken"; BWV 424(PC)
--- "Wer Gott vertraut, hat wohl gebaut"; BWV 433(SG)
--- "Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott" (Trust), CC 139(Tr.23); mel., "Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt,"

*--- "Den Vater dort oben" (BWV 292, PC)
*--- "Hilf Gott, daß mirs gelinge" [Passion & Ascernsion] (BWV 343, PC), BWV 624 (MC)
*--- "Nun preiset alle Gottes Barmherzigkeit" (BWV 391, PC)

Also, the chorales found in the Orgelbüchlein (OB, Little Organ Book) of chorale preludes composed in Weimar:

*OB 53. Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr (Gloria in excelsis Deo, Greater Doxology; BWV 662-664(18); BWV 675-677(CU), BWV 715(MC)*; BWV 711(KC), BWV 716-17(MC); BWV 260 (PC), BWV 771(MC, not by Bach, possibly by Andreas Nicolaus Vetter); melody in "Der Herr ist meine gertruer Hirt, dem/halt" (Psalm 23, NLGB 251-252)
*OB 86. "Nun lob', mein' Seel', den Herren"; CC 29/8 (PC), BWV 389-90(PC), Anh. 60(Walther)*, SBCB 148-9
*OB 111. "Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan, kein ein(z)ig Mensch ihn tadeln kann" ((Riemenschneider 45 or Zahn 2524, no NLGB), Michael Altenberg (1584-1640); see; BWV 1116(NC)*
*OB 112. "Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan, es bleibt gerecht" (no NLGB); CC BWV 99, CC BWV100, BWV 340(PC)=12/7=69a/6; BWV 250(wedding), 100/6=75/7

Abbreviations: PC = Plain Chorales, SG = Schmelli Gesangbuch, CC = Chorale Cantatas, SBCB = Sebastian Bach Chorale Book, MC = Miscellaneous Chorale (Organ)

* Chorale Book, v. 83 (Morning/Thanks &N Praise/Christian Life), Hänssler Edition BachAkademie CD)

Council Cantata Hiatus, 1730s

Interestingly, as Bach in the 1730s composed music primarily for Zimmermann's and the Saxon Court, he curtailed his compositions for the Leipzig churches as well as the annual Town Council installation. No Bach council cantatas are documented for presentation between 1732 and 1739. Council reperformances of Cantata BWV 137 in 1732 and BWV 120 in 1725 have not been substantiated. There also is no documentation for any Bach council cantata presentations between 1743 and 1747.

Significantly, Bach resumed annual council performances on August 31, 1739, with the repeat of Cantata BWV 29, "Wir danken dir, Gott" (We thank Thee, God), that also would be his last presentation on August 25, 1749. Following his reintroduction of Cantata 29 in 1739, Bach turned to the last documented "new" council annual composition, Cantata BWV Anh. 193, "Herrscher des Himmels, König der Ehren" (Lord of Heaven, King of Glory). Like council Cantatas BWV Anh. 4, and Anh. 3, only the texts and parodied music survives, suggesting that this too was a perfunctory piece. It contained no closing chorale as did council Cantatas BWV 193, "Ihr Tore/Pforte zu Zion" of 1727, and Anh. 3, "Gott, gib dein Gerichte dem Könige" of 1731.

Council Cantata BWV Anh. 193

Two movements of Cantata BWV Anh. 193 survive as parody: aria (No. 5), "Dancke Gott, daß er in Segen" (Thank thy God that he in blessing ) and the closing chorus (No. 7), "Es falle ietzt auf uns dein himmliches Feuer" (Let fall now upon us thy heavenly fire). They are, respectively, the closing pastorale aria (No. 13) and gigue chorus (No. 15) from Bach's first "modern cantata" of 1713, BWV 208, "Was mir behagt,/ Ist nur die muntre Jagd!" (What pleases me/ is above all the lively hunt!). Cantata BWV Anh. 193 BCW Details,; German text and Z. Philip Ambrose English translation, BCW A reconstruction of council Cantata BWV Anh.193 was done in 1983 by Gustav Adolph Theill, publisher Forberg Verkag in Bonn, that also published Theill's realization of the St. Mark Passion.

One explanation for no Bach council performances from 1732 to 1739 is that Bach had begun to present annual <drammi per musica> for the Nameday of the new Saxon elector, Friedrich August II, on August 3, 1733, as well as his birthday on November 10. In fact, birthday Cantata 208, was slightly parodied in its third performance for Augustus' Nameday in 1742, Bach's last documented Augustus Nameday presentation, changing only the name of the royal personage from Duke Christian of Weißenfels in 1713 and Duke August of Weimar in 1716. Thus Bach serendipitously was able to recycle Cantata 208 for his Prince and Town Council.

The council records preserve the 1740 text that, given its general and naturalistic poetry, probably was not written by Picander, as were BWV Anh. 4 and 3. Ambrose translates the council document as follows: " 29 Aug. [1740]: As on the Monday after St. Bartholomew's Day Mr. M. Christian Gottlob Eichler gave the so-called Council-Election Sermon on the words of Ps. 115:12, <The Lord remember us and bless us.> After the Sermon was delivered, the following well-constructed cantata was performed [text only]."

Jean-Pierre Grivois wrote (May 10, 2013):
[To William Hoffman] You will more details in my book "Moi, JSB" you can get on Amazon.
Sorry, but it's written in French.


OT: BWV 29 and Bach's secular cantata responsibilities

Bruce Simonson wrote (November 22, 2014):
Been a while since I dropped in on the group, but I know this is a good place to ask this question.

We will perform Cantatas 29 and 79 in a couple weeks, and I'm working on the program. What I'm looking for is a brief, perhaps pithy, explanation as to why Bach composed BWV 29 (Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir).

I have a pretty good library, and I'm sure I could pull something together. But I'm looking for the perspective of the group: of course, this cantata is for the "Cantata for Inauguration of the Leipzig Town Council", but why did Bach write something for this event? Was he required to? Did he want to? Why bother doing something so great, if it was an imposed duty?

Just curious...


Continue on Part 4

Cantata BWV 29: Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir for Council Election (1731)
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Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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Last update: Tuesday, September 05, 2017 22:59