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Cantata BWV 30
Freue dich, erlöste Schar
Cantata BWV 30a
Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich in deinen Auen!
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Discussions in the Week of June 25, 2017 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (June 24, 2017):
Johannisfest Cantata 30, "Freue dich, erlöste Schar" (Rejoice, redeemed host)

Bach’s Cantata BWV 30, "Freue dich, erlöste Schar" (Rejoice, redeemed host), represents milestones in his well-regulated church music. One of his last sacred compositions, this two-part musical sermon for the Feast of John the Baptist, probably premiered in 1738, fulfills a Christological Cycle of major works for feast days based on parody (new text underlay) while completing the initial phase of incarnation/conception of Jesus Christ as interpreted in the Gospel of John. To achieve this, Bach as a Saxon Court composer and the Leipzig music director created a 45-minute progressive work that honors a landed nobleman as well as in a virtual parody that announces the the coming of Jesus. The new sacred subject is the “herald,” John the Baptist, who through his father Zacharias in the Lukan (Benediction) canticle will baptize Jesus in the Holy Spirit, completing the Trinity. Cantata 30 is a parodies the poetic madrigalian chorus and arias, as well as one recitative, from the progressive drama per musica, Cantata BWV 30a, "Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich in deinen Auen!" (Charming Wiederau, take pleasure in your meadows), for Johann Christian von Hennicke (1682-1752). Picander is the original poet and probably the parodist of the sacred version, which is an extended joyous celebration of the meaning of baptism as the Christian initiation and the resulting salvation of the believer.

The Cantata 30 in 12 movements opens with a da-capo chorus fashioned as a galant binary, gavotte-like dance in 2/4 and repeated at the end with the same music set to a new text. Interspersed are four operatic-form arias alternating with recitatives in the Neopolitan style: a 3/8 passepied for bass and strings (No. 3), a 4/4 (or 2/2) syncopated gavotte for alto and flute with strings (No. 5), a 2/4 bourée-like for bass and strings with solo oboe d’amore in a Scottish-snap syncopated Lombard rhythm (no. 8), and a 9/8 gigue for soprano with violins in unison (No. 10). Part 1 of Cantata BWV 30 closes (No. 6) with the Johann Olearius (1611-84) chorale of 1671 "Tröstet meine Lieben" (Comfort ye my people, Isaiah 40:1; Stanza 3, Eine Stimme läßt sich hören/ In der Wüste weit und breit" (A voice is heard far and wide in the desert). Its is set to the anon. c1510)/Louis Bourgeois(1551) BAR Form melody (Zahn 6543), “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Rejoice greatly, o my soul).1

With references to the pastorale fields in both cantatas, oboes are selectively used in the chorus and the bass recitative accompagnato (new, no. 7, 2 oboes) and the succeeding bass aria with oboe d ‘amore. Flutes strengthen this atmosphere in the repeated chorus as well as the alto aria (no. 5) with solo flute and strings which are also used in the chorus and arias. To make the work even more festive, two trumpets and timpani later were reinstated by Bach’s son’s Emmanuel and Friedemann, who inherited the original materials and probably presented the work (see below, Cantata 30 Provenance). As a drama per musica, Cantata 30a has four allegorical characters: the River Elster (narrator, tenor), soprano (Time), alto (Fortune) and bass (Fate). This music shows Bach’s progressive style of the later 1730s.

Cantata 30 was the third, belatedly original musical sermon Bach composed for the Feast of John the Baptist, June 23. There are three diverse, very appealing cantatas for St. John's Day with dance element: intimate solo cantata for four voices, pleasing chorale cantata, and progressive jazzy work: BWV 167, "Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe" (You people, sing the praises of God's love, 1723); BWV 7, "Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam” (Christ our Lord came to the Jordan, 1724); and BWV 30, "Freue dich, erlöste Schar," possible repeat no later than 1742 (see below, “John the Baptist Cantatas, Cantata 30” and “Bach’s Johnnisfest Calendar”).

One dance in the secular tribute (BWV 30a/11) is lacking in the sacred version (BWV 30): River Elster: “So, wie ich die Tropfen zolle,” which is a polonaise ( or It is a multiple parody originating in the solo soprano wedding cantata BWV 210 as early as 1725 with connections to various nobles in its parodied tribute Cantata BWV 210, observes Szymon Paczkowski in “The Story of an ‘Aria tempo di Polonaise’ for Joachim Friedrich von Flemming.”2 Cantata 30a was composed for the “ceremonial handover of a landed estate Wiederau near Leipzig” on September 28, 1737, says Paczkowski. Heinnicke served as “chamberlain of the Dresden Court, then a favorite of Chancellor [Prime Minister Heinrich von] Brühl and a minister in his cabinet” (see below, “Bach’s Progressive Style, Saxon Court”).

Cantata 30a has all the earmarks of Bach’s other 1730s drama per musica secular congratulatory works for nobility. In popular dance styles, four symbolic characters sing the praises of the dedicatee and his domain, although Cantata 30a lacks mythological characters in a plot that emphasizes these qualities. Of special note are the secular Cantatas BWV 213-215 for Saxon Court visits to Leipzig in 1733-34 with choruses and arias parodied in the six-part Christmas Oratorio, 1734-35. It is quite possible that Bach composed this original, occasional, utilitarian music with a plan to refashion it into permanent sacred works, particularly as feast day oratorios. The original model for the Easter Oratorio was the Shepherds Cantata, BWV 249a, composed in 1725 for the Saxe-Weissenfels Court. The music involves alternating recitatives and arias in dance style of the gigue and polonaise, with pastorale elements appropriate for both profane and sacred purposes. Like the Easter Oratorio, the Cantata 30 sacred version with similar qualities could be considered a feast-day oratorio like the Easter work, which also has no biblical narrative but is a musical sermon that in its new, sacred text reflects on the service’s prescribed biblical readings in the dozen or so narrative-style recitatives and commentary arias. Like the six-part Christmas Oratorio, Cantata 30 has an opening chorus and an appropriate plain chorale.

Liturgical Readings, Feast Day Meaning

The Gospel for the Feast of John the Baptist is Luke 1: 57-80, describing the birth (Nativity) and circumcisions of John the Baptist (1:57-67) and the Prophecy of his father, Zechariah (1:58-79). On the eight day of John's birth he is circumcised and named by his father, the priest Zachariah (Luke 1:59). The related Old Testament Epistle is from the prophet Isaiah 40: 1-5, Prepare the way. Biblical readings in Luther's German and the English King James Version (KJV) are found at BCW, Just after Mary's unique canticle, Magnificat amnima mae Dominum (My soul magnifies the Lord), comes the special biblical blend of Zachariah's Prophecy, preceeded by his basic song of praise, Benedictus (Blessing): "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel" (Gelobet sei der Herr, der Gott Israel, Luke 1:68), Zachariah’s benediction and prophecy is based upon the last verse (13) of Psalm 41, Beatus qui intelligit (Blessed is he who considereth the poor): “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, from everlasting, and to everlasting, Amen and Amen” (KJV).

Two related John the Baptist Gospel Readings (KJV) are: the 3rd Sunday in Advent: Mat. 11: 2-10 (John's messengers, afterJesus has commissioned the twelve disciples, John, imprisoned by Herod, sends two of his disciples to assure that Jesus is the Messiah John has prepared; and the 4th Sunday in Advent: John 1: 19-28 (John's message, when the Jewish elders in Jerusalem confront John the Baptist: "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:1).” The introit motets are Psalms 34 and 47. The chorales to be sung by the congregation are the Hymn of the Day (de tempore) "Herr Christ der einige Gottes Sohn" (Lord Jesus Christ, God's only son), and the Pulpit and Communion Hymns "Gelobet seist du Herr Gott Israel" and "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel" (Zechariah's canticle, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel), and Martin Luther's Catechism baptismal hymn, "Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam" (Christ our Lord to the Jordan came).

The Feast of John the Baptist is the “pivot to the sacrament of Baptism, which then becomes the beginning of a catechism sequence” that comprises “chorales on the Nicene Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Communion [Justification], respectively,” involving the Trinity Time “basic doctrines of faith,” says Eric Chafe in “The Hermeneutic Matrix” in Analyzing Bach Cantatas.3 Trinity Time (omnes tempore, Ordinary Time) “centers on questions of doctrine and faith in a varied mix, a significant number of the gospel readings featuring parables and miracles that invite metaphoric interpretations of the world,” he observes. This last half of the church season “explores the human condition, its weaknesses, wavering sinfulness and morality, emphasizing these qualities so as to demonstrate the need for both fear of God’s judgment and trust in His mercy.”

Cantata 30 movements, scoring, text, key, meter (probably Picander text, Francis Browne English translation,

1. Chorus da capo (Allegro moderato), binary dance form (ABAB1A), no opening ritornello, internal ritornelli, instruments double voices [SATB; Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe I/II, Oboe I/II, Violin I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. galant alternate 4 mm chorus/orch. “Freue dich, erlöste Schar, / Freue dich in Sions Hütten.” (Rejoice, redeemed host, rejoice in the dwellings of Zion.) B. “Dein Gedeihen hat itzund / Einen rechten festen Grund, / Dich mit Wohl zu überschütten.” (Your prosperity has now / a true and firm foundation / to cover you with blessings.); D Major, 2/4 gavotte-like style.
2. Recitative [Bass, Continuo]: “Wir haben Rast, / Und des Gesetzes Last / Ist abgetan. / Nichts soll uns diese Ruhe stören, / Die unsre liebe' Väter oft / Gewünscht, verlanget und gehofft. // Wohlan, / Es freue sich, wer immer kann, / Und stimme seinem Gott zu Ehren / Ein Loblied an, / Und das im höhern Chor, / Ja, singt einander vor!” (We have rest / and the law's burden / is put aside. / Nothing should disturb this peace, / for which our dear fathers often / wished, longed and hoped. / Come then, / let whoever can rejoice / and honour God by beginning to sing / a song of praise / and do this in the heavenly choir / yes, sing this to each other!); b minor to G Major; 4/4.
3. Aria three-part (ABA1) (Andante con moto)]; opening, closing, internal ritornelli [Bass; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Gelobet sei Gott, gelobet sein Name, Der treulich gehalten Versprechen und Eid!” (Praised be God, praised his name, / who has faithfully kept his promise and oath!). “Sein treuer Diener its geboren, / Der längstens darzu auserkoren, / Daß er den Weg dem Herrn (Adagio arioso 1 mm) bereit’.” (His faithful servant has been born / who long since was chosen for this purpose, / to prepare the way for the Lord.); G Major; 3/8 passepied style.
4. Recitative secco [Alto, Continuo]: “Der Herold kömmt und meldt den König an, / Er ruft; drum säumet nicht / Und macht euch auf / Mit einem schnellen Lauf / Eilt dieser Stimme nach! / Sie zeigt den Weg, sie zeigt das Licht, / Wodurch wir jene selge Auen / Dereinst gewißlich können schauen.” (The herald comes and announces the king's arrival, / He calls; therefore do not tarry, / and get up, / and swiftly run, / hurry after this voice! / It shows the way, it shows the light, / by which on those blessed fields / we can some day surely look.); D Major to f-sharp minor; 4/4.
5. Aria free da-capo (Andante), 2 9 mm opening ritornelli repeated, binary dance form, varied ritornelli [Alto; Flauto traverso, Violino I con sordino, Violino II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Kommt, ihr angefochtnen Sünder” / Eilt und lauft, ihr Adamskinder, / Euer Heiland ruft und schreit!” (Come, you troubled sinners, / hurry and run, you children of Adam, / your saviour calls and cries out to you!): B. “Kommet, ihr verirrten Schafe, / Stehet auf vom Sündenschlafe, / Denn itzt ist die Gnadenzeit!” (Come, you sheep who have gone astray, / arise from the sleep of your sins, / for now is the time of grace!); A Major; 4/4 (2/2) gavotte style.
6. Chorale plain BAR Form [SATB; Flauto traverso I/II in octava e Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo]: A. Abgesang, “Eine Stimme läßt sich hören / In der Wüste weit und breit” (A voice is heard, / far and wide in the desert); A1, “Alle Menschen zu bekehren: / Macht dem Herrn den Weg bereit” (to convert all mankind: / prepare the way for the Lord); B. Stollen, “Machet Gott ein ebne Bahn, / Alle Welt soll heben an, / Alle Täler zu erhöhen, / Daß die Berge niedrig stehen.” (make a level path for God, / all the world should be lifted up, / all the valleys should be raised / so that the mountains may be brought low.); A Major; 4/4.
Second Part, 7. Recitative accompagnato [Bass; Oboe I/II, Continuo]: “So bist du denn, mein Heil, bedacht, / Den Bund, den du gametes / Mit unsern Vätern, treu zu halten / Und in Genaden über uns zu walten; / Drum will ich mich mit allem Fleiß / Dahin bestreben, / Dir, treuer Gott, auf dein Geheiß / In Heiligkeit und Gottesfurcht zu leben.” (Since it is your intention, my saviour, / that the covenant that you made / with our fathers should be faithfully kept / and that you should rule over us in grace, / I want therefore with all diligence / from now on to strive to live / for you, faithful God, at your command / in holiness and fear of God.); e to f-sharp minor; 4/4.
8. Aria da capo, 21 mm opening ritornello with dal segno, internal ritornelli, [Bass; Oboe d'amore, Violino solo, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Ich will nun hassen / Und allies lassen, / Was dir, mein Gott, zuwider ist.” (I want now to hate / and leave everything / that is contrary to you, my God.); B. “Ich will dich nicht betrüben, / Hingegen herzlich lieben, / Weil du mir so genädig bist.” (I do not want to grieve you / but instead to love you from my heart / since you are so merciful to me.); b minor; 2/4 bourée-like style.
9. Recitative secco (parody of BWV 30a/8) [Soprano, Continuo]: “Und obwohl sons der Unbestand / Den schwachen Menschen ist verwandt, / So sei hiermit doch zugesagt: / Sooft die Morgenröte tagt, / Solang ein Tag den andern folgen lässt, / So lange will ich steif und fest, / Mein Gott, durch deinen Geist / Dir ganz und gar zu Ehren leben. / Dich soll sowohl mein Herz als Mund / Nach dem mit dir gemachten Bund / Mit wohlverdientem Lob erheben.” (And although in other ways inconstancy / comes naturally to humanity in its weakness, / let a promise be now made: / whenever dawn brings round the day, / so long as one day follows another / for so long I want to live resolute and firm, / my God, through your Spirit, / completely for you and your honour. / It is you that both my heart and mouth / according to the covenant that has been made with you / should extol with the praise you have well deserved.); f-sharp minor to G Major; 4/4.

10. Aria da capo (Allegro moderato), 12 mm opening ritornello, internal ritornelli [Soprano; Violini all' unisono, Continuo]: A. “Eilt, ihr Stunden, kommt herbei, / Bringt mich bald in jene Auen!” (Hurry, you hours, come on, / bring me soon to those fields!); B. “Ich will mit der heilgen / Meinem Gott ein' Dankaltar / In den Hütten Kedar bauen, / Bis ich ewig dankbar sei.” (With the holy host I want / to build an altar of thanks for my God / in the dwellings of Kedar / so that I may always be thankful.); e minor; 9/8 gigue like style.
11. Recitative secco [Tenor, Continuo]: “Geduld, der angenehme Tag / Kann nicht mehr weit und lange sein, / Da du von aller Plag / Der Unvollkommenheit der Erden, / Die dich, mein Herz, gefangen hält, / Vollkommen wirst befreiet werden. Der Wunsch trifft endlich ein, / Da du mit den erlösten Seelen / In der Vollkommenheit / Von diesem Tod des Leibes bist befreit, / Da wird dich keine Not mehr quälen.” (Be patient, the delightful day / can no more be far and distant / when from all the troubles / of the earth's imperfection / that, my heart, holds you captive, / you will be completely freed. / The wish finally comes true / that with the redeemed souls / in perfection / you are freed from this death of the body, / that no misery may torment you any longer.); b minor to D Major; 4/4.
12 Chorus (parody of BWV 30/1, same music [SATB; Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Freue dich, geheilgte Schar, / Freue dich in Sions Auen!” (Rejoice, sacred host, / rejoice in Sion's fields!); B. Deiner Freude Herrlichkeit, / Deiner Selbstzufriedenheit / Wird die Zeit kein Ende schauen.” (The glory of your joy, / your perfect contentment / no time will ever see end.); D Major; 2/4.

Oleariius’ Baptist, Trintarian Chorales

Part 1 of Cantata BWV 30 (No 6) closes with the Johann Olearius 1671 chorale, ”Tröstet meine Lieben" (Comfort ye my people, Isaiah 40:1; Stanza 3, Eine Stimme läßt sich hören/ In der Wüste weit und breit" (A voice is heard far and wide in the desert). It has four stanzas but is not found in Das new Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682. The four-stanza, eight line Olearius text (ABABCCDD) was first published in Olearius’ Geistliche Singe-Kunst (Leipzig: 1671) for the John the Baptist feast. The Olearius (1611-1681) BCW Short Biography is found at Information on the melody, “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” (Rejoice greatly, o my soul), and Bach’s other uses is found at BCW,

Anonymous Cantata BWV 220, "Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munden" (Praise him with heart and mouth), has an appropriate setting of the chorale "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul). A cantata Bach kept on hand from Weimar, possibly to revise for the Feast of John the Baptist, is BWV 132, "Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!" (Prepare the ways, prepare the path!) with the scriptural citation of Isaiah and the reference to John the Baptist making this cantata for the Fourth Sunday in Advent.

In 1665, Olearius published a Trinitarian chorale setting of "Gelobet sei der Herr,/ Mein Gott, mein Licht, mein Leben" (Praised be the Lord,/ my God, my light, my life), set to the popular melody, "O Gott, du frommer Gott" (O God, Thou very God). Bach used all five verses, unaltered (per omnes versus) for his 1726 chorale Cantata BWV 129 for the Trinity Sunday Festival. Following the Bendictus dictum, the chorale is a tribute to God the Father, strengthening the Trinitarian concept first articulated in the Gospels at John's baptizing of Jesus in the presence of God the Father and the Holy Spirit. See Francis Browne's BCW English translation of the entire chorale,

Motets & Chorales for Feast of John the Baptist

The Feast of John the Baptist on June 24 in Leipzig was a special musical celebration involving both the mass main service and the following matins vespers. Douglas Cowling's study of the for this day (, shows three introit motets using Psalms 34 and 47 as well as the closing prophecy portion of Zechariah's Canticle and Prophecy (Luke 1:76-79). The chorales to be sung by the congregation are the Hymn of the Day (de tempore) "Herr Christ der einige Gottes Sohn" (Lord Jesus Christ, God's only son), and the Pulpit and Communion Hymns "Gelobet seist du Herr Gott Israel" and "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel" (Zechariah's canticle, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel), and Martin Luther's Catechism baptismal hymn, "Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam" (Christ our Lord to the Jordan came). Zechariah's Prophecy is: "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness, and in the shadow of death, /to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

CHORALES: HYMN OF DAY (de tempore), "Herr Christ der einige Gottes Sohn" [NLGB 231, Catechism Justification; Zahn melody 4297a) CHORALES for Pulpit and Communion Hymns: "Gelobet sei der Herr der Gott Israel" [NLGB No. 150, John's Baptism], "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel" [NLGB No. 151, John's Baptism], and "Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam" [NLGB No. 176, Catechism Baptism],

John the Baptist Chorales

Besides the appointed hymns for the Feast of John the Baptist, Bach in his musical presentations for the festive days occurring during early Trinity Time in Leipzig used related chorales, especially those involving Zechariah's Benediction, "Gelobet sei der Herr, der Gott Israel," various Psalms, the Word of God, and the Catechism theme of Justification, as well as hymns sung in other Saxon congregations. The Hymn of the Day was Luther's "Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam," set as Bach's Chorale Cantata BWV 7, observes Günther Stiller.4 Also in all Leipzig and Dresden hymn schedules was Olearius' "Tröstet meine Lieben" (Comfort ye, my people), in Cantata BWV 30, and "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren" (Now praise the Lord, my soul), closing Cantata BWV 167, sung also in Weißenfels.

Other, related chorales Bach sanctioned in performance include: "Von Gott will ich nicht laßen" (I shall not abandon God), Telemann TVWV 1:596/3; "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt/ Menschlich Natur und Wesen" (Through Adam's fall is wholly corrupted/ Man's nature and character), Telemann TVWV 1:596/6; "Jesu, meine Freude" (Jesus my joy), Picander Cantata text P-46; "Gelobet sei der Herr, / Mein Gott, mein Licht, mein Leben" (Praised be the Lord, / my God, my light, my life), Chorale Cantata BEWV 129; Luther's "Gott sei gelobet und gebenedeiet" (May God be praised and blest), plain Chorales BWV 322-23; and the versatile Communion chorale melody, "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul).

John the Baptist Cantatas, Cantata 30

Bach’s Cantata 30 and its secular version BWV 30a are discussed in Julian Mincham’s Commentary introduction ( << There are three extant cantatas for the Feast of John the Baptist of which C 30 was the last to be written. Originally believed to have been composed as a secular cantata and archived as C 30a it was, Alfred Dürr suggests, adapted for liturgical use with newly composed recitatives and possibly first performed in 1738 (p 691-2).Details of the structure and libretto of the initial work may be found in Dürr.5

C 167 (vol 1 chapter 7) is the earliest of this trio of works and certainly the slightest. It is noteworthy, however, for being one of the first new cantatas that Bach composed after he had taken up his position at Leipzig and also for the ravishing duet with oboe da caccia obbligato. C 7 is the third cantata of the second cycle (vol 2 chapter 4), the opening fantasia standing out not only for its power and emotional intensity, but also because it is unique in having the chorale (an interestingly archaic melody) sung by the tenors. C 167 incorporated a mere five movements, C 7 seven. By comparison C 30 has twelve, very near the upper limit for a Bach cantata.

C 30a was an obsequious work written in the fawning traditions of the time to pay homage to a nobleman taking over his estate (Dürr: 883). In C 30 the conventional expressions of praise are directed, instead, towards the Almighty. It has been noted previously in these pages that Bach, like most ′jobbing′ composers of the time, found little in which to differentiate between the homage paid to earthly and divine rulers. In the longer term, one obviously would have been more important than the other, although presumably it would have been impolitic and tactless to say so. But the general public required much the same sort of support and protection from both mortal and divine sovereigns and that made life a little easier for a composer of Bach′s insight when adapting the music conceived for one to the service of the other.

C 30a hardly warrants an individual essay of its own since all of the major movements occur either in C 30 (nos 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9) or in C 210 (no 11) and discussions of them may be found here or in chapter 73 of vol 1. It includes, however, six additional recitatives for all four voices, the first and last of which combine them, uniquely in the secular cantata canon, in four-part harmony. All are secco except for the final one which uses the upper strings to underline mention of flashes of lightening and fire. The odd mixture of allegorical figures (Fate, Fortune and Time) with a personalised river (the Elster) would seem to indicate a rapid cobbling together of ideas for the almost non-existent plot.

As mentioned above, Dürr suggests that the secular version came first; he dates C 30a from 1727 and C30 the following year (883 and 692). This would be the normal progression of events since Bach’s practice was, in almost every known example, to sanctify secular music rather than the reverse. Without definitive primary information, the hastily conceived plot of C 30a and the minimum of musical alterations in the paraphrasing of the substantive movements might lead some to suppose that the more convincing religious work may have been the original model. However, in this essay it is assumed that the secular cantata preceded that for services.

Cantata 30 Dance Settings

Bach’s Cantata 30 dance setting are commented on briefly in John Eliot Gardiner’s liner notes to the Bach Cantata 2000 Pilgrimage recording.6 <<Many years later in 1738 Bach adapted a recent bipartite serenata, ‘Angenehmes Wiederau’ (BWV 30a) with a text by Picander, to celebrate St John the Baptist’s day: Freue dich, erlöste Schar, BWV 30. Its opening and closing chorale words are fitting as a welcome ode to Christ’s prophet. Huge energy and fizz is generated in Bach’s most brilliant, ceremonial manner. The Loblied announced by the bass (No.3) is also stirring, a sturdy G major passepied with garlands of triplets passed from one string line to another and, for good measure, a written-out cadential flourish for the bass soloist before the da capo. This is one of four excellent arias: a spirited E minor gigue (No.10) for soprano and violins (we used three) and a second bass aria in B minor, this time with solo violin and oboe d’amore with full strings (No.8), and – the pick of them all – an enchanting gavotte for alto, flute and muted violins, with pizzicato lower strings (No.5). Everything is fresh and new about this number, from its unusual ground plan of two eight-bar instrumental strophes, both repeated, to its syncopated theme and its boogieing triplets. Even to a congregation well used after fifteen years to Bach’s habit of weaving gigues, gavottes and bourrées into his church music, its sheer cheek and elegant cool must have raised eyebrows, and, one hopes, caused his first listeners to smile. It is the perfect riposte to those who might claim, even for the blink of an eyelid, that Bach is dull and heavy.

Cantata 30 Background, Parody Process

Background on Cantata 30 as well as the parody process, the text and musical description are provided in Klaus Hofmann’s 2013 liner notes too the Masaaki Suzuki BIS recording.7 << Free dich, erlöste Schar, BWV 30, Rejoice, redeemed host. ]This work for the Feast Day of St John the Baptist, 24th June, the annual celebration of the birth of the saint, is one of Bach’s late church cantatas. It was probably performed on that date in 1738, in Leipzig. As so often with the sacred music from his late period, here too Bach turned to an earlier work: in every important respect it is a parody. The origins of this cantata take us back to the spring of 1737 and to a specific individual: Count Johann Christian von Hennicke (1681−1752). The Count had just acquired the estate of Wiederau, southwest of Leipzig, an event that was celebrated on 28th September 1737 with a musical tribute by Bach to the new Lord of Wiederau. The text is by the versatile poet Christian Friedrich Henrici, known as Picander (1700−64). In the tried and tested manner he had cast the libretto as a dramma per musica in which four allegorical figures – Time, Happiness, the River Elster and Fate – alternate in presenting good wishes. To each of these figures Bach assigned a different vocal register. The colourful scoring includes two transverse flutes, two oboes plus three trumpets and timpani. And the music is festive and thoroughly secular, often dance-like and in some details not only modern but even fashionable.

It seems to have been Bach’s intention to prepare the cantata for church use with as few compositional alterations as possible. Therefore the formal outline remained the same: the opening chorus returns at the end with just small textual changes, and within this framework recitatives and arias appear in pairs. Four of the five arias were carried over and simply provided with new texts. Also the sequence of the arias – and their vocal and instrumental configurations – was retained. The only significant formal alteration was the insertion of the chorale verse ‘Eine Stimme lässt sich hören’ (‘A voice makes itself heard’, from the hymn Tröstet, tröstet, meine Lieben [Comfort, comfort ye my people] by Johann Olearius, 1671), which divides the cantata in two and thus creates the usual break for the sermon. Apparently Bach originally wanted to retain the music of the recitatives as well, merely exchanging the texts; at least, for these movements too the (unknown) librettist provided words that precisely mirrored the original’s metrical patterns. In the end, however, Bach decided to write new pieces.

In terms of content, the text orients itself around the readings for St John the Baptist’s Day: the epistle, Isaiah 40:1−5, with the prophecy relating to John as the precursor of Jesus: ‘The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord’; and to the gospel passage for that day, Luke 1:57−80, telling of the birth of John the Baptist and Zacharias’s song of praise. Various unusual features of this cantata are a consequence of its secular origins – for example the surprising beginning of the introductory chorus, without any instrumental prelude, or the dance-like buoyancy of this light movement, rich in syncopations and with an appealing rondo-like [da-capo] form. In the arias, , Bach sometimes turns to dance patterns. In the bass aria ‘Gelobet sei Gott’ (‘Praise be to God’) his model was the passepied. The alto aria ‘Kommt, ihr angefochtnen Sünder’ (‘Come, ye troubled sinners’) is based on a gavotte, although its dance rhythms are considerably reshaped with melodic syncopations and triplets. The second bass aria, ‘Ich will nun hassen’ (‘Now I want to hate’ ), has march-like characteristics, combined with the frequent use of the then fashionable ‘Lombard slides’ (two demisemiquavers plus a dotted quaver). With its agile figurations the soprano aria ‘Eilt, ihr Stunden’ (‘Hasten, ye hours’) is reminiscent of a gigue, a form that was then popular as a concluding movement. It is remarkable that Bach omitted the trumpets and timpani that were present in the opening and closing choruses of the secular original version []. This was easily accomplished, as they did not present any thematic material, but it remains surprising because the Feast of St John was in those days an important feast. Admittedly, however, Bach’s other two Leipzig cantatas for this day, Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe (You People, Glorify God’s Love, BWV167) and Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam (Christ Our Lord Came to the Jordan, BWV7), also omitted these instruments.>>
Klaus Hofmann 2013 [Note: BWV 167 has a clarino part in the canto of the closing chorale (no. 6)].

Bach’s Progressive Style, Saxon Court

In the second half of the 1730s, Bach’s compositional interest turned to progressive style using popular dances and Lombard rhythm (source, Cantata 30 BCML Discussion Part 2 (November 25, 2008): << Where is Sebastian's sacred music in the second half of the 1730s? Specifically, between the St. Matthew Passion definitive version of 1736 and the thwarted revival of the St. John Passion in 1739. For three years there is virtually nothing. Yes, some 12 sacred service cantatas are revived, but dated vaguely between 1736 and 1740. There are a handful of Latin Mass movements, including the Missae: Kyrie-Gloria BWV 233-236, as well as the publication of the Clavier Übung III (German Organ Mass & Catechism Chorales) in 1739. There are no documented performances of annual Passions on Good Friday or sacred cantatas for the annual installation of the Leipzig Town Council. Bach is on an extended Cantor's Holiday and assumes the sole role of Saxon Court Composer!

In fact there are only two "new" works whose dates are documented during this half-decade, besides Cantata BWV 206, "Schleicht, spielende Wellen, und murmelt gelinde," for August's birthday, Oct. 7, 1736. The two are: Cantata BWV 30a, "Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich in deinen Auen!," Sept. 28. 1737, a homage serenade, text by Picander; and Cantata BWV Anh. 13, "Willkommen! Ihr herrschenden Gotter der Erden!," April 28, 1738, a homage serenade for the visiting Saxon Court, text by J. C. Gottsched, all music lost.

The record shows Bach with at least five significant dealings with representatives of the Dresden Court: Count Joachim Friedrich von Flemming (1665), his brother Count Jakob Heinrich von Flemming (1667-1728), Prime Minister Heinrich von Brühl (1700-1763), Gottfried Lange (1672-1748); and the Lord of the Manor at Wiederau, Johann Christian von Hennicke (OCC:JSB, Wolff JSB:TLM, and Bach's Ch). Pleased with Cantata 30a, Hennicke in 1738 also commissioned Cantata BWV Anh. 13.

Bach probably had much time to plan out these two occasional, utility pieces, BWV 30a and Anh. 13. Both are described as progressive works with texts by well-known local poets, and the two render tribute to members of the secular elite. Both probably required large instrumental forces (Bach’s Collegium musicum) and the music demonstrates Bach's "patterns of `reinvention'." Cantata BWV 30a was turned into sacred Cantata BWV 30 - one of Bach's last "original" sacred efforts -- for the Feast of John the Baptist, probably performed the next year, on June 26, 1738.

The most obvious characteristics of the five progressive lyric movements common to Cantata BWV 30a and its parodied BWV 30 are dance-like rhythms and the related Lombard rhythm. An examination of the extant homage serenade BWV 30a shows Bach's most extensive use of progressive style, according to Gerhard Herz in his 1978 definitive study, "Lombard Rhythm in Bach's Vocal Music.” 8 He says Cantata BWV 30a "can conceivably be called the most modern among Bach's surviving cantatas." The opening chorus "belongs to the syncopated style of which Mattheson had said `which nowadays is the highest fashion'" ("Der volkommrnr Capellmeister," 1739). The fifth movement "is similarly saturated with syncopations which are later joined by Lombard figures." The second bass aria [no. 8] has "one of the most conspicuous examples of Lombard rhythm.”

Herz compares BWV 30a with the similarly progressive but lost Cantata BWV Anh. 13, cited above. Herz speculates that the "presence of two generations of the Royal House of Saxony . . . may well have inspired Bach to converse with his illustrious guests in the most up to date and fashionable style of the time." Concludes Herz: "The chronological proximity of the Wiederau Cantata to the lost cantata of 1738 and the fact that both Mizler and Burnbaum did not make use of it in their attempts to refute Scheibe's critical arguments, should allow us to deduce that Cantata BWV Anh. 13 was even more up to date, more lavish in its use of short-long and Lombard (reverse-dotted) rhythms and syncopation than the Wiederau Cantata BWV 30a."

The Lombard rhythm, also called "Scottish snap," as a novel mannerism in baroque music was first found in Vivaldi operas in Rome in 1723, according to Herz, p. 234f. Bach initially used this rhythm in the chorale Cantata BWV 114/2, tenor aria, Oct. 1, 1724. Bach also used Lombard inflection in written-out mordents in his "Esurientes" movement of his 1724 Magnificat, BWV 243, and in SMP arias "Erbarme dich," "Buss und Reu," "Blute nur" and "Mache dich." Herz emphasizes that Bach used these early manifestations of Lombard rhythm sparingly and only to "express disturbed emotions such as the despair in BWV 114/2.." In the 1730s, on the contrary, Bach utilized Lombard rhythm to express "joy, pomp and splendor" (p. 241).

Lombard rhythm also is found in the Dresden Masses of the 1730s and probably influenced Bach, most notably in the "Domine Deus" soprano aria of his Dresden Missa, BWV 232I of 1733, says George B. Stauffer in his monograph.9 In Dresden, "lombard figures commonly appear" in Mass passages dealing with Christ's humanity. Interestingly, Bach uses Lombard rhythms most extensively in the 1730s in lyric movements of his secular celebratory cantatas which were then parodied in Feast Day oratorios for Christmas, Easter, and Ascension as well as in the Cantatas BWV 30a, 211, and 206.

Cantata BWV 30a also uses another progressive, instrumental element: the German ceremonial tradition of a large wind group (pairs of flutes, oboes and sometimes bassoons) and brass ensemble of trumpets and timpani, says Stauffer, p. 53. This is most pronounced in the 1730s and 1740s in the Cantatas BWV 30a, BWV 11, BWV 34a, BWV 213, 214, and BWV 215, as Bach made extensive use of his Collegium musicum ensemble.>>

Bach’s Johnnisfest Calendar

There are three diverse, very appealing cantatas for St. John's Day, with a common dance element: intimate solo cantata for four voices, pleasing chorale cantata, and progressive jazzy work. three original cantatas for the Feast of John the Baptist: BWV 167, "Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe" (You people, sing the praises of God's love, 1723); BWV 7, "Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam” (Christ our Lord to the Jordan, 1724); BWV 30, "Freue dich, erlöste Schar" (Rejoice, redeemed host; 1738, possible repeat no later than 1742).

+1723 solo Cantata BWV 167, "Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe" (You people, sing the praises of God's love) is Bach's first solo cantata in his Leipzig cycle, presented on Thursday, June 24, 1723 The text of Bach's first cantata for the Feast of John the Baptist focuses on the Gospel lesson of the Nativity and Zechariah's Song of Praise, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel" (Luke 1:68-75) and the Prophecy that John shall prepare the way of the Messiah. It closes with the Poliander chorale, “Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren” (Now praise, my soul, the Lord), stanza 5, “Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren” (Praise and glory with honour be). See Francis Browne English cantata text translation, BCW,

+1724 chorale Cantata BWV 7, “Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam” (Christ our Lord came to the Jordan) uses text of Martin Luther, paraphrasing Stanzas 2-6 by an anonymous librettist. Cantata 7 is written in traditional chorale cantata near palindrome symmetrical (mirror) form, citing the melody and first and last stanzas in the opening chorus fantasia (Italianate concertante style) and closing plain chorale, and paraphrasing (anonymous) the internal five stanzas in alternating three arias and two recitatives.

None was repeated during Bach's life. But, why such an effort? Another common element? The Feast of St. John is Bach's nameday. A touch of vanity? Why not? The gigue-like character (in 9/8 time) of the soprano aria (BWV 30/10) is similar to the tenor aria from BWV 7 "Des Vaters Stimme liess" - an earlier cantata (1724) also for the Feast of St. John the Baptist - and both arias have similar, lively broken-chord figurations in the string parts, imbuing the music with a joyous exultation (despite the minor keys).” There also is gigue-like character in the opening aria of Bach's other extant St. John's Day solo Cantata BWV 167, Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe," June 24, 1723.

In addition, Bach presented four additional cantatas by other composers that use important chorales: Georg Philipp Telemann’s Cantata "Gelobet sei der Herr, der Gott Israel" (Blessed be the Lord God of Israel), TVWV 1:596 (1725); cousin Johann Ludwig Bach’s Cantata "Siehe ich will meinen Engel senden" (See, I will send my angel), JLB 17, (1726); Stöezel 45, "Es ist in keinem andern Heil, ist auch keen ander Name" (Acts 4:12, Neither is their salvation in any other, for there is none other name) (1736). Schmolck String Cycle, lost; and Stöezel 45, no incipit (Schmolck Names of Christ Cycle, as early as 1737). Also, it is not known if Bach performed BWV 220, "Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munden" (Praise him with heart and mouth, Ps. 109:30) by an unknown composer.

There are three other Bach cantatas with distinct connections to the Feast of John the Baptist: Cantata BWV 132, "Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!" (Prepare the ways, prepare the path!) for the Fourth Sunday in Advent in Weimar; pure hymn chorale Cantata 129, "Gelobet sei der Herr,/ Mein Gott, mein Licht, mein Leben" (Praised be the Lord,/ my God, my light, my life), for Trinity Sunday 1726; and pure hymn chorale Cantata 137, "Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren" (Praise the Lord, the mighty king of honour), for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, August 19, 1725. Like Cantata BWV 129, Cantata BWV 137 was not composed as part of the chorale cantata (second) cycle, 1724-25, but as an afterthought that may have served multiple purposes. Its Old Testament celebratory images of God the Father are not particularly appropriate for a Sunday in middle Trinity Time, although Bach titles the score “Dominica 12 post Trinit.” It may have been performed for the annual Installation of the Leipzig Town Council or served double duty for both services in August 1725.

Cantata 30 Provenance

Thomas Braatz (19 December 2002, ref. NBA I/29), provides Provenance information in BCML Discussion Part 1 (19 December 2002), <<Both autograph score and original set of parts are in the BB and arrived there in 1844 via C. P. E. Bach and Georg Poelchau. The score [D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 44] is a fairly clean copy which, of course, means that Bach copied (did not compose directly) the music from somewhere else (BWV 30a.) In Bach’s hand, the title page reads: “Festo S. Joannis Baptistae | Freue dich erlöste Schaar | a | 4 Voci | 2 Travers | 2 Hautbois | 2 Violini | Viola | e | Continuo | di J:S. Bach.” On top of the 1st page of the score Bach wrote: “J. J. Concerto. Festo Joañis. à 4 Voci. 2 Hautb. 2 Violini, Viola e Cont. | do Bach.” [Notice the missing designation for transverse flutes – C. P. E. Bach later added ‘e se piace a 3 Trombe e Tamburi’] [Karl Richter’s recording [BWV30-4] includes the trumpets,].

The original parts [D-B Mus. ms. Bach St 31, Faszikel 1; SATB bc, scribes Sebastian and Emmanuel] are a real mess as they attempt to reuse the older music parts for BWV 30a while adjusting these parts to the new demands for BWV 30. There is much of interest here (for someone interested) in following the various stages needed in completing a parody while attempting to economize in the effort needed in preparing the music for its new sacred setting.>> Provenance: J. S. Bach - W. F. Bach - C. P. E. Bach - Sing-Akademie zu Berlin - BB (now Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (1855).>> The other three parts sources are: (winds, strings bc; 30a scribe Sebastian, 1737) (Friedemann , 2 trumpets and timpani,1752), and [SATB ripieno strings, bc; J. H. Michel, Emmanuel scribe, after 1768]

In the estate division of 1750, Emmanuel received the score and Friedemann the parts sets, which he later gave to Emmanuel and where they are listed in the latter’s 1790 estate catalogue as his only work for the “Johannisfest” (p.79). Friedemann probably presented Cantata 30 on a feast day in Halle, “probably 1752 or before,” says Daniel R. Melamed in “W. F. Bach’s Halle performances of cantatas by his father.”9 The additional trumpet-timpani parts Friedemann added (printed as Appendix to NBA KB 1/29 (Ibid., see Footnote 1), have a watermark that also is found on a receipt of 22 September 1752, says Melamed. Friedemann also inherited Johannisfest Cantata 167 materials and performed it probably on 26 June 1757 on the 3rd Sunday after Trinity, says Melamed Ibid.). It is possible that Emmanuel performed BWV 30 in Hamburg after 1768 when Michel copied the new parts and where Emmanuel added the title to the score. The original BWV 30a parts for winds, strings, and bc follow Sebastian’s usual parody pattern of simply reusing them in the sacred version with new parts for SATB with the new text and continuo part for the newly-composed recitatives.


1 Cantata 30 BCW Details & Discography, Score Bach Digital, References: BGA V/1 (Cantatas 21-30, Wilhelm Rust 1855) and BGA XXXIV (Anh. Paul Graf Waldrersee, 1887), NBA KB I/29 (John the Baptist, Frieder Rempp, 1984: 5ff), Bach Compendium| BC: G 31, Zwang W 20. See also BCW Cantata 30 source,
2 Paczkowski, Chapter 9, Polish Style in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach, trans. Piotr Szymczak (Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).
3 Chafe, “Aspects of the Liturgical Year,” Analyzing Bach Cantatas, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000: 12f). The Catechism chorales will be examined in the coming BCML Discussions, Weeks of July 9 and 23.
4 Günther Stiller, JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing, 1984: 247).
5Alfred Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005: 880;883).
6 Gardiner notes, BCW; BCW Recording details,
7 Hofmann notes, BCW; BCW Recording details,
8 Herz, Essays on J.S. Bach, Ann Arbor MI: UMI Research Press, 1985: 257ff).
9 Melamed in Bach Studies 2, ed. Malamed (Cambridge University Press, 1995: 108, 216).


To Come: Cantata 30 Notes on the Text with biblical and theological references and allusions, as well as reception history, and Cantata 30a study.


William Hoffman wrote (June 28, 2017):
Cantata 30, ”Freue dich, erlöste Schar," Part 2

For the Feast of John the Baptist on June 24 in Leipzig, Bach very belatedly presented an original work, probably in 1738, Cantata BWV 30, ”Freue dich, erlöste Schar" (Rejoice, redeemed host), emphasizing the theme of praise and thanksgiving for the incarnation/conception messenger. Serendipity enabled Bach to create a progressive work for a member of the Dresden nobility to a Picander drama per musica text and then use the service reading to fashion one of their last musical sermons. “Bach cannot have been alone in nurturing high-standing contacts,” says Peter Williams in his third Bach biography.1

The result was music that “steps over the theatre-church divide” from “What can delight the soul” to music in which “sinners are tempted by the sweet tune to hurry to baptism and their comforting Saviour,” suggests Williams (Ibid.: 386f).

This yielded “several catchy tunes” and “pretty dance arias” and “a startling suave flute [alto gavotte-style, No. 5] aria” (“Kommt, ihr angefochtnen Sünder” [Come, you troubled sinners]) that “could serve many an opera text quite as well as it had served two cantatas already” ( The Bach-Picander collaboration had begin in 1725 when they produced the Shepherds Cantata soon parodied into the Easter Oratorio. It launched the St. Matthew Passion as well as various other profane-sacred renderings for Saxon nobility and Leipzig congregations in oratorios as static opera.

Cantata 30 as their last sacred production was a summary of biblical and theological teachings pleasing to both pietist and orthodox perspectives. The feast day focus centered on the prophet Isaiah (40:1-5) and the Baptist’s father Zechariah’s canticle and prophecy (Luke 1:67-79), with various references to other biblical teachings and Lutheran theological themes. This spiritual tapestry also was woven with the threads of John’s Gospel.

Biblical Foundation

Underlying Cantata 30 is the Christian trinitarian perspective: the Old Testament Hebrew Bible focusing on God the Father with the the coming of the Messiah in Isaiah while the synoptic Gospel of Luke has unique, prophetic announcements and canticles of praise. John’s non-synoptic Gospel covers key events in Jesus’ life, particularly the unique, Jesus Farewell Discourses to his disciples, Chapters 14-17, for the later Easter season. The New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles, attributed to Luke as an extension of his gospel, describes the life of the Christian Church directed by the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Jesus Christ. The succeeding Letters of the Apostles by Paul and other apostles provide advice on the conduct of the new church members, as well as the concluding Book of Revelation with its symbolic affirmation of sacrifice and reward in the midst of Roman oppression.

The Gospel of John begins with the concept of the Trinity — God the creator and father, the son known as the word and light, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as sanctifier and protector — with John the Baptist sent by God (verses 6-9): “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John [the Baptist]. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” The son is described in verse 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John’s Gospel describes Jesus’ baptism in verses 1:32-34: “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”

Notes on Text, Music

Joy (Freue) is the predominate mood in the music and text, appropriate for both the secular occasion and the sacred setting of the canticle blessing (Bendictus), “Gelobet sei Gott” (Praised be God) of Zachariah. The pervasive dance element is reflected in Luke 1:41 (KJV): “ And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe [John the Baptist] leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.” This celebration is set in pastorale fields in both cantatas, emphasized in the chorus and the dance-style arias.

The Picander theme of summoning and hastening, sounded in the Johannine Easter Oratorio dicta, “Kommt, eilet und laufet” (Come, hurry and run), is repeated in the three movements of Cantata 30, based on various biblical references. Described in Melvin P. Under’s cantata text handbook are the following movements:2 No. 4, alto recitative, “John the Baptist: A herald announcing the King”; No. 5, alto aria, “Invitation of grace is offered by the Savior”; and No. 10, soprano aria, “Longing for heavenly pastures, tents of Cedar.” The texts is No. 4 are: “He calls, do not delay, “Hasten after this voice” with the biblical admonition, “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (Heb. 4:7, RSV, based on the day’s epistle, Isaiah 40:3, voice in the wilderness). In No. 5 gavotte-style is the call to “come,” “hasten and run, you Children of Adam,” relates to the sheep gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) as well as the Luther OT-NT law-gospel contrast, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 53:6). In No. 10 gigue-style ( is the summons to “Hasten, ye hours, come near” (Phil., 1:21-23, living and dying in Christ), in order to “Bring me soon into yonder pastures” (Psalm 103:3, Isaiah 60:7, and Rev. :17) with the allusion to eternity as the fold’s pasture. The pasture or field also is referred to in No. 4 as eternity and the gavotte-style closing (No. 12) repeat chorus, “Rejoice in Zion’s pastures,” also referred to as “Heavenly Jerusalem.”

The alto aria (no. 5) William singled out above as encouraging baptism and the Savior takes a pietistic tack with bits emphasis on the sacrificial atonement, best found in the St. Matthew Passion, which also is set to striking dance-styles in its arias and choruses. Beyond the reference to the Christians as the “children of Adam” are they as the lost sheep that the Good Shepherd will seek out, for which he must be crucified. They are urged to rise up from “sin’s sleep” (Sündenschlafe). The same term is the dicta of Johann Rist’s chorale, “Wach auf, o Mensch, vom Sünden-Schlaf” Wake up, O man, from sinful sleep,) verse 13 of his chorale, ”O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort” (O Eternity, thou word of thunder). It is found in Bach’s St. Mark Passion (Picander text) after Jesus tells his disciples at the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:27): “ Ye will in this night all be annoyed because of me. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter.’ But after I am risen up, I will go before you into Galilee” (SMP music, The term is a reference to Eph. 5:14, “Therefore it says, ‘Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’.”

The Cantata 30 Johannisfest references to the day’s epistle, Isaiah 40:1-5, are particularly found in the Johann Olearius’ chorale (No. 6) closing Part 1, 1671 "Tröstet meine Lieben" (Comfort ye my people, Isaiah 40:1); Stanza 3, Eine Stimme läßt sich hören/ In der Wüste weit und breit" (A voice is heard far and wide in the desert), This is a paraphrase of the epistle, emphasizing the voice in the desert that prepares the way (paths straight, valleys filled, mountains low), repeated in Luke 3:2 as the Baptist goes forth to begin conversion/initiation also found in Matthew 3:1-6.

The focus of Cantata 30 shifts in Part 2 from the Isaiah prophecy to the Gospel reading, Zachariah’s Benedictus Blessing canticle, which is typical in Lutheran cantatas, particularly the Rudolstadt two-part texts in his and Johann Ludwig Bach cantatas Sebastian presented in his third cycle in 1726, most notably, in Johannisfest Cantata JLB-17, “Siehe, ich will mein Engel sender” (Behold, I will by angel send (Exodus 23:20). Thus Sebastian replaced this music with his own setting a dozen years later. The blessing begins with the bass recitative (No. 7), “Individual’s response to God who fulfilled promise,” says Unger, citing Like 1:68, 72-73, 76: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people . . . to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, / and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, . . . And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways . . . .” The Picander text refers to the Christian keeping of the covenant to achieve salvation by living in “holiness and godly fear,” says Unger. The bourée-like bass aria (No. 8, describes “Forsaking what God hates, loving what he loves,” says Unger. The references are to Lk. 14:25-27, Mt. 6:24, 1 Jn. 2 15-17, James 4:4, Eph. 4:30, and 1 Pet 2:1.

The soprano recitative (No. 9) describes “Resolve to serve & praise despite fickle tendencies,” says Unger. Despite human inconstancy and weakness, day of service follows night (ref. Jer. 33:19-21, Joshua 24:15) and the believer affirms: “Thee shall my heart as well as my mouth exhale with well-deserved praise according to the covenant made with thee,” Unger says. There reference here is to Rom. 10:9-10, Ps. 103:17-18). The mouth (lips) reference is to Ps. 34:1, “. . . His praise shall continually be in my mouth” and Heb. 13:15, “Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” The term “Herz als Mund” (heart as mouth) also is found as the chorus dicta opening Cantata 147, “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben / Muss von Christo Zeugnis geben” (Heart and mouth and deed and life / must bear witness to Christ,” Rom. 10:9, 10), Salomo Franck text), presented as the Feast of the Visitation of Mary, 2 July 1723 and repeated 1736-40.

This recitative (No. 9) is a parody with the same dictum as the secular work (BWV 30a/8): Time: “Und obwohl sonst der Unbestand” (And although otherwise inconstancy). The gratitude is quite similar: “is closely related and united to me, / I now make this promise: / as often as dawn heralds day, /as long as one day follows another, / for so long with stubborn determination / my Hennicke, I want in the future / to build your prosperity on my wings. / Finally eternity, / when it has set limits to me, / will after me watch over your prosperity.” Secular reference to “my Hennicke, I want in the future” becomes “my God, through your Spirit” and is followed by the general sacred reference to the Christian covenant of belief in the Trinity with the reward of eternal life, addressed at the close of the final recitative (no. 11).

The tenor recitative (No. 11) describes “Patience! Soon life’s imperfections gone in heaven,” says Unger. It is the gospel allusion (Luke 1:78-79), “the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Like the bass aria (No. 8), Picander draws on various interpretive passages from the epistles (2 Tim. 4:6-7, Rom. 13:11-12, Rom. 8:19, 21-24, Rom 7:24-25 and 1 Cor.15:53), which would be found near the end of many sermons to bolster the gospel. One possible biographical note: the text speaks of being free from “Plag” (vexation), which could be a reference to Bach’s complaint in 1730 against the governing Town Council that causes much vexation! The recitative concludes with the assurance, “From this death-of-the body art set-free / then will no distress torment thee any longer.” Its biblical reference is to Rev. 7:10, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Cantata 30 closes with the same chorus music set to a different text, bringing the word full circle. “Rejoice in Zion’s tents, O redeemed multitude” opening the musical sermon that now concludes “Rejoice in Zion’s pastures (Heavenly Jerusalem)” with a “sanctified multitude.” The “immovable tent” (Isaiah 33:20) or foundation and the covenant now spread wide to the New Jerusalem of heaven. The initial bass recitative and aria (nos. 2 and 3) portray “Salvation, for which thew fathers longed, has come,” and “John the Baptist: Praise God for sending his servant,” says Unger. The bass recitative emphasizes the law of deliverance from sin and death, leading to rejoicing with a song of praise to God. The succeeding bass aria ( begins with Zachariah’s new Benedictus (Luke 1:68): “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel” and alludes to the next line, “for he has visited and redeemed his people” through the promise to the fathers (Luke 1:72). Now, the faithful servant, John the Baptist, prepares the way of the Lord, analogous to God’s covenant with Abraham and his sons as well as the people for a thousand generations to keep God’s commandments in exchange for God’s protection.

The original music, Cantata BWV 30a, "Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich in deinen Auen!" (Charming Wiederau, take pleasure in your meadows), may have been conceived with the Feast of John the Baptist in mind: the sense of celebration with dance, the setting of a pastoral land with a river flowing through it, the thanksgiving the people give to the lord of the estate, anthe interplay of the four characters of the River Elster (narrator, tenor), soprano (Time), alto (Fortune) and bass (Fate), expressing and preserving similar sentiments and affections. At the same time, the conversion of this drama per musica into an oratorio-like mini-drama, without the biblical narrative with chorus, seems entirely appropriate since the Gospel for the Johannisfest lacks a narrator and participants as found in the Christmas, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost stories. The same can be said of the Gospels for the other major saint’s feast in Bach’s time, Michael and All Angels, as well as much of the Marian feasts with announcements and canticles to celebrate the Visitation (July 2), the Purification (February 2), and the Annunciation (March 25).

Reception history. Aware of the shared, common music of the two cantatas, BWV 30(a), Bach scholars initially appeared to accept this progressive music while questioning the new text-underlay attributed to Picander, often an embarrassing persona to them. Such also was the initial reception of the Christmas Oratorio in the mid-19th century, with its drama per musica wholesale borrowings. Gradually, parody itself began to shed its negative connotations in the past half-century while Bach’s librettists and parodists are being identified and placed within their historical and literary contexts. Now, parody and more complex composition processes such as contrafaction are being explored in depth as legitimate expressions of invention and transformation, as well as adaptation, arrangement and reconstruction — involving Bach, the consummate, calculating borrower!

Despite its musical appeal, secular homage cantata 30s carries typical textual baggage. The verse “is poetically unremarkable, relying on such predictable poetic tropes as stock expressions of praise and admiration for the new owner and his property in Wiederau . . . and wishes of good fortune,” says Szymon Paczkowski in “The Story of an “Aria di Tempo Polonaise’ for Joachim Friedrich von Flemming.” 3 The characters Time, Fortune and Fate arrive as guests before the lord of the manor and are encouraged by the host, the River, to settle in this happy spot and “to care of it for the glory of Hennicke’s name.” Each promises in its own way to care for the estate and its owners and “hope that Hennicke’s good fortune will also be pleasing to Augustus III himself,” who chose Saxon nobility in Leipzig. For BCW Details and see; for the text and Francis Browne’s English translation, see BCW,; recording, including polonaise aria omitted from BWV 30, (polonaise,

Hennicke undoubtedly was pleased and commissioned Bach, with a text from Gottsched, to create an evening serenade for the Augustus III next visit, 28 April 1738, BWV Anh. 13, “Willkommen! Ihr herrschenden Götter der Erden!” (Be welcome, ye sovereign immortals terrestrial!, Z. Philip Ambrose). Only the text survives (see BCW Details,

Cantata 30a Provenance. The score of Cantata 30a in Bach’s hand (D-B Mus. ms. Bach P 43, Faszikel 1) survives with the provenance: J. S. Bach - C. P. E. Bach? - G. Poelchau - BB (now Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (1841), Only the orchestral parts of Cantata 30a in Bach’s hand survived (D-B Mus. ms. Bach St 31, Faszikel 2), salvaged for the Cantata 30 parody performance with new parts; Provenance: J. S. Bach - W. F. Bach - C. P. E. Bach - Sing-Akademie zu Berlin - BB (now Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (1855),


With Cantata 30 in the late 1730s, Bach apparently composed no further cantatas for regular church services. Cantata 30 filled the gap in the third cycle for this important feast day of John the Baptist. The other two musical sermons are 1723 austere solo Cantata BWV 167, "Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe" (You people, sing the praises of God's love), and 1724 chorale Cantata BWV 7, "Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam” (Christ our Lord came to the Jordan). All three have distinct structures and moods while each has at least one dance-style setting. Cantatas 30 and 167 focus on the day’s Gospel, Luke 1:57-80, the Baptist’s Nativity and father Zachariah’s canticle and prophecy. Cantata 7 is a typical chorale cantata setting, here Martin Luther’s seven-stanza baptism sermon hymn on the actual baptism in the river Jordan and its meaning (original hymn text, see BCW


1 Peter Williams, Bach: A Musical Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2016: 342, 386f).
2 Melvin P. Unger, Handbook to Bach’s Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Illusions (Lanham Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1996: 104ff). Martin Petzoldt’s biblical-theological Bach Kommentar: Vol. 3, Passions, Masses, Motets, and Cantatas for Various Occasion (NBA I/41) is due to be published this year. Leading contemporary Bach theologian, Petzoldt focuses on the theology found in Johann Olearius’ commentary found in Bach’s library and text settings; Bach in Cantata 30 uses the Olearius John the Baptist chorale, "Tröstet meine Lieben"(Comfort ye my people, Isaiah 40:1).
3 Szymon Paczkowski, Chapter 9, Polish Style in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach, trans. Piotr Szymczak (Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017: 230f).

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 30, 2017):
Cantatas BWV 30 & BWV 30a - Revised & updated Discographies

The Secular Cantata BWV 30a "Angenehmes Wiederau, freue dich in deinen Auen!" (Charming Wiederau, take pleasure in your meadows!) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for acquisition of a manor and state at Wiederau by Johann Christian von Heinnicke, a protégé of Count Brühl in 1737. The cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes, oboe d'amore, 2 violins, viola, organ & continuo.
The Sacred Cantata BWV 30 "Freue dich, erlöste Schar" (Rejoice, redeemed host) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for the Feast of Nativity of St John the Baptist of 1738 (or one of the following years). This two-part cantata is scored for soprano, alto, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes, oboe d'amore, 2 violins, viola, organ & continuo. Most of BWV 30's musical material is borrowed from BWV 30a. However, several recordings "borrow" also the instrumentation of BWV 30 from BWV 30a.

The discography pages of both cantatas on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Cantata BWV 30 -Complete Recordings (19):
Cantata BWV 30 - Recordings of Individual Movements (23):
Cantata BWV 30a - Complete Recordings (4):
Cantata BWV 30a - Recordings of Individual Movements (3):

The revised discographies includes many listening/watching options as part of the recording detail. When you click a link to video/audio, a new window will open above the discography page and the video/audio will start to play.

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

I believe these are the most comprehensive discographies of both cantatas. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 30 and/or BWV 30a 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 these cantatas in the BCML (4th round):





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Last update: Monday, September 11, 2017 15:24