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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 4
Christ lag in Todesbanden
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Discussions in the Week of May 30, 2010

William Hoffman wrote (May 27, 2010):
Cantata BWV 4 and Easter Season

(I'm posting this now since I will be gone beginning tomorrow for a long Memorial (Whisun) weekend in northern New Mexico, hiking the Continental Divide Trail in the Rocky Mountains near the Benedictine Christ in the Desert Monastery along the Chama River.)

Bach's Cantata BWV 4, "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" (Christ lies in death's bondage), is a major composition in several significant respects. Based upon Martin Luther's Easter Sunday chorale, it is music of the highest quality, is probably Bach's first surviving vocal work, and is the first to establish his canon of "well-ordered church music to the glory of God."

The 1707-08 product of a 22-year-old church organist in the Thuringian village of Mühlhausen, this cantata is a symmetrically-structured (palindrome) masterpiece in Bach's concise early style. The literal use of a well-known Lutheran hymn in chorale-variation style is fashioned with the ingredients of the new form of Italian-flavored operatic church works - the German cantata genre that was to flourish for almost a half-century.

In a larger sense, Cantata No. 4 sets the appropriate tone and is emblematic of the final liturgical season of the first half of the church year, observing and celebrating the most meaningful, timely, or <de tempore> events, in the life of Jesus Christ. Utilizing Luther's melody and entire accompanying text of the Reformation chorale, it represents a mixed somber mood moving toward affirmation.

Easter Sunday: BWV 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden (Chorale Cantata)
Performances: 4/24/1707 or 4/8/1708; 4/29/1724; 4/1/1725, ?University Church, ?partial); ?4/3/1725, Easter Tuesday. Pure-hymn text (per omnes versus), in old style (Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Kuhnau); all movements in E Minor; seccession of beauties, rare unity, palindrome form.
Sources: (1) score (lost, ?WFB, sold 1774) (2) parts set (Thomas School, Cycle 2)
Literature: BG I (Hauptmann 1851), NBA KB I/9 (Dürr 1986); miniature score Eulenberg (Ochs 1911);
Schering 1952; Whittaker I:207-13; Robertson 106ff; Daw 33ff, Young 52-54, Dürr 262-66, OCC:JSB 100f.
Special Edition: G. Herz, JSB: Cantata 4 (Norton Critical Scores, 1967)
Text: Luther (7 stanzas, 1524): BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale012-Eng3.htm
Forces: SATB, 4 vv (1725, tp. 3 tb.), 2 vns, 2 vas., bc. (bn., vc., cb., org.)
Movements: sinfonia (Mvt. 1), 2 fantasia choruses (Mvt. 2, Mvt. 5), 3 choruses (Mvt. 3, Mvt. 4, Mvt. 7), B. aria (Mvt. 6), chorale (Mvt. 8, ? 1724):
Mvt. 1. Sinfonia (tutti orchestra)
Mvt. 2. Fant (tutti): Christ may is death bondage (v. 1)
Mvt. 3. Chs. (4 vv., tp.tb): The death . . . no innocent was found (v. 2)
Mvt. 4. Chs. (T, str):: Jesus . . . in our stead has come (v. 3)
Mvt. 5. Fant. (4 vv): It was wonderful light (motet-like) (v. 4)
Mvt. 6. Aria (B, str): Here is the true Easter lamb (lamentoso) (v. 5)
Mvt. 7. Chs. (ST): So celebrate we the high festival (v. 6)
Mvt. 8. Cle. (tutti): We eat and live well in the true Passover (v. 7,

For the BCW discussion of Cantata BWV 4: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV4.htm

For the latest in-depth analysis of Cantata BWV 4, Julian Mincham, Cantatas of JSB:
http://www.jsbachcantatas.com/documents/chapter-42-bwv-4--42.htm

The Easter season is the final, transitional church season leading to the second half of the church year with its omnes temore or timeless treatment of Christian themes and revelation of the teachings of Christianity's savior. Thus, the Easter season reflects a liminal, "in-between" time on the threshold to a greater understanding of the meaning and purpose. Bach's response was appropriately subdued as he deliberately crafted original, mostly imitate music, usually with only a closing chorale.

Liturgically, the Easter season emphasizes Christian witness and the related themes of freedom and discipleship, established on Easter Sunday in Mark's earliest, abbreviated account, 16.1-8. The themes sounded in the appointed Gospel stories and Epistle teachings portray examples of optimistic proclamation and testimony. They are established in the three-day Festival of Easter (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday), for the "Octave" of Easter, the first eight days ending with the First Sunday After Easter, also known as Quasimodogeniti Sunday, for the opening words of the Introit, "As newborn babes" (which desire the sincere milk of the word).

The Easter Monday gospel, Luke 24: 13-35, depicts the followers Walk to Emmaus, and the Easter Tuesday gospel, Luke 24: 36-47, Jesus appears to the Disciples. The first two days of the Easter Festival had highly structured liturgy while the third day used the ordinary liturgy. Gradually since Bach's time, Easter Tuesday and then Monday disappeared from the festival celebration but the gospel readings are retained in the three-cycle readings for Easter established by Vatican II a half-century ago and adopted by mainline Protestant denominations.

Interestingly, this closing season on Christ's life, with the feasts of his resurrection, ascension, and the descent of the holy spirit, has fewer service cantatas than the other <de tempore> seasons. Bach's output during both the Easter season festivals and the Sunday services fell sharply. The first event, Easter Sunday, sets the tone in the succeeding cycles and yields no original composition in Leipzig, as Bach scholar Alfred Dürr points out (<Cantatas of JSB> 2005: 263). He says that the history of Protestant church music and Bach's compositions reveal a "rich store" of Passion music "but relatively few outstanding pieces of Easter Music."

For Easter Sunday, beginning on April 9, 1724, his first year in Leipzig, Bach presented music already on hand, Cantatas BWV 4 and BWV 31, and in succeeding years turned to compositions of other composers. He probably originally composed Cantata 4 for Easter Sunday, April; 4, 1707, possibly as his test piece, at Mühlhausen. He composed Cantata BWV 31, for Easter Sunday, April 21, 1715, in Weimar. In 1725 he performed the Easter Oratorio BWV 249 as a parody of a royal birthday serenade presented 31 days earlier on February 23. Easter Sunday Cantata BWV 15 is one of 21 cantatas of his cousin Johann Ludwig that Bach presented in 1726 during his third cycle. The other "new" Easter Sunday works are by Telemann, Cantata BWV 160 (TWV 1:877) and the Easter motet, TWV 8:15.

EASTER SUNDAY (NBA KB I/1, Dürr 1986, BWV 4, BWV 31)
Gospel, Mark 16:1-8 (Resurrection); Epistle, I Cor. 5:7-8 (Christ our Passover)
Date(cycle)/ BWV/ Title/ Type (Note)
?4/24/1707 or 4/4/1708 BWV 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden chorale (Luther)
4/21/1715 BWV 31 Der Himmel lacht! die Erde Jubilieret chorus (Franck)
4/9/1724 (BWV 4) Christ lag in Todesbanden (repeat, revisedf)
and (BWV 31) Der Himmel lacht! die Erde Jubilieret (repeat, rev., ?excerpts)
4/1/1725 BWV 249 Kommt, eilet & laufet, ihr flüchtigen Füße ("cantata," parody)
4/3/1725 (2) (BWV 4) Christ lag in Todesbanden (repeat, ?partial
and? (TWV 8:15) Der Herr ist König Telemann motet
?1725-6 BWV 160 (TWV 1:877) Ich weiß, daß nmein Erlöster lebt Telemann cantata
4/21/1726(3) BWV 15(JLB-21) Denn du wirst meine Seele J.L. Bach cantata
4/15/1729 (P-28) Es hat überwunden der Löwe (Picander, text only)
3/25/1731 (BWV 31) Der Himmel lacht! die Erde Jubilieret repeat
4/10/1735 ? BWV 249 BC D8 Kommt, eilet & laufet, ihr flüchtigen Füße Oratorio (?interim)
4/10/35 ? BWV 160 (JLB-21) Denn du wirst meine Seele (?repeat)
4/6/1738 BWV 249 (c) BC D8 Kommt, eilet & laufet, ihr flüchtigen Füße (repeat)
c1743-46 BWV 249 (c) BC D8 Kommt, eilet & laufet, ihr flüchtigen Füße (repeat)
4/6/1749 BWV 249 (c) BC D8 Kommt, eilet & laufet, ihr flüchtigen Füße (repeat)

Symptomatic of Bach's diminution of original music in Leipzig in the last half of the 1720s is his divergence from the completion of the final one-fifth of his 1724-25 chorale cantata cycle in the 1725 concluding Easter season. Bach produced fewer total cantatas with large musical forces and festival works, in comparison with the Christmas season, which also had three major festivals (Christmas, New Year, Epiphany). The pattern shows Bach intending to resume chorale cantata composition with sketches for several mostly opening movements, then setting aside these materials. In the first cycle Bach had the luxury of reusing Weimar works and sometimes resorting to double performance of two cantatas or longer two-part cantatas.

The evidence for the Easter Season and subsequent diminution is accumulative and unrelenting. One reason perhaps is that Church attendance in Leipzig was greatest during the six services of the 12-day Christmas season, less during the six weeks of 13 services for the Easter season, including the three-day festivals of Easter itself and Pentecost at the conclusion of the season. Further, Bach resorted to recycling whole cantatas by parody during the second and third days of the Easter and Pentecost Festivals. Bach also recycled individual movements from cantatas and concerti, primarily in his hybrid third cantata cycle while using music for one-third of the services from cantatas of cousin J.L. Bach. Bach also began to turn to cantatas of other composers, initially the popular Georg Philippe Telemann and later during the so-called Picander cycle of 1728-29, added other works of well-known and prolific contemporaries such as Stözel, Fasch, and Graupner.

The reasons for fewer original compositions at Easter season are numerous and pragmatic. In the 1725 pre-Easter Season of the six weeks of Lent when no service music was allowed, Bach mined a new mother lode of secular works which he skillfully parodied into the beginnings of his Christological cycle of major church works, while utilizing the last of his supply of Weimar church music for a new version of his St. John Passion at Good Friday Vesper Services. Meanwhile, Bach had set aside his major new annual Matthew Passion for another year and began collecting materials from other composers while seeking new cantata texts to sustain his service commitment.

Bach's Calendar Lenten time 1725 shows the following works:

1. Sunday (Estomihi), Feb. 11, Cantata BWV 127.

2. Monday, Feb. 12, lost sacred wedding Cantata BWV Anh. 14, "Sein segen fließt daher wie ein Storm," four arias may have been adapted in the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232), says William Scheide. They are opening aria, "His blessings flow" (Ecc. 39:22), as No. 5, "Laudamus Te" for alto and violin; BWV Anh. 14/3, aria "Happy are you" (Ezek 47:1,4), as No. 10, "Quoniam," for bass and horn; Arioso No. 4, "Bitterness withdraws from you" (Ex. 18:25) as No. 22, Benedictus qui venit," for soprano and flute; and Aria No. 6, "So step into paradise" (Gen. 2:11), as No. 18, "Et in Spiritum Sanctum" for bass and two oboes d'amore. While all the music is lost, Bach took the text directly from the Bible, as he had done in some of his earliest cantatas.

3. Friday, Feb. 23, Weissenfels, Shepherd Cantata BWV 249a, "Entfliehet, verschwindet, ihr Sorgen" birthday of Duke Christian (text, Picander), to be parodied as the Easter Oratorio.

4. Sunday (Annunciation), March 25, Cantata BWV 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Mogenstern" (last chorale cantata in Cycle 2, with two horns and oboes da caccia).

5. Good Friday, March 30, St. John Passion, second version with insertions from Weimar Passion music.

6. Easter Sunday, April 1, Easter Oratorio, BWV 249, "Kommt, eilet und laufet" (?text, Picander; performance at Leipzig University Church).

7. Thursday, April 5, Birthday Cantata BWV 36c, "Schwingt freudig euch empor" (for Leipzig University professor, text probably Picander), later parody for the First Sunday in Advent, beginning the church year (and ending with the festive Trinity Sunday).

The Easter season would be a serendipitous situation since Bach was settling into life - personal, professional, social, and musical - in Leipzig. Meanwhile, he encountered two realities: the Thomas Church School term, with all its administrative, non-musical requirements, ended on the first Sunday in June. Meanwhile, the three-week Leipzig annual Spring Fair began after the Easter season. As Cantor at St. Thomas, Bach was expected by the end of the school term to conduct exams, write evaluations and reports, audition choir members, write recommendations, and do inventories of materials, instruments and books. As a prominent member of the community he was expected to participate in and contribute to its vibrant economic, social and cultural life, especially the famous seasonal fairs in this great European trade city.

Bach had begun his tenure at the end of the 1722-1723 term on Sunday, May 30, , the First Sunday after Trinity Sunday (today known as the Second Sunday after Pentecost). Bach needed a break after two intensive years of systematic cantata composition. Gerhard Herz observes in "Toward a New Image of Bach," BACH Vol 11, No. 1, 1971 (Riemenschneider Bach Institute: p. 12): "The second Jahrgang shows the fullest realization of Bach's goal: the chorale cantata (as well-ordered church music). This intensity of production reaches its peak between Christmas, 1724, and Estomihi (February 11), 1725, with fourteen imposing works composed in seven weeks. But after Easter the level begins to decline with solo cantatas and adaptations."

Easter Season (Festivals in Bold Face, Cantata Cycles in parentheses (1):

Easter Sunday, 1st Day of Easter (Resurrection); BWV 4(2), BWV 31 (1), BWV 249 (5), 15-JLB21(3), BWV 160 (?3) (Telemann)
Easter Monday, 2nd Day of Easter (Walk to Emmaus); BWV 66(1), BWV 6(2), JLB 10(3), BWV Anh 190(4)
Easter Tuesday, 3rd Day of Easter (Disciples); BWV 134(1), BWV 145(4), BWV 158 (2), JLB 11(3)
1st Sunday After Easter, Quasimodogeniti, "As newborn babes" BWV 67(1), BWV 42(2), JLB 6(3)
2nd Sunday After Easter, Misericordias, Goodness/tender mercies (Shepherd) BWV 104(1), BWV 85(3), BWV 112(2) JLB 12(3)
3rd Sunday after Easter, Jubilate, "Make a joyful noise"; BWV 12(1), BWV 12(2), BWV 146(3)
4th Sunday after Easter, Kantate, "Sing"; BWV Anh. 191 BWV 166(1), BWV 108 (2), JLB 14(3)
5th Sunday after Easter 5. Rogate "Pray" BWV 86(1), BWV 87(2), JLB deest(3)
Ascension Day (Himmelfahrt) Festo ascensionis Christi BWV 37(1), BWV 128(2), BWV 43(3), BWV 11(5)
6th Sunday after Easter Exaudi "Hear" BWV 44(1), BWV 183(2), no JLB(3)
1st Day of Pentecost (Pfingsten) (Whit Sunday) Pentecost BWV 172(1), BWV 59(1), BWV 74(2), BWV 34(5), BWV 218 (Telemann)
2nd Day of Pentecost Whit Monday BWV 173(1), BWV 68(2), BWV 174(4)
3rd Day of Pentecost Whit Tuesday BWV 174(1), BWV 175(2)

A contributing musical factor, according to various Bach scholars, included Bach's weariness at composing 40 works in the severely-restricting form of the chorale cantata during nine monthly of unrelenting composition of all new works. Both Schweitzer (JS Bach II:245) and Whittaker (Cantatas of JSB I:435f) cite the rigid stanzas of chorale texts, ranging from four to eight, which create monotony among the choruses, arias, and recitatives, especially in da capo arias which need contrasting closing lines in the B section. Further, the chorales stanzas rarely made direct reference to the appointed Gospel or Epistle lessons for the service, despite skillful paraphrasing of the arias and recitatives.

Bach also seemed to have had little interest in the appointed chorales for the Easter season.' He used virtually no Easter season chorales his chorale preludes in the Orgelbüchlein and other collections for the church year (Günther Stiller, JSB & Liturgical Life in Leipzig, pp. 240f). He was simply expected to present setting of chorales appropriate to the season and the appointed gospel. The exception is "Komm heiliger Geist" for Pentecost. The other available chorales were rarely set more than once in the cantatas for this time period. Bach simply may not have been excited to set the Easter season chorales in chorale cantata form.

Fortunately, for Bach, his earliest service cantata compositions for Easter Sunday embraced the seasonal signature hymn, "Christ lays in bondage." Besides treating all seven stanzas with variations on the melody in Cantata BWV 4 for the First Easter Day (Sunday) 1724 and 1725, Bach used it to close Cantata BWV 158 for the Third Easter Day 1725, originally a Marian Feast work which he adapted from Weimar.

Other musical factors could have been Bach's loss of the services of the librettist, who has never been identified. Also, Bach could have been concerned with the quality of the choir, which he finally outlined in his 1730 letter to his employer, the Town Council, on "a well-appointed church music."

In a positive sense, Bach's subsequent compositional practices show that he created more large-scale, "well-appointed" works (he took charge of the Leipzig Collegium musicum in 1729); in the 1730s, he used extensive parody in his Christological feast day oratorios, Mass settings and St, Mark Passion (BWV 247); and produced more works in the progressive style of the gallant and dance forms. Having exploited the instrumental and vocal chorale form more extensively than any other composer, Bach had little more to say about chorale settings, except for his Clavierübung III German Organ Mass of 1736, using Catechism chorales.

Easter Season: Easter, Ascension, Pentecost

Easter is the most important annual religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to Christian scripture, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the 3rd day after his crucifixion. Some Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to be between AD 26 and AD 36. Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the 40 days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the 50 days until Pentecost. Both Pentecost and Passover, which begins the 50-day Easter Season, are originally Jewish festivals. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the vernal equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (regardless of the astronomically correct date), and the "Full Moon" is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar whose March 21 corresponds, during the twenty-first century, to April 3 in the Gregorian Calendar, in which caletheir celebration of Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover not only for much of its symbolism but also for its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for Passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate Passover.

Bach's so-called Christological Cycle is comprised of major sacred works based upon his calling stated in 1707 to create "a well-regulated church music to the Glory of God." It began soon after in Weimar with Bach systematically composing organ chorale preludes for the church year, followed by cantatas, called "musical sermons," for the 60 annual services. In the 1720s in Leipzig Bach presented three cycles of church year cantatas and four annual gospel Passion oratorios on Good Friday. In the 1730s, Sebastian fashioned oratorios for the major feast days of Christmas, Easter, Ascension and possibly Pentecost as well as the Catechism organ chorales and Kyrie-Gloria Mass sections. Bach's Christological Cycle culminated in his "Great Mass in B Minor," completed in the late 1740s.

Here is the BCW discussion schedule for the remaining Cantatas for Easter Sunday:

Jun 6, 2010 BWV 31 Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret
Easter Sunday (1715)

Jun 13, 2010 BWV 249 Kommt, eilet und laufer [Oster-Oratorium]
Easter Sunday (1725)

= BWV 249a Entfliehet, verschwinder, entweichet, ihr Sorgen
Shepherd Cantata (1725)

Jun 20, 2010 15 Denn du wirst meine Seele
Easter Sunday (before 1710)

Jun 27, 2010 BWV 160 Ich weiß, daß mein Erloser lebt
Easter Sunday (1725?)

To come: Easter Season Chorales

Douglas Cowling wrote (May 27, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< The Easter season is the final, transitional church season leading to the second half of the church year with its omnes temore or timeless treatment of Christian themes and revelation of the teachings of Christianity's savior. Thus, the Easter season reflects a liminal, "in-between" time on the threshold to a greater understanding of the meaning and purpose. Bach's response was appropriately subdued as he deliberately crafted original, mostly imitate music, usually with only a closing chorale. >
I'm not sure that Bach saw the Easter season in this impressionistic way. Easter Day was the first day of the Greater Fifty Days which culminated on Pentecost (= 50th day). Easter and Pentecost (which together with Christmas Day are the three most important days in the church year) form theological parentheses to the 40 day post-resurrection ministry of Christ which ends on Ascension Day. Bach emphasized those bookends by writing cantatas with festival scoring with brass. Bach also focusses on the post-resurrection ministry by frequently using a solo bass as the Vox Christi. The Paschal season is the most important season in the year, one that looms large in the sermons of Martin Luther.

"Christ Lag In Todesbanden" is not only incomparable, it is unlike any other Easter music which Bach wrote. The modal E minor of the chant-based chorale does not meet the D major-cum-brass model which is more Easter-y. The emphasis on Christ the Passover led Stiller to list it among possible Communion cantatas.

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 27, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Easter Day was the first day of the Greater Fifty Days which culminated on Pentecost (= 50th day). Easter and Pentecost (which together with Christmas Day are the three most important days in the church year) form theological parentheses to the 40 day post-resurrection ministry of Christ which ends on Ascension Day. Bach emphasized those bookends by writing cantatas with festival scoring with brass. >
Once again, thanks for elaborating these details in the Christian calendar, essential to grasping the larger scale architecture of Bachs sacred music, whatever ones personal spiritual orientation. Pentecost = 50th day is new to me, I expect to some others as well.

William Hoffman wrote (June 2, 2010):
Cantata BWV 4: Fugitive Notes

Some Fugitive Notes about the Easter Works and Chorales:

While there are only three original Bach works for Easter Sunday, each is an exemplary piece from his three periods: BWV 4 in 1707-08 at Mühlhausen in his learning time; BWV 31 in the formative Leipzig years (1715) during Bach's first cantata cycle; and the Easter Oratorio, BWV 249 (1725) in his Leipzig mastery of the larger forms. Cantata 4 is his first-known vocal work to use the chorale in various set movements such as sinfonia, aria, arioso, and chorus. It shows assurety and anticipates structural command. During this period, Bach composed three other early masterpieces and models: BWV 131 and BWV 106 (with chorale melodies) for memorial services and BWV 71 for the Town Council.

Cantata BWV 31 was a modern cantata to the text of a well-known poet (Franck). It "is the most lavishly scored of Bach's pre-Leipzig vocal works (including a five-part choir)," observes Ton Koopman in the notes to his Erato CD. In BWV 249 Bach took another major step forward with his first major vocal work for the church year and use of parody, culminating in the B-Minor Mass (BWV 232).

Here is the BCW discussion schedule for the Cantatas for Easter Sunday and the associated chorales and their various settings:

May 30, 2010; BWV 4, "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" (Easter Sunday); chorale settings of Nos. 1-8; others 277, 278, 279=BWV 158/4 (Easter Tues.); 625, 695, 718; Easter Sunday (1707).

Jun 6, 2010; BWV 31, "Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret";
Easter Sunday (1715); No 9, chorale: Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist (S.5), usually for Easter Monday, Tuesday; also used in BWV 95/7 (Trinity+16), 428, 429, 430=?BWV 247/41, and BWV 15.

Jun 13, 2010; BWV 249, "Kommt, eilet und laufet" [Oster-Oratorium];
Easter Sunday (1725), closing chorale lost, ?Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir (substitute BWV 130/6, St. Michael).

Jun 20, 2010; BWV 15=JLB21 (4/21/26), "Denn du wirst meine Seele"; first performance Nos. 5-10, 4/21/04 Easter Monday in Meiningen; No. 11, chorale: Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist. See BWV 31.

Jun 27, 2010; BWV 160= TWV 1:877 (Telemann), "Ich weiß, daß mein Erloser lebt,"
Easter Sunday (1725?); no chorale.

Also: Picander-28, "Es hat überwunden der Löwe, der Held" (Easter Sunday* (1729)
Chorale, No. 6, "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" (S.6) ?=278 (e-E)
*cf. BWV 219/TWV1:1328 (Telemann), "Siehe, es hat . . . (1723,1728, St. Michael)

The impetus for Bach's first Easter Sunday cantata was the old Lutheran Reformation chorale, which is closely related to the Easter hymn "Christ ist erstanden." Bach probably encountered the ubiquitous "Christ Lag in Todesbanden" beginning at the turn of the 18th century in the vocal works of Buxtehude, Pachelbel, and Kuhnau and the organ chorale preludes of Tunder, Scheidt, Böhm, and Zachow.

Bach's earliest use of the chorale in his organ preludes is obscured because of various sources of transmission by students. The BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale012-Eng3.htm
cites its use in three chorale preludes, BWV 625, 1713/15 (Orgelbüchlein); BWV 695 (Kirnberger); 1700/17?; BWV 718 (Miscellaneous), 1700/17. On stylistic grounds, all three were completed by the end of Bach's Weimar period (1708-17), when virtually all his chorale preludes were composed. Prelude BWV 695 was composed for the incomplete Orgelbüchlein church year collection, while the other two, with their North German techniques and earlier influences could have begun as early as 1700. The best authority is Peter Williams' <The Organ Music of JSB>.

The two singular four-part chorale settings of "Christ Lag in Todesbanden," BWV 277-278, could have been used as alternate closing chorales in subsequent performances of Bach's Easter Festival cantatas. Three of Bach four settings, BWV 4/8, 279=BWV 158/4, and 278, begin in E Minor and close in E Major. Chorale BWV 277 in D Major could have closed a repeat performance of the Easter Monday Cantata BWV 66, a parodied work originating in Köthen.

The Hänssler Bachakademie Bach CD edition, Chorale, V. 80, "Easter, Ascension, Pentecost Trinity," has the chorales BWV 277 and 278, followed by the organ chorale prelude, BWV 718.

Here is BCW's Francis Browne translation with biblical references: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV4-Eng3.htm

1725 Easter Season Cantatas

During the 1725 Easter season from Easter Sunday to Trinity Sunday, April 1 to May 27, Bach was responsible for presenting cantatas on nine successive Sundays and the second and third festival days, Mondays and Tuesdays of Easter and Pentecost, as well as Ascension Thursday - 14 cantatas in all. During this time, Bach made a transition from chorale cantatas to nine consecutive lyrical works of the Leipzig poetess Mariane von Ziegler, beginning with the Third Sunday after Easter.

During the previous Lent season, Bach probably had examined available old texts from his Weimar period, including works of Georg Lehms, Salomo Franck, and Erdmann Neumeister, and possibly the so-called Rudolstadt-J.L. Bach texts which originated from about 1704-05. Instead, Bach probably, initially turned to two immediate, accessible Leipzig sources, an unknown poet, possibly Thomas Church pastor Christian Weiss Sr., and Picander, the probable author of the Easter Oratorio.

Meanwhile, Bach probably assembled a revised version of a Weimar cantata, BWV 158, for Easter Tuesday, and possibly two Telemann works, a cantata and a motet, on an Easter Sunday double bill with Cantata BWV 4, "Christ Lag in Todesbanden," It appears that the Easter Oratorio, with trumpets and drums, was presented at the University church, while Cantata 4 and the Telemann works were presented in the two main Leipzig churches of St. Thomas and St. Nikolas.

For the initial period of Easter Sunday to the Second Sunday after Easter, Bach, while awaiting Ziegler's texts probably to be printed in church libretto books, presented reperformances and three new works: BWV 6 for Easter Monday, BWV 42 for the First Sunday after Easter, and BWV 85, for the second Sunday after Easter. These three new pieces return to a text form from the same Easter period of the previous year, 1724, using New Testament texts for opening movements, with freely-invented verses and chorale stanzas for the succeeding movements, says Carl Marshall in <Bach's Compositional Process>, I:28. Weiss also may have written libretti for new Cycle 1 Easter season cantatas and possibly the texts of the chorale cantatas.

The 1750 Bach estate division shows that Wilhelm Friedemann gave Carl Philipp Emanuel all the post-Easter new cantata scores and parts, except for three von Ziegler texts, while he kept the scores of the previous chorale cantatas and Anna Magdalena received the related parts sets. Friedemann retained Ascension Day Cantata BWV 128 and Pentecost Monday Cantata BWV 68, both having chorale incipits. Friedemann also kept Pentecost Sunday Cantata BWV 74, which has the same title and opening movement text with modifications of the musical materials from Pentecost Sunday Cantata BWV 59 from 1723/24. Freidemann probably assumed that BWV 74 was simply a revision of BWV 59, all the materials of which he had retained. Alfred Dürr in his <Chronologie>: 16f, assigns all three 1725 works to the succeeding annual cantata Cycle 3.

The Ziegler texts, which represent new poetic directions, offered a variety of cantata forms, with opening chorus (BWV 103, BWV 74, and 176), solo aria and recitative with closing chorale (BWV 108, BWV 87, BWV 183, and BWV 175), and opening chorale chorus (BWV 128, BWV 68). Assuming that Bach allowed Ziegler four weeks to create the first of the series of texts, he must have decided no later than Holy Week 1725 to compose no more chorale cantatas through the rest of the cycle. Meanwhile, Bach instructed Ziegler to parody solo movements from Cantatas BWV 103 and BWV 83, and later edited five of the other seven texts, excepting BWV 103 and BWV 83, suggesting close collaboration.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 2, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Jun 13, 2010; BWV 249, "Kommt, eilet und laufet" [Oster-Oratorium];
Easter Sunday (1725), closing chorale lost, ? >
Is there evidence suggesting a final chorale? It's such a self-contained work and the closing chorus a real finale movement.

 

Cantata 4, Addendum: Easter Season Chorales

William Hoffman wrote (August 23, 2010):
Bach's settings of Easter sacred songs represent the apogee of his treatment of Lutheran hymns in the first half of the church year, the <de tempore> or timely treatment of the life of Jesus Christ through service music. This period constitutes some 29 services over six months, from the panoply of celebratory chorales beginning with the initial time of Advent, Christmas and New Years to the liminal, in-between time of Epiphany with its timele, <omnes tempore> thematic "Jesus Hymns" and pre-Lent chorales, to the Passiontide abundance of both Passion and non-Passion chorales of sacrifice and suffering, culminating in the "Moveable Feast" of Easter with its emphasis in Christ's final days on triumph through the word and sacrament using the themes of peace and the Good Shepherd.

Bach exploited the chorale melody in myriad forms and usages during the Easter Season of 13 services involving seven feast days (three each for Easter and Pentecost as well as Ascension Day). In his second year in Leipzig, Bach's production of service cantatas as musical sermons diminished and his creation of church-year chorale cantatas, which had constituted his second church-year cycle, virtually ceased.

The record is now clear. Bach's creative focus on sacred cantatas in Leipzig had produced an initial heterogeneous cycle of varied old and new music, including two-part cantatas and double-bills, and series of large and then intimate pieces. The second cycle of chorale cantatas focused on hymns through uniformity and originality, beginning with the Trinity Season and culminating in assured and appealing works for the general Christmas and Epiphany Seasons. Yet, as Bach scholar Alfred Dürr points out (<Cantatas of JSB> 2005: 263), the history of Protestant church music and Bach's compositions reveal a "rich store" of Passion music "but relatively few outstanding pieces of Easter Music."

The three-month Easter Season from Easter Sunday to Trinity Sunday was Bach's busiest time as Cantor at the Thomas School, when the annual term ended and he was responsible for crucial teaching and administrative duties. These included student exams and auditions, accounting for musical and instructional resources, and preparing for the new term, which commenced with the First Sunday After Trinity, beginning the <omnes tempore> Trinity of some 25 weeks of Sunday services and select festivals. At the same time, Bach was expected to participate fully in the Leipzig Spring Fair which began appropriately on Jubilate Sunday, the Third After Easter Sunday, running three weeks.

Various Bach scholars have cited major negative reasons for the diminution of his church cantatas. These include Bach's increasing lack of enthusiasm, both personal and spiritual, the pressures of both civil authority and burdensome school responsibilities, and the challenge to sustain quality musicianship from his performing forces. By the end of Bach's second year in Leipzig he had reached a crisis in his calling to create a "well-regulated (and appointed) church-music to the glory of God." Bach's incomparable and profound treatment of chorales, at the heart of his calling, was symptomatic of his conflicts, desires and directions. Diversity, renewal, and respite were essential.

While setting chorales in his cantatas, Bach explored complex usages of melodies and original music, new forms of extended scena, particularly complex dual usage of aria and recitative, the deployment of non-traditional melodies in new contexts, the exploitation of dance form and instrumental technique, and increasing compositional complexities, especially in four-part chorales and chorale fantasias. In the next decade, Bach emphasized strict hymn-verse chorale cantatas for unspecified services, broadened his creative palette with lesser-known, more contemporary four-part hymn settings, and produced a wide range of devotional sacred melodies and texts. Bach also wrote a parodied St. Mark Passion emphasizing simple chorales in lieu of arias, and probably presented an apocryphal St. Luke Passion replete with less-known hymn texts and tunes.

In retrospect, the period of Lent and Easter 1725 was a watershed time for Bach, personally and professionally. He embraced new musical expression through larger works and parody, renewed his interest in keyboard and ensemble music, and strengthened his situation through greater collaboration and outreach, as well as learned pursuits such as theology, literature, and the old music.

The overall template for understanding the liturgical usage of Bach's chorales is found in the Lutheran hymn books, with their established order of the chorales listed in church year order, still utilized in today's hymn books. This ordering is found in collections containing Bach earliest organ chorale works, the so-called Pre-Weimar "Neumeister" and especially the Weimar "Orgelbüchlein" (Little Organ Book).

The Lutheran liturgical year, as found in both the Neumeister and Orgelbüchlein collections has two sections: <de tempore> (Advent to Trinity, the life of Christ), and <omnes tempore> (anytime) Christian themes. The de tempore include the seasons or festivals of Advent, Christmas, New Year, Purification, Passiontide, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, John the Baptist, Visitation, Michael, Simon & Jude, and Reformation. The themes are Catechism (Commandments, Creed, Lord's Prayer, Baptism, Confession+Penitence & Justification, and Communion [Lord's Supper]), Christian Life and Conduct, Psalm Hymns, Word of God & Christian Church, Death & Dying, Morning, Evening, After Meals, and For Good Weather. The Orgelbüchlein also has an appendix of eight chorales for general usage.

The Neumeister Collection was assembled at the end of the 18th Century from organ chorale prelude books of 100 years previous involving members of the Bach Family (c. 1700). It contains 82 preludes, including 38 attributed to Sebastian Bach (with two from his Orgelbüchlein: BWV 601, 639). Bach's incomplete Orgelbüchlein (Ob) manuscript contains music for 46 organ chorales, of a total of 164 incipits for the church year inscribed by Bach. Interestingly, the Ob sets 26 of the first 27 chorales, Advent to Passiontide, omits 13 of the next 26 (Nos. 27 to 51) through Pentecost but has none of the nine succeeding Trinity and festival designated chorales. In the omne tempore section, Nos. 61-164, only 10 chorales are set (designated BWV 635-644). It also should be noted that of the 38 Neumeister Bach chorale settings, 22 were listed but not set in the later Ob, and they include several which do not appear elsewhere among Bach's chorale-based works.

For the record, Bach in the Orgelbüchlein Easter Season set all six chorales for Easter, omitted both Ascension Day chorales, and set only three of nine Pentecost hymns. Virtually all these settings were done in Weimar between 1710 and 1714 when Bach composed few sacred cantatas, awaiting the development and establishment of the so-called "Neumesier" (and Meiningen-Prince Ludwig) modern cantata texts.

Easter (6 of 6 set):
34. Christ Lag in Todesbanden, 625
35. Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der du Tod überwand, 626
36. Christ ist erstanden, 627
37. Erstanden ist der Heil'ge Christ, 628
38. Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag, 629
39. Heut triumpieret Gottes Sohn, 630

Ascension (neither OB set):
40. Gen Himmel aufgefahren ist, no BWV
41. Nun freut euch, Gottes Kinder, all; no BWV

Pentecost (3 of 9 set, one twice)
42. Komm, heiliger Geist, erfüll die Herzen deiner Glaübigen
43. Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott
44. Komm Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist, 631
45. Nun bitten wird das Heil'gen Geist
46. Spiritus Sancti gratias or Des Heil'gen Geistes reichte Gnad
47. O Heil'ger Geist, du göttlich's Feuer
48. O Heiliger Geist, o heilger Gott
49. Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu und wend, 632
50. Leibster Jesu, wir sind hier, 634
51. Liebster Jesu, wir sing hier (distinctius), 633

The compositional record shows that while Bach's general interest in Easter Season chorale settings diminished by the time of the Pentecost festival, his overall usage and treatment is extensive, varied, and systematic. Of particular note are the wealth of Easter as well as non-Easter hymns and the use of thematic hymns such as the Good Shepherd, Communion hymns, and ones that emphasize the Easter proclamation of the Word. Bach also uses hymns, as he did during Epiphany, to anticipthe coming feasts, especially for Ascension Day and Pentecost. While Bach uses few available Pentecost hymns in his cantatas, he does set several as organ preludes and four-part chorales, as well as certain Easter hymns. It is particularly interesting to note that for the single feast day at Ascension, Bach was able to accommodate several appropriate chorales, including two settings in his Ascension Oratorio, BWV 11. Perhaps Bach's possibly-lost Pentecost Oratorio may have utilized familiar chorales listed but not set in the Orgelbüchlein.

The following are the chorales that Bach set for his vocal works during the Easter Season:

Easter Season Abbreviations:
Services: ES=Easter Sunday, EM=Easter Monday, ET=Easter Tuesday, E1=1st Sunday After Easter, E2=2nd Sunday After Easter, E3=3rd Sunday After Easter, E4=4th Sunday After Easter, E5=5th Sunday After Easter, As=Ascension Day, E6=6th Sunday After Easter, P1=Pentecost Sunday, P2=Pentecost Monday, P3=Pentecost Tuesday;

* [--/--] Douglas Cowling: Easter Season in Leipzig: Sacred Songs: M=Motet (Introit), SH=Service Hymn (de Tempore), PH=Pulpit Hymn, VH=Various Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing; VM-
Vesper Motet

+ Orgelbüchlein (OB): Easter, Bach set all 6 (OB 34-39=BWV 625-30);

<--> Stiller <JSB & Liturgical Life in Leipzig>

*Ach, bleib bei uns <ET> [EM/VH], 6/3(S.1.2) EM; 253, 414 (alt. mel), 649; Anh. 4/6 (S.1.2.), Augsburg Confession 1730
Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, 68/1(S.1) PM
Auf, mein Herz, des Herren Tag (mel. Jesu Meine Zuversicht) <EasterSeason>, 145a(S.1) ET 1729;
Baumherz'er Vater (mel. Was mein Gott will), 103/6(S.9) E3),
+*Christ lag in Todesbanden <Easter Season> [ES-E5/SH, 625(OB34), 695, 718; 4/1-8 (S.1-8) ES, 277, 278=?P28/6(S.6) ES, 279=158/4(ET)
+*Christ ist erstanden <Easter Season> [ES-E5/PH], 627(OB36, vv1-3), 66/6(v.3) EM, 276 (vv1-3); Latin Easter sequence Victimae paschali (1200 Leise), Lutheran setting transformed into 3-part chorale.
Christus ist erstanden, hat überwunden (mel. Allein Gott), 284
*Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, dem ich, Becker (mel. Allein Gott in der Hoh) <E2> [E2/V(C)H], 104/6(S.1) E2, 85/3(S.1) E2,
Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt, halt mir, Meusel (mel. Allein Gott in der Hoh) <E2>, 112/1-5(S.1-5) E2 CC (5vv)
Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ <ET Dresden>, 67/7(S.1) E1, (143/2 NY); 112CC Tr. 25, OB 125, 1102
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deine Wort, 6/6(S.2) EM, 318, Anh. 50; OB 122 (Word, not set)
+*Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag <ET> 14 vv.) [ET-E1,E3-4/VH], 629(OB 38), 67/4(S.1) E1, 145/5(14) ET
+Erstanden ist der Heil'ge Christ, der den Tod, 628(OB 37), 306
Es ist das Heil uns kommen her (E5) 86/6(11)
Herr Jesu Christ, ich weiß gar wohl (mel. Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut), 166/3 (E4(1)
+*Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn, Kaspar Stolzhagen 1599, 6vv [ES-ET/M, As/VH] (vespers, ET, As.), 630a(OB39); Anh. 190/6=P29/6 EM(mel.)=?342
Komm her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn (S.14-16, Mat. 11:28) JLB 8/8 E3
O süßer Herre, Jesu Christ (mel. Heut triumphert), Anh. 190/6=? (S.3), EM(1729)
Ist Gott mein Schutz und treuer Hirt (mel. Ist Gott mein Schild und Helfersmann, 85/6 E2
Lasset ab von eurer Tränen (mel. Werde munter, mein Gemüte), 146/8(9) E3 (1729) (Wustmann text sub.)
Selig ist die Seele (mel. Jesu meine Freude), 87/7(S.9), (E5)
Versage nicht <Dresden E3>, 42/4(S.1) E1
Zeuch ein zu deinen Toren (mel Helf mir Gotts Güte preisse), 183/5(5), E6

Easter, no Bach cantata setting
Auf, auf! Mein Herz, mit Freuden, 441 (SG, Easter)
Als verzig Tag' nach Ostern war'n, 266 (See Erscheinen ist, Easter)
+Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der den, 364 (Easter); 626(OB35); 665, 666 [Great 18];
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der von uns, 363 (Eas.), 626 (OB 78, Eucharist, not set)
Jesu Christ, unser Trost und Leben, 475 (SG, Easter)
O du allersußeste Freude, JLB14/6(1, 5; E4)

Ascension:
*Auf Christi Himmelsfahrt (mel. Allein Gott) <As> [As/VH], 128/1 Asc. (1) 3 vv.
*Du Lebenfürst, Herr Jesu Christ (mel. Ermuntre dich) <As> [As/VH], 43/11 (S.1,13) Asc., 11/6(S.4) Asc. 1735
*Gott fähret auf gen Himmel (mel. Von Gott will ich) <As> [As/VH], 11/11(7) Asc.
Mein Jesu hat nunmehr (Asn., Rudolstadt) <As Dresden> , 43/5-10(1-6) PS, 1725), text only

Ascension, no cantata setting
+Gen Himmel aufgefahren ist, OB 40 not set
+Nun freut euch, Gottes Kinder, all; OB 41, not set; 734, 387

Pentecost: (OB, 3 of 9 set, one twice)
*Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt [PM/VH), 68/1 (cle. chs.) PM
*Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist (also, Kommt her zu mir) (mel. Enzeldruck zu mir) <Asc., Dresden E4> [PS/VH], 108/6 (E4, S.10)
Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn 86/3 (16) E5
*Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott (also, O Gottes Geist, mein Trost und Rat (Veni Sancte Spiritus, PS/VM) [PS-T/SH]; 59/3(P)=175/7(PT), 59/5 (S.3, music ?6/6, mel. Erhalt uns)., 172/5 ob. mel. P; 226/2 (motet), P38/2, 7 (1,3) P; OB 43 not set; 651-2(GL18); 1005/1 (mel.), 218/5=TVWV1:634

Pentecost, no cantata setting:
Brunnquelle aller Gütter, SG 445(1,6), deest Wiemer 4 (7)
Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen, SG 452(1) (prayer)
+Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend, 332, 632 (OB49), 659(18), 709, 726, 749
+Leibster Jesu, wir sind hier, 373, 633-34=OB50-51 (dinstinctius)
+Komm Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist, 370, 631=OB44, 667(18), 218/5=TVWV
+Komm, heiliger Geist, erfüll die Herzen deiner Glaübigen OB 42 not set; mel. only
+*Nun bitten wir das Heil'gen Geist [PS-T/PH], 385, OB 45 not set
+O Heil'ger Geist, du göttlich's Feuer, OB 47 not set
+O Heiliger Geist, o heilger Gott, OB 48 not set
+*Spiritus Sancti gratias or Des Heil'gen Geistes reichte Gnad [PS/M], 295, OB 46 (not set)

Various Occasions:
Ach Gott, wie Manches Herzelied (mel. O Jesu Christ, meins), 44/3(S.1), E6; 3/6 Eph.2, 153/9 SaNY
Alle Menschen müssen sterben, P33/6 E3=?162/6(Tr20), 262=?P-70 (Tr26); 643 (OB131 Death/Dying), 1117
Es ist das Heil uns kommen her (Eas.5) 86/6(S.11); 9/7 (Tr.6) 638 (OB77, Confess), 155/5 (Eph.2); 251 (mel. Sei Lob & Herr), wed./Thanks), 117/4,9 (no service, ??E5)
Ich danke dir, liebe Herre, 36/6(S.4) (Asc.); 347-348=P20/5(Septuag.), 147a/6 (S.6, Adv.4, music lost)
In allen meinen Taten (Passion mel., O welt, ich muss dich lassen); 44/6(S.15) E6; 97/1-9 (no occ., ??Exaudi 1735; 13/6 (S.15) Eph.2
*Nun freut euch, liebster Christian G'mein [As-E6/SH] (communion hymn), 307, 388 S.1,9 (Eas.); 755 (Adv.), 248/59 (Eph.)
O Gott, du frommer Gott (or O Jesu, meine Lust), 128/5(4) Asc./2 (Ziegler, Habermann mel.); 45/7 (Tr8), 94/8(Tr9), 399 P52,55,57(Tr.+), 24/6(Tr4) -- diff. mels. Ziegler, Heermann, Pfefferkorn
Valet will, ich dir geben, 415=?P.36/7 (Asc.), 736; BWV 245/52, OB132 (not set, Death)
Verleih uns Frieden, 42/7(S.1) E1; 126/6 (Sexag); Anh. 4a/4 (Council)
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan <Cross & Trial>, 12/7=69a/6(S.6) E3; 100 & 250 wed., 144/3 Septua., 99/6 Tr.15
Welt ade, ich bin dein müde, 158/2 ET, 27/6 (Tr.16)
Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist <ET>, no OB; 31/9(S.5) ES; 95/7 (Tr.16), 428, 429, 430=?247/41, 15/11 > Anh III 157=JLB21/11(S.4) ES
Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende (mel. Wer nur den lieben Gott laßt wahlten, 166/6 E4; 84/5 Septuag.)
mel. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, 172/6 PS, 37/3 Asc. 1724; 436/Anh.199 (?Ann.),
36/4 Adv, 1/6 Ann.

Not used by Bach:
*Trinity <Christ fuhr fuhr gen Himmel> [As/PH] BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Chorale-OldGrove.htm (Pre-Reformation Hymn, C. S. Terry 1952)

Edition Bachakademie Vol. 80: A Book of Chorale-Settings for Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity; Chorales: BWV 266, 276-278, 284, 293, 295, 304, 306, 317, 342, 364, 365, 370, 378, 385, 387-388, 415, BWV deest/ Wiemer 4, 9, 10

TO COME (Food for thought and digestion):

1. A study of Easter Season chorales Bach used, as well as established Leipzig and Dresden service practice, shows or suggests which chorales Bach would have used or considered for chorale cantata settings.

2. Bach's choice of Easter Season chorales may involve connections with sermon themes preached byChristian Weiss Sr. as well as cantata texts possibly written by Weiss.

3. Further, Easter Season themes from the Gospel of John may have a bearing on Bach's choice of Easter Season chorales in his cantatas. As Douglas Cowling pointed out (BCW Readings, April 15, 2007): "With the exception of the Three Days of Easter and Ascension Day, all of the gospel readings during the fifty days of the Easter season are from the Gospel of John."

4. As Doug Cowling recently (8/11/10) observes: "The interplay of chorales in Bach's service is more than just a tracking down of sources. They're not just quotations. There is a dynamic performance hermeneutic in play here. The placement of chorales in the service and in the cantatas creates sets of premonitions and reminiscences of the most sophisticated sort."

5. Cantata 65 Discussion: Ed Myskowski wrote (October 17, 2009, BWV 65 discussion):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Meanwhile, I find Bach during this time making topical and tactical placement of chorales
[...]
Thus, with Cantata BWV 65's chorale as the second movement, we have three successive cantatas with plain chorales placed as the opening, second, and third movements, respectively. More than coincidence? >

Bach? Coincidence? Not likely. In the scheme of well regulated church music, do you think that the arrangement of chorales in Jahrgang I is already a prelude to the chorale set, Jahrgang II? Doug has suggested something along these lines, I believe: that Bach had a grand architectural scheme in mind for several cantata cycles. The working out may be a step shy of completion?

6. Finally, later this year and next in BCW discussions of von Ziegler texts for nine Bach Easter Season cantatas from Jubilate (Third Sunday After Easter) to Trinity Sundays, an examination of the chorale choices and the text revisions may suggest the specific involvement of Bach, as well as Christian Weiss in these elements.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 23, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Bach's settings of Easter sacred songs represent the apogee of his treatment of Lutheran hymns in the first half of the church year, the <de tempore> or timely treatment of the life of Jesus Christ through service music. This period constitutes some 29 services over six months, from the panoply of celebratory chorales beginning with the initial time of Advent, Christmas and New Years to the liminal, in-between time of Epiphany with its timeless, <omnes tempore> thematic "Jesus Hymns" and pre-Lent chorales, to the Passiontide abundance of both Passion and non-Passion chorales of sacrifice and suffering, culminating in the "Moveable Feast" of Easter with its emphasis in Christ's final days on triumph through the word and sacrament using the themes of peace and the Good Shepherd.
Bach exploited the chorale melody in myriad forms and usages during the Easter Season of 13 services involving seven feast days (three each for Easter and Pentecost as well as Ascension Day). >
The Lutheran liturgical calendar is a challenge, even for those of us who grew up with other versions of the Christian calendar. Personally, I have conme to prefer Orthodox as clsoest to the origins of The Church, but let that go for another time.

WH:
< By the end of Bach's second year in Leipzig he had reached a crisis in his calling to create a "well-regulated (and appointed) church-music to the glory of God." Bach's incomparable and profound treatment of chorales, at the heart of his calling, was symptomatic of his conflicts, desires and directions. Diversity, renewal, and respite were essential. >
EM:
Appointed by whom? Comment, *en passant*. The emotional intensity of the commentary is emotionally comnpelling. Respite essential?

WH:
< In retrospect, the period of Lent and Easter 1725 was a watershed time for Bach, personally and professionally. He embraced new musical expression through larger works and parody [reworking of earlier material], renewed his interest in keyboard and ensemble music, and strengthened his situation through greater collaboration and outreach, as well as learned pursuits such as theology, literature, and the old music. >
EM:
That is quite an accomplishment for one Lenten season. Did he forego anything for Lent (Beer, Coffee, Sex, etc.)?

WH:
< The Lutheran liturgical year, as found in both the Neumeister and Orgelbüchlein collections has two sections: <de tempore> (Advent to Trinity, the life of Christ), and <omnes tempore> (anytime) Christian themes. The de tempore include the seasons or festivals of Advent, Christmas, New Year, Purification, Passiontide, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, John the Baptist, Visitation, Michael, Simon & Jude, and Reformation. The themes are Catechism (Commandments, Creed, Lord's Prayer, Baptism, Confession+Penitence & Justification, and Communion [Lord's Supper]), Christian Life and Conduct, Psalm Hymns, Word of God & Christian Church, Death & Dying, Morning, Evening, After Meals, and For Good Weather. The Orgelbüchlein also has an appendix of eight chorales for general usage. >
EM:
That is a dificult paragraph to read, even for those of us who are sympathetic.

(1) de tempore versus omnes tempore is not much of a distinction, to begin with. This time versus all times?

(2) The distinction is further obscured by the overlapping themes of the festivals.

(3) After Meals, and for Good Weather (?)

At least we are finally getting down to brass tacks! Is there a Bach cantata text in support?

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 23, 2010):
William Hoffman wrote:
< 1. A study of Easter Season chorales Bach used, as well as established Leipzig and Dresden service practice, shows or suggests which chorales Bach would have used or considered for chorale cantata settings. >
Terry is very selective in his chorale listings for the church year in "Joh. Seb. Bach Cantata Texts Sacred and Secular". He only included the chorales which Bach used in his own works. It would be very instructive to have full lists of titles from the service and hymn books used by Bach. It may be instructive to see which chorales Bach chose NOT to use. Just glancing at Terry's lists, Bach's use of the prescribed chorales clusters most intensely in the Christmas and Easter Seasons: the rest of the year has a much "freer" approach.

Julian Mincham wrote (August 23, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling] But there is a problem in discussing Bach's use of chorales in the cantatas because we don't know who had the final choice of texts. Very often it was not the first stanza which was chosen for a chorale but rather one that reflected the theme of the overall work. This would suggest that the lyricist might have chosen them more for their text than for their musical potential. It would explain the choice of some rather boring melodies which Bach did use---although even then he could usually transform the sows ear into the silk purse either through imaginative harmonisation or the use in a spectacular chorale/fantasia.

Did Bach ever reject those he didn't think came up to scratch? Or did he take a pride, as a professional, in making something pretty good our of some rather drab material? What little we do know of his nature might suggest that the latter course was not impossible.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 23, 2010):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< It would explain the choice of some rather boring melodies whichBach did use---although even then he could usually transform the sows ear into the silk purse either through imaginative harmonisation or the use in a spectacular chorale/fantasia. >
Or a dramatic poetic use. In "Dazu ist erscheinen" (BWV 40), there are two paired recitatives and arias, and, in both instances, chorales burst in unexpectedly to interrupt after the recitative. It's as if the choir, like a Greek chorus, cannot restrain itself and has to be heard.

It's a remarkable effect, especially in the second chorale, "Schüttle deinen Kopf", which Bach sets a high indignant key. The first chorale, "Die Sünd macht", however, is a slack little tune with a banal text -- at least to modern tast. And yet Bach and/or his librettist found it suitable for a very avant garde dramatic effect.

I suspect that we modern listeners just don't have the affection and loyalty to the chorale tunes and texts which Bach uses with such loving creativity. I suspect the "letdown" of a chorale is an impediment to cantatas being programmed in modern concerts.

William Hoffman wrote (August 24, 2010):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Terry is very selective in his chorale listings for the church year in "Joh. Seb. Bach Cantata Texts Sacred and Secular". He only included the chorales which Bach used in his own works. It would be very instructive to have full lists of titles from the service and hymn books used by Bach. It may be instructive to see which chorales Bach chose NOT to use. Just glancing at Terry's lists, Bach's use of the prescribed chorales clusters most intensely in the Christmas and Easter Seasons: the rest of the year has a much "freer" approach. >
My sense too, is that Bach favored the Christmas and Easter chorale listings. At the same time, I do still think that Bach also consulted the sermon preacher, Christian Weiss, for suggestions, especially as part of the overall libretto as well as particular usage and placement. Bach's primary chorale source, says Stiller (p.36f), is the ominbus and multi-voiced Vopelius <Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> of 1682 (415 hymns) and the Dresdener Gesangbuch (various editions) as a general guide to chorales in use in Saxony. I finally got a taste of Vopelius today, his four-part setting of "Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt" as a Trust Song, which shows only one stanza (NBA KB I/14, Duerr 1961, p.54). The Vopelius hymn book was a gold mine of melodies (and texts) to challenge Bach, who then harmonized them, says son CPE, to emphasize the words in the stanza used in the cantata. Needless to say, I cannot find a copy of the Vopelius hymnbook but I assume it can be found on line.

I have two sources:

1. Johannes Riedel's <The Lutheran Chorale: It's Basic Traditions> (1967). Under general "Best Loved Chorales from 1644-1766" (p.79), it appears that Bach set virtually all those until 1700, almost none afterwards.

2. Charles Sanford Terry, "Preface" to <The Four Parts Chorales of JSB> (ix, 1929): "For the first time also an attempt is made (Appendix I) to relate the unattached chorales to a practical purpose. It is shown that almost all their hymns were popular during the years 1730-1750 and were admitted into the Leipzig Hymn-book in that period. It is to be concluded therefore that they were written for the Leipzig churches, in some cases for the projected expansion of Schemelli's Hymn-book . . . ."

 

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