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Cantata BWV 69
Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele [I]
Cantata BWV 69a
Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of November 27, 2011

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 27, 2011):
Introduction to BWV 69a -- Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele

Weekly reminder:

This week we continue Trinity season cantatas with BWV 69a, from 1723, the first of three works for the 12th Sunday after Trinity. The cantata which is catalogued as BWV 69 is a reworking for the Town Council election of 1748.

Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV69a.htm

The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham] is especially recommended as an introduction to listening.

The BWV 69a page also has convenient access to notes from the Gardiner [5] and Koopman (notes by Christoph Wolff) [2] CD issues, via link beneath the cover photo.

The chorale text and melody are also accessible via links at the BWV 69a page. Francis Browne has recently added new commentary on the cantata texts to his interlinear translations, linked via [English-3]. We can expect these to continue, not necessarily weekly.

Francis Browne wrote (November 28, 2011):
BWV 69a Notes on the text

BWV 69a was written in Bach's first year at Leipzig for the 12th Sunday after Trinity and first performed on 15 August 1723. It was later revived on a number of occasions with various alterations. In 1748 it was used as a basis for the council election cantata BWV 69 which has the same name.

The text of the present cantata is taken from a yearly cycle of cantata texts published in Gotha with the title :Gott-geheiligtes Singen und Spielen des Friedensteinschen Zions.Nach allen un jeden Sonn- und Fest -Tags -Evangelien, vor und nach der Predigt angegestellet/Vom Advent 1720 bis dahin 1721. The author was probably Johann Oswald Knauer and the cycle seems to have been written for Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Kapellmeister in Gotha and brother in law of Knauer. The texts were popular and fairly widely used. Johann Friedrich Fasch, who was one of Bach's rivals for the post at Leipzig and from 1722 was the Kapellmeister at Zerbst, set the complete cycle of texts and Stölzel probably did the same. Bach also used this source in BWV 64 and BWV 77.

Knauer's text is based on the gospel for the 12th Sunday after Trinity: Mark 7: 31- , Jesus' healing of a deaf mute. This particular miracle is seen as symbolic of God's constant activity and care on man's behalf and we are therefore enjoined to praise God. The original text had ten movements and was intended to be performed in two parts, before and after the sermon. Bach uses only six movements to make the text more concise and in keeping with the other cantatas he was producing for this period of the church's year.

The text of the opening movement comes from Psalm 103 and introduces the theme of praise as a response to the goodness of God. Knauer has the aria next but Bach follows with a shortened adaption of the recitative, where the emphasis placed on praising God with a thousand tongues can be understood as an allusion to the healing of the deaf mute. To illustrate how Knauer's text is adapted, here is the original text of the tenor aria:

Meine Seele,
auf, erzahle
deines Gottes Gütigkeit.
Laß ein gottgefällig Singen
Durch die frohen Lippen dringen.
Mache dich zum Dank bereit
.

The second recitative -the fourth movement- begins as in Knauer but then is changed radically to make a closer connection to the text of the gospel by the quotation of the word Ephphatha used by Christ. The following bass
aria has little in common with Knauer but the concluding choral strophe is identical, the sixth verse of the well-known hymn by Samuel Rodigast (1675): Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 28, 2011):
Bach & Contemporary Cantata Composers

Francis Browne wrote:
< The texts were popularand fairly widely used. Johann Friedrich Fasch, who was one of Bach's rivals for the post at Leipzig and from 1722 was the Kapellmeister at Zerbst, set the complete cycle of texts and Stölzel probably did the same. >
It's always salutary to compare Bach with his contemporaries, particularly Telemann, Fasch and Stölzel.

It would appear superficially that Bach is highly idiosyncratic as a composer of cantatas. Two observations:

1) Bach's cantata output is minsicule compared with his contemporaries.

2) Bach was not content to take a published cycle of texts and just work through them. He appears to have taken a deep consideration for his librettos.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 28, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Introduction to BWV 69a -- Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele
The link to commentary by Julian [Mincham] is especially recommended as an introduction to listening. >
Julians concise analysis of the chorus (Mvt. 1) is not to be missed. He provides brief musical examples, but points out that even those who do not read music should be able to appreciate the *shape* of the musical counterpoint.

>Francis Browne has recently added new commentary on the cantata texts to his interlinear >translations, linked via [English 3]. We can expect these to continue, not necessarily weekly.

OTOH, this week it was in todays mail. Francis is also the contributor of the parallel texts (Luther, German; King James, English) for the Biblical readings for the day, almost always essential for rasping Bachs texts.

<Gospel: Mark 7: 31-37 The deaf man cured [for Trinity 12]

33. Und er nahm ihn von dem Volk besonders und legte ihm die Finger in die Ohren und spützete und rührete seine Zunge.

[33] And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue.> (end quote)

For fastidious 21st C. readers, perhaps take that saliva with a grain of salt?

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 29, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< 33] And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue.(end quote)
For fastidious 21st C. readers, perhaps take that saliva with a grain of salt? >
It gets better ...

Until the revision of the Catholic rites in the 1970s, baptismal ceremonies included a reenactment of this story with the priest touching the child's mouth and ears after licking his thumb. This rite was ridiculed and abolished by Luther and the reformers as "spittle-baptism", not because it was unhygenic, but because it was seen, along with anointing with oil, as an accretion to baptism with water.

And speaking of salt ...

A few grains of salt are still placed on a child's tongue as a symbol of the hunger for ttasty Word of God.

Never a dull moment in churchland.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 29, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< And speaking of salt ...
A few grains of salt are still placed on a child's tongue as a symbol of the hunger for the tasty Word of God. >
Is this the origin of the expression <take it with a grain of salt>? I wish I could say that cleverness was intentional on my part, but purely a slip, Freudian or other.

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 29, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Is this the origin of the expression <take it with a grain of salt>? >
I think this is a classical allusion. Time for Google.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 29, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< Is this the origin of the expression <take it with a grain of salt>? >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I think this is a classical allusion. Time for Google >
Origin

The idea comes from the fact that food is more easily swallowed if taken with a small amount of salt. Pliny the Elder translated an ancient antidote for poison with the words 'be taken fasting, plus a grain of salt'.

Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, 77 A.D. translates thus:

After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting; it was to the following effect: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.


The suggestion is that injurious effects can be moderated by the taking of a grain of salt.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 29, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<< Is this the origin of the expression <take it with a grain of salt>? >>
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I think this is a classical allusion. Time for Google >
Here is the link for the source of the quote, which I had accessed via Google just prior to reading Dougs reply. I trust the thread is reasonably clear, and the topic has a bit of relevance to Bachs texts for BWV 69a. Other opinions welcome.
Http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/take-with-a-grain-of-salt.html

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 30, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< And speaking of salt ...
A few grains of salt are still placed on a child's tongue as a symbol of the hunger for the tasty Word of God. >
My correlation of the sal of both salt and saliva was fortuitious, but probably accurate! Sometimes you get lucky. For those who enjoy, see also BWV 69a BCW discussions, page 2:

Thomas Braatz wrote:
Actually, however, despite the fact that modern German (including that of Bach's time) keeps "erzählen" ("to tell {something}") apart from "zählen" {"to count"), the two verb forms are closely connected in much older forms of German (and English).

DC:
< Never a dull moment in churchland. >
EM
You can say that again.
Never a dull moment in churchland.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 4, 2011):
Sing-along Bach BWV 69a

Before we leave BWV 69a, I notice that the final chorale "Was Gott Thut" presents the chorale tune in a hymn book style harmonization, congregation-friendly key and with the well-known text of the first verse. If congregations ever sang along in the chorales in Bach's cantatas, this would be a prime candidate. It is not hard to imagine Bach's listeners hearing the first line and spontaneously breaking into the popular chorale with the choir.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 5, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It is not hard to imagine Bach's listeners hearing the first line and spontaneously breaking into the popular chorale with the choir. >
See also Dougs subsequent post, re the closing chorale in BWV 137, two years later, which appears specifically composed not to encourage a sing-along!

Douglas Major led a fine performance last evening of seasonal music at the Methuen Memorial Music Hall (with the imposing wooden bust of JSB over the organ adorned with Santa Claus hat). The concluding tunes (including Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah) were very familiar, and intended for audience participation. Doug announced in advance that he expected folks to sing:
(1) in tune
(2) in time
That seemed to successfully encourage decent singers, while the rest of us kept time, or silence.

 

Cantatas BWV 69 & BWV 69a: Details & Complete Recordings of BWV 69 | Details & Recordings of BWV 69a | Recordings of Individual Movemnts from BWV 69 | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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

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Last update: ęDecember 27, 2011 ę00:24:45