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Chorale Melodies: Sorted by Title | 371 4-Part Chorales sorted by Breitkopf Number | Explanation

Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan

Melody & Text | Use of the CM by Bach | Use of the CM by other composers | Arrangements/Transcriptions

 

Melody & Text:

Melody: Zahn: 5629 | EKG: 299

Composers: Severus Gastorius/Werner Fabricius
Date: 1674, 1679 (Gastorius); based upon 1659 (Fabricius)

This melody is generally attributed to Severus Gastorius (his real family name was Bauchspieß = a spit or skewer to run through the stomach; this is similar to Praetorius, the Latin substitution for the actual German name “Schul(t)z(e) – a shortened form of “Schultheiß” = “mayor.” ) Gastorius lived from 1646 to 1682. He was born near Weimar and attended school in Weimar where his father was a teacher. Beginning in 1667, Gastorius attended the University of Jena. While there he became the substitute for the 61-year-old cantor, Andreas Zöll, in 1670 and married his daughter a year later. When Zöll died in 1677, Gastorius took over his position as cantor in Jena.

According to a report documented in the Nordhäuser Hymnal from 1687, it was Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708), in his position as ‘Adjunctus’ in Jena, who in 1675 wrote the text of this chorale specifically for his ill friend, Gastorius. Gastorius then fashioned the melody basing it loosely upon a melody by Werner Fabricius (1633-1679). [Fabricius is the Latin name assumed by this family which was normally called “Schmidt” = “Schmied” = ‘smith’] Gastorius based his melody on one of the melodies by Fabricius contained in “E. C. Homburgs geistlicher Lieder 1. Teil., mit 2stimmigen Melodeien gezieret von W. F., jetziger Zeit M D in der Pauliner-Kirchen zu Leipzig,” published in Jena in 1659. (The initials, “W. F.,” stand for Werner Fabricius.)

Amazingly, there is another chorale with the same incipit “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” but having a different melody entirely. It appeared in a 4-pt. setting by Samuel Scheidt in 1650 with only the incipit as title. For comparison it is included for viewing below:

Perhaps Rodigast was acquainted with this chorale text and used it as a basis for his own chorale text the same way that Gastorius based his melody upon the melody of another composer.

In conflict with the evidence given by the Nordhäuser Hymnal from 1687 is the fact that the melody already appeared (it is not clear whether it is already associated with Rodigast’s text) in print as the present melody by Severus Gastorius in “Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen” (published by Johann Jakob Rebenlein), Hamburg 1674. This, however, still allows for Rodigast to have taken this already published melody (with a different text) and to have desiginated as the melody according to which the chorale text should be sung. This would be the opposite sequence of events as described by the Nordhausen source, calling that source into question at least in regard to Gastorius’ fashioning the melody to suit the Rodigast text.

Now we have a melody by Severus Gastorius with its earliest documentation in 1674. But the melody is based upon an earlier somewhat similar melody by Werner Fabricius published in 1659. And yet there was an entirely different melody used for a chorale text beginning with the same words documented in Samuel Scheidt’s collection in 1650.

Only a few years later, Gastorius used the same melody with a different text than Rodigast’s as documented in a publication in Jena in 1679 in the collection of chorale texts “Andächtige Elends-Stimmen” by Chr. Klesch. The melodies for this collection were supplied by Gastorius and a Silesian cantor, J. Hancke, but their names were not attached to specific melodies to make clear who composed which melody. It is clear, however, in this collection that the melody known as Zahn 5629 makes its appearance here once again, but now combined with a different chorale text: “Brich an, verlangtes Morgenlicht.”

The EKG gives 1681 with a question mark as the date when Rodigast’s text and Gastorius’ (based upon W. Fabricius’) melody were first combined in printed form; however, no specific publication/hymnal is mentioned to support this contention.

It is quite noteworthy just how quickly the Rodigast-Gastorius-Fabricius combination of melody and text caught the attention of a great composer like Johann Pachelbel, who published (according to Johann Walther) 4 chorale melodies with variations for keyboard as early as 1683. The collection was called “Musicalische Sterbens-Gedancken” [“Musical Thoughts on Dying/Death”] and included 4-pt. settings with variations on the following chorale melodies: “Christus, der ist mein Leben” (12 variations), “Alle Menschen müssen sterben” (8), “Herzlich tut mich verlangen” (7), and “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” (9). [Score sample] Remarkably, Walther, in his “Musicalisches Lexicon…” [Leipzig, 1732], also informs the reader that this set of 4 chorale melodies with variations had been composed earlier in Erfurt during the time of the plague when Pachelbel, at that time organist at the Predigerkirche in Erfurt since 1678, lost both his wife and little son on the 9th and 28th of October, 1683. Circa 1690, Pachelbel composed a cantata ‘per omnes versus’ on “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan.”

 

Melody Source:

Here is a composite ‘original’ source drawn from 3 different sources as presented by the NBA. The sources are listed on the melody image score:

 

Text: Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan | EKG: 299

Author: Samuel Rodigast (1675)

 

Use of the Chorale Melody by Bach:

Text: Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan | EKG: 299
Author: Samuel Rodigast (1675)

Ver

Work

Mvt.

Year

Br

RE

KE

Di

BC

Score

Music Examples

6

BWV 12

Mvt. 7

1714

292

340

-

-

A68:7

PDF

Mvt. 7 (MG) [midi] | Mvt. 7 (Leusink) [ram]

6

BWV 69a

Mvt. 6

1723

292

-

293

76

A123:6

PDF | PDF ver

Mvt. 6 (MG) [midi] | Mvt. 6 (MG) ver [midi] | Mvt. 6 (Leusink) [ram]

5

BWV 75

Mvt. 7

1723

-

-

-

-

A94:7

PDF

Mvt. 7 (YFM) [midi] | Mvt. 7 (MG) [midi] | Mvt. 7 (Leusink) [ram]

6

BWV 75

Mvt. 14

1723

-

-

-

-

A94:14

PDF

Mvt. 14 (MG) [MIDI] | Mvt. 14 (Leusink) [ram]

1

BWV 98

Mvt. 1

1726

-

-

-

-

A153:1

PDF

Mvt. 1 (MG) [midi] | Mvt. 1 (Leusink) [ram]

1

BWV 99

Mvt. 1

1724

-

-

-

-

A133:1

-

Mvt. 1 (Leusink) [ram]

6

BWV 99

Mvt. 6

1724

-

341

-

-

A133:6

PDF

Mvt. 6 (MG) [midi] | Mvt. 6 (Leusink) [ram]

1

BWV 100

Mvt. 1

1732/35

-

-

-

-

A191:1

-

Mvt. 1 (Laurenscantorij) [mp3] | Mvt. 1 (Leusink) [ram]

6

BWV 100

Mvt. 6

1732/35

-

-

-

103

A191:6

PDF

Mvt. 6 (MG) [midi] | Mvt. 6 (Leusink) [ram]

1

BWV 144

Mvt. 3

1724

64

338

65

43

A41:3
F93

PDF

Mvt. 3 (MG) [midi] | Mvt. 3 (Leusink) [ram]

BWV 12/7: This version has an obbligato part missing from Bach’s later use of this setting in BWV 69a/6.
BWV 69a/6: Very similar to BWV 12/7.
BWV 75: Verses 5 and 6 (last) 7 & 14 are musically identical.
BWV 100/1 = BWV 99/1 & BWV 100/6 = BWV 75/7

 

Untexted:

Ver

Work

Mvt.

Year

Br

RE

KE

Di

BC

Score

Music Examples

-

BWV 75

Mvt. 8

1723

-

-

-

-

A94:8

-

Mvt. 7 (Leusink) [ram]

-

BWV 250

-

?

346

339

347

-

F193:3

PDF

Chorale (MG) [midi]

-

BWV 1116

-

1715

-

-

-

-

K189

-

 

 

Use of the Chorale Melody by other composers:

Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale with 9 Variations for Keyboard (1683).

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Cantata per omnes versus for 4 voices, 2 violins, 2 violas, bassoon, bc. (probably 1683, but otherwise circa 1690)
Ewald V. Nolte and
John Butt, in the article on Pachelbel contained in the Grove Music Online [Oxford University Press, 2005, acc. 9/6/05] comment as follows:

>>Pachelbel and other Protestant composers in central Germany distinguished between liturgical chorale variations, in which they retained weightier contrapuntal ingredients, and variations intended for diversion, in which they preferred lighter motifs and figuration regardless of whether the melody was sacred or secular. Seven or eight sets of chorale variations by Pachelbel survive, of which four constituted his “Musicalische Sterbens-Gedancken” (Erfurt, 1683). Although this collection is lost, attempts have been made to reconstruct it from the existing variation sets. All authorities have agreed that the collection included “Alle Menschen müssen sterben,” “Christus, der ist mein Leben” and “Herzlich tut mich verlangen,” and all existing editions include “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” as the fourth set. However, Hartmann (1987) disputed the status of “Was Gott tut” and proposed that it be replaced with a newly discovered set of 12 variations on “Freu dich sehr, o meine Sele,” which is apparently in the hand of Bach's pupil H.N. Gerber, dated 1716. Nevertheless, “Was Gott tut” does have close affinities with the other three sets. The variations range in number from seven to 12. Two of the melodies, “Christus, der ist mein Leben” and “Herzlich tut mich verlangen,” date from the first decade of the 17th century, the other two, “Alle Menschen müssen sterben” and “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,” from Pachelbel’s own time. A mild touch of tender grief is found in the chromaticism of one variation in each of the four sets, but Pachelbel’s generally lighthearted style here is compatible with the general feeling of optimism found in the original texts; however, he made no effort to relate any variation to a specific stanza. His choice of modes or keys was perhaps determined by architectural considerations: the first and the last set provide a G Mixolydian frame, the second set is in D (the dominant), the third in the Ionian mode or C (the subdominant). (The melody of the third set was originally in E Phrygian, but composers often used an Ionian harmonization when they wished to avoid the mood characteristic of the Phrygian mode.)<<

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Cantata for S, B, vn, bc, TWV 1:1747

Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan Chorale Prelude for Organ.

Johann Peter Kellner (1705-1772):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785):
Panta kalos pepoinke with the German Chorale Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Motet (June 6, 1768)

Johann Friedrich Doles, Sr. (1715-1797):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Cantata for choir soloists and orchestra

Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721-1783):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale prelude for organ

Daniel Gottlob Türk (1750-1813):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Cantata (1798)

Johann Gottlob Werner (1777-1822):
Chorale prelude for keyboard Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan

Johann Gottlob Töpfer (1791-1870):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale Prelude for Organ

Julius Schneider (1805-1895):
"Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan", Choralvariation, Op.16

Franz Liszt (1811-1886):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan No. 1 of Zwölf alte deutsche geistliche Weisen [Deutsche Kirchenlieder und liturgische Gesänge] for piano 1878-9
The complete set consists of: 1 Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, 2 O Traurigkeit, 3 Nun ruhen all Wälder, 4 Meine Seel’ erhebet den Herrn, 5 O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, 6 O Lamm Gottes, 7 Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, 8 Es segne uns Gott, 9 Vexilla regis, 10 Crux benedicta, 11 Jesu Christe, 12 Nun danket alle Gott.
Elaine Sisman comments [Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, 2005, acc. 9/7/05]:

>>Formal seriousness and a striking set rhythm come to the fore in Liszt's two sets of ostinato variations on Bach's bass line from Cantata BWV 12, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen. The first of these is a small-scale Prelude (1859) that is actually a passacaglia with 25 repetitions of the bass theme. The much larger Variations (1862) contain not only 43 variations but also a recitative, finale and chorale (Was Gott tut, dass ist wohlgetan, the same one that ends Bach's cantata), and considerable chromaticism within its formal outlines. These two works mark the reappearance of the Baroque ostinato-variation as conscious archaism, although ostinato form had made an appearance in Chopin's Berceuse op. 57, with a much simpler pattern. Liszt even included a series of variations on the folia within his Rhapsodie espagnole for piano, immediately after the introduction.<<

Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911):
Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan, Choral, Op. 93/1

Friedrich Wilhelm Franke (1862-1932):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale Variations for Organ

Max Reger (1873-1916):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale Prelude for Organ, Op. 67/46 (1902)
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale Prelude for Organ, Op. 135a/26 (1914)

Curt Doebler (1896-1970):
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Chorale Partita for Organ

J.S. Bach (doubtful):
"Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (II)", chorale prelude for organ, BWV Anh II 67
The entire sequence of numbers in the group BWV Anh II 47-72 were listed by the BWV as of doubtful authenticity, and the NBA has not even included them in their complete edition of Bach's works. There is almost no possibility that these organ works will ever be identified as being by J. S. Bach.

 

Arrangements/Transcriptions of Bach's use of the Chorale Melody:

William Walton (1902-1983):
"The Wise Virgins", suite from the ballet (1940) includes orchestration of the Opening Chorus - Vivace assai from J.S. Bach's Cantata BWV 99 "What God hath done is rightly done“.
See:
W. Walton: The Wise Virgins, suite from the ballet (arranged music of J.S. Bach)

Walter Rummel (1887-1953):
Piano transcription of Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan from Cantata BWV 99

Peter Baekgaard:
Transcription for organ of Chorale (Mvt. 14) Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan from Cantata BWV 75. See: PDF
Transcription for organ of Sinfonia (Mvt. 8) from Cantata
BWV 75. See: PDF

See list of Piano Transcriptions of BWV 75/7, BWV 75/8, BWV 99/1 & BWV 100/6 by various composers/arrangers at: Piano Transcriptions of Bach's Works - Index by BWV Number Part 1: Cantatas

 

Sources: NBA, vols. III/2.1 & 2.2 in particular [Bärenreiter, 1954 to present] and the BWV ("Bach Werke Verzeichnis") [Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998]
The PDF files of the Chorales were contributed by Margaret Greentree J.S. Bach Chorales
Software: Capella 2004 Software, version 5.1.
Prepared by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (September 2005, March 2008)

Chorales BWV 250-438
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Chorale Melodies: Sorted by Title | 371 4-Part Chorales sorted by Breitkopf Number | Explanation

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Last update: ýMarch 13, 2008 ý00:24:49