Aryeh Oron wrote (July 13, 2002):
BWV 117 - Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut – Background [W. Murray Young]
The background below is taken completely from W. Murray Young’s book ‘The Cantatas of J.S. Bach – An Analytical Guide’ (1989). The English translation is by Francis Browne, a member of the BCML.
Mvt. 1 Chorus
Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut
(Let there be praise and honour for the highest good)
Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
This extended chorale, is sung plainly, with all instruments accompanying, to the tune of the anonymous ‘Es ist das Heil uns kommen her’ (Salvation has come to us). This is a congregational singing, albeit much of the elaborate, with which the listeners were accustomed in singing their hymns.
Mvt. 3 Aria for Tenor
Was unser Gott geschaffen hat
(What our God has created)
Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo
The two oboes d’amore, accompanying this movement, lend a tone of confidence, which seems to colour his didactic text very effectively. Note that this aria has no da capo.
Mvt. 6 Aria for Bass
Wenn Trost und Hülf ermangeln muß
(When comfort and help must fail us)
Violino solo, Continuo
A solo obbligato violin imparts quiet dignity to this movement, as the bass singer continues the joy-motif in his singing. His personal faith with God to help him in time of trouble is beautifully expressed both in the text and in the vocal.
Mvt. 7 Aria for Alto
Ich will dich all mein Leben lang
(All my life long I want)
Flauto traverso I, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo
This movement is the crowning jewel of the whole cantata. It is accompanied by the strings and the transverse flutes. The melody is a very moving largo, to which the alto sings a happy hymn of devotion to God. The tune resembles a rondo with its swinging tempo in a joy-motif. This aria, in Young’s opinion, is one of Bach’s most inspired moments.