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Cantata BWV 158
Der Friede sei mit dir

E. Chafe | G. Schuhmacher | D. Schulenberg


Thomas Braatz wrote (February 7, 2003):
BWV 158 - Commentaries:

Chafe [his ‚pet’ theory is the anabasis/catabasis {ascent/descent}mvt. of the keys in the progress of a Bach cantata and the meaning/symbolism that can be derived from this]:

In Cantata 158, „Der Friede sei mit dir, „Jusus’ appearance to the apostles in Jerusalem no doubt prompted the D major beginning of the opening recitative; but the piece modulates immediately to relate the reaction of the anxious individual to Jesus’ presence, and the recitative ends in G. The following movement is a soprano/bass duet with an ornate solo violin part, the soprano (doubled by oboe) singing Rosenmüller’s “Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde’ [“Goodbye world, I’m tired of you,”] and the bass a series of troped phrases dominated by longing for eternity (“Salems Hütten” [“the tents of Salem”]) and the heavenly crown. A bass recitative in E minor then gives the key to the descent plan: “Nun Herr, regiere meinen Sinn, damit ich auf der Welt, so lang’ es dir mich hier zu lassen noch gefällt, ein Kind des Friedens bin, und laß mich zu dir aus meinen Leiden wie Simeon in Frieden scheiden!“ [„Now Lord, govern my thoughts so that I, in this world, as long as it pleases you to leave me here, may be a child of peace and allow me to depart from my sufferings to go to you in peace like Simeon once did!”] The key ideas here are expressed in the words “regiere meinen Sinn” [“govern my thoughts”] and “auf der Welt” [“in this world,”] both expressions indicating that the desire for eternity is contained within a prayer for God’s aid in the present life. The cadence at the end of this phrase is to G once again, but the bass descends over an octave and a half; then the arioso continuation repeats the text that ended the preceding aria, but in E minor: “Da bleib’ ich, da hab’ ich Vergnügen zu wohnen, da prang’ ich gezieret mit himmlischen Kronen” [“There I shall stay, there I will enjoy living, there I will be beautifully adorned with heavenly crowns.”] The final E minor chorale, “Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm” [“Here is the proper Easter Lamb”] (a verse of “Christ lag in Todesbanden,”) confirms the meaning of the descent and the G major/E minor relationship in the work as the anticipation of eternity in the present life.

Gerhard Schuhmacher (1986) in writing the notes for the Teldec Harnoncourt/Leonhardt Bach Cantata Series sees and hears a connection between the aria (mvt. 2) and the SMP: “In its instrumental symbolism and expressive power the writing here is related to the aria “Erbarme dich” from the later St. Matthew Passion.”

David Schulenberg (in his article contained in the ‘Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach [Boyd]’ reports that Joshua Rifkin, in his notes for the recording he made [9], has suggested as possible dates: April 15, 1727 and March 30, 1728.

The aria with chorale has been regarded as one of the most accomplished mvts. of its type, in view perhaps of the expressively florid solo instrumental part which seems more appropriate for a flute and bears similarities with the ‘Domine Deus’ of the B minor mass. The 3rd mvt. begins as another simple recitative, but in the second half it turns to arioso as it repeats the 2nd part of the preceding aria text. Although no music from the aria is repeated exactly – something Bach had done in Cantata BWV 56 – the motivic parallels are unmistakable. Moreover, at this point, as in the aria, the tonality turns to E minor; this modulation together with the tortured melodic lines and harmonies for the concluding phrase, “himmlischen Kronen’ [‘heavenly crowns,’] might be regarded as pointing towards the Cross. An Easter reference, this passage prepares for the final mvt., a 4-pt. setting of the 5th strophe of Luther’s “Christ lag in Todesbanden,” in E minor. The BG, following Penzel, gives a seemingly imperfect version of this mvt.; the NBA follows the better version from Breitkopf’s 1786 volume of Bach’s chorale harmonizations.


Cantata BWV 158: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Commentaries: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal Works BWV 225-524 | Sources


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