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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

Cantata BWV 195
Dem Gerechten muß das Licht immer wieder aufgehen


Aryeh Oron wrote (February 21, 2002):
BWV 195 - Background [Alfred Dürr]

The background below was written completely by Alfred Dürr and is included in the liner notes to Beringer’s recording of this cantata for Rondeau Produktion. The English translation of the text, by A. Philip Ambrose, is also taken from the same source.

Place and date of composition unclear

The compositional history is not always tidy as in the case of ' Dem Gerechten muß das Licht immer wieder aufgehen' (For the righteous must the light over be arising), BWV 195, demonstrates this more clearly than can be to our liking. Here we are left groping around almost completely in dark.

The present form of the cantata dates to the final years of Bach’s life, and the recording by Beringer is based on this version. We have also evidence for an earlier version dating to around 1742. The earlier version had a full second part after the marriage ceremony with an aria, a recitative and a concluding chorus instead of the chorale. Bach borrowed the aria and the chorus from the ‘Angenehmes Wiederau’ of 1737 and set them to the new texts without major revision. There may also have been an even earlier version dating to 1727/1732. The watermark on the title page suggests this date. But it may have been purely by chance that Bach used an older sheet of paper. What we know for certain may be summed up as follows:
1. Performance ca. 1742, second part fully developed, extant as a fragment,
2. Performance ca. 1748-1749, second part = chorale, extant in full.

The designation of the cantata as ‘Copulations Cantata’ is also clearly attested. Since we know that textual allusions were very popular at the time, we may conclude that the groom of each performance was in all likelihood a jurist (‘Dem Grechten’, ‘Ihr Gerechten’). Perhaps the earliest version was performed at the wedding of Gottlob Heinrich Pipping, a legal advisor and the Mayor of Naumburg, and Johanna Eleonora Schütz, the daughter of the late pastor of Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig and the great-grandniece of Heinrich Schütz. In any case, the reference to honouring justice and virtue in this couple (‘so Grechtigkeit als Tugend’) would do very well for a jurist and a minister’s daughter.

Festive setting

The festive instrumentation of the cantata suggests that it was performed for persons of rank: trumpets, timpani, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, strings, and continuo together with four-part choir alternating between solo and tutti sections. Of course, the earlier instrumentation may not have been so lavish. The concluding chorale suddenly calls for horns instead of trumpets, a fact perhaps pointing to its original employment in another context before it was destined to substitute for the part of the cantata.

1st Part – before the Ceremony

Mvt. 1 Chorus
Dem Gerechten muß das Licht immer wieder aufgehen und Freude den frommen Herzen
(For the righteous must be light over new he arising, and gladness for upright spirits)
The introductory chorus has an especially magnificent and noble effect. In keeping with the two Psalm verses of its text, it is structures in two parts of distinct meter and theme. The fugal development forming the core of each part is presented first in solo form and with the accompaniment of few instruments and then with the tutti chorus and with the increasing involvement of the orchestra. Two major intensification complexes result.

Mvt. 2 Recitative for Bass
Dem Freudenlicht gerechter Frommen
(This joyous light’s upright admirers)
A characteristic joy motif accompanies this recitative. It is allotted a continuo, not the instrumental accompaniment assigned in similar cases.

Mvt. 3 Aria for Bass
Rühmet Gottes Güt und Treu
(Praise ye God’s good will and trust)
The only aria in the extant version, evidently underwent a number of changes before attaining to its final form. It may have been a tenor aria with an accompaniment limited to the strings. Even its succinct Lombard rhythm (short-long instead of regular movement) seems to be a concession to mid-century fashion. Bach may have been trying to defend himself against the charge that his music was outmoded and too erudite.

Mvt. 4 Recitative for Soprano
Wohlan, so knüpfet denn ein Band
(Rejoice, for joined is here a bond)
The second recitative, also assigns the instruments flutes with accompanying oboes, a task in the area of motivic-textual interpretation. Here we should now ascending scales go alo0ng with the words of exhortation and descending-gliding scales along with words such as ‘Segen’ and ‘end’.

Mvt. 5 Chorus
Wir kommen, deine Heiligkeit
(We come here, thy great holiness)
The chorus concluding the first part of the cantata is more songlike than the introductory chorus and by and large does without artful polyphony. Two vocal parts are again structured around the alternation of solo and tutti sections.

2nd Part - After the Marriage Vows

Mvt. 6 Chorale
Nun danket all und bringet Eh
(Now thank ye all and bring your praise)
A simple chorale is all that follows after the marriage ceremony in the late version: the first strophe of ‘Nun danket all und bringet Her’ (1647), a hymn by Paul Gerhardt, is sung on the melody ‘Lobt Gott, ihr Christen alle gleich’.


Cantata BWV 195: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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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