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Musical Context of Bach Cantatas
Motets & Chorales for Sundays in Advent


1st Sunday in Advent

Readings: Epistle: Romans 13: 11-14; Gospel: Matthew 21: 1-9

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event

2nd Sunday in Advent

Readings: Epistle: Romans 15: 4-13; Gospel: Luke 21: 25-36

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event

3rd Sunday in Advent

Readings: Epistle: 1 Corinthians 4: 1-5; Gospel: Matthew 11: 2-10

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event

4th Sunday in Advent

Readings: Epistle: Philippians 4: 4-7; Gospel: John 1: 19-28

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event

Motets and Chorales for the Sundays in Advent


Advent Chorales

William Hoffman wrote (January 6, 2013):
The four Sundays in the de tempore fixed season of Advent mark the beginning of the church year prior to the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, December 25. The central Advent theme is the coming of the Old Testament prophesied Messiah, primarily in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Advent is observed as a time of general introspection rather than a season, as an overture to, a preparation for the first half of the church year, the de tempore or timed observance of the life of Jesus Christ through service music.

This half-church year in Bach’s Leipzig time constituted some 29 services over six months, from the panoply of chorales beginning with the initial time of Advent, Christmas and New Years to a liminal, in-between Epiphany Time with its timeless omnes tempore thematic "Jesus Hymns" and pre-Lenten chorales, to the Passiontide abundance of both Passion and non-Passion chorales of sacrifice and suffering, culminating in the "Moveable Feast" of Easter and Pentecost with its emphasis on Christ's final days in triumph through the word and sacrament using the themes of peace and the Good Shepherd.

Advent Season

Historically, Advent Season is a four-part observance marking both the "coming" of the Savior as well as the "Incarnation of the Son of God." Various ancient writers describe the four Sundays as Christ's coming from Heaven, coming in the spirit, coming to each one of His own, and "coming in Glory to Judgment," according to Paul Zeller Strodach's "The Church Year" (United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA, 1924), p. 23f. Other writers speak of these Sundays as incarnation, redemption, instruction, and glorification or, simply, as Sundays TO men, FOR men, IN men, and AGAINST men.

The Liturgy and its Propers, as the Reformers established them in a common service book, with the scriptural readings of the Gospels and Epistles, reveal already in the Advent Season the canticle element of song, joy, proclamation, expectation, and deliverance. The opening, entering Introit motets address the old Testament celebratory psalms and the prophecies of Isaiah and conclude with the triune "Gloria Patri" (Lesser Doxology). The Collects, drawn from throughout the Christian Church's history, are a collective petition of the gathering of the faithful, containing the central meaning and teaching of the scriptural readings or lessons, and concluding with the doxology closing, "as it was in the beginning. . . ." The sung Gradual and Hallelujah between the lessons stress the central psalmic theme of blessing, "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini" (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord"). Some of the Advent themes include "open wide the portals," Psalm 45.7; the coming of Immanuel ("God with us" - the central theme of the Old Testament); and the preparation of the way in Isaiah Chapter 40.

Since the 1st Sunday in Advent was treated as a festival in Leipzig, one of the characteristics would be the use of trumpets and drums. This is found in the opening tutti movement in the Johann Schelle (1648-1701) German biblical cantata, "Machet die Tore weit" (Open wide, the portals).

In Leipzig, Cantor and city Music Director Johann Sebastian Bach provided service music only on the First Sunday of Advent, which was "often emphasized as a special festival day over against the rest of” Advent, “which was usually observed as a time of penitence," says Günther Stiller in JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis MO: Concordia, 1984, p. 58). Thus the 1st Sunday in Advent brought joy and anticipation of the Birth of Jesus, as many of the chorales are listed as appropriate for both Advent and Christmas Sunday and Festival main services.

The ubiquitous Lutheran Advent motet "Machet die Tore Weit” (Lift up your heads, ye gates) Psalm 24:7-10), had quite an early history, including settings Wolfgang Carl Briegel (1666); Samuel Scheidt (1635), and Andreas Hammerschmidt (1644). Of course we have festive cantata settings for Advent 1 by Graupner at Darmstadt (1727, Lichtenberg text) and Telemann TVWV 1:1074 at Hamburg (?1722; Bach perfoprmance 1734) with text by J.F. Helbig (1680-1722) at Eisenach. Also, Cantata BWV 141/Anh. III 157=TVWV 1:183, "Das its je gewisslich wahr," is for the 3rd Sunday in Advent and has a Helbig text, Eisenach 1720, Frankfurt manuscript.

(I suspect that motet versions of "Machet die Tore weit" -- perhaps Briegel, Scheidt, or Hammerschmidt 0 -- may have been the opening Introit motet in Bach's festive
Leipzig Advent 1 service.)

In Leipzig at the same time, the 1st Sunday in Advent, “was also linked to Lent as the start of a period [closed, tempus clausum] of repentance and preparation, in this case for Christmas,” says Anne Leahy in JSB’s “Leipzig Chorale Preludes” (ed. Robin A Leaver; Lanham Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2011: 138). Her study emphasizes the significance and meaning of Bach’s treatment of the chorale melody in these extended organ preludes and their associated texts, examining the treatment of individual stanzas with various theological and biblical themes, citing specific biblical passages. Recent writers such as Leahy and Robin A. Leaver have found significant Christological themes, particular the Christus Paradox of Jesus Christ as “true God and Man” in the eschatological (Last Things) involving the incarnation and Passion of Christ, particularly in Luther’s Advent chorale, “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” (Now comes the saviour of the nations). “The saving of mankind begins with the birth of Christ, and therefore his suffering and Passion begin with his birth,” says Leahy (Ibid: 144f), particularly with the use of the “Passion Chorale,” “O sacred head now wounded,” at the beginning and end of the six-part Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 (1734-35).


In his “well-ordered church music to the glory of God,” Bach’s compositions embraced Advent as a transitional time embracing the two related elements of the previous final Last Days and End Time Sundays of omnes tempore (all times) Trinity Time and of the related, fixed-date de tempore (of time) so-called Marien Festivals observing the Coming of Immanuel through the Annunciation/Conception of Jesus (March 25) and the Visitation (July 2) with Mother Mary’s canticle of praise, Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My soul magnifies the Lord), as well as the Festival of the evangelist, John the Baptist (June 24), Jesus’ first cousin, six months older, who prepares his way.

Bach’s performance caleninvolved Weimar and Leipzig sacred cantata compositions as musical sermons for all four Sundays in Advent, as well as the interrelated closing Trinity Time Sundays (25-27) and the interwoven Marian Feasts as well as the Feast of John the Baptist, as shown in the following services, related (thematic) Gospel and Epistle Lessons, and Bach’s cantatas catalogued as BWV:

1. 1st Sunday in Advent: Mat. 21: 1-9 (Christ’s Jerusalem entry), Rom. 13: 11-14 (Salvation near); Cantatas BWV 61, BWV 62, BWV 36.

2. 2nd Sunday in Advent: Luke 21: 25-33 (Fig tree lesson), Rom. 15: 4-13 (Gentiles Gospel); Cantata BWV 70a.

3. 3rd Sunday in Advent: Mat. 11: 2-10 (John's messengers), 1 Cor. 4: 1-5 (Christ’s Apostles); Cantatas BWV 186a, BWV 141.
4. 4th Sunday in Advent: John 1: 19-28 (John's message), Phil. 4: 4-7 (God be with you); Cantatas BWV 132, BWV 147a.

5. Annunciation (3/25): Luke 1: 26-38 (Birth announced), Isaiah 7: 10-16 (Sign of Immanuel); Cantatas BWV 182, BWV Anh. 199, 1, BWV Anh. 156

6. John the Baptist (6/26); Luke 1: 57-80 (Simeon's Canticle), Isaiah 40: 1-5 (Messiah prophesey); Cantatas BWV 167, BWV 7, TVWV1:596, JLB-17, BWV 30, BWV 220.

7. Visitation (7/2): Luke 1: 39-56 (Magnificat), Isaiah 11: 1-5 (Peaceful Kingdom); Cantatas BWV 147, BWV 10; BWV 189.

8. Trinity +25: Mat. 24: 15-28 (Judgement Day); 1 Thes. 4: 13-18 (Sleep in Jesus); Cantatas BWV 90, BWV 116.

9. Trinity +26: Mat. 25: 31-46 (Final Judgement), 2 Ptr. 3: 3-13 (Resurrection); Cantata BWV 70.

10. Trinity +27: Mat. 25: 1-15 (Parable of 10 Virgins), 1 Thes. 5: 1-11 (Lord's Coming); Cantata BWV 140.

Advent, Related Chorales

The services, readings and Bach’s music are framed by various chorales found in the works listed above [all BWV catalog numbers except where noted (Telemann TVWV) Symbols: (5) (parentheses, Stanza 5), BWV 147a/6 (light face type, treatment unknown), 318 (bold face type, harmonized chorale), 601 (italics, organ prelude) 61/1 (underline, chorale chorus, elaborated)]


Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam (John) 7/1(1), 7/7(7)
Gottes Sohn ist kommen (Advent) 318 (PC) = ?Picander 1/7, 600, 703, 724
(or Gott, durch deine Güte)
Herr Christ, der ein’ge Gottessohn or BWV 132/6(5) =? 164/6(5)
Herr Gott, nun sei gepreiset (Advent) 601, 698 A55
Ich dank dir, liebe Herre (Advent) BWV 147a/6(6) (music not extant); BWV 37/6(4), BWV 347/48 (PC)
Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne (Visitation) 147/6(6)
Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott (Advent) OB 602, KC 704
Meinen Jesum, laß ich nicht
(Advent) BWV 70a/6(5) = 70/11(5)
Meine Selle erhebt den Heren (Visitation) 10/1(1), 10/7(7),
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland(Advent) BWV 36/2(1), BWV 36/6(6), BWV 36/8(8), BWV 61/1(1), BWV 61/1(1), BWV 61/6(8), 599, 659-661, 699
Tröset, tröeset meine Liebe
(John) 30/6(3)
Von Gott, will ich nicht lassen (Advent, John) BWV 186a/6(8) = ?73/5(8), 220/1(5), 658
Wie schön leuchtet den Morgenstern
(Ann.) BWV 36/4(6), BWV 61/6(6), 1/1(10, 1/6(6), 739, 763, 764,
Warum willst du draußen stehen? (Advent) TVWV 1:1074/5 1734 (P Gerardt 12 S. Ex.24:31, Coming Star); mel. J. Crüger)
Beside the “Advent, Related Chorales” with their settings, there are numerous chorales with Advent connections having alternate usages throughout the church year. These include Judgement hymns for the 2nd Sunday in Advent, also appropriate for the 26th Sunday after Trinity, Michael Weisse* chorales, and Lenten and thematic hymns Bach used sparingly during the Advent period in Weimar and Leipzig.


Chorales played a central role in Bach’s well-ordered church music with Reformer Martin Luther establishing the practice of using German vernacular sacred songs, following the Roman Catholic tradition of setting Latin texts to folk melodies or chant. Luther’s first adaptation in published in hymnals (1524) was “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” for Advent from the Latin chant, Veni redemptor gentium (Come redeemer of the people). Luther also utilized the new German melody as “Erhalt uns Herr, bei deinem Wort” (Lead us Lord, by Thy Word), and the liturgical “Verlieh uns Frieden gnädiglich” (Grant us peace, mercifully).

Erhalt uns Herr, bei deinem Wort” also became an alternate melody in Michael Weisse’s Advent chorale, “Von Adam her so lange Zeit” (From Adam time is so long).” Weisse (c.1488-1534), a member of the Bohemian Brethern and Martyrs, published their hymnals in 1531 and 1544, including various Advent or Advent-related chorales later found in Bach’s Leipzig creative chorale template, Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682. While Bach continued to set organ chorale preludes in Leipzig until the end of his life, he harmonized four-part settings of hundred of plain chorales, including melodies found in earlier organ chorale preludes, as well as melody with figured-bass settings of devotional hymns (Schemelli Gesangbuch (SG), 1736). His emphasis shifted from the earlier, Christological de tempore chorales to thematic omnes tempore hymns found in the plain chorales and the SG.

Another major influence on Bach was the chorales of Paul Gerhardt (1607-76). He was the leader of the third wave of German chorale writers, the Development of New Literary Concerns during the 30 Years’ War, 1618-1648. Previously was Lutheran Orthodoxy and Scholasticism, 1577-1617; and the Early Reformation Period, (1517-77). Because of his dates, Gerhardt’s chorales are not found in the NLGB. Besides new, relevant texts, Gerhardt sought to embrace various strains of Lutheran Orthodoxy, Pietism, and other Protestant perspectives. He also began setting new texts to existing melodies. For example, here is listing of his Songbook hymns for the four Sundays in Advent, with alternative melodies, two of which Bach set as plain chorales:

1. Advent (Mt 21,1-9), “Warum willst du draußen stehen” (Where will you stand outside, no Bach setting) or “Wie soll ich dich empfangen” (How shall I then receive you; plain chorale, Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248/5; Passion melody); Nos. 2, 1;

2. Advent (Lk 21,25-33), “Warum sollt ich mich denn grämen” (Why should I myself then grieve; “Cross and Consolation,” Bach's sole harmonization, BWV 422, four-part chorale in C/G Major) or “Die Zeit ist nunmehr nah” (The time is hence now, no Bach setting); Nos 83. 120;

3. Advent (Mt 11,2-10), “Warum willst du draußen stehen,” Nos 2, 4; and

4. Advent (Joh 1,19-28), “Nicht so traurig, nicht so sehr” or “Du Volk, das du getaufet bis”t (no Bach settings); Nos. 72, 33.

[No online listing exists due to commercial property. It is assumed that the source is the first complete collection, Geistliche Andachten, published in 1666-1667 by Ebeling, music director in Berlin. No hymn by Gerhardt of a later date than 1667 is known to exist. See a full accounting of Bach’s settings at BCW:

There were three principal uses of hymns or chorales in the Lutheran Evangelical Mass: as a substitute for the specific, liturgical Latin Propers or general liturgy in the Deutsche Messe (German Mass); in response to the Epistle reading and in preparation for the Gospel reading with the Graduallied; and during the distribution of communion (Robin A. Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music, Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans Publishing, 2007, 300 ff). Bach primarily used Graduallied in his Orgelbüchlein collection and many in the chorale cantatas of his second annual cycle (1724-25), says Leaver (Ibid., 302).

Organ Preludes and Plain Chorales

Influencing Bach at Weimar were the hymnbooks of the 1713 Weimar Gesangbuch, and the Witt Gotha Hymnal of 1715, and in Leipzig by the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682. Bach’s chorales for the church year, beginning with Advent, constitute the template and a pillar of his “well-order church music to the Glory of God.” It should be noted that some Advent chorales also had usages at Christmas and as Morning Songs as well as connections to the related services of Late Trinity Time and the Marien and John the Baptist Feasts.

Earliest Organ Chorale Preludes

The organ chorale preludes are found in three early compilations, dating to 1700-1708 during Bach’s time as an organist at Ohrdurf, Lüneberg, Arnstadt, and Mühlhausen:

1. The c1700 Neumeister Collection (NC) for the church year, BWV 1090-1120. The full Neumeister Collection of organ chorales of Bach and his contemporaries contains no Sebastian Bach chorales for Advent but has three for Christmas. Sebastian’s music is mostly in the omnes tempore second half of the church year. Advent and Christmas chorales are represented only with the settings of organ preludes by Johann Michael Bach (JMB, 14, 1648-1684), father of Sebastian first wife, Maria Barbara Bach, that Sebastian Bach also would set:
+JMB 1, “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland,”
+JMB 2, “Meine Seele erhebt den Herren” (German Magnificat) orGott, sei uns gnädig und barmherzig,” and
+JMB 3, “Herr Christus, der einig Gottes Sohn.”

2. The three Advent fughettas in the early “Kirnberger Collection(KC), BWV 690-713, may be the first extant compositions Bach composed for Advent, dating between 1700 and 1708:
+BWV 698, “Herr Christ, der einge Gottes-Sohn” or “Herr Gott, nun sei gepreiset” (manualiter, 20 measures, G Major)
+BWV 699, “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (16 bars, G minor dorian)
+BWV 703, “Gott durch deine Güte” or “Gottes-Sohn ist kommen”* (3/2, 3 staves, 42 measures, G Major)
+BWV 704, “Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott” (Praise be to Almighty God; Christmas two staves, 3/2, 23 measures, F Major).

3. The Miscellaneous Chorales date to c.1700 (some falsely attributed to Bach), BWV 714-771; also listed as Anhang (Addendum) works of doubtful origin; and BWV deest (no number) recently compiled by Reinmar Emans:
+BWV 724, “Gott durch deine Güte” or “Gottes-Sohn ist kommen”* (3/2, three staves, 42 measures, G Major)
+“Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,” BWV deest (Emans 140) (30 bars, G minor dorian)
+“Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn,” bar form chorale in three settings: Anh. 54 (3 staves, G Major, 28 measures), Anh. 75 (CM with figured bass “aria,” 13 measures), and BWV deest (Emans No. 85; 24 measures, G Major)

Weimar Organ Chorale Prelude Collections

In Weimar between 1708 and 1717, Bach composed the Orgelbüchlein and the so-called “Great 18 Chorales” collections.

1. The Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book, OB) church year collection contains mostly short organ chorale preludes in Weimar (c.1714) with 164 incipits but only 45 set (BWV 599-644). Available for Advent are:
+BWV 599 (OB1), “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” (A minor, 10 measures);
+BWV 600 (OB2), “Gott, durch deine Güte” = “Gottes Sohn ist kommen”* (3/2; Canon at octave, two keyboards and pedal; 3/2 meter, 26 measures, in F Major)
+BWV 601 (OB3), “Herr Christ, der einge Gottes-Sohn” – “Herr Gott, nun sei gepreiset” (bar form, 13 measures, A Major)
+BWV 602 (OB4), Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott* (Praise be to the Almighty God), 4/4, 10 measures, three staves, F Major).

2. The so-called “Great Leipzig 18” chorales of popular hymns, BWV 651-668, most of which originated as extended studies, and were revised in alternate settings (a, b) in Leipzig between 1739 and 1747. Three settings are extant of “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” and one setting with variant of Für deinen Thron tret ich. Here are the two chorales appropriate for Advent:
+BWV 659(a), 35 measures in G minor/dorian [Leipzig, “a 2 Clave. E Pedale” with more ornamented chorale melody] (a, Weimar “fantasia”]);
+BWV 660(a,b), 42 measures in G minor/dorian) [Leipzig, “Trio super, a due Bassi e Canto fermo”] (a, Weimar; b, copy of Johann Tobias Krebs, 1800-25);
+BWV 661(a), 92/41 measures in G minor/dorian [Leipzig, 2/2 alle breve, “In Organo plano. Canto fermo in Pedale”] (a, Weimar, 4/4); ritornello, fugue, cantus firmus.
[Source: Anne Leahy, JSB’s “Leipzig Chorale Preludes” (ed. Robin A Leaver; Lanham Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2011: 137-77)]|
+BWV 668(a), Für deinen Thron tret ich hiermit (Before your throne I appear herewith; Bodo von Hodenberg 1646 15 stanza text) is associated with the Louis Bourgeoise 1543 melody (Zahn 394) as the hymn "Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein" (When we are in utmost need), BWV 641 in the Orgelbüchlein (OB100), for “Christian Life and Conduct.” It was composed in Weimar c1713 (9 stanzas in G Major) and expanded to BWV 668a, “Für deinen Thron tret ich hiermit” in the “Great 18” (45 stanzas in G Major) and subsequently revised in Leipzig (listing NLGB No. 277, Cross & Persecution, Trinity 16 hymn, Zahn melody 394) and attached to the published Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, and then revised and left unfinished allegedly as BWV 668, “Bach’s Deathbed Chorale” (1750).

Bach’s original hymn source for "Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein" probably was the 1713 Weimar Gesangbuch, containing Paul Eber’s 1560 seven stanzas (text and English translation, Leahy, ibid.: 267f). Both chorales, by either name, had various associations and applications as well as other melodies and different texts set to the Bourgeoise melody. “Für deinen Thron tret ich hiermit” was originally published in 1646 as a Morning, Noon & Evening Song, with possible connotations to Advent. Georg Christian Schmelli placed it in the “Morgenlieder” opening section in his 1736 Gesangbuch (text and English translation, Leahy, ibid.: 265f), with no melody or harmonization. About 1730, Bach had set the Bourgeois melody in three four-voice plain chorales. Chorales BWV 431 in F Major and BWV 432 in G Major, have the title, "Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein." Bach also harmonized von Hodenberg’s text, “Für deinen Thron tret ich hiermit,” to the New Years Te Deum chorale, “Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir” (Lord God, we all praise you), BWV 327, in D Major.

Plain Chorales

About 1730, Bach turned to harmonization’s of independent, so-called free-standing chorales found in three sources: the Breitfkopf 371 collection of four-voice chorales compiled by Emmanuel Bach and published between 1784-87, containing the independent hymns, BWV 253-438; the 69 mostly omnes tempore sacred songs with melody and harmonization in the devotional Schmelli Gesangbuch (1735), BWV 439-506, and “Sebastian Bach’s Choral Book” (SBCB, c.1740; Robin A. Leaver, American Bach Society, 2012). In all cases, the hymnbooks list the hymns in church year service order from Advent to omnes tempore themes or topics.

1. The Schmelli Gesangbuch of 1736, for which Bach provided some melodies with figured bass, is a Pietist home devotional collection of sacred thematic songs, beginning with MorningSongs that sometimes are related to Advent hymns.
+BWV 440, “Auf, auf! Die rechte Zeit ist hier”; BWV 440 (also Morning Song)
2. In “Sebastian Bach’s Chorale-Buch” (SBCB), more then 200 chorales have melodies and harmonizations, beginning with Advent, possibly in the hand of a Bach student or of Dresden origins. The hymnbook manuscript begins with six Advent chorales, including consolidating three orignally for Visitation, John the Baptist, and the omnes tempore “Word of God.”
+SBCB 1 – Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
+SBCB 2 – Meine Seele erhebt den Herren (Visitation)
+SBCB 3 – Gelobet sei der Herr, der Gott Israel (John the Baptist)
+SBCB 4 – Von Adams Herr zo lange Zeit or OB 122, “Erhalt’ uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort” (Word of God & Christian Church; BWV 1103(NC);
+SBCB 5 – Menschenkind merk eben or Gott durch deine Güte or Gottes Sohn ist kommen
+SBCB 6 – Gottes Sohn ist kommen

Bach’s Advent Cantata Performance Schedule

Bach’s Advent performance schedule includes cantatas of Georg Philipp Telemann (TVWV, Telemann Vokal Werke Verzeichnis) and the recently-discovered Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel annual cycles of double cantatas (“String Music,” 1735-36, and “Book of Names of Christ,” possible 1736-37). The symbol (?) represents possible documentation and (??) is speculation. Lutheran Church Year, Sundays and Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach: BCW,

1ST SUNDAY IN ADVENT (NBA KB I/1, Neumann 1955)
Date(Cy.) BWV Title Type/Note
12/02/14 BWV 61 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I chorus
11/29/16 ?? BWV 61 Nun komm , der Heiden Heiland I ??repeat
11/28/23(1) (BWV 61) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I repeat
12/03/24(2) BWV 61 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland II chorale
12/02/25 and/or
12/01/26 ? BWV 36 (d) Schwingt freudig euch empor chorus/parody
12/02/31(3) BWV 36 Schwingt freudig euch empor chorus/parody/expanded
1732-35(R) (BWV 61) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland II repeat
11/28/34 [TVWV 1:1074] Machet die Tore weit/TELEMANN chorus
11/27/35 G.H. Stölzel Kommt her zu mir alle, die ihr mühselig und beladen seid, Mus. A 15:233
?12/02/36 Stölzel two lost cantatas from cycle “Book of Names of Christ”
??c1728-50 (A3) BWV 141 Das ist je gewißlich wahr [TELEMANN TVWV 1:183]

Bach considered setting a fourth cantata for the 1st Sunday in Advent in Leipzig. Picander in his published libretto cycle for 1728-29, left a text, P-1, beginning with the chorus "Machet die Tore weit" (Open wide the portals, Psalm 24:7-10) for November 28, 1728. The only possible surviving remnant is the closing chorale (Mvt. 6), "Gottes Sohn ist kommen" S.1) which may survive as Bach's four-part setting, BWV 317, also known as "Gott, durch deine Güte."

Bach wasn't finished with Advent. On November 28, 1734, he presented Telemann's cantata to the same biblical dictum, "Open wide the portals," TVWV 1:1074, followed by the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, for the six services of the Christmas Season.

Weimar Full Advent Season

Date(Sunday) BWV Title Type/Note
12/06/16 (A2) BWV 70a Wachet! betet! betet! wachet! [Chorus, Lost, Proto]
12/13/16 (A3) BWV 186a Ärgre dich, O Seele, nicht [Chorus, Lost, Proto]
12/20/16 (A4) BWV 147a Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben [Chorus, Lost, Proto]
12/22/15 (A4) BWV 132 Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn! [SATB Solo]

Opportunity and serendipity in the services enabled Bach to transform original Weimar Advent Cantatas, set to Salomo Frank texts closing with designated chorale stanzas, into two-part Leipzig cantatas with the addition of recitatives and new chorales specific to the different services. In Leipzig in 1723, Bach was able to expand Cantatas BWV 70a (Advent 2), BWV 186a (Advent 3) and BWV 147a (Advent 4) into two-part works for the related services of Trinity 26 Sunday, Trinity 7 Sunday, and the Visitation Feast, respectively. He did this for the new uages by composing new recitatives with references to the new service readings, harmonizing appropriate chorales, and occasionally making word changes in the poetic aria texts. Besides the similarity in biblical themes, the chorales often have similar theological themes with multiple uses.

Cantata BWV 70a, Chorale Judgement Theme

For Cantata BWV 70a, “Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!” (Watch! pray! pray!, watch!), Bach’s favored Leipzig hymn schedule, found in Gottfried Vopleius’ Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682, called for the thematic category hymns of “Jüngsten Tage” (Judgement Days, Final Days or Doomsday) to be sung on the 2nd Sunday in Advent as well as the 26th Sunday after Trinity. Thus, Bach, who had originally composed Cantata BWV 70a for the 2nd Sunday in Advent in Weimar, Dec. 6, 1716, was able to add new recitatives and chorale closing Part 1 in Cantata BWV 70, for the 26th Sunday after Trinity in his first year in Leipzig, Nov. 21, 1723.

Bach reinforced the chorale closing the original Cantata BWV 70a, "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, weil" (I shall not leave my Jesus since) with its theme of “Death and Dying,” adding another “Death and Dying” plain chorale to close the altered Cantata BWV 70, Part 1, "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele" (Rejoice greatly, o my soul), a Leipzig popular hymn paraphrase of Psalm 42. To reinforce the Gospel theme of the Last Judgement, Bach literally uses the symbolic trumpet to play the “Last Judgement” chorale melody, ”Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit” (It is certainly time) accompanying the extended bass recitative/arioso of the new Cantata BWV 70, Movement No. 9: “Nicht nach Welt, nach Himmel nicht / Meine Seele wünscht und sehnet;” (Not for the world, not for heaven / does my soul wish and long). This is followed with the joyous original BWV 70a bass aria, “Seligster Erquickungstag,” (Blissful day of refreshment/new life,) with trumpet and strings, followed by the affirmative closing chorale, "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, weil."

Another “Death and Dying” chorale, “Alle Menschen müssen sterben” (All men must die), is found in Picander’s 1729 published church year text for the 26th Sunday after Trinity, November 21, 1728. Cantata text P-70, “Kommt denn nicht mein Jesus bald?” (Come then not my Jesus soon?); closes with a chorale, No. 5, using the sixth stanza, O Jerusalem, du Schöne, / Ach, wie helle glänzest du! (O Jerusalem, you beautiful place, / Ah, how bright you shine!

For Cantatas BWV 186a, and BWV 147a for the Second and Third Sundays of Advent Bach found similar services in Leipzig, using the same procedure of composing recitatives and setting new chorales.

Cantata 186a: Von Gott will ich nicht lassen

Cantata BWV 186a, “Ärgre dich, o Seele, nicht” (Do not be scandalised, my soul; BCW Francis Browne translation), performed for the 3rd Sunday in Advent in Weimar, Dec. 13, 1716. It closes with Ludwig Humbold’s 1572 9-stanza versatile hymn, “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen (I will ever leave God)”; Stanza 8, “Darum, ob ich schon dulde” (Therefore, even if I endure). It is listed in the NLGB as No. 310, “God’s Word and the Christian Church” (Zahn melody 5264b) and sometimes is associated with Advent and Epiphany as in Bach’s uses. Francis Browne’s BCW English translation is found at BCW,

Bach’s harmonization of BWV 186a/6 may exist as the closing plain chorale, Cantata BWV 73/a in C minor, set with the same stanza (8) for the Third Sunday after Epiphany 1724. Bach also composed three additional plain chorale settings of the anonymous secular melody: BWV 417 in B Major, BWV 418 and 418 in A Major), and the “Great 18” organ chorale prelude, BWV 658(a) in F minor (melody in the bass).

Another plain chorale setting of “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen,” using Stanza 5, is “Lobt ihn mit Herz und Munde” (Praise him with heart and mouth, Isaiah 61:10a), opening anonymous Bach apochryphal Cantata BWV 220, for the Feast of John the Baptist (BCW Discussion, Feb. 3, 2-13)

Bach also set the chorale melody of “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen” to a New Year’s hymn (NLGB 44) in the Orgelbüchlein (OB 16), “Helft mir Gottes Güte preissen” (Help me praise God’s good), BWV 613, in A minor, based on Paul Eber’s c.1580, 6-stanza Advent hymn. The dating of this organ chorale prelude may be after 1740, suggests Peter Williams in The Organ Music of JSB (Cambridge Univ. Press; 2nd ed., 2003: 263). Meanwhile, Bach harmonized Stanza 6 in late Cantatas BWV 16, “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” (German Te Deum, Lord God, we give Thee praise), for New Year’s Day 1726, and BWV 28, Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende” (Praise God! The year now draws to a close) for the Sunday after Christmas 1725 -- both also in A minor.

Cantata BWV 186a was presented on the Seventh Sunday after Trinity in Leipzig, July 11, 1723, with existing aria texts altered (BWV 186). The Gospel theme of Jesus as a servant in the old Advent version (Matthew 11:6, John the Baptist’s Messengers) is replaced by the “want-excess antithesis” of the biblical readings of the new version (Epistle, Romans 6:19-23, Wages of Sin is death; and Gospel, Mark 8:1-9, Feeding the 4,000), says Alfred Dürr, Cantatas of JSB (New York: Oxford Univ. Press: 2005: 439-43).

Cantata BWV 147: Chorale “Ich dank dir

The principal theme in Cantata BWV 147a, “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life”), of John the Baptist acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah for the 4th Sunday in Advent in Weimar, December 20, 1716, “is reinterpreted to refer to Mary,” whose Magnificat Canticle of Praise links God to Christendom in the new version of Cantata BWV 147a, for the Feast of the Visitation, July 2, 1723, says Dürr (Ibid: 673).

The original Advent 4 Cantata BWV 147a closed with the plain chorale, “Ich dank dir, liebe Herre“ (I thank Thee, dear Lord). It is found in the NLGB No. 192, as an Advent-related omnes tempore Morning Song with its nine-stanza text of Basel pastor and hymn-writer Johann Kolrose (c1487-1558/60). The words and original melody of the Reformation hymn were first published as a broadsheet at Nürnberg, c. 1535, and included in Valentin S. Schumann’s Geistliche lieder auffs neu gebessert und gemehrt (Leipzig, 1545). See the BCW short biography,

There are three extant Bach settings of “Ich dank’ dir, lieber Herre” – all plain chorales (BWV 37/5 (Stanza 4), 347, 348) -- and the text (Stanza 6,) of BWV 147a/6. The melody is set to figured bass in a two-line Morning Song in “Sebastian Bach’s Choral-Buch“ c.1740 (SBCB No 153).

Stanza 6 (BWV 147a/6), “Dein Wort, lass mich bekennen” (Thy word, let me believe; text only in Franck libretto).

Dein Wort lass mich bekennen
Für dieser argen Welt,
Auch mich dein'n Diener nennen,
Nicht fürchten Gwalt noch Geld,
Das mich bald mög ableiten
Von deiner Wahrheit klar;
Wollst mich auch nicht abscheiden
Von der christlichen Schar.

Let me announce to this terrible world that I believe your word and that you can call me your servant. I will not be afraid that I could be swayed by power and money which could quickly lead me away from your truth. And for this effort, please do not separate me from the Christian community. (Thomas Braatz BCW translation,

Bach settings (three plain chorales):

1. Cantata BWV 37/6 (Stanza 4) in A Major; Cantata BWV 37, “Wer da glaubet und getauft wird” (Whoever believes and is baptized) Ascension Day (1724)

Den Glauben mir verleihe
An dein' Sohn Jesum Christ,
Mein Sünd mir auch verzeihe
Allhier zu dieser Frist.
Du wirst mir nicht versagen,
Was du verheißen hast,
Dass er mein Sünd tu tragen
Und lös mich von der Last.
Grant me faith
in your son Jesus Christ,
forgive me also my sins
here at this time,
You will not deny to me
what you have promised,
that he should bear my sins
and free me from the burden.
(Francis Browne translation, BCW

2. Plain chorale, BWV 347 in A Major

3. Plain chorale, BWV 348 in B-Flat Major

Stanza 1
Ich dank' dir, lieber Herre
Dass du mich hast bewahrt
In dieser Nacht Gefähre,
Darin ich lag so hart
Mit Finsterniss umfangen,
Dazu in grosser Noth,
Daraus ich bin entgangen,
Halfst du mir Herre Gott!
I thank three, dear Lord,
That thou hast shielded me,
Against the dangers of this night,
In which I lay so hard,
Surrounded by the dark;
And in great misery,
From which I escape,
Thanks to thee, Lord God.

(Alison Dobson-Ottmers translation of Stanzas 1 and 9 of both plain chorales, BWV 347 and 348, are found in the Recording, Edition Bachakademie Vol. 83, Nos. 11 & 12, Hänssler CD, Chorale-Settings for Morning/Thanks & Praise/Christian Life: BCW,, No. CH 10.)

Cousin Johann Christoph Bach (13, 1642-1703) composed an organ chorale prelude, “Ich dank dir, lieber Herre,” No. 40 (44 choraele, 1703).

Dietrich Buxtehude set the hymn as an organ chorale fantasia, BuxWV194. Max Reger also set it as an organ chorale prelude, Op. 67, No. 16 (1868).

The appointed melody, “Ich dank’ dir, lieber Herre,” has a secular origin. It was associated in 1532 (Musika Deutsch) with the song, “Entlaubt ist uns der Walde.” In 1544 Johann Kaspar Horn (c1630-1685) attached it to the hymn, “Lob’ Gott getrost mit Singen,” in his Moravian hymnbook, Ein Gesangbuch der Bruder inn Behemen und Merherrn” (A Songbook of the Bohemian Brothers and Martyrs; Nürnberg, 1544) as a Lenten hymn entitled “Thy Wounds, Lord, be my Safeguard.” In a simplified form, the tune was attached to Kolrose’s hymn in the 1662 (Frankfurt/Main) Praxis Pietatis Melica (Zahn melody Z5354). Horn BCW short biography,

It is known in English as “Let Me Be Thine Forever” and “Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven.”

On-Line Sources:
1. German text and English translations, melody and commentary: Matthew Carver, on-line Hymnoglypt,
2. Commentary: CharlesSanford Terry, Bach’s Chorals. Part I: 2 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts, (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 2; Online Library of Liberty, English translation of Stanzas 1-3 only, Terry, The Four-Part Chorales of J. S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1964).

Cantata BWV 132: Baptist, Multiple Themes

This leaves one original
Weimar Advent Cantata, Cantata BWV 132, “Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!” (Prepare the ways, prepare the path!), that Bach did not recycle in Leipzig. It was composed a year earlier than the three Frank-texted works, for the 4th Sunday in Advent, Dec. 22, 1715. Why didn't Bach alter this lovely, intimate solo cantata? Theoretically, he could have best used much of the Franck-texted material in a cantata for the Advent-related Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist, June 26. However, Bach would have had to rewrite extensively the text references in the opening chorus to preparing the way, the Messiah is coming; the evangelist's prophecy; John the Baptist's bass Gospel aria railing against hypocrites; the alto's paired recitative and aria about the baptism initiation; and the closing chorale Revelation reference to allowing the "new man" to live.

That closing chorale in Frank’s libretto Bach omitted at the end of Cantata
BWV 132, is Elizabeth Kreuziger’s 1524, five-stanza setting, “Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn” (Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God), using Stanza 5, “Ertöt uns durch dein Güte” (Kill us with your goodness). It is loosely based on the Latin Christmas incarnation hymn Corde natus ex parentis (Born from his father’s heart) by Aurelius Prudentius. The text and Francis Browne’s English translation are found at BCW,, and a history of the melody is found at BCW,

"Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn" and its Latin model have a rich history and application by Bach. With its thematic references to the Feast of the Annunciation/Conception of Jesus, March 25, it eventually served as a Catechism Justification chorale (NLGB No. 231, Zahn melody 4297a). Bach's other omnes tempore uses only of Stanzas 1 and 5 are in Cantata BWV 22/5 (S.5, Estomihi), Chorale Cantata BWV 96 (S.1, 5; Trinity 18), and BWV 164/6 (S.5, Trinity 13).

Other Advent Works

It is intriguing to note that Bach contemporaries Telemann and Stölzel composed cantatas for the full church year of some 70 works, including the seven “closed” Leipzig Sundays in Advent (second to the fourth) and the six Sundays in Lent. In addition, Bach’s librettists, Picander and Mariane von Ziegler, coincidentally each published one full annual cycle in 1728 in Leipzig, perhaps partly hoping to entice (unsuccessfully) Bach into setting them as his fourth cycle. At the least, these poetic texts, closing with popular chorale melodies, probably were countenanced by the Leipzig Town Council. By the mid 1730s, Bach presented two full cycles of two-part Stölzel cantatas containing traditional chorale texts as well as new pietist hymns of Benjamin Schmolck set to traditional melodies. Here are titles of the Advent cantatas in the two cycles Bach could have used:

12/04/35(A2) Stölzel: Siehe, der Richter ist vor der Tur, Mus Mus. A 15:20 + Man wird sie nenen das heilige Volk, Mus. A 15:21 (String Cycle)
Stölzel: Siehe, ich komme, im Buch ist von mir geschrieben, Mus A 15:26 + Als die Armen, aber die doch viel reich machen, Mus. A 15:27 (String Cycle)
Stölzel: Es ist ein Gott, und ein Mittler zwischen Gott und den Menschen, Mus A 15:32 + So man von Herzen gläu-bet, so wird man gerecht, Mus A 15:33 (String Cyle)
?12/09/35(A2) Stölzel two-part lost cantata from cycle “Book of Names of Christ”
?12/16/35(A3) Stölzel two-part lost cantata from cycle “Book of Names of Christ”
?12/23/35(A4) Stölzel two-part lost cantata from cycle “Book of Names of Christ.”

NLGB Hymn Schedule for Advent

1st Sunday in Advent [Advent 1]
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” (Hauptlied [Hymn of the Day])
Veni redemptor gentium (Latin version)
Von Adam her so lange Zeit
Gottes Sohn ist kommen
Menschenkind merk eben
Sequence “Als de gütige Gott” (Mittit ad virginem)

2nd Sunday in Advent [Advent 2]
“Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” and other Advent Songs
Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit” and other
Last Judgement/Dooms Day Hymns (Jüngsten Tage) Songs (also the 26th Sunday after Trinity)

3rd Sunday in Advent and 4th Sunday in Advent [Advent 3, Advent 4]
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” and
following Advent Songs
Helft mir Gottes Güte preisen

The Service Order in Leipzig is found in Bach's hand at the beginning of the manuscript score of Cantata BWV 61, presumably for Bach's emphasis on the start of the new church year, says Alfred Dürr in Cantatas of JSB (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005, p. 76). In the New Bach Reader, No. 113: No. 2, motet (replaced Introit Psalm chants), often in Latin, such as "Peur natus in Betlehem" or German motet settings such as Machet die Tore weit" (Psalm 24:7-10). The chorale "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" was Luther's adaptation (contrafaction) of the Latin hymn "Veni redemptor genitum."

Motet settings of "Machet die Tore weit" ("Fling wide the Gates) abound, besides
Schein, Seele, Hammerschmidt, and Briegel, including Schütz, Flor, H. Grimm, and M. Tobias, as well as cantatas of Schelle and C. H. Graun.

Another Advent-Christmas hymn is "Der Tag, der ist so freundlich," set by Bach as BWV 294 as an untexted four-part chorale in Bach's Breitkopf published collection, 1784-87 based on the Latin hymn "Die est laetitiae" (Klug 1535).

NLGB Advent Chorales

1. There is no extant Bach setting of the chant Motet, NLGB No. 1, Benedictus: “Hosiana dem Sohne Davids,” Bartholoemäus Gesius (1555-1613/21), 1601 SSATB motet setting. It is based on the text Matthew 21:9 (Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest; KJV); chant melody HDEKM I,2 S.210; Gesius BCW Short Biography,

Popular Luther Advent Hymn

2. Bach’s favorite Advent cantata setting is the Advent chorale, NLGB No. 2, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (Now come, savior of the gentiles/nations), SATB setting), EKG: 1. This is Martin Luther’s 1524 German vernacular translation of seven stanzas and a closing doxology, published in the Erfurt Enchirida and in Johann Walther’s Geystliche Gesangk Buchleyn at Wittenberg. It is based on Veni redemptor gentium (Come, Saviour of the people, the second verse of the Advent Latin hymn text, “Intende qui regis Israel,” by Bishop Ambrose of Milan (340-397). German paraphrases of the hymn date from the 12th century. Luther’s Chorale Text (CT) and Francis Browne’s English Translation are found at BCW,

The Chorale Melody (CM) is “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,” composer anonymous (15, Zahn melody 1174). It is based on the anonymous Dorian (“minor”) modal melody of the hymn, Veni redemptor gentium. The earliest source is a Swiss-Benedictine manuscript dating from 1120. The same melody source served as a basis for three important Reformation chorale melodies: “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland”, “Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich” (Luther’s CT based upon the antiphon Da pacem Domine) and Luther’s CT, “Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort.” The melody was mostly transmitted in G or in A dorian until Bach’s time. For further information on the CM, see BCW,

NLGB No. 2

Bach’s uses of the hymn (Chorale Text Stanza and Chorale Melody) are:
Cantata 61/1, French Overture chorale chorus (S.1) in a minor
Cantata BWV 61/1, chorale chorus (S.1) in b minor; /6, plain chorale (S.8) in b minor Aeolian
Cantata BWV 36, Schwingt freudig euch empor: /2 soprano-alto chorale aria (S.1), melody in basso continuo (bc) in f-sharp minor
Cantata BWV 36/6, tenor aria (S.6 with CM) in b minor; /8, plain chorale (S.8) in b minor
SBCB 1 -- Chorale Melody (CM) & b.c., “Sebastian Bach’s Choral-Buch” (c.1740)
Untexted Bach settings of the Chorale Melody are: Organ chorale preludes BWV 599 (Orgelb in A Major); BWV 659-61(a) (Great 18); Emans BWV 660b?; and Emans 140(MC), 139(MC)?;
3. Chorale NLGB No. 3, Veni redemptor gentium (Come Redeemer of the people), J. H. Schein 8-Stanza SATB setting, Seth Calvisius melody Zahn 307b. This is the Latin source of Luther’s vernacular translation of the melody, “Erhalt uns Herr, bei deinem Wort.”

Michael Weiss Advent Texts

Bach composed chorale settings of Michael Weisse Advent-related texts set to various melodies:

4. NLGB No. 4, “Von Adam her so lange Zeit” (From Adam time is so long), Michael Weisse (Bohemian Bretheran), 1544 12-stanza text (numerous biblical references); melody not listed in NLGB, alternate melodies: Luther “Von Himmel hoch da kam ich her” (From heaven on high I come to you (Zahn 346, NLGB No. 12, Christmas), or Luther’s “Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort” SBCB No. 4 (melody, Zahn 350), NLGB No. 305, “God’s Word & Christian Church.” It also is designated but unset Orgelbüchlein organ chorale No. 122, God’s Holy Word (Word of God & Christian Church).

Text:, 3 Page Scans (12 stanza text, Advent & Christmas Songs, biblical references);

Texts by Michael Weisse (1531):;
Weisse biography and works:

5. NLGB No. 5, “Gottes Sohn ist kommen” (God’s Son is coming), Michael Weisse, 9 stanza SATB setting, Zahn melody 3294 also is set to the text “Menschenkind merk eben” (NLGB No. 6) and “Gott, durch deine Güte” (no NLGB, Johann Spangenberg 1544, three Trintarian stanzas for Advent (after the sermon) C.S. Terry English


“In the Orgelbüchlein [OB No. 2, BWV 600] Bach attaches the titles of two hymns, Johann Roh’s “Gottes Sohn is kommen,” and Johann Spangenberg’s “Gott, durch deine Güte,” to a tune that originally belonged to neither of them, being that of the Latin hymn, Ave ierarchia Celestis et pia. Its earliest printed form is in Michael Weisse’s Ein Neu Gesengbuchlen (Jung Bunzlau, 1531), where it is set to Weisse’s hymn, “Menschenkind, merk eben.” In 1544, simultaneously but in different Hymn-books, Roh and Spangenberg appropriated the tune to their repective hymns.

“Johann Roh’s Christmas hymn, “Gottes Sohn ist kommen,” first appeared in the second German Hymn-book of the Bohemian Brethren (Ein Gesangbuch der Brüder inn Behemen und Merherrn), published at Nürnberg in 1544, with the tune (supra).”

“Johann Spangenberg’s hymn (Gott, durch deine Güte) appears first among his Alte und Newe Geistliche Lieder und Lobgesenge, von der Geburt Christi unsers Herrn, Für die Junge Christen (Erfurt, 1544), with the melody. The hymn, accordingly, has Advent associations, though it is addressed to the Three Persons of the Trinity and directed to be sung after the Sermon.”

"The melody is the proper "Menschen, merk eben," later renamed for its association with the more successful hymn "Gottes Sohn ist kommen" [Zahn melody 3294],” says Matthew Carver, Hymnglyph, “a text (by Johann Roh) which did not appear until 1544. It was an adaptation by Michael Weisse of an ancient 12th century melody and was used for the first appearance of his hymn in his Bohemian Brethren Hymnal of 1531, where it is called "Ave Hierarchia."

The full German texts of “Gottes Sohn ist kommen” and “Menschenkind merk eben,” side by side is found at Wikipedia, with biblical references:, scroll down to Text.

+NLGB No. 6, “Menschenkind merk eben” (Here, o mortal being), Michael Weisse 15 stanzas, melody not listed in NLGB; Zahn melody 3294. Also, the text of this appointed hymn for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity was not set by Bach. Catherine Winkworth’s English translation of” "Gottes Sohn ist kommen" (“Once He came in blessing),” Stanzas 1, 2, 3, 5, and 9, is found in C. S. Terry’s Bach’s Chorals. Part III: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921), Vol. 3:

Bach’s settings of “Gott, durch deine Güte/“Gottes Sohn ist kommen” involve three as organ chorale preludes and two as plain chorales: BWV 600 (OB), BWV 703(Kirnberger Chorale), BWV 724 (Miscellaneous Chorale); BWV 318 (plain chorale), SBCB6 (CM & b.c.(Zahn 3294);

Other Michael Weisse Chorales

+Sequence NLGB No. 7b, “Als der gütige Gott vollenden wollt” (When God, with gracious love); 7a, Mittit ad Virginem / Non quemvis Angelum), Michael Weisse 1531 vernacular revision of Abelard’s “Mittit ad Virginem,” Zahn melody1645; “for Advent by, i.a., Geistliche Psalmen… (Nürnberg), also appropriate (indeed, proper) for Annunciation,” says Matt Carver, with two full texts in German and Latin and English translation found on-line at “Hymnoglyph”: Bach’s plain chorale setting of "Als der gütige Gott,” BWV 264 in G Major, c1730, is recorded for Advent-Christmas Time, (Hänssler Complete Bach Edition, Vol. 78).

+No NLGB listing is found for “Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott“ (Praise be to that Almighty God), 13 stanzas (14 original), 4 lines each, with closing Doxology, 1531, Ein New Gesengbuchlen (Jung Bunzlau, 1531,) Bohemian Bretheran (first printing, Weisse editor), and V. Babst's Gesang-Buch, 1545. John Gambold English translation of Stanzas 1-3, 5-10, 14 from the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754, are found in Charles Sanford Terry’s Bach’s Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works[1921], at The melody (1531) from Creator alme siderum (Bright builder of the heavenly poles), text and translation, The hymn is known today as Creator of the stars of night), Vespers hymn for Advent 1 in Liber Usualis chant book (1724: 252) (Phrygian mode), Bach’s source unknown. Alternate melody (Christmas) is “Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her“ (Witt, Gotha Hymnal 1715). Bach set the Advent melody only in two early organ chorale preludes: BWB 602 (OB3) phrygian F Major 4/4, (c1712-13), and the Kirnberger Chorales, BWV 704, in phrygian F Major 3/2 Fughetta (manualieter), c1700-08.

Bach set four other plain chorales to texts of Weisse:

1. BWV 283 in E Major, "Christus, der uns selig macht" (Patris sapienta), possibly from the “
Weimar Passion,” BC D-1/6; listed in NLGB Nos. 71/I,II, Passiontide; "Dying" (Hänssler Vol. 85); Bach also set the hymn as plain chorales in his St. John Passion, Nos. 15 and 37, and organ chorale preludes BWV 620 (Orgelbüchlein, Passiontide), and BWV 747 (Miscellaneous);

2. BWV 284 in C Major, "Christus ist erstanden/ Hat überwunden," NLGB No. 105, for Easter Season (Hänssler Vol. 80);

3. BWV 292 in C Major, "Den Vater dort oben," NLGB No. 225, 7 stanzas, anonymous melody 1531, omnes tempore Communion; (Recording in "Praise and Thanksgiving" (Hänssler CD Vol. 83);

4. BWV 326 in C Major, “Welticher Ehr und zeitlicher Gut" (Wordly glory and timely good), designated in NLGB 240 (Christian Life & Conduct) as a pulpit and communion hymn for the omnes tempore First and Ninth Sundays after Trinity. The 1531 text of
Michael Weisse (10 stanzas) is found in the first Moravian hymnbook edited by Weisse, using the melody by Melchior Vulpius first published in the Vögelin Gesangbuch of 1563.

Advent Propers Liturgy: Antiphon & Responsorium

Antiphon, NLGB No. 8, “Ecce Dominus veniet et omnes sancti ejus cum eo et erit in die illa lux magna, alleluja.” (Behold, the Lord comes and all his saints with him and on that day there will be great light, alleluia.) chant melody HDEKM I, 1,239. Motet settings (8 voices) of Michael Praetorius, Musarum Sioniarum, No. 18 and 19 (1607), and Tomás Luis de Victoria motet (SATTB), Number 44 of Florilegium Sacrarum Cantionum- Petrius Phalesius (1609).

Responsorium, NLGB No. 9, [A111ai] “Rex noster adveniet Christus, quem Ioannes praedicavit Agnum esse venturum.” (Christ our king is coming, And John hath testified of Him, that He is the Lamb that should come!), Franz Eler Cantica sacre 1588, chant melody, used as vespers antiphon for
Advent 2, following Reading 1

Lesson from the book of Isaias16:1-4: “SEND forth, O Lord, the lamb, the ruler of the earth, from Petra of the desert, to the mount of the daughter of Sion.

Last Judgement Chorales (Advent 2, Trinity 26)

It is documented that about 1730 Bach also composed several harmonized, free-standing plain chorales listed under the last NLGB topical category of “The Last Judgement, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Life” (Vom Jüngsten Tage, Aufferstehung des Todten und ewigen Leben), Nois 390-400. These hymns are appropriate, according to the NLGB, for both the 2nd Sunday in Advent and the 26th Sunday after Trinity, they are:
+”Gott hat das Evangelium” (Mat. 24), Erasmi Alberi, Magdeburg; Leipzig 1638), Last Days, 14 stanzas, NLGB No. 390 melody Zahn 1788, in E major, BWV 319
+"Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein" (alternate title “Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit,” NLGB No. 391, Trinity 26 Pulpit Hymn) in G Major BWV 388, as well as the same double title in B-Flat Major, BWV 307; the double title "Nun freut euch/Es ist gewißlich” Miscellaneous Chorale in G Major, BWV 734; and the questionable Miscellaneous Chorale, “Es ist gewißlich” in G Major, BWV 755.
+“Es wird schier der letzten Tag herkommen” in e minor, BWV 310, NLGB No. 393, and Trinity 26 Hymn of the Day,
+Trinity 26 Communion Hymn, “Gott der Vater wohn uns bei” in D Major, BWV 317. It is even possible that Bach substitited one or more of these harmonized hymns in further reperformances of Cantata BWV 70.

In addition, Bach composed an early (c.1700) Last Judgement organ chorale prelude, ”Ach Gott tu dich erbarmen” in G Major, ending in D Major, BWV 1109, found in the early Neumeister Collection, Erasmi Alberi, 12 stanzas, Zahn melody 7228c, NLGB No. 396.
[The NLGB lists three little-known pulplit and communion chorales, all under the heading “Last Days, Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Life” that Bach never set:
+”Es wird schier der letzten Tag herk,” NLGB 393 (Last Days) Michael Weisse (Bohemian Brothers) 12 stanzas (Zahn 1423);
+ “Ach Gott tu dich erbarmen”; Erasmi Alberi, Last Days NLGB 396, 12 stanzas Zahn 7228c
+”Fritsch auf und lasst singen,” Johann Rist, 10 stanzas (Zahn 8552a).]


Bach Cantata Website,
OB: Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book)
EKG: Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch (German Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal)
FP: Partial Index of Motets in “Florilegium Portense” with links to online
scores and biographies:
Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for Events in the Lutheran Church Year
Bach Cantata Website (BCW)


+Dürr, Alfred. Cantatas of JSB (New York: Oxford Univ. Press: 2005.
+Emans Reinmar. JSB Organ Works: Organ Chorales from Miscellaneous Sources (Urtext of the New Bach Edition; Kassel: Bäenreiter BA 5251, 2008 [also NBA KB IV/10)
+Leahy, Anne. JSB’s “Leipzig Chorale Preludes” (ed. Robin A Leaver; Lanham Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2011.
+Leaver, Robin A. Luther’s Liturgical Music, Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans Publishing, 2007,
+Stiller, Günther. JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis MO: Concordia, 1984, p. 58).
+Strodach, Paul Zeller. The Church Year: Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles and Gospels (United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA, 1924).
+Terry, Charles Sanford. Bach’s Chorals. Part I: 2 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts, (Cambridge University Press).
+Terry ______. The Four-Part Chorales of J. S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1964).
+Williams, Peter. The Organ Music of JSB (Cambridge Univ. Press; 2nd ed., 2003,


Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Table of Motets & Chorales for Events in the Lutheran Church Year

Lutheran Church Year: Main Page and Explanation | LCY - Event Table | LCY 2000-2005 | LCY 2006-2010 | LCY 2011-2015 | LCY 2016-2020
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of Bach’s Vocal Works
Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event | Motets & Chorales for Events in the LCY
Discussions: Events in the Lutheran Church Year: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Readings from the Bible


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Last update: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 01:38