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Musical Context of Bach Cantatas
Motets & Chorales for Feast of Purification of Mary


Readings: Epistle: Malachi 3: 1-4; Gospel: Luke 2: 22-32

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

Motets and Chorales for the Feast of Purification of Mary

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 9, 2012):


Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius
(Leipzig 1682)",
Berlin: Merseburger, 1969.
ML 3168 G75

Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense"
Schünigen: Kaminsky,1927
ML 410 B67R4

Partial Index of Motets in ³Florilegium Portense² with links to online scores and biographies:

Dissertation on Bodenschatz Collection (downloadable):


- ³Ecce tu pulchra² is added an additional fourth motet which can be sung on any Marian feast.

- Chants are provided for the introit for the mass as well as for the Matins and Vespers of the - feast.

- The polyophonic response, ³Deus in Adjutorium² by C. Demantius was sung every Sunday at Vespers

MOTETS for Introit, Before Sermon at mass and vespers for Choir II, and
During Communion:

³Herre Nun last du² (6 voices) ­ Christoph Demantius (1567 ­ 1643)

Text: Luke 2:29-32 ­ Nunc Dimittis
³Lord, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for
glory to your people Israel.²

Sample motet by Demantius:

2) ²Ecce tu pulchra² (8 voices) ­ Arch. Borsarus (German, 17th cent)

Text: Song of Songs
Behold, you are beautiful, my love! behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are of doves.
Behold, you are handsome, my beloved, and comely.
Our bed is adorned with flowers,
the beams of our house are of cedar,
our ceiling is made of cypress.
I am a flower in the field,
and a lily of the valley.
As a lily among thorns,
so is my love among the daughters.
The king led me into his chamber,
he made love to me.
Adorn me with flowers,
sustain me with apples,
for I am sick with love.

3) ³Nunc Dimittis² (8 voices) ­ Hannibale Stabile (153 - 98

Text: Luke 2:29-32 (see above)


4) ³Senex Puerum² (6 voices² ­ C. Valcampus

Text: Antiphon to Magnificat at Vespers of Puritfication
´The old man carried the child in his arms, but the child governed the old

5) Plainsong Proper chants:

Introit: (Mass) Suscepimus Deus

Canticle: (Matins & Vespers) Nunc Dimittis
Canticle: (Matins & Vespers) Ex legis observantis
Responsary after Reading: (Matins & Vespers) Cum inducerunt puerum Jesus
Hymn: (Matins & Vespers) Quod Chorus
Antiphon to Magnificat: (Matins & Vespers) Senex Puerum portabat
Antiphon to Magnificat: (Matins & Vespers) Hodie Beata Virgo


Cantata BWV 83: Purification Chorales & Calendar

William Hoffman wrote (October 27, 2012):
Since the Reformation, the three special Marian Festivals honoring the Virgin Mary, Jesus' mother, were celebrated as festivals of Jesus Christ and the Lucan Gospel readings are part of the Vespers evening and Compline night prayer services of the Canonical Hours or Offices:
+The Feast of the Purification of Mary (February 2) became the Feast of the Presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple concluding with Simeon's canticle (Luke 2:29-32): "Now, Lord, let thy servant depart" (<Nunc dimittis>).
+ The Feast of Gabriel's Annuncation to Mary (March 25) became the Feast of the Conception of Jesus (Luke 1:31): "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS."
+ The Feast of Mary's Visitation (July 2) to her sister, Elizabeth, became the Magnificat (Luke 1:46), the Canticle of Praise: "My soul doth magnify the Lord."

The Nunc dimittis and Magnificat Latin liturgical intonations were first found at the beginning of the 1525 Zwickau hymnal and were adapted by Martin Luther into the German vulgate as sacred songs, respectively, "Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener" (Now Lord, let your servant depart) and "Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn" (My soul doth magnify the Lord). The 1533 <Gesangbuch> specifies that at Vespers on the evening before the special festivals, the whole congregation after the sermon sings the German Magnificat and immediately after, the German Nunc dimittis is sung (cited in Robin A. Leaver's <Luther's Liturgical Music>, Eerdman's Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, 2007: 250, 260).

Readings for the Feast of Purification of Mary ("Mariä Reinigung") are: Epistle: Malachi 3:1-4 (The Lord shall suddenly come to his temple); and Gospel: Luke 2:22-32 (Simeon canticle prophesies of Christ) (


The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus, and falls on or around 2 February. In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts, and is sometimes called Hypapante (lit., 'Meeting' in Greek). Other traditional names include Candlemas, the Feast of Purification of Mary [Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, Feast of Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Purification of St Mary the Virgin], and the Meeting of the Lord. In many Western liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation, marks the end of the Epiphany season. In the Church of England, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is a Principal Feast. Date: Fixed date - February 2 (BCW,

"Simeon was a devout Jew who, according to the book of Luke, had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Saviour. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the ceremony of consecration of the firstborn son (not the circumcision, but rather after the time of Mary's purification: at least 40 days after the birth), Simeon was there, and he took Jesus into his arms and uttered the words of this prayer.

"The Nunc Dimittis is the traditional 'Gospel Canticle' of Night Prayer (Compline), just as Benedictus and Magnificat are the traditional Gospel Canticles of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer respectively. Hence the Nunc Dimittis is found in the liturgical night office of many western denominations, including the Lutheran service of Compline. Among Lutheran churches, the Nunc Dimittis may be sung following the reception of the Eucharist (from Wikipedia).

Francis Browne's BCW 2011 "Notes" (above) and translations (Luke, Chapter 2) for Martin Luther's "Das nunc dimittis" has three translations:

Now Lord, let your servant depart
According to your word in peace [29]
For my eyes have seen the salvation [30]
Which you have prepared before all nations [31]
A light to enlighten the heathen
And the glory of your people Israel. [32]

Martin Luther
Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener
iFriede fahren, wie du gesagt hast; [29]
Denn meine Augen haben deinen Heiland gesehen [30]
welchen du bereitet hast vor allen Völkern, [31]
ein Licht, zu erleuchten die Heiden
und zum Preis deines Volks Israel.

Latin Vulgate
Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine
secundum verbum tuum in pace. [29]
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum, [30]
quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum, [31]
lumen ad revelationem gentium
et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Bach's only setting of "Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener" is found in Cantata BWV 83, "Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bande" (Joyful time in new stirring). Movement No. 2 begins with the Bass Intonation of Verses 29-30, followed by an original bass recitative, "Was uns als Menschen schrecklich scheint" (What seems to us so dreadful from our human point of view), closing with Verse 31. Luther's "Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener" is found in Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> of 1682 (NLGB) No. 54 (Purification), melody HDEKM I,1,501a - no Zahn melody listing. The Luther melody information is found in BCW,

There are three other German chorale versions of the Nunc dimittis that Bach set: Luther's paraphrase "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (With peace and joy I journey therein, NLGB No. 56); Tobias Kiel's "Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf" (Lord God, now open up heaven, no NLGB listing)); and David Behem's "Herr, nun laß in Freide" (Lord, now let in peace, no NLGB listing). These are discussed below or in the coming November BCW Discussions.

In addition, four works Bach presented for Purification contain relevant, <omnes tempore> chorales. They are:

"Meinen Jesum, laß ich nicht" (My Jesus, let I not), BWV 157/5 (S.6)
"Durch Adams Fall" (Through Adam's Fall), JLB-9 (S.1)
"Es ist genug" (It is Enough), Ahle (S.1) Anh. 157/5 (cf. BWV 60/5, "O Ewigkeit")
"Herzlich tut mit Verlangen" (I heartily long), Hassler, BWV 161/5 (S.6)

The NLGB also lists the following music appropriate for Purification:
+ <Nunc dimittis>, Latin intonation, NLGB 55;
+"Ex legis observatis," Selnecceers 1587, 4 stanzas (Zahn melody 4962), from Piae Bohemian Songs (1582), NLGB 57 setting of Johann Schein (1586-1630) for SATB, 1627;
+"Heut, hat Marien Kindelein, Schmuch, 4 stanzas, NLGB 58;
+ "Verbum caro factum est," Christmas Responsory, NLGB 41;
+"Dies absoluti praeteruunt," 13th Century, 6 stanzas, post Purification Feast hymn.

Bach also presented two settings of the J. G. Albinius chorale, "Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde" (World, farewell, I am weary of thee), found in the NLGB, that is appropriate for the Feast of Purification: Cantata BWV 158/2=?158a/1 (bass aria, soprano melody with oboe, Bc; S. 1); and Cantata BWV 27/5=Anh. 170 for Trinity 16 in the Rosenmuller SSATB setting.

Bach's Purification Cantatas

The record of Bach's musical presentations for the Feast of Purification shows several characteristics: some 14 presentations of nine cantatas in Leipzig (1724-48); some seven presentations of two cantatas or two-part cantatas; four diverse original works composed and presented in Leipzig; possibly four works of three other composers (J. L. Bach, G. H. Stölzel, G. P. Telemann) presented in Leipzig; at least three cantatas that did double duty (BWV 158, 157 and 161); and three cantatas (BWV 161, 95, and 27) that have direct connections with the 16th Sunday after Trinity.

(The BCW Discussion of four diverse original works composed in Leipzig are: chorus Cantata BWV 83 (week of October 28), Chorale Cantata BWV 125 (week of November 4), solo Cantata BWV 82 (no chorales, week of November 11), and Picander solo Cantata BWV 157 (double duty, week of November 18), as well as "Cantata BWV 200," that is actually a Stölzel Passion oratorio aria that Bach performed in 1734 (week of November 25).

Bach's Purification Cantata Calendar

+1716 (Epiphany 4, Weimar), BWV 158(a), "Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde" (World, farewell, I am weary of thee), possibly early version of Cantata BWV 158, "Der Friede sei mit dir" (Peace be with you), composed for Easter Tuesday (Third Day of Easter Feast), probably April 3, 1725 (; Thomas Braatz' BCW Provenance discusses the connections,;
*1724, BWV 83, "Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bande" (Joyful time in new stirring); repeated 1727; borrowed material;
*1725, BWV 125, "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (With peace and joy I journey therein); repeated 1736-39 (chorale cantata);
+1726 (Eph. 4), JLB-9 (two parts), "Mache dich auf, werde licht" (Change yourself, become light) (Johann Ludwig Bach);
*1727, BWV 82 Ich habe genug (I have enough); repeated 1730-31, 1735 (82a in e minor), c1746-47 c1747-1748 (82b in c minor);
+1727, (BWV 83 REPEAT);
*?1728 or later, BWV 157 Ich lasse du nicht, du segnest mich denn (I leave Thee not, Thou bless me then);
+1729, BWV deest/P-16, "Herr, nun lässest du deiner Diener" (Lord, let they servant go), Picander cycle, text only; No. 6, plain chorale, "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (S.1)
+1730-31, (BWV 82 REPEAT);
+1735, BWV 161 Komm, du süße Todesstunde (Come thou, sweetest death-hour) (Weimar, 9/27/16, Trinity 16);
+1735, (BWV 82(a) REPEAT);
+1736, "Ich habe dich zum Lichte der Heiden gemacht" (I have made for you the light of the heathens) music not extant; Stözel, 1735-36 Seiten Jahrgang (Strings annual cycle, two-part cantatas)
+1736-39, BWV 125 REPEAT)
+?1737, no title extant, Stözel, 1736-37 Book of Names annual cycle, two-part cantatas
+c1746-47, (BWV 82 REPEAT)
+c1747-1748 (BWV 82b REPEAT)

*1724-35, BWV Anh 157, "Ich habe Lust zu scheiden" (I have delight in parting) (Hamburg, 1724) [by Georg Philipp Telemann], TVWV 1:833 (Purification) or TVWV 1:834 (Trinity 16); ?both after Neumeister text; Bach autograph harpsichord part exists.

*BWV 200 "Bekennen will ich seinen Namen" (1742); "Cantata BWV 200 is actually an arrangement by J.S. Bach of the aria "Dein Kreuz, o Bräutgam meiner Seelen" from the Passion-oratorio "Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld" by G.H. Stölzel (Peter Wollny in Bach-Jahrbuch 2008)" [BCW Stölzel short biography], performed by Bach on Good Friday, April 23, 1734, in the Thomas Church.

Cantata BWV 158(a), World, farewell, I am tired of you,

Two extant movements of Cantata BWV 158 possibly were performed as part of a special, concise cantata on the Feast of the Purification in Weimar, which fell on a Sunday, February 2, in 1716, that also was the Fourth (and final) Sunday after Epiphany ( Bach's contract as Concertmaster at the Weimar Court required him to present cantatas every fourth Sunday. The three original movements probably were: 1. bass aria with soprano chorale, "Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde" (same dictum); 2. bass recitative and arioso, "Nun, Herr, regiere meinen Sinn" (Now, Lord, govern my thoughts); and 3. probably a closing plain chorale (?BWV 382), "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (With peace and joy I journey therein).

1. Bass aria, "Welt ade!," may have been set to an original poetic text of Weimar Court Poet Salomo Franck, sung by bass in G Major, with interpolated chorale melody sung by soprano accompanied by oboe in unison, "Welt ade," by Johann Georg Albinius (1624-79), first verse (indented).

Welt, ade, ich bin dein müde,
Salems Hütten stehn mir an,
Welt, ade! ich bin dein müde,
Ich will nach dem Himmel zu,
Wo ich Gott in Ruh und Friede
Ewig selig schauen kann.
Da wird sein der rechte Friede
Und die ewge, stolze Ruh.
Da bleib ich, da hab ich Vergnügen zu wohnen,
Welt, bei dir ist Krieg und Streit,
Nichts denn lauter Eitelkeit,
Da prang ich gezieret mit himmlischen Kronen.
In dem Himmel allezeit
Friede, Freud und Seligkeit.

World, farewell, am tired of you,
the tents of Salem stand before me,
World, farewell! I am tired of you,
I want to go to heaven,
where in rest and peace,
forever happy, I shall behold God.
true peace
and eternal, glorious rest will be there.
There I shall stay, there I shall delight to dwell,
World, war and conflict are yours,
nothing but pure vanity;
there I shall sparkle resplendent with a heavenly crown.
in heaven eternally
is peace, joy, and happiness.
(English translation, Emanuel Music, BCW,

2. Recitative and arioso for bass with basso continuo (?Salomo Franck text) in e minor

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!

Da bleib ich, da hab ich Vergnügen zu wohnen,
Da prang ich gezieret mit himmlischen Kronen.

Now, Lord, govern my thoughts
so that in the world,
so long as it pleases you to leave me here,
I may be a child of peace,
and let me from my sufferings
like Simeon depart to you in peace!

There I shall stay, there I shall have delight to live,
there I shall be resplendent adorned with heavenly crowns.
(Francis Browne English translation, BCW

3. Closing plain chorale (?BWV 382 in Dorian mode (Stanza 1), Martin Luther's 1524 paraphrase of <nunc dimittis>,

Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin
In Gottes Wille,
Getrost ist mir mein Herz und Sinn,
Sanft und stille.
Wie Gott mir verheißen hat,
Der Tod ist mein Schlaf worden.

With peace and joy I go on my way
in God's will.
My heart and mind are comforted,
peaceful and calm.
As God promised me
death has become my sleep.
(Francis Browne English translation, BCW

Luther's Nunc Dimittis Chorale

"Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (With peace and joy I travel there) is Martin Luther's paraphrase of the Nunc dimittis and melody (Zahn 3986, Dorian), Johann Walter, Gesangbuch 1524). The NLGB 56, Purification) is as a four-verse alliterative prayer of thanksgiving and reconciliation with death. Text and Translation, BCW Melody with Bach's other uses, and Use of the Chorale Melody by other composers is found at BCW,

Another <Simeon Canticle> chorale

Early in his career, Sebastian Bach composed two organ chorale prelude settings of "Simeon's Canticle," the Tobias Kiel (1584-1626) three-stanza, chorale, "Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf" (Lord God, now open up heaven), with its direct reference to the <nunc dimittis> in the third stanza. They are the Neumeister Chorale, BWV 1092, dated to c.1700, in E Major is a small fantasia "hymn with interludes, echoes and coda" (Peter Williams, <Organ Music of JSB> 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2003: 546), and the <Orgelbüchlein> Chorale, No. 20, BWV 617, an organ trio with interludes (Williams, <Ibid.>: 270f), in E Major.

Kiel's original setting of three stanzas was published in Erfurt in 1620 in the songbook of Johann Michael Altenberg, to whom the melody was attributed). The last of its three stanzas refers to the <nunc dimittis> for Purification. "Bach's version of the melody is a combination of the descant and Quinta vox of Altenburg's five-part setting. Bach, however, was not the author of the reconstruction. In the Gotha Cantional of 1646 the positions of the descant and Quinta vox of 1620 are reversed, the latter becoming the melody. (Christian Friedrich) Witt (Gotha Capellmeister) in 1715, formed a new melody by piecing together parts of the original descant and Quinta vox1 . His version passed into the Hymn-books of Telemann (1730), Konig (1738), and Freylinghausen (1741). His variation of the second phrase seemingly is his own. Bach uses the tune in the Orgelbuchlein."

Bach's Chorals. Part III: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works, by Charles Sanford Terry (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 3 (English translation)

The full text of "Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf" is set in Cantata BWV 222/Anh. III 157), "Mein Odem is schwacht" (My life's breath is failing), now attributed to Johann Ernst Bach (1722-1777). The text is found at BCW, The first stanza is interpolated/troped (italics) into the opening bass aria. The second stanza is Movement (Mvt.) 4, choral, SATB. The third stanza is Mvt. 5, Choral - Chorus Soprano. Three movements in Cantata BWV 222 are found in the Motet, Unser Wandel ist im Himmel, BWV Anh III 165 (also once attributed to Bach): Mvt. 3, Chorus, "Unser Wandel ist in Himmel" (Our commonwealth is in heaven); Mvt. 4, chorale stanza 2; and Mvt. 6, Chorus, "Wir haben sind getrost" (We have our consolation). It is quite possible that Cantata BWV 222 was composed for the Feast of the Purification.

1. Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf,
mein Zeit zum End sich neiget.
Ich hab vollendet meinen Lauf,
des sich mein Seel' sehr freuet,
hab g'nug gelitten, mich müd gestritten,
schick mich fein zu zur ew'gen Ruh.
Laß fahren, was auf Erden
will lieber selig werden.

2. Wie du mir Herr befohlen hast,
hab ich mit wahrem Glauben
mein'n lieben Heiland aufgefaßt
in mein'n Arm dich zu schauen.
Gott zu bestehen, will frisch eingehen
aus dem Thränenthal in Freuden Saal.
Laß fahren, was auf Erden,
will lieber selig werden.

3. Laß mich nur, Herr,
wie Simeon in Friede zu dir fahren,
befiehl mich Christo deinem Sohn,
der wird mich wohl bewahren,
wird mich recht führen,
im Himmel zieren mit Ehr
und Kron' fahr ich davon.
Laß fahren, was auf Erden,
will lieber selig werden.

i. Lord God, now open wide Thy heaven,
My parting hour is near;
My course is run, enough I've striven,
Enough I've suffered here;
Weary and sad
My heart is glad
That she may lay her down to rest;
Now all on earth I can resign,
But only let Thy heaven be mine.

ii. As Thou, Lord, hast commanded me,
Have I with perfect faith
Embraced my Saviour, and to Thee
I calmly look in death;
With willing heart
I hence depart,
I hope to stand before Thy face:
Yes, all on earth I can resign,
If but Thy heaven at last be mine.

iii. Then let me go like Simeon
In peace with Thee to dwell,
For I commend me to Thy Son,
And He will guard me well,
And guide me straight
To the golden gate:
And in this hope I calmly die;
Yes, all on earth I can resign,
If but Thy heaven may now be mine.
(Tran Catherine Winkworth 1868

The 2013 BCW Discussion of "(Sacred) Cantatas for Various Occasions," has Cantata BWV 222, "Mein Odem ist Schwach," scheduled for the week of August 11. Then, more information on the work will be presented, particularly Karl Geiringer's writing in <The Bach Family: Seen Generations of Creative Genius>, "The Music of Johann Ernst Bach," pp. 454-463 (London, George Allen & Unwin, 1954/59. Other sources will be


Cantata 125: Mit Fried und Freud

William Hoffman wrote (November 6, 2012):
Bach's use of Luther's paraphrase of Simeon's Canticle, "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin" (With peace and joy I travel there), has an important early history in Bach's compositions at Mühlhausen, Weimar and Leipzig. It was the centerpiece of his Cantata BWV 83 and 125 for Purification (Presentation, "Darstellung" in German), as well as an expresin Cantatas BWV 106 and 95 dealing with death. In later Purification presentations, Bach turned to and utilized other hymn settings of the <Nunc dimittis> as well as other hymns related to death. [These will be explored in the next three weekly discussions.]

"Mit Fried und Freud" is Martin Luther's paraphrase of the <Nunc dimittis> set to the melody (Zahn 3986, Dorian church mode) of collaborator Johann Walter, Gesangbuch 1524). It is found in <Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682 (NLGB 56, Purification) as a four-verse alliterative prayer of thanksgiving and reconciliation with death. Various hymnbooks in Bach's time used the chorale for Purification, Epiphany time, and less often for the 16th Sunday after Trinity (Peter Williams, <Organ Music of JSB> 2nd. Ed., 2003: 268f). The text and Francis Browne English translation are found at BCW, The melody with Bach's other uses, as well as the Use of the Chorale Melody by other composers, is found at BCW,

Bach's uses of Luther's `Mit Fried und Freud'

Bach's settings of Luther's hymn involve two trope insertions in cantata arias (BWV 106/3b and 125/3), an organ chorale prelude (BWV 616), three four-voice congregational hymns (BWV 382 83/5, and 125/6) and two chorale choruses (BWV 95/3c and 125/1).

1. Cantata BWV 106, "Gottest Zeit ist die aller beste Zeit" (God's time is the very best time), Mühlhausen memorial service (?Aug. 10, 1707) contains one of Bach's earliest uses of a chorale melody in his cantatas. Movement No. 3b has an alto canto (Stanza 1) with the bass aria in f minor, "Heute wirst du mit mir im Paradies sein" (Today you will be with me in paradise") (Luke 23:43), one of the Seven Last Word of Christ from the Cross. The canto text is:

Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin
In Gottes Willen,
Getrost ist mir mein Herz und Sinn,
Sanft und stille.
Wie Gott mir verheißen hat:
Der Tod ist mein Schlaf geworden.

With peace and joy I travel on
in God's will,
my heart and mind
are confident
As God has promised me:
death has become my sleep
(Francis Browne English translation, BCW,

2. The melody only is found in the Chorale prelude, <Orgelbüchlein> No. 19, BWV 616 in Dorian church mode, for Purification, composed in Weimar c.1715-16. This non-BAR melody chorale-type setting in six phrases or lines of 12 measures uses the <figura-corta> as a joy-motif increasingly elaborated in all four voices and extended over 16 measures. Given the dating and treatment, it is possible that this setting was composed for the Purification service at which Cantata BWV 158(a) was presented in No. 3:

3. Plain chorale setting, BWV 382 in Dorian mode, as found in C. P. E. Bach's 1780s publication of his father's chorales, is a free-standing chorale that originally may have been the third and closing movement of Cantata BWV 158(a), "Welt ade! Ich bin dein müde" (World, farewell, I am weary of thee). Cantata BWV 158(a) is probably an early version of Cantata BWV 158, "Der Friede sei mit dir" (Peace be with you) and was presented on Sunday, February 2, 1716, that also was the fourth and final Sunday after Epiphany. Later, the first two movements were found in Cantata BWV 158, "Der Freide sei mit dir," composed for Easter Tuesday (Third Day of Easter Feast), probably April 3, 1725, a work hastily put together for the Easter Festival when Bach had ceased to compose chorale cantatas.

4. Cantata BWV 95, "Christus, der ist meins Leben" (Christ is my Life), for the 16th Sunday after Trinity (Sept. 12, 1723), Movement 1c, is a plain, homophonic chorale chorus with tutti instrumental interludes and solo horn playing the canto, Stanza 1, in g minor Dorian.

5. Cantata BWV 83, "Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde" (Joyous time in new order), is Bach's first extant full cantata for Purification in 1724, closing (Mvt. 5) with a plain chorale (Stanza 4), in Dorian:

Er ist das Heil und selig Licht
Für die Heiden,
Zu erleuchten, die dich kennen nicht,
Und zu weiden.
Er ist deins Volks Israel
Der Preis, Ehre, Freud und Wonne.

He is salvation and blessed light
for the heathen,
to bring light to those who do not know you
and to feed them
He is the praise, honour , joy and delight of your people Israel.
(English translation, Francis Browne, BCW,

6. Chorale Cantata BWV 125, "Mit Fried und Freud ich farh dahin," Purification (February 2, 1725, begins with a polyphonic chorale fantasia (Stanza 1) with solo horn playing the canto in e minor Dorian; Mvt. 3, chorale melody trope in bass recitative, a-b minor (Stanza 3 paraphrase by unknown writer); and Mvt. 6, closing plain chorale, Stanza 4, "Es ist das Heil und selig Licht" (He is salvation and blessed light), in e minor Dorian. It was the fourth to the last of 43 almost weekly chorale cantatas Bach composed for his second Leipzig church-year cycle, beginning with Cantata BWV 20, "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort" (O Eternity, thou word of thunder), for the Sunday after Trinity, June 11, 1724

7. Sebastian Bach's Chorale Buch, BWV deest, c.1740, this student composition book on Page 37 contains the plain chorale setting of the melody (Zahn 3986, Dorian mode) with figured bass, as the only listing under the category of Purification chorales.

Cantata 125 Movements

For Cantata BWV 125, Bach's still-unknown librettist arranged a special hybrid setting of Luther's four-verse hymn, "Mit Fried und Freud," into Bach's two-part, six-movement form: Movement 1, opening chorale fantasia chorus setting of Stanza 1; Mvt. 2, original text amplifying themes in Stanza 2, for alto aria; Mvt. 3, bass recitative with trope of chorale Stanza 2; Mvt. 4, duet aria paraphrase of Stanza 3; Mvt. 5, alto recitative paraphrase of Stanza 3; and Mvt. 6, plain chorale setting of Stanza 4.

It is possible that Bach utilized four different librettists for the final four chorale cantatas composed for Cycle 2, with their texts published in a typical church libretto (text-book). According to the Harald Streck 1971 dissertation, <Die Verskunst in den poetischen Texten zu den Kantaten JSB> (ref. Arthur Hirsch, "JSB's Cantatas in Chronological Order," BACH, 1980: 18-27), the cantatas, their 1725 dates and librettists are: Purification (February 2), BWV 125, 3rd cantata group librettist; Sexagesima (February 4), BWV 126, no librettist identity; Estomihi (February 11), Cantata 127, 4th group librettist); and March 25 (Annunciation), BWV 1, 1st group librettist.

The original texts of Stanzas 1 and 4 of "Mit Fried and Freud" are found above in No. 1 and No. 5. Here are the internal Movements 2-5 in Cantata BWV 125:

Mvt. 2, Aria (free da-capo; flute, oboe d'amore, basso continuo), original poetry:

Das macht Christus, wahr Gottes Sohn,
Der treu Heiland,

Den du mich, Herr, hast sehen lon
Und macht bekannt,
Daß er sei das Leben
Und Heil in Not und Sterben

This is the work of Christ, God's true son,
the faithful saviour,
whom you, Lord, have allowed me to see
and made known
that He is our life
and salvation in trouble and in dying.
(English translation, Francis Browne, BCW,

Movement 3, chorale trope (indented) of Stanza 2 in bass recitative, a-b minor:

O Wunder, dass ein Herz
(O wonder, that a heart)
Vor der dem Fleisch verhassten Gruft und gar des Todes Schmerz
(facing the grave hated by the flesh and even the pain of death)
Sich nicht entsetzet!
(is not terrified!)
Das macht Christus, wahr' Gottes Sohn,
(Christ brings this about, the true son of God,)
Der treue Heiland,
(the faithful saviour)
Der auf dem Sterbebette schon
(who already o the deathbed)
Mit Himmelssüßigkeit den Geist ergötzet,
(delights the spirit with heaven's sweetness,)
Den du mich, Herr, hast sehen lahn,
(whom you, Lord have let me see)
Da in erfüllter Zeit ein Glaubensarm das Heil des Herrn umfinge;
(when in the fullness of time an arm of faith embraced the salvation of the Lord)
Und machst bekannt
(and you made it known)
Von dem erhabnen Gott, dem Schöpfer aller Dinge
(from the exalted God, the Creator of all things
Dass er sei das Leben und Heil,
(that he is our life and salvation,)
Der Menschen Trost und Teil,
(he consolation and portion of mankind,)
Ihr Retter vom Verderben
(their deliverer from destruction)
Im Tod und auch im Sterben.
(in death and also in dying.)

Movement 4, tenor-bass recitative with violins, paraphrase of Stanza 3:

Ein unbegreiflich Licht erfüllt den ganzen Kreis der Erden.
(An incomprehensible light fills the entire circle of the earth.)
Es schallet kräftig fort und fort
(There resounds powerfully and ceaselessly)
Ein höchst erwünscht Verheißungswort:
(a word of promise most highly desired)
Wer glaubt, soll selig werden.
(Whoever believes will be blessed.)

Movement 5, alto recitative, paraphrase of Stanza 3

O unerschöpfter Schatz der Güte,
(O uncreated treasury of goodness,)
So sich uns Menschen aufgetan: es wird der Welt,
(opened for humanity: the world)
So Zorn und Fluch auf sich geladen,
(burdened with wrath and curses)
Ein Stuhl der Gnaden
(becomes the seat of mercy)
Und Siegeszeichen aufgestellt,
(and a sign of victory will be set up)
Und jedes gläubige Gemüte
(and every believing spirit)
Wird in sein Gnadenreich geladen.
(is invited into his kingdom.)

There are two direct references to the original third verse: " mercy" (Gnaden) and "invited" (ge-laden)

Den du hast allen vorgestellt
Mit groß Gnaden,
Zu seinem Reich die ganze Welt
Heißen laden
Durch dein teur heilsams Wort,
An allen Ort erschollen

You have set him before everybody
with great mercy,
that to his kingdom the whole world
may be called and invited
through your precious healing Word
that has resounded everywhere.


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 01:39