Thomas Braatz wrote (February 11, 2003):
BWV 16 - Provenance:
Both the autograph score and the original set of parts are in the BB which acquired them from Georg Pölchau (1773-1836), who in turn got them from C. P. E. Bach after his estate was put up for sale. Some of the parts were separated from the score early on, but were reunited in the BB early in the 19th century. The unique watermark of the paper used for the score can be dated as belonging to the period between December 1725 and August 1726.
Bach’s Titles and Other Text Notations:
On the title page Bach wrote:
Festo Circumcisionis J.C. | Herr Gott dich loben wir. | à | 4 Voci. | 3 Hautbois | 2 Violini | Viola | e | Continuo | di | Joh: Sebast. Bach.
On top of the 1st page of the score he wrote:
J. N. J. A. Festo Circumcisionis J. C. Concerto.
In addition to this Bach marked the 4th mvt.: Recit. and the 5th: Aria
With a special indication for the top part: Hautb di Caccia
For the repeat of this aria he wrote: sub signo (the dal segno sign) | ab initio
Over the last mvt.: Choral
At the very end: Fine SDG
The Original Parts:
The existing original 14 parts (the set is incomplete missing among other things 1 or 2 untransposed continuo parts as well a doublet of the Viola 1 part – the existing Viola and Violetta parts are from a later period based upon the handwriting and paper used – there is a change of the obbligato instrument which was undertaken with C.P.E. Bach’s handwriting not being that of a 13-16 year old – everything seems to point to the New Year of 1734 :)
Soprano: (Copyist 1)
Alto: (Copyist 1)
Tenore: (Copyist 1)
Baßo: (Copyist 1)
Corno da Caccia: (a later addition by Bach himself; it was not in the score)
Hautbois 1: (Copyists 1, 2, and 3)
Hautbo: [sic] (Copyists 3 and 4)
Violino 1: (Copyists 1 and 3)
Violino 1: (Doublet – Copyists 2 and 3)
Violino 2: (Copyists 1 and 3)
Violino 2: (Doublet – Copyists 3, 5 and 6)
Violetta: (Copyist 7) (very late - 1734, does not really belong to the original set)
Viola: (Copyist 8) (one of the least authentic parts- no corrections by Bach)
Continuo: (Transposed – Copyist 3 – Bach added the figured bass)
Further Identification of the Copyists:
1 = Main copyist “C” who was active in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of Bach’s tenure in Leipzig as identified by Alfred Dürr
2=Used in Bach’s 3rd and 4th Leipzig years and identified by Dürr as “Anonymous IIIb”
3=Another main copyist of the early Leipzig period and identified by Dürr as “Hauptkopist B”
4=A secondary copyist in Bach’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years in Leipzig designated by Dürr as “Anonymous IIf”
5=Another secondary copyist of the same period; called “Anonymous IIc” by Dürr
6=This is the young W. F. Bach
7=This is the young C.P.E. Bach
8=Another main copyist, but from Bach’s late period (after 1745) in Leipzig. Dürr calls him “Hauptkopist H”
Date of Composition:
The most likely date of composition would be for New Year’s Day 1726. It does not appear very likely that Bach used earlier material, but there is no 100% certainty on this point either.
Robin A. Leaver, in his article for this cantata in the Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach [Boyd,] lists performances on New Year’s Day of 1726, 1731, after 1745 and again in 1749. No additional sources of information are given to substantiate the findings of 1731 and 1749.
Text and Melodies:
Dürr indicates that the librettist is Georg Christian Lehms who had printed this New Year’s Day text in 1711 in his book “Gottgefälliges Kirchen=Opfer” under the heading “Nachmittags=Andacht auf Neu-Jahrs-Tag” without making any reference to either the Epistle or Gospel for this Feast Day, but rather emphasized only praise and thanks in a general sense. The introductory 4 lines of text are Martin Luther’s German version (1529) of the “Tedeum.” The melody for this is a variant of the plain-chant upon which this is based. The following pairs of recitatives followed by arias are presented in such a way that the 1st pair expresses gratitude for all the good things that have happened in the past year and the 2nd pair is a request for future blessings. The final chorale, not included in Lehms’ meditation, is the last verse of the New Year’s hymn by Paul Eber (circa 1580), “Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen.” The chorale melody is uniquely associated with this chorale text.