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Cantata BWV 116
Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ
English Translation in Interlinear Format
Cantata BWV 116 - You prince of peace, Lord Jesus Christ

Event: Chorale Cantata for the 25th Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18; Gospel: Matthew 24: 15-28
Text: Jakob Ebert (Mvts. 2, 6); Anon (Mvts. 2-5)
Chorale Text: Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ

Biblical quotations in green font, chorales in purple


Chorus [S, A, T, B]

Corno col Soprano, Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ,
You prince of peace, Lord Jesus Christ,
Wahr' Mensch und wahrer Gott,
true man and true God,
Ein starker Nothelfer du bist
you are a strong helper in distress,
Im Leben und im Tod.
in life and in death.
Drum wir allein
Therefore we only
Im Namen dein
in your name
Zu deinem Vater schreien.
cry to your father.


Aria [Alto]

Oboe d'amore solo, Continuo

Ach, unaussprechlich ist die Not
Ah, unspeakable is our distress
Und des erzürnten Richters Dräuen!
and the threatening of the enraged judge!
Kaum, daß wir noch in dieser Angst,
Scarcely, as a result are we still able in this anguish -
Wie du, o Jesu, selbst verlangst,
as you yourself, o Jesus, demand that we should -
Zu Gott in deinem Namen schreien.
to call to God in your name.


Recitative [Tenor]


Gedenke doch,
Remember then,
O Jesu, daß du noch
o Jesus, that you still
Ein Fürst des Friedens heißest!
are called a prince of peace!
Aus Liebe wolltest du dein Wort uns senden.
From love you wanted to send your Word to us.
Will sich dein Herz auf einmal von uns wenden,
Does your heart all at once want to turn away from us,
Der du so große Hülfe sonst beweisest?
you who formerly showed us such great help?


Aria (Terzetto) [Soprano, Tenor, Bass]


Ach, wir bekennen unsre Schuld
Ah, we acknowledge our guilt,
Und bitten nichts als um Geduld
and ask for nothing other than your patience
Und um dein unermeßlich Lieben.
and your immeasurable love.
Es brach ja dein erbarmend Herz,
Your compassionate heart was broken
Als der Gefallnen Schmerz
when the sorrow of those who had fallen
Dich zu uns in die Welt getrieben.
drove you to us in this world.


Recitative [Alto]

Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Ach, laß uns durch die scharfen Ruten
Ah, under the sharp rods
Nicht allzu heftig bluten!
do not make us bleed too heavily!
O Gott, der du ein Gott der Ordnung bist,
O God, you who are a God of order,
Du weißt, was bei der Feinde Grimm
you know that in the wrath of our enemies
Vor Grausamkeit und Unrecht ist.
what cruelty and injustice there is.
Wohlan, so strecke deine Hand
Come then, stretch out your hand
Auf ein erschreckt geplagtes Land,
to a frightened, tormented land,
Die kann der Feinde Macht bezwingen
your hand that is able to overcome the might of our enemies
Und uns beständig Friede bringen!
and bring us lasting peace!


Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Corno e Oboe d'amore I e Violino I col Soprano, Oboe d'amore II e Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Erleucht auch unser Sinn und Herz
Enlighten also our hearts and minds
Durch den Geist deiner Gnad,
through the spirit of your mercy,
Daß wir nicht treiben draus ein Scherz,
so that we may not act frivolously
Der unsrer Seelen schad.
to the harm of our souls.
O Jesu Christ,
O Jesus Christ
Allein du bist,
you alone
Der solchs wohl kann ausrichten.
can well accomplish this.

Notes on the text

In 1724 Protestant Germany celebrated Easter a week earlier than the rest of Christendom and so it was an extra Sunday after Trinity for which Bach produced this cantata. It was performed on 26 November 1724 and forms part of the series of choral cantatas which Bach wrote in his second annual cycle at Leipzig. (Earlier commentators mistakenly dated this cantata to 1744).

The text is based on a seven verse hymn sometimes ascribed to Ludwig Helmbold but written in fact by Jakob Ebert in 1601. It is directed to be used to ask for peace in times of war. In the gospel of the day Christ speaks of the distress of the last times but the anonymous librettist of Bach’s cantata has not made specific references to the gospel text. As is customary with chorale cantatas the first and last stanzas are used unchanged while the remaining stanzas are adapted to recitatives and arias.

Texts of chorale and cantata have been printed together to facilitate understanding of how the librettist has used the chorale.

In general the cantata text makes the specific references to distress and danger in war refer more generally to the difficulties of leading a Christian life. The additions made may be seen as reflecting the more personal tone of devotion developed by the Pietist movement in the Lutheran church in the 120 years between the composition of the hymn and the cantata .

As is usual the opening verse is used unchanged. Jesus is addressed by the title ‘Prince of peace’ [Isaiah 9:7] and seen as a source of help in life and in death.

The second verse of the chorale objectively presents war and hardship as the cause of distress and asks Jesus to pray his father on our behalf. The cantata text more subjectively sees the source of distress rather as God’s anger against our sins and places greater emphasis on our difficulties in prayer.

A similar contrast can be seen in the third and fourth verses. The chorale asks for Christ’s help, the cantata text again strikes a more subjective note with its mention of God’s love and rhetorical question about whether the heart of Jesus is now turned away from us. Again, the chorale text more or less instructs God as to what should be doing, while the cantata talks of the immeasurable love and compassionate heart of God.

The fifth and six stanzas of the chorale are concerned with the situation in a time of war. The corresponding verse of the cantata departs almost completely from this to ask in general terms for God's assistance in living in a world hostile to Christian values.

The final stanza is a prayer for enlightenment to Christ. As is customary in chorale cantatas, it is used unchanged.


This Translation in Parallel Format

English Translation by Francis Browne (April 2003; revised & notes: September 2012)
Contributed by Francis Browne (April 2003, September 2012)

Cantata BWV 116: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
German Text | Translations: Catalan-1 | Dutch | English-1 | English-3I | English-3P | English-6 | English-10 | French-4 | French-6 | Hebrew-1 | Indonesian | Italian-2 | Japanese-6 | Portuguese-1 | Russian-1 | Spanish-5 | Spanish-7
Chorale Text:
Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ

English Translations in Interlinear/Parallel Format (English-3): Sorted by BWV Number | Sorted by Title | Sorted by Event | Note on English Translations

Texts & Translations: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Other Vocal 1081-1089 | BWV Anh | Chorale Texts | Emblemata | Sources | Poets & Composers
Discussions: Texts | Translations: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


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Last update: Thursday, June 01, 2017 15:59