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Cantata BWV 164
Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet
English Translation in Interlinear Format
Cantata BWV 164 - You, who take your name from Christ

Event: Solo Cantata for 13th Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Epistle: Galatians 3: 15-22; Gospel: Luke 10: 23-37
Text: Salomo Franck (Mvts. 1-5); Elisabeth Kreuziger (Mvt. 6)
Chorale Text: Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn

Biblical quotations in green font, chorales in purple


Aria [Tenor]

Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Ihr, die ihr euch von Christo nennet,
You, who take your name from Christ,
Wo bleibet die Barmherzigkeit,

where is to be found the mercy
Daran man Christi Glieder kennet?

by which people recognize members of Christ?
Sie ist von euch, ach, allzu weit.

It is far, far away from you.
Die Herzen sollten liebreich sein,

Your hearts should be rich in love,
So sind sie härter als ein Stein.

but they are harder than a stone.


Recitative [Bass]


Wir hören zwar, was selbst die Liebe spricht:
We do indeed here what love itself says:
Die mit Barmherzigkeit den Nächsten hier umfangen
those who here embrace their neighbour with mercy
Die sollen vor Gericht
when they come to judgement shall
Barmherzigkeit erlangen. Matthew 5:7

obtain mercy.
Jedoch, wir achten solches nicht!

And yet we pay no attention to this!
Wir hören noch des Nächsten Seufzer an!

We hear our neighbour's sighs,
Er klopft an unser Herz; doch wirds nicht aufgetan! Matthew7 :7

he knocks at our heart, but it is not opened.
Wir sehen zwar sein Händeringen,

We see his wringing of hands,
Sein Auge, das von Tränen fleußt;

his eyes overflow with tears;
Doch lässt das Herz sich nicht zur Liebe zwingen.
but our heart is not moved to love.
Der Priester und Levit,
The priest and the Levite
Der hier zur Seite tritt,

who here pass by on the other side
Sind ja ein Bild liebloser Christen;
are indeed an image of Christians without love;
Sie tun, als wenn sie nichts von fremdem Elend wüssten,

they act as if they know nothing of compassion for the stranger,
Sie gießen weder Öl noch Wein
they pour neither oil nor wine
Ins Nächsten Wunden ein.

in their neighbour's wounds.


Aria [Alto]

Flauto traverso I/II, Continuo

Nur durch Lieb und durch Erbarmen
Only through love and through compassion
Werden wir Gott selber gleich.
do we become like God.
Samaritergleiche Herzen
Hearts like that of the Samaritan
Lassen fremden Schmerz sich schmerzen
are moved to sorrow for the sorrow of others
Und sind an Erbarmung reich.
and are rich in pity.


Recitative [Tenor]

Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Ach, schmelze doch durch deinen Liebesstrahl
Ah, melt through the rays of your love
Des kalten Herzens Stahl,
the steel of cold heartst
Dass ich die wahre Christenliebe,

so that true Christian love,
Mein Heiland, täglich übe,

my saviour, may inspire what I do each day,
Dass meines Nächsten Wehe,

so that my neighbour's woe
Er sei auch, wer er ist,

-whoever he may be,
Freund oder Feind, Heid oder Christ,

friend or foe, pagan or Christian-
Mir als mein eignes Leid zu Herzen allzeit gehe!

may always touch my heart as if it were my own sorrow!
Mein Herz sei liebreich, sanft und mild,

May my heart be filled with love, gentle and tender,
So wird in mir verklärt dein Ebenbild.

then your image will be transfigured in me.


Aria (Duet) [Soprano, Bass]

Flauto traverso I/II e Oboe e Violino I/II, tutti all'unisono, Continuo

Händen, die sich nicht verschließen,
Hands that are not clasped shut
Wird der Himmel aufgetan.

will open heaven,
Augen, die mitleidend fließen,

eyes that flow with compassion
Sieht der Heiland gnädig an.

are looked upon with mercy by the Saviour,
Herzen, die nach Liebe streben,

To hearts that strive for love
Will Gott selbst sein Herze geben.

God himself will give his heart.


Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Ertöt uns durch dein Güte,
Kill us with your kindness,
Erweck uns durch dein Gnad
awaken us through your grace!
Den alten Menschen kränke
weaken the old man
Dass der neu' leben mag
so that the new man may live
Wohl hier auf dieser Erden
even here on this earth,
Den Sinn und all Begehrden
and we may devote all our mind and desire
Und Gdanken habn zu dir
and thoughts to you.

Note on the text

BWV 164 was written for 13th Sunday after Trinity and first performed on 26 August 1725. The text is taken from Salomo Franck’s Evangelisches Andachts-Oppfer published at Weimar in 1715. This is the source of the texts of ten of Bach’s Weimar cantatas (132,152,155,80a, 31, 165, 185, 161,162, 163)and the question arises whether an earlier version of this Cantata was written at Weimar. In 1715 13th Sunday after Trinity occurred during the period of mourning for Prince Johann Ernst and there is no record of any performance in 1716. Dürr suggests that “if a Weimar setting of this text by Bach ever existed it must have differed so much from the setting we know that it would practically amount to a different composition.” An attractive suggestion by Julian Mincham is the Bach wrote both this Cantata and BWV 168 from texts by Franck in the summer of 1725 as homage to his friend who had recently died.

[I would in passing strongly support Ed Myskowski’s regular recommendations of Julian's commentaries. As I listen to the cantatas to write these notes, I find what Julian has written constantly informative, perceptive and stimulating, even for cantatas which I thought I knew well For this cantata the account of the duetto for soprano and bass is particularly helpful.]

The gospel for this Sunday is Luke 10 : 23- 37, the lawyer’s question to Jesus about what he must do to inherit eternal life and the parable of the good Samaritan. As often the cantata text moves from an opening generalisation which is then developed in various ways to reach a personal appreciation of the truth. Starting from the rarity of compassion that is implied in Jesus's parable Franck in the opening aria addresses a question to the whole Christian community : where is the compassion that should distinguish Christians. Their hearts are harder than stone.

The following recitative makes use of what Christ says in the sermon on the Mount ( the merciful will obtain mercy, knock on the door will be opened) and imagery from the day’s gospel(the priest and Levite who should give the lead in compassion riding by the stricken Samaritan) to bring home to us how far our current behaviour differs from what it should be.

The Alto Aria puts forward the solution that we should imitate God's mercy and compassion and so develop Samaritergleiche Herzen (instead of the hearts harder than stone mentioned in the first Aria).

The second recitative changes to the first person for an impassioned prayer and plea that ‘my heart’ may be liebreich, sanft und mild so that God image will be ‘in mir verklärt’.

After this personal application the last aria for soprano and bass generalises using the imagery of hands, eyes and hearts to suggest the positive consequences that will result from more compassionate attitude.

The cantata concludes with the only choral movement, asetting of the fifth stanza of the hymn Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn by Elizabeth Creutziger (1524)

Franck's text is not particularly original or of high literary merit but it is competently written and well structured and so provides Bach with a good basis for an interesting cantata

Since this is the first text by Franck for which I have written notes I add Spitta’s detailed more positive appreciation of Franck as a writer :

Franck was undoubtedly one of the true poets of his time. In neatness and grace of diction he was equal to Neumeister, and but little his inferior in purity of expression. Added to these he had what Neumeister often lacked, depth and fervour of feeling. This natural bent would of course lead him to lyric poetry, and with this, at that time, sacred verse was synonymous. His masqu, his poems written for weddings, on occasions of mourning, and others of the kind, are distinguished by their refined and elegant 'character, without displaying any great variety or originality of thought. In religious poetry, on the other hand, he revealed a very marked and remarkable individuality. His scope, even here, is limited, no doubt ; but his way of seeing and modes of expression are neither borrowed nor absorbed from others ; they are the genuine offspring of his own mind. Grandeur and a soaring flight he has not, but a very picturesque vein of rhapsody and tender melancholy. He likes to dwell on the sorrows and sufferings of human life ; he lingers by the grave, and muses on death and the inspiring and hopeful images of heavenly joys. In treating of this he displays a very uncommon wealth of fancy, and he soon formed for him­self a distinct style for the adequate expression of his ideas and feelings. A certain amount of,familiarity with his mode of treatment makes it almost impossible not to recognise it at once ; in it he reminds us of Eichendorff, as well as in a certain key of mystical dreaminess, when due allowance is made for the difference of their periods, and in some degree of their subject-matter. Certain turns of language and figures of speech he is apt to repeat frequently, and in the same way he is fond of using intricate metres, artificial schemes of rhyme, and a mixture of long and short lines ; he likes, too, to frame in a verse, as it were, by repeating the first lines at the end of it.

The subjective character of his poems did not hinder their extensive use for church purposes. Franck is a very con­spicuous witness to the fact that the transfusion of the objec­tive catholic church sentiments into personal religious feeling met an universal predisposition half-way as it were, even out­side the special circle of the Pietists. A reader of his poems, whose knowledge of the conditions under which they were written was merely superficial, would certainly attribute them to a pietistic writer. But that he was far indeed from this is sufficiently proved by his friendship with Olearius, the superintendent at Arnstadt, and by the position of esteem he held at the court of Wilhelm Ernst ; there is still further evidence in his numerous texts for cantatas, arranged in the manner of Neumeister. Of his hymns the best known is " So ruhest du, 0 meine Ruh," although its want of simplicity, and particularly an incessant seeking to play upon words, show that it is a youthful work; and indeed it is contained in his first collection.238 Twelve years later he brought out at Arnstadt a collection of Madrigals on the Passion ; we may sympathise with the fervent feeling of these poems, but cannot overlook the want of taste in much of the expression, and the turgid or lame character of the images. However, as he went on he succeeded better in finding natural and touching expres­sion for his ideas. His sacred and secular poems (Geist and Weltlichen Poesien), which came out in two parts in 1711 and 1716, mark the highest level of his works in the sacred lyrics it contains ; 239 indeed these volumes include most of what he had produced in the way of occasional poems up to the year when the second part was published, excepting some sacred cantatas, which we must now study more closely

Franck's earliest cantatas were written in the old form, and consist of Bible texts and hymns in verses. One whole series is included in the sacred and secular poems 94 to 210;

a rhythm adapted to recitative is introduced only into two dialogues, for the second day of Christmas-tide and the first day of Easter, and in both cases unhesitatingly given to the chorus. In the second part of the same col­lection there is likewise a series of hymns for the year under the title Singende Evangelische Schwanen—Gospel Songs of the Swan (pp. 2 to 86),—on the subject of death and the life to come. While these are all, without excep­tion, simple arias—that is to say, hymns in verses—in pp. 132, 134, and 190 we find the first of his cantata texts in the complete form as devised by Neumeister. Between these again there are several poems, intermediate in cha­racter, which are devoid of recitative, consisting only of a string of arias of modern style and of various metres, inter­spersed with short ejaculations or axioms.

This attempt to reconcile the forms of the older and the newer cantata —by no means advantageous from the musical point of view—was evidently the result of the fact that Franck did not become acquainted with the new style till he was a man of fifty, and could not at once make up his mind to give up the old form that he knew and loved. Of the three series of cantatas for the year which he wrote, and which have come down to us, the second only consists of poems of this older character ; while in the other, recita­tives after the Neumeister model are also introduced. So far as I have been able to discover he was alone in his experi­ment. It seems clear too, from the fact that these new methods were not used by him before he wrote the second part of his sacred and secular poems, that the idea of adopt­ing the new form of sacred cantatas had been suggested from Eisenach, and chiefly by the third and fourth cycles of Neumeister.

Johann Sebastian Bach by Philip Spitta (Vol 1, p526)


This Translation in Parallel Format

English Translation by Francis Browne (July 2007; revised & notes January 2012)
Contributed by Francis Browne (July 2007, January 2012)

Cantata BWV 164: 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 | French-4 | French-6 | Hebrew-1 | Indonesian | Italian-2 | Italian-4 | Russian-1 | Spanish-4 | Spanish-7
Chorale Text:
Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn

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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