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Cantata BWV 46
Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgendein Schmerz sei
English Translation in Interlinear Format
Cantata BWV 46 - Behold and see

Event: Cantata for the 10th Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Epistle: 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11; Gospel: Luke 19: 41-48
Text: Lamentations I: 12 (Mvt. 1); Balthasar Schnurr (Mvt. 6); Anon (Mvts. 2-5)
Chorale Text: O großer Gott von Macht

Biblical quotations in green font, chorales in purple


Chorus [S, A, T, B]

Flauto traverso I/II, Tromba o Corno da tirarsi, Oboe da caccia I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Schauet doch und sehet,
Behold and see
ob irgendein Schmerz sei wie mein Schmerz,
if any grief is like my grief
der mich troffen hat.
that has befallen me
Denn der Herr hat mich voll Jammers gemacht
For the Lord has made me full of lamentation
am Tage seines grimmigen Zorns. (Lamentations 1:12)
on the day of his fierce anger.


Recitative [Tenor]

Flauto traverso I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

So klage du, zerstörte Gottesstadt,
Lament then,city of God that has been destroyed,
Du armer Stein- und Aschenhaufen!
you poor heap of stones and ashes!
Laß ganze Bäche Tränen laufen,
Let whole streams of tears flow,
Weil dich betroffen hat
since there has befallen you
Ein unersetzlicher Verlust
an irreparable loss
Der allerhöchsten Huld,
of the Almightyís grace,
So du entbehren musst
that you must do without
Durch deine Schuld.
on account of your guilt.
Du wurdest wie Gomorra zugerichtet, Genesis 19 :23
You were battered like Gomorra,
Wiewohl nicht gar vernichtet.
although not quite destroyed.
O besser! wärest du in Grund verstört,
Oh it were better that you should be razed to the ground
Als dass man Christi Feind jetzt in dir lästern hört.
than that Christís enemy is heard blaspheming within you.
Du achtest Jesu Tränen nicht,
You do not take heed of Jesusí tears,
So achte nun des Eifers Wasserwogen,
therefore now take heed of the billows of his zeal
Die du selbst über dich gezogen,
that you yourself have brought upon you
Da Gott, nach viel Geduld,
for God, after long patience,
Den Stab zum Urteil bricht.
breaks his staff in judgement.


Aria [Bass]

Tromba o Corno da tirarsi, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Dein Wetter zog sich auf von weiten,
The storm you have deserved comes on you from afar,
Doch dessen Strahl bricht endlich ein
and now its flash bursts upon you
Und muss dir unerträglich sein,
and it must be unendurable for you
Da überhäufte Sünden
since the overflowing heap of your sins
Der Rache Blitz entzünden
kindles lightning in revenge
Und dir den Untergang bereiten.
and brings about your downfall.


Recitative [Alto]


Doch bildet euch, o Sünder, ja nicht ein,
But donít imagine, you sinners,
Es sei Jerusalem allein Luke 13 :5
that it is Jerusalem only
Vor andern Sünden voll gewesen!
that is full of sins that donít concern you.
Man kann bereits von euch dies Urteil lesen:
The same judgement can easily be made for all of you:
Weil ihr euch nicht bessert
since you show no improvement
Und täglich die Sünden vergrößert
and fróm day to day increase your sins,
So müsset ihr alle so schrecklich umkommen
you are all bound to come to fearful ruin.


Aria [Alto]

Flauto traverso I/II, Oboe da caccia I/II all' unisono

Doch Jesus will auch bei der Strafe
But even in the punishment Jesus
Der Frommen Schild und Beistand sein,
will be a shield and assistance for the righteous.
Er sammelt sie als seine Schafe,
He gathers them as his sheep,
Als seine Küchlein liebreich ein; Matthew 23:37
gathers them most lovingly as his chicks;
Wenn Wetter der Rache die Sünder belohnen,
if storms of vengeance are what sinners earn
Hilft er, dass Fromme sicher wohnen.
he gives help so that the righteous dwell in safety.


Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Tromba o Corno da tirarsi col Soprano, Flauto traverso I, a due, Flauto traverso II, a due, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

O großer Gott von Treu,
O God great in your faithfulness
Weil vor dir niemand gilt
since nobody is worthy before you
Als dein Sohn Jesus Christ,
as your son Jesus Christ
Der deinen Zorn gestillt,
who appeases your anger,
So sieh doch an die Wunden sein,
then look to his wounds,
Sein Marter, Angst und schwere Pein;
his suffering, anguish and great pain
Um seinetwillen schone,
and for his sake
Uns nicht nach Sünden lohne.
do not reward us according to our sins.

Note on the text

BWV 46 was written for the 10th Sunday after Trinity and first performed on August 1st 1723. It is therefore is among the first cantatas Bach wrote at Leipzig.

In the gospel for the day Jesus laments the coming destruction of Jerusalem, foresees sufferings to come for the inhabitants 'because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation' and drives the traders from the temple. John Eliot Gardiner says that at the service of Vespers on this Sunday Josephus' account of the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 was read aloud and he comments on the resonance this would have in a country where the devastations of the Thirty Years War would still be a vivid memory. Whittaker mentions also siege of Vienna two years before Bach's birth and the 13 years of War of the Spanish succession which ended 11 years before this cantata was written.

Whittaker also suggests it must have been a man of knowledge and imagination to have conceived the cantata based on the prophecy and the tale of the terrible calamity which overcame Jerusalem at the hands of Titus in the days after Christ. References in the first recitative to enemies within the gates indicate the writer must have been familiar with Josephus' monumental description of the causes which led to the total destruction of the city and point to some scholar among the clergy of Leipzig. He adds "unfortunately his literary abilities are not commensurate with his learning and vision ď. This is somewhat harsh since the anonymous librettist - with his remonstrances, exhortations and warnings in competent rhymed verse - provided Bach with the basis for a cantata that Whittaker himself considers as 'unique among the two hundred for its grim power and tense drama.

The text of the opening movement (Mvt. 1) is taken directly from Lamentations`, a brief but striking book of the Jewish bible , which consists of five acrostic poems occasioned by the siege and fall of Jerusalem in 587/586 BC. These laments have been used in Jewish and later in Christian worship as an expression of grief at destruction of the city and also for more generalised sorrow in Christian liturgies Good Friday, as well as an appeal for divine mercy. In the verses quoted the city of Jerusalem herself speaks of her sorrow but in the cantata this is reinterpreted to refer to Jesus' sorrow over Jerusalem (and so by implication to God's sorrow over alienated sinners).

The second movement recitative threatens (Mvt. 2) the city/sinners who take no heed of Christ's tears with the fate of Gomorra (Genesis 19:23).There is a richness- or if it is not to your taste a confusion- of biblical imagery of destroyed cities, overwhelming floods and broken staffs of office to suggest God's response to man's sinfulness.

In the third movement bass aria (Mvt. 3) God's vengeful judgement is seen as a gathering storm that will ineveitably in time burst over the unrepentant sinner . Such imagery gives Bach an opportunity which he vividly exploits. The following recitative (Mvt. 4) makes explicit the application of the general imagery to us sinners who are threatened with having to face a fearful end.

Only in the final aria (Mvt. 5) is consolation offered. Echoing the tender words of Christ's lamentation over Jerusalem inMatthew's gospel (23:27) we are told the devout will be gathered in safety by Jesus.

The concluding chorale (Mvt. 6) is the final strophe of O großer Gott von Macht. This 8 strophe chorale was written by Balthasar Schnurr in 1633 and in a curious form of sung mathematics is based on Abraham's plea with God about the just in Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 18:23).It is obvious why Johann Matthäus Meyfart thought it necessary to add a concluding more general stanza . He does this skilfully preserving the syntactical pattern and rhyme scheme of earlier stanzas.


This Translation in Parallel Format

English Translation by Francis Browne (September 2005; revised & notes: October 2011)
Contributed by Francis Browne (September 2005, October 2011)

Cantata BWV 46: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
German Text | Translations: Catalan-1 | Dutch-3 | English-1 | English-3I | English-3P | English-6 | French-1 | French-4 | French-6 | Hebrew-1 | Indonesian | Italian-2 | Italian-4 | Russian-1 | Spanish-4 | Spanish-7
Chorale Text:
O großer Gott von Macht

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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