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Cantata BWV 78
Jesu, der du meine Seele
English Translation in Interlinear Format
Cantata BWV 78 - Jesus, by whom my soul

Event: Chorale Cantata for 14th Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Epistle: Galatians 5: 16-24; Gospel: Luke 17: 11-19
Text: Johann Rist (Mvts. 1, 7); Anon (Mvts. 2-6)
Chorale Text:
Jesu, der du meine Seele

Biblical quotations in green font, chorales in purple


Chorus [S, A, T, B]

Corno col Soprano, Flauto traverso, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Jesu, der du meine Seele
Jesus, by whom my soul
Hast durch deinen bittern Tod
through your bitter death
Aus des Teufels finstern Höhle
from the devil's dark abyss
Und der schweren Seelennot
and from heavy distress of soul
Kräftiglich herausgerissen
has been mightily torn free
Und mich solches lassen wissen
and by whom I have been made to know this
Durch dein angenehmes Wort,
through your kindly word,
Sei doch itzt, o Gott, mein Hort!
be still now, O God, my refuge!


Aria (Duet) [Soprano, Alto]

Violone, Continuo

Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten,
We hurry with weak yet eager steps,
O Jesu, o Meister, zu helfen zu dir.
O Jesus, O master, to you to help.
Du suchest die Kranken und Irrenden treulich.
You faithfully look for the sick and straying.
Ach höre, wie wir
Ah hear, as we
Die Stimmen erheben, um Hülfe zu bitten!
raise our voices to pray for help!
Es sei uns dein gnädiges Antlitz erfreulich!
May your gracious countenance give us joy!


Recitative [Tenor]


Ach! ich bin ein Kind der Sünden,
Ah! I am a child of sin,
Ach! ich irre weit und breit.
Ah!I stray far and wide.
Der Sünden Aussatz, so an mir zu finden,
Sin's leprosy, which is found in me,
Verlässt mich nicht in dieser Sterblichkeit.
will not leave me in this mortal life.
Mein Wille trachtet nur nach Bösen.
My will strives only after evil.
Der Geist zwar spricht: ach! wer wird mich erlösen?
My spirit indeed says:Ah! Who will set me free?
Aber Fleisch und Blut zu zwingen
But to overcome flesh and blood
Und das Gute zu vollbringen,
and to carry out what is good
über alle meine Kraft.
is beyond all my strength.
Will ich den Schaden nicht verhehlen,
Even though I would not hide my failings
So kann ich nicht, wie oft ich fehle, zählen.
I cannot count how often I fail.
Drum nehm ich nun der Sünden Schmerz und Pein
Therefore I now take the sorrow and pain of sin
Und meiner Sorgen Bürde,
and the burden of my cares
So mir sonst unerträglich würde,
that would otherwise be unbearable for me
Ich liefre sie dir, Jesu, seufzend ein.
And with sighs hand them over to you, Jesus.
Rechne nicht die Missetat,
Do not count my misdeeds
Die dich, Herr, erzürnet hat!
Which have angered you, Lord!


Aria [Tenor]

Flauto traverso, Continuo

Das Blut, so meine Schuld durchstreicht,
The blood that cancels out my guilt
Macht mir das Herze wieder leicht
makes my heart again light
Und spricht mich frei.
and declares me free.
Ruft mich der Höllen Heer zum Streite,
If the hosts of hell call me to battle,
So stehet Jesus mir zur Seite,
then Jesus stands by my side,
Dass ich beherzt und sieghaft sei.
so that I am encouraged and victorious.


Recitative [Bass]

Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Die Wunden, Nägel, Kron und Grab,
The wounds, nails, crown and grave,
Die Schläge, so man dort dem Heiland gab,
the blows that were there given to my Saviour,
Sind ihm nunmehro Siegeszeichen
are now signs of his victory
Und können mir verneute Kräfte reichen.
and can give me renewed powers.
Wenn ein erschreckliches Gericht
When a terrifying judgement
Den Fluch vor die Verdammten spricht,
pronounces a curse on the damned,
So kehrst du ihn in Segen.
you turn it into a blessing.
Mich kann kein Schmerz und keine Pein bewegen,
No sorrow and no pain can move me,
Weil sie mein Heiland kennt;
because my Saviour knows them
Und da dein Herz vor mich in Liebe brennt,
and since yout heart burns with love for me
So lege ich hinwieder
I in turn lay down
Das meine vor dich nieder.
What is mine before you.
Dies mein Herz, mit Leid vermenget,
This heart of mine, mixed with suffering,
So dein teures Blut besprenget,
sprinkled with your precious blood,
So am Kreuz vergossen ist,
that was shed on the cross
Geb ich dir, Herr Jesu Christ.
I give to you , Lord Jesus Christ.


Aria [Bass]

Oboe I, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Nun du wirst mein Gewissen stillen,
Now you will calm my conscience
So wider mich um Rache schreit,
that cries against me for vengeance,
Ja, deine Treue wird's erfüllen,
yes, your faithfulness will fulfil it
Weil mir dein Wort die Hoffnung beut.
since your word offers me hope.
Wenn Christen an dich glauben,
If Christians believe in you,
Wird sie kein Feind in Ewigkeit
no enemy in all eternity
Aus deinen Händen rauben.
Will steal them from your hands.


Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Flauto traverso in octava e Corno e Oboe I e Violino I col Soprano, Oboe II e Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Herr, ich glaube, hilf mir Schwachen,
Lord,I believe , help me in my weakness,
Laß mich ja verzagen nicht;
let me not despair;
Du, du kannst mich stärker machen,
You, you can make me stronger,
Wenn mich Sünd und Tod anficht.
When sin and death assail me.
Deiner Güte will ich trauen,
I shall trust in your goodness
Bis ich fröhlich werde schauen
until wth joy I shall behold
Dich, Herr Jesu, nach dem Streit
you, Lord Jesus , after the battle
In der süßen Ewigkeit.
in sweet eternity.

BWV 78 Notes on the text

BWV 78 was written for the 14th Sunday after Trinity and first performed enough on 10th September 1724. It is therefore part of the cycle of chorale cantatas which Bach composed in his second year at Leipzig. The texts of these cantatas are based on hymns of which the first and last stanzas are used unchanged while the intervening verses are adapted to recitatives and arias.

The unknown author has adapted a 12 stanza hymn by Johannnes Rist which dates from 1641. Rist wrote some 650 religious poems and seems unable to express himself in less than 10 stanzas The connection between the gospel reading -Jesus heals 10 lepers -and the hymn is tenuous: both involve appeals to Jesus and the 'leprosy of sin' is mentioned in a recitative. However, Rist's main concern is a meditation on Christ's Passion which heals the faithful and brings peace to the troubled conscience. In general, Bach's librettist revises and adapts the earlier text to express a more confident faith

Rist's verbal dexterity is at once shown in the opening movement which is an appeal to Jesus expressed in one complex sentence whose words are fitted into a rhyme scheme ababccdd. Adjectives are frequent and conventional -bitter death, dark hell etc -but it is skilfully done and reads fluently.

Bach's setting of this opening stanza is magnificent and monumental - so much so that as JulianMincham comments: doubtless Bach recognised the need for a little light relief after such intensity. The duet for soprano and alto which follows is sheer delight. The text is based on the second stanza of Rist. But either Bach or his librettist has radically altered the hymn to accommodate the joyful music. Rist's emphasis is on Jesus' care in rescuing the verlorn Schäflein (lost sheep) who are verfluchtet (cursed), fall into Hell etc. In the cantata the emphasis is instead placed on the joyous response to Jesus' call.

Mincham speculates: Bach must often have composed movements of this kind in a single evening. One wonders if he may have put his pipe down on his composing desk after creating a jewel of this kind and allowed himself to think, 'Well, that was a good evening's work'.

I wonder also about Bach's composition of this mov. The text has been purposefully altered. Was Bach inspired to write such music by the revised text or did his compositional process begin with a musical idea to which the text was then accommodated? Of course such a question is unanswerable but it would be fascinating to know how Bach created such joyful beauty

The third movement tenor recitative is based on stanzas 3-5 of the hymn. Two lines are quoted from each stanza. What Rist says about human sinfulness and the contradictory nature of our will is stated more succinctly and Bach's librettist anticipates the aria to follow by adding the idea of handing over the burden of our sins to Jesus.

The tenor aria adapts stanza 6 and 7 of the hymn. From stanza 6 comes the redemptive power of Christ's blood and from stanza 7 his assistance against the hosts of hell. But what in Rist are prayers become factual statements in Bach's text.

The same more positive rewriting is seen in the second recitative for bass which uses stanzas 8-10. Rist says that the details of Christ's passion bring consolation : in the cantata text they are Siegeszeichen, signs of vicory. Rist says that only Jesus can prevent him from hearing words of condemnation at the last judgement. In the cantata curse turns to blessing, sorrow and pain have no more effect and Jesus' heart burns with love for those who follow him. The last four lines of stanza 10 are then used verbatim.

The sixth movement bass aria is an adaptation of stanza 11. There is little difference in content but whoever rewrote Rists stanza has tried to intensify the language : where Rist's conscience torments him (plagt) his successor finds that his conscience cries out against him for vengeance. Rist is confident that no one who believes will be lost, Bach's librettist is sure that no enemy will ever steal them from Christ's hands.

As is usual in the chorale cantatas the last stanza is set unchanged.As is usual in chorales the concluding strophe brings the hymn to a close by repeating earlier themes and prayers and ending with the hope of heaven for the future.

Rist and Bach's Leipzig collabarator have between them provided the basis for a cantata which, as John Eliot Gardner says, is the pick of the cantatas for this Sunday and one in which an exceptional level of inspiration is maintained through all its movements.


This Translation in Parallel Format

English Translation by Francis Browne (August 2008; notes January 2012 )
Contributed by Francis Browne (August 2008, January 2012)

Cantata BWV 78: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Program Notes to Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78 [S. Burton]
German Text | Translations: Catalan-1 | Dutch-4 | English-1 | English-3I | English-3P | English-5 | English-6 | English-10 | French-1 | French-4 | French-6 | Hebrew-1 | Indonesian | Italian-2 | Russian-1 | Spanish-2 | Spanish-7
Chorale Text:
Jesu, der du meine Seele

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: Friday, June 02, 2017 05:29