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Jubilate Sunday Cantatas

Jubilate Sunday Cantatas, Chorales, Theme

William Hoffman wrote (April 16, 2016):
The theme of sorrow turned to joy or the sorrow-joy-antithesis is found in all four chorus cantatas Bach presented in Leipzig on “Jubilate” or the Third Sunday after Easter, beginning with Cantata BWV 12, “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen” (Weeping, crying, mourning, sighing) [(John 16:20] (Salomo Franck text, Weimar, 4/22/1714); repeated April 30, 1724, Bach’s only repeat in the first cycle for the Sundays after Easter. The opening Introit antiphon, “Make a joyful noise,” and Psalm are the beginning of Psalm 66(1-2): “Jubilate Deo” (Be joyful in God all ye lands; sing the glory of his name and praise; how awesome are your deeds, through your great power your enemies submit).

All the cantatas open with texts of tribulation and lamentation, based on the Bible: *BWV 103, “Ihr werdet weinen und heulen” (Ye shall weep and howl) [John 16:20] (Mariane von Ziegler text, Leipzig, 4/22/1725); repeated 4/15/1731. *BWV 146, “Wir müsen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen” (We must through much tribulation into the Kingdom of God enter) [Acts 14:22] (?Picander text; Leipzig, 5/12/1726 or 5/18/1728). *JLB 8, “Die mit Tränen säen” (That with tears seen) [Psalm 126:4-6] (Leipzig 5/12/1726 [uncertain] c.1743-46) (Prince Ernst of Meiningen/Rudolstadt text).

Bach’s unceasing string of original church service cantatas nearing two years in Leipzig took a major new direction in terms of both texts and music with the presentation of Cantata BWV 103, “Ihr werdet weinen und heulen” (Ye will be weeping and wailing) on Jubilate Sunday, the third after Easter Sunday, April 22, 1725.

John Eliot Gardiner in his recent musical biography, Bach: Music on the Castle of Heaven (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013: 333), suggests that the 1725 Easter Season cantatas were commissioned in 1724 but delayed a year. The sudden cessation of the chorale cantata cycle at Easter 1725 is discussed in Eric Chafe’s recent study: Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014: 47).

Cantata 12, originally composed in Weimar, was reperformed in Leipzig during the first cantata cycle, at the early main service of the Thomas church, before the sermon of Pastor Christian Weise Sr. (1671-1731), the Bach family father confessor, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest (p.822). Weise also was a member of the theology faculty at Leipzig University and on the previous Monday, April 24, 1724, was promoted to doctor of theology together with seven other candidates.

Sorrow to Joy, John’s Farwell Discourses

All four extant cantatas move to and conclude with joy in non-Easter season chorale texts and melodies:

12 Weinen, klagen; 12/6 tenor aria, tp. Mel. “Jesu, meine Freude” (Jesus, my joy), 1714/24. BWV 12/7 “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan . . . dabei will ich verblieben” (What God does, that is well-done . . . Thereon shall I rest) = 69a/6 Tr. 12. 103/6 chorale text Paul Gerhardt 1653 “Barmherzger Vater, höchster Gott” (Merciful Father, highest God); BWV 103/6 mel. “Was mein Gott will” (What my God wills), Ziegler 1725. Cantata 146/8, text “Lasset ab von eurer Tränen” (Leave off your tears), 1728 Picander. BWV 146/8Werde munter, mein Gemüte” (Become cheerful, my spirit). Cantata JLB 8/8,1726, chorale “Komm her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn” (Come here to me, speaks God’s Son).

Bach’s Easter Season musical sermons portray the initial sorrow of Christ’s disciples and his followers at his death leading at the resurrection to an initial, brief inward joy which grows in Christ’s final 40 days on earth to Ascension Day at which, “They worshiped him and went back to Jerusalem, filled with great joy, and spent all their time in the Temple giving thanks to God” (Luke 24:52-53, the conclusion of Luke’s Gospel).

The juxtaposition of sorrow and joy is a central theme in Bach’s works, especially in the great closing choruses of all three extant Passions for Good Friday, and is based upon Ecclesiates 3:4: “There is a time for sorrow and a time for joy, for mourning and dancing.” Each of the rest-in-the grave choruses of Bach’s original Passion settings of John, Matthew, and Mark uses sorrowful texts set to dance music, respectively: “Rest well, ye holy limbs,” a 3/4 minuet; “We sit our selves down in tears,” a 3/4 sarabande; and “By thy rock grave and great tombstone,” a 12/8 gigue.

The theme reflecting sorrow at Christ’s death and joy at his resurrection is based on the service Gospel reading, John 16:16-23, “Jesus’ Farewell,” in Jesus’ Farewell Discourses to his disciples in John’s Gospel, Chapters 14-17. It is the first of four Discourses used as the Gospel readings for the final four Sundays After Easter: Jubilate [3rd Sunday after Easter, "Make a joyful noise"], John 16:16-23 Christ’s Farewell; Cantate [4th Sunday after Easter, "Sing"], John 16: 5-15, Work of the Spirit; Rogate [5th Sunday after Easter, "Pray"], John 16:23-30, Christ’s Promise to the Disciples; Exaudi [6th Sunday after Easter, "Hear"], John 15: 26-16: 4, Spirit will come.

Jubilate Readings, Easter Fair

The relevant Gospel text is found in BCW, [20] Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. [21] A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. [22] And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. Epistle, 1 Peter 2:11-20, Christ’s Farewell. The Introit motet is a setting of Psalm 66, Jubilate Deo omnis terra, Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands (KJV), known as “praise to the strange works of God,” says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 811). The full text is found on-line at

Jubilate Motets & Chorales (Douglas Cowling): Introit: “Jubilate Deo” (LU 821); Motet: “Jubilate Deo Omnis Terra”; Hymn de Tempore: “Christ Lag in Todesbanden”; Pulpit Hymn: “Christ ist Erstanden”; Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing: “Erscheinen ist der Herrlichen Tag.” The NBA KB is I/11.2 for the 3rd Sunday after Easter, Reinmar Emans ed., 1989. Cantata BWV 150, “Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich” (For you, Lord, is my longing, Psalm 25:1), April 29, 1708 or earlier, is appropriate for Jubilate Sunday, says Petzoldt (Ibid.).

Jubilate Sunday “marked the start of the Ostermesse, the Easter trade fair, when, for three weeks, a flood of visitors – book dealers, craftsmen, hawkers, and international commercial travelers –swelled the resident population to some 30,00 citizens,” says Gardiner Ibid.: 336f). On this Sunday, no trading was allowed, thus the visitors and distinguished residents would “certainly want to hear something fine in the principal churches,” says Bach’s predecessor, Johann Kuhnau, cited in Gardiner’s book. The other two festive annual fairs were the winter one, beginning on the First Sunday after Epiphany, and the fall fair beginning on the Feast of St. Michael’s, September 29.

“All three of Bach’s surviving cantatas for Jubilate (BWV 12, 103, 146) concerns themselves with the sorrow surrounding Jesus’ farewell to his followers, with the trials that await them in his absence, and with joyful thoughts of seeing him again,’ says Gardiner. Each is a journey, a musical and emotive progression – from profound gloom and anguish to euphoric celebration, based on the Gospel for the day . . . .”

Jubilate Text Parallels

Bach considered but did not complete two works for Jubilate Sunday, BWV 224, and Picander Cycle Cantata P-33. The initial texts of both are quite similar, in a troubling mood. BWV 224, “Reißt euch los, bekränkte Sinnen” (Break away, O troubled spirits); opening soprano aria fragment(librettist unknown); uncertainty whether music is by Bach [1724] or C.P.E. Bach [1732]. The text continues: “Break away, /Let the long accustomed pain / This day gain no place within you; /Break away, O troubled heart.” BCW: (Z. Philipp Ambrose)

Between this text and the tenor aria with trumpet solo (No. 5) in Cantata 103 also are “unmistakable text parallels,” says Andreas Glöckner, “New Knowledge of J.S. Bach’s Performance Calendar, 1729-35” (<Bach Jahrbuch 1991>, 43-75; here pp. 52f.: Recover now, O troubled feelings, / Ye cause yourselves excess of woe. / Leave off your sorrowful beginning, / Ere I in tears collapse and fall, / My Jesus is again appearing, / O gladness which nought else can match! / What good to me thereby is given, / Take, take my heart, my gift to thee! [BCW: (Z. Philipp Ambrose)]

Picander Cycle, P-33 “Fasse dich, betrübter Sinn” (Control yourself, troubled mind), Picander text only survives, ?5/18/1729); Opening chorus or aria text continues: “Thy tears/ are only a little lasting, / Ah, a little is soon spent, / Control yourself, troubled mind.” [two lines missing, no da capo indicted in printed text); plain chorale No. 6, “Ah, I have already perceived this great glory (cf. 162/6, Trinity +20, 1715). “Alle Menschen müssen sterben.” (All men must die).

Easter Season Cantata Chorales (Jubilate):

1. BWV 12/6. Trumpet melody Crüger “Jesu, meine Freude” in tenor aria; most appropriate verse (J. Franck), S. 6, “Weicht, ihr Trauergeister” (Retreat, you specters of sorrow), ref. Dürr Cantatas JSB: 308.
2. BWV 12/7. Rodegast “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” (6 stanzas, “Cross and Trial”) . . . dabei will ich verblieben” (S.6); music & text found in 69a/6. Also used in: 144/3 (S.1), Epiphany 6; 69a/6 (S.6), Trinity12; 75/6 (S.1), Trinity 1; 99 (chorale cantata), Trinity 15; 98/1 (S.1), Trinity 21; 100 (pure-hymn cantata), no specified service; 250 (S.1), wedding; 1116, Neumeister organ prelude; Orgelbüchlein organ preludes Nos. 111, 112 (Christian Life & Conduct: Persecution,” not set).
3. BWV 103/6, “Ich hab ein Augenblock” (I have Thee a moment), S9, Gerhardt “Barmherzger Vater, höchster Gott” (18 verses) (melody “Was mein Gott will”).
4. BWV 146/8, Richter “Lasset ab von eurer Tränen” (Leave off your tears), transmitted without text; Wustmann supplies Gregorius Richter, verse 9 of "Lasset ab von euren Tränen" (Then where therein blessed), 1658 (Fischer-Tümpel, I, #309) [Z. Philipp Ambrose BCW); melody J. Schop “Werde munter, mein Gemüte”), (S.9) E3
5. JLB 8/8, Grunwald melody “Komm her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn” (Mat. 11:28; E3, “Es euch das Kreuz, Ihr aber werdt, Und was der ewig Gütig Gott” (S.14-16); 86/3 “Und was der ewig Gütig Gott” (S.16) E5; melody only in 108/6, Gerhardt “Gott Vater, senden deine Geist” (S.10 of 16) E4; melody only also in 74/8, “Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist” (S.2) P.
6. 1729: P-33/6=?162/6, Albinius (Tr.+20, 1715) “Alle Menschen müßen sterben (S.7); P33/6 E3=?162/6(Tr20), 262=?P-70 (Tr26); 643 (OB131 Death/Dying), 1117

Thus Bach for Jubilate Sunday presented cantatas with a chorale emphasis on joy, beginning with Cantata BWV 12 in Weimar in 1714 and repeated in Leipzig in 1724, using the melody “Jesus, my joy” and the Rodigast chorale “What God does, that is well done.”

For his next Jubilate cantata, BWV 103, Bach closes with Paul Gerhardt’s 18 verse sorrow-joy antithesis chorale text, “Barmherzger Vater, höchster Gott” (Merciful Father, highest God), set to the affirmative melody “What my God wills.” German text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW

In Cantata BWV 146, Bach harmonized the melody “Werde munter, mein Gemüte” (Become cheerful, my spirit),” without text, the preferred text (Dürr 313) being the ninth verse of Gregorius Richter’s "Lasset ab von euren Tränen" (Leave off your tears).

The J.L. Bach Cantata JLB-8 that Sebastian presented in Leipzig uses the last three verses of Grunwald’s chorale, “Komm her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn” (Come here to me, speaks God’s Son), an affirmation of joy through faith.

Possible Jubilate Chorale Cantata

As to the possibility of Bach composing a chorale cantata in 1725 or later for Jubilate Sunday, the best possibility, when all factors are considered, could be undesignated pure-hymn Cantata BWV 100, “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan.” It is dated between 1732 and 1735, with six verses by Samuel Rodigast. It was repeated c.1737 and again c.1742. It is often considered a wedding cantata but the manuscript shows no division into two parts, before and after the wedding. Further, its provenance is obscured as it became the property of Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, though still undesignated.

Various Bach scholars have assigned Cantata BWV 100 to either the 15th or the 21st Sunday after Trinity. For the 15th Sunday After Trinity, September 17, 1724, Bach had composed Chorale Cantata BWV 98, “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,” with paraphrases of verses 2-5. For the 21st Sunday After Trinity, October 29, 1724, Bach composed Cantata BWV 38, “Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir.” Günther Stiller (<JSB& Liturgical Life in Leipzig>) thinks that BWV 100 very likely belongs to this Sunday, Trinity 21 (p.146) although in examining Bach’s use of “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” to close Cantata 12, added in Leipzig along with the trumpet tune “Jesu, meine Freude” to the tenor aria, Stiller observes that the hymn is classified as “Concerning Cross and Trial” and these are recommended for the Sundays in Easter (p.240f).

In his study of Cantata 12, “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen,” Dürr (p.308) concludes: “The chorale melody (“Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan”) has a particular significance in the context of this cantata: as now becomes clear, it was anticipated by the imitative theme of No. 5 [bass aria with violin], which is itself thematically related to no. 3 [alto recitative, “Wir müsen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen”]. Thus the thematic contrast between chromatic descent (No. 2 [opening chorus]) and diatonic ascent (nos. 3, 5, and 7 and also by allusion in the continuo steps of no. 1 [sinfonia] pervades the entire cantata. Details of Cantata BWV 12 are available at BCW:

Descent/Ascent Easter Parabola

Quoting my discussion of the St. John Passion: Descent/Ascent. Dürr’s observation that the (St. John) Passion text is an arch – actually an inverted arch -- from “majesty to lowliness and back to majesty” is called the great parabolic movement of descent and ascent described in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians 2:6-11). Originally a hymn sung by the Christians, it is the second reading, or Epistle, on Palm (Passion) Sunday. This text is used in 16 movements of Bach sacred cantatas (<Biblical Quotation and Allusion in the Cantata Libretti of JSB>, Ulrich Meyer; London: Scarecrow Press, 1997: 210).

The Pauline hymn describes the “secret hour” when God in Christ reversed the parabola, the upward movement humans prefer, for the downward movement. Jesus “poured out and emptied himself, becoming a servant and, being born in the image of a human being, appeared in human form” (NRSV). “It begins with the great self-emptying or kenosis, that we call the incarnation in Bethlehem, and ends with the Crucifixion in Jerusalem” (Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, Center for Action and Contemplation, 3/28/10, It is the “curve of divine self-humbling from heaven to earth, reaching its lowest point in death, the death of the cross, and then sweeping heavenwards again in Christ’s exaltation to divine Lordship over all” (J. Dunn, <Christology in the Making> (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1980), 114.


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