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Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127


Systematic Discussions of Bach’s Other Vocal Works
Motet BWV 227
Jesu, meine Freude

Discussions in the Week of January 18, 2004

Neil Halliday wrote (January 25, 2004):
I found this motet to be more easily enjoyable than the first two, possibly because its texture is less dense - the maximum number of parts is five - and Rilling's performance (the one I have) is quite good, with reasonable clarity of the vocal lines.

It's the longest motet by a fair margin, and is made up of ten compact sections:

1. Choral (4 parts). 2. S1S2ATB chorus. 3. Choral (5 parts). 4. S1S2A chorus. 5. 5 part chorus with concluding fugue. 6. 4 part choral. 7. ATB chorus, marked 'andante'. 8. S1S2AT chorus "Gute Nacht, Wesen, die Welt". This is a particularly beautiful movement for choir. 9. 5 part chorus. 10. 5 part choral.

Notice the variety in the tessitura of the choir; #4 features the upper voices, #7 the lower. I would say this motet demonstrates superb writing for choir.

 

BWV 227 Jesus Meine Freude

Thomas Manhart wrote (April 10, 2004):
Can I ask two questions about Jesus Meine Freude?

In which tuning would it have been? a=415 Hz?
and one particalur thing: in the trio alto/tenore/bass "So aber Christus in euch ist", I have for bar 12 in the alto coloraturas in two editions two different versions. one giving the 11th tone of the bar as a, another as b flat. b flat sounds definitely smoother and more according to the movements of the other coloraturas, but we tried today in a rehearsal to make it a, and its also not so bad, and it reminds me a bit of similar movements in string accompanyments e.g. in the bass aria "mache dich meiner herze rein" in Matthäuspassion (BWV 244). but can anyone tell me, if either of them is definitely the correct version?

Thanks

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 10, 2004):
Thomas Manhart asked:
>>one particalur thing: in the trio alto/tenore/bass "So aber Christus in euch ist", i have for bar 12 in the alto coloraturas in two editions two different versions. one giving the 11th tone of the bar as a, another as b flat. b flat sounds definitely smoother and more according to the movements of the other coloraturas, but we tried today in a rehearsal to make it a, and its also not so bad, and it reminds me a bit of similar movements in string accompanyments e.g. in the bass aria "mache dich meiner herze rein" in Matthäuspassion (BWV 244). but can anyone tell me, if either of them is definitely the correct version?<<
The NBA shows a Bb on the 11th note of the alto in bar 12, agreeing with the Bb in the bass at the same point.

The provenance shows no autograph score or original parts, only various copies from the middle of the 18th century and thereafter. These copies show no variations deviating from what is given in the NBA, hence the editions you are using must be in error.

Another question:
>>in which tuning would it have been? a=415 Hz?<<
There has been a long-standing discussion regarding the manner in which the motets were performed:

1) voices alone

2) voices with bc

3) voices with colla parte instruments + organ/harpsichord

Most recent research ["Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Motetten" by Klaus Hofmann, Bärenreiter, 2003] indicates that it was probably not performed in a church, but possibly directly before and/or after an interment wherever that may have taken place (funeral chapel {?}, outside{?}). This precludes any use of the organs in the St. Thomas or Nicolas churches in Leipzig which Kuhnau earlier had specified in 1717 as being in 'Cornet-ton' a = 460-470. The use of a modest (mobile) ensemble of instruments for "Jesu, meine Freude' might have been possible, but then it may also have been simply performed without any instruments whatsoever. There is not conclusive proof either way except that the use of a church organ (or possibly harpsichord) seems rather unlikely. There is always the possibility of a 'Portativ' which would not be tied to the 'Cornet-ton' used by the church organs in Leipzig and could be tuned more easily to a different standard pitch.

And according to Bruce Haynes, who wrote the article on 'Pitch' in "Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach" [Boyd, Oxford University Press, 1999), the one pitch which Bach did not ever use was a = 440. Until June 4, 1724, Bach, in Leipzig where this motet was composed, used 'tief-Cammerton' a = 390. After that he abandoned the 'tief-Cammerton' for 'Cammerton' a = 415. Since all current evidence and research dates this motet, 'Jesu, meine Freude' to after 1724 (to a point in time up to 10 years later is even possible--the earliest copy of this motet is now dated to c. 1735), your assumption about pitch (a = 415) would seem to be correct.

 

BWV 227: Gute Nacht!

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 6, 2005):
>>My favourite movement with this theme is "Gute Nacht" in "Jesu Meine Freude" with that wonderful "walking" tenor line and no bass.<<
< The sinners have, in Bach's musical depiction, already left the dark night of the soul (ensnared by sin) which had been grounded in the bass line and are moving toward the light with only a 'Bassetgen' or 'Bassetchen' (in French a 'petit basse') to indicate the quality of floating upwards. >
It's arbitrary interpretation to locate the "ensnaring of sin" and "dark night of the soul" in the bass line, that specifically. (And the arbitrary point about floating upward into a light isn't strengthened by calling the tenor line several different things; all that does is give the foregone conclusion a veneer of pseudo-credibility....)

What if Bach was just creating a musical relief here, rather like having the pedals drop out of an organ piece for a while? "Jesu meine Freude" (motet BWV 227) is a chorale partita, i.e. a series of variations. That's what variation sets do: provide textural contrasts from one to the next. Dropping out the pedal, or changing registration, is a typical thing to do, deploying the available sounds differently for contrast; see, for example, the organ chorale partitas by Bach himself and by Walther (the dictionary guy) and Böhm.

If the "Gute Nacht" movement of 227 must be the arbitrary meaning of ensnared sin dropping out with the bass, then what's the arbitrary interpretation of the preceding movement "So aber Christus in euch ist" where the sopranos are dropped out? Should we assign "der Leib" theologically to the sopranos, being dead/silent at the moment, such that "der Geist" is located entirely in the lower three parts? But then, how dare the bass sing about "der Gerechtigkeit" if he must be the dark night of the soul immediately thereafter?!?!?

Maybe Bach was just giving his five vocal parts a bit of rest as the composition goes along? That's a pretty smart practical thing to do, not having everybody sing all the time, or needing to have all the parts present to rehearse some of the sections.

Whatever arbitrary theological interpretations are assigned to the omission of parts, I like the way Diego Fasolis's ensemble performs this in their December 2000 recording. Three singers with cello and organ in the "So aber Christus". Also it's soloists in the "Gute Nacht" (plus cello and organ playing seguente on the tenor part) on the three fast-moving parts, but somewhere between two and six singers--very quietly--in the alto cantus firmus. Nice chorusing effect. More singers then in the "So nun der Geist" and "Weicht" for a grand conclusion. In all cases, it's an intelligent conductor deploying his available forces to register each movement effectively and for contrast, with musical and dramatic sensitivity being paramount, like in an organ chorale partita. He (Fasolis) could have done the whole thing with the sufficient five singers or all 23. And he could do some radically different configuration of people on some other occasion, depending who's there and what satisfying musical effects they're able to produce. Again, like taking organ music to different organs and making it work intelligently in eacoustical and liturgical situation.

I played organ for a performance of BWV 227 a couple years ago, conducted by a fine musicological scholar with his choir of several per part. I don't remember which movements he gave to soloists. Some of the piece used everybody and some used less. My instructions were simply to improvise something along, mostly seguente and a few of the fugal entrances, only as much as sounded good and unobtrusive. Mostly just to keep the ensemble on pitch throughout, without ever calling any attention to the organ sound (entirely a single 8' flute). In the "Gute Nacht" I played maybe half of the tenor notes, in some of the phrases, and that's all it needed. In other quiet sections elsewhere I similarly dropped down to single note or less, and/or played the notes a lot shorter than the singers sang them, to get out of the way. Different in every rehearsal. Whatever sounds good in the dynamic shaping of the lines, as it goes along. This is all normal practice....

Doug Cowling wrote (June 6, 2005):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< What if Bach was just creating a musical relief here, rather like having the pedals drop out of an organ piece for a while? >
I've pondered the symbolism of the missing bass line in prgramme notes I;ve written over the years and have never been able to find a satisfactory musical emblem. You may be right, Brad, that it is as simple as Bach wanting some contrast in a very dense work. On the other hand, the texture is so arresting in a work full of symbolic textures that I have a gut feeling that there is a musical metaphor here. The only other movemen that is remotely comparable is the "Suscepit Israel" in the Magnificat (BWV 243), but there the high texture is symbolic of "puerum suam". I was suprised listening to the recent recording of arias from Matheson's "Cleopatra", that the death aria, "Gute Nacht" had the same sighing suspension over a walking bass. Perhaps it was a melodic convention in the 18th century.

Joel Figen wrote (June 6, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] If I may suggest a further comparison, another bassetto aria comes to mind in BWV 11.10: Jesu deine Gnadenblicke. Here the bass line is assigned to unison violins and viola. I can see a few points in the text that might (conceivably) be portrayed by the absence of a low bass line, such as the fact that the aria perhaps represents a prayer delivered on a mountain, but I suspect it was simply to give a musical relief in the midst of some very heavy textures.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 6, 2005):
< On the other hand, the texture is so arresting in a work full of symbolic textures that I have a gut feeling that there is a musical metaphor here. The only other movemen that is remotely comparable is the "Suscepit Israel" in the Magnificat (BWV 243), but there the high texture is symbolic of "puerum suam". >
Or perhaps "Aus Liebe" in the SMP (BWV 244), a respite in the middle of an otherwise violent scene with an angry lynch mob.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 6, 2005):
[To Joel Figen] Do a word search for "Bassettchen" on the following pages from Aryeh's BCW: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV135-D.htm

and: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV154-D.htm

From reading these comments from some rather important Bach researchers, it would appear to me more likely that Bach, in choosing a 'Bassettchen' texture for a particular mvt., had more in mind than simply looking for a change that would bring relief both to the players and listeners.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 6, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
>>I've pondered the symbolism of the missing bass line in prgramme notes I've written over the years and have never been able to find a satisfactory musical emblem....the texture is so arresting in a work full of symbolic textures that I have a gut feeling that there is a musical metaphor here. The only other movement that is remotely comparable is the "Suscepit Israel" in the Magnificat (BWV 243), but there the high texture is symbolic of "puerum suam".<<
In regard to Bach's Magnificat in the Eb version BWV 243a/10 "Suscepit Israel", the bass line is clearly a 'Bassettchen' with only violins and violas playing in unison as the lowest part entered in the score -- there is absolutely no continuo and there should not even be an organ 'noodling' along with an occasional note here or there using a soft 8' stop. The musical foundation in the form of a continuo is completely absent. Bach's intentions are quite clear in this instance. Later in BWV 243, he changed the scoring.

In regard to BWV 227 where I may have incorrectly referred to the specific mvt. as BWV 225/5 (it was the 5th verse of the chorale text, but the mvt. of the motet "Jesu, meine Freude" that begins with "Gute Nacht, o Wesen, / Das die Welt erlesen"), this particular mvt. (no matter how you want to count it...The NBA does not even assign mvt. numbers to the various sections) has been the subject of much research which has determined (Dürr) that it does not even belong with most of the other mvts. See OCC article on pp. 247-8 by Daniel R. Melamed, for some of the details, which have in part been updated by Klaus Hofmann's "Johann Sebastian Bach:Die Motetten" [Bärenreiter, 2003, pp. 113-138].

Although there is some likelihood that Bach may have personally compiled this arrangement of mvts. from various projects that he had completed and put aside, it is not at all certain, since we have no autograph score and parts for this motet, whether this arrangement/sequence of the sections (the fact that these are Bach's settings has never been doubted) is truly authentic. This would mean that to consider that Bach really wanted a change of texture to occur at this or that particular point in the motet is really quite beside the point; that is, it really does not matter very much which mvts. might be selected or dropped for any particular performance; hence, it would not even matter much if an organ continuo part were added for this special mvt. "Gute Nacht, o Wesen" or not. Whether this mvt. is considered a change of texture on Bach's part also does not really matter that much since he most likely performed parts of this motet without this mvt. for some performances. Here much is left to the conductor/performers: is it to be performed with/without instruments, should only concertists be used with/without ripieni, etc.?

From the standpoint of text alone, there is one researcher (Berhnard Friedrich Richter) standing alone in one corner believing that Bach created here a miracle of text fusion between Biblical quotations and chorale verse texts. Most other Bach scholars are skeptical about such a statement, since there is ample evidence that even this union of texts leaves much to be desired and because the form of the motet went through various transformations with different mvts. being used and others left out at various times during Bach's lifetime.

Doug Cowling wrote (June 6, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< From the standpoint of text alone, there is one researcher (Berhnard Friedrich Richter) standing alone in one corner believing that Bach created here a miracle of text fusion between Biblical quotations and chorale verse texts. Most other Bach scholars are skeptical about such a statement, since there is ample evidence that even this union of texts leaves much to be desired and because the form of the motet went through various transformations with different mvts. being used and others left out at various times during Bach's lifetime. >
I guess I'm one of people who think it one of Bach's finest unified works. The alternation of metrical chorale-text as choral-partita with scriptural prose dictum as free motet without chorale is a breathtaking literary structure. Then there is the question of the mirroimagery of the eleven movements of the motet spread out on either side of the central No. 6 "Ihr seid". Bach does the same in the "Credo" and the "Magnificat". If it was a compilation, then the final shape is a masterpiece. I would place "Jesu Meine Freude" in the Top Ten of all of Bach's works!

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 7, 2005):
[To Doug Cowling] And I remember living for many years under the understanding and appreciation of BWV 4 as a perfect cantata form with each movement being 'balanced out' on the other side of the central axis. It was not until I joined the BCML and began studying the cantatas more carefully that I realized that things were quite different from what I had imagined in most of the other cantatas.

Re: Bernhard Friedrich Richter who discovered perfection in Bach's masterly compilation of mvts. for BWV 227

His essay "Über die Motetten Seb. Bachs" appeared in the Bach-Jahrbuch of 1912. He discovered that the record books of St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig had recorded a funeral remembrance church service on July 18, 1723 which was held in place of vespers on the 8th Sunday after Trinity. Richter made all sorts of connections: name of the deceased, the Biblical text quotation on which the sermon was based, who gave the sermon, etc. and became ecstatic about the features you have described above. For about a half century, all of this was not questioned until a footnote to an article by Werner Neumann appeared in another article for the Bach-Jahrbuch in 1970 which pointed out that all of Richter's details about the church service on July 18, 1723 made no provision for a motet to be sung. (strike one!) In 1980, Martin Petzoldt, a theologian, revisited this entire scenario, found the original slip which contained the information about the special service on July 18, 1723. It was a printed announcement to inform the public about this service, and, lo and behold, on the back of this slip was a detailed listing of the entire service, including the special music that was performed: it was the very popular (at least for Leipzig churches at that time) "Turbabor sed non perturbabor" motet. There was no mention of Bach's 'Jesu, meine Freude.' (strike two!) Petzoldt also investigated the actual death and funeral arrangements of the individual and found records that stated that there was no special funeral music ordered for this particular individual (which is sometimes the case for important, wealthy people -- the funeral remembrance service, weeks later on July 18 is not what is being referred to here -- this does not preclude the possibility that Bach's motet might nevertheless have been sung in front of the house before the body was removed or at the actual burial.) In the 80's, Alfred Dürr began making discoveries that the complete motet had stylistic features which made it very unlikely that it was composed straight through, but rather that it evolved, went through serious transformations and various versions with mvts. not present and new ones added over a period of at least ten years if not longer. The "Gute Nacht, o Wesen" mvt. uses a different form of the chorale melody, a change so substantial that Hofmann claims that it "eklatant aus dem Rahmen fällt" ["is strikingly out of the ordinary/blatantly different."] (strike three!) The notion of Bach having a unified preconception of the ordering and nature of the mvts. to create a unified whole as he went about composing it from one mvt. to the next goes out the window.

There are many interesting details from Hofmann's book which I have not been able to relate here. Perhaps some other occasion or question will warrant going into these details as well. For now I think I have given a fair description of what Hofmann presents in his fairly recent book on Bach's motets.

Doug Cowling wrote (June 7, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] This is fascinating material although I still see a symmetrical unity both theologically and musically, even if the performance record shows that individual movements were separately extracted (I've done this myself!). How interesting that Bach might have shaped the work over a number of years. I suppose one could say the same about the 'third cantata" of the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) and how the Sanctus to the Dona Nobis Pacem creates one sequential work.

I can't believe however that "Jesu Meine Freude" was ever sung outside. That was a time for unison chorales accompanied by dogs barking and carraiges creaking by.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 7, 2005):
Doug Cowling wrote:
>>This is fascinating material although I still see a symmetrical unity both theologically and musically, even if the performance record shows that individual movements were separately extracted (I've done this myself!).<<
Now you can see that there would be nothing wrong with selecting certain mvts. and making them relate both theologically and musically. I assume that others have done this as well, but have perhaps felt slightly guilty for not presenting the entire work as they thought Bach had conceived and composed it -- as one flowing sequence of mvts. balanced theologically and musically. While there is still the possibility that Bach had done this (assembled the final sequence with all the mvts) between 1724 and 1735 with the greater likelihood being toward the end of the period given, it is also still possible that someone else may have done this with Bach's music after Bach's death. There is a silent consensus among Bach scholars that its final form was shaped by Bach although there is no real proof for this as yet.

The oldest handwritten copy of this motet goes back to 1735, but this copy contains only 4 mvts. which are more strictly considered 4-pt chorales: mvts. 1, (11 - the same as 1), 3, and 7.

Werner Breig, in 1988, did a comparative study of the chorales in BWV 227 and other chorales from cantatas of the key time period (for the funeral music performance outside of church on July 2, 1723) and came to the conclusion, based upon stylistic evidence, that the chorales mentioned in the preceding paragraph could not have been part of the original form of the motet (stylistically too sophisticated".) Add to this the complication, according to Dürr's analysis, that the mvt. "Gute Nacht, o Wesen" (not a chorale mvt. similar to those just mentioned) has to have a completely different origin (at first Dürr even considered the Weimar period, but then found reasons to discount this possibility.) In any case, Bach seems to have used the melody form from a different hymnal not in agreement with the melody form used in many of the other movements.

>>I can't believe however that "Jesu Meine Freude" was ever sung outside. That was a time for unison chorales accompanied by dogs barking and carraiges creaking by.<<
Perhaps the respect for the dead, particularly the events preceding, including, and following the funeral procession to the gravesite, received special attention from everyone? Perhaps only the 4-pt. chorale mvts. were sung? These were the very mvts. for which we can actually trace a bona fide copy back to the time of Bach (1735).

 

Discussions in the Week of December 26, 2010

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 26, 2010):
Introduction to BWV 227 -- Jesu, meine Freude

For this week and next weeks discussions, we will take a brief holiday interruption in the continuing series of cantatas spanning from Easter to Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity. With BWV 227, we have Bachs longest, and arguably most intricate motet.

Details of text, commentary, recordings, and previous discussion are accessible via: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV225-231.htm

For the moment, I am taking advantage of a fund-raising interruption (I have already responded) in the WKCR Bach Fest 2010 webcast to provide a timely reminder of the current BCML discussion topic. As always, thanks to all who participate in these discussions, or otherwise add to the BCW archives. addition to the current discussion, all material relevant to Bach is always on-topic.

I will post some brief excerpts from appropriate booklet notes re the motets, over the next two weeks. The Ascension cantatas are also an especially relevant ongoing topic.

For Christmas listening, I found great joy in BWV 91 from the second Leipzig series (Jahrgang II) in the CD (Vol. 14) from the Gardiner pilgrimage releases, now complete. SDG.

 

Discussions in the Week of June 19, 2016 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote wrote (June 25, 2016):
Motet BWV 227: "Jesu, meine Freude": Intro.

Bach’s longest (more than 20 minutes), most varied (11 movements), and best-known motet, BWV 227, “Jesu, meine Freude” (Jesus, my joy), is also a work of strong textual contrasts and musical textures. Essentially, it is a highly-structured work involving all six stanzas of Johann Franck’s popular, sentimental Jesus Song in various chorale settings alternating with five motet chorus settings of verses of Apostle Paul’s warning to the Romans 8:1, 2, 9-11), “Life in the Spirit,” in typical German (and Bach Family) motet fashion of blending popular chorales with biblical choruses. It is challenging and rewarding music with a pietistic bent, usually sung with no more than basso continuo by five voices (two sopranos, alto, tenor, and bass) in five five-voice settings, four four-voice settings, and two three-voice choruses. This is Bach at his best: harmonious chorales and intricate motets in music of mourning and consolation.

The chorale and motet music have their origins in the mid-16th century following the Thirty Years War. This was the beginning of the Lutheran hymnody transition from poetic to pietistic chorales and the development of the distinctly German motet, primarily in church practice. Meanwhile, the origin, genesis, and application of Motet “Jesu, meine Freude” in Bach’s time in Leipzig are clouded by the lack of source-critical and historical records. Extant are manuscript copies only from the beginning of the 19th century, when the music was first published in 1803 by Breitkopf in Leipzig.

While the Bach motets have been popular since his death in 1750, beginning at the Leipzig Thomas School, the structure and seeming homogeneity “Jesu, meine Freude,” originally lead Bach scholars at the beginning of the 20th century to believe that Bach had composed all the music in July 1723 for a specific funeral. Later Bach scholarship, closely examining his compositional practices, suggests that some of the music originated in Weimar and may have been adapted in the later 1720s. Meanwhile, Bach also set the Franck hymn as plain chorales closing Cantatas 64, 81, and 87, and as early organ chorale preludes in three collections that also may be appropriate for de tempore (Ordinary Time) Trinity Time in July.

Suffice is to say that Motet No. 3 in e minor, BWV 227, appears to have been presented at a Leipzig funeral at an unknown date and place.1 While it is cast in E minor, particularly in the melody-driven four and fine-part chorales, the music often ends in the Picardy third cadence that raises the pitch a half step from minor to major. Meanwhile, Bach finds metrical diversity in the use of old alle breve 3/2 time signature (Mvts. 2 and 10) as well as more contemporary ¾ triple (chorus, chorale Mvt. 4 & 5) and 12/8 pastoral time (chorus, Mvt. 8). While steeped in traditional motets techniques, the texts elicit strong contrasts of dynamics, fermatas to halt the tempo, staccato against sostenuto, and homophonic and polyphonic motet passages, as well as contrasting word-painting.

Chorale “Jesu, Meine Freude"

“Jesu, meine Freude” is a Jesus Hymn (Jesulied) most often sung in Bach’s time for Epiphany Time and the preceding Christmas Season. It was first published in Praxis pietatis melica (4th Edition) Berlin, 1653. It shows elements of both Paul Gerhardt’s devotional poetry while retaining the BAR form, and the new fervor of personal, simple expression that would take root for almost a century. It was modeled on the 1641 song “Flora, meine Freude, meine Seelenweide(Soul’s delight),” says Charles Sanford Terry.2

“Almost half of Franck’s hymn texts are paraphrases of psalms; they are reminiscent of Paul Gerhardt in their prayer-like diction and their untormented faith, which may account for both their general popularity and their particular attraction for Johann Crüger who composed the melody,” says the Franck (1618-1677), BCW Short Biography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Franck-Johann.htm. Crüger (1598-1662) composed 14 melodies for Franck (see BCW Short Biography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Cruger-Johann.htm).

Pietistic Jesus Hymns were popular in Bach’s day and often sung during Epiphany Time. Besides “Jesu, meine Freude,” Bach set “Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen” (Dearest Immanuel, leader of the righteous), as chorale Cantata BWV 123 for the Epiphany Feast 1725; “Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht” (I shall not let my Jesus go), for the next Sunday 1725; and “Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne” (mel. “Werde munter, mein Gemüte”), known as “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,” in Cantata 147 for the Feast of the Visitation of Mary 1723. There are often found in the hymn books of Bach’s time, observes Günther Stiller.3

Chorale text and Francis Browne English translation, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale062-Eng3.htm,
Johann Franck’s “Jesu, meine Freude” in BAR Form has six stanzas of nine lines each (AABCCBEFF).

The Stollen reprise melody is in AAB CCB form and the Abgesang is in EFF. It is patterned after the 1641 song, “Flora, meine Freude.” The Abgesang (E line) begins with a distinct phrase, without rhyme, in the initial stanza as “Gottes Lamm, mein Bräutigam” (Lamb of God, my bridegroom).

Bach set all six stanzas in Motet BWV 227 in Movements 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. Bach’s chorale settings use the balanced, palindroma (mirror) format: a four-part plain chorale (SATB) in Mvts. 1 and repeated in 11 in e mino, a five-part ornamentation (SSATB) in Mvt. 3 and a five-part free-setting in Mvt. 5, a four-part ornamentation in Mvt. 7 and a four-part free-setting in Mvt. 9. The chorus motets are also arranged in balanced format: Mvts. 2 and 5 are five-part motets; Mvts. 4 and 7 are three-part motets (SSA, ATB); and central Mvt. 6 is five-part fugue.

Bach’s other two settings of the text and melody are: plain chorale (SATB), BWV 64, “Sehet, welch eine Liebe hat uns der Vater erzeiget, dass wir Gottes Kinder heißen” (See, what sort of love the Father has shown to us, that we are called the children of God, 1 John 3:1), Christmas 3 (Apostle/Evangelist St. John’s Day), 1723; based on Oswald Knauer text (1720, Gotha), No. 8, closing plain chorale (S.5, “Gute Nacht, o Wesen” (Good night, existence). Cantata 81, “Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen?” (Jesus sleeps, what should be my hope?), for 4th Sunday after Epiphany 1724, No. 7 (Stanza 2), “Unter deinen Schirmen / Bin ich für den Stürmen” (Beneath your protection / I am free from storms”). The melody is set to another text, Heinrich Müller’s 1659 “Selig ist die Seele” (Blessed is the soul), which Bach used to close Cantata BWV 87, Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen” (Until now you have asked nothing in my name, 1 James 22-27), for the 5th Sunday after Easter (Rogate) in 1725) to a text of Mariane von Ziegler.

Chorale Melody

The Chorale Melody “Jesu, meine Freude” (Zahn, 8032, EKG 293) was composed by Johann Crüger (1598-1662). Bach set the melody in plain chorale, BWV 358 in D Major. Bach’s source may have been the Gotha hymnal of 1715. In Motet BWV 227, Bach used the melody in chorale settings Nos 1, 3, 7, and 11, with variants in Nos. 5 and 9. Bach also used the melody as a trumpet instrumental cantus firmus paraphrase in the tenor aria (Mvt. 6),”Sei getreu, alle Pein / Wird doch nur ein Kleines sein” (Be faithful, all pain / will then be only a little thing) in Cantata 12, “Weinen, Klagen, / Sorg, Zagen” (Weeping, lamentation, / worry, apprehension) for the 3rd Sunday after Easter (Jubilate) in 1714 in Weimar, repeated in Leipzig in 1724.

Bach’s other uses of the melody are found in early organ chorale preludes: Weimar Orgelbüchlein Collection, BWV 610, “Christmas”; Miscellaneous formerly “Kirnberger Collection,” fantasia BWV 713; and Neumeister Collection, BWV 1105, de tempore “Christian Life & Conduct.” These setting variously display later stylistic characteristics found in Motet BWV 227: the “elevated intensity” in BWV 610, the unusual shape in BWV 713 as the music progresses, and in BWV 1105, “one can certainly picture a young composer striving to make something new, even fervidly responding to the text,” says Peter Williams in The Organ Music of J. S. Bach.4 The melody also is set in a miscellaneous organ chorale prelude fragment, BWV 753, a “first writing down” possible demonstration, says Williams (Ibid.: 493).

Prelude BWV Anh. 58 is found in the Organ Works: Organ Chorales from Miscellaneous Sources.5 In G Major lasting 27 measures in 12/8, it “originated no later than 1730,” says Reinmar Emans (Ibid.: XII).

Note: “[Emans Nr. 118] A thorough discussion regarding the authenticity of this chorale prelude has not yet taken place; however, based upon the existing copies, there still is no really good reason to doubt the authenticity of this work” (BCW text and melody information BCW, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Jesu-meine-Freude.htm.

Motet BWV 227, Movements, Scoring, Text Incipits, Key, Meter6

1. Chorus, plain chorale Stanza 1 (SATB): A. “Jesu, meine Freude / Meines Herzens Weide” (Jesus, my joy / My heart's delight); A’. Ach wie lang, ach lange / Ist dem Herzen bange” (Ah how long, ah how long / must my heart be anxious); B. “Gottes Lamm, mein Bräutigam, / Außer dir soll mir auf Erden, / Nichts sonst Liebers warden” (Lamb of God, my bridegroom / Besides you there is in on earth / Nothing else that is dearer to me); e minor, 4/4.
2. Chorus five-part homophonic-polyphonic motet (SSATB Romans 8:1) “Es ist nun nichts Verdammliches an denen, die in Christo Jesu sind, die nicht nach dem Fleische wandeln, sondern nach dem Geist.” (There is now no condemnation in them who are in Christ and who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.); E Major; 3/2 alle breve.
3. Chorus chorale five-part ornamentation (SSATB, Stanza 2): A. “Unter deinem Schirmen / Bin ich vor den Stürmen / Aller Feinde frei” (Beneath your protection / I am free from the raging / Of all enemies); A’. “Laß den Satan wittern, . . . / Mir steht Jesus bei” (Let the devil sniff around, . . . / Jesus stands by me”; B. “Ob es itzt gleich kracht und blitzt,” . . . / Jesus will mich decken” (Even though thunder crashes and lightning blazes, . . . / Jesus will protect me); 4/4, e minor, 4/4.
4. Chorus motet bassetto three-part homophonic to polyphonic (SSA, Romans 8:2): “Denn das Gesetz des Geistes, der da lebendig macht in Christo Jesu, hat mich frei gemacht von dem Gesetz der Sünde und des Todes.” (For the law of the spirit, which makes me living in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin and death.); B Major; ¾.
5. Chorus chorale five-part free setting (SSATB, Stanza 3): A. “Trotz dem alten Drachen” (I defy the ancient dragon); A’. “Tobe, Welt, und springe” (Rage, World, and leap upon me); B. “Gottes Macht hält mich in acht” (God's power takes care of me); e minor, ¾.
6. Chorus motet double fugue five-part (SSATB, Romans 8:9): “Ihr aber seid nicht fleischlich, sondern geistlich, so anders Gottes Geist in euch wohnet. Wer aber Christi Geist nicht hat, der ist nicht sein.” (But you are not of the flesh, but of the spirit, and so God's spirit dwells in you in a different way. But whoever does not have Christ's spirit is not his.); B Major; 4/4.
7. Chorus chorale ornamented four-part (Stanza 4, SATB)): A. “Weg mit allen Schätzen!” (Away with all treasures!); A’, “Weg ihr eitlen Ehren” (Away with all vain honours); B. “Elend, Not, Kreuz, Schmach und Tod . . . / Nicht von Jesu scheiden” (Suffering, distress, the cross, shame and death, . . . / Will never separate me from Jesus); e minor; 4/4.
8. Chorus three-part motet expanded homophonic to polyphonic, Andante (ATB, Romans 8:10): “So aber Christus in euch ist, so ist der Leib zwar tot um der Sünde willen; der Geist aber ist das Leben um der Gerechtigkeit willen.” (If Christ is in you, then the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.); E minor-Major; 12/8.
9. Chorus chorale cantus firmus four-part free setting (SSAT, Stanza 5): A. “Gute Nacht, o Wesen” (Good night, o [earthly] existence); A’. “Gute Nacht, ihr Sünden” (Good night, you sins); B. “Gute Nacht, du Stolz und Pracht!” (Good night, arrogance and splendour); a minor; 2/4.
10. Chorus five-part motet mostly homophonic (SSATB, Romans 8:11): “So nun der Geist des, der Jesum von den Toten auferwecket hat, in euch wohnet, so wird auch derselbige, der Christum von den Toten auferwecket hat, eure sterbliche Leiber lebendig machen um des willen, dass sein Geist in euch wohnet.” (Now the spirit that has raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in you.The very same spirit that has raised Jesus from the dead, gives life to your mortal bodies, so that his spirit may dwell in you.); e minor; 3/2 alle breve.
11. Chorus chorale four-part plain (SSATB, Stanza 6): A. “Weicht, ihr Trauergeister” (Vanish, spirits of gloom); A’. Denen, die Gott lieben, / Muss auch ihr Betrüben / Lauter Zucker sein” (For those who love God /even their grief / Must become pure delight”; B. “Duld ich schon hier Spott und Hohn, / Dennoch bleibst du auch im Leide, / Jesu, meine Freude” (Here I may have scorn and derision, / but even in the midst of suffering you remain, /Jesus, my joy); e minor; 4/4.

Motet Commentary

“With Jesu, meine Freude, one cannot fail to be impressed by the exceptionally thorough symmetry and cross-referencing that Bach has engineered to provide an unobtrusive scaffolding for his word-setting,” says John Eliot Gardiner in his chapter, “Collision and Collusion,” Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven.”7 Bach matches contrasting texts of “Franck’s sugary hymn stanzas” and the “stern verse” of Paul’s Epistle – “a fruitful dramatic alternation.” Among Bach’s striking word painting that summons images of a graphic Cranach or Grünewald painting or a fearless Martin Luther or Michael the Archangel battle evil, suggests Gardiner. “If one wanted to pick a single example of how Bach harnessed his compositional prowess and capacity for invention as a means of articulating his zeal and faith, this motet would be it” (see Gardiner video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLgTNd6CkQI).

The chorale stanzas “are saturated with Jesuliebe (love of Jesus), the biblical words are concerned with life in the spirit as opposed to the flesh” (life and death), says Richard D. P. Jones in The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach.8 Meanwhile, “the style of chorale setting in this motet is too advanced for 1723,” he says. Except for one or two chorales (Mvt. 9 in particular), “the whole motet” “originated in the late 1720s.” The internal chorale settings are varied developments from the opening and closing four-part plain (homophonic) chorales (same harmonization).

Jones provides a detailed analysis of Bach’s first motet chorus, in Bar form, that includes textual echo dynamics, instead of antiphonal as found in the Bach’s other, double-chorus motets. These rhetorical gestures “are rooted in the seventeenth-century German motet tradition,” particularly in the brothers Johann Christoph and Johann Michael Bach.

The notion that Bach composed and presented the motet from entirely heterogeneous origin is put asunder in Daniel Melamed’s study, J. S. Bach and the German motet.9 On technical and stylistic source-critical grounds, Melamed cites the opening/closing plain chorale in contradiction to the SSATB internal voicing, substantial variants of the chorale melody, the early origin of chorale BWV 227/9, awkwatext declamation between chorus Mvts. 2 and 10, and the origin of the central fugue (Mvt. 6) as a four-part chorus adapted to five (not unlike the possible origins of double Motet BWV 50). Melamed concludes that “its character as an assembled work” “more resembles” the Credo in the Mass in B Minor (from various movements) than the Matthew and John Passions in its alternating choruses and chorales.

FOOTNOTES

1 Motets BWV 225-231, Details & Discography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV225-231.htm. Score (BGA), http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BGA/BWV227-BGA.pdf. References: BG XXXIX (motets, Franz Wüllner, 1896), NBA KB III/1 (motets, Conrad Ameln 1967), Bach Compendium BC C 5.
2 Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach’s Chorals. Part I: 2 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts, by Charles Sanford Terry (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 2. June 23, 2016: 261. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2056, scroll down to Cantata LXIV.
3 Stiller in Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, ed. Robin A. Leaver (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing, 1985: 249).
4 Williams, The Organ Music of J. S. Bach, 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2003: 256f, 451, 558f).
5 Urtext of the New Bach Edition NBA IV/10, ed. Reinmar Emans (Cassel: Bärenreiter, BA 5251, 2008: 100f).
6
Motet BWV 227, German Text, Francis Browne English translation, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV227-Eng3.htm.
7 Gardiner, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013: 469f).
8 Jones in The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II: 1717-1750. “Music to Delight the Spirit” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 202ff).

 
Motets BWV 225-231: Details
Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1961-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Systematic Discussions: BWV 225 | BWV 226 | BWV 227 | BWV 228 | BWV 229 | BWV 230 | BWV 231 | BWV 225-231 - Summary
Individual Recordings: Motets - K. Junghänel & Cantus Cölln | Motets - E. Ericson | Motets - D. Fasolis | Motets - N. Harnoncourt | Motets - R. Kammler


Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127



 

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Last update: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 04:57