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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 229
Komm, Jesu, Komm!

Discussions in the Week of February 1, 2004

Neil Halliday wrote (February 19, 2004):
This motet is readily enjoyable, owing to the transparency of its structure, in which each line of text is set to music of a different character expressive of the meaning of the text.

The first four 'sentences' of the text are in 3/2 time:

1. "Come Jesus, my body is tired".

A graceful, lilting passage is set to these words.

2. "The strength disappears more and more".

A more agitated section accompanies these words.

3. "I yearn after your peace".

More graceful writing again, closing with long notes from various voices in the two choirs, on the word "peace".

4. "The bitter way is for me too hard."

This is set to an expressive fugue with a chromatic subject (a subject reminiscent of the G minor fugue in Book I of the WTC).

The next line
"Come, I will me to you give"
is set in a lively 4/4 rhythm.

The final line (of the first of two stanzas)
"You are the right way, the truth, and the life"
is set to beautiful and tuneful music in a graceful 6/8 rhythm.

The second verse is given a more usual 4-part chorale setting.

Rilling's recording reveals a nice separation of the two choirs, but the acoustic does seem to be slightly foggy.

Jeremy Martin wrote (February 20, 2004):
Komm, Jesu, Komm. BWV 229

Perhaps my most loved Motet. The First time I ever heard it was on Television conducted by Rilling. Upon listening I could feel and even see a Divine Order in the piece which has been the focus of my thoughts from time to time.

After hearing it I was taken into thought. My thoughts, that Bach Lined up (as it were) a Keyhole in his heart with a Key from Heaven that opened his heart and he was able to take of the music from Kingdom of God and bring it to earth.

I had always wanted the sheet music of this Divine piece. So one day around a year later I went to the Post office to send a friend the score of a Piano piece I had wrote for her for her Birthday. After mailing it I had $1 left. On the way home I was coming up to the Library and I remebered "Komm, Jesu, Komm" and that I could get the Sheet music from this site. So, I had my sister drop me off at the Library so I could print the score of this Piece that Made me think of the music from Heaven.

On the way into the Library I was stopped from within and the thought crossed my mind to look at the books by the door that they sell for $1, I had $1 left. I looked down and there was a book by Max Lucado called, "Just like Jesus" I picked it up and entered the Library as I waited to get on a Computer to Print "Komm, Jesu, Komm". I opened the book I had picked up, I opened and seen Chapter 4 "Hearing God's Music" --A Listening Heart-- So I got on the Computer and Printed "Komm, Jesu, Komm" and with my last $1 I bought "Just Like Jesus".

Later at home I opened the book and read Chapter 4 "Hearing God's Music" The key was, "A regular time and place.
An open Bible.
An open Heart."

Those three lines written like a Fugue.

It ended the chapter saying, "Let God have you, and let God love you---and don't be surprised if your heart begins to hear music you've never heard and your feet learn to dance as never before."

I am grateful that God still uses Bach as a Miracle today. I have learned much through his music and this piece BWV 229 "Komm, Jesu, Komm", it is very special to me. I desire that everyone could see the True Miracle of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and "Hear God's Music"

He is Faithful,

 

Discussions in the Week of December 18, 2011

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 17, 2011):
Introduction to Motets, BWV 229 and 230

For the final two weeks of the year we have a brief holiday rest in the continuing series of cantatas for Trinity season, which will resume the week of Jan. 1, 2012.

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

Other good sources of information are available in the OCC (Daniel Melamed article, referencing his own work, <J. S. Bach and the German Motet>, Cambridge, 1995), and in the booklet notes by Thomas Seedorf to the Rene Jacobs recording of the motets.

Many fine recordings are available. In addition to Jacobs, both Kuijken and Junhangel (Cantus Colln) appeal to my ears, with transparent textures. The scoring is worth discussion, with one voice per part in two choirs. Can that be reconciled with OVPP cantata performance? Are these motets distinct from those that would have been performed as part of a church service, along with cantata(s)? I am guessing the answer is yes, but expert commentary invited.

The following from the BWV 35 archives, but apppropriate for duplication in the motet files.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 6, 2007):

Wolff summarizes the role of the choir in Bach's Sunday morning service:

Chorale: Polyphonic setting on festal days
Introit: polyphonic motet
Kyrie: polyphonic motet,concerted setting on festal days
Gloria: concerted setting on festal days
Prayer reposes- polyphonic
Chorale of the Day
* First Cantata
Chorale before Sermon
Chorale after Sermon
Chorale before Sacrament
Sanctus: concerted setting on festal days
* Second Cantata or polyphonic motet during communion
Chorales during communion
Closing chorale

In fact, the real musical challenge for the choir lay outside the performance of the cantata. If, for instance, the Introit was Bach's motet "Lobet den Herrn" or Gabrieli's 8-part "Jubilate Deo", the choir had its work cut out for it. There's a tendency for us to talk about "just" motets as if they were easy little pieces. They are demanding works, often much more difficult than the opening chorus of a cantata.> (end quote)

Kuijken, in customary fashion, has some accurate and concise thoughts in his booklet notes relevant to the topic, including:

<The current research may force us to conclude that Bach himself almost never had more than eight singers available (even for double-choir pieces)> (end quote)

Some personal thoughts to ponder for Christmas, as well as all the other traditions and science related to the solstice:

The motet <Komm Jesu komm> (BWV 229) strikes me as appropriate for Advent, although it is conventionally ascribed to a funeral origin.

<And he shall be called wonderful, counselor, the Prince of Peace>, later follow ed by <Why do the nations so furiously rage together?> (Handels Messiah)

A quote, attributed to Marshall McCluhan, but without definite source as best I can tell from a quick look:

<There are no passengers on spaceship Earth, we are all crew.>

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 18, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Introduction to Motets, BWV 229 and 230 >
By coincidence, I just embarked on research for a proposed concert by the Tallis Choir of Toronto with the title of "Bach and the Romantics". Half of the works will be motets by Bach; the other half will be hommages to Bach in the 19th century.

Some are obvious ..

Brahms: "Warum ist das Licht Gegeben?"
Mendelssohn: "Aus Tiefe Not"
Rheinberger: "Abendlied"
Schumann: Four Songs for Double Choir

Anyone have any suggestions for lesser known goodies?

Julian Mincham wrote (December 18, 2011):
[To Douglas Cowling] Max Reger wrote several organ works that hark back to Bach--I assume there are vocal ones in his output as well/ Maybe worth looking at. He was also much into counterpoint of a bachian heritage.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 18, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Many fine recordings are available. >
I neglected to mention the most recent recording, Trinity Wall Street conducted by Julian Wachner, released to commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2011. My copy arrived by USPS Saturday delivery (soon to be a memory), immediately after I posted my introduction. I believe thanks are in order to Brad Lehman for bringing this CD release to timely attof BCW discography.

From a quick first impression, the recording is an approach with significant instrumental accompaniment, not likely to duplicate anything else in your collection, and not likely to be proposed by anyone as *authentic*. Certainly appropriate for a commerative service, best enjoyed as such.

Booklet notes and executive production (Musica Omnia label) by Peter Watchorn are enough to get my money, well worth the price just for the fine sound and artwork (booklet cover: Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels. William Blake).

The CD opens with BWV 229, which I suggested is appropriate for Advent. Peter Watchorn indicates that the motet was performed at the funeral of St. Thomas Rector, Jacob Thomasius. I believe Daniel Melamed questions the supporting documentation for this detail, which is why I applied the description *conventionally ascribed* to BWV 229 as a funeral work.

I will try to sort out whether there is more recent scholarship than Melamed (1995) in support of the funeral origin. I rather doubt it, but I will make every effort not to let my passion for the music obscure my objectivity.

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 18, 2011):
Motets at Funerals and Vespers

Ed Myskowski wrote:
< The CD opens with BWV 229, which I suggested is appropriate for Advent. Peter Watchorn indicates that the motet was performed at the funeral of St. Thomas Rector, Jacob Thomasius. I believe Daniel Melamed questions the supporting documentation for this detail, which is why I applied the description *conventionally ascribed* to BWV 229 as a funeral work. >
I think the scholarly debate focuses on the question of a connection to a specific funeral. But all the theological themes suggest that this is a funeral text.

Stiller points out that Lutheran funerals in Bach's time were essentially domestic affairs. The choir met the casket at the deceased home and sang chorales as they proceeded to the grave. The casket was never brought to the church. After the interment, the mourners might go the church for more chorales and an admonitory sermon which turned on the transitory nature of human life. There was an avoidance of prayers for the dead and the deceased's name was never mentioned. A commemorative motet may have been sung at this service.

Stiller documents that prominent civic figures were commemorated by the replacement of the cantata at Vespers on the following Sunday by a motet. The scope of motets like "Komm, Jesu, Komm" and "Jesu, Meine Freude" is equal to many cantatas and must have been sung at the commemorative Vespers of prominent people.

Did these people commission Bach to write motets for their funerals? Wolff shows quite convincingly that Bach had a motet by one of his relatives copied late in this life, probably so that the music would be ready for his own funeral.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 18, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Stiller points out that Lutheran funerals in Bach's time were essentially domestic affairs. >
The term lace curtain Irish was still in use not so many years ago in my area of the planet. The reference was (I believe) to immigrant folks who had achieved the social status to have a parlor reserved for similar use. The wonderful folk tune *Finnegans Wake*, immortalized by James Joyce, humorously references such an event.

Francis Browne wrote (December 18, 2011):
BWV 229 Note on the text

The text of BWV 229 is unusual for a motet since it is not based on a biblical quotation or a chorale. Bach has used the first and last stanzas of an 11 stanza hymn by Paul Thymich (1656-1694), who belonged to the Thomasschule in Leipzig and wrote this hymn for the funeral of the Rector Jacob Thomasius in 1684. Originally five stanzas from the text were set for five voices by the Thomaskantor Johann Schelle (1648-1701). It is uncertain whether Bach knew this setting, but the text was available in the Wagner hymnal (Andächtiger Seelen geistliches Brand und Gantz-Opfer, Leipzig 1697) which he certainly possessed.

The work is known from a score copied by Christoph Nichelmann, a pupil of Bach. The score is datable to about 1731-2, and probably was written Bach's time in Leipzig. However since its exact date and purpose are unknown many questions to which we would like an answer remain uncertain

(I have not been able to locate the complete text, but the five stanzas set by Schelle with translation can be found out: http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dw.asp?dc=W5746_GBAJY0126006&vw=dc)

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 18, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Peter Watchorn indicates that the motet was performed at the funeral of St. Thomas Rector, Jacob Thomasius. I believe Daniel Melamed questions the supporting documentation for this detail, which is why I applied the description *conventionally ascribed* to BWV 229 as a funeral work.
I will try to sort out whether there is more recent scholarship than Melamed (1995) in support of the funeral origin. >
Progress report: Peter Watchorn provides carefully wrtiien notes, including teferences to Melamed, so I expect the error is mine. I will try to resolve it before we move on from current discussion of the motets. Note that current discussion completes the Bach motets, BWV 225-230, which are commonly recorded as a set. That is a misleading grouping, these are highly individualized works.

We will return a year from now for a last look, in the form of BWV 231, which is not commonly recorded at all.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 19, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< The CD opens with BWV 229, which I suggested is appropriate for Advent. Peter Watchorn indicates that the motet was performed at the funeral of St. Thomas Rector, Jacob Thomasius. I believe Daniel Melamed questions the supporting documentation for this detail, which is why I applied the description *conventionally ascribed* to BWV 229 as a funeral work. >
In fact, Peter Watchorn states:

<BWV 229 is based on two stanzas (first and last) of a text written by the Leipzig poet Paul Thymich, first set in 1684 by one of Bachs predecessors in Leipzig, Johann Schelle, and performed at the funeral of the St. Thomas Rector, Jacob Thomasius. Schelles widow lived on until 1730 and it is clear that Bach consciously offered his setting of his setting of the same text as a direct homage to Schelles wife, at whose funeral Bachs own setting was performed.> (end quote)

Sorry for misquoting the details, but a documented funeral performance by Bach is indicated. Here is what Melamed has to say on the topic (Bach and the German motet, 1995, p. 103):

<An honest assessment of the evidence concerning the function of Bachs motets and the occasions on which they were performed leaves most of the motets unassigned. BWV 226 is documented as a funeral piece; BWV 229 uses a text apparently used for funerals in Leipzig. But despite the attempts of Richter and others to assign the motets to specific occasions, the function of the other motets is unclear.> (end quote)

Can anyone provide evidence in support of Peter Watchorns suggested 1730 funeral performance of BWV 229? BTW, I did not mean to suggest that BWV 229 was not a funeral work, only that documention of such a performance is not yet known, and that the texts and music are very enjoyable for Advent, as well. Elistening to recordings in 2011.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 19, 2011):
Francis Browne wrote:
< The text of BWV 229 [...] Originally five stanzas from the text were set for five voices by the Thomaskantor Johann Schele (1648-1701). It is uncertain whether Bach knew this setting >
As I previously posted, Peter Watchorn, in CD booklet notes, indicates that BWV 229 was performed at the funeral service for Schelle's (sp?) widow, in 1730. The chronology is unusual, but not out of the question.

Any relevant documentation would be informative.

Ed Myskowski wrote (December 21, 2011):
Bach and the Romantics [was: Introduction to Motets, BWV 229 and 230]

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< By coincidence, I just embarked on research for a proposed concert by the Tallis Choir of Toronto with the title of "Bach and the Romantics". Half of the works will be motets by Bach; the other half will be hommages to Bach in the 19th century.
Some are obvious ..
Brahms: "Warum ist das Licht Gegeben?"
Mendelssohn: "Aus Tiefe Not"
Rheinberger: "Abendlied"
Schumann: Four Songs for Double Choir
Anyone have any suggestions for lesser known goodies? >
Not exactly goodies, or romantic, but it would be appropriate to try to find a bit of Beethoven to fill in between Bach and Mendelssohn. Do we have enough time to write (and rehearse) a few lyrics to the Hammerklavier Sonata (Op. 106) or Grosse Fuge (Op. 133)?

 

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: ęDecember 27, 2011 ę14:02:45