Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

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

Chorales BWV 250-438

General Discussions - Part 1

Teldec Vol. 7 review

Kirk McElhearn
wrote (October 8, 1999):
I purchased Vol.7 yesterday. It contains the motets, 4-CD's of chorales, a CD of sacred songs, and some miscellaneous vocal works, including some arias from the AM Bach notebook.

The motet recording, by Harnoncourt, is OK, but I think I like the energy in the more recent Herreweghe better.

The Chorales are quite nice. These are short choral works, 182 of them, some less than 1 minute, which are the kind of chorales found in the cantatas and passions. While they serve to punctuate in the longer works, here there is a sort of form that develops from hearing so many of them together. I must admit, I have always liked this kind of music - mellow, contemplative, subtle. Probably something to do with being in a Protestant school as a kid...

This is truly joyous music...

The sacred songs can be seen as a similar style of music, for one voice, cello and/or organ. The pieces are longer than the chorales, and tend to cover more styles. While not as subtle as many of the great arias in the cantatas, these songs are quite nice.

All in all, this is a box that is worth getting, for those seeking a complete collection. For others, it is a very beautiful collection of music that may introduce the listener to Bach's vocal music, if it is not already known.

As for the other volumes, since my collection is very close to complete, I will probably only purchase Vol.5, with the secular cantatas, and the cantatas that were not included in the original set of sacred cantatas. This is a box of 11-CD's.

I would like to point out that Teldec really came up with a terrible idea for packaging - each box is about 80% air - the CD's are in cardboard sleeves, and the booklets take up little space. The boxes themselves are not very attractive. It would be useful if you purchase say 5 or 6 boxes, then you could put all the CD's in one box, but otherwise I see it as a total failure.

BTW, I would love to find a place to buy blank CD sleeves in cardboard. My original cantata set boxes (6-CD boxes) no longer hold the CD's very well...


Complete Chorale Recordings / Bach's Chorales

Simon Crouch
wrote (April 9, 2000):
It just occured to me that I haven't seen much discussion Bach's chorales (that is, those not attached to other works) on this list. Since both Teldec and Hänssler have released, or are releasing, complete sets, I thought I might ask if anybody else is collecting them?

Teldec and Hänssler have taken different strategies in their editions: with Teldec you get them all in one lump; with Hänssler they're released thematically in complete programs mixing four part chorales, Schemelli songs and organ chorales. Having listened my way through all of them, there is no doubt in my mind which presentation favours continuous listening! The performances are all of fine quality, but the Hänssler presentation is far more interesting. But, if you're a harmony student simply wishing for a reference dictionary, then the Teldec set will more than meet your needs. (As an aside, have many of you out there worked your way through Riemenschneider as part of your studies? I still find it an ideal way to relieve the tedium of long plane flights!)

It may also be worth pointing out that Hänssler set is, as usual, more "complete" than the Teldec set. A special bonus that I've noticed in the former is the inclusion of the "Weimar" chorales that go under that famous catalogue relation of anon, BWV deest! Unfortunately there is no explanation of their presence or any current thoughts about their authenticity. This is the one spot at which Hänssler's otherwise exemplary liner notes seem to have stalled.

Jan Hanford [J.S. Bach Home Page] wrote (April 9, 2000):
(To Simon Crouch) Yes, and I think the chorales are some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard in my entire life. Even my husband, who (like me) does not generally enjoy vocal music, was deeply moved by their beauty.

I do prefer the Teldec set because the recording is more consistent and they are in BWV order. However, the Hanssler set is also gorgeous but I found mixing the various vocal chorales with organ chorales, etc. to be confusing.

But I would recommend to anyone to get both version since each offers its own approach. I treasure both sets.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 10, 2000)
(To Jan Hanford) In response to Jan's message...

I have the Teldec set (Vol.7), which, actually, is the only part of the complete works I bought, since 6 of the 7 CDs contain music I didn't have elsewhere.

The chorales are indeed beautiful. Listening to them is like taking a musical meditation. They are uniformly calm and peaceful, and, while you hear the same or similar melodies, there is something unique about them.

What exactly is in the Hänssler edition? Is it all the vocal chorales and all the organ chorales? While the Teldec has only those that are not found in the cantatas or other works, it would have been interesting to include them all, for completeness. There are some 180 in the Teldec collection, and almost as many others not there.

Simon Crouch wrote (April 10, 2000):
< Kirk McElhearn wrote: What exactly is in the Hänssler edition? Is it all the vocal chorales and all the organ chorales? >
The chorale part of the Hänssler edition contains all the vocal chorales and all the Schemelli songs. In addition, sprinkled throughout is a selection of the organ chorales. The organ pieces are chosen to accord with the vocal pieces and so, in this section of the edition, don't form a complete traversal. The complete organ chorales appear elsewhere in the Hänssler edition.

< While the Teldec has only those that are not found in the cantatas or other works, it would have been interesting to include them all, for completeness. There are some 180 in the Teldec collection, and almost as many others not there. >

Another gripe about the Teldec set is that it omits quite a lot of the Schemelli songbook. I know that there's consensus opinion that few of these works are by Bach but it struck me as false economy to omit them from a "complete" set, especially when it seems that there's less concensus over exactly which bits are and are not by JSB!

Rob Potharst wrote (April 9, 2000):
< Simon Crouch wrote: (As an aside, have many of you out there worked your way through Riemenschneider as part of your studies? I still find it an ideal way to relieve the tedium of long plane flights!) >
Since I do have some long plane flights occasionally, and I am crazy about Bach, I would like to know what you mean: I just did an internet search, and I found this book:

The Fall and Rise of the Recognition and Appreciation of Bach.

Is that it? If not, what else do you mean? I am very curious...

Simon Crouch wrote (April 10, 2000):
(To Rob Potharst) Ah no, sorry - I should have been less obscure. "Riemenschneider" stands for "371 Harmonised Chorales and 69 Chorale Melodies with Figured Bass", edited by Albert Riemenschneider. The reason that your search didn't find it is that it is published as music rather than as a book (thus has no ISBN). It's published by G. Schirmer.

So it's the collection of all the chorales that Bach left us (bar a few that have been identified recently as by Bach - they have very high BWV numbers) in one handy volume. Not particularly well printed but very very cheap (so cheap that scribbling over multiple copies is a reasonable proposition!) and a staple of music students for many years.

Marti Llaurado Magrinya wrote (April 11, 2000):
(To Simon Crouch) I can not find the Complete Chorale Recordings from Teldec or Hänsler you mention. I have tried amazon.com, both in the US and the UK. Could you please provide complete details (exact title of the collection,...), and maybe where to find them?

Rick wrote (April 11, 2000):
(To Marti Llaurado Magrinya) Try CDNOW in the Bach 2000 collection.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 12, 2000):
(To Marti Llaurado Magrinya) It is Vol.7 of the complete set. I don't know if they are available seperately in every cothough. I was able to buy it here in France...

Marti Llaurado Magrinya wrote (April 12, 2000):
Thanks for your response and that of Rick. I'll look into CDNow and the local shops for the complete sets of Teldec and Hänsler and see if they are sold separately.


Chorales

Chris Hampson
wrote (January 27, 2001):
How do you think the chorales should be performed with regard the fermata signs? I have my own theories in this area, but first I would like to find out what the general attitudes are...

In truth, I am writing a paper on Bach performance practice, and would like to have an unbiased modern day sample of views from this newsgroup, instead of people reacting to my theories!!!!

Ulrich E. Bruchholz wrote (January 27, 2001):
(To Chris Hampson) Almost all professional musicians have the stupid habit to retard at end of the piece. But the fermata sign stands only for the end. When I play Bach then always rhythmically. (His rhythm is divine!) Hear also MIDI samples on my site (mostly chorales from the 3rd part of the keyboard exercitium).
www.markt-2000.de/patent

Sybrand Bakker wrote (January 28, 2001):
I would agree with this. The fermata only means to prolong the note under the fermata, not the retard the complete phrase it closes. For me it is similar to the 16-th century habit to end any chorale with a brevis or a longa, which simply means : a note of undetermined length, not necessarily to be held to the full rhythmic length.

Johnny E. Dove wrote (January 28, 2001):
It is my understanding that the fermata (corona) simply indicates in the chorales the end of a line of text. It is placed there to ease reading of the additional stanzas that are usually printed at the bottom of the page, and not directly beneath the notes. I find hymn performances especially laggard with all those held notes which so break up the flow of the music. They should push right along with the kind of lusty vigor they deserve. One should beware that the corona is not always used to indicate an elongation of a note.

James Goodzeit wrote (January 28, 2001):
While it would be disastrous to attempt to prolong many notes under fermatas, e.g. as occurs in many of the Orgelbuchlein chorales, yet it would seem equally inappropriate to keep exact time through a piece right up to the final cadence. There's not a single Bach performer who does not dilate the ends of the various musical units within a piece -- at least that I'm aware of.

Do you have any evidence that the "correct" is simply to prolong the final note without retard -- it seems terribly wrong to *my* ears to hear music [by Bach or otherwise] end in such a fashion?

Michael wrote (January 28, 2001):
< Ulrich Bruchholz wrote: Almost all professional musicians have the stupid habit to retard at end >of the piece. > [snip]
What's stupid about retarding at the end of the piece, and why do you think you know better than almost all professional musicians?

Sybrand Bakker wrote (January 29, 2001):
(To Michael) This means if a church congregation sings the same chorale, the last line is definitely not retarded. Usually the tempo slows down from verse to verse, but that usually happens in the first lines of the chorale. Following definitions by contemporary writers like Mattheson, Walther et alii, I never read a fermata implies a ritardando.

Michael wrote (January 29, 2001):
(To Sybrand Bakker) I didn't say it did. As you can see, Ulrich.Bruchholz stated that it was "stupid" to retard at the end of pieces. Are you claiming that the chorale should be sung straight in tempo at the end with no retard? If so, why? And have you ever heard anybody do that?

John Hartford wrote (January 28, 2001):
< How do you think the chorales should be performed with regard the fermata signs?>
I've always liked the notion that the fermata was placed so the director could have time to recite the upcoming lines to the congregation.

John Baxendale wrote (January 28, 2001):
The fermata is only used to signify the end of a line, similar to the manner in which double-bar lines were used in the old hymn books. They have no bearing whatsoever on performance practice. Hymns were never recited to the congregation -- in Bach's day, the likelihood was that even if the congregation could not read, they would know the words top a hymn. If they didn't, then it didn't really matter...

Ulrich E. Bruchholz (January 31, 2001):
< Michael wrote: [snip] I didn't say it did. As you can see, Ulrich.Bruchholz@t-online.de stated that it was "stupid" to retard at the end of pieces. Are you claiming that the chorale should be sung straight in tempo at the end with no retard? If so, why? And have you ever heard anybody do that? >
I wrote "stupid" because of I have the feeling the piece is destroyed at exaggerated retardation. That means not, anybody does as I like.

Michael wrote (February 1, 2001):
(To Ulrich E. Bruchholz) There's a big difference between an exaggerated ritard and any ritard. Everyone would agree that an "exaggerated" ritard is wrong. Phrase your posts more carefully. And if you think that nearly all professional musicians make exaggerated ritardandi at the end of pieces, that begs the question again.

< That means not, anybody does as I like. >
I don't understand. Still, your English is a whole hell of a lot better than my German. :-)

Ulrich E. Bruchholz (February 3, 2001):
< Michael wrote: There's a big difference between an exaggerated ritard and any ritard. Everyone would agree that an "exaggerated" ritard is wrong. Phrase your posts more carefully. And if you think that nearly all professional musicians make exaggerated ritardandi at the end of pieces, that begs the question again. >
I got that experience (if you not accept "experience", take "impression" :-). But I realize, it was worth a separated discussion.

<< That means not, anybody does as I like. >>
< I don't understand. >
That is not more necessary. You already agreed to it.


4-part chorales

Michael Grover
wrote (July 31, 2001):
Lacking a good reference book on Bach and his works in my home library (I have both the Wolff and the Oxford Companion on my wish list), I have been looking in vain for some information on the Internet regarding Bach's 4-part chorales, BWV 253-483.

Can anyone explain (briefly) the background to these lone, loose chorales? Are they scattered from all over Bach's career, or are they more strictly ordered than that? I notice, interestingly enough, that they are catalogued in the BWV roughly alphabetically.

Brilliant Classics has a 4-CD set by the Nordic Chamber Choir, directed by Nicol Matt, of these chorales. They also perform many of the chorales from the cantatas. I found their website: http://nocc.de/ There is a brief biography of Matt on the website. It's in German, though -- I'll try to translate it sometime for Aryeh's site unless someone beats me to it. Is there anyone out there who owns these recordings and would like to comment on them? I have not heard them myself. There is a picture on the website of the group and I count 12 women and 10 men performing, so it looks like female altos rather than male countertenors. They are accompanied on these discs by soloists from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (playing gamba, baroque cello, violone, and organ). http://www.barockorchester.de/frameset_ie/indexie.html

As a side note: I was not familiar with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra before finding their website, but it looks like Gustav Leonhardt led them in a performance of the SJP this last April in Spain. Interesting! I don't suppose anyone was there?....

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 31, 2001):
[To Michael Grover] Get the Oxford Companion as soon as possible, forget Wolff.

One of the appendices has listed them in such a way that the list is an improvement over the NBA which laboriously lists each one in sequence from 253-483 which is fine, but are duplicates of chorales from the cantatas, passions, etc. The Oxford Companion might have 351, 352 and then a cyptic 108/7 (these are made-up numbers) where the latter is BWV 353, but in reality it is a copy of the last mvt. of BWV 108, a cantata. This is very helpful in knowing which are truly original 4-part chorales not contained elsewhere. What's the use in knowing that a chorale is BWV 353, if it is already known as 108/7?

Alphabetically? Yes, roughly. Probably because they were contained in separate collections that have come down to us in this sequence.

The best guess is that these unique harmonizations are from the missing cantatas. Some clever person was permitted to make a copy. See my description of last week's cantata BWV 9. There it becomes apparent that W.F.Bach might have allowed someone to take a peek at a cantata for a fee. I have no idea how much a peek at a chorale would cost.

How does this choral group know which verse to sing? Bach created the harmonizations to fit the words. Schweitzer makes a strong point about this. He thought it was a travesty to have published these harmonizations without the words. Now the question really is, which verse should be sung?

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 31, 2001):
[To Michael Grover] There is a 7 CD box as part of the Teldec complete set, that includes all of the above chorals, as well as sacred songs and motets, and some other isolated songs. (Note that this set, and the one you mention, contain chorals not in the cantatas and other sacred works. If you add them, you have another couple of hundred.)

The chorals are works from all across Bach's life, but, oddly enough, the notes to this set don't say anything about their composition - only about their publication, since there were projects to publish them all after Bach's death.

I like these works very much. They are very soothing.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 31, 2001):
< Thomas Braatz wrote: Get the Oxford Companion as soon as possible, forget Wolff. >
I definitely agree. See my review: http://www.mcelhearn.com/bach.html

Note that this book has been showing up in the remainder stores lately...

Michael Grover wrote (July 31, 2001):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Forgive my ignorance, but what are "the remainder stores"?

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 31, 2001):
[To Michael Grover] Places that sell remaindered books and cutout CDS - overstocks, overprints, the kind of new books at low prices that you find in some big book chain stores on one or two tables.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (August 2, 2001):
[To Michael Grover] I wasn't in Spain but on the 31-03-01 in Milan G. Leonhardt directed the FBO in the JP.I'll give you some detials about that night. First of all : in an interview release before the concert G.Leonhardt said that this performance was based on a careful examination or the autograph score and the single parts made by Bach for the 1724 "version". He said : "...the number of parts arrived to us show that Bach had at his disposition a small choir, probably 3 singers per part...by the way, the OVPP approach is not correct, in my opinion, for ALL the works Bach wrote in Leipzig....". The FBO was so composed : violins I, 3; violins II, 3; viole, 2; violoncelli, 2; viola da gamba, 1 (Hille Perl); double-bass, 1; recorders, 2; oboes, 2; bassoon,1; organ,1; for a total of 18 members. The FBO Chor was composed by 12 singers. Soloists singers were : Carolyn Sampson, soprano;Britta Schwarz, alto; Andreas Karasiak, tenore; Sebastian Noack, basso. It was a great performance, very moving, austere and solemn, in the style of Leonhardt recording of Matthaus Passion. The director before the beginning of the concert asked to the audience not to clap at the end ot the JP, considering that this music is aboce all SACRED music (Leonhardt made this request also everytime he directed Bach cantatas in Milan churches). What I remember most from that night is the FBO Chor singing the Chorales: for their intensity they appeared as real prayers. The soloists were also very good : C.Sampson was superb in the aria "Ich folge...), aria that Leonhardt directed at an unusually fast time for his standards. In another interview released to "Repertoire" some years ago just after having directed the JP in London with the XVIII Century Orchestra (or the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightment, I'm not sure) Leonhardt told that maybe he was getting involved in recording for a commercial release the JP and that everything depended on his record company. I don't know what will happen but I can say that it will be very fine having a recording of this JP with FBO.

As regards the 4-parts chorales I strongly suggest the volumes dedicated to them (and to other chorales, Schmelli Gesangbuch and other works) in the Hännssler edition. These are single (except one double CD) records where the chorales are raggrupated according their thematic and their liturgical destination. The best of these cds, in my opinion, is the one dedicated to the Passion time.

Aryeh Oron wrote (August 6, 2001):
< Michael Grover wrote: [snip] Brilliant Classics has a 4-CD set by the Nordic Chamber Choir, directed by Nicol Matt, of these chorales. They also perform many of the chorales from the cantatas. I found their website: http://nocc.de/ There is a brief biography of Matt on the website. It's in German, though -- I'll try to translate it sometime for Aryeh's site unless someone beats me to it. [snip] >
Thanks for the info. There is also an English version of this nice site. I put in the Bach Cantatas Website a bio of Nicol Matt: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Matt-Nicol.htm and a short history of of NOCC: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/NOCC.htm


Seeking source of Bach chorale and text

Patsy Moore wrote (September 19, 2001):
I've been trying to find out if recent research or the rediscovery of any Bach work has yet turned up a text for the following chorale harmonisation. It was suggested to me that there may be people on this list who have up to date knowledge in this field.

I'm using Riemenschneider 243 "Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben" as my introduction to Bach for my orchestra (of adult beginners, returners and "rusties") this term. The notes show it as "no source".

I know that four lines of text beginning with those words appear in Bach's Christmas Oratorio, but I don't see any relationship between the music at that point (in 4/4 time) and the music of the chorale, which is not only in 3/4 but has a total of seven phrases.

Greetings from rural Berkshire, England,

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 19, 2001):
< Patsy Moore stated: I'm using Riemenschneider 243 "Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben" as my introduction to Bach for my orchestra (of adult beginners, returners and "rusties") this term. The notes show it as "no source". >
I know that four lines of text beginning with those words appear in Bach's Christmas Oratorio, but I don't see any relationship between the music at that point (in 4/4 time) and the music of the chorale, which is not only in 3/4 but has a total of seven phrases. >
I could not find the four lines of text beginning with "Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben" anywhere in the Christmas Oratorio, although I was surprised to find another chorale in which both the same author of another text and the same composer of another chorale melody collaborated: "Hilf, Herr Jesu, laß gelingen." (BWV 248/42) [the second number indicates the mvt. within the work]

There is just one setting of the chorale "Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben" by Bach. It is BWV 356 and Riemenschneider probably had nothing specific to refer to. This 4-part chorale harmonization was widely circulated beginning in the latter quarter of the 18th century. Unfortunately, as Albert Schweitzer correctly pointed out, all connection with the words was lost because these harmonizations were printed without the words! Only the title, often enigmatic, remained as many older chorales in the hymnals were being replaced by new ones. , the experts can still refer to older hymnals that have been preserved. This does not however answer the question as to which verse Bach used as he created these 4-part harmonizations as part of his sacred cantatas. Most frequently it would not be the very first verse, but rather a later one. But which one? The NBA (Neue Bach Ausgabe) has identified and verified all the genuine Bach harmonizations that Schmieder listed in his BWV (Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis) catalog of all existing works (Schmieder last revised his listing in 1990 shortly before his death.) The harmonizations that are not identified as belonging to any existing work are given numbers between BWV250 and BWV438. It is fortunate for us that some copier who still had access to cantatas now lost completely made the effort (under whose direction?) to preserve the harmonizations without noting which words Bach actually had in mind.

About BWV 356: Its oldest source (the NBA calls it Source C) is a handcopied version that is No. 252 in a collection that is dated soon after 1776. The next reliable source (Source F) is No. 243 in CPE Bach's printed collection that appeared in 1786 (Breitkopf.) Later in 1843 (Friese) it is No. 193 in a collection edited by CF Becker.

About the composer of the chorale melody: Johann Schop, born before 1590 (Hamburg?) was an organist there and also a city-appointed director of music (I have some wonderful 4-part dance music by him that could be played by a consort.) He died in 1667. In addition to "Hilf, Herr Jesu, laß gelingen" mentioned above and "Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben," he also supplied the melody for two other famous chorales: "Sollt ich meinem Gott nicht singen?" and "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort." In one more collaboration with Rist, his melody is the basis for "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist." I have a wonderful recording of a Suite in a by Schop played by the viol ensemble La Gamba Freiburg (Ars Musici AM 1096)

About the poet who supplied the text for these collaborations: Johann Rist, born 1607 in Hamburg where he also was a pastor. He died in 1667. I can find 10 chorale texts by him still being used in a current German hymnal. In his day he was recognized as a poet laureate. The Bach cantata (BWV 78) that is under discussion this week on the BachCantatas site is just one example of his work.

The only text for BWV 356 "Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben" is one that I will print out from the liner notes of Vol. 84 (track 14) of the Bach 2000 Teldec series (8573-81133) which I purchased separately (there is no way that I would pay money for another set of Harnoncourt's Bach cantata renditions.) Here is the German for the 1st verse. (Again, what are the chances that this is the verse that Bach had in mind when he composed his harmonization for this chorale? Very slim indeed! In his cantatas, it is usually a later or the last verse of a chorale that is harmonized):

Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben,
Meiner Seelen Braütigam,
der du bist für mich gegeben
an des bittern Kreuzes Stamm,
Jesu, meine Freud' und Wonne,
du mein Hoffnung, Schatz und Heil,
mein' Erlösung, Schmuck und Heil,
Hirt und Kònig, Licht und Sonne,
ach, wie soll ich würdiglich,
mein Herr Jesu, preisen dich?

English translation included in the liner notes:

Jesus, you are my dearest life,
The bridegroom of my soul,
Who for me was given
Unto the bitter tree of the cross,
Jesus, my joy and delight,
You are my hope, treasure and salvation,
My redemption, ornament and my salvation,
Shepherd and king, light and sun,
O how with due reverence shall I
Praise you, my Lord Jesus?

Tom Hens wrote (September 20, 2001):
< Thomas Braatz wrote: I could not find the four lines of text beginning with "Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben" anywhere in the Christmas Oratorio >
It's used in the fourth cantata, "Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben". The first four lines (corrected to the best of my ability):

Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben,
Meiner Seelen Bräutigam,
Der du dich vor mich gegeben
An des bittern Kreuzes Stamm!

are used in No. 3, sung by the soprano over a bass recitative. The next six lines:

Jesu, meine Freud und Wonne,
Meine Hoffnung, Schatz und Teil,
Mein Erlösung, Schmuck und Heil,
Hirt und König, Licht und Sonne!
Ach! wie soll ich würdiglich,
mein Herr Jesu, preisen dich?

are similarly used in No. 5. In between is No. 4, the soprano aria "Flößt, mein Heiland, flößt dein Namen".

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 20, 2001):
< Tom Hens stated regarding "Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben": It's used in the fourth cantata, "Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben". The first four lines (corrected to the best of my ability):
Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben,
Meiner Seelen Bräutigam,
Der du dich vor mich gegeben
An des bittern Kreuzes Stamm!
are used in No. 3, sung by the soprano over a bass recitative. The next six lines:
Jesu, meine Freud und Wonne,
Meine Hoffnung, Schatz und Teil,
Mein Erlösung, Schmuck und Heil,
Hirt und König, Licht und Sonne!
Ach! wie soll ich würdiglich,
mein Herr Jesu, preisen dich?
are similarly used in No. 5. In between is No. 4, the soprano aria "Flößt,mein Heiland, flößt dein Namen". >
I overlooked this because I was only searching for 4-part harmonizations of the chorale. You are absolutely correct about the use of the chorale text by Johann Rist. It is very interesting to see the way Bach spilt up and distributed this single, first verse over two recitatives (BWV 248/38 and 248/40) while inserting the soprano aria (BWV 248/39) between them.

Now the only mystery is, "Which or whose chorale melody is Bach using here in a rather embellished form?" The NBA KB II/6 gives the answer: "This is an 'obvious new creation'[a new chorale melody composed by J.S.Bach.]" No wonder that Patsy could not see any musical similarities beyond the fact that the text was the same one!

It should also be noted that, although the chorale text is most frequently associated with the chorale melody supplied by Johann Schop as in BWV 356 (or was it the reverse: the melody already existed before Rist wrote the words to fit the melody?) there is evidence that this text, during Bach's lifetime, was also sung using other melodies such as "Sollt ich meinem Gott nicht singen?" and "Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen."

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 23, 2001):
< Patsy Moore hopes: I hope you may be able to provide the complete text, but shall try elsewhere if necessary. It's encouraging to know that it's likely to be available somewhere. >
I am unable to provide all the remaining verses, as I do not possess any of the hymnals in use during Bach's time.

< Is that available in a modern edition, or should I look for him next time I'm in the British Library? >
The Schop was included in a German edition (Nagel) which I purchased in the 1960's. Its title in German was something like 'German Dance Music of the 17th Century.' I am unable to find it quickly.

< I would very much like the opportunity to look at the complete hymn (in German), to see if any part of the text seems to relate to the quite convoluted harmony with many ties and suspensions. >
I am almost certain that one of the later verses will relate more closely to what you have observed. Good luck!


Bach’s hymn book

Patsy Moore
wrote (September 25, 2001):
I would very much like to study the complete (German) text of the chorale Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben in a version that would have been available to J. S. Bach. If anyone has access to such a thing and could spare the time to pass it on I would be most grateful.



Continue on Part 2


Chorales BWV 250-438
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Last update: żAugust 18, 2005 ż15:01:31