Favorite Bach Cantatas

Bach: Favorite Cantatas

  1. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140
  2. Recitative: Er kommt, er kommt
  3. Duet: Wenn kömmst du, mein Heil?
    soprano & bass
  4. Chorale: Zion hört die Wächter singen
  5. Recitative: So geh herein zu mir
  6. Duet: Mein Freund ist mein
    soprano & bass
  7. Chorale: Gloria sei dir gesungen 
  8. Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78
  9. Duet: Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten
    soprano & alto
  10. Recitative: Ach! ich bin ein Kind der Sünden
  11. Aria: Das Blut, so meine Schuld durchstreicht
  12. Recitative: Die Wunden, Nägel, Kron und Grab
  13. Aria: Nun du wirst mein Gewissen stillen
  14. Chorale: Herr, ich glaube, hilf mir Schwachen
  15. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80
  16. Aria & Chorale: Alles, was von Gott geboren
    soprano & bass
  17. Recitative: Erwäge doch, Kind Gottes
  18. Aria: Komm in mein Herzenshaus
  19. Chorale: Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär
  20. Recitative: So stehe denn bei Christi blutgefärbten Fahne
  21. Duet: Wie selig sind doch die
    alto & tenor
  22. Chorale: Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn

Program Notes

Cantata 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

Wachet auf!” is atypical of the classic Bach chorale cantatas in two ways. First it was written for the twenty-seventh Sunday after Trinity, a feast which occurs very rarely (only in 1731 and 1742 could this cantata have been performed during Bach’s Leipzig years); therefore it represents a late addition to the chorale cantata cycle of 1724-5. Secondly the chorale text by Philipp Nicolai (1599) comprises only three stanzas. Therefore Bach retained these for the outer and center movements and used free verse for the intervening pieces (the librettist, like so many for Bach’s cantatas, is unknown). Both the chorale text and the freely-written portions are appropriate to the Gospel of the day (the ten virgins preparing for the wedding-feast), and take much of their pictorial spirit from the concept of Jesus as the bridegroom and the soul of the believer as his bride; this also makes the work suitable for Advent which would have been celebrated the following Sunday. The librettist used some of the amorous imagery from the Song of Solomon to underline this metaphor.

Although much of this content might seem obscure to the non-Christian (and indeed also to many modern believers), it is easy to see why this cantata has become one of the most celebrated in Bach’s oeuvre. For he seems to have taken special delight in responding to the mixture of the mystical and the sensual in the text. The first movement is designed both to wake the believer and also to evoke the arrival of the groom (appropriately in the pompous royal manner of the French Overture). The first aria depicts the longing of the soul/bride and the responses of Jesus the groom. Here Bach uses an exclamatio figure, the rising minor sixth, which is so well-known from the Cantata 82 Ich habe genug and in “Erbarme dich” from the Saint Matthew Passion. Interestingly all four instances depict quite different emotions; but all are linked by the idea of exclamation, whether in longing, world-weariness or supplication. The breathless, heady atmosphere is further emphasized by the highly-pitched piccolo violin. A noted feminist critic has recently observed the sexual-stereotyping which Bach uses to underline the essence of the text: while the bride/soul adopts a weak, almost simpering attitude, the groom/Jesus sounds more solid and purposeful. Nevertheless, the social conditioning of Bach’s age should not detract from the skill with which he developed these implications, and just as the text can still be appreciated for what it is in the modern age, so too can the musical metaphors.

The most celebrated movement is probably the central chorale-setting “Zion hört die Wächter singen.” Here the string obbligato is in an “upbeat” style which evokes the waking watchmen and the arrival of Christ; the catchy rhythmic idiom is also typical of what Bach was writing in the 1730s when he was purposely beginning to imitate his more ‘modern’ contemporaries. A similar galant atmosphere pervades the second duet where bride and groom are united on equal terms. In all it seems that Bach purposely employed secular musical gestures here to underline a message which is at once sensual and intensely spiritual.

Cantata 78: Jesu, der du meine Seele

Bach’s chorale cantatas represent his most purely Lutheran music. For many years it was believed that Bach wrote these during the last ten years of his life, the climax of his career as a devout Lutheran. However, close manuscript study in the 1950’s revealed that the bulk of the chorale cycle was written over twenty years before, during Bach’s second year at Leipzig, 1724-5. Moreover the chorale cantatas, like the majority of Bach’s Leipzig church music, were written remarkably quickly, at the rate of one per week.

Since the mid-seventeenth century Lutheran composers had often taken a chorale—text and music—and set it as a continuous composition, a new musical section devoted to each verse. Some of Bach’s predecessors as Kantor, notably Johann Schelle, probably wrote entire cycles of these works, following the calendar of the church’s year, and possibly working in tandem with cycles of sermons based on the chorales concerned. Bach usually employed a librettist to paraphrase the inner verses of the chorale. Although this might seem to weaken the Lutheran impact of the works, this style of paraphrase, glossing a traditional text and melody, was quite within the spirit of Lutheran liturgical practices. The chorales themselves are often paraphrases of Biblical texts, frequently centering on dogmatic elements of Lutheran theology, and are designed to present the material in a manner comprehensible to the illiterate, with striking melodies acting as a mnemonic for the textual content. By paraphrasing chorales in cantatas, Bach was providing the congregation with both an interpretation of a well-known text and a reworking of its content which was intended to inspire the believer to new depths of spiritual understanding.

The chorale cantatas generally preserve the first and last verses of the chorale in both text and music. The final verse is a simple chorale harmonization—not an anticlimax if it is considered that this led directly into the sermon—while the first verse is usually the most elaborate movement, an extensive figural setting with the chorale sung in long notes in one of the voices. The opening movement of Cantata 78 is perhaps one of the most outstanding examples of this genre, not least because it clearly reveals some of the essentials of Bach’s genius: diversity within economy and contrast within a discrete and finely-polished structure. The movement is in one sense a passacaglia, with a chromatic ostinato pervading virtually every measure. On the other hand the proportions and tonal structure come directly from those of the chorale. On the semantic level, an uneasy affect is given to the whole by the repeated chromatic figure—the passus duriusculus, a well-known device, abstracted from Italianate operatic language, which would have been instantly recognizable to the more informed members of Bach’s congregation—and this is modified and developed by the musical depiction of the essence of each line of the text: dark chromaticism for “finstern Höhle,” straining ascending chromatic passages for “schweren Seelennot,” and rhythmic figures with scales for “herausgerissen.” This music both teaches and moves the believer: without belief and trust in God the state of man is both hopeless and sinful.

This cantata contains much contrast of affect within its span. The second movement, a well-known duet, introduces a joyful mood providing a striking contrast to the opening passacaglia; indeed its use of the same dactylic motif underlines this through its very similarity. The answer to the doom of the faithless is the following of Jesus, the hasty steps to whom are immediately evident in the regular striding rhythm of the basso continuo line and the vocal parts. The virtual canon between the two voices is of course a vivid allegory on the following of Jesus, the “Meister” Canon was frequently used to teach music reading and part singing in schools, as was the dialogue technique in academic school books, so the concept of the master-pupil relationship would have been immediately clear to the listener. The central dogmatic key to the work comes with the fourth movement: sin is canceled through the passion of Christ. Indeed the ensuing recitative is reminiscent of many from Bach’s Passion settings, where the music is both dramatic and tonally complex.

The final aria for bass is essentially a concerto for the obbligato oboe, onto which the vocal part has been grafted. The clear-cut ritornello structure, with the “classical” three-part pattern of the ritornello itself—opening, continuation and cadence—is perhaps an allegory on the theological truth of salvation through Christ. The ritornello is the paradigm for much Baroque musical structure and Bach may well have thought this to reflect the “natural truth” of God’s law.

Cantata 80: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott

Nowadays we tend to consider Bach’s cantatas to be fixed, discrete entities, the finely-chiselled stones constituting the magnificent edifice of the Bach canon. However it is all too easy to overlook the fact that these works were written—often hurriedly—in direct response to the immediate demands of Bach’s liturgical environment. The composer frequently reused music written for earlier occasions and, when works were to be repeated, adapted the text and instrumentation for new contingencies. Therefore it is often difficult to determine which version is the most perfect, or which Bach would have considered the most satisfactory. Modern editors tend to favor the latest version of a work, since, whenever he was reusing earlier music, Bach inevitably made small cosmetic improvements. However the problems can be compounded by lacunae in the transmission of the work: manuscripts are sometimes lost and early copyists often give only an inaccurate picture of the scores that Bach actually wrote.

Cantata 80 is a typical example of these sorts of problems: the core of the work was first written circa 1715 when Bach was court organist and concertmaster at the court of Weimar. Since the feast for which this was performed (Oculi Sunday) was not celebrated with figural music at Leipzig, Bach had to adapt the work for another occasion before it could be used again. Sometime in the late 1720s Bach performed the piece as Ein feste Burg for a Reformation feast (only a small fragment of the autograph score survives) and he repeated it in the 1730s, replacing the simple opening chorale with the elaborate chorus (the only surviving early score is in the hand of Bach’s son-in-law, J. C. Altnickol). This is not, however, the end of the story, for Bach’s eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann adapted two movements for his own use in a performance after Bach’s death. Not only was the Latin text new, but Friedemann also added the elaborate trumpet and timpani parts to movements 1 and 5; these have crept into several modern editions claiming to present the original text.

Bach’s celebrated Reformation cantata contains all four verses of Luther’s chorale and most of the remaining text is from Salomon Franck’s original libretto to this cantata, as sung in Weimar (Oculi, the third Sunday of Lent). The opening movement is arguably Bach’s most impressive chorale-based movement, the imitative motet style punctuated with a canon on the chorale between oboes and continuo. Both the technique (canon as `rule’) and the instrumentation using the highest and deepest instruments, were doubtless designed to show the all-encompassing power of God.

The remaining movements show the vivid and more concise style of Bach’s Weimar cantatas, with their use of a small repertory of incisive figures pervading virtually every measure. The chorale movement “Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär” employs a festive instrumental ritornello, which like many movements in the Brandenburg concertos, seems paradoxically both dense in its texture and lucid in its voice-leading and harmonic direction. The final duet “Wie selig sind doch die” shows just that combination of features which render Bach outstanding among his contemporaries: while the musical lines and motivic ideas are designed to span the entire structure, local details are not forsaken (the melismas on “Glauben” and “schlagen”).

- Notes © John Butt

Texts & Translations

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 (Trinity 27) 

Soprano, Tenor, Bass, 4-part Chorus, Cornetto, 2 Oboes, Taille, Strings (with solo Violino Piccolo), Basso continuo

Chorus - All

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme 
Der Wächter sehr hoch auf der Zinne, 
Wach auf, du Stadt Jerusalem! 
Mitternacht heißt diese Stunde; 
Sie rufen uns mit hellem Munde: 
Wo seid ihr klugen Jungfrauen? 
Wohl auf, der Bräutgam kömmt; 
Steht auf, die Lampen nehmt! 
Macht euch bereit 
Zu der Hochzeit, 
Ihr müsset ihm entgegen gehn! 

Wake, arise, the watchmen’s voice calls us from the lofty tower: arise, town of Jerusalem! It is midnight; they call to us with ringing voices: where are you prudent virgins now? The bridegroom comes; get up and take your lamps! Alleluia! Prepare for the wedding, go to meet him as he comes!

Recitative - Tenor, Basso continuo

Er kommt, er kommt,
Der Bräutgam kommt! 
Ihr Töchter Zions, kommt heraus, 
Sein Ausgang eilet aus der Höhe 
In euer Mutter Haus. 
Der Bräutgam kommt, der einem Rehe 
Und jungen Hirsche gleich 
Auf denen Hügeln springt 
Und euch das Mahl der Hochzeit bringt. 
Wacht auf, ermuntert euch! 
Den Bräutgam zu empfangen! 
Dort, sehet, kommt er hergegangen. 

He comes, he comes, the bridegroom comes! O Zion’s daughters come out, his journey comes from the heavens into your mother’s house. The bridegroom comes, who is like a roebuck and youthful stag leaping on the hills. He brings the marriage meal to you. Wake up and welcome the bridegroom! Look, here he comes to meet you.

Duet - Soprano, Bass, Violino Piccolo, Basso continuo

Soprano: Wenn kömmst du, mein Heil?
   Bass: Ich komme, dein Teil. 
Soprano: Ich warte mit brennendem Öle. 
Soprano: Eröffne den Saal 
   Bass: Ich öffne den Saal 
Both: Zum himlischen Mahl 
Soprano: Komm, Jesu! 
   Bass: Ich komme; komm, liebliche Seele! 

Soprano: When do you come, my Savior? 
   Bass: I’m coming, your share. 
Soprano: I’m waiting with my burning oil. 
Soprano: Now open the hall 
   Bass: I open the hall 
Both: For heaven’s rich meal. 
Soprano: Come, Jesus! 
   Bass: I’m coming; come lovely soul! 

Chorale - Chorus Tenors, Strings, Basso continuo

Zion hört die Wächter singen,
Das Herz tut ihr vor Freuden springen, 
Sie wachet und steht eilend auf. 
Ihr Freund kommt vom Himmel prächtig, 
Von Gnaden stark, von Wahrheit mächtig, 
Ihr Licht wird hell, ihr Stern geht auf. 
Nun komm, du werte Kron, 
Herr Jesu, Gottes Sohn! 
Wir folgen all 
Zum Freudensaal 
Und halten mit das Abendmahl. 

Zion hears the watchmen singing and her heart is dancing for joy; she awakes and rises hastily. Her friend comes glorious from heaven, strong in mercy, powerful in truth. Her light is bright, her star rises. Now come, you precious crown, Lord Jesus, God’s own Son! Hosanna! We all follow to the hall of joy and join there in the supper.

Recitative - Bass, Strings, Basso continuo

So geh herein zu mir,
Du mir erwählte Braut! 
Ich habe mich mit dir 
Von Ewigkeit vertraut. 
Dich will ich auf mein Herz, 
Auf meinen Arm gleich wie ein Siegel setzen 
Und dein betrübtes Aug ergötzen. 
Vergiß, o Seele, nun 
Die Angst, den Schmerz, 
Den du erdulden müssen; 
Auf meiner Linken sollst du ruhn, 
Und meine Rechte soll dich küssen. 

So come in here to me, you my chosen bride! I have betrothed myself to you eternally. I will engrave you on my heart and on my arm and will bring pleasure to your troubled eye. Forget now, o soul, the fear and pain which you have had to suffer; you shall rest on my left hand, and my right hand shall embrace you.

Duet - Soprano, Bass, Oboe, Basso continuo

Soprano: Mein Freund ist mein,
   Bass: Und ich bin sein, 
Both: Die Liebe soll nichts scheiden. 
Soprano: Ich will mit dir 
   Bass: Du sollst mit mir 
Both: in Himmels Rosen weiden, 
Both: Da Freude die Fülle, da Wonne wird sein. 

Soprano: My friend is mine,
   Bass: And I am yours, 
Both: Let love bring no division. 
Soprano: I will with you 
   Bass: You will with me 
Both: on heaven’s roses pasture 
Both: Where pleasure in fullness, where joy will abound. 

Chorale - All

Gloria sei dir gesungen
Mit Menschen- und englischen Zungen, 
Mit harfen und mit Zimbeln schon. 
Von zwölf Perlen sind die Pforten, 
An deiner Stadt sind wir Konsorten 
Der Engel hoch um deinen Thron. 
Kein Aug hat je gespürt, 
Kein Ohr hat je gehört 
Solche Freude. 
Des sind wir froh, 
Io, io! 
Ewig in dulci jubilo. 

Gloria be sung to you with mortal and angelic voices, with harps and with cymbals. The portals are made of twelve pearls; at your city we are consorts of angels high around your throne. No eye has yet perceived, no ear has yet heard such gladness. So we rejoice, io, io, ever in sweet jubilation!

Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78 (Trinity 14) 

Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, 4-part Chorus, Cornetto, Flute, 2 Oboes, Strings, Basso continuo

Chorus - All

Jesu, der du meine Seele
Hast durch deinen bittern Tod 
Aus des Teufels finstern Höhle 
Und der schweren Seelennot 
Kräftiglich herausgerissen 
Und mich solches lassen wissen 
Durch dein angenehmes Wort, 
Sei doch itzt, o Gott, mein Hort! 

Jesus, you who has through your bitter death forcefully freed my soul from the devil’s dark cavern and from deep anguish, and who assured me of this through your most endearing word, be now, O Jesus, my shield!

Aria - Soprano, Alto, Basso continuo

Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten,
O Jesu, o Meister, zu helfen zu dir. 

   Du suchest die Kranken und Irrenden treulich
   Ach höre, wie wir 
   Die Stimmen erheben, um Hülfe zu bitten! 
   Es sei uns dein gnädiges Antlitz erfreulich! 

We hasten with weak but diligent paces to you for your help, o Jesus, o master.

You seek the ailing and erring most faithful. Ah, listen to how we raise our voices to beg for your help! Let your countenance smile gracious on us!

Recitative - Tenor, Basso continuo

Ach! ich bin ein Kind der Sünden,
Ach! ich irre weit und breit. 
Der Sünden Aussatz, so an mir zu finden, 
Verläßt mich nicht in dieser Sterblichkeit. 
Mein Wille trachtet nur nach Bösen. 
Der Geist zwar spricht: ach! wer wird mich erlösen? 
Aber Fleisch und Blut zu zwingen 
Und das Gute zu vollbringen, 
Ist über alle meine Kraft. 
Will ich den Schaden nicht verhehlen, 
So kann ich nicht, wie oft ich fehle, zählen. 
Drum nehm ich nun der Sünden Schmerz und Pein 
Und meiner Sorgen Bürde, 
So mir sonst unerträglich würde, 
Ich liefre sie dir, Jesu, seufzend ein. 
Rechne nicht die Missetat, 
Die dich, Herr, erzürnet hat! 

Ah! I am a child of sin. Ah! I go astray so far. The scab of sin, so visible on me, won’t leave me in this life. My will wants only evil. My soul asks: Ah! Who will redeem me? But to conquer flesh and blood and do good surpasses all my strength. If I don’t conceal my errors I cannot number all my failures. Therefore I take my pain and grief over all my sins and all my sorrow’s burden which else would become unbearable and hand them sighing over to you, Jesus. Don’t reckon the sinful deed which has angered you, o Lord!

Aria - Tenor, Flute, Basso continuo

Das Blut, so meine Schuld durchstreicht,
Macht mir das Herze wieder leicht 
Und spricht mich frei. 
Ruft mich der Höllen Heer zum Streite, 
So stehet Jesus mir zur Seite, 
Daß ich beherzt und sieghaft sei. 

That blood crossing out my guilt makes my heart feel light again and sets me free. Should hell’s own host call me to battle, Jesus will stand firm beside me giving me the heart to win. 

Recitative - Bass, Strings, Basso continuo 

Die Wunden, Nägel, Kron und Grab,
Die Schläge, so man dort dem Heiland gab, 
Sind ihm nunmehro Siegeszeichen 
Und können mir verneute Kräfte reichen. 
Wenn ein erschreckliches Gericht 
Den Fluch vor die Verdammten spricht, 
So kehrst du ihn in Segen. 
Mich kann kein Schmerz und keine Pein bewegen, 
Weil sie mein Heiland kennt; 
Und da dein Herz vor mich in Liebe brennt, So lege ich hinwieder 
Das meine vor dich nieder. 
Dies mein Herz, mit Leid vermenget, 
So dein teures Blut besprenget, 
So am Kreuz vergossen ist, 
Geb ich dir, Herr Jesu Christ. 

The wounds, nails, crown and grave, the beatings which were given there to the Savior are now his signs of triumph and can give me new strength and power. When an awful judgment speaks a curse on the damned you turn it into a blessing. No grief or pain can move me, for my Savior knows them; and as your heart burns with love for me, I in turn put down mine before you. This my heart, with grief acquainted and stained by your precious blood you shed on the cross, I give you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Aria - Bass, Oboe, Strings, Basso continuo 

Nun du wirst mein Gewissen stillen,
So wider mich um Rache schreit, 
Ja, deine Treue wird’s erfüllen, 
Weil mir dein Wort die Hoffnung beut. 
Wenn Christen an dich glauben, 
Wird sie kein Feind in Ewigkeit 
Aus deinen Händen rauben. 

You will quiet my conscience which cries for vengeance against my will; your faithfulness will fill it, because your word bids me to have hope. When Christians believe in you no foe ever will steal them from your hands.

Chorale - All 

Herr, ich glaube, hilf mir Schwachen,
Laß mich ja verzagen nicht; 
Du, du kannst mich stärker machen, 
Wenn mich Sünd und Tod anficht. 
Deiner Güte will ich trauen, 
Bis ich fröhlich werde schauen 
Dich, Herr Jesu, nach dem Streit 
In der süßen Ewigkeit. 

Lord, I trust you, help my weakness, don’t let me despair; you can make me stronger when I am vexed by sin and death. I’ll trust your great goodness until that day when, battle done, I gladly see you, Lord Jesus, in sweet eternity.

Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80 (Reformation)

Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, 4-part Chorus, 2 Oboes, 2 Oboes d’amore, Oboe da caccia, Strings, Basso continuo

Chorus - All

Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,
Ein gute Wehr und Waffen;
Er hilft uns frei aus aller Not,
Die uns itzt hat betroffen.
Der alte böse Feind,
Mit Ernst er’s jetzt meint,
Groß Macht und viel List
Sein grausam Rüstung ist,
Auf Erd ist nicht seinsgleichen.

A strong fortress is our God, a sure defense and armor; he helps to free us from all our need and suffering. The old, evil foe is here, grim is his intent, and with his cruel weapons, his enormous power and deceit, there is no one equal to him on earth.

Aria and Chorale - Bass, Soprano, Oboe, Strings, Basso continuo

Alles, was von Gott geboren,
Ist zum Siegen auserkoren.
   Mit unsrer Macht ist nichts getan,
   Wir sind gar bald verloren.
   Es streit’ vor uns der rechte Mann,
   Den Gott selbst hat erkoren.
Wer bei Christi Blutpanier
In der Taufe Treu geschworen,
Siegt im Geiste für und für.
   Fragst du, wer er ist?
   Er heißt Jesus Christ,
   Der Herre Zebaoth,
   Und ist kein andrer Gott,
   Das Feld muß er behalten.
Alles, was von Gott geboren,
Ist zum Siegen auserkoren.

All born from God is intended for victory.
   Our power alone will achieve nothing and we are soon lost. Let the right man, chosen by God, lead us in our fight.
Who at his baptism swore allegiance at Christ’s own bloodstained flag wins in spirit more and more.
   You ask who he is? His name is Jesus Christ, the Lord of Sabaoth, there is no other god, the field is his forever.
All born from God is intended for victory.

Recitative - Bass, Basso continuo

Erwäge doch, Kind Gottes, die so große Liebe,
Da Jesus sich
Mit seinem Blute dir verschriebe,
Wormit er dich
Zum Kriege wider Satans Heer und wider Welt und Sünde
Geworben hat!
Gib nicht in deiner Seele
Dem Satan und den Lastern statt!
Laß nicht dein Herz,
Den Himmel Gottes auf der Erden,
Zur Wüste werden!
Bereue deine Schuld mit Schmerz,
Daß Christi Geist mit dir sich fest verbinde!

Consider, child of God, this love so great which made Jesus offer his blood for you: by this he won you for the war against Satan’s host, the world and sin. Don’t yield in your soul to Satan and his viciousness! Don’t let your heart, God’s heaven on earth, become a wasteland! Repent of your guilt with pain, so that Christ’s spirit may be united to yours!

Aria - Soprano, Basso continuo

Komm in mein Herzenshaus,
Herr Jesu, mein Verlangen!
  Treib Welt und Satan aus
  Und laß dein Bild in mir erneuert prangen!
  Weg, schnöder Sündengraus!

Come in my heart’s abode, Lord Jesus, my longing!
Drive world and Satan out and let your image shine in me renewed! Away with all those horrible sins!

Chorale - All

Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär
Und wollten uns verschlingen,
So fürchten wir uns nicht so sehr,
Es soll uns doch gelingen.
Der Fürst dieser Welt,
Wie saur er sich stellt,
Tut er uns doch nicht,
Das macht, er ist gericht’,
Ein Wörtlein kann ihn fällen.

And were the world filled with devils intending to devour us, our fear would not be great, for we will win the victory. The prince of this world, how grim he may be, can’t harm us, that is, he is condemned, one little word can fell him.

Recitative - Tenor, Basso continuo

So stehe denn bei Christi blutgefärbten Fahne,
O Seele, fest
Und glaube, daß dein Haupt dich nicht verläßt,
Ja, daß sein Sieg
Auch dir den Weg zu deiner Krone bahne!
Tritt freudig an den Krieg!
Wirst du nur Gottes Wort
So hören als bewahren,
So wird der Feind gezwungen auszufahren,
Dein Heiland bleibt dein Hort!

So stand then firm under Christ’s own bloodstained flag, o soul, and trust that your head won’t betray you, and that his victory will prepare the way to your own crown, too. Go gladly on to war! If you just listen to God’s word and obey it as well, the foe will be forced to leave; your Savior is your shield!

Duet - Alto, Tenor, Oboe da caccia, Basso continuo

Wie selig sind doch die, die Gott im Munde tragen,
Doch selger ist das Herz, das ihn im Glauben trägt!
Es bleibet unbesiegt und kann die Feinde schlagen
Und wird zuletzt gekrönt, wenn es den Tod erlegt.

How blessed are those who hold God in their voices, more blessed still is the heart which holds him in faith. It remains unconquered, can beat the enemies and will at last in death be crowned.

Chorale - All

Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn
Und kein’ Dank dazu haben.
Er ist bei uns wohl auf dem Plan
Mit seinem Geist und Gaben.
Nehmen sie uns den Leib,
Gut, Ehr, Kind und Weib,
Laß fahren dahin,
Sie habens kein’ Gewinn;
Das Reich muß uns doch bleiben.

They must allow the word to stand and not be thanked for it. He is well with us, with his gifts and Spirit. Let them take our body, wealth, rank, child and wife, let them all be lost. They still cannot win; his realm stays ours.

The Musicians

performing on period instruments

Elizabeth Blumenstock (leader)
Joseph Edelberg
Katherine Kyme
Michael Sand
Jolianne von Einem
Lisa Weiss

Lisa Grodin
George Thomson

Elisabeth LeGuin

David Sinclair

Flauto traverso
Kathleen Kraft

John Abberger (solo)
Gonzalo Ruiz
Mark Maslow

Oboe d’amore
John Abberger
Gonzalo Ruiz

Oboe da caccia
John Abberger

Stephen Escher

Andrew Schwartz

Jonathan Dimmock

Phebe Craig

Michael Eagan

Catherine Bott, soprano
Daniel Taylor, countertenor 
Jeffrey Thomas, tenor
William Sharp, baritone 


Julia Earl
Ruth Escher
Claire Kelm

Alexandra Ivanoff
Linda Liebschutz
Suzanne Elder Wallace

Edward Betts
Mark Daniel
Andrew Morgan
John Rouse

Charles Fidlar
Thomas Hart
David Varnum

Additional Information

Recording Engineer & Editor: Peter Nothnagle

Producer: Jeffrey Thomas

Cover Art: Detail from Benozzo Gozzoli’s frescoes in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence.

  Recorded January 16-17, 1995 at St. Stephen’s Church, Belvedere, CA

© ℗ Copyright 2019 American Bach Soloists - All Rights Reserved