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July 1, 2012

Bach Cantatas (36): Trinity IV

The fourth Sunday after Trinity, with as theme the admonition to compassion of the Sermon on the Mount.

Romans 8:18–23, "God's children await the glory of the body's redemption"
Luke 6:36–42, Sermon on the Mount: be merciful, judge not


  • Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe, BWV 185, 14 July 1715

    Arie e chorale (soprano, tenor): Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe
    Recitativo (alto): Ihr Herzen, die ihr euch in Stein und Fels verkehret
    Aria (alto): Sei bemüht in dieser Zeit
    Recitativo (bass): Die Eigenliebe schmeichelt sich
    Aria (bass): Das ist der Christen Kunst
    Chorale: Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesus Christ

    ("Merciful Heart of Eternal Love") The text of this short Weimar cantata recalls the admonitions of the "mote that is in thy brother's eye" and the "blind who wants to lead another blind." It opens with an expressive duet for soprano and tenor with an oboe playing the chorale tune “Ich ruf zu dir” as a cantus firmus. After an arioso recitative follows the alto aria, which is warm and pastoral, and accompanied by figurative oboe solos. Textually it is the core of the cantata: "Whoever has sown goodness, will go joyfully to reap." The lively bass aria as Vox Christi delivers the sermon - its admonitions are summarized as "Das ist der Christen Kunst." The closing chorale is a four-part harmonization of “Ich ruf zu dir,” brightened by a soaring violin as extra part. (***)

  • Ein ungefärbt Gemüte, BWV 24, 20 June 1723

    Aria: "Ein ungefärbt Gemüte" for altus, strings, and continuo.
    Recitativo: "Die Redlichkeit ist eine von den Gottesgaben" for tenor and continuo.
    (Coro): "Alles nun, das ihr wollet" for choir, clarino, oboes, strings, and continuo.
    Recitativo: "Die Heuchelei ist eine Brut" for bass, strings and continuo.
    Aria: "Treu und Wahrheit sei der Grund" for tenor, oboes d'amore, and continuo.
    Chorale: "O Gott, du frommer Gott" for choir, clarino, oboes, strings, and continuo.

    ("An Unblemished Conscience") Cantata built up rather didactically as a palindrome around the weighty message given by the stern chorus in the third and central movement, "Now all that you want the people to do for you, do even so for them." This is typically Baroque: the reciprocity of the central message is exactly mirrored in the surrounding movements. The tenor recitative that goes before this meditates at length about "Sincerity" and the bass recitative that follows it castigates "Hypocrisy." So the Sermon on the Mount is framed by two more sermons! The rather casual and bouncy opening alto aria sings about an "Unblemished Conscience" and this is mirrored in the fifth movement which is a warmly expressive tenor aria about "Faith and Truth." The final chorale is a beautiful setting of "O Gott, du frommer Gott." (***)

  • Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 177, 6 July 1732

    Coro: Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
    Aria (alto): Ich bitt noch mehr, o Herre Gott
    Aria (soprano): Verleih, daß ich aus Herzensgrund
    Aria (tenor): Laß mich kein Lust noch Furcht von dir
    Chorale: Ich lieg im Streit und widerstreb

    ("I call to You, Lord Jesus Christ") One of Bach's latest cantatas, written to supply a lacuna in the annual series. It is a choral cantata "per omnes verses," that is, without recitatives. The cantata text is formed by the unchanged five stanzas of Johann Agricola's chorale "Ich Ruf zu Dir" (1529), which reflect the gospel reading for this day. The grand and complex opening chorus presents the chorale line by line, the cantus firmus here sung by the soprano. The original tune of the hymn is used. The long movement is in fact an elaborate musical fantasy. The three arias for the following verses show increasing instrumental complexity, the first only accompanied by the continuo, the second a trio and the third a quartet. The first one for alto is very subtle and moving in its sparseness. The final chorale again returns to simplicity, which is very effective. This is a very outstanding cantata. (****)

(1) New Year's Day (2) New Year I (3) Epiphany (4) Epiphany I (5) Epiphany II (6) Epiphany III (7) Epiphany IV (8) Feast of Purification of Mary (9) Septuagesima (10) Sexagesima (11) Quinquagesima (Estomihi) (12) The Consecration of a New Organ (13) The Inauguration of the Town Council (14) Oculi (15) Wedding Cantatas (16) Feast of Annunciation (17) Palm Sunday (18) Easter Sunday (19) Easter Monday (20) Easter Tuesday (21) Easter I (Quasimodogeniti) (22) Easter II (23) Easter III (24) Easter IV (25) Easter V (26) Ascension Day (27) Ascension I (28) Pentecost Sunday (29) Pentecost Monday (30) Pentecost Tuesday (31) Trinity Sunday (32) Trinity I (33) Trinity II (34) Trinity III (35) St. John's Day (36) Trinity IV (37) Visitation (38) Trinity V (39) Trinity VI (40) Trinity VII (41) Trinity VIII (42) Trinity IX (43) Trinity X (44) Trinity XI (45) Trinity XII (46) Trinity XIII (47) Trinity XIV (48) Trinity XV (49) Trinity XVI (50) Trinity XVII (51) Trinity XVIII (52) Trinity XIX (53) Trinity XX (54) Trinity XXI (55) Trinity XXII (56) Trinity XXIII (57) Trinity XXIV (58) Trinity XXV-XXVII (59) Advent I-IV (60) Christmas Day (61) Second Day of Christmas (62) Third Day of Christmas (63) Sunday after Christmas