Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht
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The work belongs to Bach's first Leipzig cantata cycle. It was written to be performed on 25 July 1723.
The opening lines of the cantata, by an unknown librettist, come from Psalm 143. The overall theme is adapted from the biblical lesson for the ninth Sunday before Trinity, the Parable of the Unjust Steward from Luke 16.1-13: since mankind cannot survive before God's judgement, he should forswear earthly pleasures, the mammon of unrighteousness, for the friendship of Jesus alone; for by His death mankind's guilt was absolved, opening up the everlasting habitations.
Voices and Instrumentation
- 1. Chorus. "Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht". (Lord, enter not into judgement)
- 2. Recitative for alto with continuo. "Mein Gott, verwirf ich nicht". (My God, cast me not away)
- 3. Aria for soprano, oboe and strings, without continuo. "Wie zittern und wanken, Die Sünder Gedanken". (How they tremble and waver, the thoughts of the sinners)
- 4. Recitative for bass with strings and continuo. "Wohl aber dem, der seinen Bürgen weiß". (Happy he who his Maker knows)
- 5. Aria for tenor, corno, strings and continuo. "Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen". (Can I but make a friend of Jesus)
- 6. Chorus. "Nun, ich weiss, du wirst mir stillen". (Now I know that you will calm me)
The cantata opens with a sombre harmonically complex orchestral prelude (adagio), with tortured chromatic modulations,suspended sevenths and a sighing, mournful motif in the violins and oboes. Similar chromaticism has been used elsewhere by Bach as an affective device to illustrate the crucifixion, for example for the Crucifixus section of the Credo in the Mass in B minor BWV 232 and for the last stanza, "trug uns'rer Sünden schwere Bürd' wohl an dem Kreuze lange", in the choral prelude O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross BWV 622. The chorus enters independently in polyphonic motet style over this rich orchestral texture. This is followed by a measured permutation fugue (allegro), initially for only the concertante singers and continuo, but eventually taken up by the whole ripieno choir, doubled by the orchestra. The short but expressive alto recitative is followed by one of Bach's most original and striking arias, depicting in musical terms the anxiety and restless desperation of the sinner. Over a background of repeated tremolo notes in the upper strings, the obbligato oboe and then the soprano interweave two highly ornate but tortuous melodic lines, their melismas and disturbing dissonances representing the troubled soul. The mood becomes hopeful in the following accompanied bass recitative, leading to the ecstatic and animated concerto-like aria for tenor, corno and strings, with rapid passagework for the first violins. The tremolo string motif returns in the final chorale. With each successive stanza, the tremolo gradually becomes less rapid, echoing the calming of man after conciliation with his Maker and bringing to an end what Alfred Dürr described as one of "the most sublime descriptions of the soul in baroque and Christian art".
- J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 7 - Lisa Larsson, Elisabeth von Magnus, Gerd Türk, Klaus Mertens, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Ton Koopman conductor. Label: Antoine Marchand
- ^ Chafe, Eric (2003), [Expression error: Missing operand for > Analyzing Bach Cantatas], Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195161823 , page 28. According to the iconography of the Lutheran canon, chromaticism symbolized Christus Coronobit Crucigeros.
- ^ Butt, John (1991), [Expression error: Missing operand for > Bach: Mass in B minor], Cambridge University Press, SBN 0521387167 , page 85.
- ^ Williams, Peter (1980), [Expression error: Missing operand for > The Organ Music of J.S. Bach, Vol. II], Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521317002 , pages 61-62.
- Dürr, Alfred (2006), [Expression error: Missing operand for > The cantatas of J.S. Bach], Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-929776-2
- Marshall, Robert L. (1989), [Expression error: Missing operand for > The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach: the Sources, the Style, the Significance], Schirmer Books, pp. 131–142, ISBN 978-0028717821 This essay analyses Bach's compositional methods by examining alterations in the autograph manuscript of BWV 105.
- Cantatas, BWV 101-110: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project.