Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen, BWV 11

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Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen
BWV 11
Oratorio by J. S. Bach
Jelenia G. Church ascending.JPG
Ascension, Church of the Holy Cross in Jelenia Góra
Original Oratorium In Festo Ascensionis
Related base for Agnus Dei of the Mass in B minor
Occasion Ascension
Performed 19 May 1735 (1735-05-19) – Leipzig
Movements 11 in two parts (6 + 5)
Cantata text Picander
Bible text

Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (Praise God in his kingdoms), BWV 11, also known as the Ascension Oratorio (Himmelfahrtsoratorium), is an oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach, marked by him as Oratorium In Festo Ascensionis (Oratorio for the feast of the Ascension). It was probably composed in 1735 for the service for Ascension and first performed on 19 May 1735. The text additional to biblical sources and chorales was presumably written by Picander who had worked for the Christmas Oratorio before. The oratorio spans eleven movements, with a performance time of around half an hour, performed in two parts, 1–6 before the sermon and 7–11 after the sermon.


In the Bach Gesellschaft Gesamtausgabe (BGA) the work was included under the cantatas (hence its low BWV number), and in the Bach Compendium it is numbered BC D 9 and included under oratorios.

Scoring and structure[edit]

The work is festively scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir, three trumpets, timpani, two flauti traversi, two oboes, two violins, viola and basso continuo.[1]

Part I
  1. Chorus: Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen
  2. Evangelist (tenor): Der Herr Jesus hub seine Hände auf
  3. Recitative (bass): Ach, Jesu, ist dein Abschied
  4. Aria (alto): Ach, bleibe doch, mein liebstes Leben
  5. Evangelist: Und ward aufgehoben zusehends
  6. Chorale: Nun lieget alles unter dir
Part II
  1. Evangelist (tenor and bass): Und da sie ihm nachsahen
  2. Recitative (soprano): Ach ja! so komme bald zurück
  3. Evangelist: Sie aber beteten ihn an
  4. Aria (soprano): Jesu, deine Gnadenblicke
  5. Chorale: Wenn soll es doch geschehen

Biblical sources[edit]

As opposed to other works of Bach based on Bible narration, the Ascension Oratorio is compiled from multiple sources: the first recitative of the Evangelist (movement 2) is from Luke 24:50–51, the second (5) from Acts 1:9 and Mark 16:19, the third (7) from Acts 1:10–11, the last (9) from Luke 24:52a, Acts 1:12 and Luke 24:52b. The biblical words are narrated by the tenor as the Evangelist. In his third recitative two men are quoted, for this quotation tenor and bass both sing in an Arioso.[2]


The festive opening chorus is based on the cantata Froher Tag, verlangte Stunden, BWV Anh 18. The recitatives for bass and alto are accompanied by the flutes in a recitativo accompagnato. The arias for alto and soprano are both based on the wedding cantata Auf, süß entzückende Gewalt, written in 1725 on words of Johann Christoph Gottsched. Bach used the model for the alto aria also used for the Agnus Dei of his Mass in B minor. The soprano aria is one of the rare pieces in his music without basso continuo, with the two unison flutes, the oboe and the strings playing a trio, augmented to a quartet by the singer. The original words in the wedding cantata mentioned "Unschuld" (innocence). The first chorale, closing part 1, the fourth stanza of "Du Lebensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ" by Johann Rist, is a modest four part setting, whereas the final chorale, the seventh stanza of "Gott fähret auf gen Himmel" by Gottfried Wilhelm Sacer, is embedded in an instrumental concerto. Similar to the final chorale Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen of the Christmas Oratorio, written half a year earlier, the chorale tune in a minor key appears in the triumphant context of a different major key.[2]

Selected recordings[edit]


  1. ^ BWV 11, University of Alberta
  2. ^ a b Alfred Dürr: Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Kantaten. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1999, ISBN 3-7618-1476-3 (in German)

External links[edit]