Dem Gerechten muß das Licht, BWV 195
History and text
Bach composed this cantata in Leipzig around 1727 for a wedding. The earliest version of the work is lost; an incomplete second version from 1742 and a complete revision from the late 1740s survive. These dates correspond with repeat performances of the work.
Scoring and structure
The cantata is scored for soprano and bass vocal soloists, a four-part choir, three trumpets, timpani, two horns, two flutes, two oboes, two oboes d'amore, two violins, viola, violone, basso continuo.
The work is divided into two parts, to be performed before and after the sermon. The original version had three movements in the second part, out of eight total. In the surviving version, the second part includes only the final of six movements.
- Chorus: Dem Gerechten muss das Licht immer wieder aufgehen
- Recitative (bass): Dem Freudenlicht gerechter Frommen
- Aria (bass): Rühmet Gottes Güt und Treu
- Recitative (soprano): Wohlan, so knüpfet denn ein Band
- Chorus: Wir kommen, deine Heiligkeit
- Chorale: Nun danket all und bringet Ehr
The cantata opens with a choral fantasia, scored for all parts. The vocal scoring includes a concertante group and a ripieno that almost always doubles it. The movement has an "energetic and ebullient" instrumental introduction. The first section highlights the contrast between soloists and chorus, while the second section is dance-like and uses fugal techniques.
The bass aria is in modified ternary form and includes an instrumental ritornello with a characteristic Scotch snap. The middle section moves into a minor key to increase the intimacy of the personal expression. The movement concludes with a short coda.
The soprano recitative "is a musical portrayal of the central part of the marriage ceremony" – the blessing of the union. It is accompanied by chordal oboes and scalar flutes.
The penultimate movement is a chorus, similar to that with which the cantata opened. It combines da capo and ritornello form. The first section is dominated by scalar motifs, while the middle section is chordal and "quasi-philosophical".
The cantata ends with a four-part harmonization of the chorale tune.
- Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Ton Koopman. J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 21. Antoine Marchand, 2002.
- Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki. J.S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 51. BIS, 2011.
- Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart / Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Helmuth Rilling. Die Bach Kantate Vol. 8. Hänssler, 1984.
- Holland Boys Choir / Netherlands Bach Collegium, Pieter Jan Leusink. Bach Edition Vol. 18. Brilliant Classics, 2000.
The first source is the score.
Several databases provide additional information on each cantata:
- BWV 195 – "Dem Gerechten muß das Licht" English translation, discussion, Emmanuel Music
- Dem Gerechten muß das Licht history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 195 Dem Gerechten muß das Licht English translation, University of Vermont