Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, BWV 226
|Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf|
|Composer||Johann Sebastian Bach|
|Occasion||Funeral of Johann Heinrich Ernesti|
|Performed||21 October 1729Paulinerkirche, Leipzig –|
|Bible text||Romans 8:26–27|
|Choir||2 choirs SATB|
|Instruments||strings with choir I, woodwinds with choir II|
Bach himself noted on the score: "J. J. Motetta à doi Cori bey Beerdigung des seel. Hrn. Prof. und Rectoris Ernesti di J. S. Bach." (Jesu Juva – Motet for two choirs for the funeral for the blessed Rector, Professor Ernesti, by J. S. Bach). Ernesti was professor of poetry at Leipzig University and director of the Thomasschule. The text is taken from the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 8:26–27) and Martin Luther's third stanza to the hymn "Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott" (1524). Ernesti himself had chosen the text from the epistle for the funeral sermon. Scholars debate if the date of the first performance (which took place in the Paulinerkirche, the university church), was 24 October, or rather 21 October, as indicated by the title page of the sermon.
Bach wrote other works for university occasions: the motet is one of twelve surviving Festmusiken zu Leipziger Universitätsfeiern, that is music for festivals of the Leipzig university. The work is also part of another series, the Bach motets, which were possibly all written for funerals. There is scholarly debate about the exact number of motets attributable to Bach, and, as in some cases the circumstances of the first performance are not known, their function. For Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf as well as one other Bach motet, the autograph score survives.
Scoring and structure
The motet is scored for two four-part choirs. They double each other in movements 2 and 3. The orchestral parts are extant, indicating that choir I was doubled by strings, choir II by reeds (two oboes, taille and bassoon). For the basso continuo, separate violone and organ parts are provided.
- Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf
- Der aber die Herzen forschet
- Du heilige Brunst, süßer Trost
Bach composed the text according to its meaning, not as music for mourning. The opening contrasts two choirs in imitation. In lively 3/8 time, the word "Geist" (Spirit) is illustrated by a lively melismatic figure. The following idea, "Sondern der Geist selbst vertritt uns" (but the Spirit itself intercedes for), is given as a fugue, first with independent entrances of all eight parts, but concentrated to four parts in the end, "mit unaussprechlichem Seufzen" (with unutterable sighs). The sighs are audible in the broken melodic lines of all voices. The thought "Der aber die Herzen forschet" (He, however, who examines hearts) appears as a double fugue in four parts in stile antico. Here the word "Heiligen" (saints) is illustrated in extended melismatic writing. The closing Pentecostal chorale is set for four parts.
- "Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2006. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- Klek, Konrad (29 April 2012). Von Schwachheit keine Spur / Serie Musica Sacra (60): Motette "Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf" von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). Sonntagsblatt Bayern. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- Petzoldt, Martin (2009). Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf BWV 226, in "Booklet for the Anniversary Edition "Leipziger Universitätsmusik", Johann Sebastian Bach: Festmusiken zu Leipziger Universitätsfeiern. (in German). pp. 8f.
- Timm, David (2009). Festmusiken zu Leipziger Universitätsfeiern (in German). Leipziger Universitätschor. pp. 8f. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- Traupman-Carr, Carol (2009). Motet BWV 226 "Der Geist hilft" (in German). Leipziger Universitätschor. pp. 8f. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- Arnold, Jochen (9 September 2012). Der Geist hilft unserer Schwachheit auf (BWV 226) (in German). Landeskirche Hannover. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott". bach-cantatas.com. 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Motets BWV 225-231 history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
- Bach Motet Translations / BWV 226 - "Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf" English translation, discussion, Emmanuel Music
- Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 226 Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf English translation, University of Vermont
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) / Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf klassika.info (German)
- Free MP3 recording of Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf – BWV 226 from Umeå Akademiska Kör