Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, BWV 9

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach
Paul Speratus.jpg
Paul Speratus, author of the chorale
Occasion Sixth Sunday after Trinity
Composed between 1732 (1732) and 1735 – Leipzig
Movements 7
Cantata text anonymous
Chorale Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
Vocal SATB choir and solo

Es ist das Heil uns kommen her (It is our salvation come here to us),[1] BWV 9, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for the sixth Sunday after Trinity between 1732 and 1735, based on the hymn "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" by Paul Speratus.

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity between 1732 and 1735. It filled a gap in his second annual cycle of chorale cantatas written for performance in Leipzig. In 1724, when he composed the cycle, he had an engagement in Köthen that Sunday, and therefore left the text for later completion. The cantata is based on a chorale "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" by Paul Speratus, which was published in 1524 in the Achtliederbuch, the first Lutheran hymnal. The theme of the chorale is the Lutheran creed of salvation from sin by God's grace alone (justification by faith),[2] summarized in the first stanza: "Deeds can never help, ... faith beholds Jesus Christ, ... He has become the Intercessor".[1]

The prescribed readings for the Sunday are from the Epistle to the Romans, "By Christ's death we are dead for sin" (Romans 6:3–11), and from the Gospel of Matthew a passage from the Sermon on the Mount about better justice than the justice of merely observing laws and rules (Matthew 5:20–26). An unknown poet transformed the 14 stanzas of the chorale to seven cantata movements. He dropped the last two stanzas, kept stanza 1 as the first and stanza 12 as the last movement, rephrased stanzas 2–4 to a recitative (2), stanzas 5–7 to a recitative (4), stanzas 9–11 to a third recitative (6).[2] Ideas from stanza 8 were made an aria (5), and movement 3 is not derived directly from the chorale, but intensifies the conclusion of the first recitative.[2][3] The three recitatives can be considered a sermon, according among others to Julian Mincham, who comments: "All three speak of God's Laws; their bestowal, their fulfillment (or lack of it) and our attitudes towards them", and who summarizes: "The three recitatives were clearly planned as a cognate group and encapsulate the fundamental Lutheran creed. The two intervening arias, and finally the chorale, reflect upon and extend their statements."[4]

Bach had used already in 1716 stanza 12 of the chorale to conclude Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange? BWV 155, in 1723 both stanza 12 and 11 to conclude the two parts of Ärgre dich, o Seele, nicht, BWV 186, and in 1724 stanza 11 to conclude Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch, BWV 86.

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in seven movements is scored for a chamber music ensemble of four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass), a four-part choir, flauto traverso, oboe d'amore, two violins, viola and basso continuo.[2][4]

  1. Chorale: Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
  2. Recitative (bass): 'Gott gab uns ein Gesetz
  3. Aria (tenor): Wir waren schon zu tief gesunken
  4. Recitative (bass): Doch mußte das Gesetz erfüllet werden
  5. Duet aria (soprano, alto): Herr, du siehst statt guter Werke
  6. Recitative (bass): Wenn wir die Sünd aus dem Gesetz erkennen
  7. Chorale: Ob sichs anließ, als wollt er nicht


The opening chorus is a chorale fantasia, the vocal part embedded in a concerto of the instruments. The cantus firmus of the chorale melody is in the soprano in unadorned long notes, while the lower voices engage in imitation. The scoring with the obbligato instruments flute and oboe d'amore in contrast to the strings is unusual, sometimes the first violin takes also part in the concerto.[2][3]

All three recitatives are sung by the bass as the vox Christi, almost like one sermon, which is only deepened by the two arias in between. The recitatives are secco with the only exception of the final line of movement 4, "... und fest um Jesu Arme schlingt" (... embrace the arms of Jesus),[1] which is rendered arioso,[2] in "an enlightening major key, a tender vocal phrase and the late semi-quaver continuo line".[4] The tenor aria depicts the "sinking" of "Wir waren schon zu tief gesunken" (We were already too deeply sunk)[1] in downward motifs and an irregular rhythm of syncopes, observed by Dürr as an image of "a giddy descent into the abyss of sin".[2][5] The duet "Herr, du siehst statt guter Werke" (Lord, you see, instead of good works)[1] for soprano and alto is made a quintet of also flute, oboe d'amore and continuo. It is set in intricate canonic counterpoint in da capo form. The closing chorale is set for four parts, but with the lower voices in unusual polyphony.[2][3]



  1. ^ a b c d e Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 9 – "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 366–368. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  3. ^ a b c Leonard, James (2011). "Cantata No. 9, "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her," BWV 9". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 58 BWV 9 Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, BWV 9". Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Quinn, John (2009). "Bach: Cantatas Vol 4 / Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists". Retrieved 25 July 2011.