Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende, BWV 28
Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende (Praise God! The year now draws to a close), BWV 28, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach for the Sunday after Christmas. He first performed it on 30 December 1725.
History and text
Bach composed the cantata in his third year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig for the Sunday after Christmas. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle to the Galatians, through Christ we are free from the law (Galatians 4:1–7), and from the Gospel of Luke, Simeon and Anna talking to Mary (Luke 2:33–40).
The cantata text is by Erdmann Neumeister: he included in movement 2 the first stanza of Johann Gramann's hymn "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren" (1530), a Bible quotation (Jeremiah 32:41) in movement 3, and a hymn stanza by Paul Eber for the closing chorale. The chorale theme Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen (Zahn 5267) is of unknown authorship. The poet did not refer to the Bible readings for the day but portrayed thanks for the past year and prayers for preservation in the new year.
Bach first performed the cantata on 30 December 1725.
Scoring and structure
It has six movements:
- Aria (soprano): Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende
- Chorale: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren
- Recitative and arioso (bass): So spricht der Herr
- Recitative (tenor): Gott ist ein Quell
- Duet aria (alto and tenor): Gott hat uns im heurigen Jahre gesegnet
- Chorale: All solch dein Güt wir preisen
The cantata opens with an oboe trio playing an Italianate ritornello of four phrases, accompanied by the strings; the roles of the two choirs are later reversed. The soprano sings a virtuosic and melismatic aria commanding the listener to praise God.
The following chorale expands the command from the individual to the collective, adopting an "archaic" motet form. It is reminiscent of the movements which opened most of Bach's chorale cantatas, composed as a cycle the previous year. The cantus firmus is sung in long notes by the soprano while the lower voices add "skilful imitatory texture, partly from new themes and partly from ideas derived from the chorale line in question", as Klaus Hofmann notes. The instruments play colla parte in motet style with the voices, doubled by a quartet of cornetto and trombones. The music in stile antico was performed at the end of John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000, who described its "sobriety and complexity, its buried treasures and subtleties, especially those that occur in its last fifty bars, in which you sense some immense cosmic struggle being played out".
The third movement, a bass arioso, repeats the ascending scalar motif of the chorus. The tenor recitative is accompanied by sustained chordal strings and concludes on a major harmony. The continuo opens the duet aria with a two-part ritornello – dancing eighth notes followed by fast arpeggiated figures – that is repeated three more times during this movement. The vocal lines sing three blocks of imitative motivic entries. In the style of Italian chamber duets, the voices first render a thought in imitation, "coming together each time for a concluding cadence".
The cantata concludes with a four-part chorale in A minor. Gardiner, who had conducted several versions during the Pilgrimage, notes the moving power of this harmonisation of the "prayer for protection and sustenance in the year to come".
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- Holland Boys Choir, Netherlands Bach Collegium, Pieter Jan Leusink. Bach Edition Vol. 11 – Cantatas Vol. 5. Brilliant Classics 2000.
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- Münchener Bach-Chor, Münchener Bach-Orchester, Karl Richter. J.S. Bach: Kantatan/Cantatas BWV 80, BWV 26, BWV 116. Archiv Produktion 1972.
- Wiener Sängerknaben, Chorus Viennensis, Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt. J.S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk – Sacred Cantatas Vol. 2. Teldec 1974.
- Cantata BWV 28, Bach Cantatas Website
- Alfred Dürr (1981), Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (vol. 1, 4th ed.), Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, pp. 146–149. ISBN 3-423-04080-7.
- Klaus Hofmann (2007), Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende /Praise God! Now the Year Draws to a Close, BWV 28 (pp. 6–7), Bach Cantatas Website
- C. S. Terry and D. Litti, Bach's Cantata Libretti, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 1917 44(1):71–125; doi:10.1093/jrma/44.1.71
- BWV 28 Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende, The Bach Cantatas, University of Alberta
- Julian Mincham, Chapter 9 BWV 28 Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach
- Craig Smith, Bach Cantata Notes BWV 28, Emmanuel Music
- John Eliot Gardiner (2007), Cantatas for the Third Sunday after Easter (Jubilate) / Schlosskirche, Altenburg (pp. 4–5), Bach Cantatas Website
- Cantatas, BWV 21-30: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende: history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 28 Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende: English translation, University of Vermont