Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest, BWV 194
History and text
The first known performance of the cantata was at Störmthal, a village near Leipzig. The church there had been rebuilt and a service was held for the dedication of the church and the organ on 2 November 1723. John Eliot Gardiner and other scholars speculate that the cantata was based on a lost work BWV 194a, probably composed at Cöthen, for which some instrumental parts survive. The 12-movement version performed at Störmthal was shortened for revivals at Leipzig, where it was performed on Trinity Sunday, 4 June 1724 and again in 1726 and 1731.
Movement 6 are stanzas 6 and 7 of Johann Heermann's hymn "Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen", and the closing chorale, movement 12, is stanzas 9 and 10 of Paul Gerhardt's "Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe". The rest of the text is anonymous. The prescribed readings for the day were Romans 11:33–36, and John 3:1–15.
Scoring and structure
The work has twelve movements in two parts:
- Part 1
- Chorus: Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest
- Recitative (bass): Unendlich großer Gott, ach wende dich
- Aria (bass): Was des Höchsten Glanz erfüllt
- Recitative (soprano): Wie könnte dir, du höchstes Angesicht
- Aria (soprano): Hilf, Gott, dass es uns gelingt
- Chorale: Heilger Geist ins Himmels Throne
- Part 2
- Recitative (tenor): Ihr Heiligen, erfreuet euch
- Aria (tenor): Des Höchsten Gegenwart allein
- Duet recitative (bass and soprano): Kann wohl ein Mensch zu Gott im Himmel steigen
- Duet aria (bass and soprano): O wie wohl ist uns geschehn
- Recitative (bass): Wohlan demnach, du heilige Gemeine
- Chorale: Sprich Ja zu meinen Taten
Part 1 opens with a chorus similar in style to a French overture with a fugal central section. After a secco recitative, the bass sings an aria over oboe and strings. A modulating soprano recitative prepares a soprano aria in the style of a gavotte. A four-part harmonization of the chorale ends the first part.
Part 2 begins with a secco tenor recitative preparing a minor-mode tenor da capo aria characterized by its extensive use of dotted rhythms. A dialogue recitative leads into a bass and soprano duet aria with oboes and continuo. After a declamatory bass recitative, the work ends with another chorale setting.
- Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Ton Koopman. J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 9. Erato, 1998.
- Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart / Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, Helmuth Rilling. Die Bach Kantate Vol. 65. Hänssler, 1977.
- Holland Boys Choir / Netherlands Bach Collegium, Pieter Jan Leusink. Bach Edition Vol. 15. Brilliant Classics, 2000.
- Monteverdi Choir / English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner. Bach Cantatas Vol. 27. Soli Deo Gloria, 2000.
- Cantatas, BWV 191–200: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- BWV 194 – "Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest": English translation, discussion, Emmanuel Music
- Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest: history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 194 Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest: English translation, University of Vermont