Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest, BWV 194

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Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest (Most highly desired festival of joy), BWV 194, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The organ at Störmthal

History and text[edit]

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.[1]

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.[1]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata is scored for three vocal soloists (soprano, tenor, and bass), a four-part choir, three oboes, bassoon, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[2]

The work has twelve movements in two parts:

Part 1
  1. Chorus: Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest
  2. Recitative (bass): Unendlich großer Gott, ach wende dich
  3. Aria (bass): Was des Höchsten Glanz erfüllt
  4. Recitative (soprano): Wie könnte dir, du höchstes Angesicht
  5. Aria (soprano): Hilf, Gott, dass es uns gelingt
  6. Chorale: Heilger Geist ins Himmels Throne
Part 2
  1. Recitative (tenor): Ihr Heiligen, erfreuet euch
  2. Aria (tenor): Des Höchsten Gegenwart allein
  3. Duet recitative (bass and soprano): Kann wohl ein Mensch zu Gott im Himmel steigen
  4. Duet aria (bass and soprano): O wie wohl ist uns geschehn
  5. Recitative (bass): Wohlan demnach, du heilige Gemeine
  6. 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.[3]

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.[3]


  • 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.


  1. ^ a b "Cantata BWV 194 Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest". Bach Cantatas. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "BWV 194". University of Alberta. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Mincham, Julian. "Chapter 61 BWV 194". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 

External links[edit]