Herr Gott, dich loben wir, BWV 16
|Herr Gott, dich loben wir|
|Church cantata by J.S. Bach|
|Occasion||New Year's Day|
|Performed||1 January 1726Leipzig –|
|Cantata text||Georg Christian Lehms|
|Chorale||by Paul Eber|
History and words
Bach wrote the cantata in his third year in Leipzig for New Year's Day, which is also the feast of the circumcision and naming of Jesus. The prescribed readings for the feast day were taken from the Epistle to the Galatians, by faith we inherit (Galatians 3:23–29), and from the Gospel of Luke, the Circumcision and naming of Jesus (Luke 2:21). The cantata text is taken from a 1711 publication by Georg Christian Lehms, it centers on praise and thanksgiving without being related to the readings. The poet began with four lines from Martin Luther's Deutsches Tedeum (German Te Deum) "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" (Lord God, we praise you). The following pair of recitative and aria deal with thanks for past gifts, while a further pair deal with a prayer for further blessings. The poet did not supply a closing chorale, but Bach chose the final stanza of Paul Eber's "Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen" (Help me to praise God's goodness) (c. 1580).
Bach first performed the cantata on 1 January 1726.
Scoring and structure
The cantata is scored for three vocal soloists (alto, tenor, and bass), a four-part choir, corno da caccia, two oboes, oboe da caccia, two violins, viola, violetta (alternative in a later performance) and basso continuo.
- Chorus: Herr Gott, dich loben wir
- Recitative (bass): So stimmen wir bei dieser frohen Zeit
- Aria (bass, tutti): Laßt uns jauchzen, laßt uns freuen
- Recitative (alto): Ach treuer Hort
- Aria (tenor): Geliebter Jesu, du allein
- Chorale: All solch dein Güt wir preisen
In the opening chorus the soprano and the horn present the liturgical melody of the Te Deum, whereas the lower voices move in vivid counterpoint, but also a fourth part of oboe I and violin I. The following secco recitative ends on the words "O, sollte darum nicht ein neues Lied erklingen und wir in heißer Liebe singen?" (O, should not therefore a new song be taken up and that we sing in heated love?). Consequently the following movement begins attacca (without a break) with the voices' "Laßt uns jauchzen, laßt uns freuen" (Let us celebrate, let us rejoice). This unusual movement combines elements of chorus and aria in a free da capo form. The first section is dominated by the chorus, the middle section by the bass. Musicologist Julian Mincham points out that it is "an unusual and imaginative combination of aria and chorus" and likens it to the interaction between a pastor and his flock. A second secco recitative leads to a tender aria which was accompanied by an obbligato oboe da caccia in 1726. In a later performance, likely in 1734, this was replaced by a "violetta", which can be a viola or a descant viola da gamba, according to Johann Gottfried Walther. The cantata closes with a four-part chorale.
- J.S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk – Sacred Cantatas Vol. 1, Gustav Leonhardt, Tölzer Knabenchor, King's college choir, Leonhardt-Consort, Paul Esswood, Marius van Altena, Max van Egmond, Teldec 1972
- Die Bach Kantate Vol. 20, Helmuth Rilling, Gächinger Kantorei, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, Gabriele Schreckenbach, Peter Schreier, Philippe Huttenlocher, Hänssler 1981
- Bach Edition Vol. 4 – Cantatas Vol. 1, Pieter Jan Leusink, Holland Boys Choir, Netherlands Bach Collegium, Sytse Buwalda, Nico van der Meel, Bas Ramselaar, Brilliant Classics 1999
- Bach Cantatas Vol. 17: Berlin / For New Year’s Day / For the Sunday After New Year, John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Charles Humphries, James Gilchrist, Peter Harvey, Soli Deo Gloria 2000
- J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 16, Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Bogna Bartosz, Paul Agnew, Klaus Mertens, Antoine Marchand 2001
- J.S. Bach: Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year Vol. 4: "Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen" – Cantatas BWV 16 · 65 · 153 · 154, Sigiswald Kuijken, La Petite Bande, Elisabeth Hermans, Petra Noskaiová, Jan Kobow, Jan van der Crabben, Accent 2006
- J.S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 42, Masaaki Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan, Robin Blaze, Gerd Türk, Peter Kooy, BIS 2008
- Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 153–154. ISBN 3-423-04080-7.
- "Helft mir Gottes Güte preisen / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
- Gardiner, John Eliot (2008). "Cantatas for New Year’s Day / Gethsemanekirche, Berlin" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 5. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 10 BWV 16 Herr Gott, dich loben wir". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen". bach-cantatas.com. 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
The first source is the score.
Several databases provide additional information on each cantata:
- Cantata BWV 16 Herr Gott, dich loben wir history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
- BWV 16 – "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" English translation, discussion, Emmanuel Music
- Herr Gott, dich loben wir history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 16 Herr Gott, dich loben wir English translation, University of Vermont
- BWV 16 Herr Gott, dich loben wir text, scoring, University of Alberta