Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn, BWV 157

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Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn (I will not let you go, except you bless me), BWV 157, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig in 1727 and first performed on 6 February 1727 in Pomßen.[1]

History and text[edit]

The work is a solo cantata for the Feast of the Purification of Mary.[1] It was likely intended as a funeral cantata for Johann Christian von Ponickau, a Saxon chamberlain.[2] The work was first performed on February 6, 1727 in Pomßen, and likely performed again the following year in Leipzig.[1] However, the primary surviving score dates from 1755 and parts from the 1760s, copied by Christian Friedrich Penzel.[2]

The prescribed readings for the feast day were from the book of Malachi, "the Lord will come to his temple" (Malachi 3:1–4), and from the Gospel of Luke, the purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, including Simeon's canticle Nunc dimittis (Luke 2:22–32).[1] The idea from Simeon's canticle to depart in peace has often been used as an image for the death of a Christian. The librettist for the work was Picander, who included a quotation from Genesis (Genesis 32:26–32) in movement 1 and the last stanza of the hymn "Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht" by Christian Keymann in movement 5.[1]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The work is scored for tenor and bass vocal soloists, four-part choir, flute, oboe, oboe d'amore, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[3]

The piece has five movements:

  1. Duet aria (tenor and bass): Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn
  2. Aria (tenor): Ich halte meinen Jesum feste
  3. Recitative (tenor): Mein lieber Jesu du
  4. Aria, recitative and arioso (bass): Ja, ja, ich halte Jesum feste
  5. Chorale: Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht


The opening movement sets only a single line: the title of the cantata. The movement has an eight-measure ritornello that opens, ends, and bisects the movement; it features a prominent imitative motif.[4]

The second movement is a tenor aria accompanied by continuo and obbligato oboe d'amore, which perform a long ritornello serving much the same structural function as in the first movement.[4] Craig Smith suggests that this is "perhaps the single most difficult tenor aria in the whole repertoire", with "wild and extremely ornate melismas".[5]

The tenor recitative is scored for strings and continuo. It recalls some of the motivic material from the first movement.[4]

The fourth movement combines elements of aria, recitative, and arioso. It opens with a ritornello of violin, flute and continuo. Structurally, the movement completes most of a da capo aria before a recitative episode interrupts the reprise of the A section. The music moves between aria and recitative twice more before a final aria section ends the movement.[4]

The cantata ends with a four-part setting of the chorale with a conjunct melody and active continuo line.[4]


  • Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Ton Koopman. J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 18. Antoine Marchand, 2002.
  • Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki. J.S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 51. BIS, 2011.
  • Choir and Orchestra "Pro Arte" Munich, Kurt Redel. J.S. Bach: Cantatas Nos. 157 · 55 · 151. Erato, 1956.
  • Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart / Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, Helmuth Rilling. Die Bach Kantate. Hänssler, 1983.
  • Holland Boys Choir / Netherlands Bach Collegium, Pieter Jan Leusink. Bach Edition Vol. 14. Brilliant Classics, 2000.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Cantata BWV 157 Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn!". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Liner notes to Cantatas Vol. 51" (PDF). Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "BWV 157". University of Alberta. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Mincham, Julian. "Chapter 46 BWV 157". The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Smith, Craig. "BWV 157". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 

External links[edit]