Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe, BWV 167

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Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe
BWV 167
Church cantata by J.S. Bach
Anton-Sturm, Burggen, Wallfahrtskirche hl. Zacharias.JPG
Zechariah (topic of the cantata), by Anton Sturm, 18th century
Occasion Feast of St. John the Baptist
Performed 24 June 1723 (1723-06-24) – Leipzig
Movements 5
Cantata text anonymous
Chorale "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren"
Vocal SATB solo and choir
Instrumental

Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe (You people, glorify God's love), BWV 167, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the Feast of St. John the Baptist (German: Fest Johannes des Täufers, also Johannistag) and first performed it on 24 June 1723.

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in his first year in Leipzig for St. John's Day, soon after he had taken up his position as Thomaskantor.[1][2] He had delivered an ambitious cantata in 14 movements, Die Elenden sollen essen, BWV 75, in the first service as cantor on 30 May 1723. In comparison, his first cantata for a saint's feast day in five movements is small scale.

The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Book of Isaiah, "the voice of a preacher in the desert" (Isaiah 40:1–5), and from the Gospel of Luke, the birth of John the Baptist and the Benedictus of Zechariah (Luke 1:57–80). The unknown poet took some phrases from the Gospel, such as the beginning of movement 2, "Gelobet sei der Herr Gott Israel" (Praise be to the Lord God of Israel), as in the canticle. The poetry follows the thought that Jesus, born of a woman (des Weibes Samen), is predicted to redeem sins, which are represented by the image of the serpent. The poetry concludes with the request to sing praises like Zechariah, fulfilled in the closing chorale, the fifth stanza of Johann Gramann's "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren" (1549).[1][3]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata is scored like chamber music for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir only in the closing chorale, clarino, oboe da caccia, oboe, two violins, viola, and basso continuo. The clarino only doubles the melody of the chorale.[1]

  1. Aria (tenor): Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe
  2. Recitative (alto): Gelobet sei der Herr Gott Israel
  3. Duet aria (soprano, alto): Gottes Wort, das trüget nicht
  4. Recitative (bass): Des Weibes Samen kam
  5. Chorale: Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren

Music[edit]

Different from his first cantatas performed in Leipzig, Bach begins the cantata not with a chorus, but with an aria. Possibly Bach looked at the canticle of Zechariah as an individual's song of praise. The aria is accompanied only by the strings, sometimes a solo violin, sometimes a dense texture of all strings. The following recitative, referring to St. John and Jesus in the course of redemption, ends in an arioso on the lines mit Gnad und Liebe zu erfreun und sie zum Himmelreich in wahrer Buß zu leiten (to delight with grace and love, and to lead to the kingdom of Heaven in true remorse).[1] This arioso is accompanied by an ostinato movement in the continuo in "a semiquaver, quasi-Alberti figuration".[4] The following duet, accompanied by an obbligato oboe da caccia, achieves a dense texture because the voices and the oboe operate in the same range, often in homophony. The middle section of the da capo structure is again in two different parts.[1] The first part leaves the "three beats in a measure" of the opening section for "common time", four beats.[4] A canon of the voices is accompanied by its beginning motif played both in the oboe and the continuo. The second part returns to the 3/4 but again in new material, endless jubilating runs and repetitions, expressing the joy that "we have, praise God, experienced".[1]

The following recitative ends again in an arioso, when it comes to the request to sing praises like Zechariah. At this point the melody of the following chorale is already present in the bass voice on the words und stimmet ihm ein Loblied an (and voice unto him a song of praise).[4] The closing chorale is a general song of praise. Bach did not simply set the melody for four parts, as usual. Instead, he finally used all instruments and voices together. The oboe doubles the violin, a clarino (slide trumpet) comes in for its only appearance, doubling the soprano, the choir is embedded in a concerto of the orchestra.[1][4] The setting anticipates the closing chorales of Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Ascension Oratorio, composed more than a decade later.

Recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 558–560. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  2. ^ John Eliot Gardiner (2004). "Cantatas for the Feast of St John the Baptist / St Giles Cripplegate, London" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 5. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 7 BWV 167 Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 

Sources[edit]

The first source is the score.

Several databases provide additional information on each cantata: