Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft, BWV 50
Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft (Now is come salvation and strength), BWV 50, is a choral movement long attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach and assumed to be part of a lost cantata. The work was likely composed in 1723, but the date of its first performance is unknown.
History and text
The work has fascinated Bach scholars because of questions about its provenance. No autograph sources exist, and the earliest copies extant do not mention Bach's name. In 1982, Scheide argued that the existing version (for double choir) is an arrangement by an unknown hand of a lost original for five voices by J. S. Bach. His argument was based on irregularities in BWV 50's part-writing, which are highly unlike the writing of Bach. In 2000, the American performer and scholar Joshua Rifkin argued that a more plausible solution of this puzzle is that the author of BWV 50 was not Bach at all, but an unknown (but highly gifted) composer of the era. The suggestion is controversial.
The prescribed readings for the day were from Revelation 12:7–12 and Matthew 18:1–11; this movement draws from Revelation 12:10. Its text is "Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft und das Reich und die Macht unsers Gottes seines Christus worden, weil der verworfen ist, der sie verklagete Tag und Nacht vor Gott".
The movement is a chorus, or "coro doppio".
Like other cantatas for Michaelmas, it features texture layering from the lowest range to the highest, and a contrapuntal representation of "battles and massing armies". It is in two distinct sections and uses fugal techniques.
The movement begins with a "strong declaration in unharmonized octaves", pairing the low strings with the bass voice of the first choir. A rhythmic shift creates a "floating, turn-around feeling" before the tenor line enters, followed by alto and soprano. As this choir shifts into rhythmic counterpoint, the second choir, trumpet, and oboes enter. The movement also incorporates call-and-response, military-like tattoos, and an inversion of the previous order of thematic entry. The final twelve bars adopt a chromatic style not heard earlier in the piece.
- Berliner Philharmonischer Chor / Berliner Philharmoniker, Carl Schuricht. J.S. Bach: Motet, Singet dem Herrn; Cantata No. 50; Cantata No. 104. Telfunken, 1934/8.
- Dresden Cathedral Choir & Orchestra, Kurt Bauer. Bach: Cantatas Nos. 31 & 50. Janus Piroquette, 1960s–70s.
- Leeds Festival Choir / London Symphony Orchestra, Hugh P. Allen. "Now Shall The Grace", Eight-part chorus from Cantata No. 50. HMV, 1928.
- Monteverdi Choir / English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner. J.S. Bach: Motets & Cantatas. Erato, 1980.
- Stuttgarter Chor & Orchester, Marcel Couraud. J.S. Bach: Cantata No. 21, Cantata No. 50. Les Discophiles français, 1955.
- Scheide, William H. 'Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft' BWV 50: Doppelchörigkeit, Datierung und Bestimmung.' (Leipzig, 1982: Bach Jahrbuch)
- "Cantata BWV 50". bach-cantatas. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Cantata BWV 50: Provenance". bach-cantatas. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- Rifkin, Joshua. "Siegesjubel und Satzfehler. Zum Problem von Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft (BWV 50)" (Leipzig, 2000: Bach Jahrbuch )
- "BWV 50". University of Alberta. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Chapter 55 BWV 50, BWV 200, BWV 1045". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Cantata No. 50". Allmusic. Retrieved 30 May 2013.