O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, BWV 118

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O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht (O Jesus Christ, light of my life), BWV 118, is a church cantata composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, intended for a funeral.

History and text[edit]

This work was written around 1736 or 1737 and was performed at the grave-side ceremony for Count Friedrich von Flemming on October 11, 1740.[1]

This work, along with Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, BWV 230 is included as a motet in the Neue Bach-Ausgabe, though both of the works fall partly outside the norms of the motet genre. "O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht" has been characterized as "something between a cantata movement and a motetic choral transcription."[2]

The text is a 1610 hymn by Martin Behm.[3]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The piece is scored for four-part choir. There are two versions of the instrumental scoring: one includes two litui, cornetto, three trombones, and organ; the other is two litui, strings, organ continuo, and optionally three oboes and bassoon.[3]

It is structured as a chorus, O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht, comprising chorale strophes separated by repeated instrumental interludes. The number of strophes sung would likely correspond to the length of the procession for which the work was used.[4]


This work is a motet version of the chorale Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid. The lower voices of the choir sing counterpoint to the chorale melody line in the soprano. The accompaniment includes an ascending string motive.[5]


  • Amor Artis Chorale. Choral Masterpieces of the Baroque. Decca, 1965.
  • Bach Collegium Japan. Bach: Motets. BIS, 2009.
  • Greifswalde Bach Tage Choir / Bach-Orchester Berlin. J.S. Bach: Soli Deo Gloria. Baroque Music Club, 1950s–1960s?
  • Theatre of Early Music. The Voice of Bach. Sony BMG, 2007.


  1. ^ "Cantata BWV 118 O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht Commentary". Bach Cantatas. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Martin Geck, John Hargraves Johann Sebastian Bach: His Life and Work 2006 Page 467
  3. ^ a b "Cantata BWV 118". Bach Cantatas. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Wolff, Christoph. "Liner notes to Bach Cantatas, Vol. 21" (PDF). bach-cantatas. pp. 26–26. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Turner, Ryan. "BWV 118". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 

External links[edit]