Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46

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Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei
BWV 46
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
Thomaskirche, Leipzig
Occasion Tenth Sunday after Trinity
Performed 1 August 1723 (1723-08-01) – Leipzig
Movements 6
Cantata text anonymous
Bible text Lamentations 1:12
Chorale by Johann Matthäus Meyfart
  • SATB choir
  • solo: alto, tenor and bass

Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei (Behold and see, if there be any sorrow),[1] BWV 46, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the tenth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 1 August 1723. It is part of his first annual cycle of cantatas.

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in his first year in Leipzig for the tenth Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the Corinthians, different gifts, but one spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1–11), and from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus announcing the destruction of Jerusalem and cleansing of the Temple (Luke 19:41–48). The words for the first movement are taken from the Book of Lamentations, Lamentations 1:12, movements 2 to 5 of an unknown poet, and the final chorale is the ninth stanza of "O großer Gott von Macht" by Johann Matthäus Meyfart (de).[2]

Bach first performed the cantata on 1 August 1723.[2]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in six movements is scored for three soloists—alto, tenor and bass—a four-part choir, "Zugtrompete" (slide trumpet, mostly doubling the choir soprano), two recorders, two oboes da caccia, two violins, viola and basso continuo. This is an unusually rich instrumentation for an ordinary Sunday.[2]

  1. Chorus: Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei
  2. Recitative (tenor): So klage du, zerstörte Gottesstadt
  3. Aria (bass): Dein Wetter zog sich auf von weiten
  4. Recitative (alto): Doch bildet euch, o Sünder, ja nicht ein
  5. Aria (alto): Doch Jesus will auch bei der Strafe
  6. Chorale: O großer Gott von Treu


The first movement in two sections is a lamento of large proportions. Bach reworked its first part as the Qui tollis peccata mundi of the Gloria of his Missa of 1733, to become the Gloria of his Mass in B minor. The bass aria pictures dramatically the outbreak of a thunderstorm, the only part of the cantata where the trumpet appears in a solo function as a symbol of divine majesty.[2] The alto aria is scored as a quartet for the voice, the two recorders, and the oboes in unison, without basso continuo.[3]

Selected recordings[edit]


  1. ^ Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 46 – "Schauet doch und sehet"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 397–400. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  3. ^ Christoph Wolff (1998). "On the first cycle of Bach cantatas for the Leipzig liturgy 1723/1724" (PDF). Bach Cantatas Website. p. 14. Retrieved 10 August 2012.