Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, BWV 170
|Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust|
Georg Christian Lehms, author of the text
|Composer||Johann Sebastian Bach|
|Occasion||Sixth Sunday after Trinity|
|Performed||28 July 1726Leipzig –|
|Cantata text||Georg Christian Lehms|
Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust ("Delightful rest, beloved pleasure of the soul"), BWV 170, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the solo cantata for alto in Leipzig for the sixth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 28 July 1726.
History and words
Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 28 July 1726. The brevity of this cantata, compared to the cantatas in two parts written before and after, such as Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot, BWV 39, can be explained assuming that in the same service also a cantata Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben of Johann Ludwig Bach was performed. The prescribed readings for the Sunday are from the Epistle to the Romans, "By Christ's death we are dead for sin" (Romans 6:3–11), and from the Gospel of Matthew a passage from the Sermon on the Mount about better justice than the justice of merely observing laws and rules (Matthew 5:20–26). The text of the cantata is drawn from Georg Christian Lehms' Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer (1711) and speaks of the desire to lead a virtuous life and so enter heaven and avoid hell.
Scoring and structure
The cantata is one of three Bach cantatas written in Leipzig in the summer and fall of 1726, in which an alto soloist is the only singer, the others being Geist und Seele wird verwirret, BWV 35 and Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169. It seems likely that Bach had a capable alto singer at his disposal during this period. The cantata is scored for a small orchestra of oboe d'amore, two violins, viola, organ solo and basso continuo.
- Aria: Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust
- Recitativo: Die Welt, das Sündenhaus
- Aria: Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen
- Recitativo: Wer sollte sich demnach wohl hier zu leben wünschen
- Aria: Mir ekelt mehr zu leben
A typical performance of the cantata will last around twenty minutes.
The second aria is set without continuo, symbolic of the lack of direction in the lives of those who ignore the word of God, as spoken about in the text. The organ plays two parts, the violins and viola in unison a third.
The second recitative is accompanied by the strings and continuo. The strings play mostly long chords but illustrate the words bei Gott zu leben, der selbst die Liebe heißt (to live with God, whose name is love) by more lively movement.
The final aria is a triumphant song of turning away from the world and desiring heaven. The words Mir ekelt (I feel revulsion) are expressed by an unusual tritone opening the melody. The voice is ornamented by figuration in the organ, which Bach set for flauto traverso for a performance in his last years.
Notable singers in the alto range recorded the cantata, male (as in Bach's time, also called altus or countertenor) and female (contralto or mezzo-soprano), including Alfred Deller, Maureen Forrester, René Jacobs, Julia Hamari, Paul Esswood, Jochen Kowalski, Nathalie Stutzmann, Andreas Scholl, Michael Chance, Guillemette Laurens, Magdalena Kožená and Robin Blaze.
- J.S. Bach: Cantatas BWV 170 & BWV 189, Elisabeth Höngen, Bavarian State Orchestra, conductor Fritz Lehmann, American Decca / Deutsche Grammophon - Archiv 1951
- J.S. Bach: Cantatas – Kantaten, Janet Baker, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, conductor Neville Marriner, Decca 1966
- J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 16, Bogna Bartosz, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, conductor Ton Koopman, Antoine Marchand 2003
- Lamento, Magdalena Kožená, Musica Antiqua Köln, conductor Reinhard Goebel, Archiv Produktion 2005
- Bach: Sacred Arias and Cantatas, David Daniels, The English Concert, conductor Harry Bicket, Virgin Classics 2008
- J.S. Bach: Solo Cantatas, Bernarda Fink, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, conductor Petra Müllejans, Harmonia Mundi 2009
The first source is the score.
Several databases provide additional information on each cantata:
- Cantata BWV 170 Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
- BWV 170 – "Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust" English translation, discussion, Emmanuel Music
- Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 170 Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust English translation, University of Vermont
- BWV 170 Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust text, scoring, University of Alberta