Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140
|Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme|
The bassoon part in Bach's hand from the archives of the Thomaskirche
|Composer||Johann Sebastian Bach|
|Known as||Sleepers Wake|
|Occasion||27th Sunday after Trinity|
|Performed||25 November 1731Leipzig –|
|Chorale||Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme|
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, calls the voice to us), BWV 140, also known as Sleepers Wake, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for the 27th Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 25 November 1731. It is based on the hymn "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" (1599) by Philipp Nicolai. Movement 4 of the cantata is the base for the first of Bach's Schübler Chorales, BWV 645. The cantata is a late addition to Bach's cycle of chorale cantatas, featuring additional poetry for two duets of Jesus and the Soul which expand the theme of the hymn.
History and text
Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig for the 27th Sunday after Trinity. This Sunday occurs only when Easter is extremely early. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, be prepared for the day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11), and from the Gospel of Matthew, the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1–13). The chorale cantata is based on the Lutheran hymn in three stanzas, "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" of Philipp Nicolai, which is based on the Gospel. Bach composed the cantata to complete his cycle of chorale cantatas which he had begun in 1724. The text of the three stanzas appears unchanged in movements 1, 4 and 7, while an unknown author supplied poetry for movements 2 and 3, 5 and 6, both a sequence of recitative and duet. He refers to the love poetry of the Song of Songs, showing Jesus as the bridegroom of the Soul. According to Christoph Wolff, the text was already available when Bach composed his cycle of chorale cantatas.
Bach performed the cantata only once, in Leipzig's main church Nikolaikirche on 25 November 1731. According to Christoph Wolff, Bach performed it only this one time, although the 27th Sunday after Trinity occurred one more time during his tenure in Leipzig, in 1742. He used movement 4 of the cantata as the base for the first of his Schübler Chorales, BWV 645.
In the modern three-year Revised Common Lectionary, the reading is scheduled for Proper 27, or the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, in the first year of the three-year cycle of lessons. Thus, the hymn and the cantata are commonly performed in churches on that Sunday. The text and its eschatological themes are also commonly associated with the early Sundays of the season of Advent, and so the cantata is commonly performed during that season.
Scoring and structure
- Chorale: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Wake up, the voice calls to us)
- Recitativo (tenor): Er kommt (He comes)
- Aria (soprano, bass): Wann kommst du, mein Heil? (When will you come, my salvation?)
- Chorale (tenor): Zion hört die Wächter singen (Zion hears the watchmen singing)
- Recitativo: So geh herein zu mir (So come in with me)
- Aria (soprano, bass): Mein Freund ist mein! (My friend is mine!)
- Choral: Gloria sei dir gesungen (May Gloria be sung to you)
The first movement is a chorale fantasia based on the first verse of the chorale, a common feature of Bach's earlier chorale cantatas. It is in E-flat major. The cantus firmus is sung by the soprano. The orchestra plays independent material based on mainly two motifs: a dotted rhythm and an ascending scale "with syncopated accent shifts". The lower voices add in unusually free polyphonic music images such as the frequent calls "wach auf!" (wake up!) and "wo, wo?" (where, where?), and long melismas in a fugato on "Halleluja".
The second movement is a recitative for tenor as a narrator who calls the "Töchter Zions"’ (daughters of Zion). In the following duet with obbligato violino piccolo, the soprano represents the Soul and the bass is the vox Christi (voice of Jesus).
The fourth movement, based on the second verse of the chorale, is written in the style of a chorale prelude, with the phrases of the chorale, sung as a cantus firmus by the tenors (or by the tenor soloist), entering intermittently against a famously lyrical melody played in unison by the violins (without the violino piccolo) and the viola, accompanied by the basso continuo. Bach later transcribed this movement for organ (BWV 645), and it was subsequently published along with five other transcriptions Bach made of his cantata movements as the Schübler Chorales.
The fifth movement is a recitative for bass, accompanied by the strings. It pictures the unity of the bridegroom and the "chosen bride". The sixth movement is another duet for soprano and bass with obbligato oboe. This duet, like the third movement, is a love duet between the soprano soul and the bass Jesus. Alfred Dürr describes it as giving "expression to the joy of the united pair", showing a "relaxed mood" in "artistic intensity".
The closing chorale is a four-part setting of the third verse of the hymn. The high pitch of the melody is doubled by a violino piccolo an octave higher, representing the bliss of the "heavenly Jerusalem".
- Les Grandes Cantates de J.S. Bach Vol. 4, Fritz Werner, Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn, Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra, Ingeborg Reichelt, Helmut Krebs, Franz Kelch, Erato 1959 (reissued)
- Bach Made in Germany Vol. 2 – Cantatas IV, Kurt Thomas, Thomanerchor, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Elisabeth Grümmer, Hans-Joachim Rotzsch, Theo Adam, Eterna 1960
- J.S. Bach: Cantata No. 140, Cantata No. 57, Karl Ristenpart, Chorus of the Conservatory of Sarrebruck, Chamber Orchestra of the Saar, Ursula Buckel, Jakob Stämpfli, Accord 1962
- J.S. Bach: Cantatas BWV 140 & BWV 148, Wolfgang Gönnenwein, Süddeutscher Madrigalchor, Consortium Musicum, Elly Ameling, Theo Altmeyer, Hans Sotin, EMI 1967
- Les Grandes Cantates de J.S. Bach Vol. 24, Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn, Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra, Hedy Graf, Kurt Huber, Jakob Stämpfli, conductor Fritz Werner, Erato 1970 (reissued)
- J.S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk – Sacred Cantatas Vol. 8, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Tölzer Knabenchor, Concentus Musicus Wien, boy soprano Alan Bergius, Kurt Equiluz, Thomas Hampson, Teldec 1984
- J.S. Bach: Cantatas (27th Sunday after Trinity), John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Ruth Holton, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Stephen Varcoe, Archiv Produktion 1990
- J.Ch.F. Bach/ J.S. Bach: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, Heinz Hennig, Knabenchor Hannover, Barockorchester L'Arco, Marietta Zumbült, Jan Kobow, Peter Frank, Thorofon 1995
- J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 21, Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Sandrine Piau, James Gilchrist, Klaus Mertens, Antoine Marchand 2003
- Bach: Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern - Cantata BWV 1, 48, 78 & 140, Karl-Friedrich Beringer, Windsbacher Knabenchor, Deutsche Kammer-Virtuosen Berlin, Sibylla Rubens, Rebecca Martin, Markus Schäfer, Klaus Mertens, Sony Music 2011
- Wolff, Christoph (2000). Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 280. ISBN 0-393-04825-X.
- Dürr, Alfred (2006). The Cantatas of J. S. Bach: With Their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text. Oxford University Press. pp. 648–653. ISBN 0-199-29776-2.
- Hofmann, Klaus (2012). "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme / Wake up, the voice calls to us, BWV 140" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 5. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 55 BWV 140 Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme / Awake! The Watchman’s voice commands us.". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 531–535. ISBN 3-423-04080-7.
- Wolff, Christoph. "The late church cantatas from Leipzig, I" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 21–24. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Lutheran Service Book, xv.
- Grout, Donald; Palisca, Claude (200). Norton Anthology of Western Music: Volume 1 – Ancient to Baroque. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 547. ISBN 0-393-97690-4.
The first source is the score.
- Cantatas, BWV 101–110: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Cantata BWV 140 - Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Johann Sebastian Bach) ChoralWiki
Several databases provide additional information on each cantata:
- Cantata BWV 140 Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme: history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
- BWV 140 – "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme": English translation, discussion, Emmanuel Music
- Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme: history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 140 Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme: English translation, University of Vermont
- BWV 140 Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme: text, scoring, University of Alberta
- Cantata BWV 140, Wachet auf The Bach Choir of Bethlehem