Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, BWV 98

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Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan
BWV 98
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
SonRoyalHeal.jpg
Occasion 21st Sunday after Trinity
Performed 10 November 1726 (1726-11-10) – Leipzig
Movements 5
Cantata text anonymous
Chorale by Samuel Rodigast
Vocal SATB choir and solo
Instrumental

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (What God does is well done),[1] BWV 98, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the 21st Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 10 November 1726.

History and words[edit]

In his fourth year in Leipzig, Bach wrote the cantata for the 21st Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 10 November 1726.[2] It is regarded as part of his third annual cycle of cantatas. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, "take unto you the whole armour of God" (Ephesians 6:10–17), and from the Gospel of John, the healing of the nobleman's son (John 4:46–54). The cantata opens with the first stanza of the chorale, "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (1674) by Samuel Rodigast,[3] but it is not a chorale cantata in the strict sense of Bach's second annual cycle, cantatas on the stanzas of one chorale. He had then treated the same chorale completely in Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, BWV 99 (1724), and would do it later once more in Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, BWV 100 (1732).[4]

The text of the chorale concentrates on trust in God, whereas the two cantatas previously composed for the occasion, Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben, BWV 109, and Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir, BWV 38, both started from doubt and distress.[4] The unknown poet refers to general ideas from the gospel. He stresses that a prayer for salvation will be granted, in movement 4 according to Matthew 7:7, "knock, and it shall be opened unto you", and he continues in movement 5, paraphrasing Jacob in Genesis 32:26, "I will not let you go, except you bless me". This final movement is not a chorale, although its text begins like one, Christian Keymann's "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht" (1658).[2]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in five movements is intimately scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir, two oboes, taille (tenor oboe), two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[2]

  1. Chorus: Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan
  2. Recitative (tenor): Ach Gott! wenn wirst du mich einmal
  3. Aria (soprano): Hört, ihr Augen, auf zu weinen
  4. Recitative (alto): Gott hat ein Herz, das des Erbarmens Überfluß
  5. Aria (bass): Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht

Music[edit]

The cantata is scored like chamber music, especially compared to the chorale cantatas on the same chorale with a melody by Severus Gastorius.[5] In the opening chorus, the mostly homophonic setting of the voices, with the oboes playing colla parte, is complemented by strings dominated by the first violin as an obbligato instrument rather than an independent orchestral concerto. The final line is in free polyphony, extended even during the long last note of the tune. All voices have extended melismas on the word "walten" (govern), stressing that God is "ultimately in control". Strings and voices alternate in the bar form's two Stollen, but are united for the Abgesang.[2][4]

Both recitatives are secco. The first aria is accompanied by an obbligato oboe. The first two measures of its theme are derived from the chorale tune. The ritornello is repeated after a first vocal section, "cease weeping and remain patient", and a second time, concluding a different vocal section, which renders "God's resoluteness" in a stream of triplets in the voice.[4] The second aria is the final movement, dominated by the violins in unison in a similar structure as the first, two vocal sections framed by repeats of a ritornello.[4] Bach hints at the regular closing chorale by beginning the vocal part with an embellished version of the first line of the hymn "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht" on a melody by Andreas Hammerschmidt[6] on the same words as the cantata text. The first line appears in four of five entries of the voice.[4]

Selected recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 98 – "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 497–499. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  3. ^ "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2005. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 31 BWV 98 Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan". bach-cantatas.com. 2006. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht". bach-cantatas.com. 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 

Sources[edit]