Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit, BWV 111

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Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit
BWV 111
Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach
Markgraf Albrecht von Preußen.jpg
Albert, Duke of Prussia, author of the hymn
Occasion Third Sunday after Epiphany
Performed 21 January 1725 (1725-01-21) – Leipzig
Movements 6
Cantata text anonymous
Chorale by Albert, Duke of Prussia
Vocal SATB choir and solo
Instrumental
  • 2 oboes
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit (What my God wants, may it always happen),[1] BWV 111, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig in 1725 for the third Sunday after Epiphany and first performed it on 21 January 1725. The text is based on the hymn by Albert, Duke of Prussia, published in 1554.

History and words[edit]

Bach wrote the chorale cantata for the third Sunday after Epiphany in his second year in Leipzig.[2] The prescribed readings for the Sunday were taken from the Epistle to the Romans, rules for life (Romans 12:17–21), and from the Gospel of Matthew, the healing of a leper (Matthew 8:1–13). It is based on a chorale in four stanzas, which is still popular. Three stanzas were written by Albert, Duke of Prussia, who introduced the Reformation into Prussia,[3] an anonymous poet added the final stanza with the first publication in 1554.[1] The text of the first and the last stanza is kept unchanged, an unknown poet paraphrased the inner stanzas rather freely, each to a sequence of aria and recitative. Similar to the cantata for the same occasion in Bach's first annual cycle in Leipzig, Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir, BWV 73, the text deals with the Christian's acceptance of God's will.[2]

Scoring and structure[edit]

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

  1. Chorus: Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit
  2. Aria (bass): Entsetze dich, mein Herze, nicht
  3. Recitative (alto): O Törichter! der sich von Gott entzieht
  4. Aria (alto, tenor): So geh ich mit beherzten Schritten
  5. Recitative (soprano): Drum wenn der Tod zuletzt den Geist
  6. Chorale: Noch eins, Herr, will ich bitten dich

Music[edit]

In the opening chorus, the soprano sings the melody of the chorale[4] as a cantus firmus in long notes. The melody appears in an interesting combination of phrases of different length, two measures alternating with three measures. Bach used a simpler version of the melody, with all phrases of measures, when he used the first stanza in his St Matthew Passion as movement 25.[5] In the cantata, the lower voices prepare each entrance by imitation, sometimes repeating the line to the soprano's long final note. The vocal parts are embedded in an independent orchestral concerto of the oboes, the strings and at times even the continuo.[2][3]

In movement 2, a bass aria, the librettist kept the line from the hymn "Gott ist dein Trost und Zuversicht" unchanged, Bach treats it to quotation of the chorale tune for both the quotation and the free continuation "und deiner Seelen Leben" (and the life of your soul[6]).[3] Movement 4 is a duet of alto and tenor, "So geh ich mit beherzten Schritten" (Thus I walk with encouraged steps).[6] The steps are taken together in 3/4 time, in "a minuet of a strongly assertive and confident character. But this should not surprise us; we have seen how Bach often takes suite rhythms, particularly minuet and gavotte, to represent the civilized movements of souls progressing towards heaven", as Julian Mincham describes it.[5] Movement 5, a soprano recitative stresses the final words "O blessed, desired end!"[6] in an arioso. It leads to the closing chorale, a "simple but powerful four-part setting" of the last stanza.[3]

Selected recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 189–191. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  3. ^ a b c d Hofmann, Klaus (2006). "Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit / What my God wants, may it always happen, BWV 111" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 5. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit". bach-cantatas.com. 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 36 BWV 111 Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 111 – Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 

Sources[edit]