Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12

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Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
BWV 12
Church cantata by J.S. Bach
The interior of the church Schlosskirche is painted, viewed along the nave towards the altar, showing two balconies and the organ on a third level above the altar
Related base for Crucifixus of Mass in B minor
Occasion Jubilate
Performed 12 April 1714 (1714-04-12) – Weimar
Movements 7
Cantata text Salomon Franck
  • SATB choir
  • solo: alto, tenor and bass

Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (Weeping, lamenting, worrying, fearing),[1] BWV 12, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Weimar for Jubilate, the third Sunday after Easter, and led the first performance on 22 April 1714 in the Schlosskirche, the court chapel of the Schloss in Weimar.

Bach was appointed Konzertmeister in Weimar in the spring of 1714, a position that called for the performance of a church cantata each month. He composed Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen as the second cantata in the series, to a text probably written by court poet Salomon Franck. The work is structured in seven movements, an instrumental Sinfonia, a choral passacaglia, a recitative on a Bible quotation, three arias and, as the closing chorale, a stanza from Samuel Rodigast's hymn "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (1674). The cantata is scored for three vocal soloists, a four-part choir, trumpet, oboe, bassoon, two violins, two violas, and basso continuo.

Bach performed the cantata again in his first year as Thomaskantor – director of church music – in Leipzig, on 30 April 1724. He reworked the first section of the first chorus to form the Crucifixus movement of the Credo in his Mass in B minor.

History and words[edit]

On 2 March 1714 Bach was appointed concertmaster of the Weimar court capelle of the co-reigning dukes Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar. As concertmaster, he assumed principal responsibility for composing new works, specifically cantatas for the Schlosskirche (palace church), on a monthly schedule.[2] Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen is the second cantata in this series, composed for the third Sunday after Easter, Jubilate.[3] The prescribed readings for that Sunday were from the First Epistle of Peter, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man" (1 Peter 2:11–20), and from the Gospel of John, Jesus announcing his second coming in the so-called Farewell Discourse, saying "your sorrow shall be turned into joy" (John 16:16–23). The text, depicting the affliction of the Christians, is assumed to have been written by Salomon Franck, the Weimar court poet, following details of the Gospel. The text of the opening chorus corresponds to John 16:20, the text of the first recitative is taken from Acts 14:22, "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God". Franck contends that this is true not only for the disciples who were addressed directly, but for every Christian. Movement 4 sees the suffering of Jesus as a consolation for the afflicted Christian, movement 5 voices a decision to follow Jesus even in suffering, movement 6 offers the consolation that it will be only a short time until all sadness is overcome, alluding to (as in movement 4) Revelation 2:10.[4] The cantata is closed by the first stanza of the hymn "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (1674) by Samuel Rodigast.[5]

Bach first performed the cantata in the Weimar court chapel on 22 April 1714, then performed it in Leipzig in his first year as Thomaskantor on 30 April 1724. He reworked the first section of the first chorus to form the Crucifixus movement of the Credo in his Mass in B minor.[3]

Franz Liszt based works for keyboard (organ or piano) on the first section of movement 2, S.179, Prelude after a theme from Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen by J. S. Bach (1854) and S.180, Variations on a theme from Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen by J. S. Bach (1862).

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in seven movements is scored for three vocal soloists (alto (A), tenor (T) and bass (B)), a four-part choir SATB, trumpet (Tr), oboe (Ob), bassoon (Fg), two violins (Vl), two violas (Va) and basso continuo (Bc). The duration is given as c. 28 minutes.[4]

In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe. The keys and time signatures are taken from Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4).

No. Type Text (source) Vocal Winds Strings Key Time
1 Sinfonia Fg 2Vl 2Va F minor common time
2 Chorus Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (2b) Die das Zeichen Jesu tragen (Franck) SATB Ob Fg 2Vl 2Va F minor 3/2
3 Recitative Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal (Bible) A Ob Fg 2Vl 2Va common time
4 Aria Kreuz und Kronen sind verbunden (Franck) A Ob C minor common time
5 Aria Ich folge Christo nach (Franck) B 2Vl E-flat major common time
6 Aria Sei getreu, alle Pein (Franck) T Tr G minor 3/4
7 Chorale Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (Rodigast) SATB 2Vl 2Va B-flat major common time


The autograph score is titled "Concerto a 1 Oboe, 2 Violini, 2 Viole, Fagotto è 4 Voci coll' Organo".[6] The cantata is opened by a Sinfonia, marked adagio assai, which resembles the slow movement of an oboe concerto, with an expressive and plaintive solo.

Passus duriusculus ground bass of the derived Crucifixus of the Mass in B minor

The first choral movement is in da capo form. The first section is built on a basso ostinato as an old-style passacaglia in 3/2 time. The lamento, a chromatic fourth ostinato, is repeated twelve times; the first four words are each sung by a different vocal part, each overlapping the next. Beginning with the highest voice, each sings an extended sigh. The setting is intensified, until in the seventh repeat all voices continue the text simultaneously: "Angst und Not" ("dread and need" or "anguish and trouble"[1]). The ninth repeat is similar to the first, but in more extreme harmonies. The twelfth repeat is instrumental. The middle section of the line about the Christians "die das Zeichen Jesu tragen" (that bear the marks of Jesus),[1] first marked "un poco allegro", is in a contrasting mood. Its last section is marked andante, the voices enter one after the other, beginning with the lowest and rising. Throughout the middle section, the instruments play colla parte with the voices.[4] John Eliot Gardiner describes the first section as a "tombeau, one of the most impressive and deeply affecting cantata movements Bach can have composed to that point".[3]

The only recitative is accompanied by the strings.[4] During the last aria, the trumpet plays the chorale tune "Jesu, meine Freude" as a cantus firmus;[6] Bach may have thought of the stanza "Weicht, ihr Trauergeister". The form of the aria follows the bar form of the chorale. The closing chorale is set for four parts, illuminated by an instrumental obbligato part, probably intended for a violin.[7]

Selected recordings[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 12 – "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Koster, Jan. "Weimar 1708–1717". let.rug.nl. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Gardiner, John Eliot (2006). "Cantatas for the Third Sunday after Easter (Jubilate) / Schlosskirche, Altenburg" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 262–265. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  5. ^ "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2005. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Wolff, Christoph (1995). "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" BWV 12" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 9. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan". bach-cantatas.com. 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2011.