Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29

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Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir
BWV 29
Sacred cantata by J. S. Bach
Leipzig Nikolaikirche BW 2012-09-10 18-11-46 cropped.jpg
Occasion Ratswechsel (Inauguration of new town council)
Performed 27 August 1731 (1731-08-27) – Leipzig
Movements 8
Cantata text anonymous
Bible text Psalms 75:2
Chorale "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren"
Vocal SATB choir and solo

Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir (We thank you, God, we thank you),[1] BWV 29, is a sacred cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig in 1731 for Ratswechsel, the inauguration of a new town council, and first performed it on 27 August of that year. Bach used the music from the choral movement for both the Gratias agimus tibi and Dona nobis pacem of his Mass in B minor.

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in 1731 for Ratswechsel, the inauguration of the newly elected town council, which took place in a festive service in the Nikolaikirche on the Monday following St. Bartholomäus (24 August). [2] He had written the cantatas Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn, BWV 119, and Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120, for the same occasion. The text by an unknown author includes in movement 2 Psalm 75:2 and as the closing chorale the fifth stanza of Johann Gramann's hymn "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren".[3][4]

Bach first performed the cantata on 27 August 1731 and again at least in 1739 and 1749.[2]

Instrumentation and structure[edit]

The instrumentation reflects the festive occasion for which it was written: soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, four-part choir, solo organ and an orchestra consisting of three trumpets, timpani, two oboes, two violins, viola and basso continuo.[4] The cantata is in seven movements:[5]

  1. Sinfonia
  2. Chorus: Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir
  3. Aria (tenor): Halleluja, Stärk und Macht
  4. Recitative (bass): Gottlob! es geht uns wohl!
  5. Aria (soprano): Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe
  6. Recitative (alto, choir): Vergiß es ferner nicht, mit deiner Hand
  7. Aria (alto): Halleluja, Stärk und Macht
  8. Chorale: Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren


The cantata is one of the few sacred Bach cantatas opened by an orchestral sinfonia. Another is the early Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12. The music is an arrangement of the prelude from Bach's Partita for violin, BWV 1006. A solo organ plays the original violin part, while the orchestra adds an accompaniment.[4]

The chorus, on verse 2 of Psalm 75, is written in grave stile antico. The bass begins in great simplicity a theme in even steps; the tenor starts imitating almost immediately, the alto a little later, then the soprano. A countersubject illustrates the telling of God's wonders, embellishing the words verkündigen ("proclaim") and Wunder ("wonders"). A dense texture is achieved. In the beginning only oboes and strings play colla parte, then a trumpet doubles the soprano. Developing further, two trumpets take part in the polyphony, and a climax is reached when the third trumpet and timpani enter. Bach adapted the music with only minor changes for the Gratias of his Mass for the Dresden court (Kyrie and Gloria) in 1733, which expresses the same idea. Later he incorporated the Missa in his Mass in B minor and concluded his work by repeating the music as the Dona nobis pacem. According to Klaus Hofmann, all these movements are based on an earlier lost composition.[2]

The tenor, a solo violin, and the continuo are equal partners in the following da capo aria.

The soprano aria, accompanied by oboe and strings, is in siciliano rhythm.[4] The continuo rests during the vocal parts.[6]

After a recitative which leads to a choral Amen, the alto soloist repeats the main section of the tenor aria, accompanied by the organ. This close connection within a work of both theme (3 and 6) and instrument (1 and 6) is unusual in Bach's cantatas.[6]

In the closing chorale the trumpets accentuate the ends of some lines of the fifth verse of Johann Gramann's "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren".[2][5]

20th-century adaptation[edit]

The Sinfonia movement experienced a period of crossover popularity in 1968 when Walter Carlos (now Wendy Carlos) created an exuberant rendition of it for electronic synthesizer (at the time a novelty) for the album Switched-On Bach.



  1. ^ Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 29 – "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hofmann, Klaus (2012). "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir / Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, BWV 29" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. pp. 7–8. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Wolff, Christoph. "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV29" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 25. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 595–598. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  6. ^ a b Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 45 BWV 103 Ihr werdet weinen und heulen / You shall weep and wail, though the world will rejoice.". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 16 April 2013.