Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29
|Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir|
|Sacred cantata by J.S. Bach|
|Occasion||Ratswechsel (Inauguration of new town council)|
|Performed||27 August 1731Leipzig –|
|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), 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
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).  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".
Bach first performed the cantata on 27 August 1731 and again at least in 1739 and 1749.
Instrumentation and structure
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. The cantata is in seven movements:
- Chorus: Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir
- Aria (tenor): Halleluja, Stärk und Macht
- Recitative (bass): Gottlob! es geht uns wohl!
- Aria (soprano): Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe
- Recitative (alto, choir): Vergiß es ferner nicht, mit deiner Hand
- Aria (alto): Halleluja, Stärk und Macht
- Chorale: Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren
The cantata is one of the few sacred cantatas of Bach 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.
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 Missa for the court of Dresden 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.
The tenor, a solo violin, and the continuo are equal partners in the following da capo aria.
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.
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.
- J.S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk – Sacred Cantatas Vol. 2, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Wiener Sängerknaben & Chorus Viennensis, Concentus Musicus Wien, boy soprano of the Wiener Sängerknaben, Paul Esswood, Kurt Equiluz, Max van Egmond, Teldec 1974
- J.S. Bach: Wir danken dir, Gott, Philippe Herreweghe, Collegium Vocale Gent, Deborah York, Ingeborg Danz, Mark Padmore, Peter Kooy, Harmonia Mundi France 1999
- J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 20, Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Sandrine Piau, Bogna Bartosz, James Gilchrist, Klaus Mertens, Antoine Marchand 2003
- J.S. Bach: Cantatas, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Concentus Musicus Wien, Christine Schäfer, Bernarda Fink, Werner Güra, Christian Gerhaher, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 2007
- 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.
- "Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- Wolff, Christoph. "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV29" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 25. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
- Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 595–598. ISBN 3-423-04080-7.
- 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.
The first source is the score.
Several databases provide additional information on each cantata:
- Cantata BWV 29 Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
- BWV 29 – "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir" English translation, discussion, Emmanuel Music
- Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 29 Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir English translation, University of Vermont
- BWV 29 Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir text, scoring, University of Alberta