Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost, BWV 114

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Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost
BWV 114
Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach
Jesus heals the sick by Rembrandt, 1649
Occasion 17th Sunday after Trinity
Performed 1 October 1724 (1724-10-01) – Leipzig
Movements 7
Cantata text anonymous
Chorale by Johannes Gigas
Vocal SATB choir and solo
  • horn
  • flauto traverso
  • 2 oboes
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost (Ah, dear Christians, be comforted),[1] BWV 114,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for the 17th Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 1 October 1724. It is based on the hymn by Johannes Gigas (1561).

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in his second year in Leipzig for the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.[2] That year, Bach composed a cycle of chorale cantatas, begun on the first Sunday after Trinity of 1724.[3] The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle to the Ephesians, the admonition to keep the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1–6), and from the Gospel of Luke, healing a man with dropsy on the Sabbath (Luke 14:1–11).[4] The cantata is based on a song of penitence in six stanzas by Johannes Gigas (1561),[5] sung to the melody of "Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält".[6] The hymn is only distantly related to the readings, concentrating on the thought that the Christians sin and deserve punishment,[7] but may be raised to joy in a "seliger Tod" (blessed death). An unknown poet kept the first, third and sixth stanza as movements 1, 4 and 7 of the cantata.[2] He derived movements 2 and 3, aria and recitative, from stanza 2, movement 5, another aria, from stanza 4, and the last recitative from stanza 5. In movement 3, he deviated from the song text, expanding in connection to the Gospel that sin in general is comparable to the dropsy, "diese Sündenwassersucht ist zum Verderben da und wird dir tödlich sein" (this sinful dropsy leads to destruction and will be fatal to you),[1] and alluding to Adam's fall, caused by self-exaltation in the forbidden quest to be like God, "Der Hochmut aß vordem von der verbotnen Frucht, Gott gleich zu werden" (Pride first ate the forbidden fruit, to be like God).[1][2][4]

Bach first performed the cantata on 1 October 1724,[2] only two days after the first performance of his chorale cantata Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir, BWV 130, on the feast of Michael, the archangel, 29 September 1724.[8]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in seven movements is scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir, horn to double the soprano, flauto traverso, two oboes, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[4]

  1. Chorus: Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost
  2. Aria (tenor): Wo wird diesem Jammertale
  3. Recitative (bass): O Sünder, trage mit Geduld
  4. Chorale (soprano): Kein Frucht das Weizenkörnlein bringt
  5. Aria (alto): Du machst, o Tod, mir nun nicht ferner bange
  6. Recitative (tenor): Indes bedenke deine Seele
  7. Chorale: Wir wachen oder schlafen ein


In the opening chorale fantasia, Bach expresses two thoughts of the text, comfort and fear, by contrasting themes that appear simultaneously in the instruments: an assertive theme is derived from the melody and played by the two oboes and first violins, an "anxious" one in the second violins and the continuo. The soprano sings the melody as a cantus firmus, doubled by the horn,[7] while the lower voices are set partly in expressive imitation, partly in homophony.[2] They are treated differently to reflect the meaning of the text.[9]

The first aria for alto with a virtuoso flute contrasts again the anxious question "Wo wird in diesem Jammertale vor meinen Geist die Zuflucht sein?" (Where can the refuge of my spirit be found in this valley of woe?)[1] and the trusting "Allein zu Jesu Vaterhänden will ich mich in der Schwachheit wenden" (Only to Jesus's paternal hands do I wish to turn in weakness),[1] however, the question returns in the da capo form.[2] The first recitative begins secco, but expresses the contrasting words "erhebst" (exalt) and "erniedrigt" (humbled) from the Gospel as an arioso.[9] The chorale stanza is set for the soprano, accompanied only by the continuo.[4] In its "starkness of the unembellished chorale" it is the centerpiece of the cantata.[9] The alto aria is the only movement of the cantata in a major key. A shift to minor on the words "Es muß ja so einmal gestorben sein" (One day, indeed, one must die)[1] is even more striking. The cantata ends with a four-part setting of the chorale melody.[2]

Selected recordings[edit]


  1. ^ "BWV" is Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, a thematic catalogue of Bach's works.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 114 – Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Hofmann, Klaus (2003). "Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost, BWV 114 / Ah, dear Christians, be comforted" (PDF). p. 8. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Wolff, Christoph (2000). Chorale Cantatas from the cycle of the Leipzig / church cantatas, 1724–25 (III) (PDF). p. 9. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 461–464. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  5. ^ "Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost / Text and Translation of Chorale". 2006. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält". 2006. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Gardiner, John Eliot (2009). "Cantatas for the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity / Allhelgonakyrkan, Lund" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Gardiner, John Eliot (2006). "Cantatas for the Feast of St Michael and All Angels / Unser lieben Frauen, Bremen" (PDF). pp. 6–8. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Mincham, Julian (2012). "Chapter 18 BWV 114 Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost / Beloved Christians, take comfort.". Retrieved 29 September 2012.