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

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Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit
BWV 111
Lucas Cranach d.Ä. - Bildnis des Markgrafen Albrecht von Brandenburg-Ansbach (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum).jpg
Albert, Duke of Prussia, author of the hymn
OccasionThird Sunday after Epiphany
Performed21 January 1725 (1725-01-21): Leipzig
Movements6
Cantata text
anonymous
Chorale
"Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit"
by Albert, Duke of Prussia
VocalSATB 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,[a] is a cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach for use in a Lutheran service. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig in 1725 for the third Sunday after Epiphany and first performed it on 21 January 1725, as part of his chorale cantata cycle. It is based on the hymn by Albert, Duke of Prussia, published in 1554, on the topic of the Christian's acceptance of God's will.

History and words[edit]

When Bach composed the cantata, he was in his second year as Thomaskantor (director of church music) in Leipzig. During his first year, beginning with the first Sunday after Trinity 1723, he had written a cycle of cantatas for the occasions of the liturgical year. In his second year he composed a second annual cycle of cantatas, which was planned to consist exclusively of chorale cantatas, each based on one Lutheran hymn. It included Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit.[2]

Bach wrote the cantata for the Third Sunday after Epiphany. 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).[2] The cantata text 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 hymnwriter added the final stanza already in the first publication in 1554.[1] In the typical format of Bach's chorale cantatas, the first and last stanza are retained unchanged, while an unknown librettist paraphrased the inner stanzas to texts for recitatives and arias. In this case, he transcribed rather freely each stanza of the hymn to a sequence of aria and recitative. Similar to Bach's cantata for the same occasion in the first cycle, 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][4]

  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[5] 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.[6] 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[7]).[3] Movement 4 is a duet of alto and tenor, "So geh ich mit beherzten Schritten" (Thus I walk with encouraged steps).[7] 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.[6] Movement 5, a soprano recitative stresses the final words "O blessed, desired end!"[7] in an arioso. It leads to the closing chorale, a "simple but powerful four-part setting" of the last stanza.[3]

Recordings[edit]

The recordings are taken from the listing on the Bach Cantatas Website.[8]

Notes[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit / Text and Translation of Chorale". Bach Cantatas Website. 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e 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 Website. p. 5. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  4. ^ Bischof, Walter F. "BWV 111 Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit]". University of Alberta. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit". Bach Cantatas Website. 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  6. ^ a b Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 36 BWV 111 Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 111 – Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  8. ^ Oron, Aryeh. "Cantata BWV 111 Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 24 January 2017.

Sources[edit]