Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, BWV 124

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Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht
BWV 124
Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach
Thomaskirche, Leipzig
OccasionFirst Sunday after Epiphany
Chorale"Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht"
by Christian Keymann
Performed7 January 1725 (1725-01-07): Leipzig
VocalSATB choir and solo
  • horn
  • oboe d'amore
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht (I will not let go of my Jesus),[1] BWV 124,[a] is a church cantata written by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for the first Sunday after the Epiphany and first performed it on 7 January 1725. It is based on the hymn "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht" by Christian Keymann.

History and words[edit]

Bach wrote the chorale cantata in his second year in Leipzig for the First Sunday after Epiphany.[2] The prescribed readings for the Sunday were taken from the Epistle to the Romans, speaking of the duties of a Christian (Romans 12:1–6), and from the Gospel of Luke, the finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52).

A year earlier, on the same occasion, Bach had reflected Mein liebster Jesus ist verloren, BWV 154, from the point of view of a person who had lost Jesus. This cantata text is based on the chorale in six stanzas by Christian Keymann (1658).[3] The text of the hymn begins, as in the former work, with an idea close to the gospel: the Christian does not want to let go of Jesus, as his parents had wished not to lose their 12-year-old boy, but then the chorale pursues the thought of being united with Jesus after death. An unknown poet kept the first and the last stanza, and paraphrased the inner stanzas to a sequence of as many recitatives and arias. Bach first performed the cantata on 7 January 1725, one day after Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen, BWV 123, for Epiphany.[2]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in six movements is scored for four soloists, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, a four-part choir, horn to play the cantus firmus with the soprano, oboe d'amore, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[2]

  1. Chorus: Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht
  2. Recitative (tenor): Solange sich ein Tropfen Blut
  3. Aria (tenor): Und wenn der harte Todesschlag
  4. Recitative (bass): Doch ach! welch schweres Ungemach
  5. Aria (soprano, alto): Entziehe dich eilends, mein Herze, der Welt
  6. Chorale: Jesum laß ich nicht von mir


In the opening chorus the soprano and the horn present line by line the cantus firmus, a melody by Andreas Hammerschmidt, who collaborated with Keymann on chorales.[4] The lower voices are set mostly in homophony, while the orchestra plays its own themes in introduction, interludes and accompaniment. The character of the movement is a minuet, and the oboe d'amore takes a virtuosic concertante leading part.[2] The phrase "klettenweis an ihm zu kleben" (cling to him like a burr)[1] is illustrated by all three lower voices holding a note for three measures as if clinging to it. John Eliot Gardiner notes the "gentle, almost naïve tone of voice to reflect the submissive character of the text".[5] A short secco recitative leads to a tenor aria, which is accompanied by the oboe, while the strings play "a persistent four-note drumming" to express "Furcht und Schrecken" (fear and terror).[1][5] Alfred Dürr compares these repetitions to similar figures in the alto recitative "Warum wollt ihr erschrecken", movement 49 of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Part V.[2] In another secco recitative the term "nach vollbrachtem Lauf" (after my completed course)[1] is pictured by a scale spanning an octave. A duet of soprano and alto, only accompanied by the continuo, moves like a dance in simple periods of four measures. The cantata is closed by the final stanza in a four-part setting.[2]



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


  1. ^ a b c d Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 124 – Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dürr, Alfred (1971). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). Vol. 1. Bärenreiter-Verlag. OCLC 523584.
  3. ^ "Meinen Jesum laß' ich nicht / Text and Translation of Chorale". Bach Cantatas Website. 2005. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht". Bach Cantatas Website. 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  5. ^ a b Gardiner, John Eliot (2010). Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) / Cantatas Nos 32, 63, 65, 123, 124 & 154 (Media notes). Soli Deo Gloria (at Hyperion Records website). Retrieved 31 December 2018.