Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen, BWV 87

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Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen
BWV 87
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
Christiana Mariana von Ziegler.jpg
Christiana Mariana von Ziegler, author of the cantata text
OccasionRogate (fifth Sunday after Easter)
Performed6 May 1724 (1724-05-06): Leipzig
Cantata textChristiana Mariana von Ziegler
Bible textJohn 16:24
Choraleby Heinrich Müller
  • solo: alto, tenor and bass
  • SATB choir

Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen (Until now you have asked for nothing in My name),[1] BWV 87,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for Rogate, the fifth Sunday after Easter, and first performed it on 6 May 1725.

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig in his second annual cycle for the fifth Sunday after Easter, called Rogate. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle of James, "doers of the word, not only listeners" (James 1:22–27) and from the Gospel of John, from the farewell discourses of Jesus, "prayers will be fulfilled" (John 16:23–30).[2] In his second year Bach had composed chorale cantatas between the first Sunday after Trinity and Palm Sunday, but for Easter returned to cantatas on more varied texts, possibly because he lost his librettist. The cantata is the third of nine for the period between Easter and Pentecost based on texts of Christiana Mariana von Ziegler.[3][4] Her cantatas for the period deal with "the understanding of Jesus' suffering within the context of victory and love, increasingly articulating how the tribulation of the world is overcome", according to American musicologist Eric Chafe.[4]

The text begins, as do several others of the period, with a bass solo as the vox Christi delivering a quotation from the Gospel, verse 24. The poet interprets it as a reproach. The final lines from the second movement, an aria, are a paraphrase of another Gospel verse.[2] One recitative is not part of the printed publication. Alfred Dürr assumes that Bach wrote it himself to improve the connection to the following Gospel quotation in movement 5.[5] The poet used as the closing chorale the ninth stanza of Heinrich Müller's hymn "Selig ist die Seele" (1659).[2][6]

Bach first performed the cantata on 6 May 1725.[7]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in seven movements is scored for three vocal soloists (alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir only for the closing chorale, two oboes, two oboes da caccia, two violins, viola and basso continuo.[2]

  1. Arioso (bass): Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen
  2. Recitative (alto): O Wort, das Geist und Seel erschreckt
  3. Aria (alto): Vergib, o Vater, unsre Schuld
  4. Recitative (tenor): Wenn unsre Schuld bis an den Himmel steigt
  5. Arioso (bass): In der Welt habt ihr Angst
  6. Aria (tenor): Ich will leiden, ich will schweigen
  7. Chorale: Muß ich sein betrübet?


As in the cantata for the same occasion in Bach's first year in Leipzig, Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch, BWV 86, the text begins with words of Jesus from the gospel, sung by the bass as the vox Christi, accompanied by the strings, doubled by the oboes. It is formally free and untitled, but resembles a fugue because the instruments enter in imitation, and the voice sings a similar theme.[2][7]

A secco recitative leads to an alto aria with two obbligato oboi da caccia. The prayer for forgiveness (Forgive, o Father, our guilt) is illustrated by sighing motifs.[7] The second recitative is accompanied by the strings and ends in an arioso on the words "Drum suche mich zu trösten" (therefore seek to comfort me).[1] In movement 5, the bass renders another word of Jesus from the Gospel, "In der Welt habt ihr Angst; aber seid getrost, ich habe die Welt überwunden" (In the world you have fear; however be comforted, I have conquered the world).[1] The music is serious, the voice only accompanied by the continuo, referring to the Passion as the price for the "comfort". Christoph Wolff notes the "almost hymn-like emphasis through measured, arioso declamation ... In the central fifth movement Bach reduces the accompaniment to the continuo, another means of underscoring the importance of Jesus’ words."[3] In response, the last aria expresses joy in suffering. Its pastoral mood, created by dotted rhythm in 12/8 time, has been compared to the Sinfonia beginning Part II of Bach's Christmas Oratorio.[5] The closing chorale on the melody of "Jesu, meine Freude" by Johann Crüger[8] is set for four parts.[2][7]



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


  1. ^ a b c Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 87 – "Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dürr, Alfred (1971). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). 1. Bärenreiter-Verlag. OCLC 523584.[page needed]
  3. ^ a b Wolff, Christoph (2008). "The transition between the second and the third yearly cycle of Bach's Leipzig cantatas (1725)" (PDF). Bach Cantatas Website. pp. 2–4. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  4. ^ a b Gardiner, John (2008). "For the Fifth Sunday after Easter (Rogate) / Annenkirche, Dresden" (PDF). Bach Cantatas Website. p. 4. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  5. ^ a b Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 44: BWV 85, BWV 108 and BWV 87, each commencing with a bass aria". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  6. ^ "Selig ist die Seele / Text and Translation of Chorale". Bach Cantatas Website. 2005. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d Hofmann, Klaus. "Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen, BWV 87 (Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name)" (PDF). p. 8. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  8. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Jesu, meine Freude". Bach Cantatas Website. 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2012.