Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 116
|Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ|
|Chorale cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach|
|Occasion||25th Sunday after Trinity|
"Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ"
by Jakob Ebert
|Performed||26 November 1724 Leipzig:|
|Vocal||SATB choir and solo|
Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ (You Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ), BWV 116, in Leipzig for the 25th Sunday after Trinity. He led the first performance on 26 November 1724, concluding the liturgical year of 1724.
The cantata is based upon Jakob Ebert's hymn "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ". It matches the Sunday's prescribed gospel reading, the Tribulation from the Gospel of Matthew, in a general way. The hymn's first and last stanza are retained unchanged in both text and tune: the former is set as a chorale fantasia, the latter as a four-part closing chorale. An unknown librettist paraphrased the inner stanzas as alternating arias and recitatives. Bach scored the cantata for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of natural horn, enforcing the soprano in the hymn tune, two oboes d'amore, strings and basso continuo.
History and text
Bach wrote the cantata in 1724 for the 25th Sunday after Trinity as part of his second annual cycle of mostly chorale cantatas. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18), and from the Gospel of Matthew, the Tribulation (Matthew 24:25–28). The cantata text of an unknown author is based exclusively on Jakob Ebert's hymn in seven stanzas (1601). The librettist of Bach's chorale cantata cycle is not known,but Bach scholar Christoph Wolff notes that "he must have worked closely with Bach" and names as "the most likely candidate" Andreas Stöbel, a co-rector of the Thomasschule. The first and last stanza in their original wording are the outer movements, stanzas 2 to 4 were transformed to movements 2 to 4, and stanzas 5 and 6 were rephrased for movement 5. The hymn is in a general way related to the gospel.
Bach led the first performance of the cantata on 26 November 1724, which was that year the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The parts show that Bach performed it at least once more but not until after 1740.
Structure and scoring
Bach structured the cantata in six movements. The text and tune of the hymn are kept in the outer choral movements, a chorale fantasia and a four-part closing chorale, which frame a sequence of alternating arias and recitatives. Bach scored the work for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of natural horn (Co) enforcing the soprano in the hymn tune, two oboes d'amore (Oa), two violins (Vl), viola (Va) and basso continuo. The title page of the autograph score reads: "Dom: 25 post Trinit. / Du Friede Fürst Herr Jesu / Christ ect. / à / 4 Voc: /
Tromba / 2 Hautb: d'Amour / 2 Violini / viola / con / Continuo / di / Sign: / J.S.Bach".
In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe. The keys and time signatures are taken from Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4). The continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.
|1||Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ||Ebert||Chorale fantasia||SATB||Co 2Oa||2Vl Va||A major|
|2||Ach, unaussprechlich ist die Not||anon.||Aria||A||Oa||F-sharp minor||3|
|3||Gedenke doch, o Jesu||anon.||Recitative||T|
|4||Ach, wir bekennen unsre Schuld||anon||Aria (Terzetto)||S T B||E major||3|
|5||Ach, laß uns durch die scharfen Ruten||anon.||Recitative||A||2Vl Va|
|6||Erleucht auch unser Sinn und Herz||Ebert||Chorale||SATB||Co 2Oa||2Vl Va||A major||
The opening chorus, "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ" (You Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ), is a chorale fantasia, the soprano singing the cantus firmus, supported by the horn. The composer of the tune is not known. It appeared in a hymnal by Bartholomäus Gesius in 1601, and is similar to "Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen".
The melody is embedded in an orchestral concerto with ritornellos and interludes, dominated by the concertante solo violin. The treatment of the lower voices is varied within the movement. In lines 1 and 2 and the final 7 they are set in homophonic block chords. The Bach scholar Klaus Hofmann notes that the salutation "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und wahrer Gott" (You prince of peace, Lord Jesus Christ, true man and true God) thus receives weight. In lines 3 and 4 the lower voices begin in vivid imitation before the entrance of the cantus firmus. In lines 5 and 6 their faster movement contrasts to the melody.
The alto aria, "Ach, unaussprechlich ist die Not" (Alas, the agony is unspeakable), is accompanied by an oboe d'amore as an equal partner, expressing the soul's terror imagining the judgement. Hofmann notes that "Bach has captured the expression of deep sadness in the music with all the tools of his trade: sighing figures, suspensions and augmented, diminished or chromatic melodic intervals: the harmony is full of dissonances."
The recitative for tenor, "Gedenke doch, o Jesu" (Yet consider, o Jesus), begins as a secco recitative, but the idea "Gedenke doch, o Jesu, daß du noch ein Fürst des Friedens heißest!" (Yet consider, o Jesus, that you are still called a Prince of Peace!), close to the theme of the cantata, is accompanied by a quote of the chorale tune in the continuo.
Rare in Bach's cantatas, three voices sing a trio. In the text "Ach, wir bekennen unsre Schuld" (Ah, we recognize our guilt)", they illustrate the "wir" (we), confessing and asking forgiveness together. The voices are accompanied only by the continuo.
|Title||Conductor / Choir / Orchestra||Soloists||Label||Year||Instr.|
|Bach Cantatas Vol. 5 – Sundays after Trinity II||Karl RichterMünchener Bach-ChorMünchener Bach-Orchester||Archiv Produktion||1978|
|Die Bach Kantate Vol. 58||Helmuth RillingGächinger KantoreiBach-Collegium Stuttgart||Hänssler||1980|
|J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk • Complete Cantatas • Les Cantates, Folge / Vol. 20||Nikolaus HarnoncourtTölzer KnabenchorConcentus Musicus Wien||Teldec||1981||Period|
|Bach Edition Vol. 9 – Cantatas Vol. 4||Pieter Jan LeusinkHolland Boys ChoirNetherlands Bach Collegium||Brilliant Classics||1999||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 12||Ton KoopmanAmsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir||Antoine Marchand||2000||Period|
|Bach Cantatas Vol. 9: Lund / Leipzig / For the 17th Sunday after Trinity / For the 18th Sunday after Trinity||John Eliot GardinerMonteverdi ChoirEnglish Baroque Soloists||Soli Deo Gloria||2000||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 28 – Cantatas from Leipzig 1724 – BWV 26, 62, 116, 139||Masaaki SuzukiBach Collegium Japan||BIS||2004||Period
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- Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 116: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
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- Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 116 English translation, University of Vermont
- Luke Dahn: BWV 116.6 bach-chorales.com