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Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben, BWV 77

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Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben
BWV 77
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
Jan Wijnants - Parable of the Good Samaritan.jpg
Parable of the Good Samaritan, the topic of the prescribed gospel reading, by Jan Wijnants (1670)
Occasion 13th Sunday after Trinity
Performed 22 August 1723 (1723-08-22) – Leipzig
Movements 6
Cantata text Johann Oswald Knauer
Bible text Luke 10:27
Vocal SATB choir and solo
  • tromba da tirarsi
  • 2 oboes
  • bassoon
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben (You shall love God, your Lord),[1] BWV 77,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the thirteenth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 22 August 1723.

Bach composed the cantata in his first year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, where he had begun a first annual cycle of cantatas for the occasions of the liturgical year on the first Sunday after Trinity with Die Elenden sollen essen, BWV 75. The cantata text, written by Johann Oswald Knauer, is focused on the prescribed reading for the Sunday, the parable of the Good Samaritan containing the Great Commandment, which is used as the text of the first movement. A pair of recitative and aria deals with the love of God, while a symmetrical pair deals with the love of the neighbour. The text of the closing chorale is lost.

Bach scored the cantata for four vocal parts, a four-part choir, tromba da tirarsi, two oboes, strings and continuo. In the first movement Bach uses an instrumental quotation of Luther's hymn on the ten commandments, "Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot" (These are the holy ten commandments), played by the trumpet in canon with the continuo.

History and words[edit]

Bach wrote the cantata in 1723 in his first year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig for the 13th Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul's teaching on law and promise (Galatians 3:15–22), and from the Gospel of Luke, the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:23–37).[2] The cantata text was written by Johann Oswald Knauer[3] and appeared in Gotha in 1720 in Gott-geheiligtes Singen und Spielen (Holy singing and playing to God).[4] The text relates closely to the readings, even to the situation in which the parable was told, referring to the question of a lawyer what needs to be done to achieve eternal life. The answer, which the lawyer had to give himself, was the commandment to love God and your neighbour. This, the Great Commandment, is the text of the first movement. Accordingly, the following text is divided in two parts, one recitative and aria dealing with the love of God, and a symmetrical part handling the love of the neighbour.[2]

The text of the closing chorale is lost.[5] Karl Friedrich Zelter suggested the eighth stanza of David Denicke's hymn "Wenn einer alle Ding verstünd" (1657) with the first line "Du stellst, Herr Jesu, selber dich",[6] which appears in the edition of the Bach-Gesellschaft. Werner Neumann suggested the eighth stanza of Denicke's "O Gottes Sohn, Herr Jesu Christ" (1657) with the first line "Herr, durch den Glauben wohn in mir",[7] which appears in the Neue Bach-Ausgabe.

Bach led the Thomanerchor in the first performance of the cantata on 22 August 1723.[2]

Scoring and structure[edit]

Bach structured the cantata in six movements with choral movements framing two pairs of recitative and aria. He scored it for four vocal soloists (soprano (S), alto (A), tenor (T) and bass (B)), a four-part choir, and an orchestra of tromba da tirarsi (Baroque slide trumpet) (tir), two oboes (Ob), two violins (Vl), viola (Va), and basso continuo (Bc). including bassoon (Fg).[2][8] The title of the autograph score reads simply "J.J. Concerto Dominica 13 p- Trinitatis" (J.J. concerto for the 13th a. Trinity, J.J. being short for Jesu juva (Jesus help).[9]

In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe. The keys and time signatures are taken from the Bach scholar Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4). The instruments are shown separately for winds and strings, while the continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.

Movements of Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben, BWV 77
No. Title Text Type Vocal Winds Strings Key Time
1 Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben Luke 10:27 Chorus SATB Tir 2Vl Va C major common time
2 So muss es sein! Knauer Recitative B common time
3 Mein Gott, ich liebe dich von Herzen Knauer Aria S 2Ob A minor common time
4 Gib mir dabei, mein Gott! ein Samariterherz Knauer Recitative T 2Vl Va D minor common time
5 Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe Knauer Aria A Tir 3/4
6 Herr, durch den Glauben wohn in mir Denicke Chorale SATB unknown 2Vl Va G minorD major common time



The first movement, "Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben" (You shall love God, your Lord),[1] carries Bach's statement on the most important law, on which, according to the parallel Matthew 22:34–40, "hang all the law and the prophets".[2][10] The words translate to "You shall love God, your Lord, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself". Bach had enlarged on the "dualism of love of God and brotherly love" already in his monumental cantata in 14 movements, Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, BWV 76, at the beginning of his first cycle.[10] In order to show the law's universality, Bach introduces Martin Luther's chorale "Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot" (These are the holy ten commandments), referring to the commandments of the Old Testament, as a foundation of the movement's structure.[4][10] The tune is played in a strict canon,[4] the most rigid musical law as one more symbol. The canon is performed by the trumpet in the highest range, and the continuo, representing the lowest range. The tempo of the trumpet is twice as fast as the tempo of the continuo, therefore the trumpet has time to repeat first single lines and finally the complete melody of the chorale. The trumpet enters ten times, to symbolize once more the completeness of the law.[2] The voices, representing the law of the New Testament, engage in imitation of a theme which is derived from the chorale tune and first played by the instruments.[10] John Eliot Gardiner, who provides an extended analysis of the movement, concludes:

"The end result is a potent mixture of modal and diatonic harmonies, one which leaves an unforgettable impression in the mind's ear, and in context propels one forward to the world of Brahms' German Requiem and beyond, to Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time".[10]


A short secco recitative for bass, "So muß es sein! " (So it must be! ),[1] summarizes the ideas.


An aria for soprano, "Mein Gott, ich liebe dich von Herzen" (My God, I love You from my heart),[1] is accompanied by two obbligato oboes which frequently play in tender third parallels.[2]


The second recitative for tenor, "Gib mir dabei, mein Gott! ein Samariterherz" (Give me as well, my God! a Samaritan heart),[1] is a prayer to grant a heart like the Samaritan's. It is intensified by the strings.[2][11]


The last aria for alto with an obbligato trumpet, "Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe " (Ah, in my love there is still ),[1] takes the form of a sarabande. Bach conveys the "Unvollkommenheit" (imperfection) of human attempt to live by the law of love, by choosing the trumpet and composing for it "awkward intervals" and "wildly unstable notes" which would sound imperfect on the period's valveless instruments.[10] In contrast, Bach wrote in the middle section a long trumpet solo of "ineffable beauty", as a "glorious glimpse of God's realm".[10]


The closing chorale on an uncertain text, possibly "Herr, durch den Glauben wohn in mir" (Lord, dwell in me through faith),[1] is a four-part setting of the tune of "Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein" (1524).[2]

Selected recordings[edit]

The sortable table is based on the listing on the Bach Cantatas website.[12] The type of choir and orchestra is roughly shown as a large group by red background, and as an ensemble with period instruments in historically informed performance by green background.

Recordings of Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben, BWV 77
Title Conductor / Choir / Orchestra Soloists Label Year Choir type Orch. type
J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk • Complete Cantatas • Les Cantates, Folge / Vol. 4 Leonhardt, GustavGustav Leonhardt
Teldec 1978 (1978) Period
Die Bach Kantate Vol. 47 Rilling, HelmuthHelmuth Rilling
Gächinger Kantorei
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn
Hänssler 1983 (1983) Chamber
J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 8 Koopman, TonTon Koopman
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Antoine Marchand 1998 (1998) Period
Bach Cantatas Vol. 6: Köthen/Frankfurt / For the 12th Sunday after Trinity / For the 13th Sunday after Trinity Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Soli Deo Gloria 2000 (2000) Period
J.S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 13 – Cantatas from Leipzig 1723 Suzuki, MasaakiMasaaki Suzuki
Bach Collegium Japan
BIS 1999 (1999) Period
Bach Edition Vol. 21 – Cantatas Vol. 12 Leusink, Pieter JanPieter Jan Leusink
Holland Boys Choir
Netherlands Bach Collegium
Brilliant Classics 2000 (2000) Boys Period


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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 77 - "Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dürr, Alfred; Jones, Richard D. P. (2006). The Cantatas of J. S. Bach: With Their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text. Oxford University Press. pp. 510–513. 
  3. ^ Glöckner, Andreas (2000). "BWV 76: Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes / (The heavens declare the Glory of God)" (PDF). p. 10. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Wolff, Christoph (2008). "On the first annual cycle of Bach's Cantatas for the Leipzig liturgy (1723–1724)" (PDF). p. 16. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 422–425. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  6. ^ "Wenn einer alle Ding verstünd / Text and Translation of Chorale". 2005. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "O Gottes Sohn, Herr Jesu Christ / Text and Translation of Chorale". 2005. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Bischof, Walter F. "BWV 77 Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben". University of Alberta. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Grob, Jochen (2014). "BWV 77 / BC A 126" (in German). Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Gardiner, John Eliot (2007). "Cantatas for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity / Dreikönigskirche, Frankfurt" (PDF). p. 10. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 16 BWV 77 Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren lieben / Love the Lord, your God.] Julian Mincham, 2010". Retrieved 29 Aug 2015. 
  12. ^ Oron, Aryeh. "Cantata BWV 77 Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben". Retrieved 29 August 2015.