Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, BWV 197a

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Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe
BWV 197.1 · 197a
Christmas cantata by J. S. Bach
Caspar Ziegler, the author of the chorale
Performed25 December 1728/1729 (1728/1729-12-25): Leipzig

Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe (Glory be to God in the Highest), BWV 197a (197.1), is a Christmas cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the First Day of Christmas in 1728 or 1729.[1]

History and text[edit]

Bach composed the work in Leipzig for Christmas Day in 1728 or 1729.[1] The prescribed readings for the feast day were from the Epistle of Titus, "God's mercy appeared" (Titus 2:11–14) or from Isaiah, "Unto us a child is born" (Isaiah 9:2–7), and from the Gospel of Luke, the Nativity, Annunciation to the shepherds and the angels' song (Luke 2:1–14). The text of the cantata is by Picander.[2] The chorale is from the 1697 hymn "Ich freue mich in dir" by Caspar Ziegler.[3] Bach later revised the piece into Gott ist unsre Zuversicht, BWV 197.2.[4]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata is scored for solo alto and bass voices, a four-part choir, two flutes, oboe d'amore, two violins, viola, bassoon, cello, and continuo.[2]

The piece has seven movements (although there may also have been an opening sinfonia):[2][5]

  1. Chorus: Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe
  2. Aria: Erzählet, ihr Himmel, die Ehre Gottes
  3. Recitative: O! Liebe, der kein Lieben gleich
  4. Aria: O du angenehmer Schatz
  5. Recitative: Das Kind ist mein
  6. Aria: Ich lasse dich nicht
  7. Chorale: Wohlan! so will ich mich


Only the last four movements of the piece are extant.[5]

The nineteen surviving bars of the fourth movement, an alto aria, demonstrate a rare bassoon obbligati and assume a combined ritornello-ternary form.[5]

The fifth movement is a bass recitative with only continuo accompaniment. It is a "harmonically adventurous", "forceful little movement marked by a robust melodic line".[5]

The following bass aria is accompanied by oboe d'amore and continuo, and is a "jaunty, pastoral dance" in 6/8 time and ritornello-ternary form. The movement is notable for a long rising melisma omitted from the reworked version in BWV 197.2.[5]

Musicologist Julian Mincham suggests that the chorale is "one of the sturdiest in the repertoire".[5]


The recordings are taken from the listing on Bach-Cantatas:[6]


  1. ^ a b Work 00245 at Bach Digital website.
  2. ^ a b c "BWV 197a". University of Alberta. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  3. ^ Dürr, Alfred (2006). The cantatas of J.S. Bach: with their librettos in German-English parallel text. Jones, Richard (trans.). Oxford University Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-19-929776-4.
  4. ^ Work 00244 at Bach Digital website.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Mincham, Julian. "Chapter 38 BWV 197a". The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  6. ^ Oron, Aryeh. "Cantata BWV 197a / Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe". Bach-Cantatas. Retrieved 26 December 2015.

External links[edit]