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Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe, BWV 108

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Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe
BWV 108
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
Christiana Mariana von Ziegler.jpg
Christiana Mariana von Ziegler, author of the cantata text
Occasion Cantate
Performed 29 April 1725 (1725-04-29): Leipzig
Movements 6
Cantata text Christiana Mariana von Ziegler
Bible text John 16:7,13
Chorale by Paul Gerhardt
  • solo: alto, tenor and bass

SATB choir

  • 2 oboes d'amore
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • bassoon
  • continuo

Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe (It is good for you that I leave),[1] BWV 108,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for Cantate Sunday, the fourth Sunday after Easter, and first performed it on 29 April 1725.

It is the second of nine cantatas on texts by Christiana Mariana von Ziegler, with whom he collaborated at the end of his second cantata cycle. She used two quotations from the prescribed gospel from the Farewell discourses and closed the cantata with a stanza Paul Gerhardt's "Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist". The topic is the prediction of Jesus of his parting and the coming of the Spirit as a comforter. The first announcement is sung by the bass as the vox Christi, the second, in the centre of the work, by the chorus in three fugues combined in motet style but unified by similar themes. Bach scored the cantata for three vocal soloists (alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir, and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of two oboes d'amore, strings and continuo. He used elements of word-painting, such as very long notes to illustrate firm belief, and sigh motifs interrupted by rests to illustrate the desiring heart.

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in his second year in Leipzig for the fourth Sunday after Easter, called Cantate.[2] The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle of James, "Every good gift comes from the Father of lights" (James 1:17–21), and from the Gospel of John, Jesus announcing the Comforter in his Farewell discourses (John 16:5–15). 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.[3]

Between Easter and Pentecost Bach´s congregation heard a series of nine cantatas with texts by a new librettist, Christiana Mariana von Ziegler. As the average interval between the performances was less than a week (they were not only for Sundays; there were additional ones for Ascension Day and Pentecost), Bach may have been composed at a correspondingly intense rate, although it is not known when he began work on them. The first of the series was Ihr werdet weinen und heulen, BWV 103,[4][3] followed a week later by Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe. It begins with a bass solo as the vox Christi delivering a quotation from the gospel (John 16:7); a second quotation appears in movement 4 (John 16:13). Movements 2 and 3 deal with the hope for salvation; movement 5 is a prayer for guidance until death.[2] The poet used as the closing chorale the tenth stanza of Paul Gerhardt's hymn "Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist" (1653),[5] expressing faith in God's guidance.[2]


The cantata text was published in 1728 in Ziegler's first collection, Versuch in gebundener Schreibart.[3] The version set by Bach was slightly different, as he shortened the text here as in other cantatas by the same librettist. The music survived in a holograph manuscript, but was not published until 1876 when the cantata appeared in the Bach Gesellschaft´s first complete edition of Bach´s work.[6]


Structure and scoring[edit]

Bach structured the cantata in six movements, beginning with a biblical quotation for the vox Christi, Jesus speaking. A set of aria and recitative is followed by a chorus on another biblical quotation from the gospel, while an aria leads to the closing chorale. Bach scored the work for three vocal soloists (alto (A), tenor (T) and bass (B)), a four-part choir, and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of two oboes d'amore (Oa), two violins (Vl), viola (Va) and basso continuo.[7] The duration of the cantata is given as 20 minutes.[2]

In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe.[7] The keys and time signatures are taken from Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4).[2] The continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.

Movements of Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe, BWV 108
No. Title Text Type Vocal Oboe Strings Key Time
1 Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe John 16:7 Aria B Oa 2Vl Va A major common time
2 Mich kann kein Zweifel stören anon. Aria T Vl F-sharp minor common time
3 Dein Geist wird mich also regieren anon. Recitative T common time
4 Wenn aber jener, der Geist der Wahrheit kommen wird John 16:13 Chorus SATB 2Oa 2Vl Va D major common time
5 Was mein Herz von dir begehrt anon. Aria A 2Vl Va B minor 6/8
6 Dein Geist, den Gott von Himmel gibt Gerhardt Chorale SATB 2Oa 2Vl Va B minor common time


The cantata presents similarities to the one Bach wrote the previous year for the same occasion, Wo gehest du hin? BWV 166.[8]


The similarities begin with the first movement, which like that of the previous year´s cantata, is given to the bass as the vox Christi.[4] The movement is the quotation of verse 7 from the gospel, beginning: "Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe; denn so ich nicht hingehe, kömmt der Tröster nicht zu euch." (It is good for you that I leave; for if I did not go, the Comforter would not come to you.)[1] It is between aria and arioso.[2] An oboe d'amore as the obbligato instrument plays extended melodies. Voice and oboe share the musical material, conveying "the mood of grieving at parting".[4]


The following aria, "Mich kann kein Zweifel stören" (No doubt can disturb me),[1] is dominated by a virtuoso solo violin. The words "Ich glaube" (I believe) are illustrated by very long notes in the voice, while an ostinato bass line renders "steadfastness" in a different way.[4] The musicologist Julian Mincham notes that Bach uses the key F-sharp minor selectively, "often for slowish movements of great expressive force", for example for the alto aria Buß und Reu from his St Matthew Passion.[9]


A short secco recitative expresses "Dein Geist wird mich also regieren, Daß ich auf rechter Bahne geh" (Thus Your Spirit will guide me, so that I walk on the right path).[1]


The next biblical quotation, verse 13 of the gospel, "Wenn aber jener, der Geist der Wahrheit, kommen wird, der wird euch in alle Wahrheit leiten." (But when that one, the Spirit of Truth, shall come, He shall lead you into all truth.)[1] is rendered by the choir.[4] It is divided in three sections, similar to a da capo form. All three parts are fugues,[4] combined in motet style,[8] the instruments playing mostly colla parte with the voices.[9] The second section begins "Denn er wird nicht vom ihm selber reden" (For He will not speak of His own accord);[1] the third section expresses "und was zukünftig ist, wird er verkündigen" (and what is to come, He will foretell),[1] on a fugue subject similar to the first,[2] giving the movement a "feeling of unity".[4]


The last aria,"Was mein Herz von dir begehrt" (What my heart desires from You),[1] is accompanied by the strings, dominated by the first violin. The word "Herz" (heart) is rendered in sighing motifs, intensified by following rests.[4]


The closing chorale, "Dein Geist, den Gott vom Himmel gibt, der leitet alles, was ihn liebt" (Your Spirit, which God sends from heaven, leads everything that loves Him),[1] is a four-part setting on the melody of "Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn".[10] The bass line is pacing forward constantly.[4]

Selected recordings[edit]

The selection is taken from the listing on the Bach-Cantatas website.[11] Choirs and orchestras are roughly marked as large by red background; vocal ensembles with one voice per part (OVPP) and instrumental groups playing period instruments in historically informed performances are highlighted green.

Recordings of Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe, BWV 108
Title Conductor / Choir / Orchestra Soloists Label Year Choir type Instr.
The RIAS Bach Cantatas Project (1949–1952) Ristenpart, KarlKarl Ristenpart
RIAS Kammerchor
RIAS Kammerorchester
Audite 1950 (1950) Chamber Chamber
Bach Cantatas BWV 67, 108 & 127 Richter, KarlKarl Richter
Münchener Bach-Chor
Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Archiv Produktion 1958 (1958) Bach Symphony
J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk • Complete Cantatas • Les Cantates, Folge / Vol. 6 Harnoncourt, NikolausNikolaus Harnoncourt
Tölzer Knabenchor
Concentus Musicus Wien
Teldec 1979 (1979) Boys Period
Die Bach Kantate Vol. 33 Rilling, HelmuthHelmuth Rilling
Gächinger Kantorei
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Hänssler 1981 (1981)
Bach Edition Vol. 15 – Cantatas Vol. 8 Leusink, Pieter JanPieter Jan Leusink
Holland Boys Choir
Netherlands Bach Collegium
Brilliant Classics 2000 (2000) Boys Period
Bach Cantatas Vol. 24: Altenburg/Warwick / For the 3rd Sunday after Easter (Jubilate) / For the 4th Sunday after Easter (Cantate) Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Soli Deo Gloria 2000 (2000) Period
J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 15 Koopman, TonTon Koopman
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Antoine Marchand 2001 (2001) Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 36 – (Cantatas from Leipzig 1725) – BWV 6, 42, 103, 108 Suzuki, MasaakiMasaaki Suzuki
Bach Collegium Japan
BIS 2006 (2006) Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year Vol. 10 – "Himmelfahrts-Oratorium " – Cantatas BWV 108 · 86 · 11 · 44 Kuijken, SigiswaldSigiswald Kuijken
La Petite Bande
Accent 2008 (2008) OVPP Period


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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 108 – Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 272–274. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  3. ^ a b c Wolff, Christoph. "The transition between the second and the third yearly cycle of Bach’s Leipzig cantatas (1725)" (PDF). Bach-Cantatas. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hofmann, Klaus (2006). "Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe / It is expedient for you that I go away, BWV 108" (PDF). Bach-Cantatas. p. 7. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist / Text and Translation of Chorale". Bach-Cantatas. 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe, BWV 108: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  7. ^ a b Bischof, Walter F. "BWV 108 Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe". University of Alberta. Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Gardiner, John Eliot (2005). "Cantatas for the Fourth Sunday after Easter (Cantate) / St Mary’s, Warwick" (PDF). Bach-Cantatas. p. 6. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 44: BWV 85, BWV 108 and BWV 87, each commencing with a bass aria.". Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn". Bach-Cantatas. 2005. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  11. ^ Oron, Aryeh. "Cantata BWV 108 Es ist euch gut, dass ich hingehe". Bach-Cantatas. Retrieved 23 April 2016.