Es ist genug

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"Es ist genug"
Lutheran hymn
Bach es ist genug (DYK).png
Beginning of Bach's setting of "Es ist genug" as the closing chorale of Cantata 60
EnglishIt is enough
Written1662 (1662)
Textby Franz Joachim Burmeister
LanguageGerman
Based on1 Kings 19:4
Melodyby Johann Rudolf Ahle
Composed1662
Published1659 (1659)

"Es ist genug" ("It is enough") is a German Lutheran hymn, with text by Franz Joachim Burmeister, written in 1662.[1] The melody was written by Johann Rudolf Ahle who collaborated with the poet. It begins with an unusual sequence of three consecutive rising whole tone intervals.[2]

The hymn's last stanza was used by Johann Sebastian Bach as the closing chorale of his cantata O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 60. His setting has been quoted in music, notably in Alban Berg's Violin Concerto.[2][3]

History[edit]

Franz Joachim Burmeister wrote "Es ist genug" in 1662. The topic is a yearning for death. It is inspired from the sentiment expressed by the prophet Elijah who desires death, in frustration about the failure of his mission, as narrated in the First Book of Kings. The biblical line reads "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers" (1 Kings 19:4).[4] All seven stanzas begin and end with the line "Es ist genug".[1] It was printed in 1844 in the hymnal Gesangbuch zum gottesdienstlichen Gebrauche in den Stadtkirchen zu Leipzig (Hymnal for use in the service of the town churches of Leipzig), in the section "Vorbereitung auf den Tod" (Of the preparation for death).[5]

Melody and settings[edit]

The melody, also from 1662, was composed by Johann Rudolf Ahle, who collaborated with Burmeister on several hymns.[1] He was church musician at Divi Blasii in Mühlhausen, a position which Bach later also held.[6] The tune begins with an unusual motif of three upward whole tones intervals, the first half of a whole-tone scale.[2][3] The interval from its first to last note is a tritone, also called diabolus in musica (devil in music).[6] Alfred Dürr writes that the beginning "might have been felt outrageous"[6] at the time of the composition, "only justified as a musical figure depicting the soul's crossing over from life into death".[6]

"Es ist genug" by J. S. Bach, closing chorale from BWV 60. Listen

The hymn's last stanza was used by Johann Sebastian Bach to conclude his cantata O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 60, and has been quoted frequently in music, notably in Alban Berg's Violin Concerto in 1935.[6][7] The composer wrote variations on the chorale in the final movement of the concerto which became his last finished work.[2] Otto Klemperer wrote in the newspaper Wiener Tag on 21 October 1936: "The second movement begins with the J. S. Bach chorale 'Es ist genug': 'It is enough! Lord, if it please Thee, my Jesus, come! World, good night. I go to the heavenly house, with a heart full of joy. My sorrows remain below.' The variations on this chorale, the sounds that emanate from the violin, that bring into being a completely new world for the instrument, the way in which at the conclusion the music seems to span the cosmos, from the lowest depths to the sublime heights".[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Es ist genug, so nimm, Herr, meinen Geist". hymnary.org. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Dümlin, Albrecht (19 April 2016). "Alban Bergs Violinkonzert / Die Uraufführung wird zum Requiem" (in German). Deutschlandfunk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Glass, Herbert. "Violin Concerto – About the piece". LA Phil. Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Es ist genug!". Sammlung christlicher Lieder für evangelische Gemeinen zur öffentlichen und stillen Erbauung. Graß. 1835. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  5. ^ Es ist genug! So nimm, Herr, meinen Geist. Gesangbuch zum gottesdienstlichen Gebrauche in den Stadtkirchen zu Leipzig (in German). 1844. pp. 413–414.
  6. ^ a b c d e Dürr, Alfred; Jones, Richard D. P. (2005). The Cantatas of J. S. Bach: With Their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-816707-5.
  7. ^ Violin Concerto (Berg, Alban): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)

External links[edit]