Freue dich, erlöste Schar, BWV 30

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Representation of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the occasion celebrated by this cantata

Freue dich, erlöste Schar (Rejoice, redeemed flock), BWV 30,[a] is a church cantata composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the Feast of St. John the Baptist ("Fest Johannes des Täufers", also "Johannistag") and first performed it on 24 June 1738 or later.

History and text[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig for St. John's Day.[1] The prescribed readings for the feast day were from the Book of Isaiah, "the voice of a preacher in the desert" (Isaiah 40:1–5), and from the Gospel of Luke, the birth of John the Baptist and the Benedictus of Zechariah (Luke 1:57–80). The cantata was composed in Leipzig in or around 1738, based on a secular cantata, Angenehmes Wiederau, BWV 30a, composed in 1737 in Leipzig to celebrate the acquisition of the manor and estate at Wiederau by Johann Christian von Hennickes.[2][3][4]

Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander), the librettist of the secular cantata BWV 30a, has been proposed as the author of the libretto for the church cantata.[5] The text of the chorale movement is by Johann Olearius, from the third stanza of his 1671 hymn "Tröstet, tröstet meine Lieben".[6] The chorale theme is "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele".[2] The chorale melody was codified by Louis Bourgeois when setting the Geneva Psalm 42 in his collection of Pseaumes octante trios de David (Geneva, 1551).[citation needed] Bourgeois seems to have been influenced by the secular song "Ne l'oseray je dire" contained in the Manuscrit de Bayeux published around 1510.[citation needed]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The piece is scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), a four-part choir, three trumpets, timpani, two oboes, two flauti traversi, oboe d'amore, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[3]

The cantata is in twelve movements, divided in two parts, to be performed before and after the sermon:

Part I

  1. Chorus: Freue dich, erlöste Schar
  2. Recitative (bass): Wir haben Rast
  3. Aria (bass): Gelobet sei Gott, gelobet sein Name
  4. Recitative (alto): Der Herold kömmt und meldt den König an
  5. Aria (alto): Kommt, ihr angefochtnen Sünder
  6. Chorale: Eine Stimme lässt sich hören

Part II

  1. Recitative (bass): So bist du denn, mein Heil, bedacht
  2. Aria (bass): Ich will nun hassen
  3. Recitative (soprano): Und obwohl sonst der Unbestand
  4. Aria (soprano): Eilt, ihr Stunden, kommt herbei
  5. Recitative (tenor): Geduld, der angenehme Tag
  6. Chorus: Freue dich, geheilgte Schar


The opening chorus is in a major key and displays continuous dynamic musical movement. It adopts a syncopated introductory rhythm that later reappears in the alto aria. The form is between a da capo and a rondo: the A section appears in the middle of the B section. The movement also reverses expectations regarding introductions, beginning with a combined vocal and instrumental thematic statement before presenting it without voices.[7]

All of the recitatives in Part I are secco. The "dazzling and brilliant" bass aria of Part I is characterized by triplet figures and includes full string accompaniment in roulades.[2][7] It includes the same foundational motive as the alto aria, and is formally in modified ternary. The alto aria is remarkable for its binary-form ritornello and "blues-like" final cadence; structurally, the movement is a gavotte.[7] Craig Smith notes that "one can hardly think of another Bach aria that so profoundly illustrates a state of grace. The gentle dance rhythms are celestial and heavenly in their inexorable progress".[2] Part I concludes with the cantata's only chorale.[7]

Part II opens with the cantata's only recitativo accompagnato, for bass with oboes and continuo. This prepares a bass aria, which opens with an "aggressive 'scotch snap'" that repeats throughout the movement. A secco soprano recitative prepares a 9/8 soprano aria with chromatic bass, gigue rhythms, and an operatic style. The penultimate movement is a tenor recitative with "elongated phrases and weird chromatic harmonies", representing a tortured soul. The piece concludes with a repetition of the chorus on different text.[7]



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


  1. ^ Alfred Dürr (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). 1 (4th ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 558–560. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d Craig Smith. "Programme notes – BWV 30". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Cantata BWV 30". bach-cantatas. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Dorothea Schröder (2012). Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). CH Beck. p. 74. ISBN 978-3-406-62228-1. 
  5. ^ C. S. Terry and D. Litti (1917). "Bach's Cantata Libretti". Journal of the Royal Musical Association. 44 (1): 71–125. doi:10.1093/jrma/44.1.71. 
  6. ^ Melvin P. Unger (1996). Handbook to Bach's Sacred Cantata Texts. Scarecrow Press. p. 755. ISBN 978-1-4616-5905-1. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Julian Mincham. "Chapter 52 BWV 30". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Werner Neumann (1984) [1947]. Handbuch der Kantaten J.S. Bachs (in German) (5th ed.). Breitkopf & Härtel. ISBN 3-7651-0054-4. 
  • Hans-Joachim Schulze (2006). Die Bach-Kantaten: Einführungen zu sämtlichen Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs (in German) (Bach-Archiv Leipzig ed.). Carus-Verlag. ISBN 3-89948-073-2. 
  • Christoph Wolff and Ton Koopman (2006). Die Welt der Bach-Kantaten. Verlag J.B. Metzler. ISBN 978-3-476-02127-4.