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Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, BWV 67

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Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ
BWV 67
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
Thomaskirche-1885.png
Thomaskirche, Leipzig
Occasion Sunday after Easter
Performed 16 April 1724 (1724-04-16): Leipzig
Movements 7
Cantata text anonymous
Bible text 2 Timothy 2:8
Chorale
Vocal
Instrumental
  • corno da tirarsi
  • flauto traverso
  • 2 oboes d'amore
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ (Keep Jesus Christ in mind),[1] BWV 67,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for Quasimodogeniti, the first Sunday after Easter, and first performed it on 16 April 1724.

Based on the prescribed gospel of the appearance of Jesus to the Disciples, first without then with Thomas, an unknown poet compares the situation of the doubtful Thomas to the Christian in general. He places Nikolaus Herman's Easter hymn "Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag" in the centre of the cantata, repeats the line "Friede sei mit euch" (Peace be with you) several times, and ends with the first stanza from Jakob Ebert's hymn "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ" (Thou Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ). Bach structured the work in seven movements, arranged in symmetry around the central chorale, and scored it for three solo voices, a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of a slide horn for hymn tunes, flauto traverso, two oboes d'amore, strings and basso continuo. Besides the unusual central chorale, the cantata contains a dramatic scenem with Jesus repeating "Peace be with you" against the enemies.

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in his first year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, shortly after he first performed his St John Passion, for the First Sunday after Easter, called Quasimodogeniti.[2] The prescribed readings for that Sunday were from the First Epistle of John, "our faith is the victory" (1 John 5:4–10), and from the Gospel of John, the appearance of Jesus to the Disciples, first without then with Thomas, in Jerusalem (John 20:19–31). The unknown poet begins with a verse from the Second Epistle to Timothy, "Remember that Jesus Christ … was raised from the dead" (2 Timothy 2:8).[3] The poet sees Thomas as similar to the doubtful Christian in general, whose heart is not at peace.[4] The center of the cantata is the Easter hymn "Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag" (The glorious day has appeared)[1] by Nikolaus Herman (1560), praising the day of the resurrection.[5] In contrast, movement 5 recalls the danger by the enemies, until in movement 6 Jesus appears, as he did to his disciples in Jerusalem, finally bringing peace. The line "Friede sei mit euch" (Peace be with you) is repeated four times, framing three stanzas of a poem. The closing chorale is the first stanza of "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ" (Thou Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ)[1] by Jakob Ebert (1601).[3][6]

Bach led the first performance on 16 April 1724.[3]

Structure and scoring[edit]

Bach structured the cantata in seven movements, arranged symmetrically around a central chorale. He scored the work for three vocal soloists (alto, tenor, bass), a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of corno da tirarsi (Ct, a slide horn that Bach scored for a short period), flauto traverso (Ft), two oboes d'amore (Oa), two violins (Vl), viola (Va), and basso continuo.[7][8]

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).[3] The continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.

Movements of Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, BWV 67
No. Title Text Type Vocal Winds Strings Key Time
1 Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ Timotheus 2:8 Chorus SATB Ft 2Oa 2Vl Va A major common time
2 Mein Jesus ist erstanden anon. Aria T Oa 2Vl Va E major common time
3 Mein Jesu, heißest du des Todes Gift anon. Recitative A common time
4 Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag Herman Chorale SATB Ct Ft 2Oa 2Vl Va
5 Doch scheinet fast anon Recitative A common time
6 Friede sei mit euch anon. Aria e Coro B SAT Ft 2Oa 2Vl Va A major 3/4
7 Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ Ebert Chorale SATB Ct Fl 2Oa 2Vl Va common time

Music[edit]

The opening chorus reflects the contrast of hope and resurrection versus simultaneous remembrance and doubt, which is present throughout the cantata. The chorus is structured in symmetry in seven sections,[9] beginning with an instrumental sinfonia of all instruments, the horn introducing a theme representing remembrance in a melody which resembles the choral tune of "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig" which Bach would later use as a cantus firmus in the opening movement of his St Matthew Passion. Bach thus alludes to the idea that Jesus suffered innocently for the "sins of the world" before he rose again. In the second section, this melody is sung by the sopranos, while the lower voices stress the word "Halt" (hold) by several homophonic chords. In the third section, the sopranos repeat the melody in a fugue, while the altos simultaneously sing a countersubject that rises in fast movement for more than an octave, illustrating the resurrection. The fourth section is a reprise of the sinfonia with the voices added, then a variation of sections 2 to 4 follows as 5 to 7.[3]

The tenor aria Mein Jesus ist erstanden (My Jesus is arisen)[1] is accompanied by an obbligato oboe d'amore. The theme is presented in the opening by the strings and later picked up by the voice, illustrating the word "auferstanden" by an upward run.[4]

The Easter hymn "Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag" [10] marks the center of the composition. In symmetry, it is framed by two alto recitatives, the second a reprise of the first.[9]

The idea of a solo singer alternating with a chorus is extended in the following movement, the bass aria with chorus Friede sei mit euch (Peace be with you). A string introduction depicts in agitated forte passages in 4/4 time the attack of the enemies. John Eliot Gardiner describes it as "a dramatic scena in which the strings work up a storm to illustrate the raging of the soul's enemies".[2] In sharp contrast the bass as the vox Christi (voice of Christ) sings the greeting of Jesus from verse 19 of the Gospel, "Peace be with you", three times, accompanied by woodwinds in dotted rhythm in 3/4 time, marked piano. Musicologist Julian Mincham describes the music as serene, a "gentle, rocking, almost cradle-like rhythm creating a perfect atmosphere of peaceful contemplation". The upper voices of the choir (without basses) answer to the music of the introduction, seeing Jesus as help in the battle ("hilft uns kämpfen und die Wut der Feinde dämpfen"). The greeting and answering is repeated two more times in two stanzas of the poem, reflecting the strengthening of the weary in spirit and body ("erquicket in uns Müden Geist und Leib zugleich"), and finally overcoming death ("durch den Tod hindurch zu dringen"). The following fourth appearance of "Peace be with you" is accompanied by both woodwinds and strings, and peace is finally achieved.[3][9] Klaus Hofmann describes the movement as an "operatic scene" and continues "Bach resorts to unconventional means; he shows himself as a musical dramatist and, in the process, stresses the element of contrast: he comments upon the words of the faithful with agitated, tumultuous string figures, whilst Jesus' peace greeting sounds calmly and majestically, embedded in pastoral wind sonorities."[4] Bach adapted this movement as the Gloria of his Missa in A major, BWV 234.[8]

The closing chorale "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ" is a four-part setting.[3][11]

Selected recordings[edit]

The table below is taken from the selection on the Bach-Cantatas website.[12] Performing groups are roughly marked as large by red background, while green background indicates vocal ensembles singing one voice per part (OVPP) and instrumental groups playing period instruments in historically informed performances.

Recordings of Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, BWV 67
Title Conductor / Choir / Orchestra Soloists Label Year Choir type Instr.
Historic Bach cantatas Straube, KarlKarl Straube
Thomanerchor
Gewandhausorchester
Bach Archiv Leipzig 1931 (1931) Boys Symphony
Bach: Cantatas No. 67 & 11, from cantata No. 147 Jacques, ReginaldReginald Jacques
The Cantata Singers
The Jacques Orchestra
Decca Ace of Clubs 1949 (1949)
Bach Made in Germany Vol. 1 – Cantatas IV Ramin, GüntherGünther Ramin
Thomanerchor
Gewandhausorchester
Eterna 1954 (1954) Boys Symphony
J. S. Bach: Cantatas BWV 67, 108 & 127 Richter, KarlKarl Richter
Münchener Bach-Chor
Münchener Bach-Orchester
Teldec 1958 (1958) Bach Bach
Les Grandes Cantates de J. S. Bach Vol. 7 Werner, FritzFritz Werner
Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn
Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra
Erato 1960 (1960) Chamber
Ansermet conducts Bach Cantatas No. 130, No. 67, excerpts from No. 101 Ansermet, ErnestErnest Ansermet
Chœur Pro Arte de Lausanne
L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Decca 1968 (1968) Chamber
J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk • Complete Cantatas • Les Cantates, Folge / Vol. 4 Leonhardt, GustavGustav Leonhardt
Leonhardt-Consort
Teldec 1976 (1976) Period
J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 7 Koopman, TonTon Koopman
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Antoine Marchand 1997 (1997) Period
Lecture Concerts – New Recordings Cantatas Rilling, HelmuthHelmuth Rilling
Gächinger Kantorei
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Hänssler 1998 (1998)
Bach Edition Vol. 19 – Cantatas Vol. 10 Leusink, Pieter JanPieter Jan Leusink
Holland Boys Choir
Netherlands Bach Collegium
Brilliant Classics 2000 (2000) Boys Period
Bach Cantatas Vol. 23: Arnstadt/Echternach / For the 1st Sunday after Easter (Quasimodogeniti) Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Soli Deo Gloria 2000 (2000) Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 18 – Cantatas from Leipzig 1724 – BWV 66, 67, 134 Suzuki, MasaakiMasaaki Suzuki
Bach Collegium Japan
BIS 2001 (2001) Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year Vol. 11 Kuijken, SigiswaldSigiswald Kuijken
La Petite Bande
Accent 2008 (2008) OVPP Period

Notes[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 67 - "Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b John Eliot Gardiner (2007). "Cantatas for the First Sunday after Easter (Quasimodogeniti) / Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Kirche, Arnstadt" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 5. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 251–253. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  4. ^ a b c Hofmann, Klaus Hofmann (2001). "Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ (Remember that Jesus Christ), BWV 67" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 7. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2003. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Bischof, Walter F. "BWV 67 Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ". University of Alberta. Retrieved 2 April 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Robins, Brian (2012). "Cantata No. 67, "Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ," BWV 67 (BC A62)". Allmusic. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 50 BWV 67 Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag". bach-cantatas.com. 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ". bach-cantatas.com. 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  12. ^ Oron, Aryeh. "Cantata BWV 67 Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ". Bach-Cantatas. Retrieved 2 April 2016. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]