Herr Gott, dich loben wir, BWV 16
|Herr Gott, dich loben wir
|Church cantata by J. S. Bach|
|Occasion||New Year's Day|
|Performed||1 January 1726Leipzig:|
|Cantata text||Georg Christian Lehms|
Herr Gott, dich loben wir (Lord God, we praise You), BWV 16,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for New Year's Day and first performed it on 1 January 1726 as part of his third cantata cycle. The beginning of the text is based on "Herr Gott, dich loben wir", Luther's German Te Deum,
History and words
Bach wrote the cantata in 1726, his third year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, for New Year's Day, which is also the feast of the circumcision and naming of Jesus. The prescribed readings for the feast day were taken from the Epistle to the Galatians, by faith we inherit (Galatians 3:23–29), and from the Gospel of Luke, the Circumcision and naming of Jesus (Luke 2:21). The cantata text is taken from a 1711 publication by Georg Christian Lehms, it centers on praise and thanksgiving without being related to the readings. The poet began with four lines from Martin Luther's German Te Deum, "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" (Lord God, we praise you). The following pair of recitative and aria deal with thanks for past gifts, while a further pair deal with a prayer for further blessings. The poet did not supply a closing chorale, but Bach chose the final stanza of Paul Eber's "Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen" (Help me to praise God's goodness) (c. 1580).
Bach first performed the cantata on 1 January 1726.
Scoring and structure
The cantata in six movements is scored for three vocal soloists (alto, tenor, and bass), a four-part choir, corno da caccia, two oboes, oboe da caccia, two violins, viola, violetta (alternative in a later performance) and basso continuo.
- Chorus: Herr Gott, dich loben wir
- Recitative (bass): So stimmen wir bei dieser frohen Zeit
- Aria (bass, tutti): Laßt uns jauchzen, laßt uns freuen
- Recitative (alto): Ach treuer Hort
- Aria (tenor): Geliebter Jesu, du allein
- Chorale: All solch dein Güt wir preisen
In the opening chorus the soprano and the horn present the liturgical melody of the Te Deum, whereas the lower voices move in vivid counterpoint, but also a fourth part of oboe I and violin I. The following secco recitative ends on the words "O, sollte darum nicht ein neues Lied erklingen und wir in heißer Liebe singen?" (O, should not therefore a new song be taken up and that we sing in heated love?). Consequently the following movement begins attacca (without a break) with the voices' "Laßt uns jauchzen, laßt uns freuen" (Let us celebrate, let us rejoice). This unusual movement combines elements of chorus and aria in a free da capo form. The first section is dominated by the chorus, the middle section by the bass. Musicologist Julian Mincham points out that it is "an unusual and imaginative combination of aria and chorus" and likens it to the interaction between a pastor and his flock. A second secco recitative leads to a tender aria which was accompanied by an obbligato oboe da caccia in 1726. In a later performance, likely in 1734, this was replaced by a "violetta", which can be a viola or a descant viola da gamba, according to Johann Gottfried Walther. The cantata closes with a four-part chorale.
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- Herr Gott, dich loben wir, BWV 16: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Herr Gott, dich loben wir BWV 16; BC A 23 / Sacred cantata (New Year/Circumcision) Leipzig University
- Cantata BWV 16 Herr Gott, dich loben wir history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
- Herr Gott, dich loben wir history, scoring, Bach website (in German)
- BWV 16 Herr Gott, dich loben wir English translation, University of Vermont
- BWV 16 Herr Gott, dich loben wir text, scoring, University of Alberta