Ich freue mich in dir, BWV 133

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Ich freue mich in dir
BWV 133
Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach
Thomaskirche, Leipzig 1885
OccasionThird Day of Christmas
Performed27 December 1724 (1724-12-27): Leipzig
Cantata textanonymous
Chorale"Ich freue mich in dir
by Caspar Ziegler
VocalSATB choir and solo
  • cornett
  • 2 oboes d'amore
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Ich freue mich in dir (I rejoice in You),[1] BWV 133,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the Christmas cantata in Leipzig in 1724 for the Third Day of Christmas and first performed it on 27 December 1724. The chorale cantata is based on the 1697 hymn by Caspar Ziegler.

History and words[edit]

Bach wrote the chorale cantata in his second year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, as part of his second cantata cycle, for the Third Day of Christmas.[2] The prescribed readings for the feast day were from the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christ is higher than the angels, (Hebrews 1:1–14) and the prologue of the Gospel of John, also called Hymn to the Word (John 1:1–14). The cantata is based on the chorale in four stanzas Ich freue mich in dir (1697) by Caspar Ziegler.[3] It is one of the newest of the chorales which served as a base for the second annual cycle, whereas Bach otherwise preferred the beloved hymns of poets such as Martin Luther and Paul Gerhardt.[4] The unknown poet of the cantata text retained the first and the last stanza, and paraphrased the inner stanzas closely to a sequence of recitative and aria. The text has no reference to the readings nor to the feast of John the Evangelist. It expresses the intimate joy of the individual believer about the presence of God in the Jesus child.

Bach first performed the cantata on 27 December 1724.[2] Bach's successor Johann Friedrich Doles performed the cantata after Bach's death.[4]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in six movements is scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass), a four-part choir, cornett to double the chorale melody, two oboes d'amore, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[2]

  1. Chorus: Ich freue mich in dir
  2. Aria (alto): Getrost! es faßt ein heil'ger Leib
  3. Recitative (tenor): Ein Adam mag sich voller Schrecken
  4. Aria (soprano): Wie lieblich klingt es in den Ohren
  5. Recitative (bass): Wohlan, des Todes Furcht und Schmerz
  6. Chorale: Wohlan, so will ich mich


The chorale is sung on a variant of a melody of O Gott, du frommer Gott.[5] This melody was probably new to Bach who noted it in the score of the Sanctus, which he also composed for Christmas in 1724 and later made part of his Mass in B minor. The cornetto plays the cantus firmus with the soprano, the oboes play with violin II and viola, whereas violin 1 "shines above the rest". The lower voices are set mostly in homophony, with the exception of expressing "Der große Gottessohn" (the great son of God).[1] John Eliot Gardiner summarizes: "I find it hard to imagine music that conveys more persuasively the essence, the exuberance and the sheer exhilaration of Christmas than the opening chorus of BWV 133".[6]

While Bach's Weimar cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63, expressed a communal joy in two choral movements and two duets, a sequence of four movements for a single voice reflects the joy of the individual believer. The alto aria is accompanied by the two oboi d'amore, the soprano aria by the strings, changing from an even time in the outer sections to a siciliano in the middle section.[4] The tenor recitative is marked adagio twice, once to stress "Der allerhöchste Gotte kehrt selber bei uns ein" (Almighty God Himself here visits us),[1] finally to quote from the chorale in both words and music "Wird er ein kleines Kind und heißt mein Jesulein" (He has become a little child and is called my little Jesus).[1] The cantata is closed by a four-part setting of the last chorale stanza.[7]



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


  1. ^ a b c d Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 133 – Ich freue mich in dir". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 133–136. ISBN 3-423-04080-7.
  3. ^ "Ich freue mich in dir / Text and Translation of Chorale". Bach Cantatas Website. 2003. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Wolff, Christoph (2000). "Chorale Cantatas from the cycle of the Leipzig church cantatas, 1724–25 (III)" (PDF). Bach Cantatas Website. p. 8. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / O Gott, du frommer Gott". Bach Cantatas Website. 2003. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  6. ^ Gardiner, John Eliot (2006). "Cantatas for the Third Day of Christmas / St Bartholomew's, New York" (PDF). Bach Cantatas Website. p. 6. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  7. ^ Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 30 BWV 133 Ich freue mich in dir / I find my delight in thee". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 15 December 2011.