List of motets by Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
It is uncertain how many motets Johann Sebastian Bach composed, because some have been lost, and there are some doubtful attributions among the surviving ones associated with him. There are six authenticated motets catalogued BWV 225–230. BWV 228 appears to have been written at Weimar, between 1708 and 1717, and the other five in Leipzig, between 1723 and 1727. A seventh motet, Ich lasse dich nicht, BWV Anh. 159, which was formerly attributed to Bach's older cousin Johann Christoph Bach, appears to be one of Bach's earlier works, possibly composed during the Weimar period.
Several of the motets were written for funerals. There is some uncertainty as to the extent that motets would have been called for in normal church services - there is evidence that it was considered an archaic form. The text of Jauchzet dem Herrn, alle Welt, BWV Anh. 160 (whether or not the piece is attributable to Bach) suggests a performance at Christmas. Another possible use is the suggestion of the scholar Christoph Wolff that some of the choral writing in the motets for example Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, would have been useful for training Bach's young singers.
Bach's motets are his only vocal works that kept repertoire without interruption between his death in 1750 and the 19th-century Bach Revival. In the early 19th century six motets (BWV 225, 228, Anh. 159, 229, 227, 226) were among Bach's first printed music, after the second half of the 18th century when the only vocal music by Bach that was printed were collections of his four-part chorales.
- Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (Sing unto the Lord a new song), BWV 225, is a motet in B-flat major scored for two four-part choirs (SATB) which was first performed in Leipzig around 1727. This motet uses Psalm 149:1–3 for its first movement, the third stanza of "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren" (a 1530 hymn after Psalm 103 by Johann Gramann) for the second movement, and Psalm 150:2 and 6 for its third movement.
- Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf (The Spirit gives aid to our weakness), BWV 226, a motet in B-flat major scored for two four-part choirs, was performed in Leipzig in 1729 for the funeral of Johann Heinrich Ernesti. The text is taken from the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 8:26–27) and Martin Luther's third stanza to the hymn "Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott" (1524).
- Jesu, meine Freude (Jesus, my joy), BWV 227, is a motet in E minor for five vocal parts. It has been suggested that it was composed in 1723 for the funeral of Johanna Maria Käsin, the wife of the Leipzig postmaster. It takes its title from the hymn "Jesu, meine Freude" by Johann Franck on which it is based. The stanzas of the chorale are interspersed with passages from the Epistle to the Romans. The chorale melody on which several movements are based was by Johann Crüger (1653). The German text is by Johann Franck, and dates from c. 1650.
- Fürchte dich nicht (Do not fear), BWV 228, is a motet in A major for a funeral, set for double chorus and unspecified instruments playing colla parte. The work in two movements draws its text from the Book of Isaiah and a hymn by Paul Gerhardt. Traditionally, scholars believed that Bach composed it in Leipzig in 1726, while more recent scholarship suggests for stylistic reasons that it was already composed during Bach's Weimar period. It has been compared to another motet for double choir Ich lasse dich nicht, BWV Anh. 159, which is possibly by Bach.
- Komm, Jesu, komm (Come, Jesus, come), BWV 229, is a motet in G minor composed in Leipzig, which received its first performance by 1731–1732.
- Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden (Praise the Lord, all ye heathen), BWV 230, is a motet in C major scored for four voices, which draws its text from Psalm 117:1–2. Although some scholars have expressed doubts about the attribution to Bach, the work is generally regarded as a surviving motet by Bach.
BWV 28/2a (231) and 118
- Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren, originally BWV 231, later renumbered to BWV 28/2a, is the second movement of the motet Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt presented as a separate motet. Whether Bach extracted this motet (which is based on the second movement of the cantata BWV 28) from the three-movement motet or the cantata, and/or used it as a separate motet is not known.
- O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, BWV 118: originally listed as a cantata, in BWV2a listed as a (funeral) motet.
BWV Anh. 159–165
- Ich lasse dich nicht (I will not let you go [unless you bless me]), BWV Anh. 159, is a motet in F minor scored for double chorus, SATB—SATB and unspecified instruments playing colla parte. The motet, which was formerly attributed to Bach's older cousin Johann Christoph Bach, appears to be one of Bach's earlier works, possibly composed during his Weimar period around 1712. Consequently, the motet was moved from BWV Anh. III (spurious works) to BWV Anh. II (doubtful works) in BWV2a. The final chorale of the motet is an adaptation of BWV 421, but that may also be a later addition to the motet. It draws its text from a verse taken from the Book of Genesis, from the scene of Jacob's Ladder (Genesis 32:27), combined with the third stanza of the hymn "Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz" by Erasmus Alberus.
- Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt, BWV Anh. 160 (=TWV 8:10) is a three-movement pasticcio motet for SATB—SATB attributed to, among others, Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann. All that is certain regarding Bach's participation in the work is that its second movement derives from the second movement of Bach's cantata BWV 28.
- Motet movement Kündlich groß ist das gottselige Geheimnis, BWV Anh. 161, in D major for SATB, strings(?) and continuo, by Graun (possibly Carl Heinrich Graun), precedes laudes A and B of Bach's Magnificat in a three-movement Christmas motet pasticcio.
- Lob und Ehre und Weisheit und Dank, BWV Anh. 162, for SATB—SATB, by Georg Gottfried Wagner.
- Merk auf, mein Herz, und sieh dorthin, BWV Anh. 163, for SATB—SATB, by Johann Bernhard or Johann Ernst Bach.
- Nun danket alle Gott, BWV Anh. 164, for SSATB, by Johann Christoph Altnickol, Bach's son-in-law.
- Unser Wandel ist im Himmel, BWV Anh. 165, for SATB, after movements 2, 4 and 6 of cantata Mein Odem ist schwach, BWV 222, by Johann Ernst Bach.
- Der Gerechte kommt um, BWV deest, a chorale from a pasticcio passion oratorio, is a parody of the motet Tristis est anima mea which was likely composed by Johann Kuhnau. The arrangement is possibly Bach's, and possibly Bach used it as a separate (funeral) motet.
- Wolff, Christoph. Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician, p. 249 (W. W. Norton & Company 2001).
- Spitta, Philipp (1899). Johann Sebastian Bach: His Work and Influence on the Music of Germany, 1685–1750 (Volume 2). London: Novello & Co., p. 611
- Leipzig Breitkopf und Härtel (1802/1803) Folio at www
- OCLC 18856743 at www
- Forkel, Johann Nikolaus, translated by Charles Sanford Terry (1920). Johann Sebastian Bach: His Life, Art, and Work. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe; London: Constable, p. xvii
- BWV2a p. 228
- Gardiner, John Eliot. "Bach Motets" (PDF). Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- Melamed 1995 pp. 89–97
- Bach Digital Work 0036 at www
- Boyd, Malcolm (1999). Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 245. ISBN 0-19-866208-4.
- BWV2a p. 233
- Bach Digital Work 0143 at www
- BWV2a p. 459
- Bach Digital Work 1470 at www
- Bach Digital Work 1471 at www
- Bach Digital Work 1472 at www
- Georg Gottfried Wagner: Motet Lob und Ehre und Weisheit, BWV Anh 162 at www
- Bach Digital Work 1473 at www
- BR Bruxelles Ms. II 3902 Mus. at www
- Bach Digital Work 1474 at www
- HLB Darmstadt, Mus. ms. 521/1 and HLB Darmstadt, Mus. ms. 521/2–6 at www
- Bach Digital Work 1475 at www
- HLB Darmstadt, Mus. ms. 528 at www
- Bach Digital Work 1476 at www
- Bach Digital Work 1532 at www
- Melamed 1995 pp. 148–149
- BWV2a: Alfred Dürr, Yoshitake Kobayashi (eds.), Kirsten Beißwenger. Bach Werke Verzeichnis: Kleine Ausgabe, nach der von Wolfgang Schmieder vorgelegten 2. Ausgabe. Preface in English and German. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998. ISBN 3765102490 - ISBN 978-3765102493
- Melamed, Daniel R. (1995). J.S. Bach and the German Motet. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-52-141864-X.
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