Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, BWV 69a

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Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
Thomaskirche Interior.jpg
Thomaskirche, Leipzig
  • BWV 69a
  • BWV 69.1
Relatedbasis for BWV 69 (= BWV 69.2)
OccasionTwelfth Sunday after Trinity
Performed15 August 1723 (1723-08-15): Leipzig
VocalSATB choir and solo
  • 3 trumpets
  • timpani
  • 3 oboes
  • oboe da caccia
  • oboe d'amore
  • recorder
  • bassoon
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele (Praise the Lord, my soul),[1] BWV 69a, also BWV 69.1, [2] in Leipzig for the twelfth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 15 August 1723. It is part of his first cantata cycle.

History and words[edit]

Bach wrote the cantata in his first year in Leipzig, which he had started after Trinity of 1723, for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.[3] The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, the ministry of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:4–11), and from the Gospel of Mark, the healing of a deaf mute man (Mark 7:31–37). The unknown poet referred to the gospel, but saw in the healing more generally God constantly doing good for man. The opening chorus is therefore taken from Psalms 103:2, "Praise the Lord, my soul, and do not forget the good He has done for you". The poetry refers to "telling" several times, related to the healed man's ability to speak: "Ah, that I had a thousand tongues!"[1] (movement 2), "My soul, arise! tell"[1] (movement 3) and "My mouth is weak, my tongue mute to speak Your praise and honor"[1] (movement 4). Several movements rely on words of a cantata by Johann Oswald Knauer, published in 1720 in Gott-geheiligtes Singen und Spielen des Friedensteinischen Zions in Gotha.[4] The closing chorale picks up the theme in the sixth verse of Samuel Rodigast's hymn "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (What God does, is done well)[1] (1675).[3]

Bach first performed the cantata on 15 August 1723.[2] He performed it again around 1727, revised the instrumentation of an aria, and used it in his last years for a cantata for a Ratswahl ceremony, the inauguration of the town council at church, Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, BWV 69.2.[3]

Scoring and structure[edit]

To express the praise of the words, the cantata is festively scored for soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, a four-part choir, and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of three trumpets, timpani, three oboes, oboe da caccia, oboe d'amore, recorder, bassoon, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[3]

The cantata is in six movements:

  1. Chorus: Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele
  2. Recitative (soprano): Ach, daß ich tausend Zungen hätte!
  3. Aria (tenor): Meine Seele, auf, erzähle
  4. Recitative (alto): Gedenk ich nur zurück
  5. Aria (bass): Mein Erlöser und Erhalter
  6. Chorale: Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, darbei will ich verbleiben


Bach reflected the duality within the words of the psalm in the opening chorus by creating a double fugue. Both themes of the movement in D Major are handled separately first and then combined. In the first aria, a pastoral movement, the tenor is accompanied by oboe da caccia, recorder and bassoon.[5] In a later version around 1727 Bach changed the instrumentation to alto, oboe and violin, possibly because he did not have players at hand for the first woodwind setting. In the second aria the contrast of Leiden (suffering) and Freuden (joy) is expressed by chromatic, first down, then up, and vivid coloraturas. The closing chorale is the same as the one of Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12, of 1714, but for no apparent reason without the obbligato violin.[3]



  1. ^ a b c d e Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 69a – "Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b 0087 at Bach Digital website: Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele BWV 69.1; BWV 69a; BC A 123 / Sacred cantata (12th Sunday after Trinity)
  3. ^ a b c d e Dürr, Alfred; Jones, Richard D. P. (2006). The Cantatas of J. S. Bach: With Their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text. Oxford University Press. pp. 501–504. ISBN 978-0-19-929776-4.
  4. ^ Ambrose, Z. Philip. "BWV 69a Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele". University of Vermont. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  5. ^ Gardiner, John Eliot (2010). Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) / Cantatas Nos 33, 35, 69a, 77, 137 & 164 (Media notes). Soli Deo Gloria (at Hyperion Records website). Retrieved 15 August 2018.