Meine Seel erhebt den Herren, BWV 10
|Meine Seel erhebt den Herren|
|Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach|
|Performed||2 July 1724Leipzig:|
|Chorale||"Meine Seele erhebt den Herren" (German Magnificat)
by Martin Luther
|Vocal||SATB choir and solo|
Meine Seel erhebt den Herren (My soul magnifies the Lord), BWV 10,[a] is a cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach for use in a Lutheran service. He composed this chorale cantata in Leipzig in 1724 for the Marian feast of the Visitation which is celebrated on 2 July. The cantata is based in text and music on Martin Luther's German Magnificat, "Meine Seele erhebt den Herren". It is the fifth chorale cantata from his chorale cantata cycle, written to provide Sundays and feast days of the liturgical year with cantatas based on a related Lutheran hymn.
The prescribed gospel reading for the feast day was from the Gospel of Luke, which narrates Mary's visit to Elizabeth, including her song of praise known as the Magnificat. In the format of the chorale cantata cycle, only beginning and end of the text were retained unchanged, while an unknown librettist paraphrased the other verses, with the exception of verse 54 which he also kept in Luther's wording. Bach structured the cantata in seven movements, setting the outer movements for choir, based on the psalm tone of the German Magnificat. He set the other movements for soloists as recitatives, arias and a duet. Bach used a Baroque instrumental ensemble of a trumpet reinforcing the chorale melody, two oboes, strings and continuo. The music expresses the different moods of the text, illustrating God's force and compassion.
History and words
In 1723, Bach was appointed as Thomaskantor (director of church music) in Leipzig. He was employed by the town of Leipzig to this position, which made him responsible for the music at four churches and for the training and education of boys singing in the Thomanerchor. He took office in the middle of the liturgical year, on the first Sunday after Trinity. In Leipzig, cantata music was expected on most Sundays and on Feast days. In his first twelve months in office, Bach decided to compose new works for almost all of these liturgical events, known as his first cantata cycle. The year after, he continued that effort, composing chorale cantatas based on Lutheran hymns for these occasions, including Meine Seel erhebt den Herren.
Bach composed the cantata for the Marian feast "Mariae Heimsuchung" (Visitation) in Leipzig as the fifth cantata of his second annual cycle of chorale cantatas. Bach had composed a Latin Magnificat the previous year for Visitation.
The prescribed readings for the feast day were from the Book of Isaiah the prophecy of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:1–5), and from the Gospel of Luke the narration of Mary's visit to Elizabeth, which includes her canticle (song of praise), the Magnificat (Luke 1:39–56). The gospel is, as the Bach scholar Klaus Hofmann notes, a biblical episode that is often represented in art, and in music where it has become a traditional part of Vesper services. At Bach's time, the German Magnificat was regularly sung in Leipzig in vespers in a four-part setting of the ninth psalm tone (tonus peregrinus) by Johann Hermann Schein. Different from the other chorale cantatas of the cycle, the base for text and music is not a Lutheran chorale, but the German Magnificat. The text is Luther's translation of the biblical canticle to German as part of his translation of the Bible, concluded by doxology, which is traditionally added to psalms and canticles in vespers.
In the format of the chorale cantata cycle, an unknown librettist retained some parts of Luther's wording, while he paraphrased other passages for recitatives and arias. He used the original verses 46–48 for the first movement, verse 54 for the fifth movement, and the doxology for the seventh movement. He paraphrased verse 49 for the second movement, verses 50–51 for the third, verses 52–53 for the fourth and verse 55 for the sixth movement, the latter expanded by a reference to the birth of Jesus.
Bach's music is based on the traditional 9th psalm tone which was familiar to the Leipzig congregation. Bach first performed the cantata on 2 July 1724. He performed it at least once more in the 1740s.
Structure and scoring
Bach structured the cantata in seven movements. The first and last are set for choir, and are based on the chant melody. They frame recitatives, arias and a duet of the soloists. Bach scored the work for four vocal soloists (soprano (S), alto (A), tenor (T) and bass (B)), a four-part choir, and a Baroque instrumental ensemble: trumpet (Tr), two oboes (Ob), two violins (Vl), viola (Va), and basso continuo (Bc). The trumpet is only used to highlight the cantus firmus and may have been a tromba da tirarsi, a slide trumpet. The duration of the piece has been stated as 23 minutes.
In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe. The keys and time signatures are taken from the book by Bach scholar Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4). The instruments are shown separately for winds and strings, while the continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.
|1||Meine Seel erhebt den Herren||Luther||Chorale||SATB||Tr 2Ob||2Vl Va||G minor|
|2||Herr, der du stark und mächtig bist||anon.||Aria||S||2Ob (unis.)||2Vl Va||B-flat major|
|3||Des Höchsten Güt und Treu||anon.||Recitative||T|
|4||Gewaltige stößt Gott vom Stuhl||anon.||Aria||B||F major|
|5||Er denket der Barmherzigkeit||Luther||duet, chorale||A T||Tr 2ob||D minor||6/8|
|6||Was Gott den Vätern alter Zeiten||anon.||Recitative||T||2Vl Va|
|76||Lob und Preis sei Gott dem Vater||Luther||Chorale||SATB||Tr 2Ob||2Vl Va||G minor|
Bach begins the opening chorus with an instrumental introduction that is unrelated to the psalm tone, a trio of the violins and the continuo, the violins doubled by the oboes, the viola filling the harmony. The main motif of the chorale fantasia, marked vivace, stands for joy and is set in upward "rhythmical propulsion". The chorus enters after 12 measures with "Meine Seel erhebt den Herren" (My soul magnifies the Lord). The cantus firmus is in the soprano, doubled by a trumpet, whereas the lower voices add free polyphony on motifs from the introduction. Bach treats the second verse similarly, but with the cantus firmus in the alto, because the text "Denn er hat seine elende Magd angesehen" speaks of the "lowly handmaid". Certain words, such as "freuet" (rejoice) and "selig preisen" (call me blessed) are adorned with melismas. The movement is concluded by a vocal setting without cantus firmus embedded in the music of the introduction, framing the movement.
The soprano aria "Herr, der du stark und mächtig bist" (Lord, you who are strong and mighty) is a concerto of the voice and the oboes, accompanied by the strings. It is a da capo aria, expressing praise for God's works in the first section, while the more reticent middle section covers thankfulness for his help in times of distress. Hofmann notes that it is the first soprano aria in the chorale cantata cycle.
The recitative "Des Höchsten Güt und Treu" (The goodness and love of the Highest) ends on an arioso. The thought that God "also uses force with His arm" is expressed with emphasis, and the final "will be scattered like straw by His hand" is an extended coloratura.
The following aria "Gewaltige stößt Gott vom Stuhl" (The mighty God casts from their thrones) is set for bass and continuo. A descending bass line in the continuo over two octaves illustrates the fall, which the voice also suggests in descending phrases. The second aspect of the text, the exaltation of the humble is shown by rising figures, and the final emptiness ("bloß und leer", bare and empty) by pauses.
In movement 5 "Er denket der Barmherzigkeit" (He remembers his mercy) the text returns to the original German Magnificat, and the music to the psalm tone, played by oboes and trumpet as the cantus firmus, while alto and tenor sing in imitation. Hofmann interprets the bass line of "emphatic downward semitone intervals" as "sighs of divine mercy". The voices often sing in parallel thirds and sixths, as they do also in the corresponding movement from Bach's Latin Magnificat, the duet Et misericordia (And your compassion), in both cases expressing mildness and compassion. Bach later transcribed this movement for organ as one of the Schübler Chorales, BWV 648.
The recitative "Was Gott den Vätern alter Zeiten" (What God, in times past, to our forefathers), referring to God's promise, begins secco. Starting with the added words "Sein Same mußte sich so sehr wie Sand am Meer und Stern am Firmament ausbreiten, der Heiland ward geboren" (His seed must be scattered as plentifully as sand on the shore and as stars in the firmament, the Savior was born), the added strings emphasize the importance of the promise kept. Hofmann describes the string music as "lively, shimmering chords".
In the final movement, the two verses of the doxology are set on the psalm tone for four parts, with all instruments playing colla parte. All wind instruments and violin I support the soprano The setting is mostly mostly in homophony, but turns to polyphony for the final "von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit" (for ever and ever).
The selection is taken from the listing on the Bach-Cantatas website. Instrumental groups playing period instruments in historically informed performances are highlighted green under the header "Instr.".
|Title||Conductor / Choir / Orchestra||Soloists||Label||Year||Instr.|
|J. S. Bach: Cantatas BWV 10, BWV 47; Sanctus BWV 241||Steinitz, PaulPaul Steinitz London Bach Society English Chamber Orchestra||Oryx||1965|
|Les Grandes Cantates de J. S. Bach Vol. 1||Werner, FritzFritz Werner Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra||Erato||1965||Chamber|
|J. S. Bach: Cantata BWV 10, Magnificat BWV 243||Münchinger, KarlKarl Münchinger Wiener Akademiechor Stuttgarter Kammerorchester||Decca||1968||Chamber|
|J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk • Complete Cantatas • Les Cantates, Folge / Vol. 1||Leonhardt, GustavGustav Leonhardt Choir of King's College Leonhardt-Consort||Teldec||1971||Period|
|Bach Cantatas Vol. 3 – Ascension Day, Whitsun, Trinity||Richter, KarlKarl Richter Münchener Bach-Chor Münchener Bach-Orchester||Archiv Produktion||1975|
|Bach Made in Germany Vol. 4 – Cantatas II||Rotzsch, Hans-JoachimHans-Joachim Rotzsch Thomanerchor Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum||Eterna||1978|
|Die Bach Kantate Vol. 17||Rilling, HelmuthHelmuth Rilling Gächinger Kantorei Bach-Collegium Stuttgart||Hänssler||1979|
|J.S. Bach: Cantata BWV 10 – Magnificat BWV 243||Gielen, MichaelMichael Gielen Anton-Webern-Chor SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden||SWF||1991|
|J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 11||Koopman, TonTon Koopman Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir||Antoine Marchand||1999||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Magnificat BWV in E flat major 243a – Cantata BWV 10||Büchner, RolandRoland Büchner Regensburger Domspatzen Musica Florea||Pure Classics||2000||Period|
|Bach Edition Vol. 20 – Cantatas Vol. 11||Leusink, Pieter JanPieter Jan Leusink Holland Boys Choir Netherlands Bach Collegium||Brilliant Classics||2000||Period|
|Bach Cantatas Vol. 2: Paris/Zürich / For the 2nd Sunday after Trinity / For the 3rd Sunday after Trinity||Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner Monteverdi Choir English Baroque Soloists||Soli Deo Gloria||2000||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 23 (Cantatas from Leipzig 1725)||Suzuki, MasaakiMasaaki Suzuki Bach Collegium Japan||BIS||2002||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year Vol. 7||Kuijken, SigiswaldSigiswald Kuijken La Petite Bande||Accent||2007||Period|
- "BWV" is Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, a thematic catalogue of Bach's works.
- Dellal 2012.
- Hofmann 2003, p. 6.
- Dürr & Jones 2006, p. 32.
- Gardiner 2004.
- Dürr & Jones 2006, p. 678.
- Mincham 2010.
- Hofmann 2003, p. 8.
- Bach digital 2017.
- Dürr & Jones 2006, p. 676–678.
- Bischof 2010.
- Dürr & Jones 2006, p. 676.
- Dürr & Jones 2006, p. 679.
- Hofmann 2003, p. 7.
- Hofmann 2003, pp. 7–8.
- Oron 2014.
- "Meine Seel erhebt den Herren BWV 10; BC A 175 / Chorale cantata (The Visitation of Mary 2 July)". Bach digital website, managed by Bach Archive, SLUB, SBB and Leipzig University. 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- 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. 32, 676–679. ISBN 978-0-19-929776-4.
- Bischof, Walter F. (2010). "BWV 10 Meine Seel erhebt den Herren". University of Alberta. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- Dellal, Pamela (2012). "BWV 10 – Meine Seel erhebt den Herren". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
- Gardiner, John Eliot (2004). "Cantatas for the Second Sunday after Trinity / Basilique Saint-Denis, Paris" (PDF). Bach-Cantatas. pp. 2–4. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- Hofmann, Klaus (2003). "Meine Seel erhebt den Herren, BWV l0 / My soul doth magnify the Lord" (PDF). Bach-Cantatas. pp. 6–8. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 38 BWV 125, Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin / I depart in peace and joy.". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- Oron, Aryeh (2014). "Cantata BWV 10 Meine Seel erhebt den Herren". Bach-Cantatas. Retrieved 18 April 2017.