Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem, BWV 159

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem
BWV 159
Leipzig Nikolaikirche um 1850.jpg
Performed27 February 1729 (1729-02-27)?: Leipzig
Cantata text
  • oboe
  • bassoon
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem (Behold, let us go up to Jerusalem),[1] BWV 159,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the Sunday Estomihi, the last Sunday before Lent, and probably first performed it on 27 February 1729.

History and words[edit]

Bach wrote the cantata in Leipzig for Estomihi (Quinquagesima), the last Sunday before Lent, a period when Leipzig observed tempus clausum and no cantatas were performed. In 1723 Bach had performed two cantatas on the Sunday, Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn, BWV 23, composed earlier in Köthen, and Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe, BWV 22, audition pieces to apply for the post of Thomaskantor in Leipzig.[2] In 1729 the cantata was the last one performed on a Sunday before the St Matthew Passion on Good Friday of that year. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were taken from the First Epistle to the Corinthians, "praise of love" (1 Corinthians 13:1–13), and from the Gospel of Luke, healing the blind near Jericho (Luke 18:31–43). The gospel includes Jesus announcing his suffering in Jerusalem. Whereas Bach's former cantatas also considered the healing, this work concentrates on the view of the Passion.

The text was written by Picander, who also wrote the text for the St Matthew Passion, and was published in his Jahrgang of 1728, therefore a first performance in 1729 seems likely. The poet concentrates on the announcement of suffering, which is regarded as tremendous (movement 1), as an example to follow (2), as a reason to say farewell to earthly pleasures (3), finally as a reason to give thanks (4, 5).[3] In movement 2 the poet comments the recitative by stanza 6 of Paul Gerhardt's hymn "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden", which appears in the St Matthew Passion in this and four other stanzas. The beginning of movement 4, "Es ist vollbracht" ("It is finished" or "It is fulfilled", (John 19:30), appears literally in the Gospel of John as one of the Sayings of Jesus on the cross, and is foreshadowed in the Sunday's Gospel (Luke 18:31).[2] Bach's St John Passion contains an alto aria on these words, as a summary immediately after the death of Jesus.[4] The closing chorale is the last of 33 stanzas of Paul Stockmann's "Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod" (1633).[3]

Bach probably first performed the cantata on 27 February 1729.

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in five movements is scored for alto, tenor, and bass soloists, a four-part choir only for the chorale, oboe, two violins, viola and basso continuo including bassoon. The chorale in movement 2 can be sung by a soprano soloist or the choir soprano.[3]

  1. Arioso and recitative (bass, alto): Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem – Komm, schaue doch, mein Sinn
  2. Aria and chorale (alto, soprano): Ich folge dir nach – Ich will hier bei dir stehen
  3. Recitative (tenor): Nun will ich mich, mein Jesu
  4. Aria (bass): Es ist vollbracht
  5. Chorale: Jesu, deine Passion ist mir lauter Freude


Movement 1 is a dialogue of Jesus and the Soul. The Soul is sung by the alto, Jesus by the bass as the vox Christi (voice of Christ). Bach achieves dramatic contrast, setting the words of Jesus as an arioso, accompanied by the continuo, the Soul's answers as a recitativo accompagnato, accompanied by the strings. The instrumentation is opposite to the treatment in the St Matthew Passion, where the words of Jesus are accompanied by the "halo" of a string quartet. The word Sehet (literally: see!) is expressed in a long melisma, the move toward Jerusalem in an upward scale. The text is repeated several times, accenting different words to present different aspects of its meaning. In movement 2, the expressive melodic lines of the alto are commented by the chorale on the melody of "Befiehl du deine Wege". The cantata culminates in movement 4, the vox Christi reflecting the completion of the Passion, "Es ist vollbracht". The oboe introduces a meditative motifs which the bass picks up, both resting on sustained strings.[5] The middle section illustrates the words "Nun will ich eilen" ("Now I will hasten")[1] in runs of the voice, oboe and violin.[6] A quasi da capo resumes the first motif on the words "Welt, gute Nacht" ("World, good night").[1] The closing chorale is a four-part setting.[3]

Selected recordings[edit]


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


  1. ^ a b c Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 159 – Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b Vernier, David. "Jesu, Deine Passion – Bach: Cantatas Bwv 22, 23, 127 & 159 / Herreweghe, Mields, White, Et Al". Retrieved 1 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 223–225. ISBN 3-423-04080-7.
  4. ^ Smith, David. "Bach Cantata BWV 159 "Sehet! Wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem"". Retrieved 1 March 2011.
  5. ^ Eriksson, Erik (2011). "Cantata No. 159, "Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem," BWV 159". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
  6. ^ Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 41 BWV 159 Sehet! wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem". Retrieved 19 February 2011.


External links[edit]