Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch, BWV 86

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Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch
BWV 86
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
Occasion Rogate (fifth Sunday after Easter)
Performed 14 May 1724 (1724-05-14) – Leipzig
Movements 6
Cantata text anonymous
Bible text John 16:23
  • solo: alto, tenor and bass
  • SATB choir
  • 2 oboes d'amore
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch (Truly, truly I say to you), BWV 86,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for Rogate, the fifth Sunday after Easter, and first performed it on 14 May 1724.

History and words[edit]

Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig in his first annual cycle for the fifth Sunday after Easter, called Rogate. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle of James, "doers of the word, not only listeners" (James 1:22–27) and from the Gospel of John, from the farewell discourses of Jesus, prayers will be fulfilled (John 16:23–30). The theme of the cantata is a quotation from the gospel, beginning the cantata with the promise of Jesus "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give you". An unknown poet used as movement 3 the 16th stanza of Georg Grünwald (de)'s hymn "Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn" (1530), and as the closing chorale the eleventh stanza of "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" by Paul Speratus (1524). The poet hints at the question how the promise can be understood looking the reality of life. In movement 2 he uses the image of a rose with thorns to illustrate two conflicting aspects. In movements 3 and 4 he confirms the promise which has to be seen in the perspective of time. Movement 5 refers to the waiting for a promise being kept, and the closing chorale assures that God knows the right time.[1] The structure of the six movements – a gospel quotation in the beginning, chorales as movements 3 and 6, the sequence of recitative and arias – is similar to Wo gehest du hin? BWV 166, first performed one week earlier.

Bach first performed the cantata on 14 May 1724.[1]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata in six movements is scored for three vocal soloists (alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir only for the closing chorale, two oboes d'amore, two violins, viola and basso continuo. The cantus firmus of movement 3 is sung by a soprano.[1]

  1. Arioso (bass): Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch
  2. Aria (alto): Ich will doch wohl Rosen brechen
  3. Chorale (soprano): Und was der ewig gütig Gott
  4. Recitative (tenor): Gott macht es nicht gleichwie die Welt
  5. Aria (tenor): Gott hilft gewiß
  6. Chorale: Die Hoffnung wart' der rechten Zeit


The gospel quotation is given to the bass as the vox Christi, the voice of Jesus.[2] The instruments, strings probably doubled by oboe d'amore, introduce vocal motifs which the voice picks up. The bass sings the text three times, while the instruments continue playing the same motifs.[1] Julian Mincham observes: "The richness of the text, the unobtrusive nature of the melodic ideas and the gently flowing rhythms combine to create an appropriate atmosphere of dignified restraint".[3]

In movement 2, the alto is accompanied by the strings and a violin obbligato in virtuoso figuration, which may illustrate the heavenly light promised as the final fulfillment. In the chorale of movement 3, the unadorned cantus firmus in the soprano is embedded in a trio of the two oboes d'amore and the continuo. In movement 5, the last aria, a motif of five notes is first introduced by the violin and then picked up by the tenor on the words "Gott hilft gewiß" (God's help is sure).[4] The motif is repeated in the violin again and again. The closing chorale is set for four parts.[1]



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


  1. ^ a b c d e Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 274–276. ISBN 3-423-04080-7. 
  2. ^ Quinn, John (2008). "Bach: Cantatas Vol 25 / Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists". arkivmusic. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 54 BWV 86 Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 86 – "Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Ritter, Steven E. (2010). "Bach: Cantatas Bwv 108, 86, 11, 44 / Kuijken, Le Petite Band". arkivmusic. Retrieved 24 May 2011.