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Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich, BWV 17

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Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich
BWV 17
Church cantata by J. S. Bach
Ernst Ludwig, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, probably the author of the text
RelatedMissa in G major, BWV 236
Occasion14th Sunday after Trinity
Cantata textErnst Ludwig
Bible text
ChoraleNun lob, mein Seel, den Herren
Performed22 August 1726 (1726-08-22): Leipzig
Movementsseven in two parts
VocalSATB choir and solo
  • 2 oboes
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich (He who offers thanks praises Me),[1] BWV 17} in Leipzig for the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 22 September 1726.

In his fourth year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, Bach performed 18 cantatas composed by his relative Johann Ludwig Bach, a court musician in Meiningen. He then set some of the texts himself, including this cantata, written probably by Ernst Ludwig, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. They follow a pattern: seven movements are divided in two parts, both beginning with biblical quotations, Part I from the Old Testament, Part II from the New Testament.

The text is based on the prescribed gospel reading telling of Jesus cleansing ten lepers. It is opened by a verse from Psalm 50, quotes a key sentence from the gospel and is closed by a stanza from Johann Gramann's hymn "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren". The cantata, structured in two parts to be performed before and after the sermon, is modestly scored for four vocal soloists and choir (SATB), and a Baroque orchestra of two oboes, strings and continuo.

History and words[edit]

Bach wrote the cantata in 1726, his fourth year in Leipzig, for the 14th Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul's teaching on "works of the flesh" and "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16–24), and from the Gospel of Luke, Cleansing ten lepers. (Luke 17:11–19).[2]

That year, Bach presented 18 cantatas by his relative Johann Ludwig Bach who was court musician in Meiningen. Bach seems to have been impressed also by the texts of those cantatas and follows similar structures: seven movements, divided in two parts to be performed before and after the sermon, both parts opened by Bible words, Part I by a quotation from the Old Testament, Part II by one from the New Testament.[2][3] Bach composes some texts that his relative set before, including this cantata, which was written by Ernst Ludwig, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, according to Christoph Wolff. The cantata is regarded as part of Bach's third annual cycle.[4]

The poet derived from the gospel idea that thanks to God for his goodness are man's obligation.[2] A profound scholar of the Bible, he quotes for the opening chorus a verse from Psalm 50 (Psalms 50:23) and for the first recitative in Part II verses 15 and 16 from the gospel.[2] He alludes to the Bible several times, for example telling about God's creation by Psalms 19:5 in movement 2 and Psalms 36:6 in movement 3,[3] to Romans 14:17 in movement 6, "Lieb, Fried, Gerechtigkeit und Freud in deinem Geist" (Love, peace, righteousness and joy in Your spirit).[1][2] The closing chorale is the third stanza of the hymn "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren" (1525) by Johann Gramann (Poliander).[5]

Bach first performed the cantata on 22 September 1726.[2] He later used the opening movement for the movement Cum sancto Spritu in the Gloria of his Missa in G major, BWV 236.[3]


Structure and scoring[edit]

The cantata is structured in two parts, Part I of three movements to be performed before the sermon, Part II of four movements after the sermon. Bach scored it for four vocal soloists (soprano (S), alto (A), tenor (T) and bass (B)), a four-part choir SATB, and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of two oboes (Ob), two violins (Vl), two violas (Va) and basso continuo (Bc).[6][7] The title of the autograph score reads: "Domin. 14 post Trin. / Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich / a / 4 Voci / 2 Hautb. / 2 Viol. / Viola / e Contin. / di / J.S.Bach".[8]

In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe. The keys and time signatures are taken from Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4).

Movements of Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich, BWV 17, Part I
No. Title Text Type Vocal Winds Strings Key Time
1 Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich Psalms 50:23 Chorus 2Ob 2Vl Va A major
2 Es muss die ganze Welt ein stummer Zeuge werden Ernst Ludwig I Recitative A common time
3 Herr, deine Güte reicht so weit Ernst Ludwig I Aria S 2Vl E major

Movements of Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich, BWV 17, Part II
No. Title Text Type Vocal Winds Strings Key Time
4 Einer aber unter ihnen, da er sahe Luke 17:16 Recitative T common time
5 Welch Übermaß der Güte schenkst du mir Ernst Ludwig I Aria T 2Vl Va D major common time
6 Sieh meinen Willen an Ernst Ludwig I Recitative B common time
7 Wie sich ein Vater erbarmet Gramann Chorale SATB 2Ob 2Vl Va common time



The opening chorus presents the verse from the psalm, "Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich" (He who offers thanks praises Me),[1] in two choral sections, preceded by a long instrumental section.[7]


The first recitative is secco, as the two others: "Es muß die ganze Welt ein stummer Zeuge werden" (The entire world must be a silent witness).[1][7]


In the first aria, "Herr, deine Güte reicht, so weit der Himmel ist" (Lord, your goodness reaches as wide as Heaven),[1] soprano and two obbligato violins illustrate in raising lines the text "so weit die Wolken gehen" (as far as the clouds soar), adding extended coloraturas on "preisen" (praise) and "weisen" (indicate [the way]).[7]


The recitative beginning Part II, "Einer aber unter ihnen, da er sahe, daß er gesund worden war" (One, however, among them, when he saw that he was cured),[1] is of narrative character and therefore given to the tenor voice, similar to the Evangelist in Bach's Passions.[9]


The second aria, "Welch Übermaß der Güte" (What an abundance of goodness),[1] is accompanied by the strings. Both arias share a structure of three vocal sections, avoiding a vocal da capo, but combining the last section with the ritornello, thus achieving a unity of the movement.[7]


The last recitative, "Sieh meinen Willen an" (Look on my will), is sung by the bass. It is accompanied by the continuo alone and expands on the theme of giving thanks to God.[1][7]


John Eliot Gardiner admires particularly the closing chorale, "Wie sich ein Vater erbarmet" (As a father has mercy),[1] for its "wonderful word-painting for the 'flower and fallen leaves' and 'the wind [which] only has to pass over'". He compares it to the central movement of the motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225.[9]


The sortable table follows the selection on the Bach Cantatas Website.[10] Ensembles singing one voice per part (OVPP) and playing period instruments are marked by green background.

Recordings of Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich, BWV 17
Title Conductor / Choir / Orchestra Soloists Label Year Choir type Orch. type
J. S. Bach: Kantaten BWV 110, BWV 17 Hans Thamm
Windsbacher Knabenchor
Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra
Cantate 1961 (1961) Chamber
Bach: Sacred Cantatas, Vol. 1, BWV 1–14, 16–19 Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Concentus Musicus Wien
Teldec 1972 (1972) Period
Bach Cantatas Vol. 4 – Sundays after Trinity I Karl Richter
Münchener Bach-Chor
Münchener Bach-Orchester
Archiv Produktion 1977 (1977)
Die Bach Kantate Vol. 17 Helmuth Rilling
Gächinger Kantorei
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Hänssler 1982 (1982) Chamber
Bach Edition Vol. 8 – Cantatas Vol. 3 Pieter Jan Leusink
Holland Boys Choir
Netherlands Bach Collegium
Brilliant Classics 1999 (1999) Period
Bach Cantatas Vol. 7: Ambronay / Bremen John Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Soli Deo Gloria 2000 (2000) Period
J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 17 Ton Koopman
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Antoine Marchand 2002 (2002) Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year Vol. 5 Sigiswald Kuijken
La Petite Bande
Challenge Classics 2006 (2006) OVPP Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 46 – Cantatas from Leipzig 1723 / IV – BWV 46, 95, 136, 138 Masaaki Suzuki
Bach Collegium Japan
BIS 2009 (2009) Period


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 17 – "Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). Vol. 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 437–439. ISBN 3-423-04080-7.
  3. ^ a b c Hofmann, Klaus (1998). "Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich, BWV 17 / Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me" (PDF). Bach Cantatas Website. pp. 6, 8. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  4. ^ Wolff, Christoph (1998). "Bach's Third Yearly Cycle of Cantatas from Leipzig (1725–1727), II" (PDF). Bach Cantatas Website. pp. 7, 9. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren / Text and Translation of Chorale". Bach Cantatas Website. 2008. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  6. ^ Bischof, Walter F. "BWV 17 Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich". University of Alberta. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 24 BWV 17 Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich". Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  8. ^ Grob, Jochen (2014). "BWV 17 / BC A 131" (in German). Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  9. ^ a b Gardiner, John Eliot (2006). Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) / Cantatas Nos 17, 19, 25, 50, 78, 130 & 149 (Media notes). Soli Deo Gloria (at Hyperion Records website). Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  10. ^ Oron, Aryeh. "Cantata BWV BWV 17 Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 30 August 2015.