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, the author of the text
Related Missa in G major, BWV 236
Occasion 14th Sunday after Trinity
Performed 22 August 1726 (1726-08-22) – Leipzig
Movements 7 in two parts
Cantata text Ernst Ludwig
Chorale Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren
Vocal SATB choir and solo
  • 2 oboes
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich (He who offers thanks praises Me),[1] BWV 17,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it 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.

History and words[edit]

Bach wrote the cantata in 1726, his fourth year in Leipzig, for the fourteenth 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 the 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 "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]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata is scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir, two oboes, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[6] It is in two parts of three and four movements.[2]

Part I
  1. Chorus: Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich
  2. Recitative (alto): Es muss die ganze Welt ein stummer Zeuge werden
  3. Aria (soprano): Herr, deine Güte reicht so weit
Parte seconda
  1. Recitative (tenor): Einer aber unter ihnen, da er sahe
  2. Aria (tenor): Welch Übermaß der Güte schenkst du mir
  3. Recitative (bass): Sieh meinen Willen an
  4. Chorale: Wie sich ein Vater erbarmet


The opening chorus presents the verse from the psalm in two choral sections, preceded by an instrumental sinfonia. All recitatives are secco. In the first aria, 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]).[6]

The recitative beginning Part II is of narrative character and therefore given to the tenor voice, similar to the Evangelist in Bach's Passions. The second aria 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.[6] John Eliot Gardiner admires particularly the closing chorale 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.[7]

Selected recordings[edit]

The sortable table follows the selection on the Bach-Cantatas website.[8] Choirs and orchestras are roughly grouped:

  1. Large choirs (red background): Boys (choir of all male voices), Bach (choir dedicated to Bach's music, founded in the mid-20th century)
  2. Medium-size choirs
  3. One voice per part (green background): OVPP
  1. Large orchestras (red background): Bach (choir dedicated to Bach's music, founded in the mid-20th century)
  2. Chamber orchestra
  3. Orchestra on period instruments (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 Thamm, HansHans Thamm
Windsbacher Knabenchor
Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra
Cantate 1961 (1961) Boys Chamber
Bach: Sacred Cantatas, Vol. 1, BWV 1–14, 16–19 Harnoncourt, NikolausNikolaus Harnoncourt
Concentus Musicus Wien
Teldec 1972 (1972) Period
Bach Cantatas Vol. 4 – Sundays after Trinity I Richter, KarlKarl Richter
Münchener Bach-Chor
Münchener Bach-Orchester
Archiv Produktion 1977 (1977) Bach Bach
Die Bach Kantate Vol. 17 Rilling, HelmuthHelmuth Rilling
Gächinger Kantorei
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Hänssler 1982 (1982) Chamber
Bach Edition Vol. 8 – Cantatas Vol. 3 Leusink, Pieter JanPieter Jan Leusink
Holland Boys Choir
Netherlands Bach Collegium
Brilliant Classics 1999 (1999) Boys Period
Bach Cantatas Vol. 7: Ambronay / Bremen Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Soli Deo Gloria 2000 (2000) Period
J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 17 Koopman, TonTon Koopman
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Antoine Marchand 2002 (2002) Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year Vol. 5 Kuijken, SigiswaldSigiswald 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 Suzuki, MasaakiMasaaki Suzuki
Bach Collegium Japan
BIS 2009 (2009) Period


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


  1. ^ a b Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 17 – "Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich"". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 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.com. 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.com. pp. 7, 9. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Nun lob, mein' Seel', den Herren / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2008. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 24 BWV 17 Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Gardiner, John Eliot (2006). "Cantatas for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity / Abbaye d'Ambronay" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. p. 6. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Oron 2014.