"Art makes life, makes interest, makes importance"

March 18, 2012

Bach Cantatas (15): Wedding Cantatas (Mar 18)

Today is again a Sunday without cantatas, so we look at the Wedding Cantatas Bach wrote. There are five in all, but BWV 34a and BWV 120a have been partially lost (moreover, 120a was based on BWV 120, one of the town council cantatas). So after all, we have three full wedding cantatas:

  • Der Herr denket an uns, BWV 196, 1707–08

    1. Sinfonia
    2. Chor: Der Herr denket an uns und segnet uns. Er segnet das Haus Israel, er segnet das Haus Aaron.
    3. Arie Soprano: Er segnet, die den Herrn fürchten, beide, Kleine und Große.
    4. Arie (Duett) Tenor & Bass: Der Herr segne euch je mehr und mehr, euch und eure Kinder.
    5. Chor: Ihr seid die Gesegneten des Herrn, der Himmel und Erde gemacht hat. Amen.

    ("The Lord hath been mindful of us"). Early cantata in a simple and light vein. The occasion probably was the wedding of the minister Johann Lorenz Stauber with Regina Wedemann, who was the aunt of Bach’s wife Maria Barbara, which took place in Arnstadt in 1708. Stauber had been the clergyman who had married Bach and Maria Barbara in the preceding year. After a peaceful sinfonia follows a chorus in prelude-fugue style. The duet is very fresh and lively. Textually, the cantata asks for blessings on the house and children - suitable for a wedding cantata. The style is typical for Bach's early cantatas and harks back to the 17th century.  (***)

  • Dem Gerechten muss das Licht, BWV 195, 1748–49

    Chor: Dem Gerechten
    Rezitativ Bass: Dem Freudenlicht gerechter Frommen
    Arie Bass: Rühmet Gottes Güt und Treu
    Rezitativ Soprano: Wohlan, so knüpfet denn ein Band
    Chor: Wir kommen, deine Heiligkeit

    Choral: Nun danket all und bringet Ehr

    ("There is sprung up a light for the righteous"). As simple as the previous cantata was, so grand and festive is this one. It goes back to an earlier cantata written between 1727 and 1731. In the later version, Bach substituted just one chorale for the recitative, aria and chorus in the second part. We know that the cantata was used in 1741 for the wedding of Johanna Eleonora Schutz and Gottlob heinrich Pipping, who was a lawyer and burgomaster. It must have been a glorious occasion, where an elaborate orchestra was available. The cantata starts and finishes with festive choruses. There is only one aria, for bass, but the recitatives are also quite elaborate. And the aria is just wonderful - it has the character of a folk song. The second part of the cantata consists basically of a choral setting. (***)

  • Gott ist unsre Zuversicht, BWV 197, 1736/37 (partly based on 197a)

    Chor: Gott ist unsre Zuversicht
    Rezitativ Bass: Gott ist und bleibt der beste Sorger
    Arie Alto: Schläfert allen Sorgenkummer
    Rezitativ Bass: Drum folget Gott und seinem Triebe
    Choral: Du süße Lieb, schenk uns deine Gunst

    Arie Bass: O du angenehmes Paar
    Rezitativ Soprano: So wie es Gott mit dir
    Arie Soprano: Vergnügen und Lust
    Rezitativ Bass: Und dieser frohe Lebenslauf
    Choral: So wandelt froh auf Gottes Wegen

    ("God is our Hope and Strength"). Probably written for the wedding of persons of rank, although nothing is known about the occasion itself.  It is partly based on a lost Christmas cantata and shows some early experiments with the galant style. The cantata is quite elaborate, uses a large assembly of instruments and has a resounding Latin subheading "In diebus nuptiarum." The text is about God's providence and omnipotence. In Part 2 we also find an address to the wedded couple in terms of well-wishing. The vigorous, fugal opening chorus forms a resplendent movement of six minutes duration. There are three arias. The first for alto and oboe d'amore is a tenderly expressive exhortation to trust in God's guidance. In the second part, a lightly scored bass aria forms an intimate address to the wedded pair. The soprano aria has the character of a lullaby or even folk dance and is accompanied by violin and two part oboe d'amore.  (***)

(1) New Year's Day (2) New Year I (3) Epiphany (4) Epiphany I (5) Epiphany II (6) Epiphany III (7) Epiphany IV (8) Feast of Purification of Mary (9) Septuagesima (10) Sexagesima (11) Quinquagesima (Estomihi) (12) The Consecration of a New Organ (13) The Inauguration of the Town Council (14) Oculi (15) Wedding Cantatas (16) Feast of Annunciation (17) Palm Sunday (18) Easter Sunday (19) Easter Monday (20) Easter Tuesday (21) Easter I (Quasimodogeniti) (22) Easter II (23) Easter III (24) Easter IV (25) Easter V (26) Ascension Day (27) Ascension I (28) Pentecost Sunday (29) Pentecost Monday (30) Pentecost Tuesday (31) Trinity Sunday (32) Trinity I (33) Trinity II (34) Trinity III (35) St. John's Day (36) Trinity IV (37) Visitation (38) Trinity V (39) Trinity VI (40) Trinity VII (41) Trinity VIII (42) Trinity IX (43) Trinity X (44) Trinity XI (45) Trinity XII (46) Trinity XIII (47) Trinity XIV (48) Trinity XV (49) Trinity XVI (50) Trinity XVII (51) Trinity XVIII (52) Trinity XIX (53) Trinity XX (54) Trinity XXI (55) Trinity XXII (56) Trinity XXIII (57) Trinity XXIV (58) Trinity XXV-XXVII (59) Advent I-IV (60) Christmas Day (61) Second Day of Christmas (62) Third Day of Christmas (63) Sunday after Christmas