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Table of contents

For a Public Fast. D1 1The Preface p. For the Reformation Festival. See Spitta, iii. See also No. For the Inauguration of the Town Council5. Wir danken dir, Gott6. Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn8. Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille9. Ihr Pforten [Tore] zu Zion The score does not state the occasion for which the Cantata was composed. For the Opening of an Organ. The one hundred and eighty-four Cantatas that include Hymn stanzas or melodies fall into three groups. The largest, containing one hundred and eighteen Cantatas, includes those in which Bach introduces Chorals, almost invariably as the concluding movement2 , occasionally in the middle movements, very rarely in the opening movement3 , but always without permitting them to dominate the Cantata4.

The second, and smallest, group consists of twelve Cantatas which bear the name of a congregational Hymn, whose text and melody are introduced into their opening movements, but are not permitted to close the Cantata, and therefore do not leave a vivid impression of the Choral as the key to the whole composition1. Choral Cantatas, He was led to it by the inadequacy of the texts with which Picander provided him, and by the failure of his earlier experiments in building a Cantata upon a congregational Hymn.

The Choral Cantata united the best features of both forms. If the Hymn is too short, as for instance No. But whether the stanzas be reconstructed or extended, the spirit of the original Hymn is preserved, and in the case of reconstructed stanzas the actual words of the original text are preserved so far as is convenient.

As Spitta comments, the Choral Cantatas assume that the hearer held constantly in mind the Hymn in its original form. He had sung them times without number in church, had taken them as his guide in daily life, and had drawn consolation and edification from isolated verses under various experiences.

This was the audience to which Bach addressed himself, and such an audience do these compositions still require, for to such alone will they reveal all their meaning and fulness2. At Weimar he had been so fortunate as to find in Salomo Franck a man of his own temperament. Erdmann Neumeister also provided him with texts, though in lesser number.

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But almost from the moment of his arrival at Leipzig, he entered into a literary partnership with Christian Friedrich Henrici, or Picander2 , which lasted for twenty years. Yet Picander hardly can have satisfied Bach, though he accepted from him and set many texts which are wanting in taste and fine feeling. Picander began his literary career as a lampoonist, a form of expression for which he was better fitted.

Heinrich Schütz: Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt (Psalm 23)

It is probable that the texts of the Choral Cantatas also were arranged by Picander under similar conditions. It is to be assumed, therefore, that Bach originated the Choral Cantata, and guided it to its final form in the Cantatas of the post period. An examination of the earlier group of Choral Cantatas, while it reveals contrast, brings out their essential agreement with the later. The first and last movements are stanzas of the same Hymn, set to its proper or customary melody.

In every case the first movement is in the form of a Choral Fantasia. In every case the final movement is a simple Hymn setting, except in Nos. Of greater importance is the structure of the early Choral Cantata libretti.

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More than half eight are the unaltered text of a congregational Hymn: they are Nos. The text of four Cantatas consists partly of actual and partly of paraphrased Hymn stanzas: they are Nos. In two Cantatas movements are included which are neither actual nor paraphrased stanzas of the Hymn: they are Nos. In a single Cantata, No. As a whole, therefore, the early Choral Cantata group exhibits no uniform treatment of the Hymn libretto.

The composer is generally content with the actual text of the Hymn without attempting to mould it to a more plastic form. But Bach soon discovered that a uniform stanza, particularly a stanza lavishly rhymed, was not as appropriate to Recitativo and Aria as it was, for instance, to the Simple Choral and more elaborate Fantasia. Rhythmical uniformity impeded his musical utterance.

He therefore invented the paraphrase of the Hymn stanza, of which he had made trial already in Cantata No. Hence, the libretti of the later Choral Cantatas display a textual uniformity that is lacking in the earlier ones. Only two of them, Nos. In all the others the libretto is made up of actual and paraphrased Hymn stanzas. Twelve of the thirtynine Cantatas, however, contain paragraphs foreign to the original Hymn text. In No.


  • Bach's Chorals, vol. 2 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies.
  • ;
  • Night Crossing?

The Choral Cantatas of the post period, written for the most part, as Spitta shows1 , on paper having the same watermark, exhibit the final and perfected type of libretto. In all, the first and last movements are Choruses upon the words and melody of the Hymn. In all, the opening movement is a Choral Fantasia2.

In all but eight, the last movement is a Simple Choral—Nos. He does so only in Nos. The Choral forms which Bach employs in the Cantatas must now be considered. With the exceptions to which attention already has been drawn, the Choral Cantatas invariably are opened by a Chorus of this type. Like the first movement of the Concerto, the Choral Fantasia colours and defines the whole Cantata.

It is perfect and complete in itself, and yet a detail in an ordered whole. The Cantatas contain seventy-eight movements of the Choral Fantasia form2. They are as follows: Nos. With few exceptions all the foregoing are the opening movement of a Cantata. The exceptions are: No.

While a Choral Fantasia as a general rule begins a Cantata, a Simple Choral, almost invariably, brings it to a close. Only in three instances—Nos. It is remarkable that Bach generally preferred to bring his Cantatas to an end in a simple and unpretentious form. That he did so with the reverent purpose of rivetting a last impression of the Hymn in its most arresting form cannot be doubted. The following are the one hundred and thirty-four Simple Chorals in the Cantatas: Nos.

The Embellished Choral Closely related to the Simple Choral is the Embellished, or decorated Simple, form, of which there are thirty-five examples in the Cantatas: Nos. Excepting Nos. In form they are identical with the Simple Choral. They differ in that, while in the Simple Choral the orchestra merely doubles the voice parts, in the Embellished form certain instruments have independent parts, giving brilliance or adding an ornament to the final statement of the tune.

In Nos. D 3 he uses two Trumpets obbligati1. In a large number of cases a Simple Choral is strengthened by the addition of octaves in the Continuo. There are twentythree Chorals of this kind in the Cantatas: Nos. All of them are the final movements of a Cantata, or of the first Part of a Cantata, except Nos.

They number twenty-one, and are as follows, the voice to which the melody is given being stated in the bracket: Nos. In this group also must be included No. As Schweitzer points out2 , most of these Unison Chorals are exceedingly appropriate for use in liturgical services; the Soprano Chorals especially would be effective with instrumental or Organ accompaniment. The Aria Choral The term Aria, as Bach used it, connotes a song in rhythmical proportions for one or more voices. In the Cantatas the term is applied to movements for one, two, and three voices.

It will be convenient to set them out in three categories under the designations Solo, Duetto, Terzetto. There are three Solo Arias, Nos. In all of them only snatches of the Choral melody are introduced.