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Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht, BWV 105

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Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht, BWV 105


Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht (Lord, do not pass judgment on Your servant), BWV 105, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the ninth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 25 July 1723. It is a work of his first Leipzig cantata cycle.

History and text

Bach composed the cantata in his first year in Leipzig for the mammon of unrighteousness, for the friendship of Jesus alone; for by His death mankind's guilt was absolved, opening up the everlasting habitations.

Scoring and structure

The cantata is scored for four soloists, soprano, alto, tenor and bass, a four-part choir, corno, two oboes, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.

  • 1. Coro: Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht
  • 2. Recitative (alto): Mein Gott, verwirf ich nicht
  • 3. Aria (soprano, oboe and strings, without continuo): Wie zittern und wanken der Sünder Gedanken
  • 4. Recitative (bass, strings): Wohl aber dem, der seinen Bürgen weiß
  • 5. Aria (tenor, corno, strings): Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen
  • 6. Chorale: Nun, ich weiß, du wirst mir stillen

Characteristics

The cantata opens with a sombre harmonically complex orchestral prelude (adagio), with tortured chromatic modulations, suspended sevenths and a sighing, mournful motif in the violins and oboes. Similar chromaticism has been used elsewhere by Bach[1] to illustrate the crucifixion, for example for the Crucifixus section of the Credo in the Mass in B minor[2] and for the last stanza, "trug uns'rer Sünden schwere Bürd' wohl an dem Kreuze lange", in the choral prelude O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß, BWV 622.[3] The chorus enters independently in polyphonic motet style over this rich orchestral texture. This is followed by a measured permutation fugue (allegro), initially for only the concertante singers and continuo, but eventually taken up by the whole ripieno choir, doubled by the orchestra. The short but expressive alto recitative is followed by one of Bach's most original and striking arias, depicting in musical terms the anxiety and restless desperation of the sinner. Over a background of repeated tremolo notes in the upper strings, the obbligato oboe and then the soprano interweave two highly ornate but tortuous melodic lines, their melismas and disturbing dissonances representing the troubled soul. The mood becomes hopeful in the following accompanied bass recitative, leading to the ecstatic and animated concerto-like aria for tenor, corno and strings, with rapid passagework for the first violins. The tremolo string motif returns in the final chorale. With each successive stanza, the tremolo gradually becomes less rapid, echoing the calming of man after conciliation with his Maker and bringing to an end what the musicologist Alfred Dürr described as one of "the most sublime descriptions of the soul in baroque and Christian art".

Recordings

Notes

References

  • This essay analyses Bach's compositional methods by examining alterations in the autograph manuscript of BWV 105.

Sources

The first source is the score.

General sources are found for the Bach cantatas. Several databases provide additional information on each single cantata:

  • Cantata BWV 105 Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
  • Emmanuel Music
  • Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht history, scoring, Bach website (German)
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Alberta
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