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Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe, BWV 25

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Title: Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe, BWV 25  
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Subject: Psalms, List of Bach cantatas by liturgical function, Monteverdi Choir, St Mark Passion (Bach)
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Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe, BWV 25

Template:Infobox Bach composition

Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe (There is no soundness in my body), BWV 25, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the 14th Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 29 August 1723.

History and words

Bach composed the cantata in 1723 in his first year as Thomaskantor 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). According to Christoph Wolff, the cantata text was written by Johann Jacob Rambach and published in 1720 in Halle in Geistliche Poesien.[1] The poet relates to the Gospel and compares the situation of man in general to that of the lepers. The sickness is first expressed in words from Psalm 38, Psalms 38:4.[2] As Julian Mincham observes, "sin, decay, God’s fury and the rotting of bones permeate much Lutheran theology in general and this opening chorus in particular".[3] At the end of movement 3 Jesus is asked to heal. The last aria expressed the hope to sing thanks for it in the choir of the angels.[2] The cantata is closed by the 12th and final stanza of Johann Heermann's hymn "Treuer Gott, ich muss dir klagen" (1630).[4]

Bach first performed the cantata on 29 August 1723.[2]

Scoring and structure

The cantata is scored for three soloists, soprano, tenor and bass soloists, four part choir, and a colourful orchestra of cornetto, three trombones, three recorders, two oboes, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[2]

  1. Chor: Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe
  2. Recitativo (tenor): Die ganze Welt ist nur ein Hospital
  3. Aria (bass): Ach, wo hol ich Armer Rat?
  4. Recitativo (soprano): O Jesu, lieber Meister
  5. Aria (soprano): Öffne meinen schlechten Liedern
  6. Choral: Ich will alle meine Tage


Similar to Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben, BWV 77, composed a week before, Bach creates the opening chorus as a chorale fantasia on a complete instrumental quotation of a chorale tune.[3] The melody is known as "Herzlich tut mich verlangen nach meinem selgen End". But probably Bach had in mind the words of "Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder" which he used later in his chorale cantata Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder, BWV 135, a paraphrase of Psalm 6 which begins in stanza 2 "Heil du mich, lieber Herre, denn ich bin krank und schwach" (Heal me, dear Lord, because I am sick and weak). In a complex structure, Bach combines an instrumental introduction with the chorale tune in long notes in the continuo with figuration of strings and oboes, a choral double fugue, and the presentation of the choral by a choir of trombones with the cornetto as the soprano instrument, reinforced by three recorders which play an octave higher.[2][3] John Eliot Gardiner regards the unusual use of the trombones, playing the chorale tune independent of the voices, as an "anticipation of the finale to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony".[5]

The following three movements are all only accompanied by the continuo. A new perspective is opened in movement 5 in dance music for a concerto of strings and oboes, echoed by the recorders. The music relates to the text "im höhern Chor werde mit den Engeln singen" (in the exalted choir I shall sing with the angels). The closing chorale is set for four parts.[2]

Selected recordings

Additional recordings are listed on the bach-cantatas entry of the cantata.



The first source is the score.

Several data bases provide additional information on each cantata:

  • Cantata BWV 25 Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
  • Emmanuel Music
  • Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe history, scoring, Bach website (German)
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Alberta
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