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Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169

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Subject: Did you know nominations/Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169, Geist und Seele wird verwirret, BWV 35, Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54, Church cantata (Bach), Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist
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Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169

Gott soll allein mein Herze haben
BWV 169
Solo church cantata by J. S. Bach
Thomaskirche, Leipzig
Occasion 18th Sunday after Trinity
Performed 20 October 1726 (1726-10-20) – Leipzig
Movements 7
Cantata text anonymous
Chorale Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist

Gott soll allein mein Herze haben (God alone shall have my heart),[1] BWV 169,[1] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the cantata for an alto soloist in Leipzig for the 18th Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 20 October 1726.


  • History and words 1
  • Scoring and structure 2
  • Music 3
  • Selected recordings 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Sources 7

History and words

Bach wrote the cantata in his fourth year Bach in Leipzig for the 18th Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul's thanks for grace of God in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 1:4–8), and from the Gospel of Matthew, the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34–46).

The unknown author of the text concentrated on the love of God in movements 2 to 5 and added one movement about the love of your neighbour in movement 6, continued in the concluding chorale, the third stanza of Martin Luther's "Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist". The poet connected the first recitative to the following aria by starting the two thoughts in the recitative by a related line from the aria as a motto, and ending both with the a recapitulation of the first line. The second recitative is a paraphrase of 2 Kings 2:1, Elijah lifted to heaven. The second aria is a paraphrase of 1 John 2:15–16, which sets the love of God apart from the love of the world.[2]

The only other extant cantata for the Sunday is the chorale cantata


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d e f g
  3. ^ a b c d e
  4. ^ a b c d
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^


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


As a solo cantata, the work has attracted many conductors and singers who are not specialists in Baroque music to record it. Conductors have included Rudolf Barshai and Ludwig Güttler and singers Birgit Finnilä, Jadwiga Rappé and Monica Groop. Andreas Scholl recorded it in 2010 with Julia Schröder leading as concertmaster the Kammerorchester Basel with Junko Takamaya, Michael Feyfar and Raitis Grigalis singing the chorale.[6][7]

Selected recordings

After the love of God has been expanded in great detail in five movements, the commandment to also love one's neighbour is expressed in a short recitative, leading to the chorale, which asks the Holy Spirit to assist in doing so, "so that we might love each other from our hearts and remain of one mind in peace".[2]

As in a number of other works, Bach reused some of his earlier works. The first movement, a Agnus Dei from Bach's Mass in B minor'.[3] The text marks a farewell to love in the world: "Stirb in mir, Welt und alle deine Liebe" (Die in me, world and all your love).[1] The music of the aria, marked "Siciliano" as the slow movement of the harpsichord concerto, has been regarded as a "farewell to worldly life",[4] in "a mood of heart-stopping intensity",[3] also as a mystic contemplation of a heavenly love.[2] The aria has been compared in character to the aria of the repenting Peter "Erbarme dich" from Bach's St Matthew Passion.[5]


  1. Sinfonia
  2. Arioso: Gott soll allein mein Herze haben
  3. Aria: Gott soll allein mein Herze haben
  4. Recitative: Was ist die Liebe Gottes
  5. Aria: Stirb in mir, Welt, und alle deine Liebe
  6. Recitative: Doch meint es auch dabei
  7. Chorale: Du süße Liebe, schenk uns deine Gunst

The cantata in seven movements is scored for alto, a obbligato and basso continuo.[2]

Scoring and structure

Bach first performed the cantata on 20 October 1726. It is regarded as part of his third annual cycle of cantatas.[2]

[4], also concluded by a chorale. It is not known if Bach looked for texts suitable for a solo voice, or if texts were "clerically imposed on him", which stressed individual piety and therefore suggested to be treated as solo cantatas.Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen, BWV 56 A week later, Bach composed the famous cantata for bass solo, [3]

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