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Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46

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Title: Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46  
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Subject: Mass in B minor, Oboe da caccia, List of Bach cantatas by liturgical function, Monteverdi Choir
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Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46

Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei (Behold and see, if there be any sorrow), BWV 46, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the tenth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 1 August 1723. It is part of his first annual cycle of cantatas.

History and words

Bach composed the cantata in his first year in Leipzig for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the Corinthians, different gifts, but one spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1–11), and from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus announcing the destruction of Jerusalem and cleansing of the Temple (Luke 19:41–48). The words for the first movement are taken from the Book of Lamentations, Lamentations 1:12, movements 2 to 5 of an unknown poet, and the final chorale is the ninth stanza of "O großer Gott von Macht" by Johann Matthäus Meyfart.[1]

Bach first performed the cantata on 1 August 1723.[1]

Scoring and structure

The cantata in six movements is scored for three soloists—alto, tenor and bass—a four-part choir, "Zugtrompete" (slide trumpet, mostly doubling the choir soprano), two recorders, two oboes da caccia, two violins, viola and basso continuo. This is an unusually rich instrumentation for an ordinary Sunday.[1]

  1. Coro: Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei
  2. Recitativo (tenor): So klage du, zerstörte Gottesstadt
  3. Aria (bass): Dein Wetter zog sich auf von weiten
  4. Recitativo (alto): Doch bildet euch, o Sünder, ja nicht ein
  5. Aria (alto): Doch Jesus will auch bei der Strafe
  6. Chorale: O großer Gott von Treu


The first movement in two sections is a lamento of large proportions, full of symbolism. Bach reworked its first part as the Qui tollis peccata mundi of the Gloria of his Missa of 1733, to become the Gloria of his Mass in B minor. The bass aria pictures dramatically the outbreak of a thunderstorm, the only part of the cantata where the trumpet appears in a solo function as a symbol of divine majesty.[1] The alto aria is scored as a quartet for the voice, the two recorders, and the oboes in unison, without basso continuo.[2]

Selected recordings



The first source is the score.

Several databases provide additional information on each cantata:

  • Cantata BWV 46 Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
  • Emmanuel Music
  • Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei history, scoring, Bach website (German)
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Alberta
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