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Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei, BWV 179

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Title: Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei, BWV 179  
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Subject: Oboe da caccia, List of Bach cantatas by liturgical function, Monteverdi Choir, Bach cantata, St Mark Passion (Bach)
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Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei, BWV 179

Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei (English: See to it, that your fear of God be not hypocrisy), BWV 179, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the eleventh Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 8 August 1723.

History and words

Bach composed the cantata in his first year in Leipzig, which he had started after Trinity of 1723, for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity.[1] The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the Corinthians, on the gospel of Christ and his (Paul's) duty as an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:1–10), and from the Gospel of Luke, the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9–14). The unknown poet stayed close to the gospel and alluded to several Bible passages. The cantata is opened by a line from Wisdom of Sirach 1:29.[1] the closing chorale is the first stanza of Christian Tietze's hymn "Ich armer Mensch, ich armer Sünder" (1663).[2]

Bach first performed the cantata on 8 August 1723. Alfred Dürr assumes that Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199, composed for the same occasion in Weimar, was also performed in the service.[1]

Scoring and structure

The cantata in six movements is scored for soprano, tenor and bass soloists and a four-part choir, two oboes da caccia, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[1]

  1. Chorus: Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei
  2. Recitativo (tenor): Das heutge Christentum ist leider schlecht bestellt
  3. Aria (tenor, oboes, violin): Falscher Heuchler Ebenbild
  4. Recitativo (bass): Wer so von innen wie von außen ist
  5. Aria (soprano, oboes): Liebster Gott, erbarme dich
  6. Choral: Ich armer Mensch, ich armer Sünder


In the opening chorus the instruments go with the voices as in a motet. The words are set in a strict counter-fugue: each entrance is followed by an entrance in inversion. The sequence is concluded by a canonic imitation on a new theme: in the words "und diene Gott nicht mit einem falschen Herzen" (and do not serve God with a false heart) the falseness is expressed by chromatic. A second expanded fugue presents even more complex counterpoint than the first.[1]

A secco recitative prepares the aria with an accompaniment of the two oboe da caccia and violin I in syncopation, which even the tenor voice picks up in the first part. It is not a da capo aria, as only the ritornell repeats the beginning. The final words of the second recitative end like an arioso to stress "So kannst du Gnad und Hilfe finden!" (so that you can find mercy and aid). The soprano aria expresses like a prayer Liebster Gott, erbarme dich (Beloved God, have mercy). The two oboe da caccia illustrate a movement of supplication even together with the soprano voice.[1]

The final chorale is sung on the melody of "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten", which Bach used also in his choral cantata BWV 93.[1][3]

Bach used the music of the opening chorus again for the Kyrie of his Missa in G major, the first aria for the Quoniam of that mass, and the second aria for the Qui tollis of the Missa in A major.[4]


The cantata was performed at The Proms of 2007 with the Bach Collegium Japan and soloists Carolyn Sampson, Gerd Türk and Peter Kooy, conducted by Masaaki Suzuki.[5]




The first source is the score.

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

  • Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
  • Emmanuel Music
  • Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei history, scoring, Bach website (German)
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Alberta
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