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Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29

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Title: Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29  
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Subject: Bach cantata, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51, Church cantata (Bach), Did you know nominations/Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29, Jean Guillou
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Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29

Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir (We thank you, God, we thank you),[1] BWV 29,[1] is a for violinPartita. The full orchestra accompanies the first choral movement and plays with the voices in the closing chorale, while a sequence of three arias alternating with two recitatives is scored intimately.

Bach used the music from the choral movement for both the Gratias agimus tibi and Dona nobis pacem of his Mass in B minor.


  • History and words 1
  • Scoring and structure 2
  • Music 3
    • 1 3.1
    • 2 3.2

History and words

Nikolaikirche, Leipzig, the regular location of the service celebrating the new council

Bach composed the cantata in 1731 for Ratswechsel, the inauguration of the new town council, which was celebrated annually in a festive service in the Nikolaikirche on the Monday following the feast day of St. Bartholomew (24 August).[2] It was not a democratic election, but a "ceremonial transfer of office"[2] of council members who were appointed.[2] The service was not part of the liturgical year with cantata texts related to prescribed biblical epistle and gospel readings. For the same occasion, Bach had already written the cantata Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn, BWV 119, in his first year in Leipzig, 1723. For the Ratswechsel service, he could count on the entire council (his employer) listening, probably also civil servants and representatives of the Elector's administration for the region. The musicologist Klaus Hofmann notes: "It was an opportunity for Bach to show how sacred music was flourishing under his direction and to present himself as a composer."[2]

The cantata text of Wir danken dir, Gott by an unknown author[3] includes in movement 2 the first verse of Psalm 75 (Psalm 75:1) and as the closing chorale the fifth stanza of Johann Gramann's hymn of praise "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren" (1540).[4][5]

Bach first performed the cantata on 27 August 1731.[2] In 1733, he adapted the music of the first choral movement with only minor changes for the Gratias agimus tibi of his Missa (Kyrie and Gloria) for the Dresden court, on a text expressing the same idea in Latin.[6] According to Hofmann, the movement is based on an earlier lost composition.[7]

Bach performed the cantata for Ratswahl at least two more times, on 31 August 1739 and on 24 August 1749.[2][3] He expanded the Missa of 1733 to his Mass in B minor and concluded his work by repeating the music as the Dona nobis pacem.[7]

Scoring and structure

The cantata is structured in eight movements and takes about 28 minutes to perform.[8] The instrumentation reflects the festive occasion for which it was written. Bach scored the work for four vocal soloists (

The first vocal movement is a setting of verse 1 of [[Psalm


The cantata is one of few sacred Bach cantatas opened by an orchestral [2] while the full orchestra adds an accompaniment.[5]

The first page of the autograph manuscript, Sinfonia – Presto



No. Type Text Text source Vocal Brass Wood Strings Organ/ Bass Key Time
1 Sinfonia 3Tr Ti 2Ob 2Vl Va Org Bc D major 3/4
2 Chorus Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir Psalm SATB 3Tr Ti 2Ob 2Vl Va Bc D major
3 Aria Halleluja, Stärk und Macht anon. T Vl solo Bc A major alla breve
4 Recitative Gottlob! es geht uns wohl! anon. B Bc F-sharp minor e minor common time
5 Aria Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe anon. S Ob 2Vl Va Bc B minor 6/8
6 Recitative Vergiß es ferner nicht, mit deiner Hand anon. A SATB Bc D major – D major common time
7 Aria Halleluja, Stärk und Macht anon. A Org Bc D major 6/8
8 Chorale Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren Gramann SATB 3Tr Ti 2Ob 2Vl Va Bc D major 3/4

In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe,[3] and the abbreviations for voices and instruments the list of Bach cantatas. The time signature is provided using the symbol for common time (4/4). The timpani are listed with the trumpets because they always play together.


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