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Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120

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Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120

Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille (God, You are praised in the stillness), BWV 120, is a sacred cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the occasion of Ratswechsel, the inauguration of a new town council in a church service, possibly in 1728. Parts of the cantata were used for a wedding cantata (BWV 120a) and a cantata (BWV 120b) commemorating the Augsburg Confession in 1730. Bach reworked the choral second movement for the Symbolum Nicenum of his Mass in B minor.

History

Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig for the inauguration of the newly elected town council, which took place in a festive service at the Nikolaikirche on the Monday following St. Bartholomew's Day (24 August).[1] A first performance in 1728 or 1729 seems likely. The cantata was performed again in 1742; the autographed score of that revision is preserved, with the heading "J. J. Concerto à 4 Voci. due Hautb. due Violini, Viola, 3 Trombe, Tamburi è | Continuo".[2] Parts of the cantata were also used for the wedding cantata Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge, BWV 120a and a cantata Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120b for the 200th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 1730. The latter work's music is lost.

Bach reworked the first part of the second movement Jauchzet, ihr erfreuten Stimmen for the Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum in the Symbolum Nicenum (Credo) of his Mass in B minor.[3]

Scoring, text and structure

The instrumentation reflects the festive occasion for which it was written: four soloists, soprano, alto, tenor and basso, a four-part choir, three trumpets, timpani, two oboes d'amore, two violins, viola, and basso continuo.[1]

The cantata is in six movements:

  1. Alto solo: Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille
  2. Chor: Jauchzet, ihr erfreuten Stimmen
  3. Recitativo (bass): Auf, du geliebte Lindenstadt
  4. Aria (soprano): Heil und Segen
  5. Recitativo (tenor): Nun, Herr, so weihe selbst das Regiment
  6. Choral: Nun hilf uns, Herr, den Dienern dein

The first movement is based on Psalm 65:2. It is unusual for Bach to open a festive cantata with a solo voice, but the words "aus der Stille" (out of silence) may have prompted him to write it for alto and two oboe d'amore. The first part of the jubilant second movement, a chorus dominated by the full orchestra, was adapted for the Mass in B minor. The soprano aria with solo violin is probably based on an earlier work from Bach's time in Köthen that served as a model also for a movement of a violin sonata BWV 1019a. The tenor recitative is accompanied by strings to underline its character as a prayer for justice and future blessings. The words for the final chorale are taken from the German Te Deum "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" of Martin Luther.[1]

Recordings

References

Sources

The first source is the score.

Several databases provide additional information on each cantata:

  • Cantata BWV 120 Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille: history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
  • Emmanuel Music
  • Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille: history, scoring, Bach website (German)
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Alberta
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