Monday, November 05, 2012

Cantata BWV 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

In time for the time before Advent, here's BWV 140 - the whole Cantata - (along with the entire score):

You can also listen via this .ram file, here.  Or, if you can't play that .ram file - old technology, I know - here are .ogg files from the Wikipedia page about this Cantata; the piece is performed by the MIT Chamber Chorus.  That should take care of everybody!

Follow along with the German words and the English translation (from below.
1 Chorus [S, A, T, B]
   Corno col Soprano, Oboe I/II, Taille, Violino I/II, Violino piccolo, Viola, Continuo
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
Der Wächter sehr hoch auf der Zinne,
Wach auf, du Stadt Jerusalem!
Mitternacht heißt diese Stunde;
Sie rufen uns mit hellem Munde:
Wo seid ihr klugen Jungfrauen?
Wohl auf, der Bräutgam kömmt;
Steht auf, die Lampen nehmt!
Macht euch bereit
Zu der Hochzeit,
Ihr müsset ihm entgegen gehn!

Wake up, the voice calls us
of the watchmen high up on the battlements,
wake up, you city of Jerusalem!
This hour is called midnight;
they call us with a clear voice:
where are you, wise virgins ?
Get up, the bridegroom comes;
Stand up, take your lamps! Hallelujah!
Make yourselves ready
for the wedding,
you must go to meet him!
2  Recitative [Tenor]
Er kommt, er kommt,
Der Bräutgam kommt!
Ihr Töchter Zions, kommt heraus,
Sein Ausgang eilet aus der Höhe
In euer Mutter Haus.
Der Bräutgam kommt, der einem Rehe
Und jungen Hirsche gleich
Auf denen Hügeln springt
Und euch das Mahl der Hochzeit bringt.
Wacht auf, ermuntert euch!
Den Bräutgam zu empfangen!
Dort, sehet, kommt er hergegangen.

He comes, he comes,
the bridegroom comes!
You daughters of Zion, come out,
he hastens his departure from on high
to your mother's house.
The bridegroom comes, who like a roedeer
and a young stag
leaps on the hills
and brings to you the wedding feast.
Wake up, rouse yourselves
to welcome the bridegroom!
There, see, he comes this way.

3  Aria [(Duet) Soprano (Soul), Bass (Jesus)]    Violino piccolo, Continuo
Wenn kömmst du, mein Heil?

When are you coming, my salvation?

Ich komme, dein Teil

I come, your portion.

Ich warte mit brennendem Öle

I wait with burning oil.

Eröffne den Saal

Open the hall

Ich öffne den Saal

I open the hall

Zum himmlischen Mahl

to the heavenly feast.

Komm, Jesu!

Come, Jesus!

Komm, liebliche Seele!

Come, lovely soul!

4 Chorale [Tenor]
Violino I/II e Viola all' unisono, Continuo
Zion hört die Wächter singen,
Das Herz tut ihr vor Freuden springen,
Sie wachet und steht eilend auf.
Ihr Freund kommt vom Himmel prächtig,
Von Gnaden stark, von Wahrheit mächtig,
Ihr Licht wird hell, ihr Stern geht auf.
Nun komm, du werte Kron,
Herr Jesu, Gottes Sohn!
Wir folgen all
Zum Freudensaal
Und halten mit das Abendmahl.

Zion hears the watchmen sing,
her heart leaps for joy,
she awakes and gets up in haste.
Her friend comes from heaven in his splendour,
strong in mercy, mighty in truth.
Her light becomes bright, her star rises.
Now come, you worthy crown,
Lord Jesus, God's son!
We all follow
to the hall of joy
and share in the Lord's supper.

5 Recitative [Bass]
Violino I/II, Violino piccolo, Viola, Continuo
So geh herein zu mir,
Du mir erwählte Braut!
Ich habe mich mit dir
Von Ewigkeit vertraut.
Dich will ich auf mein Herz,
Auf meinem Arm gleich wie ein Siegel setzen
Und dein betrübtes Aug ergötzen.
Vergiß, o Seele, nun
Die Angst, den Schmerz,
Den du erdulden müssen;
Auf meiner Linken sollst du ruhn,
Und meine Rechte soll dich küssen.

So come inside to me
you bride that I have chosen for myself,
I have betrothed mysef to you
from eternity to eternity.
It is you that I want to set in my heart,
on my arm like a seal
and to delight your grieved eyes.
Forget now, o soul,
the anguish, the sorrow
that you had to suffer
On my left hand you should rest
and my right hand should kiss you.

6  Aria (Duet) [Soprano (Soul), Bass (Jesus)]
    Oboe solo, Continuo
Mein Freund ist mein,

My friend is mine,

Und ich bin sein,

and I am yours,

Die Liebe soll nichts scheiden.

Nothing shall divide our love.

Ich will mit dir in Himmels Rosen weiden,

I want to graze on heaven's roses with you,

du sollst mit mir in Himmels Rosen weiden,

You will graze on heaven's roses with me,

Da Freude die Fülle, da Wonne wird sein.

There will be fullness of joy, there will be delight.

7  Chorale [S, A, T, B]
    Corno e Oboe I e Violino piccolo in octava e Violino I col Soprano, Oboe II e Violino II 
    coll'Alto, Taille e Viola col Tenore, Continuo
Gloria sei dir gesungen
Mit Menschen- und englischen Zungen,
Mit Harfen und mit Zimbeln schon.
Von zwölf Perlen sind die Pforten,
An deiner Stadt sind wir Konsorten
Der Engel hoch um deinen Thron.
Kein Aug hat je gespürt,
Kein Ohr hat je gehört
Solche Freude.
Des sind wir froh,
Io, io!
Ewig in dulci jubilo.

May gloria be sung to you
with the tongues of men and angels,
with harps and with cymbals.
The gates are made of twelve pearls,
in your city we are companions
of the angels on high around your throne.
No eye has ever perceived,
no ear has ever heard
such joy.
Therefore we are joyful,
hurray, hurray!
for ever in sweet rejoicing.

English Translation by Francis Browne (October 2002)
Contributed by Francis Browne (October 2002)

While I do love just about every movement in this Cantata, I must admit I'm a complete sucker for Movement 6, the Bass-Soprano God-and-the-soul-serenading-one-another bit.   Bach does this in at least one other place I know of - the Domine Deus section of the Gloria from the B Minor Mass (although in that one, it's Tenor-Treble God the Father and God the Son crooning together).  Here's a short video of that:  it's fantastic!

Here's the full Wikipedia entry for BWV 140
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140, also known as Sleepers Wake, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for the 27th Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 25 November 1731. It is based on the hymn Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (1599) byPhilipp Nicolai. Movement 4 of the cantata (in English, "Zion hears the watchmen's voices") corresponds to the organ piece BWV 645, the first of the Schübler Chorales.

History and text

The chorale cantata is based on the Lutheran chorale, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme of Philipp Nicolai.[1]This Lutheran hymn remains popular today both in its original German and in a variety of English translations. It is based on the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1–13, the prescribed reading for the Sunday in the Lutheran lectionary [2] Because this Sunday only occurred when Easter was very early, the cantata was rarely performed.[3]
In the modern three-year Revised Common Lectionary, however, the reading is scheduled for Proper 27, or the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, in the first year of the three-year cycle of lessons.[4] Thus, the hymn and the cantata are commonly performed in churches on that Sunday. The text and its eschatological themes are also commonly associated with the early Sundays of the season of Advent, and so the cantata is also commonly performed during that season.

Scoring and structure

The cantata is scored for horn, 2 oboes, taille (an instrument similar to the oboe da caccia, today often replaced by an English horn), violino piccolo, violin, viola, basso continuo, and choir with soprano, tenor, andbass soloists.
  • I. Chorus: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Wake up, the voice calls to us)
  • II. Recitative: Er kommt (He comes)
  • III. Aria (duet): Wann kommst du, mein Heil? (When will you come, my salvation?)
  • IV. Chorale: Zion hört die Wächter singen (Zion hears the watchmen singing)
  • V. Recitative: So geh herein zu mir (So come in with me)
  • VI. Aria (duet): Mein Freund ist mein! (My friend is mine!)
  • VII. Chorale: Gloria sei dir gesungen (May Gloria be sung to you)


The first movement is a chorale fantasia based on the first verse of the chorale, which is a common feature of Bach's chorale cantatas.[5] The second movement is a recitative for tenor that precedes the third movement, a duet for soprano and bass with obbligato violin. In the duet, the soprano represents the soul and the bass represents Jesus as the Vox Christi (voice of Jesus). The fourth movement, based on the second verse of the chorale, is written in the style of a chorale prelude, with the phrases of the chorale, sung as a cantus firmus by the tenors (or by the tenor soloist), entering intermittently against a famously lyrical melody played in unison by the violins (without the violino piccolo) and the viola, accompanied by the basso continuo. Bach later transcribed this movement for organ (BWV 645), and it was subsequently published along with five other transcriptions Bach made of his cantata movements as the Schübler Chorales. The fifth movement is a recitative for bass, preceding the sixth movement, which is another duet for soprano and bass with obbligato oboe. This duet, like the third movement, is a love duet between the soprano soul and the bass Jesus.[6] The final movement is a four-part setting of the final verse of the chorale.

(The wonderful artwork above is a detail from Die klugen und törichten Jungfrauen (The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins), by Wilhelm von Schadow (1788–1862).)

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