All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan

BWV 100 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven.

Bach more or less copied the opening chorus of BWV 99 in this cantata but he added two horns and timpani. Why?

"The most difficult thing about the soprano aria is that you play with a singer who has a wonderful, slow melody and yet you have to stay together."

Optimism without contemplation

Bach offers comfort for any day of the year.

When Bach used the chorale text 'Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’ for the second time, sometime after 1732, he took a completely different approach to his cantata of the same name from ten years earlier (BWV 99). He lent extra festivity to the instrumentation of that version (flute, oboe d’amore, horn, strings and basso continuo) by adding a second horn and timpani. The text gave every reason for doing so, as not only are the opening and closing choruses derived from the chorale, but the four in-between movements are as well. Because of the unisonous opening line of the successive verses, these movements are all called ‘Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’, like the cantata itself. There is no contemplation in the form of recitatives. Four arias, one of which is a duet for alto and tenor, celebrate the grace of God without interruption or any hint of reserve.

It seems as though Bach, just like the lyricist Samuel Rodigast in 1675, felt a strong need to place the emphasis on his steadfast faith in God’s grace, rather than on the pain of suffering. Rodigast originally wrote the hymn to hearten the sick cantor Severus Gastorius. And it worked, as the cantor recovered and even composed a melody to it, which stood the test of time.

As this cantata was not connected to one specific Sunday, the hymn of praise could be performed at any time. It offered comfort on any day of the year, which must have been very important to Bach’s own family, who had lost three children between 31 August 1732 and 6 November 1733.


BWV
100

title
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan

genre
cantata (chorale cantata)

year
1732-35

city
Leipzig

Lyricist
Samuel Rodigast

Occasion
unknown

First performance
unknown

Special notes
There are two other cantatas with this title, BWV 98 and 99.

Cast & Crew

Release date 8 January 2016
Recording date 7 February 2015
Location Grote Kerk, Naarden
Conductor Jos van Veldhoven
Soprano Gerlinde Sämann
alto Damien Guillon
tenor Charles Daniels
bass Peter Kooij
ripieno soprano Marjon Strijk, Hilde Van Ruymbeke
ripieno alto Elsbeth Gerritsen, Barnabás Hegyi
ripieno tenor Kevin Skelton, Endrik Üksvärav
ripieno bass Michiel Meijer, Drew Santini
VIOLIN 1 Sayuri Yamagata, Pieter Affourtit, Hanneke Wierenga
VIOLIN 2 Anneke van Haaften, Paulien Kostense, Lidewij van der Voort
VIOLA Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
cello Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
DOUBLE BASS Maggie Urquhart
traverso Marten Root
OBOE Martin Stadler
BASSOON Yukiko Murakami
horn Erwin Wieringa, Alexandre Zanetta
timpani Peppie Wiersma
HARPSICHORD Siebe Henstra
positive organ Leo van Doeselaar
FILM DIRECTOR AND EDITOR Lucas van Woerkum
MUSIC RECORDING PRODUCERS Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Micha de Kanter
Music EDITor Guido Tichelman
CAMERA Jorrit Garretsen, Ruben van den Broeke, Diderik Evers, Maarten van Rossem
GAFFER Zen Bloot, Harm Bredero, Marcel Brugman
Score reader Stijn Berkouwer
data handler Wesley Westerhuis
concert Production Marco Meijdam, Erik van Lith
ProducERS JeanMarc van Sambeek, Jessie Verbrugh
interview Onno van Ameijde
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Angela Mast, Marlo Reeders

Vocal Texts

Original

1. Chor

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,
es bleibt gerecht sein Wille;
wie er fängt meine Sachen an,
will ich ihm halten stille.
Er ist mein Gott,
der in der Not
mich wohl weiss zu erhalten;
drum lass ich ihn nur walten.
 

2. Duett (Alt, Tenor)

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,
er wird mich nicht betrügen;
er führet mich auf rechter Bahn,
so lass ich mich begnügen
an seiner Huld
und hab Geduld,
er wird mein Unglück wenden,
es steht in seinen Händen.
 

3. Arie (Sopran)

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,
er wird mich wohl bedenken;
er, als mein Arzt und Wundermann,
wird mir nicht Gift einschenken
vor Arzenei.
Gott ist getreu,
drum will ich auf ihn bauen
und seiner Gnade trauen.
 

4. Arie (Bass)

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,
er ist mein Licht, mein Leben,
der mir nichts Böses gönnen kann,
ich will mich ihm ergeben
in Freud und Leid!
Es kommt die Zeit,
da öffentlich erscheinet,
wie treulich er es meinet.
 

5. Arie (Alt)

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,
muss ich den Kelch gleich schmecken,
der bitter ist nach meinem Wahn,
lass ich mich doch nicht schrecken,
weil doch zuletzt
ich werd ergötzt
mit süssem Trost im Herzen;
da weichen alle Schmerzen.
 

6. Choral

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,
darbei will ich verbleiben.
Es mag mich auf die rauhe Bahn
Not, Tod und Elend treiben,
so wird Gott mich
ganz väterlich
in seinen Armen halten;
drum lass ich ihn nur walten.


Translation

1. Chorus

What God doth, is well done,
His will is just and lasts forever;
however He acts on my behalf
I shall stand by him calmly.
He is my God,
who sustains me
when I am in distress;
that is why I let Him prevail.

2. Duet

What God doth, is well done,
He will not deceive me;
He leads me on the proper path,
and so I am content
to enjoy His favour
and show patience.
He shall avert my misfortune,
He has the power to do so.

3. Aria

What God doth, is well done,
He will not forget me;
He, who heals me and works wonders,
will not pour me poison
in place of medicine.
God is true,
therefore shall I build on Him
and trust to His grace.

4. Aria

What God doth, is well done,
He is my light, my life,
who wishes me no evil,
I shall devote myself to Him
in joy and sorrow!
The time will come
when all shall see
how true are His intentions.

5. Aria

What God doth, is well done,
though I must drink of the cup
that tastes bitter according to my misconception,
I shall feel no terror,
for at the last I shall find joy
with sweet comfort in my heart;
all pain shall then yield.

6. Chorale

What God doth, is well done,
to this I shall be constant.
Though I be cast onto the rough road
by affliction, death and misery,
God shall hold me
just like a father
in His arms;
that is why I let Him prevail.

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