All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben

BWV 102 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
Grote Kerk, Naarden

Jos van Veldhoven does not mince matters: “Cantata 102 is actually a horrendous cantata”.

Flautist Marten Root and violinist Shunske Sato talk about Bach’s choice of an unusual key. “It’s so ‘doorwrocht’, as we say in Dutch”, says Marten Root.

Caution for stubborn unbelievers

Although there is a gleam of hope in the second movement, Bach does not really play on it.

When Bach started composing his third volume of cantatas in 1725, he was thoroughly distracted by his resolve to create a new Passion for the Easter of 1726. From February up to Good Friday, he resorted completely to cantatas by his cousin Johann Ludwig. However, his intended result failed to appear, as a St Mark Passion by Braun was eventually performed at Easter time. Yet for months afterwards, Bach still continued to draw on the work of his cousin, even casting envious looks at Johann Ludwig for the words to his own cantatas. He derived the text for the cantata Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben from a collection of texts attributed to the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, at whose court cousin Bach was Kapellmeister.

The quintessence of the collection is the way the text is constructed of two different biblical quotes; one from the Old Testament, which Bach uses at the beginning, and one from the New Testament, which is used in the middle. The cantata consists of two movements. The first biblical text is followed by a recitative and aria, and the second by an aria and recitative. It closes with a chorale. The impressive opening chorus comes straight to the point: the world is full of stubborn unbelievers, and however hard God punishes them, it does not help. The sermon for this tenth Sunday after Trinity is about the expulsion of the money-changers from the temple and the imminent destruction of Jerusalem. The errant souls are called upon to convert while they still can. Although there is a clear difference between the texts of the Old and New Testaments as far as God’s position is concerned – the implacable, punishing God later becomes mild and peace-giving – it is remarkable that Bach did not really play on this. The atmosphere of the whole cantata is pessimistic, which is further reinforced by the lamenting oboes and a martial flute. Even the final chorale, where the faithful see the error of their ways and ask for a helping hand, offers little comfort.


BWV
102

title
Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben

genre
cantata

year
1726

city
Leipzig

Lyricist
unknown

Occasion
Tenth Sunday after Trinity

First performance
25 August 1726

Special notes
At a repeat performance around 1737, the transverse flute was replaced by violino piccolo. Bach later used the opening chorus for the Kyrie in his 'Mass in G minor', BWV 235. The third and fifth movements were given a place in the 'Mass in F major', BWV 233.

Cast & Crew

release date 22 May 2015
recording date 11 October 2014
Location Grote Kerk, Naarden
Conductor Jos van Veldhoven
alto Alex Potter
tenor Thomas Hobbs
bass Peter Kooij
ripieno soprano Lauren Armishaw, Marjon Strijk (solo), Kristen Witmer
ripieno alto Marleene Goldstein, Barnabás Hegyi
ripieno tenor João Moreira, Kevin Skelton
ripieno bass Matthew Baker, Jelle Draijer
VIOLIN 1 Shunske Sato, Anneke van Haaften, Annelies van der Vegt
VIOLIN 2 Sayuri Yamagata, Pieter Affourtit, Paulien Kostense
VIOLA Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
cello Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
DOUBLE BASS Robert Franenberg
traverso Marten Root
OBOE Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg
BASSOON Benny Aghassi
trUmpet Robert Vanryne
HARPSICHORD Siebe Henstra
positive organ Leo van Doeselaar
concert Production Imke Deters, Erik van Lith, Marco Meijdam
ProducERS Zoë de Wilde, Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Lucas van Woerkum
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Sal Kroonenberg
CAMERA Sal Kroonenberg, Robert Berger, Ruben van den Broeke, Benjamin Sparschuh
FILM EDITORS Lucas van Woerkum, Frank van der Weij
MUSIC RECORDING PRODUCER Leo de Klerk
GAFFER Zen Bloot
BEST BOYS Roeland van Bemmel, Patrick Galvin
Score reader MaNOj Kamps
MUSIC RECORDING ASSISTANTS Jaap Firet, Gilius Kreiken, Jaap van Stenis, Bobby Verbakel
CAMERA ASSISTaNTS Izak de Dreu, Zino Rosmolen
MUSIC EDIT AND MIX Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
MUSIC EDIT ASSISTANT Martijn Snoeren
interviews Onno van Ameijde
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Angela Mast, Marlo Reeders

Vocal Texts

Original

Erster Teil

1. Chor

Herr, deine Augen sehen
nach dem Glauben!
Du schlägest sie, aber sie fühlen's nicht;
du plagest sie, aber sie bessern sich nicht.
Sie haben ein härter Angesicht
denn ein Fels und wollen sich nicht bekehren.

2. Rezitativ (Bass)

Wo ist das Ebenbild, das Gott uns eingepräget,
wenn der verkehrte Will sich ihm zuwiderleget?
Wo ist die Kraft von seinem Wort,
wenn alle Besserung weicht aus dem Herzen fort?
Der Höchste suchet
uns durch Sanftmut zwar zu zähmen,
ob der verirrte Geist sich wollte noch bequemen;
doch, fährt er fort in dem verstockten Sinn,
so gibt er ihn in's Herzens Dünkel hin.

3. Arie (Alt)

Weh der Seele, die den Schaden
nicht mehr kennt
und, die Straf auf sich zu laden,
störrig rennt,
ja von ihres Gottes Gnaden
selbst sich trennt.

4. Arioso (Bass)

Verachtest du den Reichtum seiner Gnade,
Geduld und Langmütigkeit?
Weissest du nicht,
dass dich Gottes Güte zur Busse locket?
Du aber nach deinem verstockten
und unbussfertigen Herzen
häufest dir selbst den Zorn
auf den Tag des Zorns
und der Offenbarung
des gerechten Gerichts Gottes.

Zweiter Teil

5. Arie (Tenor)

Erschrecke doch,
du allzu sichre Seele!
Denk, was dich würdig zähle
der Sünden Joch.
Die Gotteslangmut geht
auf einem Fuss von Blei,
damit der Zorn hernach dir
desto schwerer sei.

6. Rezitativ (Alt)

Beim Warten ist Gefahr;
willst du die Zeit verlieren?
Der Gott, der ehmals gnädig war,
kann leichtlich dich
vor seinen Richtstuhl führen.
Wo bleibt sodann die Buss?
Es ist ein Augenblick,
der Zeit und Ewigkeit,
der Leib und Seele scheidet;
verblendter Sinn,
ach kehre doch zurück,
dass dich dieselbe Stund
nicht finde unbereitet!

7. Choral

Heut lebst du, heut bekehre dich,
eh morgen kömmt, kann's ändern sich;
wer heut ist frisch, gesund und rot,
ist morgen krank, ja wohl gar tot.
So du nun stirbest ohne Buss,
dein Leib und Seel dort brennen muss.

Hilf, o Herr Jesu, hilf du mir,
dass ich noch heute komm zu dir
und Busse tu den Augenblick,
eh mich der schnelle Tod hinrück,
auf dass ich heut und jederzeit
zu meiner Heimfahrt sei bereit.


Translation

First Part

1. Chorus

Lord, are not Thine eyes
upon the truth!
Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; Thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction; they have made their faces harder than a rock, and they have refused to return.

2. Recitative

Where is the image that God
has engraved on us,
if perverse wills
oppose Him?

Where is the power of His Word,

if all betterment deserts the heart?
Almighty God seeks
indeed to tame us
through gentleness,

to see if the erring soul
might still submit;
but if it persists in its obdurate way,
He abandons it to the heart’s arrogance.

3. Aria

Woe unto the soul, who no longer
recognises harm,
and heaping punishment on himself
pursues his own stubborn course,
cutting himself off

from God’s grace.

4. Arioso

Despisest thou the riches of His goodness
and forbearance and longsuffering;
not knowing that
 the goodness
of God leadeth thee to repentance?
But after thy hardness
and impenitent heart treasurest
up unto thyself wrath
against the day of wrath
and revelation of the righteous
judgment of God.

Second Part

5. Aria

Be frightened, though,

you all too haughty heart!

Think of all that makes
you deserve
 the yoke of sins.

God’s forbearance walks
with feet of lead,
that His anger at you
thereafter be the graver.

6. Recitative

In waiting danger lurks;

is it your wish to lose time?

The God, who was once so merciful,

can lead you with ease
to His seat of judgment.
Where then will your repentance be?
It is a moment that divides
time and eternity,
body and soul.

O blinded sense,
turn back again,

lest this same hour
find you unprepared!

7. Chorale

Today you live, repent today;

before the morning dawns, all may change.
He who today is healthy, ruddy-faced, thriving, will tomorrow be sick, or even
dead. 
If you now die unrepentant,

your body and your soul must burn.

Help, O Lord Jesus, help me,

that I may come to Thee today
and repent this instant,

before sudden death takes me,
that I may today and evermore
be prepared for my homecoming.







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