All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn

BWV 119 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Peter Dijkstra
Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam

"As a listener you feel under the spell of the completely new sound of the oboe da caccia."

Colourful

Bach treats the town council to majestic music.

Bach pulls out all the stops in this exuberant cantata. For the orchestra, he requests no fewer than four trumpets, as well as timpani, three oboes, two recorders and strings. The bass section is also amply filled, with celli, bassoons and violones (multiples of each, according to the manuscript). Bach, who had been working just three months in Leipzig, is hereby giving his musical calling card. He wrote this music, a Ratswahlkantate (a town council inauguration cantata), for a festive church service in honour of the annual change of the town council in 1723. Such a service would have been attended by all the important dignitaries, so it was a good moment for Bach to show off his capacities as cantor.

The fervent opening bars set the tone immediately. Bach uses the majestic dotted rhythm that since Lully has been associated with the splendour of the French court. At the precise moment when a fast instrumental fugue should break into this French overture, Bach has the choir make its entrance.

The anonymous lyricist has based the words of the opening chorus on verses 12-14 from Psalm 147, whereby Jerusalem and its blessed children stand for the city of Leipzig and its inhabitants; a metaphor that continues in the following sections. In the dancy first aria, the tenor is accompanied by two oboes da caccia (‘hunting oboes’). The oboe da caccia is an alto instrument from the oboe family, whose curved tube and brass bell resemble a hunting horn, thus explaining its name. Bach had the instrument developed himself, as oboist Martin Stadler tells us.

Accompanied by trumpets, timpani and the other wind instruments, the recitative by the bass that follows the tenor aria resembles ceremonial city or state music.

In the alto aria accompanied by two recorders, the lyricist goes very far when he refers to the town council not only as God’s gift, but even as his likeness. A recitative for soprano leads to an impressive choral section that requires the same large-scale setting as the overture that began the cantata. This song of praise appears to be the ending, yet it is not. In a recitative, the alto announces that a closing prayer is still due to the Lord. This call for help and blessing – a simple chorale – is derived from Luther’s German translation of the Te Deum.


BWV
119

title
Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn

genre
cantata (Ratswahlkantate)

year
1723

city
Leipzig

Text
unknown, psalm 147:12-13, chorale by Martin Luther

Occasion
inauguration of the town council (Ratswahl)

First performance
30 August 1723

Cast & Crew

Release date 19 January 2018
Recording date 18 February 2017
Location Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam
Conductor Peter Dijkstra
Soprano Miriam Feuersinger
alto Alex Potter
tenor Thomas Hobbs
bass Peter Kooij
ripieno soprano Lauren Armishaw, Marjon Strijk
ripieno alto Marine Fribourg, Barnabás Hegyi
ripieno tenor Yves Van Handenhove, João Moreira
ripieno bass Michiel Meijer, Pierre-Guy Le Gall White
VIOLIN 1 Sayuri Yamagata, Annelies van der Vegt, Annabelle Ferdinand
violin 2 Pieter Affourtit, Paulien Kostense, Lucia Giraudo
viola Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
cello Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
Double Bass Robert Franenberg
oboe Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg, Sarah Aßman
bassoon Benny Aghassi
Blokfluit Heiko ter Schegget, Pieter-Jan Belder
trumpet Robert Vanryne, Fruzsina Hara, Mark Geelen, Dave Hendry
timpani Koen Plaetink
organ Leo van Doeselaar
harpsichord Siebe Henstra
Director and editor Bas Wielenga
Music Recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
Music edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera Jochem Timmerman, Thijs Struick, Merijn Vrieling, Charlotte Storm, Jildert Hof
Lights Zen Bloot, Henry Rodgers, Patrick Galvin
Assistant director Ferenc Soeteman
Video Engineer Vincent Nugteren, Jildert Hof
Set Technique Justin Mutsaers
Data Handling Jesper Blok
Project Manager NEP Peter Ribbens
Interview Onno van Ameijde
Producer Concert Imke Deters
Producer Film Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts

Original

1. Coro

Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn, 
lobe, Zion, deinen Gott;
denn er machet fest 
die Riegel deiner Tore 
und segnet deine Kinder drinnen, 
er schaffet deinen Grenzen Friede.

2. Rezitativ (Tenor)

Gesegnet Land! glückselge Stadt!
wo selbst der Herr 
sein Herd und Feuer hat.
Wie kann Gott besser lohnen,
als wo er Ehre lässt 
in einem Lande wohnen;
wie kann er eine Stadt
mit reicherm Nachdruck segnen,
als wo er Güt und Treu 
einander lässt begegnen.
Wo er Gerechtigkeit und Friede
zu küssen niemals müde,
nicht müde, niemals satt
zu werden teuer verheissen, 
auch in der Tat erfüllet hat,
da ist der Schluss gemacht:
Gesegnet Land! glückselge Stadt!

3. Aria (Tenor)

Wohl dir, du Volk der Linden,
wohl dir, du hast es gut,
wie viel an Gottes Segen
und seiner Huld gelegen, 
die überschwenglich tut,
kannst du an dir befinden,
wohl dir, du Volk der Linden,
wohl dir, du hast es gut.

4. Rezitativ (Bass)

So herrlich stehst du, 
liebe Stadt!
Du Volk! das Gott zum Erbteil 
sich erwählet hat.
Doch wohl!
und aber wohl! 
wo mans zu Herzen fassen 
und recht erkennen will,
durch wen der Herr 
den Segen wachsen lassen.
Ja! was bedarf es viel,
das Zeugnis ist schon da,
Herz und Gewissen 
wird uns überzeugen,
dass, was wir Gutes bei uns sehn,
nächst Gott 
durch kluge Obrigkeit
und durch ihr weises
Regiment geschehn.
Drum sei, geliebtes Volk,
zu treuem Dank bereit,
sonst würden auch davon 
nicht deine Mauren schweigen.

5. Aria (Alt)

Die Obrigkeit ist Gottes Gabe,
ja selber Gottes Ebenbild.
Wer ihre Macht nicht will ermessen,
der muss auch Gottes gar vergessen,
wie würde sonst sein Wort erfüllt.

6. Rezitativ (Sopran)

Nun! wir erkennen es 
und bringen dir,
o höchster Gott, 
ein Opfer unsers Danks dafür.
Zumal nachdem der heutge Tag,
der Tag, den uns der Herr gemacht,
euch, teure Väter, 
teils von eurer Last entbunden,
teils auch auf euch
schlaflose Sorgenstunden
bei einer neuen Wahl gebracht,
so seufzt ein treues Volk 
mit Herz und Mund zugleich:

7. Coro

Der Herr hat Guts an uns getan,
des sind wir alle fröhlich.
Er seh die teuren Väter an
und halte auf unzählig
und späte, lange Jahre ‘naus
in ihren Regimente Haus,
so wollen wir ihn preisen.

8. Rezitativ (Alt)

Zuletzt!
Da du uns, Herr, 
zu deinem Volk gesetzt,
so lass von deinen Frommen
nur noch ein arm Gebet 
vor deine Ohren kommen;
und höre! ja, erhöre,
der Mund, das Herz und Seele 
seufzet sehre.

9. Choral

Hilf deinem Volk, Herr Jesu Christ,
und segne, was dein Erbteil ist,
wart und pfleg ihr’r zu aller Zeit
und heb sie hoch in Ewigkeit.
Amen.




Translation

1. Chorus

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem,
praise, Sion, your God!
For He secures
the bolts of your portals
and blesses your children within;
He provides peace for your borders.

2. Recitative

Blessed land, fortunate city,
where the Lord Himself
keeps His hearth and fire!
What better reward can God provide
than to send honor
to dwell in a land?
With what more bounteous favor
can he bless a city
than to have goodness and loyalty
greet each other,
to have righteousness and peace
never tire of kissing,
never weary, never sated
with being regarded precious,
even this He has fulfilled in deed?
Therefore here is the conclusion:
blessed land, fortunate city!

3. Aria

Good fortune, you people of the lindens,
good fortune, you have it good!
As much of God's blessing
and graciousness together,
which fill to overflowing,
can you find in your midst,
good fortune, you people of the lindens,
good fortune, you have it good!

4. Recitative

So gloriously you stand,
dear city!
You people, who God has chosen
as His heirs!
Yet it is well!
and yet well again!
when it is taken to heart
and rightly perceived
through whom the Lord allows
the blessing to grow.
Yes! What more do you need?
The witness is already there,
our heart and awareness
will expound it to us,
that the goodness we see among us,
besides God,
is present through prudent authority
and through its wise governance.
Therefore be prepared, dear people,
for true thanks,
otherwise
even your walls
would complain against you!

5. Aria

Authority is God's gift,
yes, even the very image of God.
Whoever will not submit to its power
must also forget God completely:
how else would His word be fulfilled?

6. Recitative

Now! we acknowedge it
and bring to You,
o highest God,
an offering of our thanks for its sake.
In addition for these days,
the day which the Lord has made for us,
for you, dear Town Fathers,
in part to release you from your burdens,
in part also to bring upon you
sleepless hours of worry
with a new election,
a faithful people sigh thus
with heart and mouth together:

7. Chorus

The Lord has done good things for us,
therefore we all rejoice.
He gazes upon our faithful fathers,
and supports them in untold
and long-lasting years
in the house of their government,
therefore we would praise Him.

8. Recitative

Finally!
Since You have established us
as Your people,
then grant that,
from Your devout ones
even a poor prayer may reach Your ears,
and hear! yes, hear!
Our mouths, our hearts and souls
sigh sorely.

9. Chorale

Help Your people, Lord Jesus Christ,
and bless Your inheritance.
Look after and care for them at all times
and exalt them in eternity!
Amen. 

translation © Pamela Dellal, courtesy Emmanuel Music Inc.







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