All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille

BWV 120 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven

"When you study Bach's cantatas, and the alto arias specifically, you see that the alto is often used as a consolation."

"The text says: 'The best way to praise God is in silence.' And then the cantata begins. Not in silence but with music."

Trumpet player Robert Vanryne explains there is no such thing as a 'Bach-Trompete'.

As if it were made for it

Although its precise origins will probably never come to light, we know for certain that Bach thought these notes were a great success.

The only parts that Bach definitely wrote especially for this cantata are the recitatives and the final chorale of the piece. Although the opening aria (for a small group of musicians, so a perfect choice for a cantata beginning with the words ‘God, praise awaits You in the stillness’) and the ensuing chorus for a large group of musicians to the words ‘Rejoice, you joyful voices’ correspond closely to the text, Bach most probably did not compose them initially for these words.

A list of the facts:
-Bach’s own score of the cantata in this form was written between 1742 and 1744.
-Bach used the two arias and the opening chorus in BWV 120a, a wedding cantata, probably written in 1729.
-Bach arranged the same two arias and opening chorus in 1730 in a cantata to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, BWV 120b. Although the words have survived, the score has not.
-At the end of his life, Bach rewrote the second part of the cantata as the ‘Et expecto’ in the Mass in B minor.
-the opening aria for alto could well have been derived from an earlier violin concerto, from the period before Leipzig.
-the soprano aria could also be an arrangement of an earlier aria with violin solo from the period before Leipzig. In any case, Bach also used the same notes for an early version of the third part of the violin sonata BWV 1019a.

Those are the facts so far. Interpreting them is more difficult, however. Did the wedding cantata come first, and were BWV 120 and 120b derived from it? Or did Bach make a new score in 1742 of a cantata for the town council that he had already composed before 1729? Was the alto aria with the instrumentally conceived lines really a violin concerto, or was it Bach’s intention to use these virtuoso notes to illustrate the words of praise? It remains guesswork, until the time that new information comes to light in the archives.

What we do know for certain is that Bach thought that the music of this cantata was a great success, which is why he would he have used it in many different variations. And whether a parody or not, Bach always ensured that the music seemed to be made for the words. Read along while you listen, and see how the notes fit exactly to phrases like ‘Steiget bis zum Himmel auf and ‘und erhebet seinen Ruhm’.


Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille


before 1729?



inauguration of the town council (Ratswahl)

First performance
in any case performed somewhere between 1742 and 1744, but possibly performed before that on 29 September 1729

Special notes
Derivative of, or model for BWV 120a and b. Opening aria probably derived from a violin concerto. Soprano aria parody of violin sonata BWV 1019a.

Cast & Crew

Release date 17 October 2014
Recording date 15 March 2014
Location St. Martin's Church, Groningen
Conductor Jos van Veldhoven
Soprano Maria Keohane
Alto Damien Guillon
Tenor Valerio Contaldo
Bass Lionel Meunier
choir soprano Marjon Strijk, Hilde Van Ruymbeke, Klaartje van Veldhoven, Orlanda Velez Isidro
choir alto Victoria Cassano MCDonald, Barnabás Hegyi, Saskia Kruysse, Elena Pozhidayeva
choir tenor Robert Buckland, Diederik Rooker, Ronald Threels, Endrik Üksvärav
choir bass Jelle Draijer, Pierre-Guy le Gall White, Martijn de Graaf Bierbrauwer, Lionel Meunier
Violin 1 Shunske Sato, Pieter Affourtit, Annelies van der Vegt
violin 2 Sayuri Yamagata, Anneke van Haaften, Paulien Kostense
viola Staas Swierstra, Femke Huizinga
cello Albert Brüggen, Richte van der Meer
Double bass Robert Franenberg
oboe Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg
bassoon Benny Aghassi
Trumpet Robert Vanryne, Fruzsina Hara, Mark Geelen
timpani Peppie Wiersma
harpsichord Siebe Henstra
Organ Leo van Doeselaar
CONCERT production Marco Meijdam, Imke Deters
Producer Frank van der Weij
Film directors Lucas van Woerkum, Joost Honselaar
CAMERA Sal Kroonenberg, Robert Berger, Ruben van den Broeke, Benjamin Sparschuh, Indy Hamid
FILM EDITORS Lucas van Woerkum, Frank van der Weij
GAFFER Alban Riphagen
Best boy Sam Dupon
producion assistant Zoë de Wilde
Score reader Jan Van den Bossche
MAKE UP Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch, Marloes de Jong
MUSIC RECORDING ASSISTANTS Jaap Firet, Gilius Kreiken, Jaap van Stenis
MUSIC EDIT and MIX Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
MUSIC EDIT and MIX asSSISTANT Martijn Snoeren
Colorist Jef Grosfeld
Acknowledgements Jan Haak

Vocal Texts


1. Arie (Alt)

Gott, man lobet dich
in der Stille zu Zion,
und dir bezahlet man Gelübde.

2. Chor

Jauchzet, ihr erfreuten Stimmen,
steiget bis zum Himmel nauf!
Lobet Gott im Heiligtum
und erhebet seinen Ruhm;
seine Güte,
sein erbarmendes Gemüte,
hört zu keinen Zeiten auf!

3. Rezitativ (Bass)

Auf, du geliebte Lindenstadt,
komm, falle vor dem Höchsten nieder,
erkenne, wie er dich
in deinem Schmuck und Pracht
so väterlich
erhält, beschützt, bewacht
und seine Liebeshand
noch über dir beständig hat.
bezahle die Gelübde,
die du dem Höchsten hast getan,
und sing Dank- und Demutslieder!
Komm, bitte,
dass er Stadt und Land
unendlich wolle mehr erquicken
und diese werte Obrigkeit
so heute Sitz und Wahl verneut,
mit vielem Segen wolle schmücken!

4. Arie (Sopran)

Heil und Segen
soll und muss zu aller Zeit
sich auf unsre Obrigkeit
in erwünschter Fülle legen,
dass sich Recht und Treue müssen
miteinander freundlich küssen.

5. Rezitativ (Tenor)

Nun, Herr, so weihe selbst
das Regiment mit deinem
Segen ein,
dass alle Bosheit von uns fliehe
und die Gerechtigkeit
in unsern Hütten blühe,
dass deines Vaters reiner Same
und dein gebenedeiter Name
bei uns verherrlicht möge sein!

6. Choral

Nun hilf uns, Herr, den Dienern dein,
die mit deinem Blut erlöset sein!
Lass uns im Himmel haben teil
mit den Heilgen
im ewgen Heil!
Hilf deinem Volk, Herr Jesu Christ,
und segne, was dein Erbteil ist;
wart und pfleg ihr' zu aller Zeit
und heb sie hoch in Ewigkeit!


1. Aria 

Praise waiteth for Thee, O God, 
in the stillness of Sion: 
and unto Thee shall the vow be performed. 

2. Chorus 

Rejoice, you cheerful voices, 
Soar right up to heaven! 
Praise God in His sanctuary 
and exalt His glory; 
His kindness, 
His mercy 
never ceases! 

3. Recitative 

Arise, beloved linden town, 
Come, kneel before the Highest one, 
Acknowledge how He, 
In all your finery and splendour, 
So fatherly 
Supports, protects, and guards you, 
And still holds His loving hand 
Steadfastly over you. 
Come, then, 
Perform the vows you have pledged to the Highest, 
And sing songs of thanks and humility! 
Come, pray, that He may endlessly rejuvenate 
This town and land 
And adorn this honoured government, 
Which renews today both seats and votes, 
With abundant blessing! 

4. Aria 

Health and blessing 
Shall and must at all times 
Attend our government 
In wished-for profusion, 
That justice and faith be constrained 
as friends to kiss each other. 

5. Recitative 

So, Lord, consecrate 
this government 
with Thine own blessing, 
That all wickedness may leave us 
And righteousness flourish in our dwellings, 
That Thy Father’s unsullied seed 
and Thy most blessed name 
May be glorified among us! 

6. Chorale 

Now help us, Lord, Thy servants, 
Whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy blood! 
Let us partake of heaven with the saints 
in eternal salvation! 
Help Thy people, Lord Jesus Christ, 
and bless what is Thine inheritance. 
Look after and tend them every hour 
and raise them up into eternity!


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