All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Herr Gott, Dich loben alle wir

BWV 130 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
St. Martin's Church, Groningen

Why does Bach spare no expense on the day of St Michael's feast? Jos van Veldhoven explains.

The ancient dragon

All the stops are pulled out in 'Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir'; from spectacular trumpets and timpani to an intimate song of praise.

It is about battle and the eternal fight between good and evil – in this case in the guise of a dragon. The very first notes make it clear who will win: God’s angels. God is praised and thanked with triumphal music, and the three trumpets and the timpani lend an extra festive air. Above it all, in the soprano part, you hear the chorale Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir.
In his aria, the bass sings about how ghastly the devil can be. Vigilance is called for, as he is cunning and spiteful, and does not let up for a moment. This is heard in the furious runs in the trumpet part. The accompaniment of the tenor, on the other hand, is very charming. In a gentle song of praise with an angelic flute solo, he asks the angels for protection. Finally, the whole ensemble joins in again with triumphal music that has the same melody as the beginning, but then in a homophonic setting, with the text sung by all the voices at the same time. This brings the message across even more strongly.

Bach wrote this cantata for the saint’s day of the archangel Michael, who according to the Book of Revelation conquered the dragon in heaven with his troops of angels. Although this did not root out all evil, it cast it back to earth. So this day focuses on the firm conviction that good will conquer evil. Bach reflects this in the cantata with a festive ensemble that includes trumpets, oboes, timpani, a transverse flute and strings.


Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir

cantata (chorale cantata)



unknown, after the song of the same name by Paul Eber (1554)

Michaelmas (29 September)

Cast & Crew

Release date 2 May 2014
Recording date 5 October 2013
Location St. Martin's Church, Groningen
conductor Jos van Veldhoven
soprano Maria Keohane
alto Maarten Engeltjes
tenor Benjamin Hulett
bass Christian Immler
choir soprano Monica de Jesus Monteiro, Hilde Van Ruymbeke, Klaartje van Veldhoven, Orlanda Velez Isidro
choir alto Victoria Cassano McDonald,Gemma Jansen, Saskia Kruysse, Elena Pozhidaeva
choir tenor Yves van Handenhove, Diederik Rooker, Kevin Skelton, Ronald Threels
choir bass Donald Bentvelsen, Jelle Draijer, Michiel Meijer, Frank Hermans
violin 1 Shunske Sato, Lidewij van der Voort, Hanneke Wierenga
violin 2 Pieter Affourtit, Anneke van Haaften, Paulien Kostense
viola Deirdre Dowling, Jan Willem Vis
cello Lucia Swarts, Barbara Kernig
double bass Joshua Cheatham
traverso Marten Root
oboe Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg, Sarah Aßmann
bassoon Benny Aghassi
trumpet Robert Vanryne, Mark Geelen, Michael Harrison
timpani Luc Nagtegaal
harpsichord Siebe Henstra
church organ Leo van Doeselaar
CONCERT production Marco Meijdam, Imke Deters
Producer Frank van der Weij
Film director Lucas van Woerkum
CAMERA Sal Kroonenberg, Jorrit Garretsen
FILM EDITORS Lucas van Woerkum, Frank van der Weij
GAFFER Alban Riphagen
producion assistant Zoë de Wilde
Score reader Jan Van den Bossche
MAKE UP Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch, Emine Camadan
CAMERA ASSISTaNT Chris Tjong Ayong
MUSIC RECORDING ASSISTANTS Gilius Kreiken, Jaap van Stenis
MUSIC EDIT AND MIX Frank van der Weij
Colorist Geert van Schoot
Acknowledgements Jan Haak

Vocal Texts


1. Choral

Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir
und sollen billig danken dir
für dein Geschöpf
der Engel schon,
die um dich schwebn
um deinen Thron.

2. Rezitativ (Alt)

Ihr heller Glanz
und hohe Weisheit zeigt,
wie Gott sich zu
uns Menschen neigt,
der solche Helden,
solche Waffen
vor uns geschaffen.
Sie ruhen ihm zu Ehren nicht;
ihr ganzer Fleiss
ist nur dahin gericht’,
dass sie, Herr Christe,
um dich sein
und um dein
armes Häuflein:
wie nötig ist doch
diese Wacht
bei Satans Grimm
und Macht?

3. Arie (Bass)

Der alte Drache
brennt vor Neid
und dichtet stets
auf neues Leid,
dass er das kleine
Häuflein trennet.
Er tilgte gern,
was Gottes ist,
bald braucht er List,
weil er nicht Rast
noch Ruhe kennet.

4. Rezitativ (Sopran, Tenor)

Wohl aber uns, dass Tag und Nacht
die Schar der Engel wacht,
des Satans Anschlag zu zerstören!
Ein Daniel, so unter Löwen sitzt,
erfährt, wie ihn die Hand des Engels schützt.
Wenn dort die Glut
in Babels Ofen keinen Schaden tut,
so lassen Gläubige ein Danklied hören,
so stellt sich in Gefahr
noch itzt der Engel Hülfe dar.

5. Arie (Tenor)

Lass, o Fürst der Cherubinen,
dieser Helden hohe Schar
immerdar deine Gläubigen bedienen;
dass sie auf Elias Wagen
sie zu dir gen Himmel tragen.

6. Choral

Darum wir billig loben dich
und danken dir, Gott, ewiglich,
wie auch der lieben Engel Schar
dich preisen heut und immerdar.
Und bitten dich, wollst allezeit
dieselben heissen sein bereit,
zu schützen deine kleine Herd,
so hält dein göttlichs Wort in Wert.


1. Chorale 

Lord God, we all praise Thee,
and should justly thank Thee
for creating 
the angelic host
that hovers around Thee 
and Thy throne. 

2. Recitative 

Their radiance 
and high wisdom show 
how God inclines 
Himself to man
and fashioned for us
such heroes 
and weapons. 
They do not cease to praise Him;
they strive 
for one thing alone: 
that they, Lord Jesus, 
might ever 
surround Thee 
and Thy poor flock;
how necessary 
is this vigil,
in the face of Satan’s rage 
and might! 

3. Aria 

The ancient dragon 
burns with envy 
and constantly devises 
new pain 
to break up 
that little flock. 
He would gladly destroy 
all that is God’s, 
and will soon resort to cunning,
for he knows neither rest 
nor respite. 

4. Recitative 

It is well for us that, day and night,
the angelic host keeps watch
to demolish Satan’s onslaught!
A Daniel, sitting amongst the lions,
learns how the angel’s hand 
protects him. 
When Babel’s fiery furnace 
causes no injury,
the faithful sing a hymn of praise; 
thus even in danger
the angels’ help is still at hand. 

5. Aria 

Grant, O Prince of the Cherubim, 
that this high host of heroes
may evermore
tend Thy believers; 
grant that the angels on Elijah’s chariot 
may bear them up to Thee in Heaven. 

6. Chorale 

Therefore we justly praise Thee 
and thank Thee, O God, eternally, 
just as Thy dear angelic host 
praises Thee now and evermore. 
And we beseech Thee to bid 
them always be prepared
to protect Thy small flock, 
in fulfilment of Thy Word.


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