All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren

BWV 137 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Peter Dijkstra
Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam

"What I admire is that Bach takes one small text fragment in each stanza to which he then gives musical expression."

Omnipresent chorale

Bach realised the dangers of uniformity

Bach set clear limits for himself in this piece. He used the complete unadulterated text of a well-known hymn by Joachim Neander. The original hymn has five verses and the cantata has the same number of movements. There are no recitatives. Such a piece is also referred to as a chorale cantata.

It is only at the end that we hear the familiar version of the chorale, in a four-part setting with the melody in the upper part. In the first four movements, Bach has interwoven the material in various ways. As conductor Peter Dijkstra explains in his interview, he always takes a different aspect of the text as the basis for inspiring the music. In the opening chorus, it is the sopranos who sing the chorale melody. In the first aria, the alto sings the second strophe with ornamentation, while a solo violin darts around it with passage work. Bach later reworked this aria into one of his Schübler Choräles for organ, BWV 650. In the following aria (a duet for soprano and bass accompanied by a duet for two oboes), Bach used only the first notes of the chorale melody as the headmotif. The third aria has an expressively active singing part for the tenor, while the first trumpet or oboe plays the full chorale. The base key of A minor in this aria and the C major of the chorale melody create an intriguingly harmonic field of tension.

The differing ways in which Bach has incorporated the chorale into this cantata suggest that he realised the dangers of a certain uniformity. Although he could not get around using triple time, he did undertake a little round trip with the keys. From C major, he goes to G major, to E minor and to A minor, after which the cantata returns to C major.


BWV
137

title
Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren

genre
cantata (chorale cantata)

year
1725

city
Leipzig

Text
Joachim Neander

Occasion
Twelfth Sunday after Trinitatis, later Ratswahlkantate

First performance
19 August 1725

special notes
Possibly used as cantata for the inauguration of the town council

Cast & Crew

Release date 1 December 2017
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
bassoon Benny Aghassi
trumpet Robert Vanryne, Fruzsina Hara, Mark Geelen
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 Marco Meijdam, Imke Deters
Producer Film Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts

Original

1. Chor

Lobe den Herren,
den mächtigen König der Ehren,
Meine geliebete Seele,
das ist mein Begehren.
Kommet zu Hauf,
Psalter und Harfen, wacht auf!
Lasset die Musicam hören!

2. Arie (Alt)

Lobe den Herren,
der alles so herrlich regieret,
der dich auf Adelers Fittichen sicher geführet,
der dich erhält,
wie es dir selber gefällt;
hast du nicht dieses verspüret?

3. Arie (Sopran, Bass)

Lobe den Herren,
der künstlich und fein dich bereitet,
der dir Gesundheit verliehen,
dich freundlich geleitet;
in wieviel Not
hat nicht der gnädige Gott
über dir Flügel gebreitet!

4. Arie (Tenor)

Lobe den Herren,
der deinen Stand
sichtbar gesegnet, der aus dem Himmel
mit Strömen der Liebe geregnet;
denke dran,
was der Allmächtige kann,
der dir mit Liebe begegnet.

5. Choral

Lobe den Herren,
was in mir ist, lobe den Namen!
Alles, was Odem hat,
lobe mit Abrahams Samen!
Er ist dein Licht,
Seele, vergiss es ja nicht;
Lobende, schliesse mit Amen!



Translation

1. Chorus

Praise the Lord,
the mighty King of honour,
my cherished soul,
that is my fervent desire.
Come in multitudes;
psalteries and harps, awake!
Let your music resound.

2. Aria

Praise the Lord,
who governs all things so gloriously,
who leads you so safely on His eagle’s wings,
who keeps you
as you would keep yourself;
have you not perceived these things?

3. Aria 

Praise the Lord,
who has adorned you so exquisitely,
who has given you health,
and guides you kindly;
how often in your distress
has merciful God
not spread His wings over you!

4. Aria

Praise the Lord,
who has clearly
blessed your state,
who has rained down love from heaven;
consider
what the Almighty can do,
who treats you with love.

5. Chorale

Praise the Lord,
whatever is in me, praise His name!
Everything that has breath,
praise with Abraham’s seed!
He is your light,
O soul, forget it not;
ye who praise, end with Amen!





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