All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt

BWV 151 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven.
Grote Kerk, Naarden

Maria Keohane explains how she managed to enter into the spirit of the lyrics.

Small and full of wonder

Intimate music with one of the most beautiful arias for soprano

This Christmas cantata revolves around amazement and humility. In one of the most beautiful arias ever written by Bach, the soprano expresses wonder at the fragile child in the crib. It opens with a lullaby, accompanied by a flute supported by oboe d’amore and strings. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the pastorale in the second movement of the Christmas Oratorio. In the middle section of the aria, the mood changes to one of joy, and the time signature goes from 12/8 to 4/4.
The intimacy of this cantata is reinforced by the fact that the whole text is written in the first person and that there is no four-part singing, except for the closing chorale. There is, however, a recitative or an aria for each of the soloists. The alto gives a beautiful description of the contrasts in the story of the nativity: the poverty of Jesus brings us riches and his humility brings us salvation. Bach illustrates this with illogical leaps, chromatics and sighing figures. Even the closing chorale is subdued.


BWV
151

Title
Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt

Genre
Cantata

Year
1725

City
Leipzig

Lyricist
Georg Christian Lehms

Occasion
The third day of Christmas

First Performance
27 December 1725

Cast & Crew

Release Date 1 January 2018
Recording Date 17 December 2015
Location Grote Kerk, Naarden
Conductor Jos van Veldhoven
Soprano Maria Keohane
Alto Alex Potter
Tenor Charles Daniels
Bass Matthias Winckhler
Violin 1 Shunske Sato, Annelies van der Vegt, Anneke van Haaften, Lidewij van der Voort
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 Frank Theuns
Oboe Martin Stadler
Harpsichord Siebe Henstra
Organ Pieter-Jan Belder
Director and editor Joost Honselaar
Assistant director Ferenc Soetman
Music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Micha de Kanter
Camera Jochem Timmerman, Rene Holbrugge, Martin Struif, Chris Reichgelt
Lights Zen Bloot, Patrick Galvin, Henry Rodgers, Emiel van Geenen
Set and video technique Justin Mutsaers, Glenn van den Eerden
Data handling Charlotte Storm
Project Manager Dutchview Peter Ribbens
Interview Onno van Ameijde
Producer concert Marco Meijdam
Producer film Jessie Verbrugh, Imke Deters

Vocal Texts

Original

1. Arie (Sopran)

Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt,
Jesus wird anitzt geboren!
Herz und Seele freuet sich,
denn mein liebster Gott hat mich
nun zum Himmel auserkoren.

2. Rezitativ (Bass)

Erfreue dich, mein Herz,
denn itzo weicht der Schmerz,
der dich so lange Zeit gedrücket.
Gott hat den liebsten Sohn,
den er so hoch und teuer hält,
auf diese Welt geschicket.
Er lässt den Himmelsthron
und will die ganze Welt
aus ihren Sklavenketten
und ihrer Dienstbarkeit erretten.
O wundervolle Tat!
Gott wird ein Mensch und will auf Erden
noch niedriger als wir
und noch viel ärmer werden.

3. Arie (Alt)

In Jesu Demut kann ich Trost,
in seiner Armut Reichtum finden.
Mir macht desselben schlechter Stand
nur lauter Heil und Wohl bekannt,
ja, seine wundervolle Hand
will mir nur Segenskränze
winden.

4. Rezitativ (Tenor)

Du teurer Gottessohn,
nun hast du mir den Himmel aufgemacht
und durch dein Niedrigsein
das Licht der Seligkeit zuwege bracht.
Weil du nun ganz allein
des Vaters Burg und Thron
aus Liebe gegen uns verlassen,
so wollen wir dich auch
dafür in unser Herze fassen.

5. Choral

Heut schleußt er wieder auf die Tür
zum schönen Paradeis,
der Cherub steht nicht mehr dafür,
Gott sei Lob, Ehr und Preis.

Translation

1. Aria 

Sweet comfort, my Jesus comes,
Jesus now is born!
Heart and soul rejoice,
for my dearest God has chosen
me now for heaven.

2. Recitative

Rejoice, O my heart,
for the pain shall now ease
which has for so long oppressed you.
God has sent His dearest Son,
whom He holds so high and dear,
into this world.
He leaves the throne of heaven
and would deliver all the world
from its chains of slavery
and servitude.
O wonderful deed!
God is made man and desires on earth
to be lowlier than we
and much poorer.

3. Aria

In Jesus’ meekness I can find comfort,
in His poverty riches.
His wretched state reveals to me
naught but salvation and well-being,
yea, His wondrous hand
will weave me naught but garlands of blessing.

4. Recitative

O precious Son of God,
Thou hast opened heaven wide for me
and through Thy humble estate
hath brought the light of bliss to pass.
Since Thou now, all alone,
hast left Thy Father’s citadel and throne
out of love for us,
we would in turn
hold Thee within our hearts.

5. Choral

Today He opens wide again the door
to beautiful paradise,
the cherub stands no more before it,
to God be laud and honour and praise.

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