All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society
Der Herr denket an uns
Did Bach go to Dornheim in June 1708 with a new composition under his arm?
It’s a nice story. One sunny day, Bach walked with his wife Maria Barbara to the lovely little church in Dornheim, carrying his latest composition Der Herr denket an uns. The church where he was to perform his latest piece was familiar territory, as it was where he had married Maria Barbara six months earlier. Their marriage was solemnised by a friend of the family, Johann Lorenz Stauber. And today it was Stauber’s turn to get married. As a wedding present, Bach composed a new cantata, for which he had carefully selected the text, possibly along with Stauber himself. It comprises four verses from Psalm 115, in which the word ‘bless’ plays an important role. This provided Bach with some nice musical possibilities, as explained in the interview. The words were also very apt. The ‘house of Aaron’ refers to the fact that it concerns a clergyman. Both spouses were blessed, as well as their children, as it was not Stauber’s first marriage, his first wife having died the previous year.
Like the text, the cantata is brief and to the point. Without recitatives, it almost appears to be a seventeenth-century piece in the style of Schütz. But in the central aria for soprano, Bach reverts to a ‘modern’ technique from Italian opera: the da capo aria, in which the first section of the piece is repeated at the end. The powerful final movement leads up to a closing ‘Amen’, in which the four voices tumble over one another in their enthusiasm.
The idea that this cantata was written for Stauber’s wedding was first put forward over 100 years ago by the musicologist Philipp Spitta. Because it is such a nice story, it is often adopted without question. Nevertheless, opinions vary. Although the words do fit a wedding service nicely, they would be an even better match for a more general service of thanksgiving. The music clearly dates from the period before Bach became cantor in Leipzig, but a more precise dating is impossible, as there is no surviving score from that period. So we will never know whether the premiere of the piece really took place in Dornheim – but it remains a lovely story nevertheless.
- Der Herr denket an uns
- unknown, Psalm 115:12-15
- First performance
- Possibly on 5 June 1708 in Dornheim at the wedding of Johann Lorenz Stauber and Regina Wedemann.
Cast & Crew
|release date||4 December 2015|
|recording date||16 May 2015|
|Conductor||Jos van Veldhoven|
|ripieno soprano||Marjon Strijk|
|ripieno alto||Barnabás Hegyi|
|ripieno tenor||Immo Schröder|
|ripieno bass||Jelle Draijer|
|VIOLIN 1||Shunske Sato|
|VIOLIN 2||Lucia Giraudo|
|viola||Anneke van Haaften|
|DOUBLE BASS||James Munro|
|FILM DIRECTORS AND EDITORS||Jasper Verkaart, MaNOj Kamps|
|MUSIC RECORDING PRODUCERS||Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Micha de Kanter|
|CAMERA||Maarten van Rossem, Paul Caspers, Jorrit Garretsen, Rieks Soepenberg|
|GAFFER||Daan de Boer, Denny Schoute|
|concert Production||Erik van Lith, Marco Meijdam|
Der Herr denket an uns
und segnet uns.
Er segnet das Haus Israel,
er segnet das Haus Aaron.
3. Arie (Sopran)
die den Herrn fürchten,
beide, Kleine und Grosse.
4. Duett (Tenor, Bass)
Der Herr segne euch
je mehr und mehr,
euch und eure Kinder.
Ihr seid die Gesegneten des Herrn,
der Himmel und Erde gemacht hat.
The Lord hath been mindful of us:
He will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron.
He will bless
them that fear the Lord,
both small and great.
The Lord shall increase you
more and more,
you and your children.
Ye are blessed of the Lord
which made heaven and earth.