All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn

BWV 23 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

Especially for this concert Lucia Swarts learned to play the violoncello da spalla.

Audition notes

Bach played this music to convince the Leipzig council of his qualities.

With no introduction, you dive straight into the story, which is about the healing of a blind man that Jesus met on the road to Jericho. The blind man asked Jesus for help and he healed him. The blind man sees his true nature, while the sighted bystanders are blinded. In the bass, you can hear the road to Jericho, above which is an oboe duet and a duet for soprano and alto – so twice two-part texture. The oboe parts and those of the singers imitate one another. They are the same and yet not the same. This may refer to Jesus’ duality as God and as mortal (‘wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn’).

This cantata first consisted of only three movements. The original ending was the positive ‘Aller Augen warten, Herr’, in which you hear the optimism and faith of the blind man. The final movement that was added later (the monumental chorale arrangement ‘Christe du Lamm Gottes’) was based on a Passion hymn that was familiar to everyone in Bach’s day. Bach was thus referring to the weeks ahead, as Quinquagesima is the last Sunday before Lent, and Lent is followed by the Passion.

Incidentally, the fact that Bach only added ‘Christe du Lamm Gottes’ later, does not mean that it was just tacked on. You can already hear the melody of the hymn in the oboe in the tenor’s recitative. But whereas the tenor calls attention to his suffering, like the blind man from the parable, the oboe already refers to the suffering of Jesus himself. By adding a complete chorale arrangement to the same hymn at the end, Bach pursues the comparison.

Actually, this cantata must be viewed in conjunction with Jesus nahm zu sich di Zwölfe, BWV 22. Bach performed Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn along with BWV 22 on 5 February 1723, at a service in Leipzig. The two works were written on commission from the city council as audition pieces, to be played as part of Bach’s job application procedure in Leipzig. His music pleased the council and he was eventually appointed cantor there. The newspaper wrote: “Am verwichenen Sonntage Vormittage machte der Hochfürstl. Capellmeister zu Cöthen, Mr. Bach, all hier in der Kirchen zu Thomä wegen der bisher noch immer vacant stehenden Cantor-Stelle seine Probe, und ist desselben damahlige Music von allen, welche der gleichen ästimeren, sehr gelobet worden...”.


BWV
23

Title
Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn

Genre
cantata

Year
1723

City
Köthen/Leipzig

Lyricist
unknown

Occasion
Estomihi

First Performance
5 February 1723

Special Notes
This is one of the two audition pieces played by Bach when applying for a job in Leipzig. The final section ‘Christe du Lamm Gottes’ was written earlier, and he used it in 1725 as the closing chorus of the St John Passion, BWV 245.

Cast & Crew

Release Date 11 November 2016
Recording Date 23 April 2016
Location Walloon Church, Amsterdam
Conductor and violoncello da spalla Sigiswald Kuijken
Soprano Miriam Feuersinger
Alto Damien Guillon
Tenor Wolfram Lattke
Bass Christian Immler
Ripieno Soprano Griet de Geyter
Ripieno alto Barnabás Hegyi
Ripieno Tenor Kevin Skelton
Ripieno bass Sebastian Myrus
Violin 1 Shunske Sato, Pieter Affourtit
Violin 2 Sayuri Yamagata, Anneke van Haaften
Viola Staas Swierstra
Violoncello da spalla Lucia Swarts
Violone Robert Franenberg
Oboe Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg
Bassoon Benny Aghassi
Trumpet Robert Vanryne
Organ Leo van Doeselaar
Harpsichord Siebe Henstra
Director and editor Bas Wielenga
Music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
Music editor Guido Tichelman
Camera Jochem Timmerman, Martin Struijf, Merijn Vrieling, Chris Reigelt
Score reader Ferenc Soeteman
Lights Zen Bloot, Gijs 't Hoen
Video engineers Vincent Nugteren, Justin Mutsaers
Camera assistants Robert Wijermans, Leon Mignon
Set technicians Justin Mutsaers, Chris Reichgelt
Data handling Jesper Blok
Projectmanager NEP Peter Ribbens
Producer concert and film Marco Meijdam
Interview Onno van Ameijde
AcknoWLEDGEMENTS Nienke Meuleman

Vocal Texts

Original

1. Arie (Sopran, Alt)

Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn,
der du von Ewigkeit in der Entfernung schon
mein Herzeleid und meine Leibespein
umständlich angesehn, erbarm dich mein!
Und lass durch deine Wunderhand,
die so viel Böses abgewandt,
mir gleichfalls Hilf und Trost geschehen.

2. Rezitativ (Tenor)

Ach! gehe nicht vorüber;
du, aller Menschen Heil,
bist ja erschienen,
die Kranken und nicht die Gesunden zu bedienen.
Drum nehm ich ebenfalls an deiner Allmacht teil;
ich sehe dich auf diesen Wegen,
worauf man
mich hat wollen legen,
auch in der Blindheit an.
Ich fasse mich
und lasse dich
nicht ohne deinen Segen.

3. Chor

Aller Augen warten, Herr,
du allmächtger Gott, auf dich,
und die meinen sonderlich.
Gib denselben Kraft und Licht,
lass sie nicht
immerdar in Finsternissen!
Künftig soll dein Wink allein
der geliebte Mittelpunkt
aller ihrer Werke sein,
bis du sie einst durch den Tod
wiederum gedenkst zu schliessen.

4. Choral

Christe, du Lamm Gottes,
der du trägst die Sünd der Welt,
erbarm dich unser!
Christe, du Lamm Gottes,
der du trägst die Sünd der Welt,
erbarm dich unser!
Christe, du Lamm Gottes,
der du trägst die Sünd der Welt,
gib uns dein’ Frieden. Amen.

Translation

1. Aria 

Thou very God and David’s Son,
Thou, who from eternity, hath from afar
already seen all my body’s pain
and heart’s distress, have mercy upon me!
Grant through Thy wondrous hand,
which has repelled so much evil,
that I be given both help and comfort.


2. Recitative 

Ah, do not pass me by;
Thou, the Saviour of mankind,
didst appear on earth
to succour the sick and
not the healthy.
So I too share in
Thy almighty power;
I see Thee also along these paths,
where people have tried to leave me,
even in my blindness.
I compose myself
and shall not leave Thee
except Thou bless me.


3. Chorus

The eyes of all, O Lord,
Thou almighty God, wait upon Thee,
mine above all others.
Give them strength and light,
leave them not 
in darkness for evermore!
Henceforth a sign from Thee
shall be the beloved focus
of all their labours,
till Thou shalt at last through death
decide once more to close them.

4. Chorale

Christ, Thou Lamb of God,
who dost bear the sins of the world,
have mercy on us!
Christ, Thou Lamb of God,
who dost bear the sins of the world,
have mercy on us!
Christ, Thou Lamb of God,
who dost bear the sins of the world,
grant us Thy peace. Amen.

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