BWV 299

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen

BWV 299 performed by Charles Daniels, Mieneke van der Velden, Menno van Delft and Fred Jacobs
at the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam

Tenor Charles Daniels talks about the Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach.

Home music

From personal devotion to large-scale community singing.

Not only did Bach harmonise existing chorale melodies. He also wrote his own new music for existing chorale texts, as here – in the form of a chorale hymn for singing voice with basso continuo. It is clearly home music, as Charles Daniels explains in his interview. So it is perfectly suited to the eighteenth-century salon in the Bartolotti House.

The great leaps of this hymn’s melody give it a personal and soloist character. You would not immediately associate it with large-scale, public nationalism. Yet this hymn was hugely popular in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century. Around a hundred years ago, in the middle of World War I, it was performed in Heidelberg at the celebration of the four-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, for example. Ten years later, Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg considered it a sign of the supposed ‘Jewification’ of Germany that every Sunday “blonde German children” had to sing this hymn in worship of “Jehova”. Fortunately, Bach’s music is able to withstand a dose of nonsense.

The Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach
Shortly after their arrival in Leipzig in 1723, Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena Bach revealed themselves as a cultural power couple. Although Anna Magdalena gave up her successful public singing career, she joined her husband in running a thriving music business, alongside looking after a large and growing family. We have at least two tangible traces of their married life in the form of two Notenbüchlein from 1722 and 1725.

Whereas the first Notenbüchlein was still a sort of notebook, containing things like early versions of five ‘French Suites’ (and who knows what else, as two-thirds of the pages are missing), the second one was definitely intended as a gift from Johann Sebastian to his wife. In fair copy, he notated two Partitas and all sorts of other music of Anna Magdalena’s own choosing, such as the aria from the Goldberg Variations and the song Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen, BWV 299, as well as music by composers like Couperin and Bach’s stepson Carl Philipp Emanuel. Together, the Notenbüchlein form a colourful mix of arias, chorales and suites.


BWV
299

title
Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen

genre
hymn

series
Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach

Year
1722-1725

Stad
Köthen/Leipzig

Special notes
There is also a four-part setting of this hymn with the same melody and bass line. Another variation is included in the Gesangbuch G.C. Schemelli as BWV 452.

Cast & Crew

release date 25 January 2019
recording date 12 May 2018
location Bartolotti House, Amsterdam
tenor Charles Daniels
viola da gamba Mieneke van der Velden
harpsichord Menno van Delft
theorbo Fred Jacobs
Director, camera and lights Gijs Besseling
Music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
Music edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera, lights Nina Badoux
Camera and lighting assistant Eline Eestermans
Interview Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
Producer concert Marco Meijdam
Producer film Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts

Original

Dir, dir Jehova will ich singen;
denn wo ist doch ein solcher Gott wie du?
Dir will ich meine Lieder bringen,
ach, gib mir deines Geistes Kraft dazu,
dass ich es tu im Namen Jesu Christ,
so wie es dir durch ihn gefällig ist


Zieh mich, o Vater, zu dem Sohne,
damit dein Sohn mich wieder zieh zu dir;
dein Geist in meinem Herzen wohne
und meine Sinne und
Verstand regier,
dass ich den Frieden
Gottes schmeck und fühl
und dir darob im Herzen sing und spiel

Verleih mir, Höchster, solche Güte,
so wird gewiss mein Singen recht getan
so klingt es schön in meinem Liede,
und ich bet dich im Geist und Wahrheit an
so hebt dein Geist mein Herz zu dir empor,
dass ich dir Psalmen sing im
höhern Chor.

Denn der kann mich bei dir vertreten
mit Seufzern, die ganz unaussprechlich sind, der lehret mich recht gläubig beten,
gibt Zeugnis meinem Geist,
dass ich dein Kind
und ein Miterbe Jesus Christi sei,
daher ich Abba!
Lieber Vater schrei.

Wenn dies aus meinem Herzen schallet,
durch deines heilgen Geistes Kraft und Trieb,
so bricht dein Vaterherz und wallet
ganz brünstig gegen mir vor heißer Lieb,
dass mirs die Bitte nicht versagen kann,
die ich nach deinem Willen hab getan.

Was mich dein Geist selbst bitten lehret,
das ist nach deinem Willen eingericht
und wird gewiss von dir erhöret,
weil es im Namen deines Sohns geschicht.
Durch welchen ich dein Kind und Erbe bin
Und nehme von dir Gnad um Gnade hin.


Wohl mir, dass ich dies Zeugnis,
darum bin ich voller Trost und Freudigkeit
und weiß, dass alle gute Gabe,
die ich von dir verlange jederzeit,
die gibst du und tust
überschwänglich mehr
als ich verstehe,
bitte und begehr.

Wohl mir, ich bitt in
Jesu Namen,
der mich zu deiner Rechten
selbst vertritt,
in ihm ist alles Ja und Amen,
was ich von dir im Geist und Glauben bitt:
Wohl mir, Lob Dir!
itzt und in Ewigkeit,
dass du mir schenkest solche Seligkeit.


Translation

Jehovah, let me now adore Thee,
For where is there a God such, Lord, as Thou? With songs I fain would come before Thee; Oh, let Thy Holy Spirit teach me now, To praise Thee in His name through whom alone, Our songs can please Thee, through Thy blessed Son!

O Father, draw me to my Savior
That Thy dear Son may draw me unto Thee; Thy Spirit guide my whole behavior
And rule both sense and
reason thus in me
That, Lord, Thy peace
from me may ne'er depart,
But wake sweet melodies within my heart.

Grant that Thy Spirit prompt my praises,
Then shall my singing surely please Thine ear; Sweet are the sounds my heart then raises, My prayer in truth and spirit Thou wilt hear. Then shall Thy Spirit raise my heart to Thee To sing Thee psalms of praise in high degree.

For He can plead for me with sighings
That are unspeakable to lips like mine;
He bids me pray with earnest cryings,
Bears witness with my soul
that I am Thine,
Joint heir with Christ, and thus may dare to say: O heavenly Father,
hear me when I pray!

When thus my heart in prayer ascendeth,
Through Thine own Holy Spirit, unto Thee,
Thy heart, O Father, kindly bendeth
Its fervent love and favor unto me,
Rejoicing my petition to fulfil
Which I have made according to Thy will.


And what Thy Spirit thus hath taught me
To seek from Thee must needs be such a prayer; As Thou wilt grant through Him who bought me; And raised me up to be Thy child and heir. In Jesus' name I boldly seek Thy face; And take from Thee, my Father, grace for grace.

O joy! Our hope and trust are founded
On His lure Word, and witness in the heart;
1 know Thy mercies are unbounded,
And all good gifts Thou freely wilt impart,
Nay, more is lavis'd
by Thy bounteous hand,
Than we can ask
or feek or understand.

O joy! In His name
we draw near Thee,
Who ever pleadeth for the sons of men;
1 ask in faith and Thou wilt hear me,
In Him Thy promifes are all Amen.
O joy for me ! and praifs be ever Thine,
Whose wondrous love has made such blessings mine!

translation by Catherine Winkworth





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