All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen

Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen performed by
Matthias Winckhler and the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Fabio Bonizzoni.

Conductor Fabio Bonizzoni thinks that the chorale in this cantata is incredibly beautiful. “Even though there are few notes, I can hardly imagine anything more beautiful”.

Augenmusik

Words can be illustrated by music in many ways. The illustration is usually audible, but sometimes you need to actually see the score as well.

This is one of the few cantatas that Bach actually called a cantata himself, writing ‘Cantata a Voce Sola e Stromenti’ on the score, even though it is not a real solo cantata, as four singers sing one of Bach’s most beautiful chorales at the end. However, the main role is clearly played by the bass. Bach probably wrote the difficult solo part for the law student Johann Christoph Samuel Lipsius, for whom he later composed the cantata Ich habe genung.

The words – by an unknown writer – are very expressive, and compare life’s trials to carrying a cross and to sailing on rough seas, which is right up Bach’s street. He set the words to fitting music, for which you sometimes need to use your eyes as well as your ears. The first aria, for instance, opens with a rising motif, as if the singer is actually lifting the cross. But there is a catch to it. Exactly on the first syllable of the word ‘Kreuzstab’, Bach deviates from the initially easy to sing line. Suddenly there is an unexpected C sharp (the German name for the sharp sign translates as ‘cross’) – which is real ‘Augenmusik’, especially as Bach also wrote the word ‘Kreuzstab’ as ‘Xstab’.

Bach underlines the image of a ship on rough seas with an undulating cello part, which calms down as the waves subside. This is followed by a cheerful aria – actually a duet between the oboe and the bass – which expresses the certainty that the suffering will come to an end sometime. The lines here are long and virtuoso. Perseverance is necessary before the yoke is removed. Before the simple yet perfect closing chorale, the essence of the first aria returns: 
"Then [when in the promised land] into my grave shall I place all my grief, 
than shall my Saviour wipe the tears from my eyes".


BWV
56

Title
Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen

Genre
cantata (solo cantata)

Year
1726

City
Leipzig

Text
unknown

Occasion
nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

first performance
27 October 1726

Cast & Crew

release date 1 May 2015
recording date 17 January 2015
Location Walloon Church, Amsterdam
Conductor and organ Fabio Bonizzoni
bass Matthias Winckhler
soprano Maria Keohane
alto Barnabás Hegyi
tenor Robert Buckland
violin 1 Shunske Sato, Pieter Affourtit, Anneke van Haaften
violin 2 Sayuri Yamagata, Paulien Kostense, Annelies van der Vegt
viola Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
cello Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
double bass Robert Franenberg
oboe Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg, Yongcheon Shin
bassoon Benny Aghassi
church organ Leo van Doeselaar
concert Production Erik van Lith, Marco Meijdam
PRODUCER Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Joost Honselaar
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Simon Aarden
CAMERA Simon Aarden, Ruben van den Broeke, Jorrit Garretsen, Benjamin Sparschuh, Indy Hamid
FILM EDITOR Joost Honselaar
MUSIC RECORDING PRODUCER Leo de Klerk
GAFFER Zen Bloot
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Zoë de Wilde
Score reader Niek Wijns
MAKE UP Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch
CAMERA ASSISTaNT Izak de Dreu
Best boy Jur Oster
MUSIC RECORDING ASSISTANTS Jaap Firet, Jaap van Stenis, Bobby Verbakel
MUSIC EDIT AND MIX Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
Music edit and mix assistant Nina Kraszewska
Colorist Jef Grosfeld
interview Gijs Besseling, Kasper Koudenburg
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Nienke Meuleman

Vocal Texts

Original

1. Aria

Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen,
er kömmt von Gottes lieber Hand,
der führet mich nach meinen Plagen
zu Gott, in das gelobte Land.
Da leg ich den Kummer
auf einmal ins Grab,
da wischt mir die Tränen
mein Heiland selbst ab.

2. Rezitativ

Mein Wandel auf der Welt
ist einer Schiffahrt gleich:
betrübnis, Kreuz und Not
sind Wellen, welche mich bedecken
und auf den Tod
mich täglich schrecken;
mein Anker aber, der mich hält,
ist die Barmherzigkeit,
womit mein Gott mich oft erfreut.
Der rufet so zu mir:
ich bin bei dir,
ich will dich nicht verlassen
noch versäumen!
Und wenn das wütenvolle Schäumen
sein Ende hat,
so tret ich aus dem Schiff in meine Stadt,
die ist das Himmelreich,
wohin ich mit den Frommen
aus vielem Trübsal werde kommen.

3. Aria

Endlich, endlich wird mein Joch
wieder von mir weichen müssen.
Da krieg ich in dem Herren Kraft,
da hab ich Adlers Eigenschaft,
da fahr ich auf von dieser Erden
und laufe sonder matt zu werden.
O gescheh es heute noch!

4. Rezitativ

Ich stehe fertig und bereit,
das Erbe meiner Seligkeit
mit Sehnen und Verlangen
von Jesus Händen zu empfangen.
Wie wohl wird mir geschehn,
wenn ich den Port der Ruhe werde sehn.
Da leg ich den Kummer
auf einmal ins Grab,
da wischt mir die Tränen
mein Heiland selbst ab.

5. Choral

Komm, o Tod, du Schlafes Bruder,
komm und führe mich nur fort;
löse meines Schiffleins Ruder,
bringe mich an sichern Port!
Es mag, wer da will, dich scheuen,
du kannst mich vielmehr erfreuen;
denn durch dich komm ich herein
zu dem schönsten Jesulein.


Translation

1. Aria

Gladly shall I bear the cross;
it comes from God’s beloved hand,
and leads me, after my torments,
to God, into the promised land.
Then into my grave
shall I place all my grief,
that shall my Saviour
wipe the tears from my eyes.

2. Recitative

My life on earth
is like a voyage at sea:
sorrow, affliction and distress
engulf me like waves
and daily frighten me
to death;
my anchor, though, which sustains me,
is God’s mercy,
with which He often gladdens my heart.
He calls out to me:
I am with you,
I shall never leave you
nor forsake you!
And when at length the raging
foam is calmed,
I shall step from my ship into my own city,
which is the kingdom of Heaven,
where I with all the righteous
shall enter out of so great tribulation.

3. Aria

At last, at last my yoke
shall
fall from me again.

Then shall I find strength in the Lord, 

then shall I, like an eagle,

rise up from this earth
without
ever growing weary.

O may it come to pass today!

4. Recitative

I stand here ready and prepared,

to receive my heritage of bliss

with yearning and desire


from the hands of Jesus.

How happy I shall be,

when I behold the harbour of rest.

Then into my grave
shall I place all my grief,

than shall my Saviour wipe the tears
from my eyes.

5. Chorale

Come, O death, brother of sleep,
come now and lead me away;
loosen now my small bark’s rudder,
bring me safely into port.
Let them who wish to, shun you;
you can all the more delight me.
For it is through you that I shall enter,
to be with my sweetest Jesus.


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