All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden

BWV 6 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

The violoncello piccolo brings joy and optimism in this cantata.

Unbelief on the road to Emmaus

Taking a sober, stern inward look.

Could it be true? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? The women standing by his empty tomb say that this is the case. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus have their doubts about the long-awaited miracle. They beg the man accompanying them - who expertly taught them the scriptures along the way - to stay a little longer, as night is falling, the day is drawing to a close and they are afraid. But they did not see, or were not yet able to see, that all the time they had been talking to the resurrected Christ. Their faith was not strong enough.

This contrast between belief and unbelief, light and darkness, and salvation and sin, is the theme of this cantata. Bach was working with a rather laboured text, and many authors thus suspect it was written by a theologian. Bach represents nightfall by all sorts of slowly descending lines, for instance to the motif Bleib bei uns’, which is reminiscent of ‘Ruht wohl’ from the St John Passion, BWV 245, composed a year earlier. The imploring opening section revolves around an agitated fugue, maybe representing the inner tumult of the apostles. Like clarions, they call out in turn and then suddenly together: ‘Bleib bei uns!’

A paraphrase of the prayer by the alto and a warm oboe da caccia is followed by the first chorale: yet another fearful plea: ‘Stay with us’, but now decorated by a cautiously hopeful violoncello piccolo. Bach or his arranger included this movement in the Schübler Chorales. It is only in the fourth movement, a recitative for bass, that the lyricist is specific, giving a warning reference to the Book of Revelations: the light of Christ will not shine on those who remain in sin. With chafing steps, the tenor then illustrates the difficult, dusty path of sin, compared to the shining ‘light’, whereupon the choir ends with a short prayer in the form of a verse from the Lutheran hymn ‘Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort’.


Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden



Christoph Birkmann?

Easter Monday

First performance
2 April 1725

Special notes
Bach transcribed the chorale Ach bleib bei uns for organ in his Schübler-Choräle as BWV 649

Cast & Crew

Release date 8 June 2018
Recording date 11 February 2018
Location Walloon Church, Amsterdam
conductor Jos van Veldhoven
soprano Maria Keohane
alto Tim Mead
tenor Daniel Johannsen
bass Matthew Brook
Ripieno soprano Hilde Van Ruymbeke, Marjon Strijk
Ripieno alto Barnabás Hegyi, Marleene Goldstein
Ripieno tenor Kevin Skelton, Guy Cutting
Ripieno bas Drew Santini, Matthew Baker
violin 1 Shunske Sato, Anneke van Haaften, Pieter Affourtit
violin 2 Sayuri Yamagata, Lidewij van der Voort, Paulien Kostense
viola Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
cello Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
double bass Robert Franenberg
oboe Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg
oboe da caccia Yongcheon Shin
bassoon Benny Aghassi
organ Leo van Doeselaar
harpsichord Siebe Henstra
Director and editor Bas Wielenga
Music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
Music recording, edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera Merijn Vrieling, Ivo Palmen, Martin Struijf, Bjorn Tiebout
Director of photography Merijn Vrieling
Lights Zen Bloot, Henry Rodgers, Patrick Galvin
Assistant director Ferenc Soeteman
Video engineer Vincent Nugteren
Set technique Dennis van Hoek
Data handling Jesper Blok
Project manager NEP Peter Ribbens
Interview Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
Producer concert Imke Deters
Producer film Jessie Verbrugh

Vocal Texts


1. Chor

Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend
werden, und der Tag hat sich geneiget.

2. Arie (Alt)

Hochgelobter Gottessohn,
lass es dir nicht sein entgegen,
dass wir itzt vor deinem Thron
eine Bitte niederlegen:
Bleib, ach bleibe unser Licht,
weil die Finsternis einbricht.

3. Choral (Sopran)

Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ,
weil es nun Abend worden ist,
dein göttlich Wort, das helle Licht,
lass ja bei uns auslöschen nicht.

In dieser letzt’n betrübten Zeit
verleih uns, Herr, Beständigkeit,
dass wir dein Wort und Sacrament
rein b’halten bis an unser End.

4. Rezitativ (Bass)

Es hat die Dunkelheit
an vielen Orten überhand genommen.
Woher ist aber dieses kommen?
Bloss daher, weil sowohl
die Kleinen als die Grossen
nicht in Gerechtigkeit
vor dir, o Gott, gewandelt
und wider ihre Christenpflicht gehandelt.
Drum hast du auch
den Leuchter umgestossen.

5. Arie (Tenor)

Jesu, lass uns auf dich sehen,
dass wir nicht
auf den Sündenwegen gehen.
Lass das Licht
deines Worts uns helle scheinen
und dich jederzeit treu meinen.

6. Choral

Beweis dein Macht, Herr Jesu Christ,
der du Herr aller Herren bist;
Beschirm dein arme Christenheit,
Dass sie dich lob in Ewigkeit.


1. Chorus

Abide with us, for it is toward evening
and the day is far spent.

2. Aria

Highly praised Son of God,
may it not displease Thee
that before Thy throne
we now entreat:
Abide, ah abide with us as our light,
for darkness descends.

3. Chorale

Ah, abide with us, Lord Jesus Christ,
for evening now has fallen,
Thy holy Word, the bright light,
let it not cease to shine on us!

In this final, dismal hour,
lend us constancy, O Lord,
that we Thy Word and Sacrament
keep pure until our end is nigh.

4. Recitative

Darkness has prevailed
in many places.
But wherefore has this come to pass?
Simply because
the lowly and the mighty
have not walked in righteousness
before Thee, O God,
and have violated their Christian duty.
Therefore hast thou removed
the candlestick out of his place.

5. Aria

Jesus, let us gaze on Thee,
that we might not
tread the paths of sin.
Let the light
of Thy Word shine more brightly upon us,
and truly signify Thee always.

6. Chorale

Prove Thy might, Lord Jesus Christ,
O Thou who art the Lord of Lords;
shield Thy poor Christendom,
that all Christians might praise Thee eternally.


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