The cantata BWV 223 is known only to us via a report from Philipp Spitta: "That Bach was known [in Langula] is plain from a church cantata of his composition that I myself discovered in the "Cantorei" (the cantor's house), and which is recognisable as an early work, apparently belonging to his Mühlhausen time. [Footnote: Everything of value in the way of old music that had belonged to the Count Sachs of Langula came into my hands in 1868. But I only acquired a copy made by him of Bach's cantata, and not the original MS. The first chorus had meanwhile been lost.] It is incomplete and is adorned with other apparent additions by later cantors at Langula; still it offers some genuine matter for the consideration of the historian. The first piece, a duet for soprano and bass, in F Major, beginning with the words "Meine Seele soll Gott loben," &c., is still treated, as regards the bass part, quite in the style of the older church cantatas, and greatly resembles them in the melodic treatment; it is, however, already cast in the form of the Italian aria, and has a few interesting passages. The concluding fugue in B Flat Major, "Alles was Odem hat," &c., is a splendid piece, full of fire, of which the bold and soaring theme may be given as a specimen:-" [Spitta, Vol I, pg 343].
Spitta then gives a musical example of four and a bit bars. That is all that is left to us, since the manuscript was lost, apparently before coming to the attention of the BG editors.
Copyright © 1999, Simon Crouch.