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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt (Thus has God loved the world)

Cantata 68

  • Whit Monday
  • Epistle: Acts x. 42-48 (Descent of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius)
  • Gospel: John iii. 16-21 (God so loved the world)
  • Rating: 1

This short cantata is framed by two movements of solemn, perhaps even austere, beauty. The opening choral movement has the 12/8 rhythm of a dignified siciliano. The final movement is a choral double fugue. The somewhat archaic form of the music lends weight to the uncompromising dogmatism of the words (He that believeth will escape damnation, but all unbelievers are damned already). Both are tremendous. In between these we have two arias and a recitative. Both of the arias are borrowed from the secular Hunt cantata BWV 208. The first aria for soprano features an adaptation of one of the famous tunes of that cantata (not sheep may safely graze!) and retains the instrumental tailpiece that the aria has there. The bass aria is much more closely derived from its model and features a very attractive bassoon and oboe accompaniment.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.