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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort (Uphold us, Lord, with Thy word)

Cantata 126

  • Sexuagesima Sunday
  • Epistle: 2 Corinthians xi. 19 - xii. 9 (Paul justifies himself)
  • Gospel: Luke viii. 4-15 (The parable of the sower)
  • Rating: 2+

Hm. Martin Luther (author of the chorale underlying this chorale Cantata) seems to have it in for the Turks and the Papists again. (See also BWV 18). The translation of Und steur des Papst und Turken Mord comes out rather coyly as And smite all them on evil bent in the Teldec set. Perhaps that is the appropriate way to read the sentiments of the chorale in this modern age, for when you strip away the particulars, this is a good old-fashioned smite-the-enemy, church-militant cantata. The opening chorus is a fine piece of choral writing with the trumpets providing the martial music. The following tenor aria, a prayer to arms, is not particularly distinguished. The bass aria, sandwiched between two recitatives, is perhaps closer to declamatory recitative than to aria: Rapid downward figures on the strings introduce a highly charged (into the brimstone, swiftly destroy them!) and speedy aria, requiring a highly mobile voice to make the best of it. The concluding chorale setting is straightforward but note the excellent Amen.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.