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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Lobe den Herrn, den mächtigen König der Ehren (Praise the Lord, the mighty King of honours)

Cantata 137

  • Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
  • Epistle: 2 Corinthians iii. 4-11 (Ministers of a new Covenant)
  • Gospel: Mark vii. 31-37 (The deaf man cured)
  • Rating: 1

It is thought that this cantata as well as serving for the Sunday service, was used at the inauguration of the new town council in Leipzig which occurred a few days later. The festive use of trumpets and drums certainly seems to support this hypothesis. Bach uses an older style of cantata composition here, with the verses of the hymn unchanged (similar to BWV 4).

The first verse is a fugal chorus with an exuberant introduction, the second a solo aria where the alto sings a decorated form of the chorale melody whilst the obbligato violin darts around. Bach later transcribed this movement as one of the Schubler Chorales (BWV 650). The third movement sees soprano and bass soloist competing to elaborate on the melody and the fourth gives a counter melody to the tenor soloist whilst the trumpet holds the original melody. The continuo group are on stimulants. Proceedings are rounded off in grand style by everyone at full volume in the concluding chorale.

Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.