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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

O heilges Geist und Wasserbad (Oh Holy Spirit and waterbath)

Cantata 165

  • Trinity Sunday
  • Epistle: Romans xi. 33-36 (Who can know the riches of the wisdom and judgements of God)
  • Gospel: John iii. 1-15 (Nicodemus coming to Christ in the night)
  • Rating: 3

The rather odd English transliteration of the title of this short cantata may perhaps be better rendered in a freer translation such as Oh Holy fountain, sanctified. Alas, the music is a lot less interesting than the title, nothing here really stays in the memory for longer than the length of the work. The opening soprano aria is fugal in structure and, to my ears, would be better rendered as a purely instrumental (the organ, perhaps?) fugue. A recitative precedes the alto aria that flows along pleasantly in triple metre and a further, more expressive recitative leads to the final aria for tenor. Again a pleasant enough movement without really troubling the memory. The cantata is concluded with a straightforward chorale setting.

Copyright © 1997 & 1998, Simon Crouch.