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Bach Cantata Listener's Guide

Ihr Menschen, ruhmet Gottes Liebe (You men, extol God's love)

Cantata 167

  • St. John the Baptist
  • Epistle: Isaah xl. 1-5 (Prepare the way)
  • Gospel: Luke 1. 57-80 (The birth of John the Baptist)
  • Rating: 2+

BWV167 opens with a serious, flowing tenor aria in 12/8 time that (as usual with Bach's use of triple metre in the cantatas) makes a fine introduction to a work that has its real surprise right at the end! The first recitative ends with an attractive arioso section which leads into a lengthy duet for soprano and alto. The introduction is promising, with one of those beguiling oboe da caccia lines so attractive in the Cantatas, but perhaps the movement overstays its welcome (at around eight minutes in length) despite a change of tempo from 3/4 to 4/4 in the middle section. A second recitative leads into the real gem of this Cantata: A brilliantly joyous accompanied chorale. If you like Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring from BWV 147 or Humble Us by Thy Goodness from BWV 22 then you should run as fast as you can to obtain a copy of this. I find it quite incomprehensible why this piece is not better known.

Copyright © 1997 & 1998, Simon Crouch.