Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): – The Church Year – Ascenscion: Wer da gläubet und getauft wird – BWV 37

Bach composed ‘Wer da gläubet und getauft wird’ (He who believes and is baptised) BWV 37, in Leipzig where it received its first performance on February 18th 1724. It’s proper to Ascension Thursday and is  beautifully gentle with a wonderful sense of clarity and of joy. The cantata opens with the principal tune being stated by the oboes followed a dancing choral rendition of Mark 16:16 that focuses upon the necessity of faith and of baptism  (Whoever believes and is baptised shall be blessed). As the motet progresses you can hear the violins quoting the chorale ‘Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot’ (These are the Ten Holy Commandments) while the basses play a descending scale that ends in a cadence.

The tenor aria (‘Der Glaube ist  …‘) that follows is somewhat unusual in that it continues in the and mood of the preceding chorus. Bach’s idea here was to amplify the chorus’ celebration of Jesus’ gift of faith by following it with a warm personal statement of love and gratitude to Jesus for bestowing the ‘jewel’ of redemption to the singer.  We now come to the cantata’s colourful heart the ‘morning star chorale’ (‘Herr Gott Vater …’) which Bach chose to present as a duet in which the two singers alternate as leader and follower with vigorous contributions from the cellist. The bass recitativ (‘Ihr Sterblichen …‘) that follows is a statement of the Lutheran doctrine on faith it’s characterised by a series of decorative musical figures suggestive of the topic being sung about and set the scene for concluding Chorale. This concluding Chorale (‘Den Glauben mir verleihe …‘) takes its key and tone from the preceding recitative it’s pleasingly plain but darker and more restrained. You’ll find it below together with its text and a translation to English. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

Video Source: Bach – Cantate BWV 37 – Wer da gläubet und getauft wird – YouTube Published on 12 Mar 2012 by MusicArt61 

Text & Translation: Wer da gläubet und getauft wird BWV37

 DeutschEnglish
1Wer da gläubet und getauft wird, der wird selig werden.
(Mark 16:16)
Whoever believes and is baptised shall be blessed.
2Der Glaube ist das Pfand der Liebe,
Die Jesus für die Seinen hegt.
Drum hat er bloß aus Liebestriebe,
Da er ins Lebensbuch mich schriebe,
Mir dieses Kleinod beigeleg
Faith is the seal of love,
which Jesus harbors for His own.
Therefore simply out of the promptings of love, when He inscribed me in the book of Life, He bestowed this jewel on me.
3Herr Gott Vater, mein starker Held!
Du hast mich ewig vor der Welt
In deinem Sohn geliebet.
Dein Sohn hat mich ihm selbst vertraut,
Er ist mein Schatz, ich bin sein Braut,
Sehr hoch in ihm erfreuet.
Eia!Eia!
Himmlisch Leben wird er geben mir dort oben;
Ewig soll mein Herz ihn loben.
("Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern," verse 5)
Lord God Father, my mighty champion!
Before the world began You loved me
in Your Son.
Your Son has betrothed me to Himself,
He is my beloved, I am His bride,
highly delighted in Him.
Eia!Eia!
He will grant me heavenly life there above;
my heart shall praise Him forever.
4Ihr Sterblichen, verlanget ihr,
Mit mirDas Antlitz Gottes anzuschauen?
So dürft ihr nicht auf gute Werke bauen;
Denn ob sich wohl ein Christ
Muß in den guten Werken üben,
Weil es der ernste Wille Gottes ist,
So macht der Glaube doch allein, Daß wir vor Gott gerecht und selig sein.
You mortals, do you long with me
to gaze upon the face of God?
Then you must not rely upon good works;
for even though a Christian
must be practised in good works,
since this is the earnest will of God, yet faith alone assures
that we are righteous and blessed before God.
5Der Glaube schafft der Seele Flügel,
Daß sie sich in den Himmel schwingt,
Die Taufe ist das Gnadensiegel,
Das uns den Segen Gottes bringt;
Und daher heißt ein selger Christ,
Wer gläubet und getaufet ist.
Faith creates the wings of the soul,
so that it may soar to heaven,
baptism is the seal of grace,
that brings us to God’s blessing;
and therefore he is called a blessed Christian
who believes and is baptised.
6Den Glauben mir verleihe
An dein’ Sohn Jesum Christ,
Mein Sünd mir auch verzeihe
Allhier zu dieser Frist.
Du wirst mir nicht versagen,
Was du verheißen hast,
Daß er mein Sünd tu tragen
Und lös mich von der Last.
("Ich dank dir, lieber Herre," verse 4)
Grant me faith
in Your Son Jesus Christ,
forgive my sins as well
at this time.
You will never deny me
what you have promised,
that He shall carry my sins
and release me from their burden.
Series Navigation<< Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied BWV 190Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): – The Church Year – Pentecost: Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! – BWV 172 >>

6 thoughts on “Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): – The Church Year – Ascenscion: Wer da gläubet und getauft wird – BWV 37

    • Agree with you about the text – and Bach’s setting. I’m enjoying writing this series I’ve deliberatley restricted the scope to test the waters so to speak. If it goes well I have more than enough material to expand it.

      mfi

  1. Truly beautiful and inspiring message here. I think that it is wonderful that you always include the text and the translation.
    It is a joy to be able to follow along. It brings us a richer experience, when we can understand the text as well as listen to the music. Looking forward to more. Thanks Mark.
    Bro. John

    • Isn’t it a wonderful cantata? Especially when one considers how modestly it’s scored. It’s one of my favourites both in terms of the message of its text and Bach’s treatment of that text. I’m glad you find the text useful and agree that having it (and a translation) helps greatly in terms of following along and can thus increase our enjoyment of the music. In fact it’s one of my ‘pet peeves’ that so few people do provide either the text or a translation or both.

      For this series I’m thinking about giving visitors the possibility of downloading the text as a PDF file to increase the ease of following along. Any thoughts on that?

      mfi

      • It is good to have the text on the same page , as you have it now. If the text were downloaded as a PDF file wouldn’t we have to leave the page with the Video on it in order to access the PDF? Can both be on the same page at the same time? If so, it would be a wonderful innovation.

        B.J.

      • Oh the text and translation will still be on the page as they are now (unless it’s vast such as the entirety of the text for an oratorio or a Passion) my idea is that for people who want to print them off or keep them on their own computers a PDF would be handy.

        mfi

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