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BWV 147a Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben (original)


The 1716 Advent cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben (text by Salomon Franck, BWV 147a) is completely overshadowed by Bachs 1723 'remake' for the Feast of the Annunciation (with Jesu joy - BWV 147). However, a reconstruction is simple and musically worthwhile. Only the aria for bass Ich will von Jesu Wundern singen from BWV 147 (nr. 9) has to be re-texted completely. The rest are minor changes. Simply use the scheme below (bold is where the original differs) place the original text below the notes and you will soon notice that it perfectly fits the music. Even better...The signal-like theme of BWV 147/9 suddenly sounds natural, 'logical', since the text refers to John the Baptist "the voice that crieth in the wilderness...".


Below the text and the image a more thorough assessment of the provenance, since there is some confusion.


advent 2016 / Dick Wursten
[cantata performed at 4/12/2016 in the Church of St. Norbertus (Antwerp) by the Antwerp Baroque Orchestra, dir. Emmanuel van Kerckhoven.]


 (BWV 147a)

Text: Salomo Franck (Weimar)

BWV 147

The numbers refer to the opening choir and the arias from 1723

Dutch translation






Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben

Muß von Christo Zeugnis geben

Ohne Furcht und Heuchelei,

Daß er Gott und Heiland sei.


Hart en mond en daad en leven

moet van Christus getuigen

zonder vrees of huichelarij,

dat Hij God en Heiland is.




2. ARIE (alt)


Schäme dich, o Seele, nicht,

Deinen Heiland zu bekennen,

Soll er seine Braut * sich nennen

Vor des Vaters Angesicht!

Doch wer ihn auf dieser Erden

Zu verleugnen sich nicht scheut,

Soll von ihm verleugnet werden,

Wenn er kommt zur Herrlichkeit.



       .... dich die seine






Schaam u, ziel, toch niet

om uw Heiland te belijden,

als u wilt dat hij u zijn bruid noemt

voor het aangezicht des Vaders!

Maar wie hier op aarde

hem verloochenen zal,

zal ook hij verloochenen

als Hij komt in heerlijkheid.




3. ARIE (tenor)


Hilf, Jesu, hilf, daß ich auch dich bekenne

In Wohl und Weh, in Freud und Leid,

Daß ich dich meinen Heiland nenne

Im Glauben und Gelassenheit,

Daß stets mein Herz von deiner Liebe brenne.

Hilf, Jesu, hilf!


Help mij, Jezus, help dat ik ook u belijden mag in wel en wee, in vreugde en lijden,

dat ik u mijn Heiland noemen mag

met een rustig vast geloof,

dat mijn hart steeds branden mag door uw liefde. Help mij, Jezus, help.




4. ARIE (sopraan)



Bereite dir, Jesu, noch heute die Bahn,

Beziehe die Höhle **

Des Herzens, der Seele,

Und blicke mit Augen der Gnaden mich an!


              ...     itzo die Bahn

Mein Heiland, erwähle

Die gläubende Seele

Und siehe mit Augen...

Bereid de weg , o Jezus, noch vandaag,

Neem intrek in de holte*

Van mijn hart, mijn ziel

en zie mij aan met genadevolle ogen.





5. Aria (bas)

9 aria (bas)

Lass mich der Rufer Stimme hören,

Die mit Johanne treulich lehren,

Ich soll in dieser Gnadenzeit

Von Finsternis und Dunkelheit

Zum wahren Lichte mich bekehren.

Ich will von Jesu Wundern singen

Und ihm der Lippen Opfer bringen,

Er wird nach seiner Liebe Bund

Das schwache Fleisch, den irdschen Mund

Durch heilges Feuer kräftig zwingen.

Laat mij de 'stem der Roependen' horen,

Die trouw aan Johannes leren,

Dat ik in deze genadetijd

Mij van duisternis en donkerheid

Naar het ware licht moet keren.







Dein Wort lass mich bekennen

Für dieser argen Welt,

Auch mich dein'n Diener nennen,

Nicht fürchten Gwalt noch Geld,

Das mich bald mög ableiten

Von deiner Wahrheit klar;

Wollst mich auch nicht abscheiden

Von der Christlichen Schar.

Sixth Stanza from the choral:

'Ich dank dir lieber Herre'.

Simply use a 4vv chorale from 371 Choralgesänge (3 versions available)

Laat mij uw woord belijden,

Voor deze boze wereld,

Laat mij ook uw dienaar wezen

Niet bang voor macht en geld,

Dat mij zo makkelijk kan afleiden

Van uw zonneklare waarheid;

Maak mij ook nooit los

Van de christelijke gemeenschap.


* In BWV 147 all references to the 'bride-groom' mysticism are suppressed. The imagery was appropriate in the context of Advent, where the arrival of the 'groom' is announced, coming to his 'bride' (Christ/Soul). One of the - for most modern readers invisible, incomprehensible-  references to the Bride/Groom mysticis is the the phrase 'Beziehe die 'Höhle des Herzens ':  [back]
** The word 'Höhle' in nr. 4 refers to the text of Song of Songs, ch. 2, 14: My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. In the allegorical mystical reading of the Song of Songs this invitation is linked to the wound in Jesus side, from which fled 'water and blood', salvific...(see f.i. Bernardus of Clairvaux's sermon on this text, in which this imagery is used. It became 'stock material' for  devotional literature since then, far into the 18th century.[back]

Remarkable: in the autograph score of this Aria (BWV 147/5) the original wording of the second line is still recognisable (the first two words 'beziehe die' are crossed out and are replaced by the phrase: mein heiland, erwähle die gläubende.... Did Bach suppress this reference to the Song of Songs himself last minute (slipped through in the general revision?). Or was he copying the original score and did he realize too late that this text should be replaced as well ? We'll never know, but we are as close as we can get to Bach at work...

autograph BWV 147/5

Was the Weimar cantate ever completed by Bach or did he break up after part 1 (thesis of many scholars, e.g. Christoph Wolff) ?

In the official source edition of the NBA (Neue Bach Ausgabe), one can read: Musik verschollen (Music lost). There are doubts whether Bach ever completed or performed the cantata. The libretto is 'sure', sinced it is published in 1717 by Salomon Franck himself. The score of BWV 147 (the 1723 cantata) is available in Bach's own handwriting (the above is copied from that source). A fascinating detail: the paper can be dated, so we now know that the pages with the first movement of this manuscript (the opening chorus) date back to Weimar 1716. The movements 2-5 (until p. 6v) date from 1723 and the rest from 1728-32. Christoph Wolff  (Bach. Learned Musician, p. 164), following Alfred Durr, The Cantatas of J.S. Bach  - English translation -, p. 15) infers from this state of affairs, that 'Bach broke up the composition after mvt. 1'. This however is an example of  jumping to conclusions based on reasoning e nihilo. In 1723 Bach had to break up at this point, because at that point new text was inserted and newly composed music had te be written down after the openingchorus. Ergo: the material evidence does not prove anything about the (non-)completion of the composition, let alone about the question whether is was performed or not. We have to leave that open, and present our opinions with the necessary caveats. The fact that the text of the bass-aria of 1723 exactly follows the metrical pattern of the text of 1716 rather suggests that Bach re-used the music in 1723. As suggested above: the signal-like theme also provides a clue that the music originally was conceived for the 1716 text.