Bach Cantata of the Week

J.S. Bach, one of the greatest composers who has ever lived, was actually a Lutheran! He spent most of his life working as a musician and composer for the Church. During his lifetime, Bach composed several works of music for use on Sunday mornings. Each of these works, called cantatas, relates to the Scripture readings assigned to a particular Sunday. On this page, you can listen and read along with what Bach wrote for the Sunday's assigned readings used at St. John's!


Genesis 1:1—2:3

Ephesians 6:10–17

John 4:46–54

God Declares Us Righteous Unsheathing His Word Against All Evil

“‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” The Father speaks, and it is so. His Word accomplishes what it says. He created all things out of nothing through His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father’s creative Word became flesh in Jesus Christ, that He might restore fallen creation and save fallen man. To the nobleman whose son was deathly ill, Jesus says, “Go; your son will live.” And in the very hour Jesus spoke, the nobleman’s son was made well. The Word of Christ still accomplishes what it says. In baptism, absolution, and the Lord’s Supper, He declares His life–giving forgiveness to you, and it is so. This saving Word of God is the sword of the Spirit by which you are able to fight off all the onslaughts of the devil. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

J.S. Bach, BWV 109 (translation from

1 Chorus [S, A, T, B]

Corno da caccia, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben! I believe, dear Lord, help my unbelief!

2 Recitative [Tenor]


Des Herren Hand ist ja noch nicht verkürzt, The hand of the Lord has certainly not grow short, Mir kann geholfen werden. I can be helped. Ach nein, ich sinke schon zur Erden Ah no, I am seeking already down to earth Vor Sorge, dass sie mich zu Boden stürzt. before the anxieties that thrust me down to the ground. Der Höchste will, sein Vaterherze bricht. The highest is willing, his father's heart is breaking. Ach nein! er hört die Sünder nicht. Ah no! He does not listen to sinners. Er wird, er muss dir bald zu helfen eilen, He will, he must soon hurry to help you, Um deine Not zu heilen. to heal your distress. Ach nein, es bleibet mir um Trost sehr bange; Ah no , I remain most anxious for consolation; Ach Herr, wie lange? Ah Lord, how long?

3 Aria [Tenor]

Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Wie zweifelhaftig ist mein Hoffen, How filled with doubt is my hope, Wie wanket mein geängstigt Herz! how my anxious heart is wavering! Des Glaubens Docht glimmt kaum hervor, The wick of my faith barely glimmers forth, Es bricht dies fast zustoßne Rohr, the bruised reed almost breaks Die Furcht macht stetig neuen Schmerz. fear causes new pain constantly.

4 Recitative [Alto]


O fasse dich, du zweifelhafter Mut, O get a grip on yourself, you spirit filled with doubt, Weil Jesus itzt noch Wunder tut! since Jesus even now works miracles! Die Glaubensaugen werden schauen The eyes of faith will behold Das Heil des Herrn; the salvation of the Lord; Scheint die Erfüllung allzufern, if the fulfillment seems too far away So kannst du doch auf die Verheißung bauen. you can nonetheless build on his promise.

5 Aria[Alto]

Oboe I/II, Continuo

Der Heiland kennet ja die Seinen, The savior knows those who belong to him, Wenn ihre Hoffnung hilflos liegt. when their hope lies helpless, Wenn Fleisch und Geist in ihnen streiten, when the flesh and spirit strive within them, So steht er ihnen selbst zur Seiten, then he himself stands at their side Damit zuletzt der Glaube siegt. so that in the end faith triumphs.

6 Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Corno da caccia, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Wer hofft in Gott und dem vertraut, Whoever hopes in God and trusts in him Der wird nimmer zuschanden; will never be put to shame; Denn wer auf diesen Felsen baut, for whoever builds on this rock Ob ihm gleich geht zuhanden even though there might befall him Viel Unfalls hie, hab ich doch nie much misfortune here , yet I have never Den Menschen sehen fallen, seen that person fall Der sich verlässt auf Gottes Trost; who relies upon the consolation of God; Er hilft sein' Gläubgen allen. He helps all those who have faith in him.


Isaiah 55:1–9

Ephesians 5:15–21

Matthew 22:1–14

Jesus Invites Us to His Wedding Feast to Receive Abundant Righteousness

The Holy Spirit sounds forth the Gospel call: “See, I have prepared my dinner ... Come to the wedding feast.” But many reject this invitation in favor of worldly pursuits. And so the call goes out to others, both the good and the bad. For the wedding invitation is not based on the qualifications of those invited but on the basis of the merits and work of Christ. The feast is free: “He who has no money, come, buy and eat ... delight yourselves in rich food.” Those rejecting the Spirit’s work shall experience God’s wrath and judgment. Those who are not clothed in Christ’s righteousness shall be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Let us therefore seek the Lord while He may be found, for He will have mercy upon us. Let us redeem the time, being filled with the Spirit, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

J.S. Bach, BWV 162 (translation from

1 Aria [Bass]

Corno da tirarsi, Violino I/II, Viola, Fagotto, Continuo

Ach! ich sehe, Ah! I see Itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe, now, as I go to the wedding, Wohl und Wehe. prosperity and misery. Seelengift und Lebensbrot, Soul's poison and bread of life, Himmel, Hölle, Leben, Tod, heaven, hell, life, death, Himmelsglanz und Höllenflammen splendor of heaven and flames of hell Sind beisammen. are together. Jesu, hilf, daß ich bestehe! Jesus, help me to endure!

2 Recitative ]Tenor]


O großes Hochzeitfest, O great wedding feast, Darzu der Himmelskönig to which the king of heaven Die Menschen rufen läßt! has summoned mankind! Ist denn die arme Braut, Yet is the poor bride, Die menschliche Natur, nicht viel zu schlecht und wenig, human nature, not far too slight and petty, Daß sich mit ihr der Sohn des Höchsten traut? that the son of the highest God should be wed to her? O großes Hochzeitfest, O great wedding feast , Wie ist das Fleisch zu solcher Ehre kommen, how is it that our flesh has attained such honor Daß Gottes Sohn that God's son Es hat auf ewig angenommen? has accepted it forever? Der Himmel ist sein Thron, The heaven is his throne, Die Erde dient zum Schemel seinen Füßen, the earth serves as a footstool for his feet, Noch will er diese Welt yet he wants to kiss this world Als Braut und Liebste küssen! as his bride and dearest beloved. Das Hochzeitmahl ist angestellt, The wedding feast is made ready, Das Mastvieh ist geschlachtet; the fattened cattle have been slaughtered; Wie herrlich ist doch alles zubereitet! how splendidly has all been prepared! Wie selig ist, den hier der Glaube leitet, How blessed is the person who is led here by faith Und wie verflucht ist doch, der dieses Mahl verachtet! and how accursed is the person who despises this meal!

3 Aria [Soprano]


Jesu, Brunnquell aller Gnaden, Jesus, source of all mercies, Labe mich elenden Gast, refresh me, your wretched guest, Weil du mich berufen hast! since you have invited me! Ich bin matt, schwach und beladen, I am feeble, weak and burdened, Ach! erquicke meine Seele, ah!, give life to my soul, Ach! wie hungert mich nach dir! ah!, how I hunger for you! Lebensbrot, das ich erwähle, Bread of life, which I choose, Komm, vereine dich mit mir! come, be united with me!

4 Recitative [Alto]


Mein Jesu, laß mich nicht My Jesus, do not let me Zur Hochzeit unbekleidet kommen, come to the wedding without the proper clothes Daß mich nicht treffe dein Gericht; so that your judgement may not strike me; Mit Schrecken hab ich ja vernommen, With horror I have heard Wie du den kühnen Hochzeitgast, how the bold wedding guest Der ohne Kleid erschienen, who appeared without the proper clothes Verworfen und verdammet hast! was thrown out and condemned by you. Ich weiß auch mein Unwürdigkeit: I know also my unworthiness Ach! schenke mir des Glaubens Hochzeitkleid; Ah! give me the wedding clothes of faith; Laß dein Verdienst zu meinem Schmucke dienen! let your merit serve as my adornment! Gib mir zum Hochzeitkleide Give to me as wedding clothes Den Rock des Heils, der Unschuld weiße Seide! the robe of salvation, the white silk of innocence! Ach! laß dein Blut, den hohen Purpur, decken Ah! let your blood, the exalted purple, cover Den alten Adamsrock und seine Lasterflecken, the old coat of Adam and its sinful stains, So werd ich schön und rein so shall I be be beautiful and pure Und dir willkommen sein, and welcome to you, So werd ich würdiglich das Mahl des Lammes schmecken. so shall I worthily taste the supper of the Lamb.

5 Aria (Duetto) [Alto, Tenor]


In meinem Gott bin ich erfreut! In my God I delight! Die Liebesmacht hat ihn bewogen, The power of love has moved him Daß er mir in der Gnadenzeit so that in this time of mercy he Aus lauter Huld hat angezogen from pure grace has put on me Die Kleider der Gerechtigkeit. the clothes of righteousness. Ich weiß, er wird nach diesem Leben I know after this life he will Der Ehre weißes Kleid give to me the white robe of honor Mir auch im Himmel geben. in heaven also.

6 Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Corno da tirarsi e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Ach, ich habe schon erblicket Ah, I have already glimpsed Diese große Herrlichkeit. this great splendor. Itzund werd ich schön geschmücket Soon I shall be beautifully adorned Mit dem weißen Himmelskleid; with the white clothes of heaven; Mit der güldnen Ehrenkrone with the golden crown of honor Steh ich da für Gottes Throne, I shall stand there before God's throne, Schaue solche Freude an, I shall look on such joy Die kein Ende nehmen kann. as can never end.


Genesis 28:10–17 Ephesians 4:22–28 Matthew 9:1–8

Jesus’ Incarnation Secures for Us Life, Forgiveness, and Healing

The Lord does not require us to ascend to Him; in mercy He descends to us. The ladder in Jacob’s dream was not for climbing; it was the means by which the Lord came to bless Jacob. This event finds its fulfillment in Christ who descended from His throne to save and bless us. By His incarnation He is the eternal bridge between heaven and earth. “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” The Lord was present in the flesh to absolve the paralytic. Jesus also healed and restored this man’s body. “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.” The Lord still has power on earth to forgive sins. In holy absolution He raises up the new man and bestows the healing medicine which will bring about our resurrection on the Last Day. Thus we say with Jacob, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

J.S. Bach, BWV 48 (translation from

1 Chorus [S, A, T, B]

Tromba, Oboe I/II all' unisono, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen vom Leibe dieses Todes? Miserable man that I am, who will free me from the body of this death?

2 Recitative [Alto]

Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

O Schmerz, o Elend, so mich trifft, O pain, O misery, that strikes me, Indem der Sünden Gift while the poison of sin Bei mir in Brust und Adern wütet: rages in my breast and veins: Die Welt wird mir ein Siech- und Sterbehaus, the world becomes for me a house of sickness and death, Der Leib muß seine Plagen Bis zu dem Grabe mit sich tragen. the body must bear its troubles with it until the grave. Allein die Seele fühlet den stärksten Gift, Only the soul feels the strongest poison, Damit sie angestecket; with which it is infected; Drum, wenn der Schmerz den Leib des Todes trifft, therefore, when pain strikes the mortal body, Wenn ihr der Kreuzkelch bitter schmecket, when the soul tastes the bitterness of the chalice of the cross, So treibt er ihr ein brünstig Seufzen aus. this drives the soul to utter a burning sigh.

3 Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Tromba e Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Solls ja so sein, If it must indeed be so, Daß Straf und Pein that punishment and pain Auf Sünde folgen müssen, must follow upon sin, So fahr hie fort then here continue [to treat me in this way] Und schone dort and there take care of me Und laß mich hie wohl büßen. and let me here do penance.

4 Aria [Alto]

Oboe solo, Continuo

Ach, lege das Sodom der sündlichen Glieder, Ah, may Sodom with its sinful members, Wofern es dein Wille, zerstöret darnieder! so far as it is your will, lie levelled and destroyed! Nur schone der Seele und mache sie rein, But take care of my soul and make it pure, Um vor dir ein heiliges Zion zu sein. so that it may be a holy Zion before you.

5 Recitative [Tenor]


Hier aber tut des Heilands Hand But here the Savior's hand Auch unter denen Toten Wunder. does wonders even among the dead. Scheint deine Seele gleich erstorben, Although your soul appears to be dead, Der Leib geschwächt und ganz verdorben, your body weakened and quite ruined, Doch wird uns Jesu Kraft bekannt: yet Jesus' power will be revealed to us: Er weiß im geistlich Schwachen for us who are weak in spirit he knows how to Den Leib gesund, die Seele stark zu machen. make the body healthy, the soul strong.

6 Aria [Tenor]

Violino I e Oboe all' unisono, Violino II, Viola, Continuo

Vergibt mir Jesus meine Sünden, If Jesus forgives me my sins, So wird mir Leib und Seele gesund. then my body and soul will become healthy. Er kann die Toten lebend machen He can make the dead live Und zeigt sich kräftig in den Schwachen, and shows himself to be mighty with those who are weak, Er hält den längst geschloßnen Bund, he keeps the covenant made long ago Daß wir im Glauben Hilfe finden. that in faith we find help.

7 Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Tromba e Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Herr Jesu Christ, einiger Trost, Lord Jesus Christ, my only comfort, Zu dir will ich mich wenden; I want to entrust myself to you; Mein Herzleid ist dir wohl bewußt, the sorrow of my heart is well known to you, Du kannst und wirst es enden. you can and will end it. In deinen Willen seis gestellt, In your will may it be arranged, Mach's, lieber Gott, wie dir's gefällt: do, dear God, as is pleasing to you: Dein bleib und will ich bleiben. I remain yours and I want to remain yours.


Deuteronomy 10:12–21

1 Corinthians 1:(1–3) 4–9

Matthew 22:34–46

In Life and Death, Christ Fulfills the Law of God

The Pharisees ask a Law question. Jesus asks a Gospel question. The Pharisees seek to test Jesus in His own words. Jesus seeks to “test” them in the saving reality of who He is as the Messiah. The Law requires you to “fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” and to “love the sojourner.” Failure to keep the Law perfectly brings judgment. On the other hand, the Gospel brings the grace of God given by Jesus Christ, that you may be blameless in the day of His return. Jesus is David’s Son yet David’s Lord, true God and true man. He is Love incarnate who fulfilled all the demands of God’s Law on our behalf, that we might be saved from the Law’s condemnation and sanctified in the Gospel’s forgiveness. Thereby we see that “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

J.S. Bach, BWV 96 (translation from

1 Chorus [S, A, T, B]

Corno, Tromba da tirarsi, Flauto piccolo, Oboe I/II, Violino piccolo, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn, Lord Christ, the only son of God, Vaters in Ewigkeit, of the Father in eternity Aus seinem Herzn entsprossen, who sprang from his heart, Gleichwie geschrieben steht, just as it stands written, Er ist der Morgensterne, He is the morning Star, Sein' Glanz streckt er so ferne his splendour he makes reach so far Vor andern Sternen klar. beyond any other stars.

2 Recitative [Alto]


O Wunderkraft der Liebe, O amazing power of love, Wenn Gott an sein Geschöpfe denket, when God considers those that he has created, Wenn sich die Herrlichkeit when his glory Im letzten Teil der Zeit In the last part of time Zur Erde senket. sinks down to earth. O unbegreifliche, geheime Macht! O incomprehensible, secret power! Es trägt ein auserwählter Leib A chosen body bears Den großen Gottessohn, the great son of God, Den David schon Whom David already Im Geist als seinen Herrn verehrte, In spirit honored as his Lord Da dies gebenedeite Weib For this blessed woman In unverletzter Keuschheit bliebe. remained in immaculate purity, O reiche Segenskraft! so sich auf uns ergossen, Oh rich power of blessing! poured out upon us Da er den Himmel auf-, die Hölle zugeschlossen. for he has opened heaven and shut hell.

3 Aria [Tenor]

Flauto traverso solo, Continuo

Ach, ziehe die Seele mit Seilen der Liebe, Ah, draw my soul to you with ties of love, O Jesu, ach zeige dich kräftig in ihr! O Jesus, ah show yourself powerfully in it! Erleuchte sie, dass sie dich gläubig erkenne, Enlighten it, so that it may recognize you in faith, Gib, dass sie mit heiligen Flammen entbrenne, grant that it may be on fire with sacred flames, Ach würke ein gläubiges Dürsten nach dir! Ah, make it have a thirst for faith in you!

4 Recitative [Soprano]


Ach, führe mich, o Gott, zum rechten Wege, Ah, lead me, O God, on the right way, Mich, der ich unerleuchtet bin, I, who am unenlightened, Der ich nach meines Fleisches Sinn who because of the desires of my flesh So oft zu irren pflege; am accustomed to go wrong so often. Jedoch gehst du nur mir zur Seiten, But if only you walk beside me Willst du mich nur mit deinen Augen leiten, if only you are willing to lead me with your eyes So gehet meine Bahn then my path leads Gewiss zum Himmel an. certainly to heaven.

5 Aria [Bass]

Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Bald zur Rechten, bald zur Linken Now to the right, now to the left Lenkte sich mein verirrter Schritt. my erring steps turn. Gehe doch, mein Heiland, mit, Go along with me , my savior, Laß mich in Gefahr nicht sinken, let me not sink into danger, Laß mich ja dein weises Führen let me be aware of your wise guidance Bis zur Himmelspforte spüren! all the way to heaven's gates!

6 Chorale [S, A, T, B]

Corno e Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Ertöt uns durch dein Güte, Kill us with your goodness, Erweck uns durch dein Gnad; awaken us with your mercy; Den alten Menschen kränke, make the old man weak Dass er neu Leben hab so that he may have new life Wohl hier auf dieser Erden, even here on this earth, Den Sinn und all Begierden so that his mind and desires Und G'danken hab'n zu dir. and thoughts may be for you.


Proverbs 25:6–14

Ephesians 4:1–6

Luke 14:1–11

Whoever Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted

“Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence.” Rather, take the lowest position at the table. Humble yourself before Him. For your place is not for you to take but for Him to give. Conduct yourself with all lowliness and gentleness, bearing with one anot