カンタータ:BWV 170 Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust,

Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust (Delightful rest, beloved pleasure of the soul), BWV 170 in Leipzig for the sixth Sunday after Trinity. It is a solo cantata for alto which he first performed on 28 July 1726.

History and words

Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed readings for the Sunday are from the Epistle to the Romans, "By Christ's death we are dead for sin" (Romans 6:3-11), and from the Gospel of Matthew a passage from the Sermon on the Mount about better justice than the justice of merely observing laws and rules (Matthew 5:20-26). The text of the cantata is drawn from Georg Christian Lehms' Gottgefalliges Kirchen-Opfer (1711) and speaks of the desire to lead a virtuous life and so enter heaven and avoid hell.

Bach first performed the cantata on 28 July 1726. Its brevity, compared to the cantatas in two parts written before and after, such as Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot, BWV 39, can be explained assuming that in the same service another cantata Ich will meinen Geist in euch geben, JLB 7, by Johann Ludwig Bach was also performed. It is regarded as part of Bach's third cantata cycle.

Scoring and structure

The cantata is one of three Bach cantatas written in Leipzig in the summer and fall of 1726, in which an alto soloist is the only singer, the others being Geist und Seele wird verwirret, BWV 35, and Gott soll allein mein Herze haben, BWV 169. It seems likely that Bach had a capable alto singer at his disposal during this period. The cantata is structured in five movements and scored for a small orchestra of oboe d'amore, two violins, viola, organ solo and basso continuo.

The work is in five movements, three arias separated by two recitatives:
1. Aria: Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust
2. Recitative: Die Welt, das Sundenhaus
3. Aria: Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen
4. Recitative: Wer sollte sich demnach wohl hier zu leben wunschen
5. Aria: Mir ekelt mehr zu leben
A typical performance of the cantata will last around twenty minutes.

Music

The first aria is a da capo aria in a pastoral rhythm. Musicologist Julian Mincham notes: "The first stanza is enigmatically poetic and its essence is an evocation of that peace and inner contentment".

The second aria is set without continuo, symbolic of the lack of direction in the lives of those who ignore the word of God, as spoken about in the text. The organ plays two parts, the violins and viola in unison a third.

The second recitative is accompanied by the strings and continuo. The strings play mostly long chords but illustrate the words "bei Gott zu leben, der selbst die Liebe heist" (to live with God, whose name is love) by more lively movement.

The final aria is a triumphant song of turning away from the world and desiring heaven. The words "Mir ekelt" (I feel revulsion) are expressed by an unusual tritone opening the melody. The voice is ornamented by figuration in the organ, which Bach set for flauto traverso for a performance in his last years.

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