カンタータ:BWV 34 O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe

O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe (O eternal fire, o source of love), BWV 34 (BWV 34.1), is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for Pentecost Sunday, and it was the basis for a later wedding cantata, BWV 34a, beginning with the same line. Bach led the first performance on 1 June 1727.

The librettist of the cantata is unknown. A central contemplative aria for alto, accompanied by two flutes and muted strings, is framed by recitatives, while the two outer movements are performed by the chorus and a festive Baroque instrumental ensemble of three trumpets, timpani, two oboes, strings and continuo. The last movement quotes the conclusion of Psalm 128, "Friede uber Israel" (Peace upon Israel). The themes of eternal fire, love, dwelling together and peace suit both occasions, wedding and Pentecost.

History and text

Bach adapted movements 1, 3 and 5 of this cantata for Pentecost Sunday in a later wedding cantata, O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe, BWV 34a. Formerly it was believed that BWV 34a (as BWV 34.2 was then called) was the older work. In Bach's Leipzig, the readings for Pentecost were from the Acts of the Apostles, on the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13), and from the Gospel of John, in which Jesus announces the Spirit who will teach, in his Farewell Discourse (John 14:23-31). The workload of the composer and his musicians was high for Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, because in Leipzig they were all celebrated for three days. The texts are of unknown authorship. The beginning of the text of the wedding cantata could be kept unchanged, because the image of the flames and the spirit of love suit the Pentecostal events as well as a wedding: the author had only to replace the reference to "vereinigtes Paar" (united couple) with a reference to the gospel. Movement 5 quotes the conclusion of Psalm 128, "Friede uber Israel" (Peace upon Israel, Psalms 128:6). This quote was already part of movement 4 of the wedding cantata, which quotes in movement 3 verses 4?6a from the same psalm.

Bach led the first performance on 1 June 1727 in the Nikolaikirche. The Bach scholar Klaus Hofmann notes that a printed libretto for the congregation was recently found in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg, containing the texts for the three feast days of Pentecost and Trinity of 1727. Until then the work had been dated much later, such as 1746 when a revival took place for which performance material exists. As the music of the 1727 version is lost, the timing of Bach's revisions to the wedding cantata is not known. It is likely that he revised it further in the 1740s because he wrote a new score.

Structure and scoring

Bach structured the cantata in five movements, with two choral movements framing a sequence of recitative-aria-recitative. Bach scored the work for three vocal soloists (alto, tenor, bass), a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of three trumpets (Tr), timpani (Ti), two flauti traversi (Ft), two oboes (Ob), two violins (Vl), viola (Va) and basso continuo. The Bach scholar Christoph Wolff describes the "large-scale instrumental scoring" as "suited to the festive occasion".

In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe. The continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.
Movements of O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe

Music

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