Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 9, "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her," BWV 9 (BC A107)

    Description by James Leonard

    Composed sometime between 1732 and 1735 for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity, Bach's Cantata No. 9 "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" (Salvation has come to us) (BWV 9) is based on a hymn by Paul Speratus from 1523. The unknown poet who wrote Bach's text dropped the last two verses of Speratus' 14-verse poem, set the first and 12th verses as the first and seventh movements of the cantata, and re-worked the second through 11th verses as the central sequence of arias, duets, and recitatives. The cantata is scored for bass, tenor, soprano and alto soloists, chorus, solo transverse flute, oboe d'amore, strings, and basso continuo. The cantata is in E major, with its first and seventh movement in the tonic, its second starting in C sharp minor and ending in B major, its third in E minor, its fourth starting in B minor and ending in A major, its fifth in A major, and its sixth in B major. The first movement is typical of the opening movements of Bach's cantatas, with its orchestral polyphony interspersed with lines of Speratus' hymn stated in the sopranos and florid embellishments in the lower choral voices. The solo flute, oboe d'amore, and occasional concertante solo violin give the movement a brilliant, concerto-like texture. The second, fourth, and sixth movements are all dour recitatives for bass and basso continuo, but with the fourth closing with a two-bar arioso. The third movement is earnest da capo aria for tenor, orchestral violins, and continuo. The fifth movement is a da capo aria for soprano and alto duet accompanied by flute and oboe d'amore over a simple continuo. Interestingly, both the woodwind soloists and the singers develop the musical material as a series of canons. "Es ist das Heil uns kommen her" concludes with a lush harmonization of the final verse of Speratus' hymn for the entire chorus and orchestra.


    1. Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
    2. Gott gab uns ein Gesetz
    3. Wir waren schon zu tief gesunken
    4. Doch musste das Gesetz erfüllet werden
    5. Herr, du siehst statt guter Werke
    6. Wenn wir die Sünd' aus dem Gesetz erkennen
    7. Ob sich's anliess, als wollt' er nicht

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 J.S. Bach-Stiftung B 431
    2016 BIS BIS 9055
    2014 Accent ACC 25318
    2013 BIS 1991
    2011 Warner Classics 671962
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2009 SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) 156
    2008 Teldec 69943-7
    2006 Brilliant 99697
    2006 Brilliant 93102
    2006 Teldec Classics 8573810145
    2006 Challenge Records 72220
    2001 Haenssler 92561
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Haenssler 92003
    1999 Teldec 3984-25706-2
    1994 DG Archiv 439 368-2AX26
    1994 DG Archiv 439387
    1994 Teldec 4509-91755-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91765-2
    1993 BMG 84207
    1988 Teldec 35029
    Brilliant 99704/3
    Brilliant 99704
    Brilliant 93102/79
    Brilliant 99705/35
    Brilliant 99705
    Brilliant 93102-VOL4
    Haenssler 98859