Johann Sebastian Bach

Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, motet for double chorus, winds, strings & continuo, BWV 226 (BC C2)

    Description by Brian Robins

    Der Geist hilft unser Schwacheit auf, BWV 226 ("The Spirit Helpeth Our Infirmities") is one of five motets firmly ascribed to Bach. The small number compared with the composer's substantial output of cantatas may be accounted for by the fact that he was under no obligation to provide motets for liturgical use. The present work is in fact the only motet composed by Bach for which a specific purpose is known. It was composed for the funeral service of Johann Heinrich Ernesti, the elderly rector of the Thomasschule in Leipzig; the funeral took place on October 20, 1729. Bach had enjoyed good relations with Ernesti, who was 70 by the time Bach took up his post at the Thomasschule in 1723, and composed one of his finest motets for the rector's funeral. The text is taken from Romans 8:26-27; Bach's setting is a continuous single movement divided into several sections. The unexpectedly animated opening chorus is scored for eight voices disposed as two four-part choirs, with the melodic line shared by the sopranos of each group. Mood and tempo change for the second section, a fugue in five parts. This gives way to a double fugue in four parts, with the two choirs combined. The motet is generally concluded with a four-part chorale harmonization of a stanza from Martin Luther's hymn "Komm, heiliger Geist," which, although composed by Bach, is not part of the original work; it might have been used later in the service. The survival of the original autograph parts shows that Bach included a continuo bass, with strings to double the first choir and winds the second. Instrumental doubling was not unusual in motets, although they are ostensibly an a cappella form.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf
    2. Sondern der Geist selbst vertritt uns aufs beste
    3. Der aber die Hersen forschet, der weiss
    4. Du heilige Brunst, süsser Trost

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Rondeau ROP 6152
    2018 BR Klassik BRK 900523
    2018 BIS BIS 2251
    2017 Accent ACC 24331
    2017 Harmonia Mundi HMA 1901589
    2017 Ambroisie AMB 9917
    2017 Hänssler Classic HC 16031
    2017 Phi LPH 950
    2017 Erato 0190295825072
    2015 Alpha 199
    2015 Proprius Music PRCD 2066
    2015 Alto MCSCD 1271
    2015 Resonus Classics RSN 10152
    2015 Eastern Michigan University Choir
    2014 Sony Classical 88843047122
    2014 Harmonia Mundi HMA 1951231
    2014 Helios / Hyperion CDH 55417
    2014 Rondeau ROP 4032
    2014 Syrius SYR 141458
    2014 Berlin Classics 0300564 BC
    2013 Delos DE 3436
    2013 Decca
    2013 CPO 7778072
    2013 Erato 2564647351
    2012 Sony Classical 88697962552
    2012 Syrius SYR 141449
    2012 SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) / Soli Deo Gloria SDG 716
    2012 Carus CARUS 83298
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099960230
    2012 Rondeau ROP 4030
    2011 Cascavelle VEL 3158
    2011 Musica Omnia MO 0403
    2011 Novum NCR 1381
    2011 Phi LPH002
    2011 Berlin Classics 030022BC
    2010 Signum Classics 213
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94045
    2010 Ramée 0906
    2010 Sony Music Distribution 88697694152
    2010 BIS 1841
    2009 Soli Deo Gloria 159
    2009 Gramola 98875
    2009 Membran 223252207
    2008 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2008 Accent Plus 10087
    2008 Channel Classics 27108
    2008 Glossa GCDSA 922205
    2008 Berlin Classics 0013292
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93668
    2008 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 88697281822
    2008 Naïve V 5155
    2007 Rondeau 1009
    2007 Teldec
    2007 Raumklang 2601
    2007 ECM 4765776
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 41410
    2006 Cascavelle 3090
    2006 Berlin Classics 8394
    2006 Challenge Records 72160
    2005 Virgin Veritas
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 86052
    2005 Audiophile Records 101047
    2005 Cascavelle 1052
    2004 Brilliant Classics 92391
    2004 Erato 4614032
    2003 Thorofon 2481/2
    2003 Harmonia Mundi HMC80 1589
    2003 Arts Music 47573
    2003 Concordia Recordings 2465
    2002 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 60314
    2002 Harmonia Mundi 2981231
    2002 Harmonia Mundi 2908123
    2001 Harmonia Mundi 2908113/15
    2001 CBC Records 1136
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 54634
    2001 Teldec 842663
    2001 ASV/Living Era CD GAU 218
    2001 Tacet 108
    2000 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243556994
    1999 Teldec 25705
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Capriccio Records 492542
    1999 Leipzig 1812
    1999 Harmonia Mundi HMX295 1589
    1999 Accent 9287
    1999 Haenssler 92069
    1999 Philips 434165
    1999 Teldec 25712
    1999 Lyrichord 8039
    1998 Swedish Society Discofil 1091
    1998 Fleurs de Lys FL2 3001
    1998 Harmonia Mundi HMX290 8021/6
    1997 Accent 97000
    1997 Harmonia Mundi HMC90 1589
    1997 Teldec 0630174302
    1997 Naxos 553823
    1997 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 05472 77368-2
    1995 Gothic Records 49052
    1995 Capriccio Records 10030
    1995 Berlin Classics 0091 032BC
    1995 Teldec 94459
    1995 Intercord Klassische Diskothek 25903
    1993 Erato 45979
    1993 Conifer 15355
    1992 Harmonia Mundi 901231
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 45859
    1990 Hyperion 66369
    Excelsior Recordings 2440
    BBC Music Magazine 125
    Brilliant 99705/33
    Brilliant 99705/7
    Brilliant Classics 99705
    Brilliant Classics 93102-VOL5
    Analekta 29320
    Erato 17929
    Vox 9039
    Bellaphon Records 69001011
    Capriccio Records 492603
    Pro Organo 7020
    Brilliant Classics 93668/27
    Brilliant 93102/113
    Brilliant 92391/27
    Edel Records 1817
    BBC Music Magazine 44
    Conifer 15350
    Calig 50960
    NLCA 052
    Teldec
    UW Madison, School of Music 9088