Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 146, "Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal," BWV 146 (BC A70)

    Description by Brian Robins

    It was a lifelong habit for Bach to borrow musical material from his previous works for use in new compositions. BWV 146 ("We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God") offers an interesting example of this procedure; it includes a reworking of the first two movements of a lost violin concerto which also appeared later in the D minor Harpsichord Concerto, BWV 1052.

    Cantata No. 146 was composed for the third Sunday after Easter, and was first performed on either May 12, 1726, or April 18, 1728. In the gospel for the day (John 16:16-22) the resurrected Christ tells the disciples he will shortly leave them, but that that sorrow will turn to joy. As with the superb Cantata No. 12, composed many years earlier for the same Sunday, it is the theme of a journey from darkness to light that Bach takes up. This is little apparent in the lively opening sinfonia (which corresponds to the first movement of the concerto), an example of the sort of organ obbligato movement that prefaces a number of Bach's later cantatas (the Cantata No. 188, of ca. 1728, uses the final movement of the same D minor Concerto, adapted in the same way). The opening chorus is superimposed onto the deeply moving slow movement of the concerto, with the anguish of the repeated (ostinato) bass line ideally underlining a text concerned with the tribulation that must be endured before the kingdom of heaven is attained. The choral writing, in long sustained notes, is rhythmically independent of the orchestra, which again features a concerto-like obbligato part for organ. As in the Cantata No. 12, Bach uses a rising scale to illustrate the ascent to heaven in the long alto aria that follows. A long accompanied recitative and aria for soprano follow, the former pervaded by anguished dissonance. The text of the aria (taken from Psalm 126, "They that sow in tears") is perhaps better illustrated by the affective flute and oboe d'amore solos than by the vocal line. The lively penultimate number, "How shall I myself rejoice," is a duet for tenor and bass in da capo form; it includes exuberant runs for the two singers. The text and instrumentation for the concluding chorale, Johann Schop's "Werde munter, mein Gemüte" is missing in the surviving sources for the work, all of which postdate Bach's death.


    1. Sinfonia in D minor
    2. Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen
    3. Ich will nach dem Himmel zu
    4. Ach! wer doch schon in Himmel wär'
    5. Ich sae meine Zähren
    6. Ich bin bereit mein Kreuz geduldig zu ertragen
    7. Wie will ich imich freuen, wie will ich mich laben
    8. Denn wer selig dahin fahret/Lasset ab von euren Tränen

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 BIS BIS 9055
    2014 Passacaille PAS 987
    2013 Teldec 467189
    2011 Brilliant Classics 93578
    2011 Warner Classics 674148
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2009 BIS 1791
    2008 Teldec 69943-7
    2007 Warner Classics
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Querstand 521
    2005 Soli Deo Gloria 107
    2004 Challenge Records 72215
    2001 Haenssler 92563
    2000 Haenssler 92045
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Teldec 3984-25708-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91762-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91765-2
    Brilliant Classics 99704
    Brilliant 93102/92
    Brilliant 99704/16
    Brilliant Classics 93102-VOL4
    Bach Guild 2539
    Bach Guild 2541
    Teldec 42630
    Denon Records 78965
    Haenssler 98884