Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 136, "Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz," BWV 136 (BC A111)

    Description by James Leonard

    Composed for the eighth Sunday after Trinity, which fell on June 18, 1723,

    Bach's Cantata No. 136 "Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz" (Inquire of me, God, and examine my heart) (BWV 136) sets an anonymous text based on Psalm 139:23 and concludes with a chorale by Johann Heermann from 1630. Although there are indications that at least some of the cantatas movements are based on pre-existing models, the earlier works have not yet been discovered. The cantata is scored for tenor, alto, and bass soloists with chorus, oboe, oboe d'amore, strings, and basso continuo, and clarion horn in the outer movements. "Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz" starts in A major in its first movements, its second movement is in C sharp minor, its third in F sharp minor, and its fourth, fifth, and sixth movements in B minor. The first movement is a spacious chorale fugue with an independent orchestral ritornello. The second is a secco recitative for tenor soloist and continuo. The third is an aria in the form of a trio sonata for doleful alto soloist, obbligato oboe d'amore, and continuo. The fourth is secco recitative for bass soloist and continuo that becomes more dexterous at the close. The fifth is a 12/8 duet aria in the form of a trio sonata for virtuoso tenor and bass soloist, unison violins, and continuo. "Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz" concludes with a chorale harmonization for chorus, descant first violins, and the remainder of orchestra colla parte.


    1. Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz
    2. Ach, dass der Fluch, so dort die Erde schlagt
    3. Es kommt ein Tag, so das Verborg'ne richtet
    4. Die Himmel selber sind nicht rein
    5. Uns treffen zwar der Sunden Flecken
    6. Dein Blut, der elde Saft, hat solche Stark' und Kraft

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 BIS BIS 9055
    2013 Teldec 671846
    2011 Warner Classics 674149
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2008 SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) 147
    2008 Teldec 69943-7
    2007 Warner Classics
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2005 Challenge Records 72207
    2001 Haenssler 92563
    2000 Haenssler 92043
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 BIS 991
    1999 Teldec 3984-25708-2
    1998 Erato 3984 23141-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91761-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91765-2
    1993 Haenssler 98806
    Brilliant Classics 99704
    Brilliant 99704/10
    Brilliant 93102/86
    Brilliant Classics 93102-VOL4