Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 138, "Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz?" BWV 138 (BC A132)

    Description by James Leonard

    Composed for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, which fell on September 5, 1724, Bach's Cantata No. 138 "Was betrübst du dich, mein Herz" (What troubles you, my heart) (BWV 138) sets a hymn in its first, third, and seventh movements written by Hans Sachs, the famous singing cobbler from Nuremberg. Unusually, several of the internal movements of the cantata are joined attaca: the second to the third and the fourth to the fifth. "Was betrübst du dich, mein Herz" is scored for alto, bass, soprano, and tenor soloists and chorus, a pair of oboe d'amore, strings, and basso continuo. "Was betrübst du dich, mein Herz" is in stern B minor with its first, sixth, and seventh movements in the tonic; its second movement starting in the minor subdominant of E minor and ending on its dominant; its third wholly in the minor subdominant; and its fourth starting in E minor and ending on the dominant of its fifth movement's relative major of D major. The first movement is a chorale fantasia with the orchestra playing its own ritornello around the choral sopranos intoning Sachs' hymn above more expansive lines for the choral tenors and altos. The second is an expressive secco recitative for bass soloist and continuo. The third is a chorale setting of the Sachs' hymn with full statements of the hymn for full chorus and orchestra surrounding quasi-recitative sections, the first for choral sopranos, strings, and continuo and the second for choral altos and continuo. The fourth movement is secco recitative for impassioned tenor soloist and continuo. The fifth is a graceful triple-time aria for bass soloist, expressive first violins, strings, and continuo. The sixth is a very brief secco recitative for alto soloist and continuo. "Was betrübst du dich, mein Herz" concludes with a chorale harmonization of Sachs hymn in the chorus surrounded by waves of string lines above a purposeful continuo.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz
    2. Ich bin veracht't, der Herr hat mich zum Leiden
    3. Er kann und will dich lassen nicht
    4. Ach! wie? Gott sorget freilich fur das Vieh
    5. Ach süsser Trost! Wenn Gott mich nicht verlassen
    6. Auf Gott steht meine Zuversicht
    7. Ei nun! so will ich auch recht sanfte ruh'n
    8. Weil du mein Gott und Vater bist

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 BIS BIS 9055
    2013 Teldec 467189
    2012 Phi PHY 6
    2011 Accent ACC2531
    2011 Warner Classics 674519
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2008 Teldec 69943-7
    2007 Warner Classics
    2006 Brilliant 93102
    2006 Brilliant 99697
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99368
    2005 Soli Deo Gloria 104
    2005 Challenge Records CC72209
    2005 Berlin Classics 0032912BC
    2003 Leipzig 1800
    2001 Haenssler 92563
    2000 Haenssler 92043
    2000 Teldec 27315
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 BIS 991
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 2951659
    1999 Teldec 3984-25708-2
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 2908091/95
    1998 Harmonia Mundi 901659
    1996 Haenssler 98812
    1994 Teldec 4509-91762-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91765-2
    Brilliant 93102/62
    Brilliant Classics 99368/1
    Brilliant 99703/16
    Brilliant 99703
    Brilliant 93102-VOL3
    Edel Records 1807
    Haenssler