Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 7, "Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam," BWV 7 (BC A177)

    Description by James Leonard

    Composed for the Feast of John the Baptist, which fell on June 24, 1724, Bach's Cantata No. 7 "Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam" (Christ our Lord came to the Jordan) (BWV 7) sets Martin Luther's baptismal hymn from 1541 as its outer choral movements and alternates verses from the hymn with poetic commentary for its inner movement's sequence of arias and recitatives. Interestingly, after the fully scored opening movement, the instrumental accompaniment for the remainder of the cantata expands as the piece progresses from the almost unaccompanied bass aria to the quartet-textured alto aria. The cantata is scored for bass, tenor and alto soloists, chorus, plus a pair of oboes d'amore, a pair of concertante solo violins, strings, and basso continuo. The cantata is in E minor with its first movement in the tonic, the second starts in G major and ends in B minor, the third movement starts in E minor and ends in D minor, the extended fourth movement in A minor, the fifth movement starts in E minor and ends in B minor, the extended sixth movement in E minor, and its seventh movement starts in the tonic and closes on the dominant. Thus, the key scheme unites all of the tonalities of the work in a continually unfolding harmonic structure. The first movement of "Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam" opens an expansive orchestral sinfonia with stately dotted rhythms supporting a solo concertante violin followed by choral statements of Luther's chorale. The second movement is an extended aria for bass soloist accompanied by a florid solo cello plus basso continuo. The third movement is an expressive recitative for tenor soloist high above the continuo. The fourth movement is an aching aria for tenor soloist, with two concertante solo violins and continuo. The fifth movement is a brief recitative for bass soloist and continuo followed by an Andante for bass, strings, and continuo. The sixth movement is a lyrical aria for alto soloist, with the pair of oboe d'amore, strings, plus continuo. "Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam" concludes with a gloomily scored harmonization of the closing lines of Luther's hymn for the entire chorus and orchestra.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam
    2. Merkt und hört, ihr Menschenkinder
    3. Dies hat Gott klar mit Worten
    4. Des Vaters Stimme liess sich hören
    5. Als Jesus dort nach seinen Leiden
    6. Menschen, glaubt doch dieser Gnade
    7. Das Aug' allein das Wasser sieht

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2016
    BIS
    BIS 9055
    2016
    Sony Classical
    88985320832
    2015
    J.S. Bach-Stiftung
    B 106CD
    2011
    Warner Classics
    671962
    2010
    Brilliant Classics
    94050
    2008
    Teldec
    69943-7
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    99697
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    93102
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    99368
    2006
    Challenge Records
    72211
    2006
    Teldec Classics
    8573810145
    2005
    Soli Deo Gloria
    101
    2005
    ATMA Classique
    SACD22400
    2004
    Erato
    4614012
    2003
    BIS
    1321
    2001
    Haenssler
    92561
    2001
    Erato
    80215
    1999
    Teldec
    25704
    1999
    Haenssler
    92003
    1999
    Various Artists
    Teldec
    3984-25706-2
    1996
    Haenssler
    98802
    1994
    Teldec
    4509-91755-2
    1994
    Teldec
    4509-91765-2
    Brilliant
    99703/20
    Brilliant Classics
    99368/5
    Brilliant
    93102/66
    Brilliant Classics
    99703
    Brilliant Classics
    93102-VOL3
    Haenssler
    Teldec