Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 48, "Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen," BWV 48 (BC A144)

    Description by James Leonard

    Composed for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, which fell on October 3, 1723, Bach's Cantata No. 48 "Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlosen" (I am a miserable man, who will deliver me) (BWV 48) sets yet one more grotesquely self-debasing text by an anonymous poet. The opening movement takes its texts from Romans 7:24 -- "I am a miserable man, who will deliever me from my sinful death?" -- a third-movement chorale from Martin Rutilius from 1604 -- "So, yes, let suffering and pain" -- and closing with a chorale by an unknown writer -- "Lord Jesus Christ, only consolation." The cantata is scored for alto and tenor soloists, chorus, a solo trumpet, a pair of oboes, strings, and basso continuo. "Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlosen" is in dark G minor with its first, sixth, and seventh movements in the tonic; its second, third, and fifth movements in the relative major of B flat major; and its fourth movement in the mediant major of E flat major. The first movement is a large chorale fantasia on the text from Romans, with the chorus stating the text in imitative entrances against an independent full orchestral texture. The second movement is a short but expressive recitative for alto soloist, strings, and continuo. The third movement is a very straight setting of Rutilius' short chorale moving almost entirely in even quarter notes. The fourth movement is a quick, triple-time aria in the form of a trio sonata for alto soloist, oboe obbligato, and continuo. The fifth movement is a very brief and very dry secco recitative for soloist and continuo. The sixth movement is a graceful aria for tenor soloist, strings with the oboes doubling the first violins, and continuo. "Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlosen" concludes with a harmonization of an anonymous chorale for chorus and full orchestra colla parte.


    1. Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen
    2. O Schmerz, o Elend! so mich trifft
    3. Soll's ja so sein, dass Straf' und Pein
    4. Ach lege des Sodom der sündlichen Glieder
    5. Hier aber tut des Heiland's Hand
    6. Vergibt mir Jesus meine Sünden
    7. Herr Jesu Christ, einiger Trost

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 J.S. Bach-Stiftung B 540
    2017 Phi LPH 026
    2016 BIS BIS 9055
    2013 Phi LPH 012
    2013 Warner Classics 81199
    2011 Warner Classics 671365
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2008 Teldec 69943-7
    2006 Brilliant Classics 93102
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99697
    2006 Teldec Classics 8573811995
    2005 Soli Deo Gloria 110
    2005 Challenge Records CC72209
    2001 Haenssler 92561
    2001 BIS 1081
    2000 Teldec 27315
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 Haenssler 92016
    1999 Teldec 3984-25707-2
    1996 Haenssler 98813
    1994 Teldec 4509-91757-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91765-2
    Brilliant Classics 99704
    Brilliant 99704/16
    Brilliant 93102/92
    Brilliant 99705/37
    Brilliant Classics 99705
    Brilliant Classics 93102-VOL4