Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 180, "Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele," BWV 180 (BC A149)

    Description by Erik Eriksson

    Composed in Leipzig for the twentieth Sunday after Trinity, Cantata No. 180 "Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele" (Bedeck yourself, O beloved soul) is drawn from a hymn by Johann Franck, although the paraphrases heard in several stanzas are the work of an anonymous writer. The Gospel for this Sunday is Matthew 22:1-14, describing a royal feast given upon the wedding of the king's son. With the efficacy of communion given overarching attention, the entire work exudes confidence and assurance. Engaging soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists and a four-part chorus (SATB), Bach employed subtle textures for his instrumental complement. Strings (consisting of two violins, viola, and violoncello piccolo), two transverse flutes, two recorders, an oboe, oboe da caccia (English horn in modern terms), and continuo form the comforting timbre that so eloquently enhances the meaning of the words. Running time is approximately 23-24 minutes. The gracious chorus that begins the work urges the listener to abandon sin's dark lair for the approaching brilliant light, to which the Lord has given the invitation. To flute and continuo accompaniment, an aria for solo tenor exhorts the guest to be lively in response to the savior's knock at the spirit's door. Words of joy, though necessarily incomplete, must be spoken to Him. Next comes a recitative for solo soprano expressing wonder over the lavishness of the sacred banquet. This directly leads to a chorale yearning for union with God through God's bounty. An alto recitative voices both fear and gladness; fear that the way to God's secret is sometimes veiled, but joy when the savior's heart is revealed. A soprano aria, "Lebens Sonne, Licht der Sinnen" (Sunlight of life, light of understanding), features flute and oboe accompaniment and exudes gratefulness, assuring the Lord that his servant is loyal and uncritical of those whose faith is less certain. The bass soloist thereupon enters into a recitative, "Herr, lass an mir dein treues Lieben" (Lord, allow me in your true love), in which he asks that this love might kindle his spirit to seek only causes of divine worth. The concluding chorale seeks the help of Jesus in assuring that the invitation to the table might always be open, in heaven as on Earth.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
    2. Ermunt're dich, dein Heiland klopft
    3. Wie teuer sind des heil'gen Mahles Gaben?
    4. Mein Herz fühlt in sich Furcht und Freude
    5. Lebens Sonne, Licht der Sinnen
    6. Herr, lass' an mir dein treues Lieben
    7. Jesu, wahres Brot des Lebens

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2016
    BIS
    BIS 9055
    2015
    J.S. Bach-Stiftung
    A 913CD
    2013
    Naïve
    NC 40031
    2013
    Teldec
    671897
    2013
    Farao Classics
    B 108072
    2011
    Warner Classics
    674125
    2011
    Naïve
    E 8936
    2010
    Soli Deo Gloria
    168
    2010
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2010
    Brilliant Classics
    94050
    2009
    Naïve
    E 8926
    2008
    Teldec
    69943-7
    2007
    Warner Classics
    381156
    2007
    Various Artists
    Naïve
    V5126
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    93102
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    99697
    2006
    Accent
    25301
    2006
    Challenge Records
    72210
    2005
    BIS
    1401
    2004
    Naïve
    E 8897
    2004
    Naïve
    8893
    2001
    Haenssler
    92563
    2000
    Haenssler
    92054
    1999
    Teldec
    25705
    1999
    Teldec
    25704
    1999
    Astree
    128530
    1999
    Various Artists
    Teldec
    3984-25709-2
    1998
    Archiv Produktion
    457631
    1996
    Astree
    8597
    1995
    Newport Classic
    85582
    1994
    Archiv Produktion
    439 368-2AX26
    1994
    Astree
    8530
    1994
    Archiv Produktion
    439 394-2AX5
    1994
    Teldec
    4509-91763-2
    1994
    Teldec
    4509-91765-2
    Brilliant
    99704/18
    Brilliant Classics
    99704
    Brilliant Classics
    93102/94
    Brilliant
    99705/33
    Various Artists
    Brilliant Classics
    99705
    Brilliant Classics
    93102-VOL4
    Erato
    80220
    Haenssler
    Haenssler
    98816