Johann Sebastian Bach

Cantata No. 186, "Ärgre dich, O Seele, nicht," BWV 186 (BC A108)

    Description by Erik Eriksson

    Completed in Leipzig in 1723, this cantata for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity draws on a shorter 1716 work, now lost, composed by Bach in Weimar. The Gospel is Mark 8:1-9, the story of the loaves and fishes. Adapted from a text by Salomon Franck, it addresses the issue of Christ's divinity at greater length than the miracle described in Mark. Divided into two parts, Cantata No. 186 ("Trouble thyself not, O spirit") calls for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists, as well as the customary SATB chorus. The accompanying instrumental ensemble includes strings, two oboes (one of them an oboe da caccia, forerunner of the English horn), a fagotto (bassoon), and continuo. Different here is the placement of solo moments; the tenor and bass complete their recitatives and arias before the soprano and alto soloists make their first appearances. A traditional performance will run approximately 28 minutes; a reading based on later scholarship may run less. The opening chorus begins and closes with the same line, "Trouble thyself not, O spirit," enfolding between appearances of the promise that God's brilliance is beheld in servant's form. The ensuing solo bass recitative, voiced over continuo alone, expands on this thought and notes that Christ himself seeks poverty, for great wealth is Satan's province. The bass aria following, ("Bist du, der mir helfen soll"), posits the question of faith versus reason ("let reason alone not confuse you"). A tenor recitative describes the insufficiency of caring for the body when spiritual salvation lies in Jesus. The tenor's following aria, accompanied by oboe and continuo, assures that in the savior's blessings are found nourishment for the both body and soul. The first part ends with a choral fantasia, "O sichs anliess, als wollt er nicht" ("Though it might appear that he was opposed"). The second part begins with a solo bass recitative comparing the world to an immense wilderness. A soprano aria promises God's bounty, the word of life. The alto soloist, heard in recitative, urges the dissolution of the world, leading to the soprano/alto duet "Lass, Seele, kein Leiden" (Allow, my soul, no sorrow"), an exquisite interlude sung with oboes, strings, and continuo. The concluding choral fantasia urges the supplicant to patiently await God's promise.


    1. Arg're dich, o Seele, nicht
    2. Die Knechtsgestalt, die Not, der Mangel
    3. Bist du, der mir helfen soll
    4. Ach, dass ein Chrsit so sehr vor seinen Korper sorgt!
    5. Mein Heiland lässt sich merken
    6. Ob sich's anliess', als wollt' er nicht
    7. Es ist die Welt die grosse Wüstenei
    8. Die Armen will der Herr umarmen
    9. Nun mag die Welt mit ihrer Lust vergehen, Recitative for alto
    10. Lass, Seele, kein Leiden
    11. Die Hoffnung wart' der rechten Zeit

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 BIS BIS 9055
    2014 Accent ACC 25317
    2013 Teldec 671891
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94050
    2010 Soli Deo Gloria 177
    2009 SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) 156
    2008 Teldec 69943-7
    2007 Warner Classics
    2006 Brilliant 99697
    2006 Brilliant 93102
    2005 Challenge Records 72206
    2003 BIS 300951
    2001 Haenssler 92563
    2000 Haenssler 92056
    2000 Sony Classical 60681
    1999 Teldec 25704
    1999 BIS 951
    1999 Teldec 3984-25709-2
    1998 Erato 21629
    1994 Teldec 4509-91764-2
    1994 Teldec 4509-91765-2
    1989 Teldec 35836
    Brilliant 99703/30
    Brilliant 99703
    Brilliant 93102/76
    Brilliant 93102-VOL3