Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120
Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille (God, You are praised in the stillness), BWV 120, is a sacred cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the occasion of Ratswechsel, the inauguration of a new town council in a church service, possibly in 1728. Parts of the cantata were used for a wedding cantata BWV 120a and a cantata BWV 120b commemorating the Augsburg Confession in 1730. Bach reworked the choral second movement for the Symbolum Nicaenum of his Mass in B minor.
Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig for the inauguration of the newly elected town council, which took place in a festive service on the Monday following St. Bartholomew's Day (24 August). A first performance in 1728 or 1729 seems likely. The cantata was performed again in 1742; the autographed score of that revision is preserved, with the heading "J. J. Concerto à 4 Voci. due Hautb. due Violini, Viola, 3 Trombe, Tamburi è | Continuo". Parts of the cantata were also used for the wedding cantata Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge, BWV 120a and a cantata Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120b for the 200th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 1730. The latter work's music is lost.
Scoring, text and structure
The instrumentation reflects the festive occasion for which it was written: four soloists, soprano, alto, tenor and basso, a four-part choir, 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboe d'amore, 2 violins, viola, and basso continuo.
- Alto solo: Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille
- Coro: Jauchzet, ihr erfreuten Stimmen
- Recitativo (bass): Auf, du geliebte Lindenstadt
- Aria (soprano): Heil und Segen
- Recitativo (tenor): Nun, Herr, so weihe selbst das Regiment
- Chorale: Nun hilf uns, Herr, den Dienern dein
The first movement is based on Psalm 65:2. It is unusual for Bach to open a cantata with a solo voice, but the words "aus der Stille" (out of silence) may have prompted him to write it for alto and two oboe d'amore. The first part of the jubilant second movement, a chorus dominated by the full orchestra, was adapted for the Mass in B minor. The soprano aria with solo violin is probably based on an earlier work from Bach's time in Köthen that served as a model also for a movement of a violin sonata BWV 1019a. The tenor recitative is accompanied by strings to underline its character as a prayer for justice and future blessings. The words for the final chorale are taken from the German Te Deum "Herr Gott, dich loben wir" of Martin Luther.
Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge, BWV 120a
Parts of the cantata were used in 1729, in a different order, for a wedding cantata, that also contained two pieces to be played after the wedding: a sinfonia similar to the opening movement of the cantata Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29 and a final chorale similar to the one closing the cantata Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren, BWV 137.
- Coro: Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge (Lord God, Ruler of All Things) (parody of BWV 120/2)
- Recitativo (tenor, bass, e coro): Wie wunderbar, o Gott, sind deine Werke
- Aria (soprano): Leit, o Gott, durch deine Liebe (parody of BWV 120/4)
- Sinfonia (similar to the Sinfonia of BWV 29/1, a parody of BWV 1006/1)
- Recitativo (tenor, e coro): Herr Zebaoth, Herr, unsrer Väter Gott
- Aria (alto, tenor): Herr, fange an und sprich den Segen (parody of BWV 120/1)
- Recitativo (bass): Der Herr, Herr unser Gott, sei mit euch
- Chorale: Lobe den Herren, der deinen Stand sichtbar gesegnet (parody of BWV 137/5)
Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120b
Parts of the cantata were used for a cantata to celebrate the anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, performed 26 June 1730 in the St. Thomas Church, Leipzig. The words are found in Picander's "Ernst-Scherzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte. Dritter Theil", Leipzig, 1732. The music is lost but could be partly reconstructed according to BWV 120, parts 1, 2 and 4.
- Arioso: Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille (parody of BWV 120/1)
- Aria: Zahle, Zion, die Gelübde (parody of BWV 120/2)
- Recitativo: Ach! du geliebte Gottesstadt
- Aria: Treu im Glauben (parody of BWV 120/4)
- Recitativo: Wohlan, du heilige Gemeinde
- Choral: Du heilige Brunst, süßer Trost (Martin Luther)
- Cantatas, BWV 119-120, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Tölzer Knabenchor, Concentus Musicus Wien, Markus Huber (boy soprano), Paul Esswood, Kurt Equiluz, Robert Holl, Philippe Huttenlocher, Teldec 1971
- Die Bach Kantate Vol. 67, Helmuth Rilling, Gächinger Kantorei, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, Helen Donath, Hildegard Laurich, Adalbert Kraus, Wolfgang Schöne, Hänssler 1973
- J.S. Bach Cantatas BWV 29 "Wir danken dir, Gott"; BWV 119 "Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn"; BWV 120 "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille", Philippe Herreweghe, Collegium Vocale Gent, Deborah York, Ingeborg Danz, Mark Padmore, Peter Kooy, Harmonia Mundi 1999 review by David Hurwitz
- J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 20 containing both BWV 120 and BVW 120a, Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Sandrine Piau, Bogna Bartosz (120) - Nathalie Stutzmann (120a), James Gilchrist, Klaus Mertens, Antoine Marchand 2003
- Dürr, Alfred (1971). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German) 1. Bärenreiter-Verlag. OCLC 523584.
- "Cantata BWV 120 Provenance". bach-cantatas.com. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- Wolff, Christoph (2003). "The Cantatas of the Picander cycle and of the early 1730s" (PDF). bach-cantatas.com. pp. 22, 26. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
The first source is the score.
General sources are found for the Bach cantatas. Several databases provide additional information on each single cantata:
- Cantata BWV 120 Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille history, scoring, sources for text and music, translations to various languages, discography, discussion, bach-cantatas website
- BWV 120 – "Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes" English translation, discussion, Emmanuel Music
- Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 120 Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille English translation, University of Vermont
- BWV 120 Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille text, scoring, University of Alberta