Picander cycle of 1728–29

Picander's cycle of 1728–29 is a cycle of church cantata librettos covering the liturgical year. It was published for the first time in 1728 as Cantaten auf die Sonn- und Fest-Tage durch das gantze Jahr (Cantatas for the Sun- and feastdays throughout the year). Johann Sebastian Bach set several of these librettos to music, but it is unknown whether he covered a substantial part of the cycle. This elusive cycle of cantata settings is indicated as the composer's fourth Leipzig cycle, or the Picander cycle (German: Picander Jahrgang).[1][2][3][4][5]

Picander's librettosEdit

A few questions regarding the collaboration between Bach and Picander regularly return in the scholarly literature on the subject. A first question is when they started to collaborate actively: that may have been as early as 1723 or as late as 1729. Another one is how many Picander texts were set by Bach: apparently as good as nothing from Picander's 1724–25 cycle, and from all other settings, including the St Matthew Passion, no more than around a dozen settings are extant. Finally: how did Bach and Picander get along? Picander was primarily a satirist producing lighthearted poetry, how come that his spiritual poetry, deemed without particular intrinsic qualities, led, when set by Bach, to sacred masterpieces? The collaboration seems unlikely: the serious Bach and the jocular librettist.[6]

According to Bach's biographer Spitta, the composer chose Picander among other poets producing sacred poetry, such as Erdmann Neumeister and Salomon Franck, because Picander had few talents apart from having a swift pen and some affinity with music, that is, he could develop almost anything into lyrics, and so was amenable to producing texts tailored to the composer's expectations. A supposedly cordial relationship between the poet and the composer is illustrated by the fact that Picander's wife became a sponsor to Bach's daughter Johanna Carolina, born in 1737.[7]

Besides, Bach may have been grave in religious matters, he had a humorous side too, for instance illustrated by the quodlibets on popular tunes he produced early in his career (BWV 524) as well as later on (BWV 988/31, 1741). When producing secular cantatas such as Hercules auf dem Scheidewege (1731), the Coffee Cantata, and the 1742 Peasant Cantata, the composer and satirist seem to have been likeminded.[8]

Before June 1728Edit

As a student in Leipzig, Picander started to publish satirical poetry in 1722. The earliest evidence of Bach setting part of a text by Picander appears to date from September 1723, for the cantata Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens, BWV 148, although dating of the cantata is uncertain.

From Advent 1724 Picander started publishing spiritual poetry for the occasions of the liturgical year in weekly installments, some of it however rather secular in content, with a satirical undertone or indulging in self-pity. He continued such publications until the last Sunday after Trinity the next year, at which point he bundled this year cycle of poetry in Sammlung Erbaulicher Gedanken (collection of elevating thoughts), which included lyrics for 68 chorale melodies, and the libretto for a Passion oratorio known as Erbauliche Gedanken auf den Grünen Donnerstag und Charfreitag über den Leidenden Jesum (BWV Anh. 169, not set by Bach). The collection also contained a substantially different version of the libretto of BWV 148.

For the church year 1724–25 Bach was presenting the second half of his second Leipzig cantata cycle and the first half of his third cantata cycle, apparently using none of the Erbauliche Gedanken poetry, nor for his cantatas, nor for his St John Passion, the second version of which he had composed for Good Friday 1725.

One of Picander's secular cantata librettos, Entfliehet, verschwindet, entweichet, ihr Sorgen, however appears to have been set by Bach for presentation in Weißenfels on 23 February 1725 (BWV 249a, a.k.a. Shepherds' Cantata). The lost music of this cantata was linked to the earliest version of Bach's Easter Oratorio, and Picander may have provided the parody text for this music for Easter first performed in 1725. The libretto for that Easter cantata is however unrelated to the poetry for the occasion of Easter published in Picander's 1724–25 cycle.

In August 1725 Bach set another of Picander's secular librettos, Zerreißet, zersprenget, zertrümmert die Gruft, BWV 205, a.k.a. Der zufriedengestellte Aeolus. Later that month Bach set the council election cantata Wünschet Jerusalem Glück, BWV Anh. 4, to a libretto by Picander, but the music of that cantata is lost. Another Picander libretto for a secular cantata is known to have been set by Bach and performed in Kothen, Steigt freudig in die Luft, BWV 36a. This was probably performed in 1726, but the libretto also exists in an earlier version, Schwingt freudig euch empor, BMV 36c, presumably also by Picander.

In 1726 Bach set further librettos by Picander: a secular cantata, Verjaget, zerstreuet, zerrüttet, ihr Sterne, BWV 249b and a church cantata for Michaelmas, Es erhub sich ein Streit, BWV 19. For that sacred work Picander had published a libretto in 1725, but the text used by Bach for his 1726 cantata is an extensively reworked version of the 1725 print. Early 1727 the composer and the librettist appear to have collaborated on further cantatas, and possibly the St Matthew Passion. Later in 1727, and in early 1728, there are two further secular cantatas composed by Bach on a Picander libretto.

First publication of the 1728–29 cycleEdit

In June 1728 Picander produced the first installment of his 1728–29 cycle of cantata librettos. In its introduction he invited Bach to set the texts. No response of Bach has been recorded to this first set of 16 cantatas. If he set any of the librettos, the music has been completely lost.

Contrary to his 1724–25 cycle the installments were now in quarterly submissions of 16 to 19 cantata librettos each. These also include cantata text not usable in a Leipzig context (cantatas for the periods of Advent and Lent when in Leipzig a tempus clausum was observed), and cantatas for occasions not occurring in the period for which the cycle was planned (e.g. Christmas I and Epiphany VI).

The start of the cycle was exceptional: the publication opened with a libretto for St. John's Day, 24 June 1728, followed by a cantata text for Trinity V, which in 1728 fell on 27 June. Only from the second installment, with cantata texts for occasions from St. Michael's Day (29 September) to the end of the year a few settings by Bach are extant, the oldest of these a setting for Trinity XXI (17 October 1728). Bach's setting of the first cantata of the second installment was only premiered in 1729. In total, for the complete cycle of 70 cantata librettos, nine settings by Bach are known, and only six of these fully extant.

In Lent 1729 at the latest Bach and Picander were collaborating on the St Matthew Passion libretto, which for some movements derived from Picander's 1725 Erbauliche Gedanken publication. It is not known whether the St Matthew Passion was premiered in 1727 or 1729.

Further publications and republicationsEdit

From 1727 Picander was publishing his Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte, large collections of serious, jocular and satirical poetry. All of its volumes, most of these reprinted several times, and reworked editions, up to its fifth and last volume published in 1751, contained poetry set by Bach, both sacred and secular compositions.

The complete 1728–29 cantata cycle was republished in Volume III of the Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte, pp. 79–188, but now starting with the cantata libretto for Advent I, and with 1729 as the year indicated for the cycle.[3] The volume contained several texts set by Bach, including secular cantatas and the libretto for the St Mark Passion, BWV 247, which Bach had set in 1731. Volume III was reprinted in 1737. After the early 1730s there is only one extant Bach composition with a libretto that also appeared in one of Picander's poetry collections: the Peasant Cantata of 1742.


An ideal cycle including all cantatas for Advent and Lent, but without counting Passion music for Good Friday nor music for the installation of a new council, would have 73 cantatas.[1] Picander's 1728–29 cycle has 70. The difference is accounted for thus:

  • No separate cantata for Palm Sunday: for this feast day Picander proposes to use the same cantata text as for Advent I.
  • No (separate) cantata for Reformation Day. In the cycle proposed for 1728–29 the feast of Reformation Day coincided with Trinity XXIII (31 October 1728), however without Picander making any reference to that feast day in the title of the cantata for that Sunday.
  • No cantata for Trinity XXVII, which didn't occur in 1728.

For all other possible occasions from St. John's Day 24 June 1728 to Trinity IV 4 July 1729 Picander provided a specific cantata text, whether or not the occasion occurred in the intended period, and whether or not providing music for the occasion was customary in Leipzig. Apart from the text for the Annunciation cantata which was placed after the text for Judica Sunday as last libretto for the third section, the sequence of cantata texts as printed in 1728 follows the occurrence of occasions for this period, with the Christmas I and Epiphany VI cantatas inserted at appropriate points.

Occasion Libretto 1728–29[2] 1732[3] BWV
1 Advent I Machet die Thore weit (Psalm 24:7) II/10 (28 November 1728) 079–81
2 Advent II Erwache doch mein Herze II/11 (5 December 1728) 081–82
3 Advent III Alle Plagen, alle Pein II/12 (12 December 1728) 083–84
4 Advent IV Vergiß es, doch, mein Herze, nicht II/13 (19 December 1728) 084–85
5 Christmas Ehre sey Gott in der Höhe (Luke 2:14)
"Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe"
II/14 – 25 December 1728 085–87 197a
6 Christmas 2 Kehret wieder, kommt zurücke II/15 (26 December 1728) 087–89
7 Christmas 3 Ich bin in dich entzündt II/16 (27 December 1728) 089–90
8 Christmas I Niemand kan die Lieb ergründen II/17 (28–31 December) 090–91
9 New Year Gott, wie dein Nahme, so ist auch dein Ruhm (Psalm 48:11)
"Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm"
III/1 – 1 January 1729 092–93 171
10 New Year I Steh auf, mein Herz III/2 (2 January 1729) 093–95
11 Epiphany Dieses ist der tag (Psalm 118:24–25) III/3 (6 January 1729) 095–97
12 Epiphany I Ich bin betrübt III/4 (9 January 1729) 097–99
13 Epiphany II Ich hab in mir ein fröhlich Herze III/5 (16 January 1729) 099–100
14 Epiphany III Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe (Psalm 48:11)
"Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe"
III/6 – 23 January 1729 100–102 156
15 Epiphany IV Wie bist du doch in mir III/7 (30 January 1729) 102–103
16 Purification Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener in Friede fahren (Luke 2:29) III/8 (2 February 1729) 104–105
17 Epiphany V Erwache, du verschlaffnes Herze III/9 (6 February 1729) 105–106
18 Epiphany VI Valet will ich dir geben III/10 — 106–108
19 Septuagesima Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Stande III/11 (13 February 1729) 108–110
20 Sexagesima Sey getreu biß in den Tod III/12 (20 February 1729) 110–111
21 Estomihi Sehet! Wir gehen hinauf, gen Jerusalem
"Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem"
III/13 – 27 February 1729 111–113 159
22 Invocabit Weg, mein Herz, mit den Gedanken III/14 (6 March 1729) 114–115
23 Reminiscere Ich stürme den Himmel mit meinem Gebethe III/15 (13 March 1729) 115–116
24 Oculi Schliesse dich, mein Herze zu III/16 (20 March 1729) 116–118
25 Laetare Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten III/17 (27 March 1729) 118–119
26 Judica Böse Welt, schmäh immerhin III/18 (3 April 1729) 119–120
27 Annunciation Der Herr ist mit mir, darum fürchte ich mich nicht (Psalm 118:6) III/19 (25 March 1729) 120–121
1 Palm Sunday Machet die Thore weit (Psalm 24:7) — (10 April 1729) 121
28 Easter Es hat überwunden der Löwe, der Held IV/1 (17 April 1729) 122–123
29 Easter 2 Ich bin ein Pilgrim auf der Welt
"Ich bin ein Pilgrim auf der Welt"
IV/2 – 18 April 1729 123–124 Anh. 190
30 Easter 3 Ich lebe, mein Herze, zu deinem Ergötzen
"Ich lebe, mein Herze, zu deinem Ergötzen"
IV/3 – 19 April 1729 125–126 145
31 Quasimodogeniti Welt, behalte du das deine IV/4 (24 April 1729) 126–127
32 Misericordias Domini Ich kan mich besser nicht versorgen IV/5 (1 May 1729) 128–129
33 Jubilate Faße dich betrübter Sinn IV/6 (8 May 1729) 129–131
34 Cantate Ja! Ja! Ich bin nun ganz verlassen IV/7 (15 May 1729) 131–133
35 Rogate Ich Schreye laut mit meiner Stimme IV/8 (22 May 1729) 133–134
36 Ascension Alles, alles Himmel-werts IV/9 (26 May 1729) 134–136
37 Exaudi Quäle dich nur nicht, mein Herz IV/10 (29 May 1729) 136–137
38 Pentecost Raset und brauset ihr hefftigen Winde IV/11 (5 June 1729) 138–139
39 Pentecost 2 Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzen Gemüthe
"Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte"
IV/12 – 6 June 1729 139–140 174
40 Pentecost 3 Ich klopff an deine Gnaden-Thüre IV/13 (7 June 1729) 141–142
41 Trinity Gott will mich in den Himmel haben IV/14 (12 June 1729) 142–143
42 Trinity I Welt, dein Purpur stinckt mich an IV/15 (19 June 1729) 143–145
43 Trinity II Kommt, eilet, ihr Gäste, zum seligen Mahle IV/16 (26 June 1729) 145–146
44 Trinity III Wohin? mein Herz IV/17 (3 July 1729) 147–148
45 Trinity IV Laß sie spotten, laß sie lachen IV/18 (10 July 1729) 148–150
46 Johannis Gelobet sey der Herr (Luke 1:68–69) I/1 (24 June 1728) 150–151
47 Trinity V In allen meinen thaten I/2 (27 June 1728) 152–153
48 Visitation Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn (Luke 1:47) I/3 (2 July 1728) 153–155
49 Trinity VI Gott, gieb mir ein versöhnlich Herze I/4 (4 July 1728) 155–156
50 Trinity VII Ach Gott! ich bin von dir I/5 (11 July 1728) 156–158
51 Trinity VIII Herr, stärcke meinen schwachen Glauben I/6 (18 July 1728) 158–160
52 Trinity IX Mein Jesu, was meine I/7 (25 July 1728) 160–161
53 Trinity X Laßt meine Thränen euch bewegen I/8 (1 August 1728) 161–162
54 Trinity XI Ich scheue mich I/9 (8 August 1728) 163–164
55 Trinity XII Ich bin wie einer, der nicht höret I/10 (15 August 1728) 164–165
56 Trinity XIII Können meine nasse Wangen I/11 (22 August 1728) 165–167
57 Trinity XIV Schöpffer aller Dinge I/12 (29 August 1728) 167–169
58 Trinity XV Arm, und dennoch frölich seyn I/13 (5 September 1728) 169–170
59 Trinity XVI Schließet euch, ihr müden Augen I/14 (12 September 1728) 170–172
60 Trinity XVII Stolz und Pracht I/15 (19 September 1728) 172–173
61 Trinity XVIII Ich liebe Gott vor allen Dingen I/16 (26 September 1728) 173–174
62 Michaelis Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg (Psalm 118:15–16)
"Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg"
II/1 (29 September 1728)
29 September 1729
175–176 149/1a?; 149
01509; 00183
63 Trinity XIX Gott, du Richter der Gedancken II/2 (3 October 1728)
23 October 1729?
176–178 1137?
64 Trinity XX Ach ruffe mich bald II/3 (10 October 1728) 178–179
65 Trinity XXI Ich habe meine Zuversicht
"Ich habe meine Zuversicht"
II/4 – 17 October 1728 179–181 188
66 Trinity XXII Gedult, mein Gott, Gedult II/5 (24 October 1728) 181–182
67 Trinity XXIII
(Reformation Day)
Schnöde Schönheit dieser Welt II/6 (31 October 1728) 182–184
68 Trinity XXIV Küsse mein Herze, mit Freuden die Ruthe II/7 (7 November 1728) 184–185
69 Trinity XXV Eile, rette deine Seele II/8 (14 November 1728) 185–187
70 Trinity XXVI Kömmt denn nicht mein Jesus bald? II/9 (21 November 1728) 187–188
Trinity XXVII

Known settings of the cycle's librettos by Bach (or his son Carl Philipp Emanuel) in the 1728–29 period:

None of Bach's extant settings of the cycle's librettos are for occasions not occurring in the period intended for the cycle (24 June 1728 to 4 July 1729), nor are there any settings by Bach from the cycle's texts for cantatas falling in Leipzig's tempus clausum. For the period from St. John's Day 1728 to Trinity IV 1729 there also appear to be no settings by Bach of cantatas for the liturgical year on texts outside Picander's cycle. In the same period Bach collaborated with Picander on several other projects, such as the secular cantata O angenehme Melodei, BWV 210a (12 January 1729), the wedding cantata Der Herr ist freundlich dem, der auf ihn harret, BWV Anh. 211 (18 January 1729) and Klagt, Kinder, klagt es aller Welt, BWV 244a a cantata for a memorial service of Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen (performed a few months after the Prince's death on 24 March 1729). It remains however uncertain whether the St Matthew Passion, with some of its music overlapping with that commemorative cantata and composed on a libretto by Picander, was premiered or performed on Good Friday 15 April 1729.



Reconstructions and completions based on extant music by Bach include:

  • (Judica): Böse Welt, schmäh immerhin, based on BWV 209 by Gustav Adolf Theill, published in 1983 (OCLC 159405685).

Known settings by other composers:


  1. ^ a b Günther Zedler. Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach: Eine Einführung in die Werkgattung. Books on Demand, 2011. ISBN 9783842357259, pp. 24–26
  2. ^ a b Tatiana Shabalina "Recent Discoveries in St Petersburg and their Meaning for the Understanding of Bach’s Cantatas" pp. 77-99 in Understanding Bach 4, 2009
  3. ^ a b c Picander (=Christian Friedrich Henrici). Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte, Volume III. Leipzig: Joh. Theod. Boetii Tochter (1732; 2nd printing 1737), pp. 79–188
  4. ^ Alfred Dürr, Yoshitake Kobayashi (eds.), Kirsten Beißwenger. Bach Werke Verzeichnis: Kleine Ausgabe, nach der von Wolfgang Schmieder vorgelegten 2. Ausgabe. Preface in English and German. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998. ISBN 3765102490 - ISBN 978-3765102493, p. 458
  5. ^ Alfred Dürr; Richard D. P. Jones (6 July 2006). The Cantatas of J. S. Bach: With Their Librettos in German-English Parallel Text. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-929776-4., pp. 39–41
  6. ^ (in German) Paul Flossman. Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). Leipzig: Liebertwolkwitz (1899), p. 44–46
  7. ^ Philipp Spitta. Johann Sebastian Bach: His Work and Influence on the Music of Germany, 1685–1750 in three volumes. Translated by Clara Bell and J. A. Fuller Maitland. Novello & Co. 1884–1885. 1899 edition, Vol. 2, Book V: "Leipzig", pp. 339–350
  8. ^ Klaus Eidam [de]. The True Life of Johann Sebastian Bach. New York: Basic Books, 2001. ISBN 9780465018611, Chapter XXIII
  9. ^ Bach Digital Work 00206 at www.bach-digital.de
  10. ^ Bach Digital Work 01501 at www.bach-digital.de
  11. ^ Bach Digital Work 00177 at www.bach-digital.de
  12. ^ Work 01309 at Bach Digital website.
  13. ^ Daniel R. Melamed. "J. F. Doles's Setting of a Picander Libretto and J. S. Bach's Teaching of Vocal Composition" in The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 453-474. University of California Press.
  14. ^ Pfau 2008, p. 112.


External linksEdit

Church cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach by chronology
Preceded by
Bach's third cantata cycle
Bach's fourth cantata cycle
Succeeded by
Bach's later cantatas