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Bachs Oboe

A library of J.S.Bachs music for oboe

BWV 159 Sehet! Wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem

Cantata for the Sunday Estomihi

Complete score
Violin 1
Violin 2

The cantata “Sehet! wir geh’n hinauf gen Jerusalem” is one of the later Leipzig cantatas. It belongs to the so called “Picander”-cycle, dated from 1728. The cycle was titled “Cantaten auf die Sonn- und Fest-Tage durch das gantze Jahr” (cantatas for the sundays and feasts throughout the whole year). Picander, his real name was Christian Friedrich Henrici, was a poet and friend of Bach. He is also the librettist of many arias and choirs for the St.Matthew Passion BWV 244. Bach composed at least ten cantatas from this cycle, however, it is unclear if he composed cantatas for the complete church year - a lot of cantatas are unfortunately lost.

BWV 159 is preserved, and it is a very special and great piece of music! It was probably performed on 27th of february in 1729, as the last music performed before Good Friday. In Leipzig at Bachs time, there was no music allowed throughout the Passiontide (the so called “tempus clausum”).

The cantata starts with an arioso and recitativo for bass (vox christi) and alto, actually it is a dialogue between Jesus and the soul, like in many of his cantatas. Bachs turns the principle of letting the Christus verses being an accompagnato around - the bass parts are with continuo only and the alto parts are accompagnated by the strings (opposite as in the passions). The next aria is for alto and basso continuo, the soprano and the oboe perform a cantus firmus with the 6th verse of Paul Gerhards “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden”:

Ich will hier bei dir stehen,
Verachte mich doch nicht!
Von dir will ich nicht gehen,
Wenn dir dein Herze bricht;
Wenn dein Haupt wird erblassen
Im letzten Todesstoß,
Alsdann will ich dich fassen
In meinen Arm und Schoß.

It follows a recitativo for tenor and basso continuo, leading over to a very special aria for bass, oboe obligato and strings. It is a masterpiece which only J.S.Bach could have imagined. He composes the famous phrase “Es ist vollbracht”. The cantata closes with the 33rd verse of Paul Stockmanns song “Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod”:

Jesu, deine Passion
Ist mir lauter Freude,
Deine Wunden, Kron und Hohn
Meines Herzens Weide;
Meine Seel auf Rosen geht,
Wenn ich dran gedenke,
In dem Himmel eine Stätt
Mir deswegen schenke.

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 13, 1-13
Gospel: Luke 18, 31- 43

Bach cantatas website
Cantata text

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