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BWV 68 Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt

Cantata for Whit Monday

Complete score
Oboe 1
Oboe 2
Violoncello piccolo

The cantata „Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt“ was written for Whit Monday and Bach performed it for the first time on 21st of May 1725. Bach assigned it to his 2nd Leipzig cantata cycle, which consisted mostly of so called choralcantatas (that is cantatas which are based on a chorale). Bach stopped on Eastern 1725 to write pure choralcantatas. BWV 68 is no choralcantata in that specific sense, however its opening choir is a chorale fantasia on a song of Gottfried Vopelius. As in the other cantatas in this 2nd cycle after eastern 1725 the libretto is from Christiana Mariana von Ziegler, who started a musical and lyric salon in her house in Leipzig (she was the first woman in Leipzig who did this in her time and in 1730 she became an official member - the first and only female member - of Gottsched’s German Literary Society) where she invited J.S.Bach, too. As a result Bach wrote the aforementioned nine cantatas on von Zieglers libretti (BWV 103, BWV 108, BWV 87, BWV 128, BWV 183, BWV 74, BWV 68, BWV 175, BWV 176).

The music in the published scores is not newly composed for the cantata: Bach reused two movements from BWV 208 „Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd“ dating to his Weimar times, a cantata he wrote 12 years ago for the 31st birthday of Duke Christian von Sachsen-Weißenfels. Bach was on the celebrations together with his employer, Duke of Saxony-Weimar Wilhelm-Ernst. He earned a lot of credit for his anniversary cantata (and received a proper raise from Wilhelm-Ernst three days after coming back from the celebrations to Weimar). Obviously Bach liked the music very much and reused it in his Leipzig time for the „Endzweck, nämlich eine regulierte Kirchenmusik zu Gottes Ehren“ (his artistic goal of a regulated church music) as he had written to the Rat of the city of Mülhausen when asking for his resignation to work at the Weimar court in 1708.

The first movement is a delightful aria of pure joy with the title „Mein gläubiges Herze, frohlocke, sing, scherze“. It is based on the aria for the goddess Pales „Weil die wollenreichen Herden“ in BWV 208. Bach changed the solo to violoncello piccolo joinded by an oboe and a violin in the final ritornel. Bach used the violoncello piccolo in some other cantatas in his 2nd cycle in Leipzig (namely BWV 6, BWV 115, BWV 41, BWV 49 and BWV 85).

The other aria in the scores is an aria for bass, two oboes, taille (a tenor oboe in f) and basso continuo with the title „Du bist geboren mir zugute“. It has its roots in the BWV 208 aria for the god Pan „Ein Fürst ist seines Landes Pan“. The instrumentation is an indication that Bach had an oboeband at the Weimar court.

The scores are based on the facsimile parts as the complete score is lost.

Epistle: Acts 10, 42-48
Gospel: John 3, 16-21

Bach cantatas website
Cantata text
Facsimile (parts) bach-digital.de

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