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Bachs Oboe

A library of J.S.Bachs music for oboe

BWV 135 Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder

Cantata for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity

Complete score
Oboe 1
Oboe 2

The cantata „Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder“ belongs to Bachs 2nd chorale-cantata cycle. Bach performed it on 25th of june in 1724, the 3rd Sunday after Trinity. The work is based on the chorale of the same name from Cyriakus Schneegaß from 1597. The song was published in the collection with named „Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen, für einfeltige, fromme Herzen zugerichtet“ („Spiritual songs and psalms, prepared for simple, pious hearts“).

The chorale „Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder“ is based on Psalm 6 „Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht in deinem Zorn und züchtige mich nicht in Deinem Grimm!“

Psalm 6 (Martin Luther, Translation from 1912)

  1. Ein Psalm Davids, vorzusingen, auf acht Saiten.
  2. Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht in deinem Zorn und züchtige mich nicht in deinem Grimm!
  3. Herr, sei mir gnädig, denn ich bin schwach; heile mich, Herr, denn meine Gebeine sind erschrocken,
  4. und meine Seele ist sehr erschrocken. Ach du, Herr, wie lange!
  5. Wende dich, Herr, und errette meine Seele; hilf mir um deiner Güte willen!
  6. Denn im Tode gedenkt man dein nicht; wer will dir bei den Toten danken?
  7. Ich bin so müde vom Seufzen; ich schwemme mein Bett die ganze Nacht und netze mit meinen Tränen mein Lager.
  8. Meine Gestalt ist verfallen vor Trauern und ist alt geworden; denn ich werde allenthalben geängstet.
  9. Weichet von mir, alle Übeltäter; denn der Herr hört mein Weinen,
  10. der Herr hört mein Flehen; mein Gebet nimmt der Herr an.
  11. Es müssen alle meine Feinde zu Schanden werden und sehr erschrecken, sich zurückkehren und zu Schanden werden plötzlich.

Psalm 6, King James

  1. O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
  2. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
  3. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long?
  4. Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.
  5. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
  6. I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
  7. Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
  8. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.
  9. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.
  10. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

The repentance psalm 6 is connected to the Gospel for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity - Luke 15, which tells the parable of the Lost Sheep.

The libretto from an unknown librettist takes the first and sixth verse of the chorale and changes the other verses in the recitatives and arias. However, it retains quotes from the chorale verses in each of them.

The scores have the 3rd movement, an aria quartet for tenor, two oboes and basso continuo. Bach highlights the text in this special minuet, pleaing for consolation (he uses oboes a lot for the role of the human beings when asking for the help of Jesus).

The score is based on the autopraph full score, the parts are unfortunately lost. However, they seemed to available until the beginning of the 19th century. In the source of Carl Friedrich Zelter and Carl Gottfried Wilhelm Wach from 1803, they left a note:

“Aus den Stimmen in Partitur geschrieben / von C. G. W. Wach. Leipzig im Februar 1803.”

“From the voices weiten into the full score / by C. G. W. Wach. Leipzig in February 1803.”

Bach mostly wrote very little articulations in his full scores for the regular services. The main work was done by himself and his copists when making the parts.

I used the articulations which are in the Alte Bachausgabe, which is based on the full score from Wach and Naegeli. I suppose that these articulations are the ones from the original parts. To indicate that the are not definitive (but with a very high probability), I wrote them in a dashed style in the scores.

Epistle: 1 Peter 5, 6-11
Gospel: Luke 15, 1-10

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

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