O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 20

O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort ( BWV 20), is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He wrote it in Leipzig for the first Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on June 11, 1724 for the first time. She opened his second Leipzig cantata cycle, which is also known as chorale cantata cycle.

History and words

Bach composed the cantata in for the first Sunday after Trinity. This Sunday, the second half of the church year begins. A year earlier the Bach had taken on this occasion his position as choirmaster and the first cantata cycle started with The meek ​​shall eat.

The prescribed readings for the Sunday were 1 Jn 4:16-21 LUT, "God is love ", and Luke 16:19-31 LUT, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The two -part work is based on the eponymous hymn by Johann Rist from 1642. The verses 1, 8 and 12 were taken in the wording in sentences 1, 7 and 11, while an unknown poet reshaped the other stanzas to a sequence of recitatives and arias. The directly acquired verses underlies each of the melody by Johann Schop. The theme of the song is related to the Gospel of Sunday.

This cantata he began the project of writing for every occasion of the liturgical year, a chorale cantata, which processed the respective main Lutheran song. Leipzig had a tradition of viewing these songs. Already in 1690 the vicar of St. Thomas Church, Johann Benedict Carpzov, announced that he would be " good, nice, old, Protestant and Lutheran song" with an preach to bring the cantor Johann Schelle " in a graceful music, and those before had offered to let sermon ... listen ". Bach composed in his second cantata cycle forty chorale cantatas.

Scoring and structure

The cantata is staffed with three soloists, alto, tenor and bass, four-part choir, slide trumpet, three oboe, two violins, viola and basso continuo.

Part I

Part II


The typical Bach musical painting of the text content and musical allusions are especially pronounced in this cantata. So in the input sentence consuming applied the style of the French overture for the start of the new cantata cycle is used. Your sequence of slow - fast ( vivace ) - slowly follows the chorale melody, although it is in bar form, ie in the central part of the early times ( lugs ) and then the swan song (lines 7 and 8) brings new material. The melody is sung by the soprano as a cantus firmus in long notes, enhanced by the slide trumpet. The thematic development takes place in the orchestra. The rising theme in the slow part is from the beginning of the song melody, while the subject in the fast part of the song is independent. This part is not a strict fugue, Bach seems to be more interested in the interpretation of the text. " Eternity" is exemplified by long sustained notes, " Donner word " appears as a sudden change to quick notes with a melisma in the bass, " great sadness " is vividly by a descending chromatic line " scared ", appears in torn rhythms of breaks are broken, "sticks" is held by the voices long.

The recitatives are secco mainly for Arioso only expanded in block 9 on the words " glory, pride, wealth, fame, and money," which are quoted verbatim from the chorale. The arias interpret the text both in his affections as well as in individual phrases. The text of the bass aria "on guard, watching on -lost sheep" ( set 8 ) is the wake-up call of the trumpet symbolizes the Last Judgement. In sentence 10, a duet, the first motif of the votes on the words is " O son of man " sung and repeated constantly by the instruments as a reminder of this reminder. Both parts of the cantata end with the same four-part chorale setting which ends with the prayer: "Take you me, if it pleases you, Lord Jesus, in your joy tent! "