Bach: The Cantatas

Bach Cantatas

-Sunday 24th October 2021-21st Sunday after Trinity-J.S.Bach cantata BWV 98-,Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan’.

Oct 10, 2021

This short and small-scale, chamber music-like work, is not a chorale-cantata, -or one framed, by choral based chorale movements.

It is scored for strings continuo and 4-part-chorus, all of whom, -except the tenor, step forward for solos, and a trio of oboes including taille. There are only five movements, opening chorus, 2 x aria and 2 x recits. There is no closing chorale.


‘What God does and has done, is well done. His will is just and lasts, forever. However he acts on my behalf I shall stand by Him, calmly. He is my God, who sustains me, when I am in distress. That is why I let him prevail.

After an short introductory ritornello, the chorale melody is heard, interspersed with continued and independent, orchestral material, lead by a strong first violin (solo?) part.

The ambiguity, of first, 4 bar phrase may just cast some doubt on the truth of the first line of text. All is well, though, as the second 4 bar phrase, establishes certainty, reflected in the second line of text. At 9, an agitation, in the first violin, is enough to keep us on our toes…. or knees, as, ‘However He acts…’ makes us wonder, ‘How will He in-fact act?

Aa the chorus begins to draw breath, a repeat if the opening, -with added leaps- shows us the sense of standing by Him, calmly.

The chorale harmonisation, is full-on and beautiful, the ambiguities of the first line of text, being reflected in the alto Ab/A natural wavering at 19. imitative, at ,Wie er fängt…‘ 42 and decisive at 49, ‘I shall stand bu Him…’

At 65, the tenor part is elongated by with a dotted note…perhaps to make the point the, ‘He IS my God’ and sustains me, quaver movement, at 69.

Semiquavers in bass and alto, 75 register the ‘distress’ that we will experience and the extended melisma’s and sustained notes confirm that He will prevail, as we let Him do so.


‘When will you finally free me, from my torment and fear? How long, day and night , must I cry for help? There is no saviour here. The Lord is close to all, who trust, in His might and grace. I shall place my trust, in Him alone, because He does not, desert, His people.’

A desperate start, leading to, a tormented F#, is followed, by a major 7th leap, of fear. Day and night ends in a gnarled cry, for help and the panicked statement that there is no Saviour here!

After a gap and a breath, calm is restored, with a realisation that, The Lord is closer than we think and his highest and mostest might, is supported by his manageable grace.

Perfect trust, is almost undermined, by a brief realisation that, all this must depend, on trust, in God and a somewhat contorted, but resolved ‘…does not desert His people.’ seems to, just, save everything.


‘Eyes, stop weeping! I bear my yoke, with patience. God the father lives, forgetting, not one, of His people.’

This 3-in-a-bar is no laughing matter, nor dancing minuet, as the heavy yoke is present, both in manner and in music. The oboe line is drawn from the chorale tune of the opening chorus and weeping appoggiaturas and demi-semi quavers, drop down, from 10 onwards.

The diminished third, at 30, shows us, those real tears and an A flat, at ,doch’, bears all, leaving the end of the phrase, to combine all, in a musical arch, ‘my heavy yoke, with patience.’

Talk of a living ‘Father-God, -or a living-faith, at 65, spawns some attempt, at transforming, this dir-gy affair, into a dancing minuet and triplets engulf this faith-imbued singer.

Unfortunately, this obbligato oboe feels resolutely un-obliged, to follow suit, and doesn’t, leaving the end of the affaire, the same, as the beginning.

The vocal entry at 81, is inverted, as if to emphasis, a living Father, which is further confirmed, with long, dancing triplets, at 84, through 87.

Oboe and voice, reach agreement, briefly, at 92, but there is no end, to the weeping, which, does not cease.


‘God’s heart, brims with mercy. When He hears us lamenting, the pain of affliction, then, because of faith and trust, His heart breaks, within Him, allowing Him, to have mercy, on us.

He keeps His word. He says: ‘Knock, and it shall be opened to you.’

So, from now on, when we are, in distress, let us, raise our hearts, to God alone.’

Listen, fir the ‘breaking-heart’, at 6 and the ,Klopfet’/Knock, at 10 and the, somewhat half-hearted lifting of hearts, at 14.


‘I will not let go if my Jesus, until He hears me and blesses me.

He alone shall be my defence, against any evil, that may confront me.’

The strings, which have been mute, since the opening chorus, now re-join, in this Handelian aria, which opens with dialogue, between top and bottom, or violin and bass.

The theme of joy, reflected in laughter, returns, in the face of possible adversity, although there is little if that, as fiddles and voice intertwine with common vision.

Evil is confronted, 51, and again, somewhat more worryingly at 59, but the strings just laugh it all, right off and the long section, 68-82, puts, finally to rest, any lasting concerns.

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