Bach: The Cantatas

Bach Cantatas

-Sunday 6th February 2022-J.S.Bach cantata for no particular occasion -BWV 196-,Der Herr denker an uns’

Feb 2, 2022

An ‘early’ cantata, with ‘early’ characteristics and a strings alone event, with, of course continuo support and on this occasion, a chorus.

And the occasion, this time, is most probably, a wedding.

A short introductory Sinfonia, being followed, firstly, by a choral movement, then a trio-sonata-like Aria, then a duet for Tenor and Bass and a finally, a concluding chorus, with extended Amen.

There is no choral melody or choral harmonization, underpinning this work, -and no recitativos.


A short, focused and well-rounded, opening introduction, is stately, processional and march-like, in feel and form, its dotted feature, giving an unmistakable French-feel to the unfolding, imitative texture and surely happy proceedings.

Is it too much to suggest, or even think, that this music, with its somewhat cautionary and halting underbelly, may be preparing us, for this following text, where we are assured, in out intellect, but perhaps puzzled, in our emotions, in the matter, of God’s mindfulness, towards us?


‘The Lord is mindful of us and blesses us. He will bless the house of Israel. He will bless the house of Aaron.’

The leaps, clearly first appearing, in the opening sinfonia, are immediately taken up, at each entry of this arresting chorus.

The silent strings of the opening, make an all the more splendid entry, at 3, because of that. Their rhythmic entry and characteristic, is a feature of this section.

This imitative approach, is extended, at 13,

‘…He will bless the house of IsraelAaron…’

where opening imitations, are mixed, with aspects of fugal treatment, -this is known properly as, a permutation fugal style.

An abridged da capo ends this section.


‘He blesses those, who fear The Lord, -both the small and the great.’

A trio sonata, where massed violins, are supported by a two pronged continuo bass-line.

The opening violin line, breaks into triplets at 3, where the blessing for those who fear The Lord is surely apparent.

In the middle section, the great and the small are remembered, tellingly, the great, having a lower and much more grumbling-like pitch and timbre, than the small.


‘The Lord shall increase you, more and more, and your children.’

Despite Alfred Dürr‘s rather negative, though true observation, that this is an antiquated affaire, it nevertheless is, an attractive duet for this, still, quite unusual combination.

Antiquated, in form and substance, it may be, but within it, there are moments of pleasing imitation, -opening bars, imitation -11 through 15, some subtle counterpoints and of course, those de rigor hemiolas.

At 33, the Bass voice introduces, a new counterpoint, with an increase in rhythmic ambiguity.

A moment of unison singing, brings this section to an end.


‘You are blessed by The Lord, who has made the heavens and the earth.


This impressive closing section, is certainly ‘young-Bach-stuff’, falling into two distinct sections.

An impulsive opening section, with semiquaver scale runs arpeggios and that very extended ‘Amen’, complete with interlocking and antiphonal semiquavers.

This ‘Amen’ is perhaps the hi-light of this cantata, extending to seven pages and ending, with haunting ‘piano’ repeat, of its final phrase.

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