Bach: The Cantatas

Bach Cantatas

– 18th Sunday after Trinity – 16th October – J.S.Bach cantata BWV 197 – ,Gott ist unsre Zuversicht’ –

Oct 8, 2022

This large and long cantata, -most probably a so-called wedding cantata, is chosen, to fill a gap in Bach’s cantatas, for the 18th Sunday.

An oboe orchestra, with a d’amore option, 4-part chorus and choir, with an additional bassoon continuo, is supplemented by festive trumpets and drums.

This 2-part cantata, opening with a chorus, is followed by recit – aria -recit and choral.

The second part, -‘Post Copulationem’, opens with and aria, followed by recit – aria -recit – choral.


‘God is our trust. We put our faith, in His hands. When He guides us, on our way, when He governs our hearts, there is blessing, without end’.

From the start, this choral fugue, is festive stuff.

The opening ritornello is untelated to the to the subject, which is introduced, by the alto voice.

Full length semibreves, at 58 through 63, spell out, what to me is the main message, that ‘…we put our faith, in His hands.’

Trumpets and drums tacet, -apart from 122 through 126, for the middle section where guidance and governance is received as a blessing.

This latish-period Bach, is certainly good and appropriate music, for its occasion, but not, on this occasion, memorable.


‘God is the best provider, keeping the best house. At times, His guidance seems strange, but it always ends happily and in a way that we had not reasoned, or thought of. He has written, -from infancy, fortune, on the palms, of the children, who love Him.’

This secco recit, seems quite self-satisfied, in its opening.

But it becomes more thoughtful, as, in an arioso section, the wonder of childhood hood good fortune, is appreciated and acknowledged, -and reflected upon, during the short but relevant coda.


‘Put all cares and sorrows, to the rest, of a child-like trust. God’s eyes, -which watch over us, as our guiding star, will provide.’

The child-like theme continues, in this lively Handelian minuet, where the pastorale pipe is supported by a pastorale accompaniment, of strings.

All seems idyllic.

But uncertainty and insecurity is certainly in the airways and waves, as the harmony seems to smudge or slide, 10ish, through 24, where the singer joins in.

Handelian it certainly is not.

Childlike rest is not always an easy rest to capture and enter into.

Still, the voice seems to bring harmonic stability, until that to is beset with instability, 40, right through 64.

At 73, and a metre change, -where crochet equals minim, the roving eyes of The Lord, -characterized by the roving semiquavers of the oboe and voice, are evident, as they provide, for all.

Nevertheless, an inevitable return, to the minuet, also means, a return to insecurities, personal as well as musical.


‘Follow God and His will. This is proper way, to proceed. It leads, from, from danger, to Canaan, -and through tested love, to His holy alter, joining heart to heart. Lord, be also in these (flaming) things.’

This text is seriously set, with a holo-ic and broad string chord accompaniment. Listen for the high point, of the ‘holy-alter’ and the almost pleading tone, as God is invited, or implored, to be part of these passions.


‘Sweet love, give to us, your grace and let us feel the fire of love, that we may sincerely love each other and dwell in peace and of one mind. Kyrie eleison

A nice independent continuo part underpins this unusually phrased chorale, -2 x 3 bar phrases, followed by 2 x 2 bar phrases, followed by 1 x 3 bar phrase and 1 x 2 bar phrase.

A deliberate false relation C/C#, in the last two bars, Lord have mercy.

-Post Copulation-


‘Charming bridal couple, nothing but good health shall accompany you. The Lord shall bless you, out of Zion and guide you, for ever.’

There is a touch of the ‘his-&-her’s’ about this, as this charming sextet separates nicely into 6 parts:

wind/man, -with a very good independent bassoon part,

and muted strings/woman, -and all supported by a strong but somewhat skeletal chordal continuo part.

Onto this, is grafted a good-natured bass singer, who, continuing in this ‘feel-good’ flavour, of this wedding cantata, has nothing but good news.

As he carries on, the pairs of instruments interlock and intertwine, in the most charming way, as does the singer, with leaps and bounds and even some tasteful coloratura, 22.

On and on they all go, really without an end to their mutual chunnterings and charms.


‘Just as God has faithfully, like a father, helped you, -and from infancy, so, forever, he will be, your best friend, until the end. You can truly believe, that no good thing, will He withhold. As your hands, sweat and toil, rejoice! Your good fortune, is beyond estimation.’

This secco recit starts, as you might expect, laying out the text and rising and falling, as it does.

At bar 11, all that changes, as the words become alive, with dance, runs and coloratura, in fact, rejoicing at and in any way, at this happiness and good fortune, that is beyond estimation.


‘Delight and pleasure, prosperity and health, shall increase your strengthen and comfort. The eyes and the heart, shall for ever be given their share, of sweet comfort.’

This waltz is heavy footed, on its second and third beats, perhaps as a result of doubts, reflected in the heart beats, of the happy couple, that the eyes, -and particularly the hearts, ever shall increase and strengthen and comfort them, -their share of this sweet comfort as much as this text promises.

Still, the vocals are well balanced, varied, in rhythm, metre and shape and the moto-perpetuo fiddler, acts like a rather large fly wheel, pulling and driving, this whirl of blessings, ever onwards.


‘This happy course of life, shall continue, into your latter years, because God’s goodness, has no end. It will give you much, -much more than your heart could ever desire. On that, you can depend.’

These sober and wise words, -with the ‘…latter years…’, motif, bar 3, and again at 6, ‘…ever more than the heart…’, connecting decreasing desire, with latter years- are tainted with a sense of the unknown, -God’s goodness, 4/5 and of course the final ‘dependence’, where, of course, the text and the music, seem to say otherwise.


‘Journey along gladly, on God’s path and whatever you do, do, in faith. Earn God’s blessing, because it is new, every morning. He who puts his trust, in God, shall not be forsaken.’

Stoic music, -with its ambiguous soprano A#/A natural, complements this stoic text, with its call to faith.

The strong typical, but no-less terrific, ‘earn God’s blessing’ is strongly harmonized and shaped and the following and ending ‘call to trust..’, is not to be forsaken!

View more Cantata articles