Bach: The Cantatas

Bach Cantatas

– Seventh Sunday after Trinity – 30th July 2023 – J.S.Bach cantata BWV 187 – ,Es warrtet allkes auf dich’ –

Jul 29, 2023

A cantata featuring the small oboe orchestra and in two parts, 3+4.
Despite this, it shows tight structure and wide varied range.


‘These wait upon you, that you may,
-in good time, give them sustenance.
When you do, they gather.
When you open your hand,
they are filled with good things.’

This is Bach at his very best,
-but not perhaps, from the listener’s perspective, at his most engaging.

A motet-like style of the textural setting, is flanked by a twenty seven bar introduction, sinfonia-like,
-which, is itself repeated. This lays down all of the thematic material.

The ‘sinfonia’ repetitions allow for and contain choral additions, or insertions, unifying the overall coherent structure.

The textural theme,
-one of waiting for those good things, may be hinted-at during the first two opening bars, where the legato sweep, of  strings + continuo, the prize, if you like, is contrasted by a pair of staccato-like oboes, the waiting.

Notice the harmonic ambiguities, bars 14, through 27.

The opening violin leap of a 4th, is mirrored in the opening alto entry,
-although the dropping semiquavers, do not immediately follow on and an imitative, canonic texture builds, using first stated material.

The first ‘sinfonia’ repetition, appears, bar 49 and heralds the change, bar 66, to a choral fugue in earnest and a move form the opening material, the leap of the 4th, to the new, octave leap,
or perhaps continuo bass-line figuration. The second, bars 111, through to the end, incorporates skilful and bespoke choral insertions.

This is a fine movement and one that may benefit from some repeated listening,
-and with the score.


‘What a lot of creatures inhabit this World’s vast globe.
Just look at the mountains,
-they contain thousands,
and also the torrent,
-rivers and seas swarming with living things.
Great flocks of birds move through the air and into the fields.
Who will feed such a vast number?
and who can supply them with their needs?
Can any monarch rise to such a responsibility?
Could all the gold on this earth pay for even a single meal?’

This straightforward setting paints a broad and fine picture of the bigness of God and His creation,
-and His abilities, to provide, for all.


‘You Lord alone, crown the year, with all your goodness,
richness and blessing drip, wherever you feet tread,
and it is your grace, that brings about all these good things.’

The vocal line is independent of the opening oboe/violin line, creating an initial phrase of at least 4 bars, with seemingly 2 bars, tacked onto the end.

Modest coloratura is evident, bars 46, ‘crowning-the-year’ and 81, the ‘dripping-riches-and-blessings’ and, of course, the abundant ‘grace’, bar 108 onwards.

The original string phrasing is dominated by syncopations throughout and the orchestral ritornello seems full of irregular phrasing.
The textural foreground assures us that God is to be praised, as rich in power and abundant in grace, but the musical background may reveal a concern, that of our own weakness and, as it turns out, in the following aria, particularly our worries.

————————-Parte 2————————-


‘Therefore, you must not worry yourself,
or say to yourself:
‘What shall we eat?’
‘What shall we drink?’
‘What shall we wear?’
After all these things, the Gentiles crave.
Your heavenly Father understands that you need these things.’

This opening to Parte 2, is austere. There is a degree of heaviness and with its three equally weighty parts,
-complete with telling unison violins, creates a ‘topside’ to the continuo ‘downside’, with the command to be trusting and not to worry.

The thematic material is simply 2 different motivic shapes, a ‘theme’, bars 1 through 2 and and an ‘idea’, bars 3 through 4, with leaping notes and tied notes.
Theses and the rhythmic variety that grows out of this whole, empower the bass Vox-Christi in its strong and stark message.


‘God provides for all breathing life down here on earth,
Will He withhold from me, that which He has promised to all?
Worries, begone, as His loyalty remembers me,
and is renewed in me, on a daily basis,
with Fatherly gifts of love.’

An extremely elaborate oboe is pitted against an equally perhaps fussy vocal line.

But, taking the long view, we can see,
-and much more importantly, hear, breathing life, in all its variety.

The overall impression, despite the rhythmic movement, at the demi-semi-quaver, must be one of peace and calm, as the provision of God, must impress upon this soul itself, a daily renewal of promise.

The dancing middle section, bar 21, dances away all worries,
-but only if these opening revelations, are subsumed, in and with and understanding, of peaceful breathing.


‘If I hold onto him, with a childlike trust and confidence,
-gratefully receiving His intentions for me,
then, I shall never be helpless.
No-matter what maybe in-store, worrying about it, is pointless,
making the despondent heart more selfish.
Our abundant God, has taken these cares upon himself,
so I know that He has determined my lot, as well.’

With a string only accompaniment, this soprano recitativo is, as it rises and falls, according to its text, bathed in the presence of Christ, ending in the triumph of a knowing determination.


‘God has created the world,
permitting no lack of nourishment.
He has moistened the Hills and valleys,
so that the grass may grow for the cattle.
Out of the earth He has created wine and bread,
giving us plenty, so that we can live.
We gratefully thank Him and give thanks,
praying that He will give us the mind of the Spirit,
so that we may truly understand all these things,
walking in His commandments,
and continually making His name great, in Christ,
And so, we rightly sing; Gratias!’

Tutti are now assembled for this combined song of narration and thanks, praise and prayer, where the 4-part arrangement holds no real surprises, except of course the beauty and ease with which the whole,
-as usual, acquits itself.

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