Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir (We thank you, God, we thank you), BWV 29, is a sacred cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. The cantata was written in 1731 for Ratswahl, the inauguration of a new town council in Leipzig, on 27 August of that year. Bach used the music from the choral movement for the Gratias in the Gloria of his Mass in B Minor, and later also the Dona nobis pacem, to conclude that work.
Bach composed the cantata in 1731 for Ratswahl, the inauguration of the newly elected town council, which took place in a festive service on the Monday following St. Bartholomäus (24 August). He had written the cantatas Preise Jerusalem, den Herrn, BVW 119 and Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille, BWV 120 for the same occasion.
Instrumentation and structure
The instrumentation reflects the festive occasion for which it was written: soprano, alto, tenor and basso soloists, four-part choir, solo organ and an orchestra consisting of three trumpets, timpani, two oboes, violins, violas and basso continuo.
- Coro: Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir
- Aria (tenor, violin): Halleluja, Stärk und Macht
- Recitativo (bass): Gottlob! es geht uns wohl!
- Aria (soprano, oboe, strings):Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe
- Recitativo (alto, choir): Vergiß es ferner nicht, mit deiner Hand
- Aria (alto): Halleluja, Stärk und Macht
- Chorale: Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren
The cantata is one of the very few sacred cantatas of Bach opened by an orchestral sinfonia. Another is the early Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12. The music is an arrangement of the prelude from Bach's Partita for violin, BWV 1006. A solo organ plays the original violin part, while the orchestra adds an accompaniment.
The chorus, on verse 2 of Psalm 75, is written in grave stile antico. The bass begins in great simplicity a theme in even steps, the tenor starts imitating almost immediately, the alto a little later, then the soprano. A countersubject illustrates the telling of God's wonders, embellishing the words verkündigen (proclaim) and Wunder (wonders). A dense texture is achieved. In the beginning only oboes and strings play colla parte, then a trumpet doubles the soprano. Developing further, two trumpets take part in the polyphony, and a climax is reached when the third trumpet and timpani enter. Bach adapted the music with only minor changes for the Gratias of his Missa for the court of Dresden in 1733, which expresses the same idea. Later he incorporated the Missa in his Mass in B Minor and concluded his work by repeating the music as the Dona nobis pacem.
The tenor, a solo violin and the continuo are equal partners in the following da capo aria.
The soprano aria, accompanied by oboe and strings, is in siciliano rhythm. The continuo rests during the vocal parts.
After a recitative which leads to a choral Amen, the alto soloist repeats the main section of the tenor aria, accompanied by the organ. This close connection within a work of both theme (3 and 6) and instrument (1 and 6) is unusual in Bach's cantatas.
In the closing chorale the trumpets accentuate the ends of some lines of the fifth verse of Johann Gramann's Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren.
- J.S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk - Sacred Cantatas Vol. 2, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Wiener Sängerknaben & Chorus Viennensis, Concentus Musicus Wien, boy soprano of the Wiener Sängerknaben, Paul Esswood, Kurt Equiluz, Max van Egmond, Teldec 1974
- J.S. Bach: Wir danken dir, Gott, Philippe Herreweghe, Collegium Vocale Gent, Deborah York, Ingeborg Danz, Mark Padmore, Peter Kooy, Harmonia Mundi France 1999
- J.S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 20, Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Sandrine Piau, Bogna Bartosz, James Gilchrist, Klaus Mertens, Antoine Marchand 2003
- J.S. Bach: Cantatas, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Concentus Musicus Wien, Christine Schäfer, Bernarda Fink, Werner Güra, Christian Gerhaher, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 2007
20th Century adaptation
The Sinfonia movement experienced a period of crossover popularity in 1968 when Walter Carlos (now Wendy Carlos) created an exuberant rendition of it for electronic synthesizer (at the time a novelty) for the album Switched-On Bach.
- ^ a b Dürr, Alfred. 1971. "Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach", Bärenreiter 1999, ISBN 3-7618-1476-3 (in German)