J S Bach – ‘Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen,’ BWV 12

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Event details

Date Sunday, May 12th, 2019
Time 6:30 pm
Location Bramdean School Chapel, Exeter
Tickets Admission is free.


Programme notes

Bach was appointed court organist at Weimar in 1708, a position that made no specific demands on him to compose cantatas. However, after he was promoted to the post of concertmaster in March 1714 his duties expanded. “Weinen, klagen, sorgen, zagen” (Weeping, Wailing, Lamenting, Fearing) was one of the first fruits of Bach’s new status, a cantata composed for the third Sunday after Easter (April 22, 1714). It is among the early cantatas later revived for use in Leipzig, where it was performed on April 30, 1724. The text, which describes the afflictions of the Christian and exhorts hearers to remain firm in faithfulness, is believed to be the work of the Weimar court poet Salomo Franck, who furnished the texts of most of Bach’s Weimar cantatas. The work is scored for SATB chorus, alto, tenor, and bass soloists, and an orchestra including oboe, “tromba” (trumpet), strings and continuo.

  1. Sinfonia
  2. Chorus: Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
  3. Recitative (Alto): Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal
  4. Aria (Alto): Kreuz und Krone sind verbunden
  5. Aria (Bass): Ich folge Christo nach
  6. Aria (Tenor): Sei getreu, alle Pein
  7. Chorale: Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan

As is typical of Bach’s early cantatas, the work includes an introductory instrumental sinfonia, here marked Adagio assai. With its plangent oboe solo, the sinfonia is reminiscent of the slow movement of a concerto. The opening chorus is built over a repeated chromatic bass pattern, with each of the words of the title pronounced in turn and overlapping the next. This chorus was later arranged by Bach to form the Crucifixus of the great Mass in B minor. The early style of BWV 12 is confirmed by the inclusion of only one very short passage of recitative. It is given to the alto, and leads straight into an aria (also for alto) via an ascending scale depicting entry into the “Kingdom of God,” the words of the final line of the recitative. It is the first of the three successive arias. The text, based upon a passage from Acts, reminds Christians that despite tribulation “their comfort is Christ’s wounds.” The resolute bass aria that follows also features a rising scale, this time to emphasize the singer’s determined “I will follow Christ.” The final aria for tenor adds two instrumental voices (symbolizing the Holy Trinity), an ostinato bass, and trumpet, which intones the chorale melody “Jesu, meine Freude.” This highly original cantata, which served Bach so well for later recycling, comes to a close with a four-part chorale setting of the hymn “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” by Samuel Rodigast (1674).


Musical Directors: Jonathan Lucas Wood and Rachel Bennett

Leader: Anna Cockroft

Alto: Rachel Bennett

Tenor: Jonathan Lucas Wood

Bass: Julian Sutton


Oboe: Lynn Carter

Trumpet: Philip Makin

Violin 1: Anna Cockroft

Violin 2: Ruth James

Viola 1: Andrew Gillett

Viola 2: Nicola Smith

Cello: Hilary Boxer

Double Bass: Patrick Butterly

Organ: Andrew Carter

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