BWV 36.4

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Original source: Cantata, Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?, BWV 36 (bach–digital page)
Chorale Text: Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (verse 6), by Philipp Nicolai (1599)
Tune: Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, by Philipp Nicolai (1599), after Straßburg 1538* (Zahn 8359)
First Performance: 2 December 1731, 1st Sunday in Advent
Appearance in Early Collections (Key): Riemenschneider 86=195=305; Breitkopf 85=195=304; Birnstiel 91; Dietel 33; AmB 46II p.89 & 126; Fasch p.145; Penzel 165
Other Harmonizations: BWVs 1.6, 172.6, 436

Instrumentation: Colla parteS: violin 1, oboe d’amore 1. A: violin 2, oboe d’amore 2. T: viola. B: organ, continuo.

Original manuscripts
Score: D–B Mus. ms. Bach P 45, Faszikel 2
Parts: D–B Mus. ms. Bach St 82, Faszikel 1


On the origin of Nicolai’s melody: In a brief 1917 article, C. Sanford Terry has shown the close relationship of Nicolai’s melody to an earlier melody found in Wolff Köphel’s 1538 Psalter hymnal. The tune is used for a setting of Psalm 100, Jauchzet dem Herren, Alle Land. Terry states: "[The Psalter melody] consists of five lines or phrases, the first, second, and fifth of which, it will be observed, are practically identical with the first half of Nicolai’s tune." (The Musical Times, Vol.58, No.893 (July 1, 1917), pp. 302–303)

bach– by Luke Dahn. Copyright 2019.