BWV 244.40

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Original source: Passion, St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Chorale Text: Werde munter mein Gemüte (verse 6), by Johann Rist (1642)
Tune: Werde munter mein Gemüte, by Johann Schop (1642) (Zahn 6551)
First Performance: 11 April 1727, Good Friday
Appearance in Early Collections (Key): Riemenschneider 121; Breitkopf 121; Birnstiel 125; Dietel 139; AmB 46II p.326; Fasch p.18
Other Harmonizations: BWVs 55.5, 146.8, 147.6=147.10, 154.3, 359, 360


Measure 10 of this chorale contain parallel fifths between the soprano (B–A) and the tenor (E–D) where the former is a Re–Do anticipation figure and the latter is a delayed arrival of the seventh of a V7 chord. These "cadential parallels" are considered non–structural since they involve non–chord tones. Cadential parallels can be found in several chorales, most notably in BWV 40.8 where four instances occur.

While the cadential parallels in this chorale appear in the original manuscript, they have been "corrected" in some of the 18th c. chorale collections assembled after Bach’s death. In the important Breitkopf edition published in the 1780s and edited primarily by C.P.E. Bach, the parallels have been eliminated by removing the tenor’s Sol–Fa (E–D) motion.

Breitkopf Edition, Volume 2 (1785)

However, the chorale as it appears in the Fasch manuscript from 1762, predating the Breitkopf by more than two decades, corrects the parallels differently. Instead of the tenor’s Sol–Fa motion being removed, the parallels are staggered rhythmically by dotting the soprano’s B–A anticipation figure. The setting as it appears in the AmB 46II manuscript leaves the parallels uncorrected.

The editorial inconsistencies between these early chorale collections are rather curious and reflect a strikingly liberal editorial methodology. It is difficult to say who is responsible for such editorial emendations. Assuming that C.P.E. Bach as primary editor of the Breitkopf is the principal culprit, as some have certainly assumed, fails to take into account the other early chorale collections that contain similar emendations, collections like the AmB 46II and Fasch manuscripts, both of which predate the Breitkopf and both which were likely edited by someone other than C.P.E. Bach. Other potential culprits include Johann Kirnberger (who had a known association with "Anonymous J.S. Bach VI," the copyist of the AmB 46II manuscript), Friedrich Marpurg (who edited the early parts of the 1765 Birnstiel publication which served as a template for the Breitkopf) among other former students of J.S. Bach who were perhaps interested in enhancing the legacy of their great teacher as a master contrapuntalist.

For a complete account of consecutive fifths and octaves in the Bach chorales, see "Consecutive Fifths & Octaves in the Bach Chorales" featured on the Articles & Research page.

bach– by Luke Dahn. Copyright 2018.