julian mincham

Music Monday: Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet! 1716

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Johann Sebastian Bach Wikipedia Image
Artist: Elias Gottlob Haussmann 1748
Collection: Bach-Archiv_Leipzig
Source: Dave’s J. S. Bach Page
Photographer: David J. Grossman

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and organist. The most important member of the Bach family, his genius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supreme creative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technical mastery and intellectual control, are perfectly balanced. While it was in the former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime he acquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues and accomplishments, as a composer, that, by the end of the 18th century, earned him a unique historical position. His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements, of his own and earlier generations, and leading on to new perspectives, which later ages have received, and understood, in a great variety of ways.

Bach Cantatas Website

Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet! (Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!) is the title of two church cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed a first version, BWV 70a, in Weimar for the second Sunday in Advent of 1716 and expanded it in 1723 in Leipzig to BWV 70, a cantata in two parts for the 26th Sunday after Trinity.

On [March] 2, 1714, Bach was appointed concertmaster of the Weimar court capelle of the co-reigning dukes Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar. As concertmaster, he assumed the principal responsibility for composing new works, specifically cantatas for the Schlosskirche (palace church), on a monthly schedule. Bach originally wrote this cantata in his last year there […].

The instrumentation of the Weimar cantata is lost.

Bach first performed the cantata on [December] 6, 1716.

Wikipedia Summaries

Additional Reading:
Bach Cantata Translations (Emmanuel Music Organization Website)
Chapter 28 BWV 70 (The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach by Julian Mincham)

Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Gächinger Kantorei Choir
Helmuth Rilling


Dvořák Hall Prague
Monteverdi Choir
John Eliot Gardiner