Was willst du dich betrüben

BWV 107 // For the Seventh Sunday after Trinity

(Why wouldst thou then be saddened) for soprano, tenor and bass, vocal ensemble, transverse flute I+II, oboe d‘amore I+II, cornett, bassoon, strings and continuo

Composed for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity in 1724, all movements of the cantata “Was willst du dich betrüben” (Why wouldst thou then be saddened) are based on the hymn of the same name by Johann Heermann. This libretto posed the composer with a particular challenge: because he could not rely on contrasting speech rhythms for variety, nor use the modern recitative and aria form to imbue the neutral, yet binding world of the hymn with subjective interpretation, he had to rely on musical means alone to achieve distinction. As the cantata shows, Bach masters this challenge with a steady and audibly light hand.

J.S. Bach-Stiftung Kantate BWV 107


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«Lutzogram» for the introductory workshop

Rudolf Lutz’s manuscript for the workshop
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The sound recording of this work is available on several streaming and download platforms.






Susanne Frei, Guro Hjemli, Noëmi Tran Rediger, Olivia Fündeling

Jan Börner, Francisca Näf, Damaris Nussbaumer, Simon Savoy

Raphael Höhn, Nicolas Savoy, Walter Siegel

Oliver Rudin, Philippe Rayot, William Wood


Rudolf Lutz

Renate Steinmann, Dorothee Mühleisen, Monika Baer, Christine Baumann, Eveleen Olsen, Ildiko Sajgo

Susanna Hefti, Martina Bischof

Maya Amrein, Claire Pottinger

Iris Finkbeiner

Oboe d’amore
Katharina Arfken, Dominik Melicharek

Susann Landert

Transverse flute
Claire Genewein, Renate Sudhaus

Frithjof Smith

Norbert Zeilberger

Nicola Cumer

Musical director & conductor

Rudolf Lutz


Karl Graf, Rudolf Lutz

Reflective lecture


Ernst Pöppel

Recording & editing

Recording date

Recording location

Sound engineer
Stefan Ritzenthaler

Meinrad Keel

Production manager
Johannes Widmer

GALLUS MEDIA AG, Switzerland

J.S. Bach Foundation of St. Gallen, Switzerland

About the work


Johann Heermann (1585–1647)

First performance
Seventh Sunday after Trinity,
23 July 1724

In-depth analysis

The mood of the introductory chorus underscores not the deliverance from distress treated in the hymn text, but the element of “sadness”. Set in an elegiac B minor with no continuo support, the movement opens with a hesitant ascending line from the flute and first oboe d’amore. This line is subsequently taken up by other parts, melding into a sighing play of lines among the woodwinds in intense thirds and sixths. That Bach sets a violin obbligato soaring above this burdened opening gives the work a hint of the sublime, thereby calling to mind the helping hand of Emmanuel – “God is with us!” – that is extended to those in greatest need. Given this setting, the choir is free to deliver the hymn unadorned, enfolded and carried by the orchestra.
In the following bass recitative, Bach reconciles the linear form of the hymn with a more recitative-like style through the measured, oboe d’amore accompaniment and an arioso a tempo setting of the closing line “how God will rescue thee”. The four ensuing arias are highly contrasting in their settings: because a da capo form must be eschewed as unworkable with the hymn text, the path has instead been freed for flowing transitions. In addition to Bach’s clever planning of the overall key structure, he marks the cantata with efficient continuo motifs that charge each movement with a distinctive energy. With its full, string ensemble sound and triumphant coloraturas, the bass aria in A major evokes a heroic atmosphere, while the tenor aria, accompanied solely by the continuo and characterised by contrary motion passages treats the theme of the devil and hell. Here, the energetically leaping E minor bass motive does not so much describe an adversarial threat, but a fighting determination to prevail through trust in the promise of heaven. Two oboes d’amore and a buoyant continuo lend the succeeding soprano aria in B minor a pastoral character that centres on the key word “blessedness”. That humankind must, however, bend to God’s will is made abundantly clear in the aria’s more serious B section and the hymn text “For what God wills is done!” By contrast, the tenor seems to virtually float free of all resistance and angst in his second aria (D major), in which the unison setting of two transverse flutes and a muted violin with a pizzicato continuo provide for a strikingly elegant accompaniment.

Through an independent orchestral part in 6⁄8 time, Bach lends the chorale verse a serious, yet animated character that is well-suited for a prayer supplicating for the strength to praise God forevermore – indeed, Bach’s chorale setting effectively removes all sadness from the believers’ hearts.


1. Choral

Was willst du dich betrüben,
o meine liebe Seel?
Ergib dich, den zu lieben,
der heisst Immanuel!
Vertraue ihm allein,
er wird gut alles machen
und fördern deine Sachen,
wie dirs wird selig sein!

2. Rezitativ (Bass)

Denn Gott verlässet keinen,
der sich auf ihn verlässt,
er bleibt getreu den Seinen,
die ihm vertrauen fest.
Lässt sichs an wunderlich,
so lass dir doch nicht grauen!
Mit Freuden wirst du schauen,
wie Gott wird retten dich.

3. Arie (Bass)

Auf ihn magst du es wagen
mit unerschrocknem Mut,
du wirst mit ihm erjagen,
was dir ist nütz und gut.
Was Gott beschlossen hat,
das kann niemand hindern
aus allen Menschenkindern,
es geht nach seinem Rat.

4. Arie (Tenor)

Wenn auch gleich aus der Höllen
der Satan wollte sich
dir selbst entgegenstellen
und toben wider dich,
so muss er doch mit Spott
von seinen Ränken lassen,
damit er dich will fassen;
denn dein Werk fördert Gott.

5. Arie (Sopran)

Er richts zu seinen Ehren
und deiner Seligkeit;
solls sein, kein Mensch kanns wehren,
und wärs ihm doch so leid.
Wills denn Gott haben nicht,
so kanns Niemand forttreiben,
es muss zurükkebleiben,
was Gott will, das geschicht.

6. Arie (Tenor)

Drum ich mich ihm ergebe,
ihm sei es heimgestellt;
nach nichts ich sonst mehr strebe,
denn nur was ihm gefällt.
Drauf wart ich und bin still,
sein Will der ist der beste,
das glaub ich steif und feste,
Gott mach es, wie er will!

7. Choral

Herr, gib, dass ich dein Ehre
ja all mein Leben lang
von Herzengrund vermehre,
dir sage Lob und Dank!
O Vater, Sohn und Geist,
der du aus lauter Gnaden
abwendest Not und Schaden,
sei immerdar gepreist!

Bibliographical references

All libretti sourced from Neue Bach-Ausgabe. Johann Sebastian Bach. Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, published by the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut Göttingen and the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, Series I (Cantatas), vol. 1–41, Kassel and Leipzig, 1954–2000.
All in-depth analyses by Anselm Hartinger (English translations/editing by Alice Noger-Gradon/Mary Carozza) based on the following sources:  Hans-Joachim Schulze, Die Bach-Kantaten. Einführungen zu sämtlichen Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs, Leipzig, 2nd edition, 2007; Alfred Dürr, Johann Sebastian Bach. Die Kantaten, Kassel, 9th edition, 2009, and Martin Petzoldt, Bach-Kommentar. Die geistlichen Kantaten, Stuttgart, vol. 1, 2nd edition, 2005 and vol. 2, 1st edition, 2007.

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