Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen

BWV 066 // For the Second Day of Easter

(Rejoice, all ye spirits) for alto, tenor and bass, vocal ensemble, trumpet, oboe I+II, bassoon, strings and continuo

Written in Leipzig, Bach’s Easter cantata BWV 66 (preserved in its 1731 version) is a sacred parody based on a Cöthen serenade of 1718. Bach opens the work by taking the spectacular closing movement of the original – “Let sun shine forever, let pleasure bring laughter, let prosper Prince Leopold ever in Bliss” – and reworking it as an introductory chorus to the text of “Rejoice, all ye spirits, depart all ye sorrows, alive is our Saviour and ruling in you”.

J.S. Bach-Stiftung Kantate BWV 66

Video

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Workshop
Reflective lecture

«Lutzogram» for the introductory workshop

Rudolf Lutz’s manuscript for the workshop
Download (PDF)

Audio

The sound recording of this work is available on several streaming and download platforms.

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Performers

Soloists

Alto
Alex Potter

Tenor
Julius Pfeifer

Bass
Dominik Wörner

Choir

Soprano
Susanne Frei, Guro Hjemli, Jennifer Rudin, Noëmi Sohn, Alexa Vogel

Alto
Jan Börner, Antonia Frey, Olivia Heiniger, Katharina Jud, Lea Scherer

Tenor
Marcel Fässler, Manuel Gerber, Raphael Höhn, Nicolas Savoy

Bass
Fabrice Hayoz, Manuel Walser, William Wood

Orchestra

Conductor
Rudolf Lutz

Violin
Renate Steinmann, Martin Korrodi, Christine Baumann, Sabine Hochstrasser, Yuko Ishikawa, Ildiko Sajgo

Viola
Susanna Hefti, Martina Bischof

Violoncello
Maya Amrein, Martin Zeller

Violone
Iris Finkbeiner

Oboe
Katharina Arfken, Dominik Melicharek

Bassoon
Dorothy Mosher

Tromba da tirarsi
Patrick Henrichs

Organ
Norbert Zeilberger

Musical director & conductor

Rudolf Lutz

Workshop

Participants
Karl Graf, Rudolf Lutz

Reflective lecture

Speaker

Gottlieb F. Höpli

Recording & editing

Recording date
04/29/2011

Recording location
Trogen

Sound engineer
Stefan Ritzenthaler

Director
Meinrad Keel

Production manager
Johannes Widmer

Production
GALLUS MEDIA AG, Switzerland

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

About the work

Librettist

Text
Poet unknown

First performance
Second Day of Easter,
10 April 1724

In-depth analysis

Written in Leipzig, Bach’s Easter cantata BWV 66 (preserved in its 1731 version) is a sacred parody based on a Cöthen serenade of 1718. Bach opens the work by taking the spectacular closing movement of the original – “Let sun shine forever, let pleasure bring laughter, let prosper Prince Leopold ever in Bliss” – and reworking it as an introductory chorus to the text of “Rejoice, all ye spirits, depart all ye sorrows, alive is our Saviour and ruling in you”. Characterised by its orchestral writing, this light and catchy movement is equally effective as a sacred work, with the calls of the choir in the twopart section no longer acclaiming the provincial rulers of Anhalt, but the victorious prince of heaven. The ad libitum trumpet part, largely moving in parallel with the violin or oboe, is evidently a Leipzig addition that Bach used to fortify the Easter mood, while the devout and humble middle section of the serenade (“Ah heaven, we pray now”) is recast as the “fainthearted anguish” of the disciples in the face of the overwhelming Easter events.
The bass recitative imparts its weighty message of Jesus’ resurrection and eternal triumph over death in a dense string setting that waits until the end of the movement before resolving into a joyous Easter fanfare. In contrast, the rich string and woodwind scoring of the bass aria applies the pomp of courtly festive music to a glorious song of thanksgiving to God, in which the soloist appears to mimic a virtuoso bassoonist in a catchy, yet distinctive orchestral dance.
A more sceptical tone soon returns, however, in the recitative. After the assured quality of the opening lines (“In Jesus’ life to live with joy”), an arioso dialogue somewhat abruptly ensues between the allegorical figures of “Fear” (alto) and “Hope” (tenor), whose textually contrasting lines (“Mine/No eye hath seen the Saviour raised from sleep”) and conflicting emotions of confidence and doubt eventually segue into an appeal for comfort and strength.
The penultimate movement, a duet with obbligato violin, retains the dialogue structure of the Cöthen original, but allows one voice to express belief in the resurrection while the other bemoans the “stolen” redemption; not until the middle section do the voices unite and proclaim together “Now is my heart made full of hope”. This mood is carried over to the closing chorale, composed especially for the Leipzig version, whose three cries of “Alleluja!” invite the congregation to join in an archaic yet timelessly powerful Easter song. Punctuated by organ interludes so typical of the time, this movement, like many of Bach’s Easter chorales, is a potent reminder that the hard-won resurrection is a festival of grave import.

Libretto

1. Chor

Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen,
entweichet, ihr Schmerzen,
es lebet der Heiland und herrschet in euch.
Ihr könnet verjagen
das Trauren, das Fürchten,
das ängstliche Zagen,
der Heiland erquicket
sein geistliches Reich.

2. Rezitativ (Bass)

Es bricht das Grab und damit unsre Not,
der Mund verkündigt Gottes Taten;
der Heiland lebt, so ist in Not und Tod
den Gläubigen vollkommen wohl geraten.

3. Arie (Bass)

Lasset dem Höchsten ein Danklied erschallen
vor sein Erbarmen und ewige Treu.
Jesus erscheinet, uns Friede zu geben,
Jesus berufet uns, mit ihm zu leben,
täglich wird seine Barmherzigkeit neu!

4. Rezitativ à 2 und Arioso (Duett Furcht: Altus, Hoffnung: Tenor)

Hoffnung
Bei Jesu Leben freudig sein
ist unsrer Brust ein heller Sonnenschein.
Mit Trost erfüllt auf seinen Heiland schauen
und in sich selbst ein Himmelreich erbauen,
ist wahrer Christen Eigentum.
Doch weil ich hier ein himmlisch Labsal habe,
so sucht mein Geist hier seine Lust und Ruh,
mein Heiland ruft mir kräftig zu:
«Mein Grab und Sterben bringt euch Leben,
mein Auferstehn ist euer Trost.»
Mein Mund will zwar ein Opfer geben,
mein Heiland, doch wie klein,
wie wenig, wie so gar geringe,
wird es vor dir, o grosser Sieger, sein,
wenn ich vor dich ein Sieg-
und Danklied bringe.
Hoffnung
Mein Auge sieht den Heiland auferweckt,
Furcht
Kein Auge sieht den Heiland auferweckt,
Hoffnung
es hält ihn nicht der Tod in Banden.
Furcht
es hält ihn noch der Tod in Banden.
Hoffnung
Wie, darf noch Furcht in einer Brust entstehn?
Furcht
Lässt wohl das Grab die Toten aus?
Hoffnung
Wenn Gott in einem Grabe lieget,
so halten Grab und Tod ihn nicht.
Furcht
Ach Gott! der du den Tod besieget,
dir weicht des Grabes Stein, das Siegel bricht,
ich glaube, aber hilf mir Schwachen,
du kannst mich stärker machen;
besiege mich und meinen Zweifelmut,
der Gott, der Wunder tut,
hat meinen Geist durch Trostes Kraft gestärket,
dass er den auferstandnen Jesum merket.

5. Arie (Duett Furcht: Altus, Hoffnung: Tenor)

Altus
Ich furchte zwar des Grabes Finsternissen
und klagete mein Heil sei nun entrissen.
Tenor
Ich furchte nicht des Grabes Finsternissen
und hoffete mein Heil sei nicht entrissen.
Beide
Nun ist mein Herze voller Trost,
und wenn sich auch ein Feind erbost,
will ich in Gott zu siegen wissen.

6. Choral

Alleluja! Alleluja! Alleluja!
Des solln wir alle froh sein,
Christus will unser Trost sein.
Kyrie eleis.

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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