Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke

BWV 084 // For Septuagesimae

(I am content with my good fortune) for soprano, vocal ensemble, oboe, bassoon, strings and continuo

The cantata “Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke” (I am content with my good fortune), probably composed in 1727, is one of Bach’s few sacred solo works. Theologically, it is based on the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20), which Bach and his librettist approached less as a precedence in labour law, than as a point of departure for the moral observation that the path to true contentment can only be found in submission to God’s will. In a spirit of almost cheerful humility and studied serenity, Bach succeeds in composing a veritable “Franciscan cantata”, whose modest length and sparse scoring is, in itself, a fitting formal interpretation of the text’s message.

J.S. Bach-Stiftung Kantate BWV 84

Video

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Workshop
Reflective lecture

«Lutzogram» for the introductory workshop

Rudolf Lutz’s manuscript for the workshop
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Audio

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

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Performers

Soloists

Soprano
Gerlinde Sämann

Choir

Alto
Antonia Frey

Tenor
Walter Siegel

Bass
Fabrice Hayoz

Orchestra

Conductor
Rudolf Lutz

Violin
Renate Steinmann, Martin Korrodi

Viola
Susanna Hefti

Violoncello
Martin Zeller

Violone
Iris Finkbeiner

Oboe
Katharina Arfken

Bassoon
Dorothy Mosher

Organ
Rudolf Lutz

Musical director & conductor

Rudolf Lutz

Workshop

Participants
Karl Graf, Rudolf Lutz

Reflective lecture

Speaker

Eleonore Frey Staiger

Recording & editing

Recording date
02/18/2011

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 No. 1–4
Poet unknown

Text No. 5
Ämilie Julyane von Schwarzburg–Rudolstadt, 1686

First performance
Septuagesima Sunday,
9 February 1727

In-depth analysis

With its head motive of descending dotted notes, the introductory aria embodies a vision of forbearance that – through the effortless, flowing lines of the soprano, oboe and obbligato first violin – is also presented as a precondition for true freedom. Here, the movement’s apparent simplicity and all-pervasive lightness seems to express a richness of inner life that finds lasting contentment in the appreciation of the smallest gifts. One can well imagine that this virtuous picture of gracious simplicity and dignified penury may perhaps have been personified by a female figure in Bach’s life.
The following recitative traces this attitude to life back to the Lutheran tenet of justification by faith as well as to the basic conditions for human existence – food, clothing and not least respect for God and one’s neighbour. Indeed, the person to whom all this has been given is unable to earn any right to salvation, but must eat with patience the “humblest of bread” as described in the ensuing aria. Set once again as a light-hearted dance movement in 3/8 time, the charming quartet of oboe, violin, voice and continuo invokes the infectious joy that comes from loving one’s neighbour – a most effective musical sermon.
By scoring the accompaniment for both organ and strings, Bach lends particular weight to the second recitative, in which the parable of the vineyard is extended to the course of earthly life. Here, the way in which Bach engraves the liberating word of “heaven” on the coin of life is of a moving intensity that transcends all earthly frugality.
Through its simple setting, the closing chorale enhances the central message of the temporary earthly duties entrusted to us by God as well as the hope for an undeserved, but patiently awaited “good end”. Here, Bach’s decision to set a verse of the death song “Wer weiss, wie nahe mir mein Ende” to the hymn of forbearance “Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten” effectively melds the two levels of the parable. The “3 Ripieni” (additional singers) called for in the original score to support the soprano solo in this final movement have indeed been put to a most satisfying use.

Libretto

1. Arie (Sopran)

Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke,
das mir der liebe Gott beschert.
Soll ich nicht reiche Fülle haben,
so dank ich ihm vor kleine Gaben
und bin auch nicht derselben wert.

2. Rezitativ (Sopran)

Gott ist mir ja nichts schuldig,
und wenn er mir was gibt,
so zeigt er mir, dass er mich liebt,
ich kann mir nichts bei ihm verdienen;
denn was ich tu, ist meine Pflicht.
Ja! wenn mein Tun gleich noch so gut geschienen,
so hab ich doch nichts Rechtes ausgericht’;
doch ist der Mensch so ungeduldig,
dass er sich oft betrübt,
wenn ihm der liebe Gott nicht überflüssig gibt.
Hat er uns nicht so lange Zeit
umsonst ernähret und gekleid’
und will uns einsten seliglich
in seine Herrlichkeit erhöhn?
Es ist genug vor mich,
dass ich nicht hungrig darf zu Bette gehn.

3. Arie (Sopran)

Ich esse mit Freuden mein weniges Brot
und gönne dem Nächsten von Herzen das Seine.
Ein ruhig Gewissen, ein fröhlicher Geist,
ein dankbares Herze, das lobet und preist,
vermehret den Segen, verzuckert die Not.

4. Rezitativ (Sopran)

Im Schweisse meines Angesichts
will ich indes mein Brot geniessen,
und wenn mein’ Lebenslauf,
mein Lebensabend wird beschliessen,
en, so teilt mir Gott den Groschen aus,
da steht der Himmel drauf.
O! wenn ich diese Gabe
zu meinem Gnadenlohne habe,
so brauch ich weiter nichts.

5. Choral

Ich leb indes in dir vergnüget
und sterb ohn alle Kümmernis,
mir g’nüget, wie es mein Gott füget,
ich glaub und bin es ganz gewiss:
Durch deine Gnad und Christi Blut
machst du’s mit meinem Ende gut.

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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