|Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele |
|Occasion||20th Sunday after Trinity|
|Performed||22 October 1724 Leipzig:|
|Vocal||SATB choir and soloists|
Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (Adorn yourself, O dear soul),BWV180, in Leipzig for the 20th Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 22 October 1724.
The chorale cantata is based upon Johann Franck's hymn "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele", with a melody by Johann Crüger, a hymn for the Eucharist. It matches the Sunday's prescribed reading, the Parable of the Great Banquet from the Gospel of Matthew. The first and last stanza are used unchanged in both text and tune: the former is treated as a chorale fantasia, the latter as a four-part closing chorale. An unknown librettist paraphrased the inner stanzas as recitatives and arias, quoting one stanza of the hymn within a recitative. Bach scored the cantata for four vocal soloists, a four-part choir, and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of different flutes and oboes, strings and continuo. All movements are set in the major mode, in keeping with the festive text, and several movements resemble dances.
Bach wrote the cantata in his second year in Leipzig as part of his second annual cycle of chorale cantatas for the 20th Sunday after Trinity. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle to the Ephesians—"walk circumspectly, ... filled with the Spirit"—(Ephesians 5:15-21), and from the Gospel of Matthew, the Parable of the Great Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14). The German term used in the Luther's Bible translation is Hochzeitsmahl, literally "wedding meal".
The cantata text is based on the Eucharistic hymn in nine stanzas "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele" (1649), with a text by Johann Franck and a melody by Johann Crüger, thus connecting the "great banquet" from the gospel to the Abendmahl (Eucharist). The hymn is sung during a service in preparation for the holy communion, and imagines a bride getting ready for her wedding. An unknown author kept the text of the first, middle and last stanzas (1, 4, and 9), and paraphrased the other stanzas to arias and recitatives: stanzas 2 and 7 to arias; stanzas 3, 5-6 and 8 to recitatives. He stayed close to the original and did not seek closer relation to the readings than given by the general context.
Bach composed the cantata subsequent to his chorale prelude of the same name, BWV 654, part of his Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes. He led the first performance of the cantata on 22 October 1724.
Bach structured the cantata in seven movements. The text and tune of the hymn are kept in the outer choral movements, a chorale fantasia and a four-part closing chorale, which frame a sequence of recitatives and arias, one recitative with a chorale cantus firmus. Bach scored the work for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of two recorders (Fl), flauto traverso (Ft), two oboes (Ob), two violins (Vl), viola (Va), violoncello piccolo (Vp) and basso continuo. The title page of the autograph score reads: "CONCERTO. / Dominica 20 post Trinit: / Schmücke dich o liebe Seele etc. / a 4 Voci / Traversiere / 2 Flauti. / 2 Hautbois / 2 Violini / Viola. / Continuo / di / Signore / Joh:Seb:Bach."
In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe. The keys and time signatures are taken from Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4). The continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.
|1||Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele||Franck||Chorale fantasia||SATB||2Fl 2Ob||2Vl Va||F major||12/8|
|2||Ermuntre dich, dein Heiland klopft||anon.||Aria||T||Ft|
|3||Wie teuer sind des heilgen Mahles Gaben! - Ach, wie hungert mein Gemüte||anon.||Recitative and chorale||S||Vp|
|4||Mein Herz fühlt in sich Furcht und Freude||anon.||Recitative||A||2Fl|
|5||Lebens Sonne, Licht der Sinnen||anon.||Aria||S||2Fl 2Ob||2Vl Va|
|6||Herr, laß an mir dein treues Lieben||anon.||Recitative||B|
|7||Jesu, wahres Brot des Lebens||Franck||Chorale||SATB||2Ob Ot||2Vl Va||F major|
The Eucharistic hymn, with a tune that alternates in an intriguing way between phrases of two and three measures, appears in three movements, the opening chorale fantasia, within a recitative and as the closing four-part chorale. Compared to the early cantata for the same occasion, Ach! ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe, BWV 162, Bach stresses the invitation of God and the joy of the banquet, rather than the possibility of man's failing to respond to the invitation. Alfred Dürr compares the opening chorus and both arias to dances: movement 1 to a gigue, movement 2 to a bourrée, and movement 5 to a polonaise. All movements are set in the major mode. The inner movements are distinguished by their obbligato instruments. The musicologist Julian Mincham notes the work's "gentle, pastoral quality of great delicacy and refinement, ... charm, grace and a suggestion of fragility".
The opening chorus, "Schmücke dich, du liebe Seele" (Adorn yourself, beloved soul). is an orchestral concerto with the vocal parts embedded, the soprano singing the cantus firmus of the tune by Johann Crüger. The movement shares the "gentle" key of F major with three other works from the cycle of chorale cantatas: the first, O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 20, a French overture on the themes such as eternity and confusion; Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn, BWV 96, a pastorale composed two weeks earlier; and later the last one, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1, a tone poem using the image of the morning star. The four movements contrast in character, but have in common that they express "an elusive personal connection".John Eliot Gardiner, who conducted the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000, sees the "relaxed 12/8 processional movement" as "perfectly tailored to the idea of the soul dressing itself up in all its wedding finery". Mincham observes subtle aspects of conveying the message, such as the use of minor mode indicating, the development of the ritornello motif from notes of the first line of the chorale tune, and the significance for not only an individual soul but "for all humanity" by entries of the lower voices in ever-changing sequence.
A transverse flute accompanies the tenor voice in the aria "Ermuntre dich: dein Heiland klopft" (Be lively now, your Savior knocks). The knocking is expressed in repeated notes. Throughout the movement, a motif identified by Albert Schweitzer as a joy motif pictures an "almost breathless expression of personal euphoria". The demanding flute part was probably composed for the excellent flute player for whom Bach first wrote a few weeks earlier in Was frag ich nach der Welt, BWV 94, and then in other cantatas during the fall of 1724.
A violoncello piccolo complements the soprano in a recitative, which begins as a secco recitative, "Wie teuer sind des heiligen Mahles Gaben" (How dear are the gifts of the holy meal), and leads to the fourth stanza of the chorale, "Ach, wie hungert mein Gemüte" (Ah, how my spirit hungers), sung in a moderately adorned version of the tune. Bach uses recitative to introduce the chorale by evoking the "gift of communion", while the chorale stanza expresses the longing for this gift, mentioning thirst and hunger. The melody sounds sometimes like a new melody, expressing that a personal longing. The violoncello piccolo in continuous motion "envelops the soprano's voice in a quasi womb-like blanketing of divine reassurance",as Mincham phrases it.
Two recorders reflect the text of the alto recitative, "Mein Herz fühlt in sich Furcht und Freude" (My heart feels within itself fear and joy). which develops to an arioso, with the recorders first playing just long chords, and then gradually adding motion. Bach expresses joy ("Freude'') in an extended melisma on the word.
The full orchestra supports the soprano in the second aria, "Lebens Sonne, Licht der Sinnen" (Sun of life, light of the senses). Mincham describes the da capo aria as "joyously ebullient". The short middle section of the aria touches minor keys. A melisma on alles (everything) stresses that God means all to the "redeemed sinner".
The last recitative, "Herr, laß an mir dein treues Lieben" (Lord, let Your faithful love for me), is secco, but closes as an arioso on the words "und deiner Liebe stets gedenken" (and considers your love constantly). It is a prayer to God to both love the petitioner and evoke a "reciprocal affection." 
The entries for the table are taken from the selection on Bach Cantatas Website. Groups with one voice per part (OVPP) and ensembles playing period instruments in historically informed performance are marked by green background.
|Title||Conductor / Choir / Orchestra||Soloists||Label||Year||Choir type||Instr.|
|Radio Recording - Archiv-Nr: U0-09167||Max Thurn
|Les Grandes Cantates de J.S. Bach Vol. 23||Fritz WernerHeinrich-Schütz-Chor HeilbronnWürttembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn||Erato||1970|
|Bach Cantatas Vol. 5 - Sundays after Trinity II||Karl RichterMünchener Bach-ChorMünchener Bach-Orchester||Archiv Produktion||1978|
|Die Bach Kantate Vol. 54||Helmuth RillingGächinger KantoreiBach-Collegium Stuttgart||Hänssler||1979|
|J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk o Complete Cantatas o Les Cantates, Folge / Vol. 42 - BWV 180-184||Gustav LeonhardtKnabenchor HannoverLeonhardt-Consort||Teldec||1988||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Cantatas with Violoncelle Piccolo (Vol. 1)||Christophe CoinDas Leipziger Concerto VocaleEnsemble Baroque de Limoges||Auvidis Astrée||1993||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 10||Ton KoopmanAmsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir||Antoine Marchand||1998||Period|
|Bach Edition Vol. 19 - Cantatas Vol. 10||Pieter Jan LeusinkHolland Boys ChoirNetherlands Bach Collegium||Brilliant Classics||2000||Period|
|Bach Cantatas Vol. 11: Genova/Greenwich / For the 20th Sunday after Trinity / For the 21st Sunday after Trinity||John Eliot GardinerMonteverdi ChoirEnglish Baroque Soloists||Soli Deo Gloria||2000||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 26 - Cantatas from Leipzig 1724||Masaaki SuzukiBach Collegium Japan||BIS||2003||Period|
|J. S. Bach: Cantatas for the Complete Liturgical Year Vol. 1: "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen" - Cantatas BWV 98 · 180 · 56 · 55||Sigiswald KuijkenLa Petite Bande||Accent||2004||OVPP||Period|