One clue may lie in the timing of this cantata. The placing of C for the Purification of the Virgin on February 2nd meant that C would need to be performed just two days later. It is inconceivable that Bach could have composed and rehearsed this work in one day, so he must have been working on it concurrently with C , itself a work of considerable proportions and taking the best part of half an hour to perform.
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C is not much more than half this length, with no greatly extended movements and a very concise fantasia. Additionally, the busy period of Easter was only a few weeks away. It may well be that pressure of deadlines forced Bach to think within a shorter time scale as he had done in the run-up to the Christmas celebrations of As usual, there is no diminution of quality or inventiveness. So to sum up: an abbreviated, four-phrase chorale is used in the fantasia and two further movements of C , and a complete version of it closes the work. In any case, the chorale melody seems to have had a chequered history; Boyd p identifies it as an unusual hybrid, Luther providing the first section upon which the cantata is predicated and Walther the remainder.
Additionally, it has also been suggested that the longer and shorter versions originated from two different hymns by Luther. The theme of this work is derived from a fervent plea for protection from our enemies, thus providing the composer with opportunities for depicting a number of striking images. The first verse calls for the Lord to sustain us and repel our enemies, but not just in a general sense; the murderous Turk and Pope are grouped together as salient examples!
- Erhalt uns Herr bei deinem Wort (Johann Walter) - ChoralWiki.
- Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort, by D. Buxtehude (c–).
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This is not a subject about which we can be mealy-mouthed as the immense energy of the music makes clear. The ritornello is martial and sturdy due to the trumpet summons and the insistence of the single A minor chord over the first three bars. This is relatively unusual for Bach who generally likes to get his progression of harmonies under way as soon as possible. Trumpet theme. Once the harmonic tread gets under way, trumpet and oboes, shortly to be reinforced by the violins, declaim lines of semi-quavers suggestive of the enemies swirling around us.
It is amazing just how much of the text Bach manages to invoke in musical terms in only twelve bars of instrumental writing.
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort, Und steuer des Papsts und Türken Mord
It is a vibrant theme well worth repeating, and so it begins and ends the movement as well as separating chorale entries. We have often seen how Bach manipulates the vocal lines of his fantasias in order to emphasise and illuminate aspects of the text; simply turn back one chapter to C for clear examples. In the setting of these verses Bach is frequently as much concerned with graphic portrayal as with musical cohesion.
The first line of this stanza is a call for the Lord to maintain and protect us, and so caught up with this entreaty are the lower voices that they continue unabated into the second chorale phrase beginning bar By this time they have built up a good head of steam, appropriate for the anger expressed at the violating enemies line two. The lower voices play as much part in carrying forward the momentum of the music as the instrumental ensemble; this is not a case of providing mere accompaniment! The writing under the third phrase is direct and relatively unadorned.
And this final line, wrought with busy descending sequences and an aggressive semi-quaver bass, suggests both the raging of the enemies and their ultimate downfall. The ultimate word, however, is Thron—-throne.
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Held on a single chord in all four vocal parts, this leaves us with a pervasive image of the might and enduring quality of the power and seat of the Lord. Technically this is possible because the first three bars of the ritornello now sounding against this chord have no change of harmony bars Was Bach preparing for this moment even as he formulated the very opening bars? It is accompanied by two oboes and continuo, a telling combination.
The stanza is really in two parts, the first a further entreaty to God to convey his strength to us, and the second from bar 33 a plea to fill our churches with joy because of the scattering of our enemies.
Dieterich Buxtehude: Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort full score | Carus-Verlag
The artistic problems of conveying all this and still maintaining a satisfactory sense of musical structure are formidable. The first descending motive in the continuo is immediately taken up by the oboes bar 1 and subsequently the tenor, thus encapsulating the sense of the opening words—-send down! Notice the one high note standing out of the melodic line on the word oben—-above—- indicating heaven —-bars 8 and Tenor entry from bar 7.
But any doubts about our attitude towards Him are quickly dispelled by the phrase Herr der Herren, starker Gott—King of Kings, mighty God!
Three times we hear it from bar 17 , perhaps suggestive of the Holy Trinity and each time it is repeated a tone higher. Its insistence is compelling, its message unmistakable. Bach based in his chorale cantata Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort , BWV , on the seven combined stanzas, retaining the text of stanzas 1, 3, 6 and 7 unchanged. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Martin Luther Justus Jonas. Lord, keep us in Thy Word and Work. Retrieved 20 February Retrieved 24 February Retrieved 8 February Luther's Liturgical Music.
Translated by Richard D. Oxford University Press.
Erhalt uns Herr bei deinem Wort (Johann Walter)
Evang, Martin; Seibt, Ilsabe eds. Liederkunde zum Evangelischen Gesangbuch in German. The Cantatas of J. Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 2 February Martin Luther. Johanne Chrysostomo edition.