The musical output of Bach’s second year in Leipzig is considered his most prolific. On the 14th Sunday after Trinity during 1724, Bach premiered Bwv. 78, Jesu, der du meine Seele. Utilizing the chorale melody and hymn text written by Johann Rist in 1641, Bach incorporated the entirety of the first and twelfth stanza within the cantata’s first and seventh movements. Additionally, Bach paraphrased portions of Rist’s poetry in movements three and five; the author of the remaining text remains unknown. Liturgical readings for this particular Sunday included the parable of Jesus and the cleansing of the lepers; this theme reoccurs throughout the entirety of the cantata. As contrived by Bach, the overarching structure of this cantata is labeled as “chiastic”; the Latin and Greek origin of the word translate into ‘crosswise arrangement.’ The palindromic and crosswise shape of the chiastic form alludes to the cross of Christ.
Composed in the form of a chaconne, the first movement provides instantaneous depictions of upcoming textual content. During the opening ritornello, the consistent leaping and falling of pitch resembles the ...
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...]. As demonstrated in the previous movement, one can battle for the conviction of Christ, however without his love, we are destined to wander this world aimlessly; this is the referred to weakness. However, as the chorale marches towards the final two cadential points in m. 14-16, the cantata concludes in the parallel key of G major; the usage of the Picardy third provides light on the final text, in der süssen Ewigkeit [in sweet eternity].
By integrating the text of Johann Rist and weekly scripture readings, Bach was capable of tying together an entire work, which guides the listener through an interwoven story of biblical and personal parables. Furthermore, Bach was capable of exploiting the use of tonality and rhythmic devices to portray the underlying message of the Lutheran faith: every soul on earth is weak without the love and guidance of Christ.
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