Freu dich sehr o meine seele

Keywords: johann, sebastian, bach, classical, music, baroque, chorale, melody, text, composer, vocal, cm
Description: Chorale Melody: Melody and Text, Use of the Chorale Melody by Bach, Use of the Chorale Melody by other composers

This melody is listed under various titles: Wie nach einer Wasserquelle or Ach, wann werd ich dahin kommen or Ach, was ist doch unser Leben or Treuer Gott, ich muß dir klagen and even Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele

Similar to the latter melody described above, this melody can also be traced back to Louis Bourgeois in another one of his French Psalm melodies “Comme un cerf altéré brame ” But this melody differs from the main melody for “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele ” in a number of different, but very important respects.

Since the meters of both Zahn 1294 and Zahn 6543 are very different, this has presented an insurmountable problem and considerable confusion to musicologists with some even unwittingly repeating mistaken connections, like Peter Williams (in his revised “The Organ Music of J. S. Bach” [Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 573]) who must have based his statement about the connection between the two melodies upon the extremely misleading equation given by the BWV:

Having made these chorale melody titles equivalent, the BWV Verzeichnis unashamedly lists, by using indentation to indicate their dependency upon and subordination to the main title (“Wie nach einer Wasserquelle ”), the following cantata mvts. BWV 13 /3; BWV 19 /7; BWV 25 /6, BWV 30 /6; BWV 32 /6; BWV 39 /7; BWV 70 /7; BWV 194 /6, but not one of these (all of them Zahn 6543) fits Bach’s use of “Wie nach einer Wasserquelle ” in BWV 1119 (one of the Neumeister chorale preludes for organ), leading Mark Bighley (“The Lutheran Chorales in the Organ Works of J. S. Bach” [St. Louis, MO, 1986] to speculate that Bach must have used a corrupted version of the melody that was in one of the hymnals that he used. The NBA KB IV/9 (2003, p. 53) editors, however, believe that it is more likely that Bach himself was confused by the variants of the melody (Zahn 1294) and (Zahn VI, p. 576) as contained in the Gotha Hymnal, 1715, No. 325, p. 198ff. This, however, does not explain the much greater confusion of Zahn 6543 and Zahn 1294 where meters and melody lines have many differences: Zahn 6543. 87 87 7788 Zahn 1294. 8787. The beginnings of each melody are quite different as the score samples below will demonstrate. Although there are a few similarities, the differences between these melodies are considerable and make it impossible for Peter Williams to maintain that “The MELODY’s origin is not known and perhaps had no single or fixed form; one or other version was used by six further texts in eight Leipzig cantatas.” [He can only be referring to the Bach Verzeichnis list given earlier in this paragraph.]

The chorale (text and melody association) for “Ach wann werd ich dahin kommen ” makes its earliest appearance in the Weimar Hymnal of 1681 where it has 9 verses with 4 lines each. Beginning with the 2 nd verse, it paraphrases Psalm 42 (“Wie der Hirsch schreiet nach frischem Wasser ….” The 1 st line of the 2 nd verse begins with “Wie nach einer Wasserquelle ” Both of the chorales by Ambrosius Lobwasser and David von Schweinitz that begin with the same first line “Wie nach einer Wasserquelle ” have verses with 8 lines each (87 87 77 88.) It is impossible to sing these texts to the melody designated as Zahn 1294 which has only 4 lines with the meter 87 87; hence they were usually sung to the melody of “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele ” (Zahn 6543) which is the same as in the Weimar Tabulaturbuch of 1704.

A chorale text that was sung to Zahn 1294 is one by Johann Christoph Kohlhans (1666) entitled: Ach, wann werd ich dahin kommen Score

Its lines easily fit the chorale melody which Bach uses in BWV 1119 with the title “Wie nach einer Wasserquelle .” Here are the first two verses of the Kohlhans chorale text which does fit:

Lobwasser’s earlier version has the first 4 lines corresponding to Kohlhans’s 2 verse metrically. The last 2 lines of Lobwasser’s verse correspond to the first two lines of Kohlhans’s 1 st verse. The correspondences are present and the possibility of confusion or mistaking one for the other is great indeed. Just how this led to the naming of the chorale melody (Zahn 1294) as “Wie nach einer Wasserquelle ” is not clear. Perhaps the Kohlhans chorale text was often sung without the 1 st verse. Bach repeated this confusion in regard to a work which he left unfinished except for the title: “Wie nach einer Wasserquelle .” In Bach’s Weimar Orgelbüchlein for Chorale No. 121, he uses this title and leaves only sufficient space for the composition of a 4-line chorale. It is clear that he is referring to Zahn 1294 which should be known as “Ach wann werd ich dahin kommen .” (all of this information given on pp. 52-53 of NBA KB IV/9)

Photogallery Freu dich sehr o meine seele:

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