Der Friede sei mit dir, BWV 158

Der Friede sei mit dir (Peace be with you), BWV 158, is the shortest of the cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach and features a bass soloist. It survives as a cantata for the third day of Easter but might be a fragment of a work originally written for Purification. Given this background, and the fact that it was copied by Christian Friedrich Penzel, one of Bach's last students, there is a confusing variety of proposed composition dates. It may date back to Bach's Weimar period,[1] although a date as late as 1735 has been suggested.[2]

History and text[edit]

The surviving source is a copy by Penzel, identified on the title page as being for the Purification (the Lutheran feast Mariae Reinigung), which was celebrated on 2 February, but with an alternate designation for Easter Tuesday in the parts.

Bach composed several cantatas for the Purification and the texts are related to Simeon's canticle Nunc dimittis, part of the prescribed readings.[3] Because of the references to the "Nunc dimittis" in Der Friede sei mit dir and because of the alternate title page designation, it is widely assumed that at least the two central movements were originally part of a longer cantata for the Purification, with a different introductory recitative not evoking Christ's Easter reappearance to the disciples. The obbligato writing in the aria, which appears better suited to flute than the "violino" specified in Penzel's copy, is cited in support of the hypothesis that it was originally written for a different occasion.[4]

Joshua Rifkin has proposed the dates 15 April 1727 or 30 March 1728 for the premiere of the surviving Easter version.[5] The prescribed readings for this day were from the Acts of the Apostles, the sermon of Paul in Antiochia (Acts 13:26–33), and from the Gospel of Luke, the appearance of Jesus to the Apostles in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36–47).[1] The librettist is unknown but may have been Salomon Franck, quoting hymn stanzas by Johann Georg Albinus and Martin Luther.[6]

Scoring and structure[edit]

The cantata is scored for soprano and bass vocal soloists, four-part choir, oboe, violin, and basso continuo.[7]

Because no complete copy of the work survives, it is possible that there were originally more than the four movements now known. In particular, another aria is thought to have preceded the final movement.[8]

  1. Recitative (bass): Der Friede sei mit dir
  2. Aria (bass) and chorale (soprano): Welt, ade, ich bin dein müde (the chorale tune is by Johann Rosenmüller)
  3. Recitative and arioso (bass): Nun, Herr, regiere meinen Sinn
  4. Chorale: Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm


Both recitatives are "supple" and secco. The second movement is "a fusion of a dulcet aria in the form of a trio sonata" for bass, violin, and continuo, with interspersed lines from the chorale performed by soprano and oboe.[9] It is formally a da capo aria introduced by an eighteen-measure ritornello. The work ends with a four-part harmonization of the chorale.[10]



  1. ^ a b Lutheran Church Year / Dates of "Osterdienstag" (Easter Tuesday, 3rd Day of Easter)
  2. ^ David Schulenberg, "Der Friede sei mit dir" in Oxford Composer Companion: J. S. Bach ed. Malcolm Boyd
  3. ^ Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde, BWV 83, 1724; Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin, BWV 125, 1725 (on Luther's hymn after Nunc dimittis); Ich habe genug, BWV 82, 1727
  4. ^ David Schulenberg, op. cit.
  5. ^ Linernotes to L'oiseau-lyre 425 822-2, cited in David Schulenberg, "Der Friede sei mit dir" in Oxford Composer Companion: J. S. Bach ed. Malcolm Boyd (p. 134)
  6. ^ "BWV 159". bach-cantatas. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  7. ^ "BWV 158". University of Alberta. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  8. ^ Gerhard Schuhmacher. "Liner notes to Bach Cantatas, Vol. 38" (PDF). bach-cantatas. pp. 15–16. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Cantata No. 158". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  10. ^ Mincham, Julian. "Chapter 70 BWV 158". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 3 June 2013.

External links[edit]