Cantata BWV 161


2010, December 10

JS Bach Cantata BWV 161: Komm, du süße Todesstunde
(Come thou sweet death's hour)
Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity September 27 1716
Weimar Cantatas
Scoring: Two recorders, two violins, viola, continuo
  Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass
Bärenreiter vol 9; p 27
Reading: Epistle Ephesians 3:13-21
Reading: Gospel Luke 7:11-17

Words: Salomo Franck
Bach Bibliography


Sacred Cantatas Vol 8
Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Ensemble: Concentus Musicus Wien, Tölzer Knabenchor
Soprano: Helmut Wittek
Alto: Paul Esswood
Tenor: Kurt Equiluz
Bass: Thomas Hampson
Label Teldec 4509-91764-2
Date: 1989


Bach Edition (out of print)
Conductor: Pieter Jan Leusink
Ensemble: Holland Boys Choir, Netherlands Bach Collegium
Soprano: Ruth Holton
Alto: Sytse Buwalda
Tenor: Kent Schloch
Bass: Bas Ramsclaar
Label Brilliant Classics 93102/72
Date: 1999


Bach: Christus Der Ist Mein Leben
Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe
Ensemble: Ghent Collegium Vocale, Ghent Collegium Vocale Choir
Soprano: Dorothee Mields
Alto: Matthew White
Tenor: Hans Jörg Mammel
Bass: Thomas Bauer
Label: Harmonia Mundi 901969
Date: 04/08/2008





Dürr p 542-546
Whittaker vol 1 p 156-160
Green p 346-348
Terry vol 2 p 432
Boyd p 256 Stephen A. Crist


Dürr states that this composition is of indescribable charm; he dwells at length on use of the chorale melody in all sections. Whittaker says this is the first cantata that uses the "Passion chorale" Herzlich tut mich verlangen. Dürr also mentions that the first section makes an impression on the listener similar to the opening of the St. Matthew Passion.

Recorders play an important part in this cantata which is a parable of life and death. Not for Advent or the Christmas season, this cantata is assigned to a Sunday in September.

1 Komm, du süße Todesstunde: Alto aria with chorale played by the organ

Recorders play a prominent part.

2 Welt, deine Lust ist Last: Tenor recitative

Herreweghe's recording brings out the cello part of the continuo in the arioso section at the end a little more strongly.

3 Mein Verlangen: Tenor aria

Enjoyable listening.

4 Der Schluß ist schon gemacht: Alto recitative

Very melodic declamation.

5 Wenn es meines Gottes Wille: Chorus

The music is quite light hearted.

6 Der Leib zwar in der Erden: Chorale

Discussion of the chorale by C.S. Terry;
Discussion of the chorale on;
PDF of chorale with independent recorder part

The music

BWV 161 part 1 2 3 4 Harnoncourt
BWV 161 part 5 6 Harnoncourt
BWV 161.1 Leusink
BWV 161.3 Leusink
BWV 161.5 Leusink
BWV 161.5 Gardiner

PDF of cantata score in old clefs

Instruments and voices for each part

Section Instruments, voices
1 Aria, recorder I,II, organ, alto, Leipzig version adds soprano (Dürr states may be of doubtful authenticity), continuo (NBA: organ)
2 Tenor recitative, continuo (NBA: organ)
3 Tenor aria, violin I,II, viola, continuo (NBA: organ)
4 Alto recitativ, recorder I,II, violin I,II, viola, continuo (NBA: organ)
5 SATB, recorder I,II, violin I,II, viola, continuo (NBA: organ)
6 Chorale SATB, recorder I,II obbligato in unison, violin I with soprano, violin II with alto, viola with tenor, continuo (NBA: organ)/td>



Emmanuel Notes BWV 161.
Emmanuel Translation BWV 161.

Discussion from Bach Cantatas Website.
Recordingsfrom Bach Cantatas Website.
John Eliot Gardiner Cantatas Recording. discussion, Simon Crouch.
London Bach Society Database entry BWV 161

The Complete Cantatas
Barenreiter cat# TP 2004

Enter TP2004 in full text search box on the left.

This Website

This web site offers free midi, QT, MusicXML and PDF files of Bach's four-part harmonized chorales. They can be downloaded individually or in complete sets. Be aware that other sites offering files downloaded from this site in the past may not have current updates. Please see Chorale Editions, File Accuracy.


The revision is complete. Please read about tenor clef.

The old list of updates and corrections can be found in the Corrections Archive.


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