Cantata BWV 165


2010, October 15

JS Bach Cantata BWV 165: O heilges Geist und Wasserbad
(Oh Holy Spirit and waterbath or Oh holy fountain, sanctified)
Trinity Sunday June 16 1715
Weimar Cantatas
Scoring: Violin I,II, Viola, Bassoon, Violincello, Continuo
  Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass
Bärenreiter vol 6; p 29-42
Reading: Epistle: Romans 11:33-36
Reading: Gospel: John 3:1-15
Words: Salomo Franck
Bach Bibliography


Complete Bach Works
Conductor: Pieter jan Leusink
Orchestra/Ensemble: Netherlands Bach Collegium
Soprano: Ruth Holton
Alto: Sytse Buwalda
Tenor: Niko van der Meel
Bass: Bas Ramselaar
Date: 1999
Brilliant Classics 93102/53


Sacred Cantatas Vol. 9
Conductor: Gustav Leonhardt
Ensemble: Collegium Vocale, Gent; Leonhardt Consort
Soprano: Tobias Eiwanger
Alto: Paul Esswood
Tenor: Kurt Equiluz
Bass: Max von Egmond
Label Teldec 4509-91763-2
Date: 1987




Dürr p 371-374
Whittaker vol 1 p 411-415
Green p 353-355
Terry vol 2 p 441
Boyd p 331

1 O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad: soprano aria

Complex fugal form

2 Die sündige Geburt verdammter Adamserben: bass recitative

3 Jesu, der aus großer Liebe: alto aria

4 Ich habe ja, mein Seelenbräutigam: bass recitative

Boyd finds this the most "striking movement in the work." After the bass has sung 'when all strength fails' the upper strings cannot find the energy to play the expected final chord, leaving only the bass instruments (without continuo harmony) to play a low G. Dürr states that the instruments' held notes are so often broken up into melody that the threshold between free recitation and metrically regular delivery is constantly transgressed.

5 Jesu, meines Todes Tod: tenor aria

An upbeat melody for the tenor, accompanied by the violins and viola in unison.

6 Sein Wort, sein Tauf, sein Nachtmahl: Chorale

The chorale melody on
The chorale melody in a PDF excerpt by C.S. Terry

Straight four part chorale with instruments accompanying each part.

This cantata, written in 1715 and renewed in 1716, then again in Leipzig, is a comment on baptism.

The music

A PDF of the cantata in old clefs

Leonhardt Aria 1; Recitative 1; Aria 2
Leonhardt Recitative 2; Aria 3; Chorale

Instruments and voices for each part

Section Instruments, voices
1 Soprano aria, violin I,II, viola, bassoon, continuo (NBA: violoncello and keyboard)
2 Bass recitative, continuo (NBA: keyboard)
3 Alto aria, continuo (NBA: keyboard)
4 Bass recitative, violin I,II, viola, continuo (NBA: bassoon and keyboard)
5 Tenor aria, violin I,II in unison, continuo (NBA: keyboard)
6 Chorale SATB, violin I,II, viola, bassoon, continuo (NBA: keyboard)


Biblical references for each part

References for the text: Luther's German Bible King James Bible

  Scripture Text
2 John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit
    Was vom Fleisch geboren wird, das ist Fleisch, und was vom Geist geboren wird, das ist Geist
4 John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
    Und wie Mose in der Wüste eine Schlange erhöhet hat, also muß des Menschen Sohn erhöhet werden



Emmanuel Translation BWV 165.
Emmanuel Notes BWV 165.

Discussion from Bach Cantatas Website.
Recordingsfrom Bach Cantatas Website.

John Eliot Gardiner Cantatas Recording. discussion, Simon Crouch.
London Bach Society Database entry BWV 165

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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