Cantata BWV 172


2010, May 2

JS Bach Cantata BWV 172: Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten!
(Ring out, you songs, resound, you strings!)
Whit Sunday May 20, 1714
Weimar Cantatas
Scoring: Trumpets I,II,III, Timpani, Oboe, Violins I,II, Violas I,II, Bassoon
Violincello, Organ obbligato
  Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass
Key: C Major
Bärenreiter vol 5; p 273
Reading: Epistle Romans 8:14-17
Reading: Gospel John 14:8-17

Words: probably Salomo Frank
Bach Bibliography


Sacred Cantatas Vol 9
Conductor: Gustav Leonhardt
Ensemble: Concentus Musicus Wien, Collegium Vocale, Gent
Soprano: Matthias Echternach
Alto: Paul Esswood
Tenor: Marius van Altena
Bass: Max van Egmond
Label Teldec 4509-91763-2
Date: 1987


Bach Edition (out of print)
Conductor: Pieter Jan Leusink
Ensemble: Holland Boys Choir, Netherlands Bach Collegium
Soprano: Ruth Holton
Alto: Sytse Buwalda
Tenor: Nico van der Meel
Bass: Bas Ramsclaar
Label Brilliant Classics 93102/57
Date: 1999


Bach Cantatas vol 2
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Ensemble: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Soprano: Barbara Schlick
Alto: Kurt Wessel
Tenor: Christoph Pregardien
Bass: Klaus Mertens
Label: Challenge 72202
Venue: Waalse Church, Amsterdam, Netherlands 3/12/1996
Release date: 11/4/2003


Bach Cantatas vol 7
Conductor: Masaaki Suzuki
Ensemble: Bach Collegium Japan
Soprano: Ingrid Schmithüsen
Countertenor: Yoshikazu Mera
Tenor: Makoto Sakurada
Bass: Peter Kooij
Label: Bis 881
Recording Date: July 1997


Bach Cantatas vol 7
Conductor: Joshua Rifkin
Ensemble: Bach Collegium Japan
Soprano: Ingrid Schmithüsen
Countertenor: Yoshikazu Mera
Tenor: Makoto Sakurada
Bass: Peter Kooij
Label: Bis 881
Recording Date: July 1997


Bach Cantatas vol 7
Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
Ensemble: Bach Collegium Japan
Soprano: Ingrid Schmithüsen
Countertenor: Yoshikazu Mera
Tenor: Makoto Sakurada
Bass: Peter Kooij
Label: Bis 881
Recording Date: July 1997




Dürr p 346-349
Whittaker vol 1 p 586-594
Green p 366-368
Terry vol 2 p 447
Boyd p 160



Previous post for BWV 172.



This cantata is a favorite of mine, especially the opening chorus and the closing chorale. Dürr (p 346) remarks that the opening chorus is so celebratory, it might have been used in a lost secular cantata; indeed, I think it is in the same class with the opening of the Christmas Oratorio. Green (p 366) says the trumpet parts in the first part of the opening chorus are high and difficult, and he says the first trumpet part in the third section, the bass aria, is fiendishly difficult with very rapid passagework. I agree, there are thirty-second notes in very long stretches.

Green also describes the cello part in the fifth section as most demanding. He also points out that there are two viola parts in the first and last section. In the final chorale, the first violin, which usually doubles the soprano line, takes the descant. The second violin takes the chorale with the soprano and violas play with the alto and tenor.

Whittaker (v1 p 586) points out that the low C below the bass staff for the singer in the bass recitativ is the lowest sung note in all the cantatas.

Going back to the fifth part, Whittaker spends a very long time. The alto-soprano duet, a dialogue between the soul and the Holy Spirit, is sung in counterpoint with an abbreviated and decorated version of the chorale 'Komm Heiliger Geist Herre Gott'. It is heard in a most ornate form, decorated by the loveliest fioriture twining in and out of the voices like the tendrils of a delicate and luxuriant plant, penetrating, as it were, the innermost corners of the heart offered to the Spirit.

There is not agreement about what instrument takes this part; Schweitzer favored the oboe. Apparently one of the versions used a violin. The latest version transferred the part to the organ, which Whittaker deplores: the unemotional tone and inablility to shade with infinite subtleties cannot adequately replace violin or oboe and cello.

Whittaker ends with the remark that The duet is one of the most elaborate numbers in all the church works, the endless convolutions of the three upper lines, the numerous appogiature, producing a marvelous texture and an ecstatic feeling of bliss which no other composer has ever expressed.

Duet (first 2 minutes): Leusink with organ, cello. Favorite vocals. 4:33
Duet (first 2 minutes): Rifkin oboe, cello. 4:12
Duet (first 2 minutes): Gardiner's second recording: oboe, cello. Favorite instruments. 4:42
Duet (first 2 minutes): Gardiner's first recording: oboe, cello. 4:20
Duet (first 2 minutes): Suzuki oboe, cello. 4:12
Duet (first 2 minutes): Leonhardt oboe, cello. 3:48

All the sopranos seem a little overwhelming except Ruth Holton in the Leusink recording. The restraint of the vocalists allows the music to stand on its own. The instruments are best brought out by Gardiner in his new recording, both in the duet and in the chorale 172.6 with the violin obbligato. However I do not like Gardiner's repetition of the initial chorus for the ending, though sources say Bach sometimes used it this way.

Chorale 1 and 2

C.S. Terry discusses the first chorale 'Komm Heiliger Geist Herre Gott' and the final chorale 'Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern' in a PDF excerpt.

The chorale in the fifth part is played in an obbligato part by an oboe, violin or the organ, depending on the version of the cantata. Terry states that this is a very free treatment in an abridged form.

'Komm Heiliger Geist Herre Gott' is also treated at length on

The music

Gustav Leonhardt, Chorus

The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir at Presto
Barbara Schlick (Soprano)
Kai Wessel (Alto)
Cristoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Klaus Mertens (Bass)
Dir. Ton Koopman
Koopman 1 Chorus

Koopman 2 recitativ bass   3 aria bass
Koopman 4 tenor aria
Koopman 5 soprano alto aria   6 chorale

Instruments and voices for each part

Section Instruments, voices
1 Chorus SATB, trumpet I,II,III, timpani, violin I,II, viola I,II, bassoon, continuo (NBA: violoncello and organ)
2 Recitativ bass Bass, continuo (NBA: violoncello and organ)
3 Aria bass Bass, trumpets I,II,III, timpani, continuo (NBA: violoncello, bassoon and organ)
4 Aria tenor Tenor, violin I,II, viola I,II, continuo (NBA: violoncello and organ)
5 Aria duet alto soprano Alto, soprano, organ obbligato or
Alto, soprano, oboe or violin and violincello obbligato
6 Chorale SATB, strings, continuo (NBA: bassoon, violoncello and organ)
7 Chorus Some recordings repeat the first movement here

Biblical references for each part

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

  Scripture Text
2 John 14:23 Jesus antwortete und sprach zu ihm: Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten; und mein Vater wird ihn lieben, und wir werden zu ihm kommen und Wohnung bei ihm machen.
2 John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.


BWV 172 recorded at
Holy Trinity, Long Melford

Gardiner's notes on BWV 172 PDF John Eliot Gardiner Cantatas PDF
John Eliot Gardiner recording


Emmanuel Notes BWV 172
Emmanuel Translation BWV 172

Discussion from Bach Cantatas Website
Recordingsfrom Bach Cantatas Website discussion, Simon Crouch.
London Bach Society Database entry BWV 172 BWV 172


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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