Cantata BWV 18


2010, August 31

JS Bach Cantata BWV 18: Gleich wie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt
(Even as the rain and snow fall from Heaven)
Sexagesimae Sunday mo day year (second Sunday before Ash Wednesday)
Weimar Cantatas
Scoring: Four violas, Bassoon, Violoncello, Organ (Leipzig version adds two recorders)
  Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass
Bärenreiter vol 3; p 285
Reading: Epistle Corinthians II 11:19-12:9 God's power is mighty in the weak
Reading: Gospel Luke 8:4-15 The parable of the sower
Words: Erdmann Neumeister
Bach Bibliography

The recordings

Leipzig version
Conductor: Sigiswald Kuijken, also on Violoncello da Spalla
Orchestra/Ensemble: La Petite Bande Ensemble
Soprano: Siri Thornhill
Alto: Petra Noskaiov√°
Tenor: Marcus Ullmann
Bass: Jan Van der Crabben
Date: 3/25/2008
Accent 25306



Weimar version
Conductor: Pieter jan Leusink
Orchestra/Ensemble: Netherlands Bach Collegium
Soprano: Marjon Strijk
Alto: Sytse Buwalda
Tenor: Robert Getchell
Bass: Bas Ramselaar
Violas: Jon Willem Vis, Simon Murphy, Örzse Adam, John Wilson Meyer
Cello: Frank Wakelkamp
Violone: Maggie Urquhart
Organ: Vaughan Schlepp
Date: 1999
Brilliant Classics 93102/84

Weimar version
Nikolas Harnoncourt
Concentus Musicus Wien
Wiener Sängerknaben
Tenor: Kurt Equiluz
Bass: Max von Egmond
Date: 1972



Bach Cantatas vol 2
Conductor: Ton Koopman
Ensemble: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Amsterdam Baroque Choir
Soprano: Barbara Schlick
Alto: Kai Wessel
Tenor: Christoph Prégardien,
Bass: Klaus Mertens
Label: Challenge 72208
Recorded: 5/1995




The literature

Whittaker vol 1, p 141
C.S. Terry vol 2, p 178
Boyd p 193
Green p 42
Dürr p 231

The sentiments expressed in this cantata seem very foreign to my ears, but then I have not been following the rhetoric of the modern conflicts in the Middle East. Perhaps the split between the faithful and the infidel would seem contemporary to some.

There are no violins in this cantata, violas take their places.

The eighth Sunday before Easter, the earliest Sexagesima can occur is January 25 and the latest is February 28 (or February 29 in a leap year). The name of this Sunday has been dropped from modern vocabulary.

1: Sinfonia

The addition of the recorders in the later version significantly changes the character of the music.

First forty measures Leusink Weimar version

First forty measures Kuijken Leipzig version with recorders

2 Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt: bass recitative

Short and enjoyable with the organ continuo.

3 Mein Gott, hier wird mein Herze sein: recitative with sections of the litany

Tenor prayer, soprano intones, then chorus with Hear us dear Lord God; bass recitative, soprano intones, then chorus with Hear us dear Lord God; tenor recitative, soprano intones, then chorus with Hear us dear Lord God; bass recitative, soprano intones, chorus finishes with Hear us dear Lord God, almost as a command from below. Verfolgung (persecution), in the bass recitative, is allotted the most extraordinary run in all his church music. ... This lengthy number, extending to nearly ninety bars, is a bold and interesting early experiment, and its like is not met with elsewhere in the cantatas. - Whittaker (p 144)

4 Mein Seelenschatz ist Gottes Wort: soprano aria

The soprano is accompanied by the four violas in unison.

5 Ich bitt, o Herr, aus Herzens Grund: chorale

Discussion of the final chorale on
Discussion of the final chorale by C. S. Terry in PDF extract

Green states that this cantata lends itself well to being sung by a solo quartet. This is a very practical cantata, presenting few significant challenges (p 44).

The music

Ton Koopman 1
Ton Koopman 2
Ton Koopman 3
Ton Koopman 4
Ton Koopman 5

PDF of the cantata score in old clefs

Instruments and voices for each part

  Instruments, voices
1 Sinfonia: Viola I,II,III,IV, bassoon, violoncello, and continuo (NBA: organ)
2 Bass recitative: bassoon, and continuo (NBA: organ)
3 SATB aria, viola I,II,III, IV, and continuo (NBA: organ)
4 Soprano aria, viola I,II,III,IV and continuo (NBA: organ)
5 Chorale SATB, viola I,II,III,IV, bassoon, and continuo (NBA: organ)


Biblical references for each part

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

  Scripture Text
2 Isaiah 55:-10-11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
2 Isaiah 55:-10-11 Denn gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt und nicht wieder dahin kommt, sondern feuchtet die Erde und macht sie fruchtbar und wachsend, daß sie gibt Samen zu säen und Brot zu essen, also soll das Wort, so aus meinem Munde gehet, auch sein: Es soll nicht wieder zu mir leer kommen, sondern tun, das mir gefällt, und soll ihm gelingen, dazu ich's sende.
5 Chorale Durch Adams Fall is ganze verderbt, verse 8
Ich bitt, o Herr, aus Herzens Grund
5 Chorale I pray, o Lord, from the bottom of my heart


Emmanuel Notes BWV 18.
Emmanuel Translation BWV 18.

Discussion from Bach Cantatas Website.
Recordingsfrom Bach Cantatas Website. article

John Eliot Gardiner Cantatas Recording. discussion, Simon Crouch.
London Bach Society Database entry BWV 18


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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