Cantata BWV 153 is unusual. The only choral music are three chorales, that are like pillars on which the arias and recitatives rest. The work opens with the great Luther chorale “Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein.” After a brief recitative, the Isaiah text “Fürchte dich nicht” shows up in a bass and continuo aria. Then comes a wonderful, simple setting of the passion chorale. The tenor takes over, with a remarkably stormy aria. After another recitative, the beautiful, lyrical alto aria is like a balm after the agitation of what has gone before. Three verses of the chorale “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht” end this interesting work.

©Craig Smith

Back to Bach Notes & Translations