BWV 136 Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz

Eighth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Ps. 139:23; 6. Johann Heermann, verse 9 of "Wo soll ich fliehen hin," 1630 (Fischer-Tümpel, I, #322).

18 July 1723, Leipzig.

BG 28; NBA I/18.


1. Chorus [Dictum] (S, A, T, B)

Examine me, God, and discover my heart; prove thou me and discover what my thoughts are.

2. Recit. (T)

Ah, that the curse which then the earth did strike(1)
As well mankind to heart hath stricken!
Who can for righteous fruit be hopeful
While this foul curse into the soul so pierceth,
That it the thorns of sin now yieldeth
And wicked thistles bears?
But often themselves are wont hell's very children
As angels of light to put forward;
As though in this corrupted nature
From thorns like these one grapes could harvest.
A wolf would make the purest wool his cover,
But once the day breaks forth,
He'll be, ye feigners, a terror,
Yea, not to be endured.

3. Aria (A)

There comes the day
To bring concealment judgment,
At which hypocrisy may quake with fear.

    For then his zealous wrath will ruin
    What strategem and lies have woven.

4. Recit. (B)

The heavens are themselves not pure,(2)
How shall then now a man before this judge e'er stand?
But he whom Jesus' blood hath cleanséd,
Who is through faith to him united,
Knows that o'er him he'll no harsh judgment pass.
If he's by sin still vexed,
By weakness of his efforts,
He hath in Christ, no less,
Both righteousness and power.

5. Aria (T, B)

We feel in truth the marks of error
Which Adam's fall on us have placed.

    But yet, who hath in Jesus' wounding,
    That mighty stream of blood, found refuge,
    Is by it purified anew.

6. Chorale (S, A, T, B)

Thy blood, that liquid rich,
Hath such great force and strength
That e'en the merest trickle
Can all the world deliver,
Yea, from the jaws of Satan,
Set free and disencumber.


1. Cf. Gen. 3:17-18.

2. Cf. Job 15:15.


© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose


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