BWV 139 Wohl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott

Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Johann Christoph Rube, verse 1 of the hymn, 1692; the cantus firmus in the soprano is the melody of "Mach's mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt" (cf. BWV 156/1); 2. based freely on verse 2; 3. based freely on Mt. 22:15-22; 4-5. based freely on verses 3 and 4; 6. verse 5 of the hymn (same melody as in 1).

12 November 1724, Leipzig; again after 1744 (Neumann Hb). BG 28; NBA I/26.


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

Blest he who self can to his God
With childlike trust abandon!
For though now sin and word and death
And ev'ry demon hate him,
Yet he'll be ever confident,
If he but God his friend doth make.

2. Aria (T)

God is my friend; what use that raging
Which now the foe hath raised against me!
I am consoled midst spite and hate.

    Yea, though ye tell the truth but rarely,
    Be ever false, what's that to me?
    Ye scorners are to me no danger.

3. Recit. (A)

The Savior sends, indeed, his people
Directly midst the angry wolves.(1)
About him have the lowly(2) rabble
Themselves, to harm and mock him,
With cunning ranged.
But since his mouth such wise response doth make,
He shields me also from the world.

4. Aria (B)

Misfortune wraps from all directions
Round me an hundredweight of chain.
Yet sudden appeareth the help of his hand.

    I see the light of hope from far off;
    I've learned at last that God alone
    To men the best of friends must be.(3)

5. Recit. (S)

Yea, though I bear my greatest foe within,
The heavy weight of error,
My Savior lets me find a solace.
I give to God what God doth own,(4)
My inmost heart and spirit.
If he will now accept them,
My debt of sin shall pass, and fall shall Satan's craft.

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

I therefore scorn the host of hell!
Scorn also death's jaws yawning!
Scorn all the world! No more can me
Its pounding fill with mourning!
God is my shield, my store and help;
Blest he who God as friend hath found!


1. Cf. Mt. 10:16.

2. For Bösen 'wicked' in a rather social sense, cf. Latin mali 'the lower classes.'

3. This and the preceding line are verbatim from the hymn.

4. Cf. Mt. 22:21.


© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose


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