BWV 179 Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei

Eleventh Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Ecclus. 1:34; 6. Christoph Tietze, verse 1 of the hymn, 1663 (Fischer-Tümpel, IV, #349).

8. August 1723, Leipzig; Parody: 1 and 3 ---> Mass in G, BWV 236/1 and 5, Mass in A, BWV 234/4.

BG 34; NBA I/20.



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

Watch with care lest all thy piety hypocrisy be, and serve thy God not with feigning spirit!

2. Recit. (T)

Today's Christianity,
Alas, is ill-disposed:
Most Christian people in the world
Are lukewarm like Laodicaeans,(1)
And like the puffed up Pharisaeans,
Who outwardly appear so pious
And like the reeds their heads to earth bend humbly,
Though in their hearts there lurks a pompous vanity;
They go, indeed, into God's house
And there perform their superficial duties,
But does all this in truth a Christian make?
No, hypocrites themselves can do this.

3. Aria (T)

Likeness of false hypocrites,
We could Sodom's apples(2) call them,
Who, with rot though they be filled,
On the outside brightly glisten.
Hypocrites, though outward fair,
Cannot stand before God's throne.

4. Recit. (B)

Who is both inward and without the same
Is a true Christian called.
Such was the publican in temple,
Who beat in great remorse his breast,
Ascribing to himself no pious character;
So this one call to mind,
O man, a laudable example
For thine own penitence.
Art thou no robber, marriage wrecker,
No unjust bearer of false witness,
Ah, do thou not in fact presume
That thou art therefore angel-pure!
Confess to God most humbly thy transgressions,
And thou shalt find both help and mercy!

5. Aria (S)

Dearest God, have mercy now,
Let thy help and grace be present!

    Mine offenses vex me so,
    Like an abscess in my body;(3)
    Help me, Jesus, lamb of God,
    For I sink now deep in mire!(4)

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

This wretch I am, this wretched sinner,
Stands here before God's countenance.
Ah God, ah God, treat me more gently,
And into judgment lead me not!
Have mercy now, have mercy now,
My God of mercy, on my soul.


1. Cf. Rev. 3:16.

2. Josephus, Bellum Judaicum, IV. 8. 4, writes that the apples of Sodom, though appearing to be edible, turned to ashes and smoke when plucked. Cf. BWV 54, footnote 2.

3. Cf. Hab. 3:16.

4. With "God's own lamb" and "slime" one could approximate the rather startling rhyme of the original. Cf. Ps. 69:2: "I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold."


© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose


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