BWV 181 Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister

Sexagesima Sunday.

Poet unknown; PT (Leipzig, 1724); Facs: Neumann T, p. 426.

13 February 1724, Leipzig.

BG 37; NBA I/7.

1. Aria (B)

Insincere and fickle spirits
Sap the word of all its strength.
Belial(1) with all his children
Seeketh also to obstruct it,
That it may no use afford.

2. Recit. (A)

O most unhappy band of wayward spirits,
Who stand as though beside the path;(2)
And who shall then of Satan's guile be telling,
If from the heart the word he steals,
Which, in good judgment blind,
The harm doth not believe or grasp?
One day those hearts, so stony,
Which wickedly resist
Will their salvation forfeit
And meet at last their doom.
So strong, indeed, was Christ's last word
That very cliffs did crumble;
The angel's hand did move the tomb's own stone,
Yea, Moses' staff could once
Bring from a mountain flowing water.
Wouldst thou, O heart, still harder be?

3. Aria (T)

Injurious thorns in their infinite toll,
The worry of pleasure to increase its treasure,
These shall both the flames and the torment of hell
Eternally nourish.

4. Recit. (S)

By these will all our strength be choked,
The noble seed will lie unfruitful,
If we not well our souls obey,
And hearts in season
For fertile land do not make ready,
So that our hearts those sweet rewards may savor
Which us this word revealeth:
The powers of this life and of life hereafter.

5. Aria (S, A, T, B)

O Master, give us ev'ry season
Our heart's repose, thy holy word.

    Thou canst through thine almighty hand
    Alone a fair and fruitful land
    Within these hearts of ours make ready.

1. In Hebrew Belial means 'wickedness' and in the New Testament is used for Satan.

2. Cf. Lk. 8:11-12, in the Gospel for Sexagesima: "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved." This passage inspired the imagery of planting in the cantata.

© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

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