BWV 26 Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Michael Franck, verse 1 of the hymn, 1652 (Fischer-Tümpel, IV, #254); 2. based on verse 2; 3. based loosely on verses 3-9; 4. based on verse 10; 5. based on verses 11- 12; 6. verse 13 of the hymn.

19 November 1724, Leipzig.

BG 5, 1; NBA I/27, 31.


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

Ah, how fleeting, ah, how empty
Is the life of mortals!
As a mist which quickly riseth
And again as quickly passeth,
Even thus our life is, witness!

2. Aria (T)

As fast as rushing waters gush,
So hasten on our days of living.
The time doth pass, the hours hasten,
Just as the raindrops quickly break up
When all to the abyss doth rush.

3. Recit. (A)

Our joy will be to sadness turned,
Our beauty falleth like a flower,
The greatest strength will be made weak,
Transformed will be good fortune all in time,
Soon is the end of fame and honor,
What scholarship and what mankind contriveth
Will at the last the grave extinguish.

4. Aria (B)

Upon earthly treasure the heart to be setting
Is but a seduction of our foolish world.
How easily formed are the holocaust's embers,
What thunder and power have waters in floodtime
Till all things collapse into ruin and fall.

5. Recit. (S)

The highest majesty and pomp
Are veiled at last by death's dark night.
Who almost as a god was honored
Escapes the dust and ashes not,
And when the final hour striketh
In which he to the earth is carried
And his own height's foundation falls,
Is he then quite forgotten.

6. Chorale [Verse 13] (S, A, T, B)

Ah, how fleeting, ah, how empty
Are all mortal matters!
All that, all that which we look at,
That must fall at last and vanish.
Who fears God shall stand forever.


© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose


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