BWV 48 Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen

Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Romans 7:24, with the chorale melody of "Herr Jesu Christ," Freiburg, 1620; 3. Martin Rutilius, verse 4 of "Ach Gott und Herr," 1604 (Fischer-Tümpel, I, #52); 7. verse 12 of "Herr Jesu Christ," Freiburg, 1620 (Fischer-Tümpel, I, #574).

3 October 1723, Leipzig.

BG 10; NBA I/24.



1. Chorus [Dictum] with instr. chorale

A poor man am I; who will set me free from the body of this dying?

2. Recit. (A)

Such pain, such sorrow strike at me
While poison born of sin
Within my breast and veins is raging:
My world a house of death and sickness is,
My flesh must all its torments
Into the very grave bear with it.
But yet the soul perceiveth the poison most
With which it is infected;
Thus, when by pain the flesh of death is struck
And soul tastes cross's bitter chalice,
That cup doth force from it a fervent sigh.

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

If it need be
That judgment's pain
Our sins must ever follow,
Continue on,
Refine me there
And let me here do penance.(1)

4. Aria (A)

Ah, put off that Sodom from my sinful members,
Whenever thy purpose it bringeth to ruin!
Refine, though, my soul now and render it pure,
Before thee a hallowéd Zion to be.

5. Recit. (T)

But here doth work the Savior's hand
Amidst the very dead its wonders.(2)
If thy soul nigh to death appeareth,
Thy body weak and fully broken,
Yet we shall Jesus' power know:
He can the weak in spirit,
The body sound, the soul robust yet render.

6. Aria (T)

Forgive me Jesus my transgressions,
So shall my flesh and soul be well.
He can the dead to life awaken
And shows his power in our weakness;(3)
He keeps the long contracted bond,
That we in faith shall find salvation.

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

Lord Jesus Christ, my only help,
In thee will I take refuge;
My heart's distress is thee well known,
Thou canst and wilt dispel it.
Upon thy will let all depend,
Deal, O my God, as thou dost please:
Thine am I now and ever.


1. I.e., there in heaven and here on earth.

2. Cf. Ps. 88:11.

3. Cf. 2 Cor. 12:9.


© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose


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