BWV 55 Ich armer Mensch, ich Sündenknecht

Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

5. Johann Rist, verse 6 of "Werde munter, mein Gemüte," 1642 (Fischer-Tümpel, II, #199).

17 November 1726, Leipzig.

BG 12, 2; NBA I/26.


1. Aria (T)

I, wretched man, I, slave to sin,
I go before God's very presence
With fear and trembling unto judgment.
E'er just is he, unjust am I,
I, wretched man, I, slave to sin.

2. Recit. (T)

I have against my God offended
And have upon the path
Which he did once prescribe for me
Not steadfast traveled.
Where now? Should I the rosy morning's pinions
For this my flight elect now,
To take me to the ocean's limits,
Yet would e'en still the hand of God Almighty find me
And with the rods of sin chastise me.(1)
Ah yes!
If even hell a bed could(2)
For me and all my sins make ready,
Yet would indeed the wrath of God be there.
The earth protects me not,
It threatens wicked me to swallow;
And I would lift myself to heaven,
Where God doth dwell, who shall my judgment tell.

3. Aria (T)

Have mercy, Lord!
Let my tears now make thee soften,
Let them reach into thy bosom;
Let for Jesus Christ's own glory
All thy zealous wrath grow calm now!
Have mercy, Lord!

4. Recit. (T)

Have mercy, Lord!
However,
I now hope
That I'll not stand before his judgment,
But rather to the throne of grace
Of this my righteous Father venture.
I'll offer him his Son,
His passion, his redemption then,
And how he for my sin
Hath all repaid sufficiently,
And beg him to forbear,
Henceforth will I my sin forswear.
Thus take me God into thy grace again.

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

Though I now from thee have fallen,
I will come again to thee;
For now hath thy Son redeemed us
Through his fear and pain of death.
I do not deny my guilt,
But thy mercy and thy grace
Are much greater than my sins are,
Which I ever find within me.


1. Cf. Ps. 139:7-10.

2. Cf. Ps. 139:7-10.


© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose


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