BWV 70 Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!

Twenty-sixth Sunday after Trinity.

Recitatives by unknown poet, arias by Salomo Franck, Evangelische Sonn- und Fest-Tages-Andachten (Weimar and Jena, 1717); Facs: Neumann T, p. 290.

7. Final verse of "Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele," Freiberg, 1620 (Fischer-Tümpel, I, #573); 9. chorale melody of "Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit"; 11. Christian Keymann, verse 5 of "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht," 1658 (Fischer-Tümpel, IV, #13).

21 November 1723, Leipzig; Parody: 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11 <--- BWV 70a/1-6.

BG 16; NBA I/27.



First Part

1. Chorus (S, A, T, B)

Watch ye, pray ye, pray ye, watch ye!

    Keep prepared
    For the day
    When the Lord of majesty
    To this world its ending bringeth!

2. Recit. (B)

Be frightened, O ye stubborn sinners!
A day shall dawn
From which no one can hope to hide:
It speeds thee to a stringent judgment,
O sinful generation,
To lasting lamentation.
But you, God's own elected children,
It brings the onset of true gladness.
The Savior summons you, when all else shall collapse,
Before his own exalted face:
So fear ye not!

3. Aria (A)

When comes the day of our deliv'rance
From this the Egypt of our world?
Ah, let us soon from Sodom flee now,
Ere us the fire hath overwhelmed!
Wake up, ye souls, from your repose,
And trust, this is the final hour!

4. Recit. (T)

In spite of all our heav'nly longing
Our body holds the spirit captive;
The world doth set through all its cunning
For good men traps and meshes.
The soul is willing, but the flesh is weak;(1)
This forces out our sorrowful "Alas!"

5. Aria (S)

Leave to mocking tongues their scorning,
For it will and has to happen
That we Jesus shall behold yet
In the clouds, in the heavens.
World and universe may perish,
Christ's word must still stand unshaken.
Leave to mocking tongues their scorning,
For it will and has to happen!

6. Recit. (T)

And yet amidst this savage generation
God careth for his servants,
That this most wicked breed
Might cease henceforth to harm them,
For he doth hold them in his hand secure
And to a heav'nly Eden bring them.

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

Now be glad, O thou my spirit,
And forget all need and fears,
For thee now doth Christ, thy Master,
Summon from this vale of tears!
His great joy and majesty
Shalt thou see eternally,
Join the angels' jubilation
In eternal exultation.

Second Part

8. Aria (T)

Lift high your heads aloft(2)
And be consoled, ye righteous,
That now your souls may bloom!

    Ye shall in Eden flourish
    In God's eternal service.

9. Recit. (B) with instr. chorale(3)

Ah, ought not this most awful day,
The world's collapse,
The sounding trumpet's peal,
The strange, unequaled final stroke,
The sentence which the judge proclaimeth,
The open jaws of hell's own portals
Within my heart
Much doubting, fear and terror
In me, the child of sin I am,
Awaken?
And yet, there passeth through my spirit
A glint of joy, of light of hope doth rise.
The Savior can his heart no more keep hidden,
It doth with pity break,
His mercy's arm forsakes me not.
Lead on, thus shall I end with gladness now my course.

10. Aria (B)

O most blest refreshment day,
Lead me now into thy mansions!
Sound and crack, O final stroke,
World and heavens, fall in ruins!
Jesus leadeth me to stillness,
To that place where joy hath fullness.(4)

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

Not for world, for heaven not,
Doth my spirit yearn with longing;
Jesus seek I and his light,
Who to God hath reconciled me,
Who from judgment sets me free;
My Lord Jesus I'll not leave.


1. Mt. 26:41.

2. Lk. 21:28.

3. The text of this chorale is by Bartholomäus Ringwaldt, 1582, and is found in Bach's four-part chorale BWV 307:

4.

    Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit,
    Daß Gottes Sohn wird kommen
    In seiner grossen Herrlichkeit,
    Zu richte Bös' und Frommen.
    Dann wird das Lachen werden theu'r,
    Wann Alles soll vergehn im Feu'r,
    Wie Petrus davon zeuget.

    Now is in truth the time at hand
    For God's own Son's appearing
    Within his glorious majesty
    To judge the good and wicked.
    Then shall all laughter be most dear,
    When all must perish in the fire,
    As Peter testifieth.

5. Cf. Ps. 16:11.


© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose


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