BWV 8 Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Caspar Neumann, verse 1 of the hymn, 1697; 2-5. based freely on verses 2-4; 6. verse 6, the final verse, of the hymn.

24 September 1724, Leipzig; transposed from E Major to D Major for a performance in the 1740's.

BG 1; NBA I/23.



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

Dearest God, when will my death be?
Now my days run ever on,
And the heirs of the old Adam,
In whose number I, too, am,
Have this for their legacy,
That they for a little while,
Poor and wretched, earth inhabit
And then are with earth united.

2. Aria (T)

Why wouldst thou then, my soul, be frightened
If that my final hour should strike?
Each day my body draweth earthward,
And there it must its rest discover
Where are so many thousands laid.

3. Recit. (A)

Indeed my weak heart feels
Fear, worry, pain:
Where will my body rest discover?
Who will my soul that day
From its confining yoke of sin
Bring freedom and deliverance?
My goods will be dispersed,
And whither will then all my loved ones
Amid their sad despair
Be torn and banished?

4. Aria (B)

So yield now, ye foolish and purposeless sorrows!
My Jesus doth call me: who would then not go?

    Nought which I desire
    Doth this world possess.
    Appear to me, blessed, exuberant morning,
    Transfigured in glory to Jesus I'll come.

5. Recit. (S)

Then seize, O world, all my possessions!
Thou takest e'en my flesh and this my body,
So take as well my poverty;
Enough, that I from God's abundant store
The highest wealth am yet to have,
Enough, that there I rich and blest shall be.
However, what shall I inherit
Except my God's paternal love?
It is, yea, ev'ry morning new(1)
And cannot perish.

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

Ruler over death and living,
Let at last my end be good;
Teach me how to yield my spirit
With a courage firm and sure.
Help me earn an honest grave
Next to godly Christian men,
And at last by earth though covered
May I never ruin suffer!



1. Cf. Lam. 3:23.

© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose


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