BWV 94 Was frag ich nach der Welt

Ninth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Georg Michael Pfefferkorn, verse 1 of the hymn, 1664 (Fischer-Tümpel, IV, #218); 2. based loosely on verse 2; 3. verse 3 with interpolated recitative; 4. based loosely on verse 4; 5. verse 5 with interpolated recitative; 6 and 7. based loosely on verse 6; 8. verses 7 and 8 of the hymn.

6 August 1724, Leipzig; again around 1732 and 1735.

BG 22; NBA I/19.


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

What need I of this world
And all its idle treasures,
If I may but in thee,
My Jesus, find my pleasure?
Thee have I, only thee,
Envisioned as my joy;
Thou, thou art my delight;
What need I of this world?

2. Aria (B)

The world is like a haze and shadow,
Which soon doth vanish and subside,
For it but briefly doth endure.
When, though, the world shall fall and break,
Shall Jesus bide my confidence,
To whom my very soul shall cleave.
Therefore: what care I for the world?

3. Chorale [Verse 3] and Recit. (T)

The world seeks praise and fame
Midst high and lofty people.
The proud man buildeth palaces most splendid,
He seeks the highest offices,
He dresses in the finest,
In purple, gold, in silver, velvet, silk.
His name before all people
In ev'ry region must be echoed.
His tow'r of pride
Must through the air unto the clouds be pressing,
His aim is on but lofty matters
And thinks not once on this:
How soon indeed these vanish.
Oft bloweth sear and vapid air
The prideful flesh asudden to the grave,
And therewith vanisheth all pomp
Of which this wretched earthly worm
Here in the world so much display hath made.
Ah! All such idle trash
Is far from me, from this my breast, now banned.
However, what my heart
Before all else exalts,
Which Christians true respect and proper honor giveth,
And which my soul,
As it from vanity breaks free,
Instead of pride and splendor loveth,
Is Jesus, him alone,
And this one shall it ever be.
Although I by the world
For this a fool be deemed,
What need I of this world?

4. Aria (A)

Deluded world, deluded world!
E'en thy riches, wealth, and gold
Are a snare and false pretense.
Thou may'st thine idle mammon treasure,
I will instead my Jesus favor;
Jesus, Jesus shall alone
Of my soul the treasure be.
Deluded world, deluded world!

5. Chorale [Verse 5] and Recit. (B)

The world is sore distressed.
What must, indeed, its trouble be?
O folly! This doth cause it pain:
Lest it should be dishonored.
World, shame on thee!
For God indeed so much did love thee,
That he his one begotten child
For all thy sin
To worst disgrace for thy fame's sake subjecteth,
And yet thou wouldst for Jesus' sake not suffer?
The sadness of the world is never greater,
Than when one doth with guile
For all its honors try it.
Indeed, much better
I suffer Christ's disgrace
As long it doth him please.
It is, indeed, but sorrow for a time,
I know full well that once eternity,
For this, with praise and fame will crown me;
Though me the world
Despiseth and derideth,
Though it as well put me to scorn,
If me my Jesus praise,
What need I of this world?

6. Aria (T)

The world can its delight and joy,
The tricks of scornful vanity,
Not high enough pay honor.

    It gnaws, mere yellow rot to gather,
    Just like a mole within its burrow
    And leaves for its sake heav'n untended.

7. Aria (S)

Let him tend to the world so blind
Who nought for his own soul doth care,
With earth I am disgusted.

    I will alone my Jesus love now
    And works of faith and penance practise,
    That I may be both rich and blessed.

8. Chorale [Verses 7 and 8] (S, A, T, B)

What need I of this world?
Asudden must it vanish,
Its pose cannot at all
Put pallid death in bondage.
Possessions must give way,
And ev'ry pleasure fade;
If Jesus bide with me,
What need I of this world?

What need I of this world?
My Jesus is my being,
My store, my property,
To whom I am devoted,
My realm of heav'nly bliss,
And all else I hold dear.
Thus do I say once more:
What need I of this world!


© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose


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