BWV 95 Christus, der ist mein Leben

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1a. Anonymous, verse 1 of the hymn, ca. 1609; 1c. Martin Luther, verse 1 of "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin," an adaptation of "Simeon's Song of Praise" = "Nunc dimittis," 1524 (Wackernagel, I, #205 and III, #25); 3. Valerius Herberger, verse 1 of "Valet will ich dir geben," 1613 (Fischer-Tümpel, I, #125); 7. Nikolaus Herman, verse 4 of "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist," 1560 (Wackernagel, I, #499).

12 September 1723, Leipzig.

BG 22; NBA I/23.


1a. Chorale (S, A, T, B)

Lord Christ, he is my being,
My death is my reward;
To it I will surrender,
With joy will I depart.

1b. Recit. (T)

With gladness,
Yea, with joyful heart,
I'll take hence my departure.
E'en if today were said: "Thou must!",
Yet am I willing and prepared
My wretched flesh, my fully wasted members,
The dress of mortal rank,
To earth returning,
Into her lap to offer.
My dying song e'en now is made;
Ah, I today would sing it!

1c. Chorale (S, A, T, B)

With peace and joy do I depart,
As God doth will it;
Consoled am I in heart and mind,
Calm and quiet,
As God me his promise gave:
My death is to sleep altered.

2. Recit. (S)

Now, treach'rous world!
Now I'll have nothing more with thee to do;
My house is now prepared,
I'll much more softly rest
There than I could with thee,
Beside thy Babel's waters,
Where passion's salt I'm forced to swallow,
And when within thy paradise
Mere Sodom's apples I could gather.(1)
No, no! I can now with collected courage say it:

3. Chorale (S)

"Valet"(2) would I now give thee,
Thou wicked, treach'rous world;
Thy sinful, evil, living
Doth fully me displease.
In heav'n is my fair dwelling,
Whereto my hopes arise.
There will God ever favor
Those who have served him here.

4. Recit. (T)

Ah, if it could for me now quickly come to pass
That I my death,
The end of all my woe,
Within my body could behold,
I would, indeed, for my own body's dwelling(3) choose it
And ev'ry moment by it number.

5. Aria (T)

Ah, strike thou, then, soon, happy hour,
That last and final tolling stroke!(4)

    Come, come, to thee I reach my hands out,
    Come, set to all my woe an ending,
    Thou long desire'd day of death.

6. Recit. (B)

For I know this
And hold it ever true,
That from my very grave I
Have a most certain entrance to my heav'nly Father.
My death is but a sleep
Through which my flesh, which here by sorrow was diminished,
To rest might journey.
If here the shepherd seeks his errant sheep,
How could then Jesus once again not find me,
For he's my head, and I his form possess!
So I can now with happy spirit
My blessed resurrection ground upon my Savior.

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

Since thou from death arisen art,
I'll in the grave not tarry;
Thy final word my rising is,
Death's fear canst thou now banish.
For where thou art, there will I come,
That I e'er with thee live and be;
So I depart with pleasure.


Josephus, Bellum Judaicum, IV. 8. 4, writes that the apples of Sodom, though appearing to be edible, turned to smoke and ashes when picked. Cf. Dürr, p. 363, and BWV 179/3.

Valet, `he fares well' in Latin, in German is used as a noun meaning 'a farewell.'

Leibgedinge = Leiberente 'rent for a lifetime.'

Bach expresses the knell of death as the ticking of a clock rather than a tolling bell, here and elsewhere. Cf. BWV 74/4.


© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose


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