BWV 161 Komm, du süße Todesstunde

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity; also for the Purification.

Salomo Franck, Evangelisches Andachts-Opffer ... in geistlichen Cantaten (Weimar, 1715); Facs: Neumann T, p. 283.

1. Christoph Knoll, verse 1 of the hymn, 1611 (see Fischer-Tümpel, I, p. 101); this chorale is interpolated vocally into the aria only in the later Leipzig version; 6. verse 4 of the same hymn.

6 October 1715, Weimar.

BG 33; NBA I/23.

1. Aria (A) and Chorale (S)

Come, O death, thou sweetest hour,
When my soul
Honey takes
From the lion's mouth;(1)

    Heartfelt is now my yearning
    To have a blessed end,
    For I am here surrounded
    With sadness and distress.
Do this my departure sweeten,
Tarry not,
Final light,
That I may embrace(2) my Savior.
    I wish to take departure
    From this most wicked world,
    I yearn for heaven's pleasure,
    O Jesus, come then soon!

2. Recit. (T)

World, thy delights are weights,
Thy sweetness is to me as poison loathed,
Thy joyful light
Is my dire omen,(3)
And where one once did roses pick
Are thorns of countless toll
A torment to my soul.
Now pallid death's become my rosy morning,
With it doth rise for me the sunlight
Of splendor and of heav'nly pleasure.(4)
I sigh then from my heart's foundation
But for my final hour of dying.
It is my wish with Christ now soon to pasture,
It is my wish to leave this world behind me.(5)

3. Aria (T)

My desire
Is my Savior to embrace now
And with Christ full soon to be.

    Though as mortal earth and ashes
    I by death be ground to ruin,
    Will my soul with radiance pure
    Glory even as the angels.

4. Recit. (A)

Now firm is my resolve,
World, fare thee well!
And I have only this for comfort,
To die within the arms of Jesus:
He is my gentle sleep.(6)
The cooling grave will cover me with roses
Till Jesus shall me re-awaken,
Till he his sheep
Shall lead forth to life's sweetest pasture,(7)
That there e'en death from him not keep me.
So now break forth, thou happy day of death,
So strike then thou, the final hour's stroke!(8)

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

If it is my God's intention,
I wish that my body's weight
Might today the earth make fuller,
And my ghost, my body's guest,
Life immortal take for raiment
In the sweet delight of heaven.
Jesus, come and take me hence!
May this be my final word.

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

The flesh in earth now lying
By worms will be consumed,
Yet shall it be awakened,
Through Christ be glorified,
And shine bright as the sunlight
And live without distress
In heav'nly joy and pleasure.
What harm to me, then, death?

1. Cf. Jg. 14:8.

2. It is difficult to judge whether Salomo Franck's use of küssen is to be taken literally or more with the connotations of the French embrasser.

3. Literally, 'comet.'

4. The theme of metamorphosis in Salomo Franck is more commonly ameliorative (cf. BWV 12/6; 21/10). Here the series of transformations is strikingly negative.

5. Cf. Phil. 1:23.

6. P has also sanfter Tod 'gentle death.'

7. P and BG have Himmelsweide. Translate: "Lead forth to heaven's own sweet pasture."

8. The text and composition, with the death knell represented as a ticking clock, is found in another cantata for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, BWV 95/5, and elsewhere.

© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

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