BWV 180 Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.

Poet unknown.

1. Johann Franck, verse 1 of the hymn, 1646(1) (Fischer-Tümpel, IV, #96); 2. based freely on verse 2; 3. recitative based freely on verse 3; chorale: verse 4; 5-6. based freely on verses 7-8; 7. verse 9 of the hymn.

22 October 1724, Leipzig.

BG 35; NBA I/25.

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

Deck thyself, O soul belovéd,
Leave of sin the murky hollows,
Come, the brilliant light approaching,
Now begin to shine with glory;
For the Lord with health and blessing
Hath now thee as guest invited.
He, who heaven now can manage,
Seeks his lodging here within thee.

2. Aria (T)

Be lively thou: thy Savior knocks,
Ah, open soon thy spirit's portals!

    Although now in enchanted joy
    But partly broken words of gladness
    Must to thy Jesus give reply.

3. Recit. and Chorale [Verse 4] (S)

How costly are the holy banquet’s off’rings!
None other like them can be found.
All else the world
Doth precious think
Is trash and idle nothing;
A child of God would seek to have this treasure
And say:
Ah, how hungry is my spirit,
Friend of man, to have thy kindness
Ah, how oft I am with weeping
For this treasure filled with yearning!
Ah, how often am I thirsting
For the drink from life’s true sovereign,
Hoping ever that my body
Be through God with God united.

4. Recit. (A)

My heart within feels fear and gladness;
It is with fear inspired
When it that majesty doth weigh,
When it no way into the secret findeth
Nor with the mind this lofty work can fathom.
God’s Spirit, though, can through his word instruct us
How here all spirits shall be nurtured
Which have themselves in faith arrayed.
Our gladness, though, is ever strengthened
When we the Savior’s heart behold
And of his love the greatness witness.

5. Aria (S)

Life's true sunlight, light of feeling,
Lord, thou who art all to me!

    Thou wilt see that I am loyal
    And my faith wilt not disparage,
    Which is weak and fearful yet.

6. Recit. (B)

Lord, let in me thy faithful loving,
Which out of heaven thee hath driven,
Yea, not in vain have been.
Enkindle thou my spirit with thy love,
That it may only things of heav’nly worth
In faith be seeking
And of thy love be ever mindful.
7. Chorale [Verse 9] (S,A,T,B)

Jesus, bread of life most truly,
Help that I may never vainly,
Or perhaps e'en to my sorrow,
Be invited to thy table.
Grant that through this food of spirit
I thy love may rightly treasure,
That I too, while on earth dwelling,
May become a guest in heaven.

1. Dürr, p. 485, gives the date of the hymn as 1649; Neumann T, p. 143, gives 1653; Fischer-Tümpel, IV, p. 66, reports that in Johann Franckens Hundert-Thönige Vater-Unsers-Harffe (Wittenbergk, 1646), the first lines of a large number of Franck's hymns were mentioned which had by that date already been composed, but not yet published, among them this hymn.

© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

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