BWV 212 Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet (Cantate Burlesque)

In Honor of Carl Heinrich von Dieskau as new Lord of the Manor
at Klein-Zschocher.

Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander), Neu herausgegebene Ernst- Schertzhafte und Satyrische Gedichte, Teil V (Leipzig, 1751); Facs: Neumann T, p. 356.

30 August 1742, Klein-Zschocher near Leipzig; Parody: 14 ← II (BWV Anh. 11)/7; 20 ← BWV 201/7.

BG 29; NBA I/39.

Cantata Burlesque

1. Overture

2. Aria(1) (S, B)

We’ve got a bran-new guvernor
In this our Chamberlain.
He gives us beer to warm the heart,
That is the kernel plain.
The Rev’ may ever angry be,
Ye players, here's the fling!
Already Molly’s skirt shakes, see,
The wanton little thing.

3. Recit. (B, S)

Now, Molly, closer yet, thy lips bring here;

If that were all there were.
I know thee well, thou good-for-nothing,
Thou wilt then want another something.(2)
For our new Squire is very keen of sight.

Ah, this our Squire won't bite;
He knows as well as we and doubtless better
How sweet it tastes to court a bit.

4. Aria (S)

Ah, it tastes a bit too sweet,
When a pair in fondness meet;
Oh, there’s bustling in the britches,
As when lazy fleas and midges
And an angry waspy host
At each other rage their most

5. Recit. (B)

The Squire is good: but yet that taxman,(3)
He is of sulphur made,
Who like a bolt a dollar's fine hath laid
Before we scarcely even get our fingers wet.(4)

6. Aria (B)

Ah, Sir taxman, be not all too grim,
Nor us wretched peasant people trim!
Easy on our skin;
If our cabbage then
Like the worms you’ve eaten to the stem,
Have done with them!

7. Recit. (S)

To this we’re bound
That than our Squire no better’s found.
One could not hone him any finer
Nor with a gunny sack of pennies pay him his due honor.

8. Aria (S)

Oh,  it is so plain,
Our dear Chamberlain
Is a congenial man
Whom no one censure can.

9. Recit. (B, S)

He helps us all, both old and young
And in thine ear I’ll whisper:
Hath this our village not rightly done
At that last levy neatly prosper?

I know in fact a better game,
The Squire o’er taxes hath a name.

10. Aria (S)

That is gallant,
And none will vaunt
Of those evaded taxes.(5)
Murmured words no one will dare,
Knauthain and Cospuden(6) there
Have worked their coats to patches.

11. Recit. (B)

And this our gracious Dame
Is not one bit aloof.
And like us simple folks she's made of wood that's tough
And talks indeed to us therefore
As though she on our level were.
She's true and fair, so generous and game,
And makes for our most gracious Squire
A single bat a host of dollars sire.(7)

12. Aria (B)

Fifty dollars, ready coin,
Throat unmoistened forced to muzzle
Is a thing that’s hard to learn
Even when our hair they tousle;
But what’s gone is gone for good;
In another neighborhood
All this sum will we make double;
Let the fifty cause no trouble.

13. Recit. (S)

A serious word!
Before I toward
Our village tavern
Anc think to be a dancer,
Thou shouldst, indeed, our master for revering,
To my new ditty give a hearing.

14. Aria (S)

Klein-Zschocher ever
Be sweet and tender
As purest almonds to the taste.

    Within our goodly parish
    Nought else today should flourish
    But blessings rich and chaste.

15. Recit. (B)

That’s much too smart for thee,
Thy song urbane in fashion;
We peasants sing with much more passion.
This ditty now attend which is just right for me!

16. Aria (B)

We hope now that ducats ten thousand
Our Chamberlain ev'ry day gain!
Let him drink a good glass of wine,
And let him find its taste right fine!

17. Recit. (S)

That sounds too lackaday.
There are such fancy people here,
They will, I fear,
Their bellies fill with laughter;
No diff'rent, I should say,
Were I an olden tune to offer:

18. Aria (S)

Give us, Lady,
Many'a laddie
Right handsome and tall
And raise them up all;
For this boon both Zschocher and Knauthain would call!(8)

19. Recit. (B)

Thou art quite right.
That ditty sounds too slight;
To sing I must constrain me
A city tune, right dainty.

20. Aria (B)

Thine increase be steady and laugh with delight!

    Thine own bosom's virtue fair
    Doth for thee thy fields prepare
    In which shall bloom thy might.(9)

21. Recit. (S, B)

And with this we’ve done all that’s fit.

Now ought we not for just a bit
Into our tavern venture?

To wit, thou yet one word wouldst wager:
22. Aria (S)

And that ye all may know,
It is now time to go
For drinkin’.
Those with a thirst should beckon.
If right hand won’t obey
Then use without delay
The left one.

23. Recit. (B, S)

My dear, thy bidding!

Because we now
Have here no more to do,
We shall in turn with ordered pace
To our old tavern go a-striding.

Ai! Let those two now join me,
Sir Ludwig(10) and the tax-reviser
Today must come.

24. Chorus (S, B)

We march now where the dudelsack
In our old tavern drones;
And shout with joy as we carouse:
Long life to Dieskau and his house,
May he attain
His every aim
And whatsoever he might lack!

1. The text of this movement is in the dialect of Upper Saxony. Dialect is represented in the remainder of the cantata in only a few expressions: Guschel 'mouth,' Dahlen 'amorous dalliance,' Ranzen `belly,' prinkel `a little.' The characters are a peasant man and woman. The woman is twice referred to with a diminutive form of the name "Mary."

2. Dürr, p. 698, points out that at the end of this line the instruments quote the melody of the folk song "Mit dir und mir ins Federbett, mit dir und mir aufs Stroh; da sticht uns keine Feder net, daß uns auch kein Floh" ("With thee and me in the featherbed, with thee and me in the hay; there not a feather sticks us, no, there bites us not one flea").

3. Dieskau was the chief revenue officer around Leipzig. Picander, who in 1740 became Stadt-Trank-Steuereinnehmer, Weininspektor und Visir, was thus his immediate subordinate. The "taxman" may well have been Picander himself, or a colleague (cf. Dürr, p. 697).

4. Dürr suggests that this line refers to violation of local fishing laws.

5. The Neu-Schock = 60 Groschen, the Schock was the land-tax (cf. Engl. shock 'heap of hay.')

6. Neighboring villages, less fortunate in the recent recruitment.

7. The Fledermaus `bat' was a mis-struck Adler 'eagle' and, hence, coin of little value. The frugal wife turns her pennies into dollars. The extensive vocabulary of local coinage contributes in two ways to the purpose of the cantata: It points to the civil position of Dieskau as a tax official and invokes prosperity upon Dieskau and his subjects.

8. Until now the Dieskaus had had five daughters and no sons!

9. This movement is a parody of BWV 201/7, the contest aria of Pan, the peasant god. Ironically, it becomes here an example of the urbane style.

10. The identity of Herr Ludwig is unknown, and perhaps not so important as the technique, old as comedy itself, of involving the audience in the drama and fun.

© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

Back to top