This cantata was composed for the 27th Sunday ~ Trinity, i beg your pardon is the critical Sunday in the Church Year. This way that a power of this cantata must occur instantly before Advent, the four-week duration of repentance and also preparation anticipating Christmas. Yet this details feast, the 27th Sunday after Trinity, is a rare occurrence, since it have the right to only occur when the coming before Easter comes early in the year. Learning this, and also knowing the this feast only arisen twice throughout’s time in Leipzig, we deserve to deduce the Cantata 140 was composed in 1731.

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Cantata 140 is among’s most famous and also best-loved works. It is a chorale cantata and also uses a an extremely famous chorale, “Wachet auf”, which appears in numerous Christian hymnals. Favor the chorale heard in Cantata 1, this chorale was composed by Philipp Nicolai. There is a an extremely sad story attached come this specific chorale. (The very same story, in fact, applies to the chorale i beg your pardon is provided in Cantata 1, “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern.”) Here’s the story:

Once top top a time, in the late 16th century, a terrible plague spread through components of Europe, including a town in Germany dubbed Unna. Around 1300 residents of Unna died during this outbreak. Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608) to be the pastor of a church in this town. He, too, became ill, and figured that was also going to die. When he was lying around anticipating his death, he videotaped his mediations in a journal. Once to his surprised he recovered native his illness, that wrote two hymns (“Wachet auf” and also “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern”) and also attached them come the journal he kept during the plague. Both hymns have now completed immortality as a result.

The famed chorale “Wachet auf” is used in three of the seven activities in Cantata 140. Let’s watch at each of those 3 movements, start with the last.

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Very often, concludes his chorale cantatas through a simple, straightforward, homophonic setup of the chorale. This way, the congregation deserve to join in the singing together his composition concludes. In this hymn-like version, the soprano voices and also instruments in the orchestra (violins, oboes; any type of instrument that deserve to play high parts) play or sing the melody, and the various other voices an tools fill in the harmonies. Here is what the an initial page that this movement looks like:


The center movement is likewise a chorale, and is one of’s most famed pieces. This time, just one part, the tenors, song the chorale tune. The strings in the orchestra sign up with together to play an energetic counter melody (a second tune, almost equal in prestige to the key melody sung by the tenors, and also occurring simultaneously). The start of this motion is displayed below. Notification how the tenors plainly have the chorale tune:


Another activity that employs the chorale is the very first movement. This is the many complicated. It is a chorale fantasy, common to numerous opening movements of’s chorale cantatas. It starts with a dignified, stately orchestral introduction, which takes the place of a prelude. The development is marked initially by dotted rhythms to give the stately feel. This very same passage serves as an interlude in between statements the the opening section of the chorale. The chorale later on enters (in measure 17) in lengthy tones in the sopranos, when the lower voices enhance and also ornament the texture.