Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut

Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut

BWV 117 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Shunske Sato
PHIL, Haarlem

  • Menu
  • 1. Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut (Chor)
  • 2. Es danken dir die Himmelsheer (Rezitativ)
  • 3. Was unser Gott geschaffen hat (Arie)
  • 4. Ich rief dem Herrn in meiner Not (Choral)
  • 5. Der Herr ist noch und nimmer (Rezitativ)
  • 6. Wenn Trost und Hülf ermangeln muß (Arie)
  • 7. Ich will dich all mein Leben lang (Arie)
  • 8. Ihr, die ihr Christi Namen nennt (Rezitativ)
  • 9. So kommet vor sein Angesicht (Choral)

Behind the music


Glory to God and nobody else

A universal cantata

The message of this cantata is a fairly general one, and one that was all too familiar to the devout church-goer in Bach’s day: praise and honour to him that created earth and mankind. Partly because of this, we can only guess at the precise occasion for which Bach wrote this cantata. However, it is clear that it was a festive one; maybe a wedding or a Thanksgiving service.

The words of the libretto are by Johann Jacob Schütz, who was one of the big men behind Pietism. This ‘religion of the heart’ was a Lutheran movement that arose in the seventeenth and eighteenth century as a reaction to the rigid dogmas of Protestantism. The ordinary man or woman had to be able to fully understand the hymns, and the most important thing was the individual experience of faith. The chorus  ‘Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre’ contributes to this, repeatedly reminding the church-goer that our good fortune is thanks to God, and to him alone.

It is questionable whether Schütz would have agreed to Bach’s music, as Pietists preferred church music to be simple. But it is beyond doubt that Bach understood the meaning of the text. Each of the nine verses – this is one of Bach’s longer cantatas – has its own character. Even the repeated final sentence keeps recurring in a variation. The nine numbers are divided over three chorale arrangements, three recitatives and three arias – one for each soloist. The alto aria ‘Ich will dich all mein Leben lang’ has sometimes been described as one of Bach’s most inspired moments.

Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut
alto, bass, tenor, violin
ca. 1728-1731
Johann Jacob Schütz
Special notes
Likely written as a wedding cantata.

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Vocal texts


1. Chor
Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut,
dem Vater aller Güte,
dem Gott, der alle Wunder tut,
dem Gott, der mein Gemüte
mit seinem reichen Trost erfüllt,
dem Gott, der allen Jammer stillt.
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!

2. Rezitativ (Bass)
Es danken dir die Himmelsheer,
o Herrscher aller Thronen,
und die auf Erden, Luft und Meer
in deinem Schatten wohnen,
die preisen deine Schöpfersmacht,
die alles also wohl bedacht.
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!

3. Arie (Tenor)
Was unser Gott geschaffen hat,
das will er auch erhalten;
darüber will er früh und spat
mit seiner Gnade walten.
In seinem ganzen Königreich
ist alles recht und alles gleich.
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!

4. Choral
Ich rief dem Herrn in meiner Not:
Ach Gott, vernimm mein Schreien!
Da half mein Helfer mir vom Tod
und ließ mir Trost gedeihen.
Drum dank, ach Gott, drum dank ich dir;
ach danket, danket Gott mit mir!
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!

5. Rezitativ (Alt)
Der Herr ist noch und nimmer nicht
von seinem Volk geschieden,
er bleibet ihre Zuversicht,
ihr Segen, Heil und Frieden;
mit Mutterhänden leitet er
die Seinen stetig hin und her.
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!

6. Arie (Bass)
Wenn Trost und Hülf ermangeln muß,
die alle Welt erzeiget,
so kömmt, so hilft der Überfluß,
der Schöpfer selbst, und neiget
die Vateraugen denen zu,
die sonsten nirgend finden Ruh.
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!

7. Arie (Alt)
Ich will dich all mein Leben lang,
o Gott, von nun an ehren;
man soll, o Gott, den Lobgesang
an allen Orten hören.
Mein ganzes Herz ermuntre sich,
mein Geist und Leib erfreue sich.
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!

8. Rezitativ (Tenor)
Ihr, die ihr Christi Namen nennt,
gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!
Ihr, die ihr Gottes Macht bekennt,
gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!
Die falschen Götzen macht zu Spott,
der Herr ist Gott, der Herr ist Gott:
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!

9. Choral
So kommet vor sein Angesicht
mit jauchzenvollem Springen;
bezahlet die gelobte Pflicht
und laßt uns fröhlich singen:
Gott hat es alles wohl bedacht
und alles, alles recht gemacht.
Gebt unserm Gott die Ehre!


1. Chorus
Give laud and praise to the highest good,
the Father of all kindness,
the God who works all wonders,
the God who fills my spirit
with His abundant solace,
the God who soothes all sorrow.
Give honour to our God!

2. Recitative (Bass)
The heavenly host gives thanks to Thee,
O ruler of all thrones,
and those who dwell in Thy shadow,
on earth, in the air, and on the sea,
these honour Thy creative power,
that has taken good care of everything.
Give honour to our God!

3. Aria (Tenor)
Whatever our God has created,
He wishes also to preserve;
with His grace He shall see to this,
each morning and night.
In His kingdom far and wide
all things are just and equal.
Give honour to our God!

4. Chorale
I called to God in my distress:
ah Lord, give ear to my lament!
My Saviour then saved me from death
and lavished comfort on me.
And so, dear God, my thanks to Thee;
ah! give thanks with me to God!
Give honour to our God!

5. Recitative (Alto)
The Lord is not and never was
severed from His people;
He remains their trust,
their blessing, salvation and peace;
with a mother’s hands He leads
His people ever here and there.
Give honour to our God!

6. Aria (Bass)
When strength and help are lacking,
as all the world bears witness,
He comes and helps abundantly,
the Creator himself, and inclines
His Father’s eyes to those
who otherwise find no repose.
Give honour to our God!

7. Aria (Alto)
I shall throughout my life
now honour Thee, O God;
the song of praise, O God,
shall be heard in every region.
Let all my heart rejoice,
let my body and soul be of good cheer.
Give honour to our God!

8. Recitative (Tenor)
You, who call on Christ by name,
give honour to our God!
You who acknowledge the might of God,
give honour to our God!
Cast scorn on those false idols;
the Lord is God, the Lord is God:
give honour to our God!

9. Chorale
So come before His countenance
with dancing and exultation;
discharge your promised duty
and let us sing with gladness:
God has taken good care of everything
and made everything, everything right.
Give honour to our God!

translation © Richard Stokes


  • Release date
    8 February 2024
  • Recording date
    21 June 2022
  • Location
    PHIL, Haarlem
  • Violin and direction
    Shunske Sato
  • Alto
    Franz Vitzthum
  • Tenor
    Thomas Hobbs
  • Bass
    Wolf Matthias Friederich
  • Ripieno soprano
    Isabel Schicketanz, Lauren Armishaw, Marta Paklar
  • Ripieno alto
    Sofia Gvirts, Bernadett Nagy
  • Ripieno tenor
    Adriaan de Koster
  • Ripieno bass
    Matthew Baker, Pierre-Guy Le Gall White, Jaap van der Wel
  • Violin 1
    Sayuri Yamagata, Femke Huizinga, Kano Imada
  • Violin 2
    Lucia Giraudo, Annelies van der Vegt, Pieter Affourtit
  • Viola
    Deirdre Dowling, Staas Swierstra
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Barbara Kernig
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Traverso
    Marten Root, Doretthe Janssens
  • Oboe
    Ivan Podyomov, Rodrigo Lopez Paz
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Organ
    Leo van Doeselaar
  • Director and editor
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Pim van der Lee, Lilita Dunska
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Martijn Struijf, Jesper Blok, Rob van der Gragt, Matthijs Notten, Lisa Xiu Kok
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot, Dirk Zijlstra, Nick Fadieiev
  • Grip
    Rinco Ederveen, Ferenc Soeteman
  • Set technique
    Justin Mutsaers
  • Data handling
    Jesper Blok
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Marco Meijdam
  • Producer film
    Marieke de Blaay

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