Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott

Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott

BWV 127 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann
Grote Kerk Veere

  • Menu
  • 1. Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott (Chor)
  • 2. Wenn alles sich zur letzten Zeit entsetzet (Rezitativ)
  • 3. Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen (Arie)
  • 4. Wenn einstens die Posaunen schallen (Arie)
  • 5. Ach, Herr, vergib all unsre Schuld (Choral)

Behind the music


Lord, Mankind, God

The last Sunday before Lent holds a great promise

In Bach’s day, too, mortals found comfort in that one particular death: the Passion of Jesus and his triumph over death. On the last Sunday before Lent, cantata 127 cites and paraphrases a funeral hymn by the theologian Paul Eber, a friend of Luther. The three other cantatas Bach wrote for ‘Estomihi’ (= the 7th Sunday before Easter) use words from the Gospels.

A funeral may seem a gloomy occasion, but Eber weaves the promise of eternal life throughout his hymn. And that fits very well with the church readings that preceded the cantata in Bach’s day: the ode to love in 1 Corinthians and Jesus’s encounter with the blind man, who can nevertheless see his godliness. The two passages are about faith, tenacity and salvation.

Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott formed a grand finale to Bach’s second year in Leipzig. His plan for that year was to write a new cantata every week based on a chorale, and in the opening chorus of BWV 127 the melody is indeed heard in the sopranos, true to tradition. But the instruments answer with their own chorale: Christe, du Lamm Gottes, Luther’s hymn that is often regarded as the German Agnus Dei. In the background, a repeated faltering figure is heard, interpreted by some as whip lashes, but also often seen as a representation of regal dignity, as Jesus’s path was both painful and glorious.

This is followed by a breathtakingly intense dialogue between the soprano and oboe, with a unique accompaniment from the recorders and continuo. The faithful soul knows she has been saved, even in her last hour, as the strings in the middle section softly imitate tolling bells. The bass aria that follows forms a stark contrast: a mix of recitative, chorale and aria paints the end of the world in strong colours. We also hear the last trump (here, a trumpet). While heaven and earth are consumed by flames and the instruments rage, the bass remains undaunted. The way in which he leaps over the instrumental force - often in simple triads - once again expresses the infinite trust that also characterises the simple final chord: a plea for a peaceful death.

Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott
bass, soprano, tenor
Quinquagesima Sunday
First performance
11 February 1725

With support from

Extra videos

Vocal texts


1. Chor
Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott,
der du littst Marter, Angst und Spott,
für mich am Kreuz auch endlich starbst
und mir deins Vaters Huld erwarbst,
ich bitt durchs bittre Leiden dein,
du wollst mir Sünder gnädig sein.

2. Rezitativ (Tenor)
Wenn alles sich zur letzten Zeit entsetzet,
und wenn ein kalter Todesschweiß
die schon erstarrten Glieder netzet,
wenn meine Zunge nichts
als nur durch Seufzer spricht
und dieses Herze bricht:
genung, daß da der Glaube weiß,
daß Jesus bei mir steht,
der mit Geduld zu seinem Leiden geht
und diesen schweren Weg auch mich geleitet
und mir die Ruhe zubereitet.

3. Arie (Sopran)
Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen,
wenn Erde diesen Leib bedeckt.
Ach ruft mich bald, ihr Sterbeglocken,
ich bin zum Sterben unerschrocken,
weil mich mein Jesus wieder weckt.

4. Arie (Bass)
Wenn einstens die Posaunen schallen,
und wenn der Bau der Welt
nebst denen Himmelsfesten
zerschmettert wird zerfallen,
so denke mein, mein Gott, im besten;
wenn sich dein Knecht einst vors Gerichte stellt,
da die Gedanken sich verklagen,
so wollest du allein,
o Jesu, mein Fürsprecher sein
und meiner Seele tröstlich sagen:
Fürwahr, fürwahr, euch sage ich:
Wenn Himmel und Erde im Feuer vergehen,
so soll doch ein Gläubiger ewig bestehen.
Er wird nicht kommen ins Gericht
und den Tod ewig schmecken nicht.
Nur halte dich, mein Kind, an mich:
Ich breche mit starker und helfender Hand
des Todes gewaltig geschlossenes Band.
Fürwahr, fürwahr, euch sage ich:
Wenn Himmel und Erde im Feuer vergehen,
so soll doch ein Gläubiger ewig bestehen.

5. Choral
Ach, Herr, vergib all unsre Schuld,
hilf, daß wir warten mit Geduld,
bis unser Stündlein kömmt herbei,
auch unser Glaub stets wacker sei,
dein'm Wort zu trauen festiglich,
bis wir einschlafen seliglich.


1. Chorus
Lord Jesus Christ, true human and God,
You who suffered torment, anguish, and mockery,
Who ultimately also died for me on the cross
And purchased for me your father’s favor,
I ask through your bitter suffering:
May it be your will to be gracious to me [the] sinner.

2. Recitative (Tenor)
When in the last throes everything grows desperate,
And when a cold death-sweat
Drenches the limbs already paralyzed [with fear],
When my tongue speaks nothing
but through sighs alone
And this heart breaks:
[It is] enough that faith then knows
That Jesus helps me—
[Jesus] who goes with patience to his suffering,
And also guides me along this difficult path,
And prepares for me the [state of celestial] rest.

3. Aria (Soprano)
[In the “sleep of death,”] the soul will rest in Jesus’ [eternal] hands, when earth covers this [natural] body.
Ah, summon me soon, you death bells;
I am unafraid of dying, because [at the end time]
my Jesus will resurrect me [in a spiritual body].

4. Aria (Bass)
When one day the [end-time] trumpets sound,
And when the edifice of the world,
Along with those vaults of the skies,
Will fall into ruin, dashed to pieces,
Then think of me [your servant], my God, for the best;
When your servant one day appears for the [last] judgment, where thoughts bring accusation against themselves, then may it be your will, however,
O Jesus, to be my advocate
And say consolingly to my soul:
In truth, in truth, I say to you: When skies and
earth pass away in the fire [on judgment day],
Then a believer shall, nevertheless, abide eternally. 
He will not come into the [damning] judgment [of God] and he will not eternally taste death. 
Just cleave yourself, My child, to me:
I will break, with mighty and saving hand,
Death’s powerfully tautened bond.
In truth, in truth, I say to you: When skies and
earth pass away in the fire [on judgment day],
Then a believer shall, nevertheless, abide eternally.

5. Chorale
Ah, Lord, forgive all our trangression;
Help [us] that we may wait with patience
Until our hour of death draws near;
Also [help us that] our faith be ever vigilant,
Trusting your word steadfastly, until we
fall asleep [at death] blessedly [with eternal salvation].

transl. © Daniel R. Melamed and Michael Marissen
For the annotated version of the text and translation, see here.


  • Release date
    25 April 2024
  • Recording date
    10 March 2023
  • Location
    Grote Kerk Veere
  • Conductor
    Hans-Christoph Rademann
  • Soprano
    Kristen Witmer
  • Tenor
    Guy Cutting
  • Bass
    Tobias Berndt
  • Ripieno soprano
    Marta Paklar, Lauren Armishaw
  • Ripieno alto
    Bernadett Nagy, Sofia Gvirts, Franz Vitzthum
  • Ripieno tenor
    Adriaan de Koster, João Moreira
  • Ripieno bass
    Donald Bentvelsen, Jaap van der Wel
  • Violin 1
    Cecilia Bernardini, Anneke van Haaften, Pieter Affourtit
  • Violin 2
    Lidewij van der Voort, Mayumi Sargent Harada, Kano Imada
  • Viola
    Bernadette Verhagen, Ivan Jorge Saez Schwartz
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Anna Litvinenko
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Recorder
    Benny Aghassi, Pieter-Jan Belder
  • Oboe
    Rodrigo Lopez Paz, Katharina Verhaar
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Trumpet
    Robert Vanryne
  • 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, Wesley Schipper, Jesper Blok, Bjorn Tiebout, Glenn van Eerden
  • Lights
    Ernst-Jan Thieme, Martijn Schroeber, Jordi Kooij, Joey Marcoux
  • Stylist
    Ellen Julianus
  • Assistant director
    Ferenc Soeteman
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer film
    Laura Jonker
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters
  • With support from

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