Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir

Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir

BWV 131 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
Oostkerk, Middelburg

  • Menu
  • 1. Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir (Chorus)
  • 2. So du willst, Herr (Arioso)
  • 3. Ich harre des Herrn (Chorus)
  • 4. Meine Seele wartet auf den Herrn (Aria)
  • 5. Israel hoffe auf den Herrn (Chorus)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

According to the book

Waiting for salvation can take a long time. But halfway, a ray of hope glimmers

It is already clear from the opening line that this is not just about slight misfortune, but deep misery. At the word ‘depth’, the voices literally plummet. The piece comes from the very beginning of Bach’s career, during his time as organist in Mühlhausen. He was then in his early twenties and trying his hand at vocal church music for the first time. He did so properly, according to the book, and in stylistic line with his seventeenth-century fellow musicians. There are no recitatives as yet and the movements run into one another more or less without interruption. They begin with a slow section, and then usually end quickly – like a sort of prelude and fugue. Like most early cantatas, this one too is symmetrical, with the chorus ‘Ich harre des Herrn’ as the central point. This is also where the mood changes. The beginning focuses mainly on the misery, whereas the third movement holds out a ray of hope. In the tenor’s aria, Bach goes on to illustrate quite literally that waiting can take a long time – listen out for the word ‘wartet’. The piece feels long even for the singer, as Charles Daniels explains in the interview.

We do not know for which occasion the piece was intended. In view of the text – a penitential psalm combined with a penitential chorale – it would have fitted very well in a ‘penitential service’. It is not known whether this sort of service was held regularly in Mühlhausen or only on special occasions. Just before Bach arrived in Mühlhausen, there had been a big fire, so there was cause for such a service.

It is interesting that Bach himself wrote at the bottom of the score that the cantata was composed at the request of Georg Christian Eilmar. He was the preacher in St Mary’s Church in Mühlhausen, although Bach himself worked at St Blaise’s Church. Eilmar was to become a good friend and later became godfather to Bach’s eldest daughter.

Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir
ca. 1707-08
Psalm 130 and two chorale verses. Compiler unknown
First performance
unknown, but possibly Bach’s first cantata.
Special notes
The fugue from the final movement also exists as an organ work: the Fugue in G minor, BWV 131a/Anh. II 42. The authorship and dating of this piece have not been established.

Extra videos

Martin Stadler, Jos van Veldhoven and Charles Daniels

“Oboist Martin Stadler, conductor Jos van Veldhoven, tenor Charles Daniels tell how they use the text to make music.”

Vocal texts


1. Chor
Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir.
Herr, höre meine Stimme,
lass deine Ohren merken
auf die Stimme meines Flehens!

2. Arioso (Bass), Choral (Sopran)
So du willst, Herr, Sünde zurechnen,
Herr, wer wird bestehen?
Erbarm dich mein in solcher Last,
nimm sie aus meinem Herzen,
dieweil du sie gebüsset hast
am Holz mit Todesschmerzen,
Denn bei dir ist die Vergebung,
dass man dich fürchte.
auf dass ich nicht mit grossem Weh
in meinen Sünden untergeh,
noch ewiglich verzage.

3. Chor 
Ich harre des Herrn,
meine Seele harret, und ich
hoffe auf sein Wort.

4. Arie (Tenor)
Meine Seele wartet auf den Herrn
von einer Morgenwache
bis zu der andern.
Und weil ich denn in meinem Sinn,
wie ich zuvor geklaget,
auch ein betrübter Sünder bin,
den sein Gewissen naget,
und wollte gern im Blute dein
von Sünden abgewaschen sein
wie David und Manasse.

5. Chor 
Israel hoffe auf den Herrn;
denn bei dem Herrn ist
die Gnade und viel Erlösung bei ihm.
Und er wird Israel erlösen
aus allen seinen Sünden.


1. Chorus
Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, 
O Lord. Lord, hear my voice:
let Thine ears be attentive to
the voice of my supplications.

2. Arioso, Chorale
If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities,
O Lord,who shall stand?
Have mercy on me in such torment,
remove it from my heart,
for Thou hast atoned for it
with pains of death upon the cross, 
But there is forgiveness with Thee, 
that Thou mayest be feared. 
so that I might not with grievous
woe perish in my sins,
or despair for evermore.

3. Chorus
I wait for the Lord,
my soul doth wait,
and in His word do I hope.

4. Aria 
My soul waiteth for the Lord
more than they that watch
for the morning. 
Because I in my heart,
as I have hitherto lamented,
am also a troubled sinner, 
gnawed at by his conscience,
and would gladly in
Thy blood be washed clean of sin,
like David and Manasseh.

5. Chorus
Let Israel hope in the Lord:
for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. 
And He shall redeem Israel
from all her iniquities.


  • Release date
    3 June 2016
  • Recording date
    16 May 2015
  • Location
    Oostkerk, Middelburg
  • Conductor
    Jos van Veldhoven
  • Soprano
    Dorothee Mields
  • Alto
    Alex Potter
  • Tenor
    Charles Daniels
  • Bass
    Tobias Berndt
  • Ripieno soprano
    Marjon Strijk
  • Ripieno alto
    Barnabás Hegyi
  • Ripieno tenor
    Immo Schröder
  • Ripieno bass
    Jelle Draijer
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Viola da gamba
    Mieneke van der Velden, Ricardo Rodriguez Miranda
  • Double bass
    James Munro
  • Oboe
    Martin Stadler
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Theorbo
    Mike Fentross
  • Organ
    Siebe Henstra
  • Film directors and editors
    Jasper Verkaart, MaNOj Kamps
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Micha de Kanter
  • Music producer and editor
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Maarten van Rossem, Paul Caspers, Jorrit Garretsen, Rieks Soepenberg
  • Gaffer
    Daan de Boer, Denny Schoute
  • Make-up
    Erica Stuyfzand
  • Colorist
    Daphne Maierna
  • Interview
    Jasper Verkaart, Manoj Kamps
  • Producer concert
    Erik van Lith, Marco Meijdam
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh

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