Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe

Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe

Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Geertekerk, Utrecht

  • Menu
  • 1. Sinfonia
  • 2. Ich steh mit einem Fuss (Aria)
  • 3. Mein Angst und Not (Recitative)
  • 4. Herr, was du willt (Aria)
  • 5. Und willst du (Recitative)
  • 6. Herr, wie du willt (Chorale)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

To be healed or to die?

A sick man - with one foot in the grave - is torn between two alternatives: dying and being reconciled to his fate or still hoping to be healed

Thirty of the more than two hundred surviving cantatas by Bach are about death, while many more refer to death indirectly. Like his contemporaries, Bach was all too familiar with death, as ten of his twenty-one children died in infancy.
The six-part cantata ‘Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe’ opens with a Sinfonia that is dominated by a melancholy oboe solo, which Bach was to reuse later in his harpsichord concerto BWV 1056. The first aria has an unusual construction. While the tenor already appears to be reconciled with his demise, the soprano cuts through his sorrowful notes with Johann Hermann Schein’s hymn ‘Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt’.

The lyrics, written by Picander, refer to the gospel reading of the third Sunday after Epiphany, in which Jesus heals a leper. The piece is thus torn between two alternatives: on the one hand God is beseeched to end the sinner’s suffering by receiving him into heaven, and on the other the prospect of being healed is very attractive. The central aria forms the pivotal point between these two extremes. The alto solos alternate with a cheerful instrumental concertino for oboe, violin and continuo. The final chorale, an original melody by Bach, concludes with ‘Dein Will, der ist der beste’.

Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe
Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici)
third Sunday after Epiphany
First performance
23 January 1729
Special notes
The opening sinfonia is probably part of a lost oboe concerto. Bach used this music later as the second section of the harpsichord concerto BWV 1056.

Extra videos

Conductor Lars Ulrik Mortensen

“Lars Ulrik Mortensen: A line that first goes up and then down again...It is a very good example of Bach illustrating the meaning of a text.”

Vocal texts


1. Sinfonia

2. Arie (Tenor), Choral (Sopran)
Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe,
Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt,
bald fällt der kranke Leib hinein,
hilf mir in meinen Leiden,
komm, lieber Gott, wenn dir’s gefällt,
was ich dich bitt, versag mir nicht.
ich habe schon mein Haus bestellt,
wenn sich mein Seel soll scheiden,
so nimm sie, Herr, in deine Händ.
Nur lass mein Ende selig sein!
Ist alles gut, wenn gut das End.

3. Rezitativ (Bass)
Mein Angst und Not,
mein Leben und mein Tod
steht, liebster Gott, in deinen Händen;
so wirst du auch auf mich
dein gnädig Auge wenden.
Willst du mich meiner Sünden wegen
ins Krankenbette legen,
mein Gott, so bitt ich dich,
lass deine Güte grösser sein
als die Gerechtigkeit;
doch hast du mich dazu versehn,
dass mich mein Leiden soll verzehren,
ich bin bereit,
dein Wille soll an mir geschehn,
verschone nicht und fahre fort,
lass meine Not nicht lange währen;
je länger hier, je später dort.

4. Arie (Alt)
Herr, was du willt, soll mir gefallen,
weil doch dein Rat am besten gilt.
In der Freude, in dem Leide,
im Sterben, in Bitten und Flehn
lass mir allemal geschehn,
Herr, wie du willt.

5. Rezitativ (Bass)
Und willst du, dass ich nicht soll kranken,
so werd ich dir von Herzen danken;
doch aber gib mir auch dabei,
dass auch in meinem frischen Leibe
die Seele sonder Krankheit sei
und allezeit gesund verbleibe.
Nimm sie durch Geist und Wort in acht,
denn dieses ist mein Heil,
und wenn mir Leib und Seel verschmacht,
so bist du, Gott, mein Trost
und meines Herzens Teil!

6. Choral
Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir
im Leben und im Sterben;
allein zu dir steht mein Begier,
Herr, lass mich nicht verderben!
Erhalt mich nur in deiner Huld,
sonst wie du willt, gib mir Geduld,
dein Will, der ist der beste.


1. Sinfonia

2. Aria (Tenor), chorale (Soprano)
I stand with one foot in the grave,
Do with me, God, according to Thy
goodness, my ailing body will soon fall in,
help me in my suffering,
come dear God, if Thou wilt,
what I request, do not deny me.
I have already put my house in order,
At my soul’s departure,
receive it, Lord, into Thy hand.
only let my end be a blissful one!
For all is good, if the end is good.

3. Recitative (Bass)
My fear and affliction,
my life and my death,
are all, dearest God, in Thy hands;
thus shalt Thou turn
Thy gracious eye on me.
If Thou wouldst, because of my sins,
lay me in my sick-bed,
my God, I beg of Thee,
let Thy goodness be greater
than Thy justice;
yet if Thou hast intended
that my suffering should consume me,
I am prepared,
let Thy will be done on me,
do not spare me, and have Thy way,
let me affliction not last long;
the longer here, the later there.

4. Aria (Alto)
Lord, what Thou wilt, shall please me,
for Thy counsel is considered the best.
In gladness, in sadness,
in dying, beseeching and pleading,
always treat me,
Lord, as Thou wilt.

5. Recitative (Bass)
And if Thou dost wish me not to suffer,
I shall thank Thee with all my heart;
but grant to me as well
that in my living body
my soul be free from sickness
and healthy at all times.
Tend it through the spirit and the Word,
for this is my salvation,
and if my body and soul should fail,
Thou art, God, my comfort
and a portion of my heart!

6. Chorale
Lord, deal with me as Thou wilt,
in living and in dying;
my desire is for Thee alone,
Lord, do not let me perish!
Preserve me only in Thy grace,
just as Thou wilt, let me forbear,
for Thy will is the best.


  • Release date
    26 September 2014
  • Release date
    1 February 2014
  • Location
    Geertekerk, Utrecht
  • Harpsichord and direction
    Lars Ulrik Mortensen
  • Soprano
    Lauren Armishaw
  • Alto
    Maarten Engeltjes
  • Tenor
    Markus Schäfer
  • Bass
    Thomas Bauer
  • Oboe
    Martin Stadler
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Sayuri Yamagata, Anneke van Haaften
  • Violin 2
    Pieter Affourtit, Paulien Kostense, Annelies van der Vegt
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Femke Huizinga
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Positive organ
    Siebe Henstra
  • Concert production
    Marco Meijdam, Imke Deters
  • Producer
    Frank van der Weij
  • Film director
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Director of photography
    Sal Kroonenberg
  • Camera
    Sal Kroonenberg, Jorrit Garretsen, Robert Berger, Benjamin Sparschuh
  • Film editors
    Lucas van Woerkum, Frank van der Weij
  • Music recording producer
    Leo de Klerk
  • Gaffer
    Roel Ypma
  • Best boy
    Chris Uitenwijk
  • Production assistent
    Zoë de Wilde
  • Score reader
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Make up
    Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch
  • Trainees camera
    Izak de Dreu, Indy Hamid
  • Music producer's assistant
    Mieneke van der Velden
  • Music recording assistants
    Jaap van Stenis, Gilius Kreiken, Jaap van Firet
  • Data handler
    Joep Bannenberg
  • Music edit and mix
    Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
  • Music edit and mix asssistant
    Martijn Snoeren
  • Colorist
    Jef Grosfeld
  • Acknowledgements
    Rob van Stek

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