BWV 198 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Václav Luks
Grote Kerk, Naarden

  • Menu
  • 1. Lass, Fürstin (Chor)
  • 2. Dein Sachsen (Rezitativ)
  • 3. Verstummt (Arie)
  • 4. Der Glocken (Rezitativ)
  • 5. Wie starb die Heldin (Arie)
  • 6. Ihr Leben (Rezitativ)
  • 7. An dir, du Fürbild (Chor)
  • 8. Der Ewigkeit (Arie)
  • 9. Was Wunder ists? (Rezitativ und arioso)
  • 10. Doch, Königin! (Chor)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Resounding esteem

As if a family member has died

Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth had made herself extremely popular in Lutheran Saxony. When her husband Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, got the opportunity to become king of Poland as well, in 1697, there was an important condition attached: the ruler had to bid goodbye to his Lutheran faith and become a Catholic. Christiane Eberhardine, however, remained true to her religious conviction and spent the thirty years up to her death in voluntary exile in Pretzsch aan de Elbe. On her death in 1727, she was commemorated in Leipzig with a ceremony for which Bach composed a funeral cantata: Laβ, Fürstin, laβ noch einen Strahl, BWV 198, better known as the Trauerode. He conducted the performance himself.
The Trauerode is undoubtedly one of Bach’s most moving compositions. He could not have given stronger confirmation of the esteem in which the deceased electress was held. From start to finish, the work is characterised by an ardour that is lent extra cachet through the rich orchestration, which includes two oboes d’amore, two gambas and two lutes. “The music is charged with intimacy, with an extremely personal feel, as if a family member has died”, says the conductor Václav Luks.

Like many a church cantata, this secular ode also consists of two movements. Whereas in church they were separated by the sermon, in this case a commemorative speech was given in between. For the musical contribution, lyricist Johann Christoph Gottsched had created a real ode in orderly fashion, in nine strophes of eight lines each. In a wonderful show of wilfulness, Bach leaves little of this strict form in place, cutting through strophes to his heart’s content. For instance, the opening chorus takes the words of the first half of the first strophe, the soprano recitative combines the second half of strophe 1 with the first half of strophe 2, and the soprano aria finishes off this strophe.
All in all, the nine strophes produced a cleverly methodical ten-part composition. With a sense of symbolism, Bach has the vocal soloists entering from high to low, as if being lowered into the grave: first the soprano, then the alto, followed by the tenor and finally the bass.

Laβ, Fürstin, laβ noch einen Strahl
Johann Christoph Gottsched
Memorial service for Christiane Eberhardine
First performance
17 October 1727, Paulinerkirche
Special notes
Bach reused parts of his Trauerode two years later, in the Köthener Trauermusik for the deceased Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen. It is possible that he also reused parts of it in 1731, for his lost St Mark Passion.

With support from

Willem Brouwer

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Vocal texts


Erster Teil

1. Chor
Lass, Fürstin, lass noch einen Strahl
aus Salems Sterngewölben schießen,
und sieh, mit wieviel Tränengüssen
umringen wir dein Ehrenmal.

2. Rezitativ (Sopran)
Dein Sachsen, dein bestürztes Meißen
erstarrt bei deiner Königsgruft;
das Auge tränt, die Zunge ruft:
mein Schmerz kann unbeschreiblich heißen!
Hier klagt August und Prinz und Land,
der Adel ächzt, der Bürger trauert,
wie hat dich nicht das Volk bedauert,
sobald es deinen Fall empfand!

3. Arie (Sopran)
Verstummt, verstummt, ihr holden Saiten!
Kein Ton vermag der Länder Not
bei ihrer teuren Mutter Tod,
o Schmerzenswort! recht anzudeuten.

4. Rezitativ (Alt)
Der Glocken bebendes Getön
soll unsrer trüben Seelen Schrecken
durch ihr geschwungnes Erze wecken,
und uns durch Mark und Adern gehn.
O, könnte nur dies bange Klingen,
davon das Ohr uns täglich gellt,
der ganzen Europäerwelt
ein Zeugnis unsres Jammers bringen!

5. Arie (Alt)
Wie starb die Heldin so vergnügt!
Wie mutig hat ihr Geist gerungen,
da sie des Todes Arm bezwungen,
noch eh er ihre Brust besiegt.

6. Rezitativ (Tenor)
Ihr Leben ließ die Kunst zu sterben
in unverrückter Übung sehn;
Unmöglich konnt es denn geschehn,
sich vor dem Tode zu entfärben.
Ach selig! wessen großer Geist
sich über die Natur erhebet,
vor Gruft und Särgen nicht erbebet,
wenn ihn sein Schöpfer scheiden heißt.

7. Chor
An dir, du Fürbild großer Frauen,
an dir, erhabne Königin,
an dir, du Glaubenspflegerin,
war dieser Großmut Bild zu schauen.

Zweiter Teil

8. Arie (Tenor)
Der Ewigkeit saphirnes Haus
zieht, Fürstin, deine heitern Blicke
von unsrer Niedrigkeit zurücke
und tilgt der Erden Dreckbild aus.
Ein starker Glanz von hundert Sonnen,
der unsern Tag zur Mitternacht
und unsre Sonne finster macht,
hat dein verklärtes Haupt umsponnen.

9. Rezitativ und arioso (Bass)
Was Wunder ists? Du bist es wert,
du Fürbild aller Königinnen!
Du mußtest allen Schmuck gewinnen,
der deine Scheitel jetzt verklärt.
Nun trägst du vor des Lammes Throne,
anstatt des Purpurs Eitelkeit
Ein perlenreines Unschuldskleid
und spottest der verlass’nen Krone.
Soweit der volle Weichselstrand,
der Niester und die Warthe fließet,
Soweit sich Elb’ und Muld’ ergießet,
Erhebt dich beides, Stadt und Land.
Dein Torgau geht im Trauerkleide,
Dein Pretzsch wird kraftlos, starr und matt;
denn da es dich verloren hat,
verliert es seiner Augen Weide.

10. Chor
Doch, Königin! du stirbest nicht,
man weiß, was man an dir besessen;
die Nachwelt wird dich nicht vergessen,
bis dieser Weltbau einst zerbricht.
Ihr Dichter, schreibt! wir wollen’s lesen:
Sie ist der Tugend Eigentum,
der Untertanen Lust und Ruhm,
der Königinnen Preis gewesen.


Part One

1. Chorus
Let, Princess, let yet one more ray
Shoot from Jerusalem’s starry vault;
And see with how many gushes of tears
We surround your monument.

2. Recitative (Soprano)
Your Saxony, your distraught Meissen,
Is struck cold at your royal crypt;
The eye sheds tears; the tongue calls out:
“My sorrow can be called indescribable!”
Here [King] August laments, and Prince and land;
The nobleman groans, the townsman mourns;
How has the [common] people not bewailed you,
As soon as it felt your demise!

3. Aria (Soprano)
Fall silent, fall silent, you pleasing strings;
No [musical] sound can rightly tell
Of the lands’ distress at the death—
Oh sorrowful word!—of their precious mother

4. Recitative (Alto)
The quivering sound of the bells
Shall excite our ashen souls’ terror
By their vibrating bronze
And go through our marrow and veins.
Oh, if only this fearful ringing
That clangs daily in our ears
Could bring to the whole European world
A testimony of our misery!

5. Aria (Alto)
How so at peace the heroine died!
How bravely had her spirit wrestled,
When death’s arm had overpowered her,
Before it had yet conquered her breast.

6. Recitative (Tenor)
Her life exhibited the art of dying,
In unwavering practice;
It could not possibly happen, then,
[For her] to grow pale in the face of death.
Ah, blessed [is the one] whose great spirit
Rises above [human] nature, [and]
does not tremble in the face of crypt and caskets,
When its [the spirit’s] creator calls it to depart.

7. Chorus
In you, you model of great women;
In you, sublime Queen;
In you, you preserver of faith;
Was to look upon the image of this bravery.

Part Two

8. Aria (Tenor)
Eternity’s sapphiric house
Draws, Princess, your serene glances
Away from our lowliness
And obliterates the rememorative image of earth.
A powerful splendor of a hundred suns,
That makes our day into midnight
And our sun dark,
Has braided around your transfigured head.

9. Recitative and arioso (Bass)
What wonder is it? You are worthy of it,
You model of all queens!
You were meant to acquire all the ornament
That now transfigures the crest of your head.
Before the throne of the lamb [Jesus], you now wear,
Instead of the vanity of purple,
A robe of innocence, pure like pearls,
And mock the deserted [royal] crown.
As far as the entire Vistula’s shore,
[And] the Dniester and the Warta runs;
As far as Elbe and Mulde gushes,
Both town and countryside extol you.
Your Torgau goes about in mourning robe,
Your Pretzsch grows weak, numb, and faint;
For in having lost you,
It loses the feast for its eyes.

10. Chorus
But, Queen, you do not die;
One knows what one possessed in you;
Posterity will not forget you
Until this earthly edifice one day shatters.
You poets, write—we want to read it:
“She was virtue’s own,
The delight and glory of her subjects,
The praised of all queens.”

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


  • Release date
    4 March 2021
  • Recording date
    7 March 2020
  • Location
    Grote Kerk, Naarden
  • Conductor
    Václav Luks
  • Soprano
    Lucie Chartin
  • Alto
    Luciana Mancini
  • Tenor
    Thomas Hobbs
  • Bass
    Felix Schwandtke
  • Ripieno soprano
    Hilde Van Ruymbeke, Marta Paklar
  • Ripieno alto
    Michaela Riener, Sofia Gvirts
  • Ripieno tenor
    João Moreira, Adriaan De Koster
  • Ripieno bass
    Matthew Baker, Pierre-Guy Le Gall White
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Ruiqi Ren, Sayuri Yamagata
  • Violin 2
    Pieter Affourtit, Manja Kruidhof-Okkerse, Annelies van der Vegt
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Femke Huizinga
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Viola da gamba
    Mieneke van der Velden, Ricardo Rodriguez Miranda
  • Oboe
    Emma Black, Rodrigo Lopez Paz
  • Traverso
    Doretthe Janssens, David Westcombe
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Organ
    Leo van Doeselaar
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Theorbe
    Fred Jacobs, Mike Fentross
  • Director and editor
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Martin Struijf, Jesper Blok, Maarten Kool, Kris Funke
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot, Patrick Galvin
  • Set technique
    Justin Mutsaers
  • Project manager team
    Ron Vermeulen
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Interview
    Robin van Erven Dorens
  • Camera interview
    Onno van der Wal
  • Producer concert
    Marco Meijdam, Stefan Ebels
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With support from
    Willem Brouwer, "for all those who are no longer here".

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