Meine Seele erhebet den Herrn

Meine Seele erhebet den Herrn

BWV 324 performed by the Young Bach Fellows
from the Netherlands Bach Society
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

Behind the music


A singing soul

Bach’s simple setting of Luther’s German Magnificat

Martin Luther proposed a radical simplification of the relationship between God and his creation – his only contact person was Jesus, while the saints (m/f) were demoted to being venerable role models. Nevertheless, the Virgin Mary remained an important figure. Luther regarded her, the mother of God, as the queen of heaven and totally free of sin: a perfect illustration of God’s mercy. The Magnificat, Mary’s hymn of thanks when she hears of her pregnancy, can be seen as a summary of this promise from a generous God: he gives life, forgiveness and salvation.

In Bach’s Leipzig, Luther’s translation of ‘Meine Seele erhebet den Herrn’ was sung every week during vespers, on Saturday and Sunday, in a simple setting by Schein, while more complex versions were put on the music stands for high feast days. The chorale setting sung by the Young Bach Fellows begins like the closing chorale of the cantata Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, BWV 10, but from the second phrase switches to sections with no written rhythm for the text in between. The idea is that the singers recite the text, like in Gregorian psalms or English chants. This chorale has survived in a collection of chorales by Bach without text, compiled by Friedrich Birnstiel, from 1769. Birnstiel selected the chorales on the advice of Bach’s sons and pupils. His work is one of the most important sources for many generations of composers, for whom Bach’s chorales became models. This is because, as Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach wrote in his foreword to Birnstiel’s collection, even in the case of his father’s lesser compositions ‘people expect a masterpiece of him’.

Meine Seele erhebet den Herrn
Latin hymn translated by Luther

Extra videos

Vocal texts


Meine Seel erhebt den Herrn,
und mein Geist freuet sich Gottes,
meines Heilandes;
Denn er hat seine elende Magd
angesehen. Siehe, von nun an werden
mich selig preisen alle Kindeskind.

Er übet Gewalt mit seinem Arm
Und zerstreut, die hoffärtig sin in ihres Herzens Sinn.

Die Hungrigen füllet er mit Gütern
Und lässet die Reichen leer.

Lob und Preis sei Gott dem Vater und dem Sohn
Und dem Heiligen Geiste.
Wie es war im Anfang,
jetzt und immerdar,
Und von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit. Amen.


My soul doth magnify the Lord,
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God
my Saviour.
For He hath regarded the low estate
of His handmaiden: for behold, from
henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath
scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Laud and praise to God,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.


  • Release date
    14 April 2022
  • Recording date
    11 May 2021
  • Location
    Walloon Church, Amsterdam
  • Soprano
    Bethany Shepherd
  • Alto
    Oscar Verhaar
  • Tenor
    Jasper Dijkstra
  • Bass
    Jaap van der Wel
  • Cello
    Carlos Leal
  • Traverso
    David Westcombe
  • Organ/harpsichord
    Masako Awaji
  • Director and editor
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera & lights
    Onno van Ameijde, Rieks Soepenberg
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Hilde Van Ruymbeke
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh

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