O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe

O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe

BWV 34 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

  • Menu
  • 1. O ewiges Feuer (Chor)
  • 2. Herr, unsre Herzen halten dir (Rezitativ)
  • 3. Wohl euch, ihr auserwählten Seelen (Arie)
  • 4. Erwählt sich Gott (Rezitativ)
  • 5. Friede über Israel (Chor)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos


How wedding music was easy to transform into a Whitsun cantata

Until recently, it was thought that this Whitsun cantata was one of the last cantatas in Bach’s oeuvre. The manuscript of the score, largely in Bach’s own handwriting, dates from a few years before his death. However, a libretto discovered recently in St Petersburg shows that the cantata is much older and was performed for the first time on 1 June 1727. The work was presented in Leipzig on Whit Sunday, at the Nikolaikirche during the morning service and at the Thomaskirche during vespers. Even then, the work was not totally new. The chorus sections and the alto aria, the most essential parts, reuse material originating from a wedding cantata of the same name but much more extensive (BWV 34a), which Bach had composed at an earlier stage.

Although the happy couple has never been identified, the bridegroom was probably a preacher. This is indicated by the alto aria in the wedding version, which refers to a flock of sheep (the congregation), the shepherd Jacob (the preacher) and his love Rachel (the bride). This metaphor also explains the sweet pastoral character of the music, with two ‘shepherd’s’ pipes and strings that play con sordino (muted). The wedding cantata makes allusions to the Holy Spirit, so it could easily be transformed into a Whitsun cantata. From fiery love it is just a small step to the flames of the Holy Spirit.

O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe is one of the few cantatas in Bach’s oeuvre without a chorale. In the wedding cantata, the final chorus, ‘Friede über Israel’, was not the ending, but the introduction to the solemnisation of the marriage. The solemnity is stylistically reminiscent of Bach’s contemporary, Georg Friedrich Handel.

O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe
alto, bass, tenor
1727, originally a wedding cantata 1726
Whit Sunday
First performance
1 June 1727
Special notes
This Whitsun cantata is an arrangement of a wedding cantata written in 1726.

Extra videos

Conductor Jos van Veldhoven

“In the key aria Bach creates new instruments.”

Vocal texts


1. Chor
O ewiges Feuer,
O Ursprung der Liebe,
entzünde die Herzen
und weihe sie ein.
Lass himmlische Flammen
durchdringen und wallen,
wir wünschen, o Höchster,
dein Tempel zu sein,
Ach, lass dir die Seelen
im Glauben gefallen.

2. Rezitativ (Tenor)
Herr, unsre Herzen halten dir
dein Wort der Wahrheit für:
Du willst bei Menschen gerne sein,
drum sei das Herze dein;
Herr, ziehe gnädig ein.
Ein solch erwähltes Heiligtum
Hat selbst den grössten Ruhm.

3. Arie (Alt)
Wohl euch, ihr auserwählten Seelen,
die Gott zur Wohnung ausersehn.
Wer kann ein grösser Heil erwählen?
Wer kann des Segens Menge zählen?
Und dieses ist vom Herrn geschehn.

4. Rezitativ (Bass)
Erwählt sich Gott
die Heilgen Hütten,
die er mit Heil bewohnt,
so muss er auch den Segen
auf sie schütten,
so wird der Sitz
des Heiligtums belohnt.
Der Herr ruft über
sein geweihtes Haus
das Wort des Segens aus:

5. Chor
Friede über Israel.
Dankt den höchsten Wunderhänden,
dankt, Gott hat an euch gedacht.
Ja, sein Segen wirkt mit Macht,
Friede über Israel,
Friede über euch zu senden.


1. Chorus
O eternal fire,
O source of love,
kindle our hearts
and consecrate them.
Let heavenly flames
flare and pierce them,
we wish, O Lord,
to be Thy temple,
ah, may our souls please
Thee in their faith.

2. Recitative (Tenor)
Lord, our hearts keep
Thy Word of truth.
Thou wouldst be with mankind,
let our hearts, therefore, be Thine;
Lord, enter in mercy!
Such a chosen sanctuary
has the very greatest renown.

3. Aria (Alto)
Happy are you, you chosen souls,
elected by God as His dwelling-place.
Who could choose a greater glory?
Who could number the countless blessings?
And this the Lord has done.

4. Recitative (Bass)
If God chooses
the holy dwellings
in which to dwell with grace,
He must lavish
His blessing on them,
and thus reward the site
of His sanctuary.
The Lord pronounces
on His hallowed house
these words of blessing:

5. Chorus
Peace upon Israel!
Give thanks to the Almighty’s wondrous hands,
give thanks that God has been mindful of you.
Yea, the might of His blessing 
casts peace upon Israel,
and peace upon you.


  • Release date
    18 May 2018
  • Recording date
    13 May 2017
  • Location
    Walloon Church, Amsterdam
  • Conductor
    Jos van Veldhoven
  • Soprano
    Maria Keohane
  • Alto
    Damien Guillon
  • Tenor
    Thomas Hobbs
  • Bass
    Sebastian Myrus
  • Ripieno soprano
    Marjon Strijk, Kristen Witmer
  • Ripieno alto
    Marleene Goldstein, Barnabás Hegyi
  • Ripieno tenor
    Yves Van Handenhove, David Lee
  • Ripieno bass
    Drew Santini, Matthew Baker
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Anneke van Haaften, Annelies van der Vegt
  • Violin 2
    Sayuri Yamagata, Pieter Affourtit, Paulien Kostense
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
  • Double bass
    Hen Goldsobel
  • Traverso
    Marten Root, Doretthe Janssens
  • Oboe
    Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Trumpet
    Robert Vanryne, Fruzsina Hara, Mark Geelen
  • Timpani
    Robert Kendell
  • Organ
    Leo van Doeselaar
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Director and editor
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Jochem Timmerman, Thijs Struick, Martin Struijf
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot, Henry Rodgers, Patrick Galvin
  • Assistant director
    Ferenc Soeteman
  • Video engineer
    Robert-Jan Neijland
  • Set technique
    Justin Mutsaers
  • Data handling
    Jesper Blok
  • Project manager nep
    Peter Ribbens
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Marco Meijdam, Imke Deters
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh

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