Schwingt freudig euch empor

Schwingt freudig euch empor

BWV 36 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

  • Menu
  • 1. Schwingt freudig (Chor)
  • 2. Nun komm (Choral)
  • 3. Die Liebe zieht (Arie)
  • 4. Zwingt die Saiten (Choral)
  • 5. Willkommen (Arie)
  • 6. Der du bist (Choral)
  • 7. Auch mit gedämpften (Arie)
  • 8. Lob sei Gott (Choral)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

From a Birthday to Advent

The two familiar chorales make it immediately clear what it is about: Advent

When sitting in church on 2 December 1731, one of the teachers at the St Thomas School would have looked up in surprise. He would suddenly have heard the music that Bach wrote for his birthday six years earlier. The opening chorus was followed by a second surprise. Bach had replaced the recitatives with new chorale arrangements, based on the Advent chorales ‘Nun komm, der heiden Heiland’ and ‘Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’. This was a smart move, as it made it immediately clear that it was an Advent cantata. Everyone knew these familiar and popular church songs, so the tone of this Sunday - looking forward to Christmas - was set straight away.

The secular, festive origins of the music can be heard clearly. The two oboe d’amores are very prominent. In the first aria, about the bride that welcome Jesus as the bridegroom, the oboe is literally used as an instrument of love. In the second part, which was performed after the sermon, the strings are also given an important role in the arias. In the first aria, Jesus is welcomed by the bass as a treasure. All the strings come together in an elegant, festive accompaniment, in which the triplets of the opening section return. In the second aria, in contrast to this tutti accompaniment, there is just one solo violin, which plays con sordine (with mutes). It is a perfect illustration of the words, as the soprano sings: ‘Even with subdued, weak voices God’s majesty is revered’. In between the two arias is a repeat of the melody of the Advent chorale ‘Nun komm der heiden Heiland’, this time with no ornamentation and with long notes in the tenor part, supported by a strict canon from the oboe d’amores. The cantata ends with the same chorale, set for four voices and accompanied by the whole ensemble.

As several versions of this cantata have survived, we are given a glimpse behind the scenes of Bach’s process of composition. In 1725, the piece originated as a secular cantata, written for the birthday of a teacher at the St Thomas School, who has not yet been identified with certainty. In 1726, Bach used the piece again for the birthday of Charlotte Friederike Wilhelmine, princess of Köthen. Later, he brought out the score again and used the music - with new words in the recitatives - as a birthday offering to someone from the Rivinus family of lawyers. Somewhere between 1725 and 1730, he also transformed the secular cantata into church music. In this first sacred version, he used only the arias, and added a final chorale. It was only in 1731 that he composed the chorale arrangements that appear instead of the recitatives from the original birthday cantata. In all these adaptations, Bach was not concerned with improving the piece or with making the ultimate version. If you compare all the versions, you see that it was more a case of him thinking practically and continually adapting his music to the occasion and the circumstances

Schwingt freudig euch empor
alto, bass, oboe, soprano, tenor
1731 (earlier versions ca. 1725-30)
unknown (Picander wrote the words to the original secular cantata)
first Sunday of Advent
First performance
2 December 1731
Special notes
Originally a secular cantata from 1725. Various secular versions and one earlier sacred version between 1725 and 1730.

Extra videos

Conductor Jos van Veldhoven

“One of those Bach miracles - Jos van Veldhoven guides us through the cantata and is amazed by the last aria.”

Organist Leo van Doeselaar

“See how organist Leo van Doeselaar stays in touch with the musicians way down below.”

Pieter-Jan Belder and Siebe Henstra

“There are few pieces as difficult as this one - organist Pieter-Jan Belder and harpsichordist Siebe Henstra rack their brains over the continuo part in this cantata.”

Vocal texts


1. Chor
Schwingt freudig euch empor
zu den erhabnen Sternen,
Ihr Zungen, die ihr itzt
in Zion fröhlich seid!
Doch haltet ein!
Der Schall darf sich nicht
weit entfernen,
es naht sich selbst zu euch
der Herr der Herrlichkeit.

2. Choral (Sopran, Alt)
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,
des sich wundert alle Welt,
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.

3. Arie (Tenor)
Die Liebe zieht mit sanften Schritten
sein Treugeliebtes allgemach.
Gleichwie es eine Braut entzücket,
wenn sie den Bräutigam erblicket,
so folgt ein Herz auch Jesu nach.

4. Choral
Zwingt die Saiten in Cythara
und lasst die süsse Musica
ganz freudenreich erschallen,
dass ich möge mit Jesulein,
dem wunderschönen Bräutgam mein,
in steter Liebe wallen!
Singet, springet,
jubilieret, triumphieret, dankt dem Herren!
Gross ist der König der Ehren.

5. Arie (Bass)
Willkommen, werter Schatz!
Die Lieb und Glaube machet Platz
vor dich in meinem Herzen rein,
zieh bei mir ein!

6. Choral (Tenor)
Der du bist dem Vater gleich,
führ hinaus den Sieg im Fleisch,
dass dein ewig Gott’sgewalt
in uns das krank Fleisch enthalt.

7. Arie (Sopran)
Auch mit gedämpften, schwachen Stimmen
wird Gottes Majestät verehrt.
Denn schallet nur der Geist darbei,
so ist ihm solches ein Geschrei,
das er im Himmel selber hört.

8. Choral
Lob sei Gott, dem Vater, g’ton,
lob sei Gott, sein’m eingen Sohn,
lob sei Gott, dem Heilgen Geist,
immer und in Ewigkeit!


1. Chorus 
Soar joyfully aloft 
to the sublime stars, 
ye voices, who now 
gladly dwell in Zion! 
Yet, stop! 
The sound shall not have 
to travel far, 
the Lord of glory Himself 
approaches you. 

2. Chorale (Soprano, Alto)
Come now, Saviour of the gentiles, 
recognised as the Virgin’s child, 
all the world stands amazed 
that God ordained Him such a birth. 

3. Aria (Tenor)
Love now draws on with gentle tread 
its true beloved more and more. 
Just as the bride is enchanted 
to behold the bridegroom, 
even so the heart seeks Jesus. 

4. Chorale 
Play the strings in Cythera 
and let sweet Musica 
sound out with naught but joy, 
that I may with little Jesus, 
this exquisite groom of mine, 
pilgrimage in constant love! 
Sing, dance, 
rejoice, exult, thank the Lord! 
Great is the King of honour. 

5. Aria (Bass)
Welcome, precious treasure! 
Love and faith prepare a place 
for Thee in my pure heart, 
come dwell in me! 

6. Chorale (Tenor)
Thou who art like the Father, 
bring about victory over the flesh, 
that Thy God’s eternal power 
may keep sick flesh away from us. 

7. Aria (Soprano)
Even with subdued, weak voices 
God’s majesty is revered. 
For though our soul alone may sound, 
this to Him is a mighty shout 
that He in heaven itself doth hear. 

8. Chorale 
Praise be to God, the Father, 
praise be to God, His only son, 
praise be to God, the Holy Ghost, 
always and eternally!


  • Release date
    13 June 2014
  • Recording date
    30 November 2013
  • Location
    Walloon Church, Amsterdam
  • Conductor
    Jos van Veldhoven
  • Soprano
    Zsuzsi Tóth
  • Alto
    Barnabás Hegyi
  • Tenor
    Nicholas Mulroy
  • Bass
    Peter Harvey
  • Ripieno soprano
    Lauren Armishaw, Annelies Brants
  • Ripieno alto
    Victoria Cassano McDonald, Elsbeth Gerritsen
  • Ripieno tenor
    Robert Buckland, João Moreira
  • Ripieno bass
    Jelle Draijer, Lionel Meunier
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Anneke van Haaften, Annelies van der Vegt
  • Violin 2
    Sayuri Yamagata, Paulien Kostense, Lidewij van der Voort
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Esther van der Eijk
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
  • Double bass
    Maggie Urquhart
  • Oboe
    Frank de Bruine, Peter Frankenberg
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Positive organ
    Pieter-Jan Belder
  • Church organ
    Leo van Doeselaar
  • Organ registration
    Paul Meerwijk
  • 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 editor
    Lucas van Woerkum, Frank van der Weij
  • Music recording producer
    Leo de Klerk
  • Gaffer
    Alban Riphagen
  • Production assistant
    Zoë de Wilde
  • Score reader
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Make up
    Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch
  • Camera assistant
    Chris Tjong Ayong
  • Music producer's assistant
    Menno van Delft
  • Music recording assistants
    Jaap van Stenis, Jaap Firet, Bobby Verbakel, Luuk Hoogstraten
  • Music edit & mix
    Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
  • Music edit asssistant
    Martijn Snoeren
  • Colorist
    Petro van Leeuwen
  • Interviews
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Acknowledgements
    Nienke Meuleman

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