O Herzensangst, o Bangigkeit und Zagen!

O Herzensangst, o Bangigkeit und Zagen!

BWV 400 performed by the Young Bach Fellows
from the Netherlands Bach Society
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

Behind the music


Bobbing uncertainty

What is the time signature of this chorale actually?

On hearing this chorale, the experienced listener might be a little confused. Because what time signature is it written in? And where does the first bar begin anyway? On a first hearing, it could just as easily be either four-four time with an upbeat or three-four time.

The form of the melody and the way it is combined with the textual accents mean that this chorale remains in a sort of bobbing uncertainty from start to finish. In a word, it is not so well suited to a full congregation joining in the singing. But it does make you realise the discreet skill with which Bach’s other chorales are composed. Just listen out for it sometime. You nearly always ‘sense’ the time signature straight away, and the notes, time and textual accents fit into a regular pattern. It’s only when such a pattern is missing that you become aware of it.

After Bach’s death, his son Carl Philipp Emanuel included this chorale in a collection of 371 chorales. The majority of them are well-known Lutheran church melodies, but this one is an exception. The melody is not familiar to us from anything else, so it was probably composed by Bach himself.

Oh and by the way, BWV 400 is written in a regular three-four time with no upbeat.

O Herzensangst, o Bangigkeit und Zagen!
Friedrich Daniel Gerhard Müller von Königsberg

Extra videos

Vocal texts


1. O Herzensangst, o Bangigkeit und Zagen!
Was seh ich hier für eine Leiche tragen?
Wes ist das Grab? Wie ist der Fels
  zu nennen?
Ich soll ihn kennen.

2. Ach rinnt, ihr Tränen, fließt, ach fließt, ach wehe!
Es ist der Herr, mein Liebster, ich vergehe!
Mein trautster Schatz, den einig ich erkoren,
Mir nun verloren.

8. Komm her, mein Herr! Komm, ruh in meinem Herzen,
So fühl ich nicht Not, Angst, Gefahr noch Schmerzen.
Schau, wie ich such in brünstigem Verlangen
Dich zu empfangen.


1. My heart is full of terror and confusion!What do I see, where is it they have moved him?Whose is that grave? Where is the cave they’ve
 laid him?I want to claim him.

2. Flow bitter tears!  In misery flow through me,It is the Lord, my love, this will undo me!My chosen one, my treasure dear and costly.And now I’ve lost him.

8. Come to me, Lord!  Come rest forever in me;My troubles then would never overcome me.ee how I long so ardently to greet you,Hold and receive you.

Translation © Ruth van Baak Griffioen, 2020


  • Release date
    24 August 2023
  • 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
  • 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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