Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen

Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen

BWV 452 performed by Charles Daniels,
Mieneke van der Velden, Menno van Delft and Fred Jacobs
at the Bartolotti House, Amsterdam

Behind the music

Story
Story
Extra videos
Extra videos
Texts
Texts
Credits
Credits

Voice training from on high

This song about singing is unique.

In a world of entreaties and yearnings, always directed towards our end on earth, songs that were simply cheerful were a rarity. This sacred song about singing, with parallels in the psalms, is probably even unique. Six verses address the relationship between father-teacher and child-believer, which this time is not purely a relationship of sin, penance and redemption, but one of beauty of sound and sincere music, straight from the heart. Maybe it was precisely this theme that prompted Bach to copy a version of this song into Anna Magdalena’s second Notenbüchlein.

Musicalisches Gesang-Buch G.C. Schemelli
In the eighteenth century, sacred songbooks for private use were an important aid in simple, domestic devotion. For example, no fewer than 17 editions of Johann Freylinghausen’s Geistreiches Gesangbuch were published between 1704 and 1734. Two years later, pietist Georg Christian Schemmel, alias Schemelli, launched his own songbook, containing no fewer than 954 songs, 69 of which included melody, text incipit and figured bass. In order to outdo the competition, he involved probably the most famous music consultant of all time, who happened to be his son’s music teacher: Bach. Following intensive research, only three of the 21 original melodies in the collection (BWV 439-509) can be attributed with certainty to the cantor at the Thomasschule: BWV 452, 478 and 505. The others are accompaniments, revisions and improvements. Bach’s precise role in Schemelli’s Gesangbuch will probably always remain a mystery.

BWV
452
Title
Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen
Instrument
Tenor
Genre
songs and arias
Serie
Schemelli’s Musicalisches Gesang-Buch
Year
1722-1725
City
Köthen/Leipzig

Extra videos

Charles Daniels and Menno van Delft

“Charles Daniels and Menno van Delft talk about the Musicalisches Gesang-Buch G.C. Schemelli.”

Vocal texs

Original

Dir, dir Jehova will ich singen;
denn wo ist doch ein solcher Gott wie du?
Dir will ich meine Lieder bringen,
ach, gib mir deines Geistes Kraft dazu,
dass ich es tu im Namen Jesu Christ,
so wie es dir durch ihn gefällig ist

Zeuch mich, o Vater, zu dem Sohne,
damit dein Sohn mich wieder zieh zu dir;
dein Geist in meinem Herzen wohne 
und meine Sinne und Verstand regier,
dass ich den Frieden Gottes schmeck und fühl
und dir darob im Herzen sing und spiel

Verleih mir, Höchster, solche Güte,
so wird gewiss mein Singen recht getan
so klingt es schön in meinem Liede,
und ich bet dich im Geist und Wahrheit an
so hebt dein Geist mein Herz zu dir empor,
dass ich dir Psalmen sing im höhern Chor.

Denn der kann mich bei dir vertreten
mit Seufzern, die ganz unaussprechlich sind, 
der lehret mich recht gläubig beten,
gibt Zeugnis meinem Geist,
dass ich dein Kind und ein Miterbe Jesus Christi sei,
daher ich Abba! Lieber Vater schrei.

Wohl mir, dass ich dies Zeugnis habe,
darum bin ich voller Trost und Freudigkeit
und weiß, dass alle gute Gabe,
die ich von dir verlange jederzeit,
die gibst du und tust überschwänglich mehr
als ich verstehe, bitte und begehr.

Wohl mir, ich bitt in Jesu Namen,
der mich zu deiner Rechten selbst vertritt,
in ihm ist alles Ja und Amen,
was ich von dir im Geist und Glauben bitt:
Wohl mir, Lob Dir! itzt und in Ewigkeit,
dass du mir schenkest solche Seligkeit.

Translation

To you, Jehovah, I am singing
For nowhere is a God as great as you;
To you my songs and hymns I'm bringing,
Oh may your Spirit breathe its power through
So that my praise be pleasing, let it rise
Through the blest name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Draw me, o Father, to your dear Son,
So that your Son will then draw me to you!
O may the Spirit make my heart home
Ruling my mind and all my senses too,
So I can taste and feel your peace divine
And sing you praise with all this heart of mine.

Give me, Almighty God, such blessing,
So that I may bring your praise rightfully;
Hear this in the songs I’m addressing,
In Spirit and in Truth I make my plea:
Your Spirit raise up my heart ever high’r,
So I may sing psalms with the heav’nly choir.

The Holy Spirit can plead for me
With sighs and groans that go beyond all words,
Teach me to pray in faith and truly,
O Spirit, show me so that I can see
That I’m God’s child and an heir with Christ too,
So I can cry “Abba! Father” to you.

Blest with the Spirit as my witness
Comfort and joy fill me up ever high’r.
I know that gifts of God’s own goodness
All that I ever from you have desir’d
You lavish on me even more from your hand
Than I could ever ask or even understand.

What joy for me, through Jesus praying,
Who stands at God's right hand and pleads for me;
To my pleas, "Yes, let it be” saying,
What I ask Him in spirit, faithfully.
All praise to You for all You give to me
Through all my life, and in eternity.

translation © Ruth van Baak Griffioen, 2019, 2020

Credits

  • Release date
    3 February 2022
  • Recording date
    12 May 2018
  • Location
    Bartolotti House, Amsterdam
  • Tenor
    Charles Daniels
  • Viola da gamba
    Mieneke van der Velden
  • Harpsichord
    Menno van Delft
  • Theorbo
    Fred Jacobs
  • Director, camera and lights
    Gijs Besseling
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera, lights
    Nina Badoux
  • Camera and lighting assistant
    Eline Eestermans
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Marco Meijdam
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • Supported by
    Stichting Elise Mathilde Fonds
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