Widerstehe doch der Sünde

Widerstehe doch der Sünde

BWV 54 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Geertekerk, Utrecht

  • Menu
  • 1. Widerstehe doch der Sünde (Arie)
  • 2. Die Art verruchter Sünden (Rezitativ)
  • 3. Wer Sünde tut (Arie)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Compact and illustrative

Bach probably stood an excellent chance with this cantata during his first official Sunday as concert master in Weimar

For a long time, this cantata was thought to be incomplete. There are only three parts: two arias with a recitative in the middle. And yet it forms a beautiful whole. In 1970, it became apparent that nothing was missing at all, when a volume of libretti by Christian Lehms from 1711 came to light, containing the text used by Bach for this cantata. It also clarified the occasion of the piece. Lehms indicates that the text was intended for Oculi, the fourth Sunday before Easter, rather than the fourth Sunday after Trinity, as had been presumed up to then. Oculi occurs in Lent, a period when although no cantatas were sung in Leipzig, they were sung in Weimar. So the first performance of Widerstehe doch der Sünde probably took place as early as 4 March 1714 in Weimar. Two days before that, Bach had been officially appointed concert master, and he thus proved straight away that he was fully capable of meeting his new obligations – delivering a new piece of church music every month.

Lehms’ words – ‘Widerstehe doch der Sünde’, ‘Die Art verrüchter Sünden’ and ‘Wer Sünde tut, der ist vom Teufel’ – leave us in no doubt that this is about casting out the devil. In order to enter the next world, man must resist earthly temptations. This is not easy, as Bach shows us through many musical illustrations of the text. The driving rhythmic pattern in the first aria, combined with tense harmonies and a sustained rising melodic line, anyway points to a great deal of toil and trouble. The recitative explains what awaits us if we do not succeed: the grave, accompanied by very low droning notes, and the sharp sword, with which Bach gives us a talking to. The second aria, on the other hand, sketches a rosy picture of the future if we resist evil. The devil swiftly takes to his heels, hotly pursued by only fast notes. Bach must have stood an excellent chance with this work.

Widerstehe doch der Sünde
Georg Christian Lehms
Oculi (the fourth Sunday before Easter), seventh Sunday after Trinity
First performance
4 March 1714
Special notes
Bach used the first aria in the St Mark Passion, BWV 247, as ‘Falsche Welt, dein schmeichelnd Küssen

Extra videos

Conductor Lars Ulrik Mortensen

“Conductor and harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen talks about his fascination for the young Bach.”

Countertenor Maarten Engeltjes

“Countertenor Maarten Engeltjes explains why this is one of the most difficult cantatas for his voice type.”

Vocal texts


1. Arie (Alt)
Widerstehe doch der Sünde,
sonst ergreifet dich ihr Gift.
Lass dich nicht den Satan blenden;
denn die Gottes Ehre schänden,
trifft ein Fluch, der tödlich ist.

2. Rezitativ (Alt)
Die Art verruchter Sünden
ist zwar von aussen wunderschön;
allein man muss
hernach mit Kummer und Verdruss
viel Ungemach empfinden.
Von aussen ist sie Gold;
doch, will man weiter gehn,
so zeigt sich nur ein leerer Schatten
und übertünchtes Grab.
Sie ist den Sodomsäpfeln gleich,
und die sich mit derselben gatten,
gelangen nicht in Gottes Reich.
Sie ist als wie ein scharfes Schwert,
das uns durch Leib und Seele fährt.

3. Arie (Alt)
Wer Sünde tut, der ist vom Teufel,
denn dieser hat sie aufgebracht.
Doch wenn man ihren schnöden Banden
mit rechter Andacht widerstanden,
hat sie sich gleich davon gemacht.


1. Aria (Alto)
Stand firm against all sinning, 
or its poison will possess you. 
Be not blinded by Satan; 
for those who violate God’s majesty 
shall be felled by a deadly curse. 

2. Recitative (Alto)
Vile sinning seems, 
in truth, outwardly wonderful; 
but one must 
thereafter, with sorrow and dismay, 
experience much misery. 
Outwardly sin is golden; 
but if one looks more closely, 
we see it is but an empty shadow, 
a whited sepulchre. 
It resembles Sodom’s apples, 
and those who wed themselves to sin 
shall never dwell in God’s realm. 
Sin is like a sharpened sword, 
that pierces us through body and soul. 

3. Aria (Alto)
Those who commit sin are of the devil, 
for he has invented sin, 
but if one resists his vile shackles 
with true devotion, 
sin will straightaway take flight.


  • Release date
    4 July 2014
  • Recording date
    1 February 2014
  • Location
    Geertekerk, Utrecht
  • Harpsichord and direction
    Lars Ulrik Mortensen
  • Alto
    Maarten Engeltjes
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Sayuri Yamagata, Anneke van Haaften
  • Violin 2
    Pieter Affourtit, Paulien Kostense, Annelies van der Vegt
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Femke Huizinga
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Positive organ
    Siebe Henstra
  • 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 editors
    Lucas van Woerkum, Frank van der Weij
  • Music recording producer
    Leo de Klerk
  • Gaffer
    Roel Ypma
  • Best boy
    Chris Uitenwijk
  • Production assistent
    Zoë de Wilde
  • Score reader
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Make up
    Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch
  • Trainees camera
    Izak de Dreu, Indy Hamid
  • Music producer's assistant
    Mieneke van der Velden
  • Music recording assistants
    Jaap van Stenis, Gilius Kreiken, Jaap van Firet
  • Data handler
    Joep Bannenberg
  • Music edit and mix
    Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
  • Music edit and mix asssistant
    Martijn Snoeren
  • Colorist
    Petro van Leeuwen
  • Interviews
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Acknowledgements
    Rob van Stek

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