Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch

Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch

BWV 86 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Shunske Sato
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

  • Menu
  • 1. Wahrlich, wahrlich (Arioso)
  • 2. Ich will doch wohl Rosen brechen (Arie)
  • 3. Und was der ewig gütig Gott (Choral)
  • 4. Gott macht es nicht (Rezitativ)
  • 5. Gott hilft gewiss (Arie)
  • 6. Die Hoffnung wart (Choral)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Dare to live!

Bach’s violin plucks roses and endures the thorns

Bach composed the cantata Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch in 1724 for Rogation Sunday (Prayer Sunday, the fifth Sunday after Easter), which fell that year on 14 May. The gospel is John 16:23-30. In the first movement, Jesus speaks in arioso style through the voice of the solo bass, saying words from his valediction: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you’. The vocal lines and the accompanying instrumental parts are written in polyphony as fugal voices from a motet. In this ‘consort music’, it seems that the seventeenth century has briefly returned again.

Then follows an aria for alto, solo violin and basso continuo. The violin scatters virtuoso figurations about, in such an extreme fashion that it must relate directly to the text: the plucking of roses and the pricking of the thorns. However, it is not clear exactly what Bach meant by this. ‘For me, it is more the confidence to pick roses’, says the countertenor Robin Blaze. ‘I do so in spite of the thorns. I take life as it is’. The violin figurations consist of harmonic broken chords, which Bach notated in shorthand as long notes above one another, each with its own stem. ‘You literally break them’, explains violinist and leader Shunske Sato. ‘And if you write it out, it looks really thorny’. It is thus an example of Augenmusik; music whose meaning is betrayed by its visual appearance.

In the third movement, the soprano sings a chorale strophe, while two oboes d’amore and the basso continuo appear to play a fast movement from a trio sonata. Via a short recitative, it goes to a sprightly aria for tenor in carefree celebration of faith in God. The four-part chorale reaffirms that although almighty God gives no guarantee of when, he does know what is best for us.

Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch
unknown, John 16:23, chorales by Georg Grünwald (1530) and Paul Speratus (1523)
Rogation Sunday (5th Sunday after Easter, i.e. the last before Ascension Day, also called Prayer Sunday)
First performance
14 May 1724

Extra videos

Robin Blaze, Shunske Sato

“I will pluck roses even if the thorns hurt me.”

Vocal texts


1. Arioso (Bass)
Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch,
so ihr den Vater etwas bitten werdet
in meinem Namen,
so wird er's euch geben.
Johannes 16:23

2. Arie (Alt)
Ich will doch wohl Rosen brechen,
wenn mich gleich die Dornen stechen.
Denn ich bin der Zuversicht,
dass mein Bitten und mein Flehen
Gott gewiss zu Herzen gehen,
weil es mir sein Wort verspricht.

3. Choral (Sopran)
Und was der ewig gütig Gott
in seinem Wort versprochen hat,
geschworn bei seinem Namen,
das hält und gibt er gwiss fürwahr.
Der helf uns zu der Engel Schar
durch Jesum Christum, amen!
Georg Grünwald, 1530

4. Rezitativ (Tenor)
Gott macht es nicht gleichwie die Welt,
die viel verspricht und wenig hält;
denn was er zusagt, muss geschehen,
dass man daran kann
seine Lust und Freude sehen.

5. Arie (Tenor)
Gott hilft gewiss;
wird gleich die Hülfe aufgeschoben,
wird sie doch drum nicht aufgehoben.
Denn Gottes Wort bezeiget dies:
Gott hilft gewiss!

6. Choral
Die Hoffnung wart' der rechten Zeit,
Was Gottes Wort zusaget;
wenn das geschehen soll zur Freud,
setzt Gott kein gwisse Tage.
Er weisds wohl, wenns am besten ist,
und braucht an uns kein arge List;
des solln wir ihm vertrauen.
Paul Speratus, 1524


1. Arioso
Verily, verily I say unto you,
whatsoever ye shall ask
the Father in my name,
He will give it you.

2. Aria
Yet I would gather roses,
even though the thorns prick me.
For I am confident
that my entreaty and supplication
will go straight to God’s heart,
for He has pledged His Word.

3. Chorale
And what the ever-gracious God
has promised in His Word
and sworn on His name,
He will truly keep that vow.
May He help us reach the angelic host
through Jesus Christ, Amen!

4. Recitative
God does not act as the world acts,
making many promises, keeping few;
for what He pledges must be granted,
that His joy and pleasure can be seen.

5. Aria
God’s help is sure;
though His help may be delayed,
it will not therefore be revoked.
For God’s Word makes this manifest:
God’s help is sure!

6. Chorale
Hope awaits the right time,
as God’s Word promised;
when that shall happen for our joy,
God does not set a time.
He knows well when it shall be best,
and does not treat us with cruel cunning;
in this we ought to trust Him.


  • Release date
    7 September 2018
  • Recording date
    21 January 2017
  • Location
    Walloon Church, Amsterdam
  • Violin and direction
    Shunske Sato
  • Soprano
    Marjon Strijk
  • Alto
    Robin Blaze
  • Tenor
    Daniel Johannsen
  • Bass
    Stephan MacLeod
  • Violin 1
    Sayuri Yamagata, Lidewij van der Voort
  • Violin 2
    Annelies van der Vegt, Paulien Kostense, Anneke van Haaften
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Jan Willem Vis
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Ruth Verona
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Oboe
    Martin Stadler, Peter Frankenberg
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • 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
    Merijn Vrieling, Martin Struijf, Chris Reichgelt, Thijs Struick
  • Camera trainee
    Klazina Westra
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot
  • Lighting assistant
    Henry Rodgers, Teun Pulles
  • Assistant director
    Ferenc Soetman
  • Video engineer
    Vincent Nugteren
  • Video engineer trainee
    Jildert Hof
  • Set technique
    Justin Mutsaers
  • Data handling
    Jesper Blok
  • Projectmanager NEP
    Peter Ribbens
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh

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