Der Friede sei mit dir (Peace be with you), BWV 158, is
the shortest of the cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach
and features a bass soloist. It survives as a cantata
for the third day of Easter but might be a fragment of
a work originally written for Purification, hence there
is a confusing variety of proposed composition dates,
during the Weimar period and 1735.
The surviving source is a copy by Bach's pupil
Christian Friedrich Penzel, identified on the title
page as for the Mariae Reinigung but with an alternate
designation for Easter Tuesday in the parts. Joshua
Rifkin has proposed the dates 15 April 1727 or 30 March
1728 for the premiere. The prescribed readings for this
day were from the Acts of the Apostles, the sermon of
Paul in Antiochia (Acts 13:26–33), and from the Gospel
of Luke, the appearance of Jesus to the Apostles in
Jerusalem (Luke 24:36–47). The librettist is unknown
but may have been Salomon Franck, quoting hymn stanzas
by Johann Georg Albinus and Martin Luther.
Because of the references to the "Canticle of Simeon"
and because of the alternate title page designation, it
is widely assumed that at least the two central
movements were originally part of a longer cantata for
the Purification, with a different introductory
recitative not evoking Christ's Easter reappearance to
the disciples. The obbligato writing in the aria, which
appears better suited to flute than the "violino"
specified in Penzel's copy, is cited in support of the
hypothesis that it was originally written for a
Both recitatives are "supple" and secco. The second
movement is "a fusion of a dulcet aria in the form of a
trio sonata" for bass, violin, and continuo, with
interspersed lines from the chorale performed by
soprano and oboe. It is formally a da capo aria
introduced by an eighteen-measure ritornello. The work
ends with a four-part harmonization of the chorale.
Although this cantata is scored for soprano and bass
vocal soloists, four-part choir, oboe, violin, and
basso continuo, I created this arrangement for String
Quartet (2 Violins, Viola and Cello).