Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn (Lord Christ, the
only Son of God), BWV 96, is a church cantata by Johann
Sebastian Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in
Leipzig for the 18th Sunday after Trinity and first
performed it on 8 October 1724. It is based on the hymn
"Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn" by Elisabeth
Bach wrote the cantata in 1724 for the 18th Sunday
after Trinity as part of his second annual cycle of
mostly chorale cantatas. The prescribed readings for
the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the
Corinthians, Paul's thanks for grace of God in Ephesus
(1 Corinthians 1:4–8), and from the Gospel of Matthew,
the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34–46). The cantata
text of an unknown author is based exclusively on the
chorale "Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn" in five
stanzas of Elisabeth Cruciger (1524). The first and
last stanza in their original wording are movements 1
and 6 of the cantata, stanzas 2 and 3 were paraphrased
to movements 2 and 3 of the cantata, and stanza 4 was
reworded for movements 4 and 5. The chorale was
originally associated with Epiphany, but also with the
18th Sunday after Trinity. The Gospel asks how Jesus,
of David's descent as said in 2 Samuel 7, can also be
David's Lord, as claimed in Psalms 110:1. The chorale
tries to answer this question, comparing Jesus to the
Morning star, an image also used in the hymn "Wie schön
leuchtet der Morgenstern", the base for Bach's cantata
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1.
Bach performed the cantata at least three times, first
on 8 October 1724, a second time probably on 24 October
1734, and a third time probably on 1 October 1740.
Musicologists have suggested different dates for the
In the opening chorus, a chorale fantasia, Bach has the
alto sing the cantus firmus and a horn play along (in
later performance replaced by trombone). An unusual
flauto piccolo or sopranino recorder is used to
illustrate the sparkling of the morning star. In a
later performance (probably 1734) it was replaced by a
violino piccolo. The choral setting is polyphonic in
the three other voices and embedded in instrumental
music base on similar motifs.
The tenor aria is accompanied by the transverse flute,
probably played by the flauto piccolo player of the
first movement. As for Was frag ich nach der Welt, BWV
94, written some weeks before, Bach seems to have had
an excellent flute player.
The bass aria illustrates the words "Bald zur Rechten,
bald zur Linken lenkte sich mein verirrter Schritt"
(Soon to the right, soon to the left my erring steps
lean) in jagged motifs and a frequent switch between
winds and strings. In the middle section steady steps
picture "Gehe doch, mein Heiland, mit" (Yet go with me,
my Savior). The final part combines both elements.
The closing chorale is a four-part setting for the
choir, horn, oboes and strings.
Although originally scored for soprano, alto, tenor and
bass soloists, a four-part choir, flauto traverso,
flauto piccolo or (later) violino piccolo, two oboes,
horn or (later) trombone, two violins, viola, and basso
continuo, I created this arrangement for Viola &
Concert (Pedal) Harp.