Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort (Uphold us, Lord,
within thy word), BWV 126, is a church cantata by
Johann Sebastian Bach. He wrote the chorale cantata in
his second year in Leipzig for Sexagesimae and first
performed it on 4 February 1725. This means that it was
performed only two days after the cantata Mit Fried und
Freud ich fahr dahin, BWV 125, for the Purification of
Mary on 2 February.
A characteristic feature of the opening chorus is a
four-note trumpet signal, which is derived from the
beginning of the chorale melody, as if to repeat the
words "Erhalt uns, Herr" (Uphold us, Lord) again and
again. The motif consists of the three notes of the A
minor chord in the sequence A C A E, with the higher
notes on the stressed syllables, the highest one on
"Herr". The cantus firmus of the chorale is sung by the
soprano, the other voices sing in imitation, embedded
in an independent concerto of the orchestra.
The first aria is a prayer, intensified by two oboes.
In the middle section the words "erfreuen" (delight)
and "zerstreuen" (scatter) are illustrated by fast runs
in the tenor. The second aria, movement 4, is dramatic,
especially in the restless continuo. John Eliot
Gardiner quotes W. G. Whittaker: Bach’s "righteous
indignation at the enemies of his faith was never
expressed more fiercely than in this aria". Movement 3
presents the recitative in the alternating voices alto
and tenor, but the ornamented chorale as a duet. The
chorale melody switches also, given to the voice which
enters, whereas the other one continues its recitative
by accompanying material. Movement 6 combines the two
stanzas from different chorales in a four-part
The cantata i six movemets is scored for alto, tenor,
and bass soloists, a four-part choir, trumpet, two
oboes, two violins, viola and basso continuo.
I created this arrangement of the closing Chorale
"Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich" (Grant us peace
graciously) for Woodwind Quartet (Flute, Oboe, Bb
Clarinet & Bassoon).