O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe (O eternal fire, o
source of love), BWV 34,[a] is a church cantata
composed by Johann Sebastian Bach as an adaptation of a
previously composed secular cantata, BWV 34a. This
piece reached its current form in Leipzig in 1740 or by
1746 for the first day of Pentecost. The date of the
work's premiere is unknown, but it certainly took place
in or before 1746.
The opening chorus presents the image of eternal
heavenly flame. The instrumental ritornello comprises a
sustained trumpet entry, active strings, and
"flickering" oboes, drums, and trumpets. Unlike in most
da capo movements, this ritornello appears only at the
beginning and end. Each voice enters on a long note,
imitating the trumpet and presenting the notion of
"eternal Divine Love shining through the ongoing flames
of consecration". The middle section develops these
themes in minor keys before the ritornello returns to
reprise the A section.
The two recitatives (the second and fourth movements,
for tenor and bass respectively) are quite similar in
character: they adopt an authoritative tone, are in
minor mode, and begin with a bass pedal.
The alto aria conveys images of contentment by
incorporating a lilting berceuse-like rhythm, with
violin obbligato and flute in tenths and octaves. It is
accompanied by a tonic pedal in the continuo. The aria
is in adapted ternary form.
The closing chorus adopts the end of the bass
recitative as its introduction. The violins and oboes
then play an ascending figure to introduce the new
melody. The movement is structured as a 12-bar
instrumental section, repeated with choir, followed by
a 31-bar instrumental section, repeated with choir.
The piece is scored for three vocal soloists (alto,
tenor, bass) and four-part choir, two oboes, two flauti
traversi, timpani (tamburi), three trombe in D, two
violins, viola, and basso continuo.
I created this arrangement of the opening coro: "O
ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe" (O eternal fire, o
source of love) for Small Orchestra (Piccolo Trumpet in
Bb, Bb Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet,
English Horn, French Horn, Bassoon, Timpani, 2 Violins,
Viola, Cello & Contrabass).