Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft (Now is [come] salvation
and strength), BWV 50, is a choral movement long
attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach and assumed to be
part of a lost cantata. The work was likely composed in
1723 but the date of its first performance is
American Bach scholar William H. Scheide suggested that
the work was written for a Michaelmas celebration.
However, the exact dates of composition and first
performance are unknown.
The work has fascinated Bach scholars because of
questions about its provenance. No autograph sources
exist, and the earliest copies extant do not mention
Bach's name. In 1982, Scheide argued that the existing
version (for double choir) is an arrangement by an
unknown hand of a lost original for five voices by J.
S. Bach. His argument was based on irregularities in
BWV 50's part-writing, which are highly unlike the
writing of Bach. In 2000, the American performer and
scholar Joshua Rifkin argued that a more plausible
solution of this puzzle is that the author of BWV 50
was not Bach at all, but an unknown (but highly gifted)
composer of the era. The suggestion is
The title is from Revelation 12:10: "Now is the
salvation and the power and the kingdom and the might
of our God and of His Christ come, since he is cast
down who accused them day and night before God."
Like other cantatas for Michaelmas, it features texture
layering from the lowest range to the highest, and a
contrapuntal representation of "battles and massing
armies". It is in two distinct sections and uses fugal
The movement begins with a "strong declaration in
unharmonized octaves", pairing the low strings with the
bass voice of the first choir. A rhythmic shift creates
a "floating, turn-around feeling" before the tenor line
enters, followed by alto and soprano. As this choir
shifts into rhythmic counterpoint, the second choir,
trumpet, and oboes enter. The movement also
incorporates call-and-response, military-like tattoos,
and an inversion of the previous order of thematic
entry. The final twelve bars adopt a chromatic style
not heard earlier in the piece.
The piece is written for an unusually large orchestra.
The score involves two four-part choirs, three
trumpets, timpani, three oboes, two violins, viola, and
I created this arrangement for Modern Orchestra
consisting of Trumpets (Bb Piccolo Trumpet, Bb Trumpet
& Flugelhorn) Flutes, Oboes, Bb Clarinets, French Horn,
Bassoon, Timpani and Strings (4 Violins, 2 Violas & 2