Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen (Wretched man
that I am, who shall deliver me), BWV 48, is a church
cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in
1723 for the 19th Sunday after Trinity as part of his
first annual cycle.
An instrumental chorale melody is present in the
opening chorus. It may refer to the words "Herr Jesus
Christ, du höchstes Gut", but also creates a connection
to the closing chorale, which was sung on the same
tune, and therefore may also quote its first verse.
This chorale cantus firmus is played by the trumpet in
canon with the oboes. The strings present themes in the
instrumental introduction which are later used as a
countersubject to the lamentative theme of the
A recitative of the alto, accompanied by the strings,
leads to a chorale, concluding the ideas of the first
section in expressive harmonization.
A different mood prevails in the following aria, the
voice and the oboe being equal partners in the request
to spare the soul. In the last aria the tenor is
accompanied by the strings with oboe, music dominated
by a lilting rhythm changing between 3/4 time and 3/2
The cantata in seven movements is scored for alto and
tenor soloists, a four-part choir, trumpet, two oboes,
two violins, viola, and basso continuo.
I created this arrangement of the opening Chorus: "Ich
elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen vom Leibe dieses
Todes?" (Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me
from the body of this death?) for Winds (Bb Trumpet,
Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet, French Horn & Bassoon) and
Strings (2 Violins, Viola & Cello).