About this sheet music
Meine Seel erhebt den Herren (My soul magnifies the
Lord), BWV 10,[a] is a cantata by Johann Sebastian
Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for
the feast of the Visitation and first performed it on 2
July 1724. It is the fifth chorale cantata from his
second annual cycle, of chorale cantatas, based on the
German "Magnificat" by Martin Luther.
Bach composed the cantata for the Marian feast "Mariae
Heimsuchung" (Visitation) in Leipzig as the fifth
cantata of his second annual cycle of chorale cantatas.
Bach had composed his Latin Magnificat the year before
Bach begins the opening chorus with an instrumental
introduction that is unrelated to the psalm tone, a
trio of the violins and the continuo, the violins
doubled by the oboes, the viola filling the harmony.
The main motif of the chorale fantasia, marked vivace,
stands for joy and is set in upward "rhythmical
propulsion". The chorus enters after 12 measures with
the cantus firmus in the soprano, doubled by a trumpet,
whereas the lower voices add free polyphony on motifs
from the introduction. Bach treats the second verse
similarly, but with the cantus firmus in the alto,
because the text "Denn er hat seine elende Magd
angesehen" speaks of the "lowly handmaid". The movement
is concluded by a vocal setting without cantus firmus
embedded in the music of the introduction, framing the
The soprano aria "Herr, der du stark und mächtig bist"
(Lord, you who are strong and mighty) is a concerto of
the voice and the oboes, accompanied by the strings.
The recitative "Des Höchsten Güt und Treu" (The
goodness and love of the Highest) ends on an arioso,
leading to the following aria "Gewaltige stößt Gott vom
Stuhl" (The mighty God casts from their thrones) for
bass and continuo. In movement 5 "Er denket der
Barmherzigkeit" (He remembers his mercy) the text
returns to the original German "Magnificat", and the
music to the psalm tone, played by oboes and trumpets
as the cantus firmus, while alto and tenor sing in
imitation. Bach later transcribed this movement for
organ as one of the Schübler Chorales, BWV 648. The
recitative "Was Gott den Vätern alter Zeiten" (What
God, in times past, to our forefathers), referring to
God's promise, begins secco. Starting with the added
words "Sein Same mußte sich so sehr wie Sand am Meer
und Stern am Firmament ausbreiten, der Heiland ward
geboren" (His seed must be scattered as plentifully as
sand on the shore and as stars in the firmament, the
Savior was born), the strings stress the importance of
the promise kept. In the final movement, the two verses
of the doxology are set on the psalm tone for four
parts, with all instruments playing colla parte.
The cantata in seven movements is scored for four vocal
soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), a four-part
choir, trumpet, two oboes, two violins, viola, and
basso continuo. The trumpet is only used to highlight
the cantus firmus and may have been a tromba da
tirarsi, a slide trumpet.
I created this arrangement of the last Aria (Duet and
Chorale): "Er denket der Barmherzigkeit Und hilft
seinem Diener Israel auf." (He remembers His mercy and
helps His servant Israel) for Woodwind Quartet (Flute,
Oboe, Bb Clarinet & Bassoon).