Gottlob! nun geht das Jahr zu Ende (Praise God! The
year now draws to a close), BWV 28,[a] is a church
cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach for the Sunday after
Christmas. He first performed it on 30 December
The cantata opens with an oboe trio playing an
Italianate ritornello of four phrases, accompanied by
the strings; the roles of the two choirs are later
reversed. The soprano sings a virtuosic and melismatic
aria commanding the listener to praise God.
The following chorale expands the command from the
individual to the collective, adopting an "archaic"
motet form. It is reminiscent of the movements which
opened most of Bach's chorale cantatas, composed as a
cycle the previous year. The cantus firmus is sung in
long notes by the soprano while the lower voices add
"skilful imitatory texture, partly from new themes and
partly from ideas derived from the chorale line in
question", as Klaus Hofmann notes. The instruments play
colla parte in motet style with the voices, doubled by
a quartet of cornetto and trombones. The music in stile
antico was performed at the end of John Eliot
Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000, who
described its "sobriety and complexity, its buried
treasures and subtleties, especially those that occur
in its last fifty bars, in which you sense some immense
cosmic struggle being played out".
The third movement, a bass arioso, repeats the
ascending scalar motif of the chorus. The tenor
recitative is accompanied by sustained chordal strings
and concludes on a major harmony. The continuo opens
the duet aria with a two-part ritornello – dancing
eighth notes followed by fast arpeggiated figures –
that is repeated three more times during this movement.
The vocal lines sing three blocks of imitative motivic
entries. In the style of Italian chamber duets, the
voices first render a thought in imitation, "coming
together each time for a concluding cadence".
The cantata concludes with a four-part chorale in A
minor. Gardiner, who had conducted several versions
during the Pilgrimage, notes the moving power of this
harmonisation of the "prayer for protection and
sustenance in the year to come".
The cantata is scored for four vocal soloists (soprano,
alto, tenor, bass) and four-part choir, cornetto, three
trombones, two oboes, taille, two violins, viola and
I created this arrangement of the first Recitative &
Arioso: "So spricht der Herr" (Thus speaks the Lord)
for Viola & Cello.