Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust (Delightful rest,
beloved pleasure of the soul), BWV 170, is a church
cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the solo
cantata for alto in Leipzig for the sixth Sunday after
Trinity and first performed it on 28 July 1726.
Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig for the sixth
Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 28 July
1726. The brevity of this cantata, compared to the
cantatas in two parts written before and after, such as
Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot, BWV 39, can be explained
assuming that in the same service also a cantata Ich
will meinen Geist in euch geben of Johann Ludwig Bach
was performed. The prescribed readings for the Sunday
are from the Epistle to the Romans, "By Christ's death
we are dead for sin" (Romans 6:3--11), and from the
Gospel of Matthew a passage from the Sermon on the
Mount about better justice than the justice of merely
observing laws and rules (Matthew 5:20--26). The text
of the cantata is drawn from Georg Christian Lehms'
Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer (1711) and speaks of the
desire to lead a virtuous life and so enter heaven and
The first aria is a da capo aria in a pastoral
The second aria is set without continuo, symbolic of
the lack of direction in the lives of those who ignore
the word of God, as spoken about in the text. The organ
plays two parts, the violins and viola in unison a
The second recitative is accompanied by the strings and
continuo. The strings play mostly long chords but
illustrate the words "bei Gott zu leben, der selbst die
Liebe heißt" (to live with God, whose name is love) by
more lively movement.
The final aria is a triumphant song of turning away
from the world and desiring heaven. The words "Mir
ekelt" (I feel revulsion) are expressed by an unusual
tritone opening the melody. The voice is ornamented by
figuration in the organ, which Bach set for flauto
traverso for a performance in his last years.
Although this cantata was originally scored for a small
orchestra of oboe d'amore, two violins, viola, organ
solo and basso continuo, I created this arrangement for
Clarinet Quartet (4 Bb Clarinets).