Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen (Until
now you have asked for nothing in My name), BWV 87, is
a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed
it in Leipzig for Rogate, the fifth Sunday after
Easter, and first performed it on 6 May 1725.
Bach composed the cantata in Leipzig in his second
annual cycle for the fifth Sunday after Easter, called
Rogate. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were
from the Epistle of James, "doers of the word, not only
listeners" (James 1:22–27) and from the Gospel of John,
from the farewell discourses of Jesus, "prayers will be
fulfilled" (John 16:23–30). In his second year Bach had
composed chorale cantatas between the first Sunday
after Trinity and Palm Sunday, but for Easter returned
to cantatas on more varied texts, possibly because he
lost his librettist. The cantata is the third of nine
for the period between Easter and Pentecost based on
texts of Christiana Mariana von Ziegler. Her cantatas
for the period deal with "the understanding of Jesus'
suffering within the context of victory and love,
increasingly articulating how the tribulation of the
world is overcome", according to Eric Chafe.
The text begins, as do several others of the period,
with a bass solo as the vox Christi delivering a
quotation from the Gospel, verse 24. The poetess
interprets it as a reproach. The final lines from the
second movement, an aria, are a paraphrase of another
Gospel verse. One recitative is not part of the printed
publication. Alfred Dürr assumes that Bach wrote it
himself to improve the connection to the following
Gospel quotation in movement 5. The poetess used as the
closing chorale the ninth stanza of Heinrich Müller's
hymn Selig ist die Seele (1659).
As in the cantata for the same occasion in Bach's first
year in Leipzig, Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch, BWV
86, the text begins with words of Jesus from the
Gospel, sung by the bass as the vox Christi,
accompanied by the strings, doubled by the oboes. It is
formally free and untitled, but resembles a fugue
because the instruments enter in imitation, and the
voice sings a similar theme.
A secco recitative leads to an alto aria with two
obbligato oboi da caccia. The prayer for forgiveness
(Forgive, o Father, our guilt) is illustrated by
sighing motifs. The second recitative is accompanied by
the strings and ends in an arioso on the words "Drum
suche mich zu trösten" (therefore seek to comfort me).
In movement 5, the bass renders another word of Jesus
from the Gospel, "In der Welt habt ihr Angst; aber seid
getrost, ich habe die Welt überwunden" (In the world
you have fear; however be comforted, I have conquered
the world). The music is serious, the voice only
accompanied by the continuo, referring to the Passion
as the price for the "comfort". Christoph Wolff notes
the "almost hymn-like emphasis through measured, arioso
declamation ... In the central fifth movement Bach
reduces the accompaniment to the continuo, another
means of underscoring the importance of Jesus’ words."
In response, the last aria expresses joy in suffering.
Its pastoral mood, created by dotted rhythm in 12/8
time, has been compared to the Sinfonia beginning Part
II of Bach's Christmas Oratorio. The closing chorale on
the melody of "Jesu, meine Freude" by Johann Crüger is
set for four parts.
Although originally scored for three vocal soloists
(alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir only for the
closing chorale, two oboes, two oboes da caccia, two
violins, viola and basso continuo, I created this
arrangement for Viola Duet.