Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht (I will not let go of my
Jesus), BWV 124, is a church cantata by Johann
Sebastian Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in
Leipzig for the first Sunday after Epiphany and first
performed it on 7 January 1725. It is based on the hymn
by Christian Keymann.
Bach wrote the chorale cantata in his second year in
Leipzig for the First Sunday after Epiphany. Just a
year earlier, on the same occasion, Bach had reflected
Mein liebster Jesus ist verloren, BWV 154, from the
point of view of a person who had lost Jesus. This
cantata text is based on the chorale in six stanzas by
Christian Keymann (1658). The text of the hymn begins,
as in the former work, with an idea close to the
gospel: the Christian does not want to let go of Jesus,
as his parents had wished not to lose their 12-year-old
boy, but then the chorale pursues the thought of being
united with Jesus after death. An unknown poet kept the
first and the last stanza, and paraphrased the inner
stanzas to a sequence of as many recitatives and arias.
Bach first performed the cantata on 7 January 1725, one
day after Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen, BWV
123, for Epiphany.
In the opening chorus the soprano and the horn present
line by line the cantus firmus, a melody by Andreas
Hammerschmidt, who collaborated with Keymann on
chorales. The lower voices are set mostly in homophony,
while the orchestra plays its own themes in
introduction, interludes and accompaniment. The
character of the movement is a minuet, and the oboe
d'amore takes a virtuosic concertante leading part. The
phrase "klettenweis an ihm zu kleben" (cling to him
like a burr) is illustrated by all three lower voices
holding a note for three measures as if clinging to it.
John Eliot Gardiner notes the "gentle, almost naïve
tone of voice to reflect the submissive character of
the text". A short secco recitative leads to a tenor
aria, which is accompanied by the oboe, while the
strings play "a persistent four-note drumming" to
express "Furcht und Schrecken" (fear and terror).
Alfred Dürr compares these repetitions to similar
figures in the alto recitative "Warum wollt ihr
erschrecken", movement 49 of Bach's Christmas Oratorio,
Part V. In another secco recitative the term "nach
vollbrachtem Lauf" (after my completed course) is
pictured by a scale spanning an octave. A duet of
soprano and alto, only accompanied by the continuo,
moves like a dance in simple periods of four measures.
The cantata is closed by the final stanza in a
The cantata in six movements is scored for four
soloists, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, a four-part
choir, horn to play the cantus firmus with the soprano,
oboe d'amore, two violins, viola, and basso
I created this arrangement of the final Aria "Entziehe
dich eilends, mein Herze, der Welt" (Withdraw yourself
hurredly, my heart, from the world) for String Trio
(Violin, Viola & Cello).