Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret (Heaven laughs!
Earth exults), BWV 31,[a] is a cantata by Johann
Sebastian Bach, a church cantata for the first day of
Easter. Bach composed the cantata in Weimar and first
performed it on 21 April 1715. On 2 March 1714 Bach was
appointed concertmaster of the Weimar court capelle of
the co-reigning dukes Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August of
Saxe-Weimar. As concertmaster, he assumed the principal
responsibility for composing new works, specifically
cantatas for the Schloßkirche (palace church), on a
monthly schedule. Bach composed the cantata for Easter
Sunday in 1715.
The festive character of the work is demonstrated by a
sonata with a fanfare-like introduction, a concerto of
the three groups brass, reeds and strings, all divided
in many parts. The first choral movement, sung by a
five-part chorus, evokes the "celestial laughter and
worldly jubilation" of the text, according to John
The cantata in nine movements is festively scored for
three vocal soloists (soprano, tenor and bass), a
five-part choir (SSATB), three trumpets, timpani, three
oboes, taille (tenor oboe), bassoon, two violins, two
violas, two cellos and basso continuo. The scoring for
five parts in the choir, five parts in the woodwinds
and six parts in the strings is unusual.
I created this arrangement of the first Aria: "Fürst
des Lebens, starker Streiter" (Prince of life, strong
fighter) for Viola & Cello.