Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet (We have a new governor), BWV
212,[a] is a secular cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach.
It was entitled the "Cantate burlesque" (burlesque
cantata) by Bach himself, but is now popularly known as
the Peasant Cantata. It is the latest definitely dated
This cantata's libretto was written by Christian
Friedrich Henrici, known as Picander, and was written
for performance on 30 August 1742. On that day the
Erbherr, Lehnherr and Gerichtsherr Carl Heinrich von
Dieskau, Saxon-Crown-Princely Kammerherr to the
Rittergut Kleinzschocher near Leipzig, celebrated his
thirty-sixth birthday with a huge fireworks display
and, as was customary, took homage from the peasants on
the same occasion. It is thought that Picander asked
Bach to set his poetry to music.
The text describes how an unnamed farmer laughs with
the farmer's wife Mieke about the tax collector's
machinations while praising the economy of Dieskau's
wife, ending by especially cheering on Dieskau. In
places it uses the dialect of Upper Saxony ("Guschel"
for mouth, "Dahlen" for love-games, "Ranzen" for belly
and "Neu-Schock" for a 60 Groschen piece).
In accordance with the nature of the text, Bach created
a relatively simple composition held with short
sentences and usually simple accompaniment. He
repeatedly drew on popular dance forms, folk and
popular melodies (such as La Folia and the folk song
"Mit dir und mir ins Federbett, mit dir und mir aufs
Stroh", whose title translates as "With you and me in
the spring bed, with you and me on the straw") and
parts from his own historical pieces (Set 14 from BWV
Anh. 11 and Theorem 20 from BWV 201 / 7).
The cantata is scored for two voices: the farmer (bass)
and Mieke (soprano). The instrumentation includes a
string trio of violin, viola and basso continuo,
accompanied by a flute, horn and second violin
I created this arrangement of the opening Overture:
"Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet" (We have a new governor)
for String Trio (Violin, Viola & Cello).