Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn (I will not
let you go, except you bless me), BWV 157, is a church
cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was composed in
Leipzig in 1727 and first performed on February 6, 1727
The work is a solo cantata for the Feast of the
Purification of Mary. It was likely intended as a
funeral cantata for Johann Christian von Ponickau, a
Saxon chamberlain. The work was first performed on
February 6, 1727 in Pomßen, and likely performed again
the following year in Leipzig. However, the primary
surviving score dates from 1755 and parts from the
1760s, copied by Christian Friedrich Penzel.
The prescribed readings for the feast day were from the
book of Malachi, "the Lord will come to his temple"
(Malachi 3:1–4), and from the Gospel of Luke, the
purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus at
the Temple, including Simeon's canticle Nunc dimittis
(Luke 2:22–32). The idea from Simeon's canticle to
depart in peace has often been used as an image for the
death of a Christian. The librettist for the work was
Picander, who included a quotation from Genesis
(Genesis 32:26–32) in movement 1 and the last stanza of
the hymn "Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht" by Christian
Keymann in movement 5.
The opening movement sets only a single line: the title
of the cantata. The movement has an eight-measure
ritornello that opens, ends, and bisects the movement;
it features a prominent imitative motif.
The second movement is a tenor aria accompanied by
continuo and obbligato oboe d'amore, which perform a
long ritornello serving much the same structural
function as in the first movement. Craig Smith suggests
that this is "perhaps the single most difficult tenor
aria in the whole repertoire", with "wild and extremely
The tenor recitative is scored for strings and
continuo. It recalls some of the motivic material from
the first movement.
The fourth movement combines elements of aria,
recitative, and arioso. It opens with a ritornello of
violin, flute and continuo. Structurally, the movement
completes most of a da capo aria before a recitative
episode interrupts the reprise of the A section. The
music moves between aria and recitative twice more
before a final aria section ends the movement.
The cantata ends with a four-part setting of the
chorale with a conjunct melody and active continuo
Although the work was scored for tenor and bass vocal
soloists, four-part choir, flute, oboe, oboe d'amore,
two violins, viola, and basso continuo, I created this
arrangement for English Horn duet and Strings (2
Violins, Viola & Cello).