Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit (What my God
wants, may it always happen), BWV 111, is a church
cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed the
chorale cantata in Leipzig in 1725 for the third Sunday
after Epiphany and first performed it on 21 January
1725. The text is based on the hymn by Albert, Duke of
Prussia, published in 1554.
Bach wrote the chorale cantata for the third Sunday
after Epiphany in his second year in Leipzig. The
prescribed readings for the Sunday were taken from the
Epistle to the Romans, rules for life (Romans
12:1721), and from the Gospel of Matthew, the healing
of a leper (Matthew 8:113). It is based on a chorale
in four stanzas, which is still popular. Three stanzas
were written by Albert, Duke of Prussia, who introduced
the Reformation into Prussia, an anonymous poet added
the final stanza with the first publication in 1554.
The text of the first and the last stanza is kept
unchanged, an unknown poet paraphrased the inner
stanzas rather freely, each to a sequence of aria and
recitative. Similar to the cantata for the same
occasion in Bach's first annual cycle in Leipzig, Herr,
wie du willt, so schicks mit mir, BWV 73, the text
deals with the Christian's acceptance of God's
In the opening chorus, the soprano sings the melody of
the chorale as a cantus firmus in long notes. The
melody appears in an interesting combination of phrases
of different length, two measures alternating with
three measures. Bach used a simpler version of the
melody, with all phrases of measures, when he used the
first stanza in his St Matthew Passion as movement 25.
In the cantata, the lower voices prepare each entrance
by imitation, sometimes repeating the line to the
soprano's long final note. The vocal parts are embedded
in an independent orchestral concerto of the oboes, the
strings and at times even the continuo.
In movement 2, a bass aria, the librettist kept the
line from the hymn "Gott ist dein Trost und Zuversicht"
unchanged, Bach treats it to quotation of the chorale
tune for both the quotation and the free continuation
"und deiner Seelen Leben" (and the life of your soul).
Movement 4 is a duet of alto and tenor, "So geh ich mit
beherzten Schritten" (Thus I walk with encouraged
steps). The steps are taken together in 3/4 time, in "a
minuet of a strongly assertive and confident character.
But this should not surprise us; we have seen how Bach
often takes suite rhythms, particularly minuet and
gavotte, to represent the civilized movements of souls
progressing towards heaven", as Julian Mincham
describes it. Movement 5, a soprano recitative stresses
the final words "O blessed, desired end!" in an arioso.
It leads to the closing chorale, a "simple but powerful
four-part setting" of the last stanza.
Although scored for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto,
tenor, and bass), a four-part choir, two oboes, two
violins, viola, and basso continuo, I created this
arrangement for Small Orchestra (2 Flutes, Concert
(Pedal) Harp, Tubular Bells, 2 Violins, Viola & Cello).