Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan (What God does is well
done), BWV 98, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian
Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the 21st Sunday
after Trinity and first performed it on 10 November
In his fourth year in Leipzig, Bach wrote the cantata
for the 21st Sunday after Trinity and first performed
it on 10 November 1726. It is regarded as part of his
third annual cycle of cantatas. The prescribed readings
for the Sunday were from Paul's Epistle to the
Ephesians, "take unto you the whole armour of God"
(Ephesians 6:10–17), and from the Gospel of John, the
healing of the nobleman's son (John 4:46–54). The
cantata opens with the first stanza of the chorale,
"Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" (1674) by Samuel
Rodigast, but it is not a chorale cantata in the strict
sense of Bach's second annual cycle, cantatas on the
stanzas of one chorale. He had then treated the same
chorale completely in Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan,
BWV 99 (1724), and would do it later once more in Was
Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, BWV 100 (1732).
The text of the chorale concentrates on trust in God,
whereas the two cantatas previously composed for the
occasion, Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem
Unglauben, BWV 109, and Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu
dir, BWV 38, both started from doubt and distress. The
unknown poet refers to general ideas from the gospel.
He stresses that a prayer for salvation will be
granted, in movement 4 according to Matthew 7:7,
"knock, and it shall be opened unto you", and he
continues in movement 5, paraphrasing Jacob in Genesis
32:26, "I will not let you go, except you bless me".
This final movement is not a chorale, although its text
begins like one, Christian Keymann's "Meinen Jesum laß
ich nicht" (1658).
The cantata is scored like chamber music, especially
compared to the chorale cantatas on the same chorale
with a melody by Severus Gastorius. This, the first
Aria "Hört, ihr Augen, auf zu weinen" (Cease weeping,
my eyes!) is accompanied by an obbligato oboe. The
first two measures of its theme are derived from the
chorale tune. The ritornello is repeated after a first
vocal section, "cease weeping and remain patient", and
a second time, concluding a different vocal section,
which renders "God's resoluteness" in a stream of
triplets in the voice.
Although originally scored for soprano, taille (tenor
oboe) and basso continuo, I created this arrangement
for String Trio (Violin, Viola & Cello).