Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende? (Who knows how near
to me my end?), BWV 27, is a church cantata by Johann
Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for the 16th
Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 6
An unknown poet included in movement 1 the first stanza
of the chorale by Ämilie Juliane von
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and closed it with the first
stanza of the hymn "Welt ade! ich bin dein müde" by
Johann Georg Albinus.
The chorale theme Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten
(Zahn 2778) was first documented by Georg Neumark in
Jena, but the melody can be likely traced back to Kiel,
The five-part (SSATB) harmonization of the concluding
chorale Welt, ade! ich bin dein müde is not by Bach but
by Johann Rosenmüller (published for the first time in
Johann Quirsfeld's Geistliche Harffen-Klang, Leipzig,
The first movement of this cantata is "about as tragic
as it gets": it is in a minor key and quickly sounds a
strong dissonance between the oboe phrase and the
continuo. Descending arpeggiated strings underline the
"wails of the damned" represented by the oboes. After
the opening ritornello, the vocal lines alternate
between choir and solo presentations of the phrases of
the chorale, with each voice (except the bass) having
an arioso line.
A tenor recitative leads into a "shadowy" alto aria
accompanied by an oboe da caccia. Chromaticism
contributes to the "fleeting shadows" of the welcoming
of death. The accompanying keyboard part has
historically been played by either harpsichord or
organ. The obbligato oboe conveys a number of different
ideas: dancing, sighing, and "quasi-tragic"
The soprano recitative uses word painting and sustained
chordal harmonies to urge the listener into heaven. The
bass aria then combines two contrasting sentiments:
adieu and agitation. The repeated pairing of the
"farewell theme – tumult theme" holds through both the
opening ritornello and the vocal line, breaking only
with the closing on the farewell theme alone.
The closing chorale includes two soprano parts and is
stylistically reminiscent of the English madrigal.
The cantata is scored for four soloists—soprano, alto,
tenor and bass—a four- or five-part choir, horn, three
oboes, oboe da caccia, organ, two violins, viola, and
Although originally scored for oboe da caccia, alto
(Voice), organ, and basso continuo, I created this
arrangement of the 1st Aria "Willkommen! will ich
sagen" (Welcome! I will say) for Brass Quartet (Bb
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, French Horn and F Tuba).