Was frag ich nach der Welt (What should I ask of the
world), BWV 94, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian
Bach. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for
the ninth Sunday after Trinity and first performed it
on 6 August 1724. It is based on the hymn by Balthasar
Kindermann (1664) on a melody by Ahasverus Fritsch.
The opening chorus is dominated by the concertante
flauto traverso in figurations reminiscent of a flute
concerto. Bach wrote virtuoso music for flute here for
the first time in a cantata for Leipzig. Probably an
excellent flute player was available. Bach seems to
have written again for him in Herr Christ, der einge
Gottessohn, BWV 96. Two themes of the opening
ritornello of twelve measures, one for flute, the other
for the strings and oboes, are derived from the melody
of the hymn "O Gott, du frommer Gott" (1648). The
chorale is sung by the soprano. The lively music in D
major seems to represent the "world" rather than its
In the bass aria with continuo, comparing the world to
"haze and shadow", tumbling motives illustrate
vanishing, falling and breaking, whereas long held
notes speak of stability ("besteht").
In the third movement the tenor sings the chorale in
rich ornamentation, the accompaniment of two oboes and
continuo is similar to the (later) Er ist auf Erden
kommen arm in the Christmas Oratorio, #7 of Part I.
The following alto aria, calling the world a "snare and
false pretense", is dominated again by the flute. The
arias for tenor and soprano are set in dance rhythms,
Pastorale and Bourrée, describing the "world" rather
than disgust of it. The cantata is concluded by the
last two stanzas of the chorale in a four-part
The cantata in eight movements is scored for four vocal
soloistssoprano, alto, tenor and bassand a four-part
choir, flauto traverso, two oboes, two violins, viola,
organ and continuo.
I created this arrangement of the final Aria: "Es halt
es mit der blinden Welt" (He can cling to the blind
world) for Flute, Oboe & Cello.