Geist und Seele wird verwirret (Spirit and soul become
confused), BWV 35,[a] is a church cantata by Johann
Sebastian Bach. He composed the solo cantata for alto
voice in Leipzig for the twelfth Sunday after Trinity
and first performed it on 8 September 1726.
Bach composed the cantata in his fourth year as
Thomaskantor in Leipzig for the twelfth Sunday after
Trinity. It is regarded as part of his third annual
The topic of the gospel, Christ healing the deaf mute
man, by Bartholomeus Breenbergh, 1635
The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the
Second Epistle to the Corinthians, the ministry of the
Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:411), and from the Gospel of
Mark, the healing of a deaf mute man (Mark 7:3137).
The cantata text was written by Georg Christian Lehms
and published in Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer (1711).
The text connects the healing of the deaf man to the
thoughts of the believer who is left deaf and mute in
awe looking at the healing of Jesus and God's creation.
The text of the second aria is almost a quote of the
gospel's last verse.
Because of the requirements that "new music" be
composed as often as possible, Bach seldom chose older
poems for his cantatas; consequently, the conductor
Craig Smith has suggested that parts of this work may
have been composed earlier than the first recorded
Leipzig performance. Bach had already composed his
first solo cantata on a text by Lehms, Widerstehe doch
der Sünde, BWV 54, composed during his tenure in
Weimar, also for an alto soloist.
The cantata is one of three Bach cantatas written in
Leipzig in 1726 in which an alto is the only vocal
soloist, the others being Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte
Seelenlust, BWV 170, and Gott soll allein mein Herze
haben, BWV 169. It seems likely that Bach had a capable
alto singer at his disposal during this period.
Bach had earlier composed two other cantatas for the
twelfth Sunday after Trinity, in his first year in
Leipzig Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, BWV 69a, first
performed on 15 August 1723, and in his third year Lobe
den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren, BWV 137,
first performed on 19 August 1725, as an added part of
his cycle of chorale cantatas. Both works focus on
praise (Lob) and use an orchestra including festive
Furthermore, the work has two large concerto movements
for organ and orchestra, probably from a lost concerto
for keyboard, oboe or violin, perhaps indicating that
the cantata was composed for a seasonal choral absentia
at Thomaskirche. The first nine bars of the opening
sinfonia are practically identical to the fragment BWV
Bach led the first performance on 8 September 1726, and
probably played the organ part himself. He structured
the cantata in two parts, four movements to be
performed before the sermon, three after the sermon.
Both parts begin with a sinfonia. Bach scored it for an
alto soloist, two oboes (Ob), taille (Ot), obbligato
solo organ (Org), two violins (Vl), viola (Va), and
basso continuo (Bc).
I created this arrangement of the opening Sinfonia:
"Geist und Seele wird verwirret" (Spirit and soul
become confused) for Flute Quartet (Solo Flute, 2
Flutes & Alto Flute) and Strings (2 Violins, Viola &