Herr Gott, dich loben wir (Lord God, we praise You),
BWV 16,[a] is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian
Bach. He composed it in Leipzig for New Year's Day and
first performed it on 1 January 1726. The beginning of
the text is based on "Herr Gott, dich loben wir",
Luther's German Te Deum.
Bach wrote the cantata in his third year in Leipzig for
New Year's Day, which is also the feast of the
circumcision and naming of Jesus. The prescribed
readings for the feast day were taken from the Epistle
to the Galatians, by faith we inherit (Galatians
3:2329), and from the Gospel of Luke, the Circumcision
and naming of Jesus (Luke 2:21). The cantata text is
taken from a 1711 publication by Georg Christian Lehms,
it centers on praise and thanksgiving without being
related to the readings. The poet began with four lines
from Martin Luther's German Te Deum, "Herr Gott, dich
loben wir" (Lord God, we praise you). The following
pair of recitative and aria deal with thanks for past
gifts, while a further pair deal with a prayer for
further blessings. The poet did not supply a closing
chorale, but Bach chose the final stanza of Paul Eber's
"Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen" (Help me to praise God's
goodness) (c. 1580).
In the opening chorus the soprano and the horn present
the liturgical melody of the Te Deum, whereas the lower
voices move in vivid counterpoint, but also a fourth
part of oboe I and violin I. The following secco
recitative ends on the words "O, sollte darum nicht ein
neues Lied erklingen und wir in heißer Liebe singen?"
(O, should not therefore a new song be taken up and
that we sing in heated love?). Consequently the
following movement begins attacca (without a break)
with the voices' "Laßt uns jauchzen, laßt uns freuen"
(Let us celebrate, let us rejoice). This unusual
movement combines elements of chorus and aria in a free
da capo form. The first section is dominated by the
chorus, the middle section by the bass. Musicologist
Julian Mincham points out that it is "an unusual and
imaginative combination of aria and chorus" and likens
it to the interaction between a pastor and his flock. A
second secco recitative leads to a tender aria which
was accompanied by an obbligato oboe da caccia in 1726.
In a later performance, likely in 1734, this was
replaced by a "violetta", which can be a viola or a
descant viola da gamba, according to Johann Gottfried
Walther. The cantata closes with a four-part
The cantata in six movements is scored for three vocal
soloists (alto, tenor, and bass), a four-part choir,
corno da caccia, two oboes, oboe da caccia, two
violins, viola, violetta (alternative in a later
performance) and basso continuo.
I created this arrangement of the opening Chorus: "Herr
Gott, dich loben wir" (Lord God, we praise You) for
Winds (Flute, Oboe, French Horn & Bassoon) & Strings (2
Violins, Viola & Cello).