Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 116

Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ
BWV 116
Chorale cantata by J. S. Bach

Jakob Ebert, the author of the hymn
Occasion 25th Sunday after Trinity
Performed 26 November 1724 (1724-11-26): Leipzig
Movements 6
Cantata text anonymous
Chorale "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ"
by Jakob Ebert
Vocal SATB choir and solo
  • horn
  • 2 oboes d'amore
  • 2 violins
  • viola
  • continuo

Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ (You Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ),[1] BWV 116,[lower-alpha 1] is a church cantata written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1724 in Leipzig for the 25th Sunday after Trinity. He led the first performance it on 26 November 1724, concluding the liturgical year of 1724.

The cantata is based upon Jakob Ebert's hymn "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ". It matches the Sunday's prescribed gospel reading, the Tribulation from the Gospel of Matthew, in a general way. The hymn's first and last stanza are used unchanged in both text and tune: the former is set as a chorale fantasia, the latter as a four-part closing chorale. An unknown librettist paraphrased the inner stanzas as alternating arias and recitatives. Bach scored the cantata for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of natural horn, enforcing the soprano in the hymn tune, two oboes d'amore, strings and basso continuo.

History and text

Bach wrote the cantata in 1724 for the 25th Sunday after Trinity as part of his second annual cycle of mostly chorale cantatas.[2] The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18), and from the Gospel of Matthew, the Tribulation (Matthew 24:25–28). The cantata text of an unknown author is based exclusively on Jakob Ebert's hymn in seven stanzas (1601).[3] The librettist of Bach's chorale cantata cycle is not known,but Bach scholar Christoph Wolff notes that "he must have worked closely with Bach" and names as "the most likely candidate" Andreas Stöbel, a co-rector of the Thomasschule.[1] The first and last stanza in their original wording are movements 1 and 6 of the cantata, stanzas 2 to 4 were transformed to movements 2 to 4 of the cantata, and stanzass 5 and 6 were rephrased for movement 5. The hymn is in a general way related to the gospel.[4]

Bach led the first performance of the cantata on 26 November 1724, which was that year the last Sunday of the liturgical year.[1][4] The parts show that Bach performed it at least once more but not until after 1740.[2]

Scoring and structure

Bach structured the cantata in six movements. The text and tune[5] of the hymn are kept in the outer choral movements, a chorale fantasia and a four-part closing chorale, which frame a sequence of alternating arias and recitatives. Bach scored the work for four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of natural horn (Co) enforcing the soprano in the hymn tune, two oboes d'amore (Oa), two violins (Vl), viola (Va) and basso continuo.[6] The title page of the autograph score reads: "Dom: 25 post Trinit. / Du Friede Fürst Herr Jesu / Christ ect. / à / 4 Voc: / Tromba / 2 Hautb: d'Amour / 2 Violini / viola / con / Continuo / di / Sign: / J.S.Bach".[7]

In the following table of the movements, the scoring follows the Neue Bach-Ausgabe.[6] The keys and time signatures are taken from Alfred Dürr, using the symbol for common time (4/4).[4] The continuo, playing throughout, is not shown.

Movements of Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 116
No. Title Text Type Vocal Winds Strings Key Time
1 Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ Ebert Chorale fantasia SATB Co 2Oa 2Vl Va A major
2 Ach, unaussprechlich ist die Not anon. Aria A Oa F-sharp minor 3
3 Gedenke doch, o Jesu anon. Recitative T
4 Ach, wir bekennen unsre Schuld anon Aria (Terzetto) S T B E major 3
5 Ach, laß uns durch die scharfen Ruten anon. Recitative A 2Vl Va
6 Erleucht auch unser Sinn und Herz Ebert Chorale SATB Co 2Oa 2Vl Va A major



The opening chorus, "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ" (You Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ),[1] is a chorale fantasia, the soprano singing the cantus firmus, supported by the horn. The composer of the tune is not known. It appeared in a hymnal by Bartholomäus Gesius in 1601, and is similar to "Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen".[5]

The melody is embedded in an orchestral concerto with ritornellos and interludes, dominated by the concertante solo violin. The treatment of the lower voices is varied within the movement. In lines 1 and 2 and the final 7 they are set in homophonic block chords. The Bach scholar Klaus Hofmann notes that the salutation "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und wahrer Gott" (You prince of peace, Lord Jesus Christ, true man and true God) thus receives weight. In lines 3 and 4 the lower voices begin in vivid imitation before the entrance of the cantus firmus.[1] In lines 5 and 6 their faster movement contrasts to the melody.[8]


The alto aria, "Ach, unaussprechlich ist die Not" (Alas, the agony is unspeakable),[9] is accompanied by an oboe d'amore as an equal partner, expressing the soul's terror imagining the judgement.[10] Hofmann notes that "Bach has captured the expression of deep sadness in the music with all the tools of his trade: sighing figures, suspensions and augmented, diminished or chromatic melodic intervals: the harmony is full of dissonances."[1]


The recitative for tenor, "Gedenke doch, o Jesu" (Yet consider, o Jesus),[9] begins as a secco recitative, but the idea "Gedenke doch, o Jesu, daß du noch ein Fürst des Friedens heißest!" (Yet consider, o Jesus, that you are still called a Prince of Peace!), close to the theme of the cantata, is accompanied by a quote of the chorale tune in the continuo.[8]


Rare in Bach's cantatas, three voices sing a trio.[11] In the text "Ach, wir bekennen unsre Schuld" (Ah, we recognize our guilt)",[9] they illustrate the "wir" (we), confessing and asking forgiveness together.[10][11] The voices are accompanied only by the continuo.[6][8]


The recitative for alto, "Ach, laß uns durch die scharfen Ruten" (Ah, then through the harsh rod),[9] is a prayer for lasting peace, accompanied by the strings and ending as an arioso.[8]


The closing chorale, "Erleucht auch unser Sinn und Herz" (Illumine our minds and hearts as well),[9] is a four-part setting for the choir, horn, oboes and strings.[4]

Selected recordings

The listing is taken from the selection on the Bach-Cantatas website.[12] Choirs and orchestras are roughly marked as large by red background, such as the large "Bach"-groups of the 1950s; instrumental groups playing period instruments in historically informed performances are highlighted green under the header Instr..

Recordings of Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 116
Title Conductor / Choir / Orchestra Soloists Label Year Choir type Instr.
Bach Cantatas Vol. 5 – Sundays after Trinity II Richter, KarlKarl Richter
Münchener Bach-Chor
Münchener Bach-Orchester
Archiv Produktion 1978 (1978) Bach Bach
Die Bach Kantate Vol. 58 Rilling, HelmuthHelmuth Rilling
Gächinger Kantorei
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart
Hänssler 1980 (1980)
J. S. Bach: Das Kantatenwerk • Complete Cantatas • Les Cantates, Folge / Vol. 20 Harnoncourt, NikolausNikolaus Harnoncourt
Tölzer Knabenchor
Concentus Musicus Wien
Teldec 1981 (1981) Boys Period
Bach Edition Vol. 9 – Cantatas Vol. 4 Leusink, Pieter JanPieter Jan Leusink
Holland Boys Choir
Netherlands Bach Collegium
Brilliant Classics 1999 (1999) Boys Period
J. S. Bach: Complete Cantatas Vol. 12 Koopman, TonTon Koopman
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir
Antoine Marchand 2000 (2000) Period
Bach Cantatas Vol. 9: Lund / Leipzig / For the 17th Sunday after Trinity / For the 18th Sunday after Trinity Gardiner, John EliotJohn Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Soli Deo Gloria 2000 (2000) Period
J. S. Bach: Cantatas Vol. 28 – Cantatas from Leipzig 1724 –BWV 26, 62, 116, 139 Suzuki, MasaakiMasaaki Suzuki
Bach Collegium Japan
BIS 2004 (2004) Period


  1. "BWV" is Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, a thematic catalogue of Bach's works.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Hofmann, Klaus (2005). "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 116 / You Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus Christ" (PDF). Bach-Cantatas. pp. 9−10. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  2. 1 2 Wolff, Christoph (2000). "Chorale cantata cycle of the Leipzig church cantatas, 1724–25 (II)" (PDF). Bach-Cantatas. pp. 7, 9–11. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  3. "Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ / Text and Translation of Chorale". Bach-Cantatas. 2005. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Dürr, Alfred (1981). Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach (in German). 1 (4 ed.). Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. pp. 255–527. ISBN 3-423-04080-7.
  5. 1 2 "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ". Bach-Cantatas. 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 Bischof, Walter F. "BWV 116 Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ". University of Alberta. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  7. Grob, Jochen (2014). "BWV 180 / BC A 164" (in German). s-line.de. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Mincham, Julian (2010). "Chapter 26 BWV 116 Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ / Prince of peace, Lord Jesus Christ.". jsbachcantatas.com. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Dellal, Pamela. "BWV 116 – Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  10. 1 2 Thompson, Simon (2009). "Bach: Cantatas Vol 9 / Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists". ArkivMusic. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  11. 1 2 Gardiner, John Eliot (2009). "Cantatas for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity / Thomaskirche, Leipzig" (PDF). Bach-Cantatas. pp. 14–16. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  12. Oron, Aryeh. "Cantata BWV 116 Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ". Bach-Cantatas. Retrieved 17 November 2015.


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