1. Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen,
Preiset ihn in seinen Ehren,
Rühmet ihn in seiner Pracht;
Sucht sein Lob recht zu vergleichen,
Wenn ihr mit gesamten Chören
Ihm ein Lied zu Ehren macht!
1. Praise God in his realms;1
Extol him in his glories;
Vaunt him in his splendor;
Seek to rightly give his due praise2
When, with full choirs,3
You render a hymn of glory to him.
2. Der Herr Jesus hub seine Hände auf und segnete seine Jünger, und es geschah, da er sie segnete, schied er von ihnen.4 2. The Lord Jesus raised his hands up5  and blessed his disciples; and it came to pass [that] as he blessed them he parted from them.
3. Ach, Jesu, ist dein Abschied schon so nah?
Ach, ist denn schon die Stunde da,
Da wir dich von uns lassen sollen?
Ach, siehe, wie die heissen Tränen
Von unsern blassen Wangen rollen,
Wie wir uns nach dir sehnen,
Wie uns fast aller Trost gebricht.
Ach, weiche doch noch nicht!
3. Ah, Jesus, is your departure already so near?
Ah, is then the hour already here
When we should let you [go] from us?6
Ah, see how hot tears
Roll from our pale cheeks,
How we long for you,
How we lack almost all comfort.
Ah, indeed, do not leave yet.
4. Ach, bleibe doch, mein liebstes Leben,
Ach, fliehe nicht so bald von mir!
   Dein Abschied und dein frühes Scheiden
   Bringt mir das allergrösste Leiden,
   Ach ja, so bleibe doch noch hier;
   Sonst werd ich ganz von Schmerz umgeben.
4. Ah, do remain, my dearest life;
Ah, do not flee so soon from me.
   Your departure and your early parting
   Brings me the greatest suffering of all;
   Ah, yes, so do remain yet here;
   Otherwise I will be completely beset with agony.
5. Und ward aufgehaben7  zusehends,8  und fuhr auf gen Himmel,9  eine Wolke nahm ihn weg vor ihren Augen,10  und er sitzet zur rechten Hand Gottes.11 5. And [Jesus] was visibly raised up, and [he] ascended to heaven; a cloud12  took him away before their [the apostles’] eyes, and he sits at the right hand of God.13
6. Nun lieget alles unter dir,
Dich selbst nur ausgenommen;
Die Engel müssen für und für
Dir aufzuwarten kommen.
Die Fürsten stehn auch auf der Bahn
Und sind dir willig untertan;
Luft, Wasser, Feuer, Erden
Muss dir zu Dienste werden.14
6. Now everything has its place under you [Jesus],
Except only you [God the father] yourself;15
The angels must forever
Come to attend you.
The [celestial] princes16  also stand along the way
And are willingly subject to you;
Air, water, fire, earth
Must come to be in service to you.
7a. Und da sie ihm nachsahen gen Himmel fahren, siehe, da stunden bei ihnen zwei Männer in weissen Kleidern, welche auch sagten: Ihr Männer von Galiläa, was stehet ihr und sehet gen Himmel? Dieser Jesus, welcher von euch ist aufgenommen gen Himmel, wird kommen, wie ihr ihn gesehen habt gen Himmel fahren.17 7a. And as they watched him go to heaven, see, two men in white robes18  stood next to them, who also said: You men of Galilee, why are you standing and looking to heaven? This Jesus,19 who has been taken from you up to heaven, will come [back] as you have seen him go to heaven.20
7b. Ach ja! so komme bald zurück:
Tilg einst mein trauriges Gebärden,
Sonst wird mir jeder Augenblick
Verhasst und Jahren ähnlich werden.
7b. Ah, yes, so come back soon.
Blot out my sorrowful bearing one day;
Otherwise every moment will become
Hateful to me and become like years.
7c. Sie aber beteten ihn an,21  wandten um gen Jerusalem von dem Berge, der da heisset der Ölberg, welcher ist nahe bei Jerusalem und liegt einen Sabbater-Weg davon,22  und sie kehreten wieder gen Jerusalem mit grosser Freude.23 7c. But they [the apostles] worshipped him, went back to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives, which is nearby Jerusalem and lies a sabbath’s journey away,24  and they returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
8. Jesu, deine Gnadenblicke
Kann ich doch beständig sehn.
Deine Liebe bleibt zurücke,
Dass ich mich hier in der Zeit
An der künftgen Herrlichkeit
Schon voraus im Geist erquicke,
Wenn wir einst dort vor dir stehn.
8. Jesus, your glances of mercy/grace
I can indeed constantly see.
Your love remains behind,
That here [on earth] in temporality
I may refresh myself in spirit beforehand
On the future glory [from eternity],25
When one day we stand there [in heaven] before you.
9. Wenn soll es doch geschehen,
Wenn kömmt die liebe Zeit,
Dass ich ihn werde sehen,
In seiner Herrlichkeit?
Du Tag, wenn wirst du sein,
Dass wir den Heiland grüssen,
Dass wir den Heiland küssen?
Komm, stelle dich doch ein!26
9. When shall it indeed come to pass;
When will the dear time come,
That I will see him
In his glory?
You day, when will you be,
That we may greet the savior,
That we may kiss the savior?
Indeed, come, [you day,] appear!
(transl. Michael Marissen & Daniel R. Melamed)

General Note: The particular sequence of biblical passages in movements 2, 5, and 7 stems from the sixteenth-century gospel harmony by Johann Bugenhagen, which was reprinted in various Lutheran hymnbooks and liturgical books right up through the eighteenth century. At Bach’s movement 7c, however, Bugenhagen’s text reads in the sequence Luke 24:52 to Acts 1:12 (i.e., as opposed to the libretto’s reading, where Acts 1:12 is placed between Luke 24:52a and 24:52b), and Bugenhagen lacks the phrase “wandten um gen Jerusalem” ( “went back to Jerusalem”) from Acts 1:12.

1 That is, God’s earthly temporal realm and heavenly eternal realm. “Reichen” here means “kingdoms” or “realms,” not “riches” or “splendor.”

2 “Vergleichen” is most likely being used here in its archaic sense as a synonym for one of the meanings of “vergelten” ( “to pay what is owed”). Curiously, at the second appearance of this phrase in his score (mm. 121–124), Bach did write “sein Lob recht zu vergleichen” ( “to rightly give his due praise”) in the soprano line but then wrote “sein Lob recht auszubreiten” ( “to rightly spread abroad his praise”) in the alto, tenor, and bass lines. In his peforming materials, however, the “zu vergleichen” reading is given in the soprano and alto parts, and “auszubreiten” in the tenor and bass parts.

3 Full choirs, as opposed, e.g., to those of Psalm 53, whose heading, in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day, calls for a divided assembly to sing antiphonally: “im Chor um einander vorzusingen” (literally, “in the [full] choir, [the subgroups are] to sing to-and-fro one another”).

4 Luke 24:50-51, nearly verbatim.

5 Jesus’s raising his hands up is probably meant to be compared to the priestly blessing of Aaron in Leviticus 9:22.

6 The language of this line is derived from Genesis 32:26, the story of Jacob’s wrestling with God at Peniel. God says to Jacob, as rendered in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day, “Lass mich gehen” ( “Let me go”), and Jacob answers, “Ich lasse dich nicht [gehen], du segnest mich denn” ( “I will not let you [go], unless you bless me”).

7 The Luther Bibles used this form ( “aufgehaben,” with an “a”; i.e., not “aufgehoben,” with an “o”) in his New Testament to refer to Jesus’s exaltation into heaven.

8 Adapted from Acts 1:9.

9 Luke 24:51.

10 Acts 1:9, nearly verbatim.

11 Mark 16:19, nearly verbatim.

12 A cloud is a symbol of the divine presence (e.g., in Exodus 24:15 and Daniel 7:13).

13 In heaven, according to Christian interpretation of Psalm 110:1 (e.g., in Hebrews 1:3).

14 A stanza of “Du Lebensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ.”

15 These lines make little or no sense unless one realizes that the first “you” refers to Jesus ( “God, the son”), and the second “you” to “God, the father”; both “persons” are held in traditional Christian doctrine to be one and the same “being.” The hymn’s lines depend partly on 1 Corinthians 15:27, where, quoting Psalm 8, the apostle Paul says “Er hat ihm alles unter seine Füsse getan; . . . ists offenbar, dass ausgenommen ist, der ihm alles untertan hat” ( “he [God the father] has put all things under his [Jesus’s] feet . . . [But] it is obvious that he [God the father] is excepted, who put all things under him [Jesus]”).

16 These are not earthly princes but the heavenly archangels (e.g., Michael is a chief “prince” or angel in Daniel 10:13 and 12:1; “archangel” in Jude 1:9).

17 Acts 1:10-11, nearly verbatim.

18 “White robes” apparently signifies that they are heavenly vistors. Such men or angels are depicted in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day as being in white clothing also in Mark 16:5, Matthew 28:3, and John 20:12. The garments of the transfigured Jesus are said to be “sehr weiss” ( “very white”) in Mark 9:3.

19 As opposed to “this Moses” in Acts 7:35, who was held to prefigure Jesus in being appointed by God but rejected by his people.

20 That is, via cloud.

21 Luke 24:52.

22 Acts 1:12, nearly verbatim.

23 Luke 24:52.

24 The apostles of Jesus were observant Jews. A sabbath’s permissible journey limits were about a half mile.

25 These lines are derived from Romans 5:2, which in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day reads “durch welchen wir auch einen Zugang haben im Glauben zu dieser Gnade, darinnen wir stehen, und rühmen uns der Hoffnung der zukünftigen Herrlichkeit, die Gott geben soll” ( “[Jesus,] through whom [on earth] we [temporally] also have an access by faith to this mercy/grace in which we stand, and we boast of the hope of the future [eternal] glory that God shall grant [in heaven]”).

26 A stanza of “Gott fähret auf gen Himmel.”