Erster Teil Part 1
1. Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben
Muss von Christo Zeugnis geben
Ohne Furcht und Heuchelei,
Dass er Gott und Heiland sei.
1. Heart and mouth and deed and life
Must bear witness of Christ,
Without fear and hypocrisy,
That he is God and savior.
2. Gebenedeiter Mund!
Maria macht ihr Innerstes der Seelen
Durch Dank und Rühmen kund;
Sie fänget bei sich an,
Des Heilands Wunder zu erzählen,
Was er an ihr als seiner Magd getan.
O menschliches Geschlecht,
Des Satans und der Sünden Knecht,
Du bist befreit
Durch Christi tröstendes Erscheinen
Von dieser Last und Dienstbarkeit!
Jedoch dein Mund und dein verstockt Gemüte
Verschweigt, verleugnet solche Güte;
Doch wisse, dass dich nach der Schrift
Ein allzu scharfes1 Urteil trifft!
2. Blessed [Mary’s]2 mouth!
Mary [the mother of Jesus] makes her innermost soul
Known by thanks and glorifying.3
She begins with [those miracles wrought upon] herself,
To tell of the savior’s wonders,
What [great things] he has done to her as his maidservant.4
O human race,
Servant of Satan and of sin,
You are freed
By Christ’s consoling advent
From this burden and servitude.
Yet your mouth and your stubborn disposition
Keeps quiet, denies such goodness;
But know that in accordance with scripture
You will meet an all too harsh judgment.
3. Schäme dich, o Seele, nicht,
Deinen Heiland zu bekennen,
Soll er dich die seine5 nennen
Vor des Vaters Angesicht!
Doch wer ihn auf dieser Erden
Zu verleugnen sich nicht scheut,
Soll von ihm verleugnet werden,
Wenn er kommt zur Herrlichkeit.
3. Do not be ashamed, o soul,
To profess your savior [now],
If he is to call you his own
Before [God] the father’s countenance [at the end time].
But whoever is unafraid
To deny him on this earth
Will be denied by him
When he [the savior] comes in glory [at the end time].
4.Verstockung kann Gewaltige verblenden,
Bis sie des Höchsten Arm vom Stuhle stösst;
Doch dieser Arm erhebt,
Obschon vor ihm der Erden Kreis erbebt,
Hingegen, die Elenden,
So er erlöst.
O hochbeglückte Christen,
Auf, machet euch bereit,
Itzt ist die angenehme Zeit,
Itzt ist der Tag des Heils:
Der Heiland heisst
Euch Leib und Geist
Mit Glaubensgaben rüsten,
Auf, ruft zu ihm in brünstigem Verlangen,
Um ihn im Glauben zu empfangen!
4. Stubbornness can blind the powerful
Until the arm of the Most High6 casts them from their throne;
But in contrast this arm,
Though the earthly globe trembles before it,
Lifts up the miserable/exiled,
Whom it [God’s arm]7 redeems.
Oh highly fortunate Christians,
Up, make yourselves ready;
Now is the acceptable8 time;
Now is the day of salvation:
The savior bids9
You equip body and spirit
With gifts of faith;
Up, call to him in ardent desire,
To receive him in faith.
5. Bereite dir, Jesu, noch itzo die Bahn,
Mein Heiland, erwähle
Die gläubende Seele
Und siehe mit Augen der Gnade mich an!
5. Prepare the highway for you [into my heart],10 Jesus, even now;
My savior, choose [for salvation]
My believing soul
And look upon me with eyes of grace.
6. Wohl mir, dass ich Jesum habe,
O wie feste halt ich ihn,
Dass er mir mein Herze labe,
Wenn ich krank und traurig bin.
Jesum hab ich, der mich liebet
Und sich mir zu eigen gibet;
Ach drum lass ich Jesum nicht,
Wenn mir gleich mein Herze bricht.11
6. [It is] well with me that I have Jesus;
Oh, how fast I hold him,
That he might refresh my heart
When I am ill and sad.
I have Jesus, who loves me
And gives himself to me, to be my own;
Ah, thus I will not let Jesus go,
Even if my heart breaks.
Zweiter Teil Part 2
7. Hilf, Jesu, hilf, dass ich auch dich bekenne
In Wohl und Weh, in Freud und Leid,
Dass ich dich meinen Heiland nenne
Im Glauben und Gelassenheit,
Dass stets mein Herz von deiner Liebe brenne.
7. Help, Jesus, help that I too may profess12 you
In weal and woe, in joy and sorrow;
That I may call you my savior
In faith and resignation [to your will],13
That my heart may ever burn with your love.
8. Der Höchsten14 Allmacht Wunderhand
Wirkt im Verborgenen der Erden.
Johannes muss mit Geist erfüllet werden,
Ihn zieht der Liebe Band
Bereits in seiner Mutter Leibe,
Dass er den Heiland kennt,
Ob er ihn gleich noch nicht
Mit seinem Munde nennt,
Er wird bewegt, er hüpft und springet,
Indem Elisabeth das15 Wunderwerk ausspricht,
Indem Mariae Mund der Lippen Opfer bringet.
Wenn ihr, o Gläubige, des Fleisches Schwachheit merkt,16
Wenn euer Herz in Liebe brennet,
Und doch der Mund den Heiland nicht bekennet,
Gott ist es, der euch17 kräftig stärkt,
Er will in euch des Geistes Kraft erregen,
Ja, Dank und Preis auf eure Zunge18 legen.
8. The wonder-working hand of the Most High’s omnipotence
Acts in [the womb,] the hidden place of the [“mother,”] earth.
John has to be filled with [the Holy] Spirit:20
The bond of [Christian] love clothes21 him
Already in his mother’s [Elizabeth’s] womb,
So that he knows the savior,22
Even though he [John] does not yet
Call him [Jesus, by name] with his mouth;
He [John] is stirred, he skips and jumps23
As Elizabeth proclaims24 the wonderwork,25
As Mary’s mouth brings the offering of [praise from] the lips.26
When you, O believers,27 take note of flesh’s weakness,
When your heart burns in love,
And yet the mouth does not profess the savior,
God is the one who powerfully strengthens you;
He wants to stir up in you the power of the [person’s]28 spirit,
Yes, put thanks and praise on your tongue.
9. Ich will von Jesu Wundern29 singen
Und ihm der Lippen Opfer bringen,
Er wird nach seiner Liebe Bund
Das schwache Fleisch, den irdischen Mund
Durch heilges Feuer kräftig zwingen.
9. I want to sing of Jesus’ wonders,
And bring him the offering of [praise from] the lips;
In accordance with the covenant of his love, he will powerfully conquer30
Weak flesh, the earthly mouth
By [baptism of] holy fire.31
10. Jesus bleibet meine Freude,
Meines Herzens Trost und Saft,
Jesus wehret allem Leide,
Er ist meines Lebens Kraft,
Meiner Augen Lust und Sonne,
Meiner Seele Schatz und Wonne;
Darum lass ich Jesum nicht
Aus dem Herzen und Gesicht.32
10. Jesus remains my joy,
The consolation and sap/blood33 of my heart;
Jesus bars all sorrow;
He is the [protecting]34 power of my life,
The desire35 and sun of my eyes,
The treasure and bliss of my soul;
Thus I will not let Jesus
Out of heart and sight.
(transl. Michael Marissen and Daniel R. Melamed)

1 Modern editions here give one word, “allzuscharfes.” Bach’s own score and performing part, however, give this as two words. An “allzuscharfes Urteil” might readily suggest an “excessively harsh [and unproductive] judgment.” An “allzu scharfes Urteil,” however, more readily suggests an “all too harsh [but productive] judgment,” the reading that makes more sense in this context.

2 In Luke 1:42, it is said to the pregnant Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, “Gebenedeiet bist du unter den Weibern, und gebenedeiet ist die Frucht deines [Mutter‑]Leibes!” (“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb”).

3 Mary’s words of glorifying the Lord are found in Luke 1:46-55, the canticle that came to be called the “Magnificat,” from the Latin translation of Luke 1:46, “Et ait Maria: Magnificat anima mea Dominum” (“And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord”).

4 This is the language of Luke 1:48-49, where Mary says, “er hat die Niedrigkeit seiner Magd angesehen; … er hat grosse Dinge an mir getan” (“He [the Lord] has looked upon the lowliness of his maidservant; he has done great things to me”).

5 Some modern editions give “deine” (“your”) here (which does not make sense). Bach’s own score and performing part clearly read “seine” (“his”).

6 “Most High” is a name used frequently in the Hebrew Bible for the Lord God of Israel. In the New Testament, God the Father (but not Jesus, the Son) is called “Most High.”

7 God’s “arm” effects salvation (e.g., Isaiah 33:2).

8 “Die angenehme Zeit” is a biblical expression meaning “the acceptable (or, ‘propitious’) time,” not “the pleasant time.” The cantata’s poetry is a verbatim quotation of 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Jetzt ist die angenehme Zeit, jetzt ist der Tag des Heils” (“Now is the acceptable/propitious time [of mercy], now is the day of salvation [in Jesus]”). Luther described the “angenehme Zeit” as a Hebraism referring to God’s “Evangelische Zeit” (“time of the gospel”), marked by forgiveness and mercy in Jesus. The Luther Bibles of Bach’s day, for example, render Psalm 69:14 as “Ich aber bete, Herr, zu dir zur angenehmen Zeit” (“But I pray, Lord, to you at the acceptable/propitious time”).

9 “Heissen” seems here to be used in the older, specific sense of “befehlen” (“to command”).

10 This is an adaptation of Isaiah 40:3, “Bereitet dem Herrn den Weg, machet auf dem Gefilde eine ebene Bahn unserm Gott” (“Prepare the way for the Lord; make in the desert plains a smooth highway for our God”). In Christian interpretation of this verse, Jesus is the God for whom the highway is made. Jesus is apparently being asked, in the cantata poetry, to prepare the “highway” himself, such that he can then travel into the believer’s heart.

11 A stanza of “Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne.”

12 Lutheran doctrine taught that one must not only believe in Jesus but also profess him openly. Human beings were said to be inherently tainted with sin, however, and thus unable to believe or profess without Jesus’s help. “Bekennen” (“to profess”) is akin to the “Christo Zeugnis geben” (“to bear witness of Christ”) in movement 1 of the cantata.

13 “Gelassenheit” is used here in its older sense of resignation and calmness associated with leaving things to God’s will, as opposed to its modern sense of general placidity or imperturbability.

14 This word is capitalized in Bach’s own score.

15 Bach’s original performing part here reads “dis,” a contemporary alternate spelling of “dies” (“this”), but Bach’s own score reads “das” (“the”).

16 Some modern editions read have mistranscribed Bach’s “merkt” (“take notice”) as “werd’t,” a contraction of “werdet” (“become”).

17 Some modern editions have mistranscribed Bach’s “euch” (“you”) as “uns” (“us”).

18 Some editions give the plural “Zungen” (“tongues”), which might reasonably make more sense in context. Bach’s own score and performing part clearly read “Zunge,” however, and this usage reflects biblical language. Psalm 126:2, for example, reads “Denn wird unser Mund voll Lachens und unsere Zunge voll Rühmens sein” (“Then our mouth will be full of laughing and our tongue full of gorifying”).

19 The meaning of this otherwise rather cryptic line is related to the sense of Psalm 139:15, which in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day reads “Es war dir mein Gebein nicht verholen, da ich im Verborgen gemacht ward, da ich gebildet ward unten in der Erden” (“To you [God], my skeletal frame was not concealed when I was made [by you] in the hidden place, when I was formed down in the ‘earth’ [deep in my mother’s womb]”). The notion of the earth as a “womb” is expressed clearly in Sirach 40:1 (41:26), which in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day reads “Es ist ein elend jämmerlich Ding um aller Menschen Leben, von Mutterleibe an, bis sie in die Erde begraben werden, die unser aller Mutter ist” (“Life is a miserable wretched thing for all persons, from the womb on, until they are buried in the earth, which is the mother of us all”).

20 This is a quotation of Luke 1:15, which in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day reads “er wird noch in Mutterleibe erfüllet werden mit dem Heiligen Geist” (“he [John the Baptist] will yet in the womb [already] be filled with the Holy Spirit”).

21 The meaning of this otherwise cryptic line is related to the sense of Colossians 3:14, which in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day reads “Über alles aber ziehet an die Liebe, die da ist das Band der Vollkommenheit” (“Above all, however, put on [or, ‘clothe yourself with’] love, which then is the bond of [Christian] perfection”). By dint of the biblical source, the phrase “zieht der Liebe Band” is meant to understood as “zieht an der Liebe Band.”

22 The idea, promoted by Luther, is that even babies—already in the womb, at that—can be blessed by the Holy Spirit with Christian faith and some ability to profess it.

23 Luke 1:44.

24 “Aussprechen” is used here in its older sense of “to proclaim,” “to express fully.”

25 The wonderwork Elizabeth proclaims, in Luke 1:41-44, is the Holy Spirit’s causing her baby to have leapt in the womb as a joyous expression of Christian faith.

26 Namely, the Magnificat; see fn. 3, above. The language of this line is derived from Hebrews 13:15, “So lasset uns nun opfern, durch ihn, das Lobopfer Gott allezeit: das ist, die Frucht der Lippen, die seinen Namen bekennen” (“So let us now offer, through him [Jesus], the praise offering to God all the time: that is, the [verbal] fruit of the lips that profess his name”).

27 “Ihr Gläubige” is a common alternative spelling to “ihr Gläubigen” for “you believers” (hyperliterally, “you believing [persons]”).

28 This line—likewise, probably, line 12 of movement 4—alludes to Matthew 26:41, “Der Geist ist willig, aber das Fleisch ist schwach” (“The [person’s] spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”).

29 Some editions give “Wunden” (“[salvific] wounds [on the cross]”), but “Wundern” (“wonders”) is much more plausible all round.

30 In poetry, “zwingen” is often used as a clipped form of “bezwingen” (“to vanquish/conquer/quell”).

31 In Luke 3:16, the adult John [the Baptist], preaching repentance in Israel, says “er wird … mit dem heiligen Geist und mit Feuer taufen” (“[I, John, have baptized you with water, but] he [Jesus] will baptize with the holy Spirit and with fire”).

32 A stanza of “Jesu, meiner Seelen Wonne.”

33 The blood of Jesus, said in Lutheranism to be physically present in the consecrated wine of the sacrament of communion, is spoken of as a live-giving “Saft” in hymns and sermons. The hymn, for example, that closes Bach’s Cantata 136 begins “Dein Blut, der edle Saft, hat solche Stärk und Kraft” ([Jesus,] your blood, the noble sap, has such strength and power”). In Bach’s day, as now, the word “Blut” was sometimes employed to refer to the dark juice from plants and fruits.

34 This line derives its sense from the wording and context of Psalm 27:1, which in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day reads “Der Herr ist meines Lebens Kraft; für wem sollt mir grauen?” (“The Lord is the [protecting] power of my life; before whom should I be afraid?”). The standard Latin Bible, the Vulgate, gives this passage as “Dominus protector vitæ meæ, a quo trepidabo?” (“The Lord is the protector of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”).

35 “Lust” can mean “delight” or “desire.” The phrase “Augen Lust,” however, appears a number of times in the Luther Bibles, where in context it seems to mean not “eyes’ delight” but “eyes’ desire.”