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Wachtet auf, J.S. Bach Cantata BWV 140

By February 20, 2018March 16th, 2023No Comments

In my extreme haste to post this cantata , Wachtet auf, by Bach, only because I want to post it, I am going to say very little about it. It is from a Lutheran hymn written by Phillip Nicolai in 1598.  Several musicians have set it to music, including Johann Sebastian Bach (March 31, 1685 – July 28, 1750) . His birthdate varies on whether you use the old style (that is, Julian) or new style (Gregorian) calendars.  Bach wrote a cantata to the hymn called Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140.  It is truly wonderful, although I have a hard time finding oratorio singers whom I can listen to.  I am posting the two choruses from this cantata.  The choruses are very famous.  I am posting the words to the first chorus.  If anyone asks, I will post the words to the second chorus.  These excerpts are from Helmut Rilling’s recording with the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart.

Chorus 1

Chorus 2


 The words to the first chorus are:


Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme,

der Wächter sehr hoch auf der Zinne,

wach auf, du Stadt Jerusalem.

Mitternacht heißt diese Stunde,

sie rufen uns mit hellem Munde,

wo seid ihr klugen Jungfrauen?

Wohlauf, der Bräut’gam kömmt,

steht auf, die Lampen nehmt,


Macht euch bereit

zu der Hochzeit

, ihr müsset ihm entgegen gehn.


Wake, arise, the voices call us

Of watchmen from the lofty tower

Arise, thou town Jerusalem!

Midnight’s hour doth give its summons;

They call to us with ringing voices;

Where are ye prudent virgins now?

Make haste, the bridegroom comes;

Rise up and take your lamps!


Prepare to join

The wedding feast,

Go forth to meet him as he comes!