Sheep May Safely Graze (arr Reed)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (arr Alfred Reed)

General Info

Year: 1716 / 1981
Duration: c. 6:15
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C.L. Barnhouse Company
Cost: Score & Parts - $60.00   |   Score Only - $5.00


Full Score
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone (optional)
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
B-flat Cornet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Probably Bach’s most pastoral composition. Despite its original appearance as part of a virile hunting cantata (Aria from Cantata No. 208), this gentle aria remains one of the composer’s most beloved and most frequently performed works.

- Program Note from publisher

So far as is known, Sheep may Safely Graze is not one of the numbers from the cantata which Bach chose to rearrange, but a variety of arrangements by other people exist. It is often played at weddings.

Australian-born composer Percy Aldridge Grainger wrote several "free rambles" on Bach's Sheep may Safely Graze. He first wrote Blithe Bells (as he called his free ramble), for "elastic scoring" between November 1930 and February 1931. In March 1931, he scored a wind band version. It became one of his most famous arrangements.

British composer William Walton re-orchestrated Sheep may Safely Graze for a ballet score based on music by Bach, The Wise Virgins. The ballet was created in 1940 with choreography by Frederick Ashton.

American composer and electronic musician Wendy Carlos arranged and recorded Sheep may Safely Graze. on a Moog synthesizer for her 1973 album Switched-On Bach II.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

In addition to his 199 surviving sacred cantatas, Bach composed several secular cantatas for various occasions. Cantata 208, the “Hunting Cantata,” more popularly known today by the title Sheep May Safely Graze, was written in 1716 for the thirty-first birthday of Duke Christian of Sachsen-Weissenfels and was performed as banquet music in his hunting lodge after a hunt. This well-known soprano aria is preceded by a recitative whose text is as follows:

“Shall Pales be the last thus her respects to pay? No! I would raise my voice in song, so as the woods and land with vivats ring, here in this lovely field in honor of our Prince, I sing a joyous song of praise!”

The aria text is: “Flocks and herds may safely pasture when their shepherd guards them well. They whose monarch loves them truly knows their needs and fills them duly, will in peace and concord dwell.”

- Program Note from Baylor University Symphonic Band concert program, 16 October 2017


  • Audio CD: "Wintertime, Seasonal Samplings Old and New;" The United States Air Force Band, Washington, DC; Colonel Lowell E. Graham, Conductor; Released 1999 (Out of Print)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • West Chester University (Penn.) Wind Ensemble (Andrew Yozviak, conductor) - 24 September 2023
  • Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.) Concert Band (Vivian Scott, conductor) - 30 November 2022
  • New Orleans (La.) Concert Band (Charles Taylor, conductor) – 16 December 2018
  • Kishwaukee Concert Band (Dekalb,Ill.) (John Hansen, conductor) – 14 October 2018
  • Bob Jones University (Greenville, S.C.) Symphonic Wind Band (Dan Turner, conductor) – 14 April 2018
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Orchestra (Elizabeth Peterson, conductor) – 3 December 2017
  • Amarillo (Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Scott Beckett, conductor) – 20 November 2017
  • Baylor University (Waco, Texas) Symphonic Band (Steve Dailey, conductor) – 16 October 2017
  • Parkland College (Champaign, Ill.) Concert Band (Larry Stoner, conductor; Ernie Hoffman, guest conductor) - 7 May 2017
  • Stony Brook University (New York) Wind Ensemble (Bruce Engel, conductor) – 12 April 2017

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works