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Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

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Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (arr. Melvin Lauf, Jr.)

Subtitle: von Kantate 140

The title loosely translates from the German as Sleeper, Awake. The work bears the designation BWV 140.

General Info

Year: 1731 / 2019
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Choir with instrumental ensemble
Publisher: Zaxton Press through IMSLP
Cost: Score and Parts - Free download


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
String Bass


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Cantata 140 was written in 1731 for the 27th Sunday after Trinity (the first week of Advent) and is based on a chorale by Philipp Nicolai (1556–1608) and takes as its text the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The fourth movement of the cantata is beautiful in its simplicity and consists of only three melodic lines: unison violins and violas play a graceful melody over the chorale tune (sung by the tenors of the choir in the original and played in this arrangement by trumpets and trombones) and a basso continuo. It is an example of Bach’s counterpoint at its elegant and imaginative best, all the more remarkable in the knowledge it was part of a frenetic cantata output, written during a period when he had grown disillusioned with his social and musical position in Leipzig.

- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band concert program, 30 November 2016

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, calls the voice to us), BWV 140, also known as Sleepers Wake, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach, regarded as one of his most mature and popular sacred cantatas. He composed the chorale cantata in Leipzig for the 27th Sunday after Trinity and first performed it on 25 November 1731.

The cantata is based on the hymn in three stanzas Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (1599) by Philipp Nicolai, which covers the prescribed reading for the Sunday, the parable of the Ten Virgins. Bach scored the work for three vocal soloists (soprano, tenor and bass), a four-part choir and a Baroque instrumental ensemble consisting of a horn (to reinforce the soprano), two oboes, taille, violino piccolo, strings and basso continuo including bassoon. Bach scholar Alfred Dürr notes that the cantata is an expression of Christian mysticism in art, while William G. Whittaker calls it "a cantata without weakness, without a dull bar, technically, emotionally and spiritually of the highest order".

- Program Note from Wikipedia


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Peninsula Concert Band (Williamsburg, Va.) (Ronnie Tong, conductor) – 3 December 2019

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