These pages give access to the texts of all Bach cantatas, as well as oratorios, passions, masses, and motets. All texts are in the original language, i.e. most are in German, some are in Latin, and then there are bits in Italian and in Greek.
English Translations   There are several English translations of the texts of Bach's cantatas:

Texte zu den Kirchenkantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach / The texts to Johann Sebastian Bach's church cantatas. Translation by Z. Philip Ambrose. Neuhausen-Stuttgart: Hänssler, 1984.
This volume, connected with Helmuth Rilling's recordings of the cantatas, presents the original texts alongside ingenious translations that maintain the metrical organization and word order of the German originals.

The following two well-known books provide less literal singing translations of Bach's cantatas (and other vocal works in the second):
Charles Sanford Terry. Joh. Seb. Bach: cantata texts, sacred and secular, with a reconstruction of the Leipzig liturgy of his period. London, 1926.
Henry S. Drinker. Texts of the choral works of Johann Sebastian Bach in English translation. 4 vols. New York, 1942-43.

The following volume presents line-by-line English translations in German word order:
Melvin P. Unger. Handbook to Bach's sacred cantata texts: an interlinear translation with reference guide to biblical quotations and allusions. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1996.

The English translations in the Teldec/Telefunken series are often very inaccurate.

(Information provided by Michael Marissen).

"Missing Cantatas"   Texts of several cantatas have been excluded because they are not authentic. They are:

15 Composer is Johann Ludwig Bach
53 Composer is probably Georg Melchior Hoffmann
141 Composer is Georg Philipp Telemann
142 Composer is unknown
160 Composer is Georg Philipp Telemann
189 Composer is probably Georg Melchior Hoffmann
217 Composer is unknown
218 Composer is Georg Philipp Telemann
219 Composer is Georg Philipp Telemann
220 Composer is unknown
221 Composer is unknown
222 Composer is unknown

The composition of the following works has been lost:

36a Steigt freudig in die Luft
66a Der Himmel dacht auf Anhalts Ruhm und Glück
70a Wachet! betet! betet! wachet
80a Alles was von Gott geboren
120b Gott man lobet dich in der Stille
147a Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens
184a [text unknown]
186a Ärge dich, o Seele, nicht
190a Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied
193a Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter
194a [text unknown]
205a Blast Lärmen, ihr Feinde
208a Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd
216a Erwählte Pleißenstadt
223 Meine Seele soll Gott loben [fragment]
224 Reißt euch los, bedrängte Sinnen [fragment]
244a Klagt, Kinder, klagt es aller Welt
246 Lukas-Passion
247 Markus-Passion
248a [text unknown]
249b Verjaget, zerstreuet, zerrüttet, ihr Sterne

(Information from Dürr, A. Die Kantaten von Johann Sebastian Bach, Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1971)

Typesetting   All Chorales or Chorale fragments are printed in bold, all the others texts are printed in normal font.
Contributions   The following people have sent me texts that are included in these pages: Joachim Vogelsänger (Schemelli Gesangsbuch, BWV 439-507), Kurt Büchler (BWV 247), Léon P. B. Habets (dutch translations).

Several people have informed me about errors in the pages: Joachim Bamberg, Harry Bartels, Albert Jan Becking, Jay Beder, Bruno Bianco, Regula Boeniger, Jörg-Andreas Böttich, Peter Broncek, Jan-Frerk Burmester, Johan De Wael, Martin Fell, Eduard van Hengel, Timo Keller, Michael Kipp, Matthias Knoll, Andrew Koll, Jaap Krabbendam, Martin A. Lobeck, Michael Marissen, Charles K. Moss, Fred Weijs, Rüdiger Weyer, Dick Wursten.

Thank you!

Feedback   If you like these pages tell me. Your positive feedback keeps me going. If you find errors, please, please tell me.

Bach Cantata Page
Created by Walter F. Bischof