Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 38

Composed for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, the title of the cantata is “Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir” which translates as “Out of deep anguish I call to You.” It was first performed on October 19, 1724.


The text is here. The cantata is based on a hymn of the same name, with the text provided by Martin Luther himself, based on Psalm 130. Here is a Mendelssohn setting of the melody of the chorale as a motet:

In Bach’s time, the Gospel reading for the 21st Sunday after Trinity was John 4:46–54, the healing of the royal official’s son:

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.


I hope to do a post about one of the Bach cantatas every Sunday for the foreseeable future.

Happy listening!



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