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The following are links to English translations for Bach's cantatas and other works rendered in Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, NYC. We are pleased for you to peruse these translations for your own enjoyment, but please respect the artistic product they represent and reprint only by permission. Contact office@bachvespersnyc.org for more information.

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Text for Cantata 2 
Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)


1. CORO
Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein
     Oh God, look down from heaven
und lass dich's doch erbarmen!
     and do allow yourself mercy!
Wie wenig sind der Heilgen dein,
     How few are your saints,
verlassen sind wir Armen;
     forsaken are we the poor;
dein Wort man nicht lässt haben wahr,
     your word is not held true,
der Glaub ist auch verloschen gar
     the faith as well is utterly extinguished
bei allen Menschenkindern.
     midst all humanity's children.
 
2. RECITATIVO TENORE
Sie lehren eitel falsche List,
     They teach vain, false deceit,
was wider Gott und seine Wahrheit ist;
     which is contrary to God and his truth;
und was der eigen Witz erdenket,
     and which their own wit contrives,
- O Jammer! der die Kirche schmerzlich kränket –
     -O misery! which grievously infects the church-
das muß anstatt der Bibel stehn.
     this must exist in lieu of the Bible.
Der eine wählet dies, der andre das,
     One person selects this, another that,
die törichte Vernunft ist ihr Kompass;
     foolish reason is their compass;
sie gleichen denen Totengräbern
     they are akin to graves of the dead
die, ob sie zwar von außen schön,
     which, though they actually seem fine from above,
nur Stank und Moder in sich fassen
     only conceal stink and decay
und lauter Unflat sehen lassen.
     and reveal rampant filth.
 
3. ARIA ALTO
Tilg, o Gott, die Lehren,
     Blot out, O God, the teachings
so dein Wort verkehren!
     so perverting your word!
Wehre doch der Ketzerei
     Defend against the heresy
und allen Rottengeistern;
     and all rank souls;
denn sie sprechen ohne Scheu:
     for they speak unabashidly:
trotz dem, der uns will meistern!
     defy him who has dominion over us!
 
4. RECITATIVO BASSO
Die Armen sind verstört,
     The poor are distraught
ihr seufzend Ach, ihr ängstlich Klagen
     their sighing woes, their anxious lament
bei soviel Kreuz und Not,
     midst so many a cross and agony,
wodurch die Feinde fromme Seelen plagen,
     through which the foes plague pious souls,
dringt in das Gnadenohr des Allerhöchsten ein.
     penetrates the merciful ear of the Most High.
Darum spricht Gott: Ich muß ihr Helfer sein!
     Thus God speaks: I must be their helper!
Ich hab ihr Flehn erhört,
     I have heard their supplication,
der Hilfe Morgenrot,
     the dawn of aid,
der reinen Wahrheit heller Sonnenschein
     the pure truth of bright sunshine
soll sie mit neuer Kraft,
die Trost und Leben schafft,
     shall create in them new power,
     comfort and life,
erquicken und erfreun.
     refresh and delight.
Ich will mich ihrer Not erbarmen,
     I do have mercy in their distress,
mein heilsam Wort soll sein die Kraft der Armen.
     my healing word shall be the power unto the poor.
 
5. ARIA TENORE
Durchs Feuer wird das Silber rein,
     Through fire silver is made pure,
durchs Kreuz das Wort bewährt erfunden.
     through the cross the word is forged proven.
Drum soll ein Christ zu allen Stunden
     Therefore a Christian should at every hour
im Kreuz und Not geduldig sein.
     persevere midst cross and distress.
 
6. CORALE
Das wollst du, Gott, bewahren rein
     Would that you, God, safeguard clear
für diesem arg'n Geschlechte;
     of this wrongful generation;
und lass uns dir befohlen sein,
     and let us follow your command
daß sichs in uns nicht flechte.
     that nothing might entangle us.
Der gottlos Hauf sich umher findt,
     The godless horde is all around,
wo solche lose Leute sind
     wherever such wanton people are
in deinem Volk erhaben.
     elevated among your people.


_______________________________________________________
COMPOSED: June 18, 1724 (Leipzig) for the 2nd Sunday after Trinity
LIBRETTIST:  unknown;  based on the hymn by Martin Luther (1524),drawn largely from Psalm 12
TRANSLATION: Tobin Schmuck, 2012 © Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, NYC
Use by permission only, please. office@bachvespersnyc.org