What is the World to Me

By J. S. Bach (Arr. Barbara Harbach)

Wasfrag ich nach der Welt from Cantata No. 129

Catalogue Number: H402

What is the World to Me or Was frag ich nach der Welt is an arrangement based on two cantatas of J. S. Bach. The music itself is from Cantata 129, Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott, the fifth movement (chorale for chorus and instruments), written for Trinity Sunday, June 16, 1726. Cantata 129 was scored for soprano, alto, and bass soloists, four-voice chorus, three trumpets, timpani, flute, two oboes, Oboe d’amour, strings, solo violin, and continua. The text most often used with this movement is excerpted from the fourth movement (for chorus) of Cantata 64, Sehet, welch eine Liebe hat uns der Vater erzeiget, written for the third day of Christmas, December 27, 1723. One popular English translation is by August Crull (1845-1923).

This festive and spirited arrangement for brass quartet and two-manual organ and pedal replaces the choral parts with the brass quartet, and the orchestral parts with the organ. As Bach intended, the first part features chorale phrases broken by instrumental counterpoint. This is followed by a statement of the chorale for the brass alone. The work ends with a repeat of the first section. The slurs and dynamic markings are standardized in the organ score and added to the trumpet parts for phrasing and clarity.


Brass & Organ