There is no composer initially credited with composing this movement, but part of the manuscript was in J.S. Bach’s handwriting, and that is why we attribute it to him today.
Written in 1712, Ich lasse dich nicht was written during a time where motets were falling out of fashion. Bach wrote these type of motets specifically to be performed during the mass (Christian church service) in response of the gospel texts. This piece is a text from Genesis and could be programmed for a special service, such as a funeral.
I am a firm believer that knowing what you are singing about and thinking about it as you are singing enhances your musicality. We actually did the hard work for you, so transfer this translation into your music:
Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn I will not let you go, until you bless me.
Mein Jesu, ich lasse, ich lasse dich nicht My Jesus, I let, I will not let you go
Weil du mein Gott und Vater bist, Since you are my God and Father
Dein Kind wirst du verlassen nicht, You will not abandon your child
Du väterliches Herz! You paternal heart
Ich bin ein armer Erdenkloss, I am a poor lump of earth
Auf Erden weiss ich keinen Trost. On earth I know no comfort
Bach uses a lot of repetition in the text, which makes the breath plan complicated in this piece, but you should stick to the general rule of breathing at punctuation and lifting when you do not breathe. I do not suggest copying exactly what a choir director or friend says to do, but finding what works best for you. Limiting your breaths, while still observing the commas maintains the sense of legato and long lines.
Find your commas in each phrase and ask yourself three questions before placing a breath mark:
- Does the comma come in the middle of a phrase? If so, you have the option to lift or breathe, depending on the length of the phrase and your own breath control.
- Is the comma close to another comma? If so choose to lift on one and breathe on the other
- Does the comma occur with too little time to breathe? If so, lift there and try finding a rest to breathe on that gives you more time to reset your breath.
Part II of this post will be all about the fugue section – Page 5 – to the end!