The very short recitative prepares us for the soprano aria which follows it.



Simon Petrus aber folgete Jesu nach und ein ander Jünger.

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple.

The gentle cyclical undulating motif in the obbligato flute, present throughout no. 13, is suggestive of the notion of following. The shape of this motif (opening, as it does on a rising fourth) has been hinted at melodically in the shape of the line which is no. 8. The persistent sequences in the flute promote the idea of following, or at least of continuity, and when the soprano enters the flute takes up the role of imitator. This aria is possibly the most cheerful in the entire work. Eighteenth-century audiences would have expected the meaning of the words to be reflected in the music somehow. Bach obliges as each utterance of the opening words in this movement is preceded by an identical motif in the continuo, and followed by the same motif in the flute, an idea which very clearly portrays the idea of running after somebody. The text is thought to have been written by Bach himself.  

Musical Fragment: Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten




Ich folge dir gleichfalls mit freudigen Schritten, und lasse dich nicht, mein Leben, mein Licht.

Befördre den Lauf und höre nicht auf, selbst an mir zu ziehen, zu schieben, zu bitten!

I follow you in the same way with joyful steps, and do not leave you, my life, my light.

Speed me on my way and do not cease drawing me to you, pushing me on, entreating me!

The high pitch which Bach selects for this chorale, and the spacing of the voices, make for a perfectly measured dissonance on the first cadence of each stanza, coinciding respectively with the words geschlagen (beaten) and Sünden (sins). The words are stanzas three and four of a hymn by Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), and were published in Leipzig in 1647. The melody is by the Netherlander Henry Isaac (1445-1517) and originally accompanied secular words.




Wer hat dich so geschlagen, mein Heil, und dich mit Plagen, so übel zugericht’? 

Du bist ja nicht ein Sünder, 

wie wir und unsre Kinder,

von Missetaten weißt du nicht.

Ich, ich und meine Sünden,

die sich wie Körnlein finden des Sandes an dem Meer,

die haben dir erreget das Elend, das dich schläget,

und das betrübte Marterheer. 

Who has beaten you, my saviour,

and so cruelly tormented you?

For you are not a sinner,

as we and our children are,

you know nothing of evil deeds.

I, I and my sins,

which are as grains of sand at the sea

have caused the misery which afflicts you,

and the dismal multitude of torments.