Here begins the narrative of Peter’s denial of Christ. Meanwhile Christ is subjected to questioning by Annas. Peter’s phrase Ich bins nicht is repeated in no. 18 where it is identical but, as if for emphasis and insistence, a tone higher. The melisma on wärmeten (warmed) also stands out as the rest of the narrative is entirely syllabic. The tessitura of Christ’s speech in the middle of this movement becomes increasingly higher in pitch – as if suggesting exasperation.



Derselbige Jünger war dem Hohenpriester bekannt und ging mit Jesu hinein in des Hohenpriesters Palast. Petrus aber stund draußen für der Tür. Da ging der andere Jünger, der dem Hohenpriester bekannt war, hinaus und redete mit der Türhüterin und führete Petrum hinein. Da sprach die Magd, die Türhüterin, zu Petro:

That disciple was known unto the High Priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the High Priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple which was known unto the High Priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter:

  Maid “Bist du nicht dieses Menschen Jünger einer?”  “Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples?”
  Evangelist Er sprach: He saith:
  Peter  “Ich bins nicht.” “I am not.”
  Evangelist Es stunden aber die Knechte und Diener und hatten ein Kohlfeu’r gemacht (denn es war kalt) und wärmeten sich. Petrus aber stund bei ihnen und wärmete sich. Aber der Hohenpriester fragte Jesum um seine Jünger und um seine Lehre. Jesus antwortete ihm: And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals (for it was cold) and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself. The High Priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him:
  Christ “Ich habe frei, öffentlich geredet für der Welt. Ich habe allezeit gelehret in der Schule und in dem Tempel, da alle Juden zusammenkommen, und habe nichts im Verborgnen geredt. Was fragest du mich darum? Frage die darum, die gehöret haben, was ich zu ihnen geredet habe! Siehe, dieselbigen wissen, was ich gesaget habe.”

“I spake openly to the world.

I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort, and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them! Behold they know what I said!”

  Evangelist Als er aber solches redete, gab der Diener einer, die dabeistunden, Jesu einen Bakkenstreich und sprach: And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck with the palm of his hand saying:
  Officer “Solltest du dem Hohenpriester also antworten?” “Answerest thou the High Priest so?”
  Evangelist Jesus aber antwortete: Jesus answered him:
  Christ “Hab ich übel geredt, so beweise es, daß es böse sei, hab ich aber recht geredt, was schlägest du mich?” “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why smitest thou me?”

Here concludes the narrative of Peter’s denial. Bach repeats the melisma from no. 14 as Peter now ‘warms himself’. The chorus (17), representing the chief priests and Jews, challenges Peter to own up to knowing Christ in a lively and open passage, made the more so by staccato marks which Bach, unusually, puts on his score. This passage has two musical ideas happening simultaneously – one is a short three note motif on the question Bist du Nicht, and the other is a rising passage which sets the entire sentence and is passed fugally from voice to voice, starting at the bottom of the texture with the basses and working upwards. The crowing of the cock is represented by a small and uncharacteristic arpeggio from the continuo (18). Interestingly, and one of only two times that Bach is unfaithful to John’s text, the final verse, the passage in italics, does not appear in St John’s Gospel. It is an (abridged) interpolation from St Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 26:75) which Bach sets to great effect in the St Matthew Passion. We can surmise that Bach could not help himself in taking this tiny artistic licence in using text from St Matthew and did so in order to maximise the dramatic effect of Peter’s downfall by including these words. (A very similar phrase occurs in St Mark’s Gospel (14:72), and St Luke’s Gospel (22:62). John, therefore, is the only evangelist not to refer directly to Peter’s inconsolable distress as a result of his denial.)