This chorale marks the end of the palindrome (A2). Bach’s symmetry has reached its conclusion. This is the third stanza of a hymn for the dying by Valerius Herberger (1562-1627). It was written for victims of the Silesian plague in 1613, and published in Leipzig in 1614. The melody is by Melchior Teschner (1584-1635) and will be familiar to churchgoers as the hymn tune St Theodulph (commonly used on Palm Sunday for the hymn All glory, laud, and honour). 




In meines Herzens Grunde,

dein Nam und Kreuz allein

funkelt all Zeit und Stunde, 

drauf kann ich frölich sein.

Erschein mir in dem Bilde

zu Trost in meiner Not, 

wie du, Herr Christ, so milde

dich hast geblut’ zu Tod! 

In the depths of my heart,

your name and cross sparkles

every moment and hour,

therefore I can be joyful.

Show your image to me

to comfort me in my distress,

as you, Lord Christ, so meekly

bled to death.

In this section, (specifically movement 55) in which Christ’s clothing is distributed amongst his captors, John includes a quotation from the Old Testament (Psalm 22:18. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture). In 54 the Alberti bass figuration in the cello and bass lines of the chorus has been likened to the rattling of dice in a vessel. The music above the bass line is elaborate, and again based on the ritornello principle, with invertible counterpoint, imitation between the parts, and repetition of the opening melodic material. For the Old Testament quotation, Bach slows the music down – a feature he uses several times in the St Matthew Passion. The music for numbers 53-55, like the garment, is seamless.



Die Kriegsknechte aber, da sie Jesum gekreuziget hatten, nahmen seine Kleider und machten vier Teile, einem jeglichen Kriegesknechte sein Teil, dazu auch den Rock. Der Rock aber war ungenähet, von oben an gewürket durch und durch. Da sprachen sie untereinander:

The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part, and also his coat. Now his coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves: 

54 Chorus “Lasset uns den nicht zerteilen, sondern darum losen, wes er sein soll.”  “Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.”
55 Evangelist

Auf daß erfüllet würde die Schrift, die da saget:

"Sie haben meine Kleider unter sich geteilet und haben über meinen Rock das Los geworfen.”

Solches taten die Kriegesknechte. Es stund aber bei dem Kreuze Jesu seine Mutter und seiner Mutter Schwester, Maria, Kleophas Weib, und Maria Magdalena. Da nun Jesus seine Mutter sahe und den Jünger dabei stehen, den er lieb hatte, spricht er zu seiner Mutter:

That the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith: 

“They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture did they cast lots.”

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother:

  Christ “Weib, siehe, das ist dein Sohn!” “Woman, behold thy son!”
  Evangelist Darnach spricht er zu dem Jünger: Then saith he to the disciple:
  Christ “Siehe, das ist deine Mutter!” “Behold thy mother!”