As was the case for movement 48, this movement too is scored for bass, strings and chorus. This time, however, the chorus (SATB) are given the words and melody of a chorale – divided up and delivered a line at a time. This chorale (Jesus, der du warest tot) is the thirty-fourth stanza of the same hymn used for number 20. The role of the chorus changes from protagonists and angry Jews and soldiers, to that of faithful believers. The words sung by the bass soloist are from Brockes’s passion libretto. The bass’s line is accompanied very simply by continuo and, on this occasion, the harmony Bach provides for the chorale melody is very simple and contemplative. The bass asks a series of questions. The chorus do not answer these questions, but instead offer a prayer to Christ.



with chorale

Mein teurer Heiland, laß dich fragen,

My dear saviour, I ask the question,

  Chorus Jesu, der du warest tot Jesus, who was dead,
  Bass da du nunmehr ans Kreuz geschlagen und selbst gesagt; Es ist vollbracht, bin ich vom Sterben frei gemacht? as you have been on the cross and said yourself; it is finished, am I now freed from death?
  Chorus in der letzten Todesnot
nirgend mich hinwende
in the final agony of death
there is nowhere I can turn
  Bass Kann ich durch deine Pein und Sterben das Himmelreich ererben?
Ist aller Welt Erlösung da?
Can I inherit the kingdom of heaven through your suffering and death?
Is this redemption for all the world?

als zu dir, der mich versühnt, 
O du lieber Herre!

but to you, who has saved me,
you, dear Lord!

  Bass Du kannst vor Schmerzen zwar nichts sagen, You can say nothing more because of your pain,
  Chorus Gib mir nur, was du verdient, Just grant me what you have earned,
  Bass doch neigest du das Haupt und sprichst stillschweigend; ja, ja. yet you bow your head and pronounce in silence; yes, yes.
  Chorus mehr ich nicht begehre! I cannot desire more!

Again, Bach deviates from St John’s Gospel for a moment, and includes the following text. It comes from St Matthew’s Gospel (28:51-52) where it occurs at the very same point in the story. In both passion settings there are similarities about the setting of this passage, with each containing fast and furious descending scales and aggressive tremolando in the cello. 



Und siehe da, der Vorhang im Tempel zerriß in zwei Stück von oben an bis unten aus. Und die Erde erbebete, und die Felsen zerrissen, und die Gräber täten sich auf, und stunden auf viel Leiber der Heiligen. 

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints which slept arose and went into the holy city.

Here follows the second of the two arioso (accompanied) recitatives. The words of numbers 62 and 63 are again from Brockes’s passion libretto. Scored for flutes, oboes da caccia and d’amore, and strings, the orchestral colour of this movement and the texture generated by this combination of instruments are features not yet heard in the work. 



Arioso recitative

Mein Herz, indem die ganze Welt bei Jesu Leiden gleichfalls leidet, die Sonne sich in Trauer kleidet, der Vorhang reißt, der Fels zerfällt, die Erde bebt, die Gräber spalten, weil sie den Schöpfer sehn erkalten, was willst du deines Ortes tun?

My heart, while the whole world suffers as Jesus suffers, the sun is clothed in sorrow, the curtain is rent asunder, the rock-face crumbles, the earth trembles, the graves are torn open, because they see the creator grow cold, what will you do for your part?