BWV 393

Original source: Chorale, O Welt, sieh hier dein Leben, BWV 393
Chorale Text: O Welt, sieh hier dein Leben*, by Paul Gerhardt (1647)
Tune: O Welt, ich muss dich lassen, Anon. c.1505, based on a 15th c. secular melody (Zahn 2293b)
First Performance: Unknown*
Appearance in Early Collections (Key): Riemenschneider 275; Breitkopf 275; Dietel 57; AmB 46II p.269
Other Harmonizations: BWVs 13.6, 44.7, 97.9, 244.10, 244.37, 245.11, 392, 394, 395


This chorale survives without text. The text that appears here is the one provided by editors of the Bach Gesellschaft Ausgabe (BGA).

Speculation regarding liturgical occasion: Smend suggests that this setting served as the 7th movement of the Mark Passion (BWV 247) using the 4th verse of Ich, ich und meine Sünden. (See NBA III/2.1 KB, p.62 or III/2.2 KB, p.284)

Parallel fifths: Measure 5 contains consecutive fifths in contrary motion between the alto (E–A) and bass (A–D). In addition, two more instances of parallel perfect intervals occurs in the Dietel version of this chorale, which is considered a variant setting. (See below) In measure 5, Dietel has A–B quarters on beats 1–2 rather than C#–B, creating parallel octaves with the soprano. In measure 12, Dietel has C#–F# eighths rather than E–D#, creating parallel fifths with the soprano (C#–B). For a complete account of consecutive fifths and octaves in the Bach chorales, see "Consecutive Fifths & Octaves in the Bach Chorales" featured on the Articles & Research page.

bach– by Luke Dahn. Copyright 2017.