St Mark Passion, BWV 247

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The St Mark Passion (German : Markus-Passion), BWV 247, is a lost Passion setting by Johann Sebastian Bach, first performed in Leipzig on Good Friday, 23 March 1731 and again, in a revised version, in 1744.[ not verified in body ] Though Bach's music is lost, the libretto by Picander is still extant, and from this, the work can to some degree be reconstructed.



Unlike Bach's earlier existing passions ( St John Passion and St Matthew Passion ), the Markus-Passion is probably a parody—it recycles previous works. The St Mark Passion seems to reuse virtually the whole of the Trauer Ode Laß, Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl, BWV 198, [1] along with the two arias from Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54. In addition, two choruses from the St Mark Passion were reused in the Christmas Oratorio. This leaves only a couple of missing arias, which are taken from other Bach works when reconstructions are attempted. However, since Bach's recitative is lost, most reconstructions use the recitatives composed for a Markus-Passion attributed to Reinhard Keiser, a work which Bach himself performed on at least two occasions, which gives a certain authenticity to things, although it could be viewed as somewhat disrespectful to Keiser's work. However, Keiser's setting starts slightly later than Bach's, which requires a small amount of composition on the part of the reconstructor.

Bach's St. Mark Passion was first performed in Leipzig on Good Friday, 23 March 1731. Written under the pseudonym Picander, Christian Friedrich Henrici's libretto survives in a 1732 poetry collection. [2] The Markus-Passion is a modest setting, adding to Mark chapters 14 and 15 only eight free verse arias and 16 hymn stanzas. The chorales assume greater weight owing to their higher proportional use: 16 of the 46 movements are chorales in the St Mark Passion, whereas only 13 of 68 numbers are chorales in the St Matthew Passion. Five of the Markus-Passion texts appear to match the 1727 Trauer Ode, other likely parodies include BWV 54 and BWV 120a. However, no musical material remains for the Gospel texts or turba choruses. Further, we have no knowledge of the keys and orchestration which Bach used. While the libretto specifies which chorale melodies were used, Bach's harmonizations remain uncertain.


According to Bach Digital, the Passion was scored for SATB singers, two traversos, two oboes, two oboes d'amore, a string section consisting of two violin parts and two viola parts, organ and continuo, possibly complemented by two violas da gamba and two lutes. [3]

Legend to the table
1#Number of movement according to libretto at Bach Digital website, [4] followed, between brackets, by the movement number according to Heighes's reconstruction (1995). [5]
2IncipitText incipit of the movement. [4]
3DescriptionDescription of the movement. [4]
4Text originOrigin of the text.
5≈BWV?Conjectured relation to other known compositions by J. S. Bach, and other pieces used in reconstructions; Chorale settings outside the BWV 253–438 range indicate settings of the hymn tune included in other known larger works not necessarily reused in or composed for BWV 247; BC D 5, or BNB I/K/2, refers to Bach's second Leipzig version of the Jesus Christus ist um unsrer Missetat willen verwundet pasticcio, containing a setting of St Mark's Passion text. [6]
Structure of St Mark Passion, BWV 247
#IncipitDescriptionText origin≈BWV?
(↑up↑)— Part I —
1 (1)Geh Jesu, geh zu deiner Pein!ChorusPicander 1732, p. 49 198/01 [3]
2 (2)Und nach zween Tagen warRecitative (ev.) Mark 14:01–02a
3 (2)Ja nicht auf das FestChorus (turba) Mark 14:02b
4 (2)Und da er zu Bethanien warRecitative (ev.) Mark 14:03–04a
5 (2)Was soll doch dieser Unrat?Chorus (turba) Mark 14:04b–05a
6 (2)Und murreten über sieRecitative (ev.) Mark 14:05b
7 (3)Sie stellen uns wie Ketzern nachChorale"Wo Gott der Herr", v. 4 256 [7] 257 [8] 258 [9]
8 (4)Jesus aber sprachRecitative (ev., Christ) Mark 14:06–11
9 (5)Mir hat die Welt trüglich gerichtChorale"In dich hab ich gehoffet", v. 5 [10] 52/6 [11] 244/32 [12] 248/46 [13]
10 (6)Und am ersten TageRecitative (ev.) Mark 14:12a
11 (6)Wo willst du, dass wir hingehenChorus (turba) Mark 14:12b
12 (6)Und er sandte seiner JüngerRecitative (ev., Christ) Mark 14:13–19
13 (7)Ich, ich und meine SündenChorale"O Welt, sieh hier dein Leben", v. 4 393 [14]
14 (8)Er antwortete, und sprach zuRecitative (ev., Christ) Mark 14:20–25
15 (9)Mein Heiland, dich...Aria (alto)Picander 1732, p. 52 198/05 [3]
16 (10)Und da sie den LobgesangRecitative (ev., Christ) Mark 14:26–28 BC D 5/02a
17 (11)Wach auf, o MenschChorale"O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort", v. 13 397 [15]
18 (12)Petrus aber sagte zu ihmRecitative (ev., Peter, Christ) Mark 14:29–34 BC D 5/02b, /04a
19 (13)Betrübtes Herz sei wohlgemutChorale"Betrübtes Herz", v. 1 428 [16] 430 [17]
20 (14)Und ging ein wenig fürbaßRecitative (ev., Christ) Mark 14:35–36 BC D 5/04b
21 (15)Mach's mit mir GottChorale"Mach's mit mir Gott", v. 1 377 [18]
21 (16)Und kam und fand sie schlafendRecitative (ev., Christ) Mark 14:37–42 BC D 5/06a
22 (17)Er kommt, er kommtAria (soprano)Picander 1732, p. 55 198/03 [3]
23 (18)Und alsbald, da er noch redeteRecitative (ev., Judas) Mark 14:43–45 BC D 5/06b
24 (19)Falsche WeltAria (alto)Picander 1732, p. 56 54/1 [3]
25 (20)Die aber legten ihre HändeRecitative (ev., Christ) Mark 14:46–49 BC D 5/08a
26 (21)Jesu, ohne MissetatChorale"Jesu Leiden", v. 8 [19] 159/5 [20] 245/14, [21] /28 [22]
27 (22)Und die Jünger verließen ihnRecitative (ev.) Mark 14:50–52 BC D 5/08b(a)
28 (23)Ich will hier bei dir stehenChorale"O Haupt voll Blut", v. 6 270 [23] 271 [24]
(↑up↑)— Part II —
29 (24)Mein Tröster ist nicht mehrAria (tenor)Picander 1732, p. 57 198/08 [3]
30 (25)Und sie führeten JesumRecitative (ev., testes) Mark 14:53–59 BC D 5/08b(b)–08d(a)
31 (26)Was MenschenkraftChorale"Wo Gott der Herr", v. 2 248/28 [3] 257 [8]
32 (27)Und der Hohe PriesterRecitative (ev., high pr.) Mark 14:60–61a BC D 5/08d(b)
33 (28)Befiehl du deine WegeChorale"Befiehl du deine Wege", v. 1 270 [23] 271 [24]
34 (29)Da fragte ihn der Hohe PriesterRecitative (ev., high pr., Chr., choir) Mark 14:61b–65 BC D 5/08d(c), /10a–c
35 (30)Du edles AngesichteChorale"O Haupt voll Blut", v. 2 271 [24]
36 (31)Und Petrus war daniedenRecitative (ev., ancilla, Pet., choir) Mark 14:66–72 BC D 5/10c–e
37 (32)Herr, ich habe missgehandeltChorale"Herr, ich habe", v. 1 331 [25]
38 (33)Und bald am MorgenRecitative (ev., Pilate, Chr., choir) Mark 15:01–14 BC D 5/14, /16a–d
39 (34)Angenehmes Mordgeschrei!Aria (soprano)Picander 1732, p. 62 248/45 [3]
39 (35)Pilatus aber gedachteRecitative (ev., choir) Mark 15:15–19 BC D 5/19a–c
40 (36)Man hat dich sehr hartChorale"Jesu, meines Lebens Leben", v. 4
41 (37)Und da sie ihn verspottet hattenRecitative (ev.) Mark 15:20–24 BC D 5/19c, /21, /23
42 (38)Das Wort sie sollen lassenChorale"Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott", v. 4 302 [26]
43 (39)Und es war um die dritte StundeRecitative (ev., choir, Chr.) Mark 15:25–34 BC D 5/23, /25a–e, /27a–c
44 (40)Keinen hat Gott verlassenChorale"Keinen hat Gott verlassen", v. 1 369 [27]
45 (41)Und Etliche, die dabei stundenRecitative (ev., choir, miles) Mark 15:35–37 BC D 5/27c–e
46 (42)Welt und Himmel nehmtAria (bass)Picander 1732, p. 66 7/2 [3]
47 (43)Und der Vorhang im TempelRecitative (ev., centurio) Mark 15:38–45 BC D 5/21, /33
48 (44)O! Jesu duChorale"O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid", v. 8 404 [28]
49 (45)Und er kaufte ein LeinwandRecitative (ev.) Mark 15:46–47 BC D 5/35
50 (46)Bei deinem GrabChorusPicander 1732, p. 67 198/10 [3] 244a/7 [3]

Gospel parts

BWV 247 contains the text of the entire chapters 14 and 15 of the Gospel of Mark, sung as recitatives, and turba choruses.


Turba choruses


Free poetry

Opening and closing choral movements


Reconstructed versions

Hellmann (1964) – Koch (1999)

Diethard Hellmann completed a reconstruction in 1964 based on parodies and chorale harmonization choices only. The English premiere took place in Oxford, July 1965. A 1976 edition includes additional choruses to be used with a spoken delivery of the gospel text. Carus-Verlag published Hellmann's work with newly composed recitatives and arias by Johannes Koch in 1999. The orchestration for the work matches that of BWV 198.[ citation needed ]


Heighes (1995)

Simon Heighes's reconstruction is completed in 1995. [5]


Gomme (1997)

Andor Gomme edited a 1997 reconstruction published by Bärenreiter that utilizes BWV 198 and choruses from BWV 204, 216, 120a, and 54. The recitatives and turba choruses are drawn from a St Mark Passion traditionally attributed to Reinhard Keiser (1674–1739), which Bach himself adapted for use in Weimar in 1713.[ citation needed ]


Kelber (1998)

In 1998 Rudolf Kelber reconstructed the St Mark Passion as a pasticcio: he completed Bach's fragments using arias from cantatas by Bach, recitatives by Keiser, motives by Telemann and his own additions.[ citation needed ]

Koopman (1999)

In 1999, Ton Koopman presented a reconstruction that does not utilize BWV 198, but instead draws on Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe, BWV 25 (opening chorus) and Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei, BWV 179 (turba choruses) and his own freely composed recitatives.[ citation needed ]

Recordings conducted by Ton Koopman:

Boysen (2010)

In 2010, harpsichordist and conductor Jörn Boysen made a new version utilizing choruses and arias from BWV 198 and an aria from BWV 54. He composed all missing recitatives, turba choirs and one aria. This version has been performed in the Netherlands and Germany in 2011 and 2012. [36]

Grychtolik (2010)

In 2010, Alexander Ferdinand Grychtolik made a first edition of the late version of the St Mark Passion (from 1744) as a stylistically consistent reconstruction, published by Edition Peters. The text of this unknown later version was discovered in 2009 in Saint Petersburg. In this version, Bach added two arias and he made small changes in Picander's text. [37]

Eichelberger (2015)

In 2015, Organist Freddy Eichelberger offered a second reconstruction of the 1744 version based on the BWV 198 and composed all missing recitatives, turba choirs and some chorals. This version was written in collaboration with the musicologist Laurent Guillo, the editor Sharon Rosner and Itay Jedlin who performed it with Le Concert Étranger at the 2015 Ambronay Festival, concert filmed by French national television.[ citation needed ]

Wilson-Dickson (2016)

In 2016, composer and conductor Andrew Wilson-Dickson made a new stylistically coherent reconstruction using BWV 198, 7, 54 and 171, and newly composed music for the missing recitatives and turba choruses. The work was premiered by the Welsh Camerata and Welsh Baroque Orchestra at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff, on Good Friday, 2016. [38]

Fischer (2016)

In 2015, church musician Andreas Fischer reconstructed the Markus Passion by parodying only works by Bach. He paid attention to the proximity of text and music and avoided using music from the known passions, so as not to produce a "small" St. Matthew Passion. Ortus (Berlin, Germany) published this work in the year 2016. [39]

Koolstra (2017)

In 2017 the Dutch organist and harpsichordist Robert Koolstra made a new reconstruction based on the 1744 booklet and BWV 198, 13, 54 and 55.[ citation needed ] Robert Koolstra composed the recitatives but he used models from Bach's other passions.[ citation needed ] He also added a new chorus Keinen hat Gott verlassen: Picander wrote Chorus instead of Choral here in the 1744 booklet.[ citation needed ] In this version the drama is the most important element.[ citation needed ] Koolstra firmly believes that St Mark's gospel text and Picander's poetry are intimately connected, and served as sources for one dramatic piece of art.[ citation needed ] The work was premiered by the Luthers Bach Ensemble in March 2017.[ citation needed ] The score and parts are available on the IMSLP website. [40]

Savall (2018)

On 30 March 2018, Jordi Savall produced a reconstruction which aired on BBC Radio 3. [41] [42]

New setting to music of Picander's 1731 libretto (2019-2020)

In 2019-2020, Swiss and German musician and composer Nikolaus Matthes (*1981) has produced the first integral setting to music of Picander's libretto since Bach in 1731, and the first contemporary one completely following the baroque style. [43] The composition, «Markuspassion», follows the 1731 version of the libretto, including the two arias from the 1744 version.

The piece will be first performed in March 2023 in four Swiss cities, with its premiere on the 23rd March 2023, right on the day 292 years after the first performance of Bach's own St Mark passion on Good Friday, 23rd March 1731 in Leipzig.

Related Research Articles

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Throughout his life as a musician, Johann Sebastian Bach composed cantatas for both secular and sacred use. His church cantatas are cantatas which he composed for use in the Lutheran church, mainly intended for the occasions of the liturgical year.

<i>Christmas Oratorio</i>

The Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, is an oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach intended for performance in church during the Christmas season. It was written for the Christmas season of 1734 and incorporates music from earlier compositions, including three secular cantatas written during 1733 and 1734 and a largely lost church cantata, BWV 248a. The date is confirmed in Bach's autograph manuscript. The next performance was not until 17 December 1857 by the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin under Eduard Grell. The Christmas Oratorio is a particularly sophisticated example of parody music. The author of the text is unknown, although a likely collaborator was Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander).

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<i>Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm</i>, BWV 171

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St Mark Passion is a Passion, written in baroque style by Nikolaus Matthes (*1981) between April 2019 and April 2020. It describes the passion, death and sepulture of Jesus. It contains the entire text of chapters 14 and 15 of the Gospel of Mark.


  1. Wilhelm Rust. "Vorwort" (Preface) of Bach-Gesellschaft Ausgabe, Vol. 20.2: Kammermusik für Gesang – Band 2. Bärenreiter, 1873, pp. VIII–IX. (in German)
  2. Picander (=Christian Friedrich Henrici). Ernst-Schertzhaffte und Satyrische Gedichte, Volume III. Leipzig: Joh. Theod. Boetii Tochter (1732; 2nd printing 1737), pp. 49–69. (in German)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Work 00313 at Bach Digital website, 5 July 2017
  4. 1 2 3 St Mark Passion (lyrics) at Bach Digital website
  5. 1 2 Eduard van Hengel. Johann Sebastian Bach: Markus-Passion (BWV 247, 1731), in de reconstructie van Simon Heighes (1995) at , 2010. (in Dutch)
  6. Work 01680 at Bach Digital website, 17 October 2015
  7. BWV 256 at website
  8. 1 2 BWV 257 at website
  9. BWV 258 at website
  10. Gottfried Vopelius (editor). Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch . Leipzig: Christoph Klinger, 1682, pp. 668–670.
  11. BWV 52.6 at website
  12. BWV 244.32 at website
  13. BWV 248(5).46(4) at website
  14. BWV 393 at website
  15. BWV 397 at website
  16. BWV 428 at website
  17. BWV 430 at website
  18. BWV 377 at website
  19. Gottfried Vopelius (editor). Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch . Leipzig: Christoph Klinger, 1682, pp. 165–168.
  20. BWV 159.5 at website
  21. BWV 245.14 at website
  22. BWV 245.28 at website
  23. 1 2 BWV 270 at website
  24. 1 2 3 BWV 271 at website
  25. BWV 331 at website
  26. BWV 302 at website
  27. BWV 369 at website
  28. BWV 404 at website
  29. Passione secondo San Marco (DBX1477) and Passione secondo San Marco (DBX2510) at
  30. Michael Cookson (2010). "Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) St. Mark Passion, BWV 247". Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  31. Johann Sebastian Bach: Markus-Passion BWV 247 Rondeau Productions
  32. Markus Passion (DBX4279) and Bach Edition: Markus Passion, BWV 247 (DBX6091) at
  33. Bach: St Mark Passion (DBX5292) at
  34. Markus-Passion (DBX5694) at
  35. Johann Sebastian Bach: Markus Passion 1731 (DBD0034) at
  36. Examples can be found on youtube: recitatives: J. Boysen. "Und am ersten Tage der süßen Brodte". and an aria: J. Boysen. "Angenehmes Mordgeschrei".
  37. Schablina, Tatjana. "Texte zur Music" in St. Petersburg – Weitere Funde, in: Bach-Jahrbuch 2009, Knabenkantorei Basel is the first Choir to record this rekonstruction p. 11–48.
  38. "JS Bach's St Mark Passion - Welsh Camerata Chamber Choir". Immediate Media. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  39. "om212 Johann Sebastian Bach, Markus-Passion". Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  40. Markuspassion, BWV 247 § Reconstruction (BWV 247R) : Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  42. "BBC Radio 3 - Afternoon Concert, Music for Good Friday".
  43. "Markuspassion (N. Matthes) – Website".

Further reading