This week our curators of the Song of the Day blog are the Artistic Administration staff of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (our next concert, “At Home,” which will take place both at Caramoor and at Merkin Hall, features Caramoor’s 2016 Schwab Vocal Rising Stars). First up is Caramoor’s Managing Director, Paul Rosenblum :
“Bist du bei mir” by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (formerly attributed to J.S. Bach)
I became aware of this beautiful aria only a few years ago, on a recording by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, with Gerald Moore, piano. Yes, I know that everybody else has always known it, just not me. Very popular for weddings and funerals, due to the sentiment of the lyric and the eminent peacefulness of the tune.
Included in the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, of 1725, and therefore assumed to have been written by J. S. Bach, more recent scholarship shows it to be the work of Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel. How fortunate for him that it was copied into her notebook as it has made his name and work familiar to many.
Bist du bei mir, geh ich mit Freuden
zum Sterben und zu meiner Ruh.
Ach, wie vergnügt wär so mein Ende,
es drückten deine schönen Hände
mir die getreuen Augen zu!
If you are with me, then I will go gladly
unto [my] death and to my rest.
Ah, what a pleasant end for me,
if your dear hands be the last I see,
closing shut my faithful eyes to rest!