Johann Jacob Rambach, Theologian and Writer

Johann Jacob Rambach (1693-1735) first completed an apprenticeship as a joiner before he turned to theology. Born in Halle, Rambach published works on hermeneutics and various collections of sermons. But a further 360 of his song texts have also survived. In fact, many composers drew upon his publication Geistliche Poesien (1720) for their cantatas. The book contains cantata texts for all Sundays and holy days. In his foreword, Rambach describes his texts as "sacred poems to touch the heart and kindle devotion" (p. 11). His texts, which reflect Pietist themes, were set to music up through the late eighteenth century.

Rambach is listed in the RISM online catalog over 250 times as a text author. Among the 38 composers are familiar and less familiar faces such as (in order of frequency) Gottfried August Homilius, Wolfgang Nicolaus Haueisen, Johann Balthasar Freislich, Johann Georg Geyer, Johann Georg Hoffmann, Georg Benda, Johann Conrad Seibert, and someone by the name of Kur(t)z.

Julian Heigel offers an overview of all known cantatas that use Rambach's texts in his recent publication "Vergnügen und Erbauung": Johann Jacob Rambachs Kantatentexte und ihre Vertonungen (Halle: Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen Halle, 2014). This book has been cited in RISM as HeigelR 2014. In his book, Heigel differentiates between works that have been preserved to this present day and works that have not survived. Heigel names 184 extant cantatas and 53 individual movements that use texts by Rambach. If you add the number of extant cantatas together with the settings that are only known through written accounts, you get the nice number of ca. 500 cantatas that were written using Rambach's texts. No complete annual cycles of cantatas by one composer survive, but more than 20 cantatas each that use texts by Rambach can be found by Freislich, Haueisen, and Kur(t)z.


Image: Title page from Rambach's Geistliche Poesien (1720), from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München (D-Mbs, P.o.germ. 1118 n)



Category: New publications

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