The eight-part Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf
is the only motet of the six that can be assigned with certainty to a particular occasion: it was written for the funeral of J H Ernesti, Rector of St Thomas’s School, on 24 October 1729. Its structure is not unlike that of ‘Komm, Jesu, komm!’ in that it divides into two movements: the first, subdivided into three contrasted sections marked by changes of time, is a setting of Romans 8, verses 26 and 7, while the second is a simple setting of verse 3 of Luther’s chorale ‘Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott’. The musical style, however, is much more modern. The first section of the first movement, for instance, is in the polychoral motet style, but uses a lively 3/8 metre and has a main theme that returns in fragments in the manner of a concerto ritornello theme. A set of original doubling instrumental parts, for strings and woodwind, survives for this work.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1990