Recording: North German Radio Chorus, conducted by Günter Jena [DG 449 646-2]

Published 1864.

These two pieces represent the culmination of Brahms’s extensive engagement with contrapuntal choral writing on sacred or quasi-sacred texts in the 1850s and early 1860s.  Having dabbled in liturgical Latin texts, as well as the setting of a complete Psalm, in pieces for his women’s choir, and having set sacred poetry and folk poetry for mixed chorus, he turned to more extensive sacred pieces, to which he attached the designation “motet,” a title with a rich history and a certain level of gravitas.  While J.S. Bach’s German-language Lutheran motets are an obvious model, the use of a cappella choral writing reaches back to the Renaissance.  The fugal techniques used in both pieces are Bach-like, and the extensive use of complex canonical techniques in the second one reflects similar efforts in Op. 30 and Op. 37 (both of which are thought to have been written earlier than these pieces, though published slightly later).  The first motet owes much to the chorale fantasies with which Bach opened most of the cantatas in his second cycle (1724-1725).  The text is the first stanza of a popular Lutheran chorale that formed the basis of Bach’s Cantata 9.  Brahms begins with his own harmonization of the chorale melody, followed by a fugue (really a series of short fugues) in five voices.  The individual lines of the chorale melody are used as “subjects” for each mini-fugue, and each one culminates in a statement of the original chorale melody line in longer notes as a cantus firmus by the first basses (who only have this function).  The use of the cantus firmus was typical of Bach’s chorale fantasies, but the strict use of the chorale melody as a subject for fugal writing was not.  In Bach’s cantatas, the choral parts under the cantus firmus tended to use more free counterpoint.  They also invariably had instrumental accompaniment.  The second motet is even more impressive.  It is a precursor to the great “Warum?” motet written almost 20 years later.  Like that piece, it is divided into four distinct sections, but unlike the later motet (which combines Old and New Testament texts and a chorale verse), it has a unified text from the famous penitential Psalm 51.  The shorter first and third sections are canonical, the first using augmentation and the second using imitation at the distance of a seventh.  The second section is an incredibly dense and sophisticated fugue in four voices that makes liberal use of melodic inversion and stretto (overlapping entries of the fugue subject).  The final section is a grand peroration also based on fugal techniques.  Brahms indicated that the motets are for five-voice choir with divided basses, but the basses are unified in the initial chorale harmonization of the first motet and the fugal second section of the second motet.  There is a brief division of the altos (resulting in six parts) in the third section of the second motet.

Note: The link to the English translation of the text for No. 1 is from Emily Ezust’s site at  For the most part, the translation is line-by-line, except where the difference between German and English syntax requires slight alterations to the contents of certain lines.  The German text for all verses of the Luther chorale, the first of which is used in the motet, is also visible in the translation link.  The text below for No. 2 is the from German Luther Bible text used by Brahms.  The King James Version is used as a comparable Reformation-era English text.  Lines are matched as closely as possible.  The versification of Psalms in German Bibles is typically different from the KJV.  In this case, the longer-than-usual attribution (omitted here) is given the verse numbers of 1 and 2 in German Bibles.  The English verses 10-12 are shifted accordingly to 12-14.

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck--Note that alto and tenor clefs are used.)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
No. 1: Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
No. 2: Aus dem 51. Psalm (Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz)

1. Es ist das Heil uns kommen her (Salvation has come to us).  Text by Paul Speratus.  Choral--Fuga à 5, Allegro.  Harmonized Lutheran chorale melody and fugue.  E MAJOR, 4/4 (chorale) and 4/2 [alla breve] (fugue) time.  Chorale in four voices (SATB), fugue in five voices (SATBB).

German Text:
Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
Von Gnad’ und lauter Güte,
Die Werke helfen nimmermehr,
Sie mögen nicht behüten,
Der Glaub’ sieht Jesum Christum an
Der hat g’nug für uns all’ getan,
Er ist der Mittler worden.

English Translation  All 14 German verses of the Speratus chorale text are included, but the translation only includes the first stanza as set by Brahms.

0:00 [m. 1]--Lines 1-2 (Stollen).  The chorale melody is in “bar” form, meaning that lines 1-2 and 3-4 are set to the same music (“Stollen”).  It begins on an upbeat, and Brahms harmonizes it with constantly active lines.  The sopranos carry the melody in slower notes against the moving harmonies.  Brahms indicates that the “Stollen” should be sung forcefully.  The first line ends on A-major (“subdominant”) harmony with a prominent tenor part.  The melody features a prominent D-natural, a lowered leading tone that will play a large role in the fugue.  The second line comes to a rest on a “dominant” (B-major) chord with prominent altos.  As is typical in chorales, the end of each line is marked with a fermata.
0:20 [m. 1]--Lines 3-4 (Stollen).  The same music (4 mm.) is repeated for lines 3-4.
0:37 [m. 5]--Lines 5-7 (Abgesang).  The final three lines are set to contrasting music, called the “Abgesang.”  The lower three parts are less active, without the constant faster motion in all of them.  Line 5 reaches higher in the melody, with mild syncopation in the alto and tenor parts.  It ends on the “dominant” harmony.  Line 6 descends again, coming to rest on the “relative” minor chord (C-sharp minor).  Brahms indicates that the last line should be more subdued, coming to the E-major cadence.  The motion slows down here, with only the basses (who split into two parts at the very end) having a somewhat dynamic line.

Several important structural events happen halfway through the long 4/2 [alla breve] measures.  These are indicated with measure numbers such as m. 55b, etc.
1:13 [m. 11]--Line 1.  The last measure of the chorale (in 4/4) and the first measure of the fugue (in 4/2) are both incomplete, so they are counted as a single measure (m. 10).  The fugue begins with a three-note upbeat in the tenors.  The fugue “subject” is the chorale theme itself sung at a faster tempo.  Immediately after the tenors sing it, the altos enter a fourth higher as the tenors repeat “uns kommen her” a step lower.  The sopranos are next, singing the subject an octave higher than the tenors.  Under the sopranos, the altos and tenors continue their counterpoint, repeating the whole line once (altos) and twice (tenors)  The tenors have a prominent upward leap.  The sopranos and altos repeat “uns kommen her” before the basses enter.
1:26 [m. 14]--The second basses enter with the chorale subject an octave lower than the altos did, following the same pattern.  Above them, the three parts briefly come together in block harmonies and dramatic rests. 
1:30 [m. 16]--The tenors prominently state the subject at the “higher” level introduced by the altos.  At the same time, the sopranos and (second) basses begin to sing together in longer notes in contrary motion against each other, with large leaps in both directions.  The altos, meanwhile, trail behind the tenors at a new level (a fourth above) emphasizing the “subdominant” harmony.  The sopranos break from the basses to descend with the altos and tenors.  The basses hold a low A before sliding up to an arrival on the “dominant” note B. 
1:41 [m. 19]--The sopranos and altos sing “Es ist das Heil” together on a repeated unison B, followed by the tenors and (second) basses on a harmonized sixth.  The first basses have been reserved here to play the role of the cantus firmus.  As the presentation of the line nears its end, they enter, singing it in longer note values.  As they do, the tenors and second basses complete the subject in harmony at the faster level.  The sopranos and altos follow, inverting the end of the subject to a rising line.  As the cantus firmus closes (on F-sharp minor), the sopranos and altos also sing longer notes, leaving the second basses to faster ones.  All the parts then dovetail in a brief downward motion, overlapping with the beginning of line 2.
1:53 [m. 23]--Line 2.  Again, the “subject” matches the melody of the chorale.  The altos begin the presentation of the line, overlapping with the trailing tenors, sopranos, and second basses moving back to E major.  The sopranos directly follow them, a fourth higher as expected.  The alto countersubject is a straightforward harmonization.  The second basses enter next an octave below where the altos had begun.  Above them, the altos continue in a straightforward way, but the sopranos introduce mild syncopation.
2:03 [m. 26]--The tenors enter an octave below where the sopranos had started.  As they do, the other voices continue their counterpoint, which includes a lengthening of the word “Güten.”  The second basses briefly drop out as the altos, then sopranos introduce a descending line that inverts the original chorale melody.  The tenors, then second basses trail behind them, successively abbreviating the line.  A fragment of the descending line is repeated a step higher, sopranos leading tenors and basses (the altos entering in harmony with the tenors).  This leads into the entry of the first basses with the cantus firmus.
2:14 [m. 29]--The first basses enter with the cantus firmus, again the original chorale line in longer notes.  As they do, sopranos and second basses enter in close imitation on the inverted melody.  The altos continue in their own counterpoint that also incorporates descending lines.  As the cantus firmus line comes to an end, the tenors and sopranos have short interjections on repeated E’s using the words “von Gnad.”  The tenors continue in longer notes while the sopranos repeat the interjection.  The altos and second basses continue with longer notes.  The cantus firmus drops out, and the other voices bring the line to a complete close, the sopranos again singing the inverted melody.
2:26 [m. 33]--Line 3.  Since lines 3 and 4 are a repetition of the “Stollen” in the original chorale, the music for line 3 is the same as for line 1.  As at 1:13 [m. 11], the tenors, altos, and sopranos make their entries.  For the repeated text, the word “ja” as a positive interjection is introduced so that “ja nimmermehr” matches the declamation of “uns kommen her” in line 1.  Where “das Heil” had been repeated before in the tenor continuation, a repetition of “nimmer-” from “nimmermehr” is introduced.
2:37 [m. 36]--Entry of second basses against block harmony and dramatic rests, as at 1:26 [m. 14].
2:42 [m. 38]--Tenors trailed by altos, with sopranos and second basses in contrary motion, then arrival on the “dominant” note, as at 1:30 [m. 16].
2:52 [m. 41]--Repeated notes followed by entry of cantus firmus, then inverted melody and overlap with beginning of line 4, as at 1:41 [m. 19].
3:06 [m. 45]--Line 4.  The presentation matches that of line 2.  Alto entry overlapping with end of line 3, followed by sopranos and second basses with entry of mild syncopation, as at 1:53 [m. 23].  There are minor alterations of declamation to accommodate the differing locations of word separation.
3:16 [m. 48]--Tenor entry with counterpoint lengthening “behüten,” then descending inversions of original chorale melody followed by abbreviated descending fragments, as at 2:03 [m. 26].  Against the tenor entry, the altos sing “sie mögen nicht,” which does not correspond to “und lauter Güten” during line 2.  In the fragments, “mögen” is sung on two notes previously used for the single-syllable “und.”
3:27 [m. 51]--Entry of first basses on cantus firmus, with close imitation on inverted melody, as at 2:14 [m. 29].  Short interjections on “sie mögen nicht,” with tenors condensing it to “mög’n” on one note.  The closure of the line is lengthened with additional notes in all parts (including a held full-measure note in the tenors) so that it ends on the downbeat of a measure (m. 55) instead of halfway through (m. 32 in line 2).
3:42 [m. 55b]--Line 5.  With the arrival of the “Abgesang” lines, their original melody is also used for each line in the fugue.  As in lines 1 and 3, the tenors begin, starting halfway through the measure.  They are immediately followed by the altos a fourth above, and then the sopranos come in a fifth above that (an octave above the tenors).  These entries are more systematic than in previous lines, with the tenors and altos maintaining a consistent “countersubject” under the next part’s entry.  That of the tenors is naturally extended.  Following the soprano statement, the sopranos and altos pass “der Glaub” between each other in a descending sequence on falling thirds.  The tenors sing long notes under them.
3:56 [m. 59b]--The second basses finally have their entry on the line’s melody.  The sopranos continue with the “countersubject” previously sung by tenors and altos.  The tenors harmonize the basses a third above, and the altos sing longer notes.  The basses briefly break while the tenors lead the sopranos in a brief imitation.  This imitation is then taken up by the altos leading the (second) basses. 
4:06 [m. 62]--At this point the first basses come in with the cantus firmus in longer notes.  The tenors drop out during the cantus firmus.  The other three voices continue, the second basses inverting the line’s basic direction.  This time, the other voices come to a full cadence with the cantus firmus, and for the first time, the cadence is on the “dominant” key, B major.
4:13 [m. 64]--Line 6.  The presentation of this line is much shorter.  The first group to enter, the altos, does not sing the whole line/subject, cutting off after “genug” (full spelling of “g’nug”).  The sopranos overlap, presenting the whole line.  The altos enter again before they finish, harmonizing with them.  The tenors then similarly come in with an abbreviated line, cut off by the second basses (who sing the whole thing on the “subdominant”), then joining them as they finish.  As this happens, the altos lead the sopranos with a rising line on “für all getan,” derived from the melody.  The basses drop out, and the tenors harmonize the sopranos.  Sequential repetitions of this rising line follow (the altos twice more, sopranos and tenors once).
4:25 [m. 67b]--The tenors hint at a statement of the line/subject, but deviate.  The sopranos, however, sing the whole line.  At this point, the first basses enter with the cantus firmus in long notes.  The upper three parts begin to isolate the rising line from the melody, the altos initially harmonizing the sopranos in their statement of the line.  The tenors come in on the rising line a half-measure later.  As the first basses end their statement of the cantus firmus, the upper three parts gently descend to a half-close in the “relative” minor key, C-sharp minor.  The second basses are absent for this entire passage.
4:35 [m. 70]--Line 7.  The presentation of the final line is completely different from what has gone before.    For the first time, Brahms indicates a volume level other than forte in the fugue, marking all parts piano.  He also indicates a gradual slowing.  The second basses, who have had a long rest, begin the final chorale line, but cut off briefly after “er ist.”  The tenors then imitate this a fifth higher in shorter notes.  The basses move to the shorter notes and continue with “der Mittler,” imitated by the tenors.  At this point, both parts deviate from the original chorale line, gently undulating back and forth, still in imitation.  They do finish the text.  The altos harmonize the basses on a second statement of “er ist” as the tenors complete their line.
4:46 [m. 72]--The sopranos enter in short notes on “er ist.”  They now alternate with the lower three parts, who respond with “der Mittler.”  The sopranos repeat those words, then the other parts move to the gently undulating motion on them.  The sopranos join them with a gentle descent.  There is another arrival on a half-close in C-sharp minor.  The whole line thus far is more chromatic than the rest of the fugue.
4:56 [m. 74]--The first basses make their final cantus firmus entry, finally completing the whole chorale line.  This facilitates a gradual re-establishment of E major.  The second basses harmonize the long notes while the tenors, followed by the altos, enter with the undulating motion.  As the cantus firmus reaches its last note, the sopranos enter with a brief arching line, imitated by the altos.  At this point, the second basses join the long final E of the cantus firmus and the tenors also slow down.
5:11 [m. 76b]--The tenors have one more imitation of the arching line just sung by sopranos and altos.  As they sing it, the other parts settle into their closing harmonies, which strongly imply E minor, rather than major, until the very end.  The unified basses remain anchored to their low octave E, singing the words of the last line.  The upper parts, with the sopranos leading, then descend toward the final cadence.  In the final gesture, the tenors briefly divide, with the upper part introducing a brief rising chromatic motion. The final E-major arrival is warm and serene, and sustained with a fermata.
5:41--END OF MOTET [79 mm.]

2. Aus dem 51. Psalm (From the 51st Psalm).  Four distinct sections, the last two joined without pause.

German Text:
--Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz,
und gib mir einen neuen gewissen Geist
--Verwirf mich nicht von deinem Angesicht
und nimm deinen heiligen Gest nicht von mir.
--Tröste mich wieder mit deiner Hilfe,
und der freudige Geist erhalte mich.
                                --Psalm 51:12-14
English Text:
--Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.
--Cast me not away from thy presence;
And take not thy holy spirit from me.
--Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
                                --Psalm 51:10-12

FIRST SECTION.  Andante moderato.  Binary form, statement and variation with canon by augmentation.  G MAJOR, Cut time [2/2].  Five voices (SATBB), Verse 12 (10).

0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1.  The entire soprano line, with the text of the verse, is stated twice in full, once in each part.  At the same time, the second basses sing the line once with doubled note values, taking the entire two soprano statements to complete the whole thing. This is a sophisticated canon by augmentation.  All parts are marked espressivo.  For the initial statement of verse’s first line, the sopranos work toward a leap up to “Gott,” then come down in an arpeggio.  The altos, tenors, and first basses harmonize the first two measures in block harmonies before the tenors break away in quasi-imitation of the sopranos during the third measure, repeating “schaffe in mir.”  The altos do this a measure later and omit “ein rein Herz.”  The first basses repeat no text, and the second basses sing the first half of the line, doubling the length of the soprano notes two octaves below.  All lower parts extend the line after the sopranos drop out.
0:13 [m. 6]--The sopranos continue with the second line of the verse, beginning after the downbeat, holding a note over a bar line, and repeating “und gib.”  They then expressively arch up and back down, emphasizing the lowered leading tone, F-natural.  The altos, then the first basses, trail behind them.  The second basses continue their long notes, completing the first line.  As they do, the tenors, who have been resting for three and a half measures, come in to echo the sopranos on their rising and falling line.  The upper four parts come to a full cadence, but this overlaps with the second basses, who have already begun the first statement of “und gib” in the second line.
0:29 [m. 13]--Part 2.  The sopranos begin the repetition of their statement, abbreviating the initial “schaffe” to an upbeat that removes the second syllable.  The other parts, however, are not identical to the first statement.  The second basses, of course, continue their longer notes on the second line, including the repetition of “und gib.”  The alto line adds a chromatic half-step motion.  The first basses enter in quasi-imitation.  The tenors have prominent upward motion.  This time there is no text repetition in first line’s initial presentation.  The first basses even cut “ein rein Herz,” while altos and tenors do not sing “Gott.”
0:38 [m. 18]--As the sopranos continue with the second line, using the same notes as in the first statement, the tenors unexpectedly repeat the entire first line, bridging over as the sopranos briefly rest.  The altos and first basses have isolated interjections of “und gib.”  Meanwhile, the second basses are finally bringing their augmented statement to a conclusion.  The altos and tenors gradually settle into patterns like the end of the first statement.  The tenors’ echo of the rising line comes a measure earlier and is a step lower, then the continuation is delayed.  The second basses turn their final low G into a sustained note over the last four measures.  As they do, the first basses add an imitation at the tenors’ original distance and level, then harmonize the tenors.  All parts come together on a full G-major close.

SECOND SECTION.  Andante, espressivo.  Fugue with stretto (overlapping entries) and imitation.  G MINOR, 4/4 time.  Four voices (SATB), Verse 13 (11).

Fugue exposition
0:59 [m. 26]--The tenors quietly present the fugue subject, which is always sung to the first phrase/line of the verse (“Verwirf mich nicht von deinem Angesicht”).  It starts with an initial descending fifth, followed by an arch up and back down.  After the tenor presentation, the altos follow.  Most of their statement is a fifth higher, but it opens with a descending third instead of a fifth.  As they enter, the tenors continue with the rest of the verse, singing on a chromatic descent by half-steps.  After the altos finish the subject, there is an extension with both parts singing the second line (the tenors repeating it).  The alto continuation has downward leaps of a fifth.  The tenors have sequential descents and a broad extension of “heiligen.”
1:22 [m. 34]--The sopranos now state the subject an octave higher than the tenors had done.  The volume is now forte.  While there is no consistent “countersubject,” certain elements do recur in the accompanying voices on the second line of text.  The tenors again have a descending chromatic motion.  The alto counterpoint is more flowing.  Both parts repeat “nicht von mir.”  As they do, leading into the bass entry, the sopranos conclude their subject and leap to the second line of text, moving contrary to the tenors and altos on “nimm” as they sing “mir.”
1:31 [m. 37]--The bass entry is an octave lower than the altos were.  The upper three parts again sing the second line of text (the sopranos repeating “und nimm” before stating the line in full).  The tenors yet again have a descending chromatic line against flowing sopranos and altos.  As the basses complete their statement of the subject, the altos repeat “nicht von mir” and drop out.  The sopranos and tenors repeat “deinen heiligen Geist nicht von mir”” on descending lines.  Meanwhile, the basses have finished their statement of the subject and begin the second line, holding a longer note on “nimm.”  This concludes the fugue exposition.
Continuation of fugue
1:41 [m. 41]--As the basses continue their first statement of the second line, the tenors appear to begin the subject again at the original level, but they deviate and repeat “verwirf mich nicht.”  The volume is again quiet.  The altos, however, follow the aborted tenor entry with a full statement, now on a new level a fourth above the original (on the “subdominant”).  The basses extend their statement of the second line with a repetition of “deinen heiligen Geist” and an arching extension of “nicht.”  The sopranos enter with a descending line on “verwirf micht nicht,” accompanying the alto subject statement.
1:51 [m. 44]--As the altos complete their statement and drop out, all other voices move to the first line.  The basses appear to invert the subject on longer notes, beginning with an upward leap, but quickly deviate and descend on a repetition of the first three words.  The tenors also state those words twice, moving mostly parallel to the bases.  On their second statement, they also appear to invert the subject, beginning with an upward leap, but they continue beyond where the basses had, moving to the rest of the text line.  The sopranos, after another quick reiteration of the words, present a full statement of the fugue subject at the original level.
1:59 [m. 47]--All three parts (the altos still rest) complete the line.  The tenors have a syncopated zigzagging motion on the first syllable of “Angesicht,”, holding notes across strong beats.  The basses continue in their long notes while the sopranos also zigzag up in long-short rhythm.  The volume builds again to forte.
2:05 [m. 49]--The tenors now make a statement of the subject at the original level, but they do not quite complete the original line on “Angesicht.”  Joining them on the first line are the basses, who remain static on the note D, repeating the first three words and not completing the line.  The sopranos and, making their entry after a long rest, the altos, sing the second line.  The sopranos have the familiar chromatic descent that is the closest thing to a “countersubject.”  The altos have flowing ascents.
2:12 [m. 51]--At this point, Brahms introduces both full inversions of the subject and stretto, with voices overlapping on the inverted subject.  The tenors deviate from end of the original subject, making a dissonant upward leap and descent, and the basses begin a chromatic ascent on the second line, while the sopranos descend, completing the second line.  While all this is going on, the altos introduce the first fully inverted presentation of the subject.  A measure later, the sopranos also start the inverted subject a fifth higher.  Then the tenors start one at the original level.  The basses, meanwhile, continue their chromatic ascent on the second line, then move to long notes, repeating “nicht von mir.”  The altos and sopranos complete the inverted subject, but the tenors do not.  The altos arch up and down on “verwirf mich nicht,” during the soprano completion, and the tenors break off with a fast descent on “deinem Angesicht.”
2:22 [m. 55]--The basses drop out and have a long rest.  The tenors and altos begin statements of the inverted subject in very close stretto, the altos following the tenors at a distance of just one beat.  These statements are at a new level, a step above the original (with a leap up to A).  The sopranos, meanwhile, have the chromatic ascent on the second line (in a sense the “inversion” of the original chromatic line).  Both the tenors and the altos elaborate the end of the subject, stretching out the word “Angesicht” with zigzag motion.  The tenors use long-short rhythms and the altos are highly syncopated, holding notes over bar lines and strong beats.  The sopranos move to descending leaps, repeating “deinen heiligen Geist.”
2:35 [m. 59]--The preceding extension has moved the key to the “relative” major, B-flat.  Now Brahms combines three devices, inversion, stretto, and augmentation.  In the major key, the altos state the inverted subject.  The tenors follow them two beats later and a fifth lower, but their statement of the inverted subject doubles the note values.  This is the only augmented statement of the subject in the fugue.  The sopranos, meanwhile, have a highly decorative presentation of the second line, with fast notes and upward sequences.  The altos change the end of the subject, slightly, introducing a new upward skip.  When the altos finish, the tenors are only halfway through their augmented statement.  The basses enter with repeated notes on the first three words.
2:42 [m. 62]--As soon as the altos finish their statement of the inverted subject, the sopranos begin another one a step higher, still in B-flat major.  The tenors are completing their augmented and inverted statement.  The basses hold a long F on “nicht,” then restate the first three words, still on the F, again holding “nicht.”  The altos come in after their statement with repeated notes on the first three words.  The soprano statement concludes at the same time as the augmented tenor statement.  As the basses hold their note again, the altos continue with a striking downward leap of a seventh followed by an upward leap of a sixth on “von deinem.”  They have smaller leaps (a fifth and a fourth) on “Angesicht.”  The sopranos, then the tenors, trail after their completed subjects with repetitions of “deinem Angesicht,” the sopranos with arching leaps.
2:52 [m. 65]--Again at a quiet volume, the key changes again, to E-flat major.  In another trick of counterpoint, Brahms finally returns to the original orientation of the subject, with the basses presenting it.  But he places an inverted statement exactly against it in the altos.  The sopranos briefly rest.  The tenors have a brief rising interjection with a closing downward leap on “verwirf mich nicht” against the simultaneous subject statements.
2:58 [m. 67]--A transition moves the key back to G minor.  The sopranos appear to echo the rising tenor line as the simultaneous subjects in altos and basses conclude, but they make it narrower.  After the subject completion, the basses have a rising leap, and then they and the altos repeat “deinem Angesicht,” again in contrary motion.  As the tenors again come in with the rising line, repeating “verwirf” and adding a large downward leap of a sixth, the altos and basses repeat “deinem Angescht” a third time, again with an upward bass leap.  This time the basses become more active on “Angesicht.”  The music builds again.
3:05 [m. 70]--The fugue now reaches its climax.  The sopranos and the tenors both state the original subject on the “subdominant” level in a very close stretto, the tenors following the sopranos at the distance of a single beat.  Against this, the basses, then altos, begin the second line, which has not been sung since 2:42 [m. 62].  The basses descend on slow notes while the altos move down, then more actively up and down, repeating “deinen heiligen Geist.”  Overlapping with the basses and altos, the sopranos and tenors move to the second line after completing the subject, continuing in the close stretto as a canon an octave apart.  They sing “und nimm” to a prominent rising line up to a thrilling high A-flat, then follow with a large leap down and back up before a smooth descent.  The basses, on long notes, repeat “nicht von mir” twice.  All voices conclude the line together and settle down as the close soprano/tenor imitation finally breaks.
3:20 [m. 75]--The sopranos drop out for the end of the fugue.  At a quiet level, mezza voce, the basses lead the altos in a statement of the inverted subject.  Like the previous soprano/tenor statement, it is in close stretto at the distance of a beat.  The tenors sing the second line against it in a chromatic ascent.  They slow down and hold a long note on “von” before also stretching out “mir.”  Like the soprano/tenor statement, the basses and altos continue their stretto on the second line after concluding the inverted subject.  They both have a smooth descent, followed by an upward octave leap on “heiligen.”  The tenors, having completed the line, repeat it from “deinen heiligen Geist” as the altos and basses reach that point, adding harmony to their stretto.  This finally breaks in the last two measures with a quiet final cadence leading to an open G.

THIRD SECTION.  Andante.  AAB resembling a chorale “bar” form, with imitative canon.  G MAJOR, 6/4 time.  Six voices (SAATBB), Verse 14 (12).   

3:50 [m. 81]--Part 1 (A).  In a very gentle, expressive and flowing 6/4 meter, the tenors and divided basses sing the verse.  The tenors and first basses begin in harmony.  After a measure, the second basses enter, and they exactly imitate the tenors a seventh below.  This is a very complex canon, but it is also unobtrusive.  The first basses do not take part in the canon, and simply harmonize the tenors.  For the first line, the tenors and second basses gently arch up on “wieder,” then slowly descend.  The harmony of the first basses adds active notes on “deiner Hilfe.”  The imitation of the second basses overlaps with the next line.
4:00 [m. 85]--For the second line, the tenors and the imitating second basses have a prominent downward leap to “freudige” before an arching descent on that word.  The word “erhalte” is stretched out.  The harmonizing line from the first basses is quite active, descending widely, then making a huge upward leap of a tenth during the word “freudige.”  They also leap down actively on “Geist” and do not stretch out “erhalte,” singing “mich” earlier and dropping out.  The orientation of the canon has the tenors end on the “leading tone” and the second basses landing on the keynote, giving the effect of a cadence.  But the arrival of the second basses overlaps with the next section presented by the female voices.
4:12 [m. 90]--Part 2 (A).  The sopranos and divided altos present the same music that the male voices just did an octave higher.  The second altos imitate the sopranos a seventh below and the first altos have the non-imitative harmony.  The statement of the first line matches 3:50 [m. 81].
4:22 [m. 94]--The second line matches 4:00 [m. 85] with the same overlap at the beginning.  The “cadence” of the second altos overlaps with the contrasting third part presented by the male voices.
4:35 [m. 99]--Part 3 (B).  The male voices take over for the third part, which resembles a chorale “Abgesang” after two identical “Stollen.”  It is set to the second line.  The second basses again imitate the tenors a seventh below, but now the first basses harmonize both.  Beginning on an upbeat with an octave leap, the tenors sing a gently swaying line on “der freudige Geist,” imitated a measure later by the second basses.  The tenors pause after the words, but the first basses continue, repeating “freudige” as they harmonize the second basses.  Before the second basses finish, the tenors continue the swaying line at a lower level on “erhalte mich,” but the first basses do not harmonize them, and they are briefly alone.  The first basses do harmonize the imitation of the second basses, which again overlaps with the next statement.
4:44 [m. 103]--The tenors again state “der freudige Geist,” now on a more intense rising line that touches on the “relative” E minor.  The first basses harmonize them by stretching out their word “mich.”  Unlike the two imitative voices, they do not pause.  They then join the second basses on their imitation of the rising line.  The same pattern continues for “erhalte mich,” but at a level a third higher.  The first basses now harmonize the tenors by stretching out “Geist.”  As the second basses, harmonized by the first basses, complete their imitation, the tenors gently state “er erhalte” (“er” referring to “der Geist”), on repeated notes and a single step down.
4:55 [m. 108]--The second basses, still harmonized by first basses, imitate the tenors’ gentle “er erhalte.”  As they do, the tenors themselves repeat “er erhalte” (with a long note on “er”), leading to the cadence.  The canon breaks here as the two bass parts repeat “erhalte” without the extra “er,” joining the tenors on block harmonies.  As all three parts complete the line on an “imperfect” cadence (with the third of the chord in the top tenors), the fourth section begins directly in a new Allegro tempo.

FOURTH SECTION.  Allegro – Animato.  Fugue exposition and coda.  G MAJOR, 6/4 time.  Five voices (SATBB), Verse 14 (12), second line.

Fugue exposition
5:02 [m. 110]--The brief, joyous subject consists of leaps up and down a fifth on the word “freudige,” followed by a dotted rhythm on “Geist” and a zigzagging descent on “erhalte.”  The sopranos sing it first.  They are immediately followed by the altos a fourth lower.  Above the alto entry, the sopranos have a countersubject consisting of two quick descents and a rising dotted rhythm on “erhalte.”  After the alto subject, there is a bridge to the tenor entry with the altos singing the quick descents and the sopranos repeating the rising dotted rhythm a fifth higher.  With the tenor entry, an octave below the soprano one but with hints of C major, both the soprano and alto sing the elements of the countersubject in harmony.
5:18 [m. 117]--The two bass parts are united for their entry, which matches the alto entry an octave lower.  As expected, the tenors sing the original countersubject against the bass entry.  The altos briefly drop out while the sopranos continue with material from the subject and countersubject, repeating “erhalte mich.”  Unusually, before the bass entry is finished, the sopranos begin a statement of the subject in stretto, altering only the original leap up from an A instead of a G.  The altos harmonize the sopranos on the dotted rhythm and zigzagging descent.  As the basses finish the subject, the tenors, immediately after finishing the countersubject, begin another entry, in stretto with the sopranos, a step above the original level
5:24 [m. 120]--The complex counterpoint continues with more overlapping entries.  As the tenors conclude their statement, the basses, still united, have a leap down and a scale descent on “der Geist, der freudige Geist.”  Meanwhile, the sopranos, having concluded their first stretto statement, immediately begin another one, moving the descending part a step lower, which is again harmonized by the altos, who trail them on the text.  The tenors also begin another statement immediately after they conclude, now on the original level.  The harmony is again inflected toward C major.  At this point, the two bass parts divide, the first basses repeating the leap and descent a step lower while the second basses establish a solid foundation on repeated notes.  The sopranos drop out briefly as the tenors finish their second stretto statement.
5:30 [m. 123]--At this point, there are no further complete entries of the subject.  Instead, in harmony, the sopranos and altos lead the tenors and first basses on sequentially rising statements of “er erhalte mich” (with “er” representing “der Geist”) set to the zigzagging descent.  The sopranos and altos state it three times, the tenors and first basses twice.  Meanwhile, the second basses establish a “pedal point” on the “dominant” note D, stating the whole line.  As the sopranos and altos conclude their final descent, the tenors lead into the coda with “und der freudige Geist,” followed by the two bass parts, harmonized in thirds, on “und der Geist.”
Coda – Animato
5:37 [m. 126]--Ideally, the tenors and basses will have already sped up the tempo with their lead-in.  At the faster speed, the sopranos sing the head of the subject, with the leaps, but then hold onto their high G, repeating it in long notes while finishing the text.  Meanwhile, the two bass parts, singing in mostly parallel harmony, repeat “der freudige Geist” four times, adding “und” to the last one.  The altos, then the tenors, follow the sopranos with the subject head, the altos holding as the tenors present it.  When the tenors “catch up” to the altos, they both sing the zigzagging descent on “erhalte” while the sopranos conclude the line on their long high G’s.
5:44 [m. 130]--Still on the high G, the sopranos repeat “erhalte mich” twice in long note values.  Against this, the altos and tenors twice sing “er erhalte” on the zigzagging descent, changing harmonies the second time.  Under the last high G soprano statement of “erhalte mich,” the two parts move back to “und der freudige Geist,” emphasizing the dotted rhythm.  Still in harmony on straight notes, but no longer parallel, the two bass parts sing “und der freudige Geist” three more times.  Suddenly, all parts cut off, arriving together on the “subdominant” C-major chord.  There is a grand pause incorporating the last half of one measure and the first half of the next.
5:53 [m. 134b]--All five parts now sing a grand final cadence on “erhalte mich,” with the tenors adding an internal motion on a straight rhythm that goes against the notated 6/4.  The entire final section has been marked forte, and this closing cadence is extremely rich and strong, with a powerful motion from the “dominant” harmony to the final held G-major chord.
6:10--END OF MOTET [137 mm.]