Laßt uns sorgen, laßt uns wachen (Let us take care, let us watch over), BWV 213,[a] is a "secular cantata by "Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach composed it in "Leipzig on a text by "Picander and first performed it on 5 September 1733. It is also known as Die Wahl des Herkules (The choice of Hercules) and Hercules am Scheidewege (Hercules at the crossroads).
The work was a "dramma per musica describing the story of ""Hercules at the Crossroads". Bach composed the piece for the 11th birthday of Crown Prince "Friedrich Christian of Saxony. It was first performed in "Leipzig on 5 September 1733 at "Zimmermann's coffeehouse (the locale celebrated in the "Coffee Cantata).
Bach used the "aria "Schlafe, mein Liebster" in a revised form in Part II of his "Christmas Oratorio. A duet of the cantata and the duet ""Et in unum Dominum" from his "Mass in B minor share a common lost base.
The cantata has four vocal soloists: "Lust ("soprano), Hercules ("alto), "Virtue ("tenor), and "Mercury ("bass). It is also scored for a "four-part choir, two "horns, "oboe d'amore, two "oboes, two "violins, two "violas (or viola and "bassoon), and "basso continuo.
The cantata has 13 movements:
The opening movement presents a choir of deities giving homage to the young Hercules, with ""lullaby-like" chordal instrumental accompaniment. In the first "recitative, Hercules establishes the "crossroads" at which he finds himself: a choice between the right path and following his desires. Lust responds with a lullaby-like "aria to lure Hercules. The duet recitative "encapsulates the age-old good angel/bad angel, "good cop/bad cop dichotomy", leading into an aria in which Hercules is "vacillating between them". The aria adopts the "echo" form prominent in early Italian opera: another alto voice engages in imitative exchanges with Hercules and with the instrumental lines. Virtue proceeds with a "secco recitative and "ebullient" aria entreating Hercules to follow the right path that he might "soar on his wings like an eagle to the stars". Virtue concludes with another secco recitative warning Hercules not to succumb to Lust's temptations. Hercules sings a "da capo aria expressing his conviction to follow Virtue's advice. The accompanying instrumental lines represent the "writhing of serpents ... being torn apart" by his choice. He then sings a duet recitative with Virtue: "metaphorically she 'weds' herself to him and they end together with a vow of unity". This moves into a long duet aria "with all the quiet tranquility of a love song but, perhaps, one that commits minds and emotions rather than bodies". The character of Mercury appears for the first time in the penultimate movement, accompanied by a "haze of God-like mysticism" created by the strings. The closing chorus is combined with a bass "arioso in which Mercury addresses the Crown Prince directly. The movement is stylistically a "gavotte with a balanced structure contrasting orchestra and chorus with the bass solo.