Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis (I had much grief), BWV 21 in Weimar, possibly in 1713, partly even earlier. He used it in 1714 and later for the third Sunday after Trinity of the liturgical year. The work marks a transition between motet style on biblical and hymn text to operatic recitatives and arias on contemporary poetry. Bach catalogued the work as e per ogni tempo (and for all times), indicating that due to its general theme, the cantata is suited for any occasion.

The text is probably written by the court poet Salomon Franck, who includes four biblical quotations from three psalms and from the Book of Revelation, and juxtaposes in one movement biblical text with two stanzas from Georg Neumark's hymn "Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten". The cantata possibly began as a work of dialogue and four motets on biblical verses. When Bach performed the cantata again in Leipzig in 1723, it was structured in eleven movements, including an opening sinfonia and additional recitatives and arias. It is divided in two parts to be performed before and after the sermon, and scored for three vocal soloists (soprano, tenor, and bass), a four-part choir, and a Baroque instrumental ensemble of three trumpets, timpani, oboe, strings and continuo.

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