Video: J.S. Bach-Stiftung Performs J.S. Bach
On a few occasions, J.S. Bach used a hymn as a starting point for composing a new cantata. Meaning, he took the words and melody of an existing hymn (a favorite?) and made it the foundation of a new work.
In the case of cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (“Awake, calls the voice to us”), BWV 140, we hear Philipp Nicolai‘s hymn quoted throughout, including the first movement.
Here’s the J.S. Bach-Stiftung St. Gallen in a performance of the first movement, or opening chorus, directed by Rudolf Lutz.