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Schafe können sicher weiden

( Johann Sebastian Bach )

This aria originates from Cantata No 208 (BWV 208), 'Hunt Cantata' by Johann Sebastian Bach. Its subject is clear from the first line of the song: Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!

When arts lover and unashamed show-off Duke Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels celebrated his birthday in February 1713, he did so with a huge hunting party rounded off by a cantata commissioned from Bach on the joys of hunting. Most of Bach's 200-plus cantatas (big works mixing up solo songs, duets, choruses, recitation and instrumental passages) set religious texts for performance in churches. But a few, like this, deal with everyday text, written by one of Bach's colleagues. (One of the other cantatas is about the delights of drinking coffee.)

The work has become popular for its energy and youthful enthusiasm (in contrast perhaps to the sterner and more profound moods of the religious cantatas). But in particular it’s become famous for the ninth part, 'Sheep May Safely Graze' - familiar from its use in weddings.