The Orgelbüchlein ("Little Organ Book") BWV 599−644 is a collection of 46 chorale preludes for organ written by Johann Sebastian Bach. All but three of them were composed during the period 1708–1717, while Bach was court organist at the ducal court in Weimar. The remaining three, along with a short two-bar fragment, were added in 1726 or later, after Bach's appointment as cantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig.
The collection was originally planned as a set of 164 chorale preludes spanning the whole liturgical year. The chorale preludes form the first of Bach's masterpieces for organ with a mature compositional style in marked contrast to his previous compositions for the instrument. Although each of them takes a known Lutheran chorale and adds a motivic accompaniment, Bach explored a wide diversity of forms in the Orgelbüchlein. Many of the chorale preludes are short and in four parts, requiring only a single keyboard and pedal, with an unadorned cantus firmus. Others involve two keyboards and pedal: these include several canons, four ornamental four-part preludes, with elaborately decorated chorale lines, and a single chorale prelude in trio sonata form. The Orgelbüchlein is at the same time a collection of organ music for church services, a treatise on composition, a religious statement and a pedagogical manual.
|“||A further step towards perfecting this form was taken by Bach when he made the contrapuntal elements in his music a means of reflecting certain emotional aspects of the words. Pachelbel had not attempted this; he lacked the fervid feeling which would have enabled him thus to enter into his subject. And it is entering into it, and not a mere depicting of it. For, once more be it said, in every vital movement of the world external to us we behold the image of a movement within us; and every such image must react upon us to produce the corresponding emotion in that inner world of feeling.||”|
—Philipp Spitta, 1873, writing about the Orgelbüchlein in Volume I of his biography of Bach
|“||Here Bach has realised the ideal of the chorale prelude. The method is the most simple imaginable and at the same time the most perfect. Nowhere is the Dürer-like character of his musical style so evident as in these small chorale preludes. Simply by the precision and the characteristic quality of each line of the contrapuntal motive he expresses all that has to be said, and so makes clear the relation of the music to the text whose title it bears.||”|
—Albert Schweitzer, Jean-Sebastien Bach, le musicien-poête, 1905
- 1 Title page
- 2 History and purpose
- 3 Compositional style
- 4 Chorale Preludes BWV 599–644
- 5 Reception
- 6 Transcriptions
- 7 Discography
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The title page of the autograph score reads in English translation:
Little Organ Book
In which a beginning organist receives given instruction as to performing a chorale in a multitude of ways while achieving mastery in the study of the pedal, since in the chorales contained herein the pedal is treated entirely obbligato.
In honour of our Lord alone
That my fellow man his skill may hone.
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, Capellmeister to his Serene Highness the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen
|Planned content of the Orgelbüchlein as indicated in the autograph manuscript|
|1||Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland||Advent||1||599|
|2||Gott, durch dein Güte or Gottes Sohn ist kommen||Advent||2-3||600|
|3||Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottessohn or Herr Gott, nun sei gepreiset||Advent||4||601|
|4||Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott||Advent||5||602|
|5||Puer natus in Bethlehem||Christmas||6-7||603|
|6||Lob sei Gott in des Himmels Thron||Christmas||7|
|7||Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ||Christmas||8||604|
|8||Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich||Christmas||9||605|
|9||Von Himmel hoch, da komm ich her||Christmas||10||606|
|10||Von Himmel kam der Engel Schar||Christmas||11-10||607|
|11||In dulci jubilo||Christmas||12-13||608|
|12||Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich||Christmas||14||609|
|13||Jesu, meine Freude||Christmas||15||610|
|14||Christum wir sollen loben schon||Christmas||16||611|
|16||Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen||New Year||18||613|
|17||Das alte Jahr vergangen ist||New Year||19||614|
|18||In dir ist Freude||New Year||20-21||615|
|19||Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin [Nunc dimittis]||Purification||22||616|
|20||Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf||Purification||23-23a||617|
|21||O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig||Passiontide||24-24a||618|
|22||Christe, du Lamm Gottes||Passiontide||25||619|
|23||Christus, der uns selig macht||Passiontide||26||620a/620|
|24||Da Jesu an dem Kreuze stund||Passiontide||27||621|
|25||O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross||Passiontide||28-29||622|
|26||Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ, dass du für uns gestorben bist||Passiontide||30||623|
|27||Hilf Gott, das mir's gelinge||Passiontide||31-30a||624|
|28||O Jesu, wie ist dein Gestalt||Passiontide||32|
|29||O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid (fragment)||Passiontide||33||Anh. 200|
|30||Allein nach dir, Herr, allein nach dir, Herr Jesu Christ, verlanget mich||Passiontide||34-35|
|31||O wir armen Sünder||Passiontide||36|
|32||Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen||Passiontide||37|
|33||Nun gibt mein Jesus gute Nacht||Passiontide||38|
|34||Christ lag in Todesbanden||Easter||39||625|
|35||Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der den Tod überwand||Easter||40||626|
|36||Christ ist erstanden||Easter||41-43||627|
|37||Erstanden ist der heil'ge Christ||Easter||44||628|
|38||Erscheinen ist der herrliche Tag||Easter||45||629|
|39||Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn||Easter||46-47||630|
|40||Gen Himmel aufgefahren ist||Ascension||48|
|41||Nun freut euch, Gottes Kinder, all||Ascension||49|
|42||Komm, Heiliger Geist, erfüll die Herzen deiner Gläubigen||Pentecost||50-51|
|43||Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott||Pentecost||52-53|
|44||Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist||Pentecost||54||631a/631|
|45||Nun bitten wir den Heil'gen Geist||Pentecost||55|
|46||Spiritus Sancti gratia or Des Heil'gen Geistes reiche Gnad||Pentecost||56|
|47||O Heil'ger Geist, du göttlich's Feuer||Pentecost||57|
|48||O Heiliger Geist, o heiliger Gott||Pentecost||58|
|49||Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend||Pentecost||59||632|
|50||Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier||Pentecost||60||634|
|51||Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (distinctius)||Pentecost||61||633|
|52||Gott der Vater wohn uns bei||Trinity||62-63|
|53||Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr||Trinity||64|
|54||Der du bist drei in Einigkeit||Trinity||65|
|55||Gelobet sei der Herr, der Gott Israel [Benedictus]||St. John the Baptist||66|
|56||Meine Seele erhebt den Herren [Magnificat]||Visitation||67|
|57||Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir||St. Michael and All Angels||68|
|58||Er stehn vor Gottes Throne||St. Michael and All Angels||69|
|59||Herr Gott, dich loben wir||St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles||70-71|
|60||O Herre Gott, dein göttlich Wort||Reformation Festival||72|
|61||Dies sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot||Ten Commandments||73||635|
|62||Mensch, willst du leben seliglich||Ten Commandments||74|
|63||Herr Gott, erhalt uns für und für||Ten Commandments||75|
|64||Wir glauben all an einem Gott||Creed||76-77|
|65||Vater unser im Himmelreich||Lord's Prayer||78||636|
|66||Christ, unser Herr, zu Jordan kam||Holy Baptism||79|
|67||Auf tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir [Psalm 130]||Confession, Penitence and Justification||80|
|68||Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott||Confession, Penitence and Justification||81|
|69||Jesu, der du meine Seele||Confession, Penitence and Justification||82|
|70||Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ||Confession, Penitence and Justification||83|
|71||Ach Gott und Herr||Confession, Penitence and Justification||84|
|72||Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut||Confession, Penitence and Justification||85|
|73||Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder||Confession, Penitence and Justification||86|
|74||Wo soll ich fliehen hin||Confession, Penitence and Justification||87|
|75||Wir haben schwerlich||Confession, Penitence and Justification||88|
|76||Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt||Confession, Penitence and Justification||89||637|
|77||Es ist das Heil uns kommen her||Confession, Penitence and Justification||90||638|
|78||Jesus Christus, unser Heiland||Lord's Supper||91|
|79||Gott sei gelobet und gebenedeiet||Lord's Supper||92-93|
|80||Der Herr is mein getreuer Hirt [Psalm 23]||Lord's Supper||94|
|81||Jetzt komm ich als ein armer Gast||Lord's Supper||95|
|82||O Jesu, du edle Gabe||Lord's Supper||96|
|83||Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ, dass du das Lämmlein worden bist||Lord's Supper||97|
|84||Ich weiss ein Blümlein hübsch und fein||Lord's Supper||98|
|85||Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein||Lord's Supper||99|
|86||Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren [Psalm 103]||Lord's Supper||100-101|
|87||Wohl dem, der in Gottes Furcht steht||Christian Life and Conduct||102|
|88||Wo Gott zum Haus nicht gibt sein Gunst [Psalm 127]||Christian Life and Conduct||103|
|89||Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit||Christian Life and Conduct||104|
|90||Kommt her zu mir, spricht Gottes Sohn||Christian Life and Conduct||105|
|91||Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ||Christian Life and Conduct||106-107||639|
|92||Weltlich Ehr und zeitlich Gut||Christian Life and Conduct||107|
|93||Von Gott will ich nicht lassen||Christian Life and Conduct||108|
|94||Wer Gott vertraut||Christian Life and Conduct||109|
|95||Wie's Gott gefällt, so gefällt mir's auch||Christian Life and Conduct||110|
|96||O Gott, du frommer Gott||Christian Life and Conduct||111|
|97||In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr [Psalm 31]||Christian Life and Conduct||112|
|98||In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr (alia modo)||Christian Life and Conduct||113||640|
|99||Mag ich Unglück nicht widertstahn||Christian Life and Conduct||114|
|100||Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein||Christian Life and Conduct||115||641|
|101||An Wasserflüssen Babylon [Psalm 137]||Christian Life and Conduct||116-117|
|102||Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz||Christian Life and Conduct||118|
|103||Frisch auf, mein Seel, verzage nicht||Christian Life and Conduct||119|
|104||Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid||Christian Life and Conduct||120|
|105||Ach Gott, erhör mein Seufzen und Wehklagen||Christian Life and Conduct||121|
|106||So wünsch ich nun eine gute Nacht [Psalm 42]||Christian Life and Conduct||122|
|107||Ach lieben Christen, seid getrost||Christian Life and Conduct||123|
|108||Wenn dich Unglück tut greifen an||Christian Life and Conduct||124|
|109||Keinen hat Gott verlassen||Christian Life and Conduct||125|
|110||Gott ist mein Heil, mein Hülf und Trost||Christian Life and Conduct||126|
|111||Wass Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, kein einig Mensch ihn tadeln kann||Christian Life and Conduct||127|
|112||Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, es bleibt gerecht sein Wille||Christian Life and Conduct||128|
|113||Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten||Christian Life and Conduct||129||642|
|114||Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein [Psalm 12]||Psalm Hymns||130|
|115||Es spricht der Unweisen Mund wohl [Psalm 14]||Psalm Hymns||131|
|116||Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott [Psalm 46]||Psalm Hymns||132|
|117||Es woll uns Gott genädig sein [Psalm 67]||Psalm Hymns||133|
|118||Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit [Psalm 124]||Psalm Hymns||134|
|119||Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält [Psalm 124]||Psalm Hymns||135|
|120||Wie schön leuchtet der Morgernstern||Word of God and Christian Church||136-137|
|121||Wie nach einer Wasserquelle [Psalm 42]||Word of God and Christian Church||138|
|122||Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort||Word of God and Christian Church||139|
|123||Lass mich dein sein und bleiben||Word of God and Christian Church||140|
|124||Gib Fried, o frommer, treuer Gott||Word of God and Christian Church||141|
|125||Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ||Word of God and Christian Church||142|
|126||O grosser Gott von Macht||Word of God and Christian Church||143|
|127||Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist||Death and Dying||144|
|128||Herr Jesu Christ, wahr Mensch und Gott||Death and Dying||145|
|129||Mitten wir im Leben sind||Death and Dying||146-147|
|130||Alle Menschen müssen sterben||Death and Dying||148|
|131||Alle Menschen müssen sterben (alio modo)||Death and Dying||149||643|
|132||Valet will ich dir geben||Death and Dying||150|
|133||Nun lasst uns den Leib begraben||Death and Dying||151|
|134||Christus, der ist mein Leben||Death and Dying||152|
|135||Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr||Death and Dying||152-153|
|136||Auf meinen lieben Gott||Death and Dying||154|
|137||Herr Jesu Christ, ich weiss gar wohl||Death and Dying||155|
|138||Mach's mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt||Death and Dying||156|
|139||Herr Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht||Death and Dying||157|
|140||Mein Wallfahrt ich vollendet hab||Death and Dying||158|
|141||Gott hat das Evangelium||Death and Dying||159|
|142||Ach Gott, tu dich erbarmen||Death and Dying||160|
|143||Gott des Himmels und der Erden||Morning||161|
|144||Ich dank dir, lieber Herre||Morning||162|
|145||Aus Meines Herzens Grunde||Morning||163|
|146||Ich dank dir schon||Morning||164|
|147||Das walt mein Gott||Morning||165|
|148||Christ, der du bist der helle Tag||Evening||166|
|149||Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht||Evening||167|
|150||Werde munter, mein Gemüte||Evening||168|
|151||Nun ruhen alle Wälder||Evening||169|
|152||Dankt dem Herrn, denn er ist sehr freundlich [Psalm 136]||After Meals||170|
|153||Nun lasst uns Gott dem Herren||After Meals||171|
|154||Lobet dem Herren, denn er ist sehr freundlich [Psalm 147]||After Meals||172|
|155||Singen wir aus Herzensgrund||After Meals||173|
|156||Gott Vater, der du deine Sonn||Good Weather||174|
|157||Jesue, meines Herzens Freud||Appendix||175|
|158||Ach, was soll ich Sűnder machen||Appendix||176|
|159||Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig||Appendix||177||644|
|160||Ach, was ist doch unser Leben||Appendix||178|
|161||Allenthalben, wo ich gehe||Appendix||179|
|162||Hast du denn, Jesu, dein Angesicht gänzlich verborgen or
Soll ich denn, Jesu, mein Leben in Trauern beschliessen
|163||Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig or O Jesu, du edle Gabe||Appendixhe||181|
|164||Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele||Appendix||182|
History and purpose
Bach's formal training as a musician started when he was enrolled as a chorister at the Michaelskirche in Lüneburg in 1700–1702. Manuscripts in Bach's hand recently discovered in Weimar by the Bach scholars Peter Wollny and Michael Maul show that while in Lüneburg he studied the organ with Georg Böhm, composer and organist at the Johanniskirche. The documents are hand copies made in Böhm's home in tablature format of organ compositions by Reincken, Buxtehude and others. They indicate that already at the age of 15 Bach was an accomplished organist, playing some of the most demanding repertoire of the period. After a brief spell in Weimar as court musician in the chapel of Johann Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Bach was appointed as organist at St. Boniface's Church (now called the Bachkirche) in Arnstadt in the summer of 1703, having inspected and reported on the organ there earlier in the year. In 1705–1706 he was granted leave from Arnstadt to study with the organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude in Lübeck, a pilgrimage he famously made on foot. In 1707 Bach became organist at St. Blasius' Church in Mühlhausen, before his second appointment at the court in Weimar in 1708 as concertmaster and organist, where he remained until 1717.
During the period before his return to Weimar, Bach had composed a set of 31 chorale preludes: these were discovered independently by Christoph Wolff and Wilhelm Krunbach in the library of Yale University in the mid-1980s and first published as Das Arnstadter Orgelbuch. They form part of a larger collection of organ music compiled in the 1790s by the organist Johann Gottfried Neumeister (1756–1840) and are now referred to as the Neumeister Chorales BWV 1090–1120. These chorale preludes are all short, either in variation form or fughettas. Only a few other organ works based on chorales can be dated with any certainty to this period. These include the chorale partitas BWV 766-768 and 770, all sets of variations on a given chorale.
During his time as organist at Arnstadt, Bach was upbraided in 1706 by the Arnstadt Consistory "for having hitherto introduced sundry curious embellishments in the chorales and mingled many strange notes in them, with the result that the congregation has been confused." The type of chorale prelude to which this refers, often called the "Arnstadt type", were used to accompany the congregation with modulating improvisatory sections between the verses: examples that are presumed to be of this form include BWV 715, 722, 729, 732 and 738. The earliest surviving autograph manuscript of a chorale prelude is BWV 739, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, based on an Advent hymn. It dates from 1705 and possibly was prepared for Bach's visit to Lübeck.
The chorale preludes of the Orgelbüchlein share several common stylistic features, which are the distinguishing traits of what may be called the "Orgelbüchlein-style chorale:"
- The chorale melody, embellished to varying degrees or unembellished altogether, is in one voice (excepting BWV 615, In dir ist Freude, in which the melody is broken up into motives and bounces between several voices).
- The melody is in the soprano voice (except for BWV 611, Christum, wir sollen loben schon, in which it is in the alto voice, and the canonical preludes BWV 600, 608, 618, 619, 620, 624, 629 and 633/634).
- The pieces are written in four-voice counterpoint, except for BWV 599, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, and BWV 619, Christe du Lamm Gottes, which are written in five voices; and BWV 639, Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, which is written in three.
- The pieces span exactly the length of the chorale melody; there are no introductions or codas.
Chorale Preludes BWV 599–644
- The brief descriptions of the chorale preludes are based on the detailed analysis in Williams (2003) and Stinson (1999).
- To listen to a midi recording, please click on the link.
Advent BWV 599–602
Below is the first verse of Luther's advent hymn with the translation in English of George MacDonald.
Although it has often been suggested that this opening advent chorale prelude resembles a French overture, in construction, with its texture of arpeggiated chords, it is more similar to the baroque keyboard preludes of German and French masters, such as Couperin. The accompanying motif in the lower three or sometimes four parts is derived from a suspirans in the melodic line, formed of a semiquaver rest—a "breath"—followed by three semiquavers and a longer fourth note. Some commentators have seen this falling figure as representing a descent to earth, but it could equally well reflect a repetition of the words "Nun komm" in the text. The suspirans is made up of intervals of a rising second, a falling fourth following by yet another rising second. It is derived from the first line of the melody of the cantus firmus and often shared out freely between voices in the accompaniment. The mystery of the coming of the Saviour is reflected by the somewhat hidden cantus firmus, over harmonies constantly reinventing themselves. It is less predictable and regular than other settings of the same hymn by Bach or predecessors like Buxtehude, only the second and third lines having any regularity. The last line repeats the first but with the suspirans suppressed and the dotted rhythms of the bass replaced by a long pedal note, possibly reflecting the wonder described in the third and fourth lines of the first verse.
- BWV 600 Gott, durch deine Güte [God, through your goodness] (or Gottes Sohn ist kommen [The Son of God is come]) play (help·info)
Below is the first of three verses of Johann Spannenberg's advent hymn with the translation in English of Charles Sanford Terry.
It is set to the same melody as Johann Roh's advent hymn Gottes Sohn ist kommen, the first verse of which is given here with the English translation of Catherine Winkworth.
This chorale prelude is a canon at the octave in the soprano and tenor voices, with the tenor entering one bar after the soprano. The stops for the canonic parts were explicitly marked by Bach in the autograph score, with the high tenor part in the pedal, written at the pitch Bach intended and also within the compass of the Weimar organ. Bach left no indication that the manualiter parts were to be played on two keyboards: indeed, as Stinson (1996) points out, the autograph score brackets all the keyboard parts together; in addition technically at certain points the keyboard parts have to be shared between the two hands. The accompaniment is a skillful and harmonious moto perpetuo in the alto and bass keyboard parts with flowing quavers in the alto, derived from the first four quaver suspirans figure, played above a walking bass in detached crotchets. The hymn was originally written in duple time but, to facilitate the canonic counterpoint, Bach adopted triple time with a minim beat, at half the speed of the bass. The bass accompaniment at first is derived directly from the melody; during the pauses in the soprano part, a second motif recurs. The continuous accompaniment in quavers and crotchets is an example of the first of two types of joy motif described by Schweitzer (1911b), used to convey "direct and naive joy." In the words of Albert Riemenschneider, "the exuberance of the passage work indicates a joyous background."
- BWV 601 Herr Christ, der einge Gottes-Sohn [Lord Christ, the only Son of God] (or Herr Gott, nun sei gepreiset [Lord God, now be praised]) play (help·info)
According to the chronology of Stinson (1996), this chorale prelude was probably the first to be entered by Bach in the autograph manuscript. Already it shows with beguiling simplicity all the features typical of the Orgelbüchlein preludes. The cantus firmus is presented unadorned in the soprano line with the other three voices on the same keyboard and in the pedal. The accompaniment is derived from the suspirans pedal motif of three semiquavers followed by two quavers. For Schweitzer (1911b) this particular motif signified "beatific joy", representing either "intimate gladness or blissful adoration." Although the chorale prelude cannot be precisely matched to the words of either hymn, the mood expressed is in keeping both with joy for the coming of Christ and gratitude for the bountifulness of God. The motif, which is anticipated and echoed in the seamlessly interwoven inner parts, was already common in chorale preludes of the period. Easy to play with alternating feet, it figured in particular in the preludes of Buxtehude and Böhm as well as an earlier manualiter setting of the same hymn by Bach's cousin, Johann Gottfried Walther. Bach, however, goes beyond the previous models, creating a unique texture in the accompaniment which accelerates, particularly in the pedal, towards the cadences. Already in the opening bar, as Williams (2003) points out, the subtlety of Bach's compositional skills are apparent. The alto part anticipates the pedal motif and, with it and the later dotted figure, echos the melody in the soprano. This type of writing—in this case with hidden and understated imitation between the voices, almost in canon, conveying a mood of intimacy—was a new feature introduced by Bach in his Orgelbüchlein.
Below are the first two verses of Michael Weisse's advent hymn with the English translation of John Gambold.
The cantus firmus for this chorale prelude originates in the Gregorian chant Conditor alme siderum. Although in the phrygian mode, Bach slightly modifies it, replacing some B♭s by B♮s in the melody, but still ends in the key of A. The accompaniment is composed of two motifs, both suspirans: one in the inner parts contains a joy motif; and the other, shared between all three lower parts, is formed of three semiquavers and a longer note or just four semiquavers. In the pedal part this prominent descending motif has been taken to symbolise the "coming down of divine Majesty." Some commentators have suggested that the motion of the inner parts in parallel thirds or sixths might represent the Father and Son in the hymn. Albert Riemenschneider described the lower voices as creating "an atmosphere of dignified praise."
Christmas BWV 603–612
Below is the first verse of the traditional Latin carol with the English translation of Hamilton Montgomerie MacGill.
- BWV 604 Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ [Praised be you, Jesus Christ] a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
- BWV 605 Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich [The day is so full of joy] a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
Below is the German version of the Christmas hymn Dies est latitiae with the English translation by Charles Sanford Terry.
Below are the first, second and last verses of the Christmas hymn by Martin Luther with the English translation of Catherine Winkworth.
Below are the first and fourth verses of Martin Luther's Christmas hymn with the English translation of Catherine Winkworth.
Below is the traditional fourteenth century German/Latin Christmas carol In dulci jubilo with the English/Latin translation of Robert Lucas de Pearsall.
- BWV 609 Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich [Praise God, you Christians all together] play (help·info)
- BWV 611 Christum wir sollen loben schon [We should indeed praise Christ] Choral in Alto play (help·info)
Below is the first verse of Martin Luther's hymn with the English translation of Charles Kinchen.
Below are the first and third verses of the hymn of Caspar Fuger with the English translation of Catherine Winkworth.
New Year BWV 613–615
Below is the first verse of this New Year's hymn of Paul Eber with the English translation by John Christian Jacobi.
Below are the first and third verses of this hymn of Johannes Steurlein with the translation of Catherine Winkworth.
Below is the first verse of this hymn of Johann Lindemann with the English translation by Catherine Winkworth.
Feast of the Purification BWV 616–617
Below are the first and last verses of Tobias Kiel's hymn with the English translation of Catherine Winkworth.
Lent BWV 618–624
- BWV 619 Christe, du Lamm Gottes [Christ, Lamb of God] in Canone alla Duodecime, a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
- BWV 620 Christus, der uns selig macht [Christ, who makes us blessed] in Canone all'Ottava play (help·info)
Below is the text of the first and last verse of the Passiontide hymn with the English translation of John Christian Jacobi.
Below is the text of the first and last verses of the Passiontide hymn with the English translation of Charles Sanford Terry.
- BWV 622 O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß [Oh Man, bewail your great sins] a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
"O Mensch" is one of the most celebrated of Bach's chorale preludes. The cantus firmus, composed in 1525 by Matthias Greitter and associated with Whitsuntide, was also later used with the same words for the closing chorale of the first part of the St Matthew Passion, taken from the 1725 version of the St John Passion. Bach ornamented the simple melody, in twelve phrases reflecting the twelve lines of the opening verse, with an elaborate coloratura. It recalls but also goes beyond the ornamental chorale preludes of Buxtehude. The ornamentation, although employing coventional musical figures, is highly original and inventive. While the melody in the upper voice is hidden by coloratura over a wide range, the two inner voices are simple and imitative above the continuo-style bass. Bach varies the texture and colouring of the accompaniment for each line of what is one of the longest melodies in the collection.
In the penultimate line, accompanying the words "ein schwere Bürd" (a heavy burden), the inner parts intensify moving in semiquavers with the upper voice to a climax on the highest note in the prelude. The closing phrase, with its mounting chromatic bass accompanying bare unadorned crotchets in the melody to end in an unexpected modulation to C♭ major, recall but again go beyond earlier compositions of Pachelbel, Frohberger and Buxtehude. It has been taken by some commentators as a musical allusion to the words kreuze lange in the text: for Spitta the passage was "full of imagination and powerful feeling." As Williams (2003) comments, however, the inner voices, "with their astonishing accented passing-notes transcend images, as does the sudden simplicity of the melody when the bass twice rises chromatically."
- BWV 623 Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ [We give thanks to you, Lord Jesus Christ] play (help·info)
Below is the text of the hymn with the English translation of Benjamin Hall Kennedy.
- BWV 624 Hilf, Gott, daß mir's gelinge [Help me, God, that I may succeed] a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
Below is the text of the hymn with an English translation of the period.
Easter BWV 625–630
Below is the Martin Luther's Easter hymn "Christ lag in Todesbanden" with the English translation of Paul England.
- BWV 626 Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der den Tod überwand [Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who conquered death] play (help·info)
Below is the first verse of Martin Luther's Easter hymn with the English translation by George MacDonald.
Below is the traditional Easter carol "Surrexit Christus hodie" in German and English translations.
- BWV 629 Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag [The glorious day has come] a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
Below is the first verse of Caspar Stolshagius' Easter hymn with the English translation of George Ratcliffe Woodward.
Pentecost BWV 631–634
Below are the first and last verses of Martin Luther's Whitsuntide hymn with the English translation of George MacDonald.
Below are the first and third verses of this hymn by William, Duke of Saxe-Weimar with the English translation of John Christian Jacobi.
- BWV 633 Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (distinctius) [Dearest Jesus, we are here] in Canone alla Quinta, a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
- BWV 634 Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier [Dearest Jesus, we are here] in Canone alla Quinta, a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
Below is the first verse of Tobias Clausnitzer's hymn with the English translation of Catherine Winkworth.
Catechism hymns BWV 635–638
Below are the first and seventh verses of the hymn of Lazarus Spengler with an English translation by John Christian Jacobi.
The first verse of this hymn of Paul Speratus is given below with the English translation of John Christian Jacobi.
Miscellaneous BWV 639–644
- BWV 639 Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ [I call to you, Lord Jesus Christ] a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
Below is the first verse of Johann Agricola's hymn with the English translation of John Christian Jacobi.
"Ich ruf zu dir" is amongst the most popular chorale preludes in the collection. Pure in style, this ornamental chorale prelude has been described as "a supplication in time of despair." Written in the meantone key of F minor, it is the unique prelude in trio form with voices in the two manuals and the pedal. It is possible that the unusual choice of key followed Bach's experience playing the new organ at Halle which employed more modern tuning. The ornamented melody in crotchets sings in the soprano above a flowing legato semiquaver accompaniment and gently pulsating repeated quavers in the pedal continuo. Such viol-like semiquaver figures in the middle voice already appeared as "imitatio violistica" in the Tabalutara nova (1624) of Samuel Scheidt. The instrumental combination itself was used elsewhere by Bach: in the third movement of the cantata Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, BWV 180 for soprano, violoncello piccolo and continuo; and the 19th movement of the St John Passion, with the middle voice provided by semiquaver arpeggios on the lute.
Below is the first verse of the hymn of Adam Reissner with the English translation of Catherine Winkworth.
- BWV 641 Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein [When we are in the greatest distress] a 2 Clav. et Ped. play (help·info)
The cantus firmus of this ornamental chorale prelude was written by Louis Bourgeois in 1543. It was used again the last of the Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes, BWV 668. The accompaniment in the two middle voices, often in parallel sixths, and the pedal is derived from the first four notes of the melody. The highly ornate ornamentation is rare amongst Bach's chorale preludes, the only comparable example being BWV 662 from the Great Eighteen. The vocal ornamentation and portamento appoggiaturas of the melody are French in style. Coloratura passages lead into the unadorned notes of the cantus firmus. Williams (2003) describes this musical device, used also in BWV 622 and BWV 639, as a means of conveying "a particular kind of touching, inexpressible expressiveness." The prelude has an intimate charm: as Albert Schweitzer commented, the soprano part flows "like a divine song of consolation, and in a wonderful final cadence seems to silence and compose the other parts."
Below are the first and last two verses of the funeral hymn of Johann Georg Albinus with the English translation of Catherine Winkworth.
BWV 643 is one of the most perfect examples of Bach's Orgelbüchlein style. A mood of ecstasy permeates this chorale prelude, a funeral hymn reflecting the theme of heavenly joy. The simple cantus firmus sings in crotchets above an accompanying motif of three semiquavers followed by two quavers that echoes between the two inner parts and the pedal. This figure is also found in the organ works of Georg Böhm and Daniel Vetter from the same era. Schweitzer (1911b) describes its use by Bach as a motif of "beatific peace", commenting that "the melody of the hymn that speaks of the inevitability of death is thus enveloped in a motif that is lit up by the coming glory." Despite the harmonious thirds and sixths in the inner parts, the second semiquaver of the motif produces a momentary dissonance that is instantly resolved, again contributing to the mood of joy tinged by sadness. As Spitta (1899) comments, "What tender melancholy lurks in the chorale, Alle Menschen müßen sterben, what an indescribable expressiveness, for instance, arises in the last bar from the false relation between c♯ and c', and the almost imperceptible ornamentation of the melody!"
Below is the first verse of Michael Franck's hymn with the English translation of Sir John Bowring.
The Orgelbüchlein was originally passed from teacher to student and was not published in its entirety until Felix Mendelssohn edited an edition. Notable editions have been made by Robert Clark and John David Peterson, Quentin Faulkner, Albert Riemenschneider, and Albert Schweitzer.
|Arranger and instrumentation||Published title||Original chorale prelude by BWV number|
|Johann Nepomuk Schelble, piano duet||Var. Choraele fürs P.f. zu 4 Haenden eingerichtet, Dunst, undated.||BWV 620a, 614, 622|
|Adolph Bernhard Marx, piano||Anzahl aus Sebastian Bach's Kompositionen, zur ersten Bekanntschaft mit dem Meister am Pianoforte, Challier, 1844.||BWV 614, 619|
|Ferruccio Busoni, piano||Orgelchoralvorspiele von Johann Sebastian Bach: Auf das Pianoforte im Kammerstyl übertragen, 2 vols, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1898.||BWV 615, 617, 637, 639|
|Max Reger, piano||Ausgewählte Choralvorspiele von Joh. Seb. Bach: Für Klavier zu 2 Händen übertragen, Universal Edition, 1900.||BWV 614, 622, 637, 639, 644|
|Bernhard Friedrich Richter, piano duet||Joh. Seb. Bachs Werke, Nach der Ausgabe der Bachgesellschaft. Orgelbüchlein: 46 kürzere Choralbearbaitungen für Klavier zu vier Händen, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1902.||BWV 599-644|
|Max Reger, string orchestra||Johann Sebastian Bach: "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross." Aria nach dem Choralvorspiel für Streichorchester bearbeitet, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1915||BWV 622|
|Max Reger, violin and organ||Album für Violine mit Orgelbegleitung, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1915||BWV 622|
|Leopold Stokowski, orchestra||Arrangements of several of the chorale preludes for the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1916–1926||BWV 599, 639|
|Walter Rummel, piano||Adaptations, Ser. 1 (J.S. Bach), J. & W. Chester, 1922||BWV 614|
|Vittorio Gui, orchestra||Due corale di J.S. Bach. Trascritti dall' organo per orchestra, Universal Edition, 1925.||BWV 615, 622|
|Harry Hodge, string orchestra||Johann Sebastian Bach: organ choral preludes arranged for strings, Patterson's Publications, 1926.||BWV 600, 639|
|William Murdoch, piano||Johann Sebastian Bach: organ choral preludes arranged for pianoforte, Schott, 1928||BWV 622, 639|
|Marco Enrico Bossi, violin or viola and organ||Johann Sebastian Bach: "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross." Edition Euterpe, 1929||BWV 622|
|Arthur Bliss, piano||A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen: Transcriptions for Pianoforte from the works of J.S. Bach, Oxford University Press, 1932||BWV 614|
|Herbert Howells, piano||A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen: Transcriptions for Pianoforte from the works of J.S. Bach, Oxford University Press, 1932||BWV 622|
|Constant Lambert, piano||A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen: Transcriptions for Pianoforte from the works of J.S. Bach, Oxford University Press, 1932||BWV 605|
|Harry S. Hirsch, oboe, clarinet, bassoon||Johann Sebastian Bach: I Call Upon Thy Name O Jesus, Carl Fischer, 1934||BWV 639|
|Alexander Kelberine, piano||Joh. Seb. Bach: Organ Chorale Prelude, "Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ", Elkan-Vogel, 1934||BWV 639|
|Mabel Wood-Hill, string quartet/orchestra||J.S. Bach: Chorale Preludes, R.D. Roe, 1935.||BWV 615, 619, 623|
|Eric DeLamarter, string orchestra||J.S. Bach: Chorale Prelude Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, Ricordi, 1940||BWV 614|
|Amedeo de Filippi, string quartet/orchestra||Johann Sebastian Bach: Blessed Jesus, We Are Here (Chorale Prelude), Concord 1940.||BWV 633|
|Boris Goldovsky, 2 pianos||J.S. Bach: Oh, How Fleeting, J. Fischer and Bro., 1940.||BWV 644|
|Felix Guenther, piano||Johann Sebastian Bach: 24 chorale preludes compiled and arranged for piano, solo, Edward B. Marks, 1942||BWV 814, 615, 623, 639|
|Max Reger, piano||Johann Sebastian Bach: drei Orgelchoralvorspiele, für Klavier gearbeitet, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1943,||BWV 606, 638|
|Charles Henry Stuart Duncan, 2 pianos||Johann Sebastian Bach: eleven chorale preludes from the little organ book, Schirmer, 1949||BWV 600, 601, 608, 609, 610, 625, 627, 633, 636, 637, 643|
|Anne Hull, 2 pianos||Johann Sebastian Bach: Chorale Preulde In dir ist Freude, Carl Fischer, 1950||BWV 615|
|Wilhelm Kempff, piano||Johann Sebstian Bach: Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (Choralvorspiel), Bote & Bock, 1954||BWV 639|
|György Kurtág, 2 pianos||Transcriptions from Machaut to J.S. Bach, Editio Musica Budapest, 1985.||BWV 611, 618, 619, 637, 643, 644|
- Helmut Walcha, Schnitger organ, St Peter and St Paul, Cappel, Lower Saxony (Deutsche Grammophon)
- Ton Koopman, Riepp organ, Ottobeuren Abbey (Teldec 214662)
- Marie-Claire Alain, Silbermann organ, Freiberg Cathedral (Erato 4509-96759-2)
- André Isoir, Ahrend organ in Cantate Domino evangelical church, Frankfurt (Calliope 9711)
- Bernard Foccroulle, Schott organ in the Klosterkirche, Muri Abbey (Ricercar)
- Peter Hurford, organs of Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Toronto and St Catharine's College, Cambridge (Decca 443485-2) (with Choir of St John's College, Cambridge singing Walter Emery's 1969 harmonisations of chorales)
- Simon Preston, organ in Sorø Academy, Denmark (Deutsche Grammophon)
- Francesco Cera, organ in Church of S. Maria Assunta, Giubasco, Switzerland, (Brillant 94639) (with Swiss Radiotelevision Choir singing each chorale)
- René Saorgin, organ in Saint-Pierre de Luxeuil Cathedral, France (Harmonia Mundi HMX 2951215)
- List of compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach
- Neumeister Chorales
- Schübler Chorales
- Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes
- Clavier-Übung III
- Canonic Variations
- Geck 2005, p. 91
- Stinson 1991, pp. 3–10
- Haupt 2000 Example of a possible registration for BWV 605 with glockenspiel. play (help·info)
- Williams 2003, p. 236
- Boyd, Malcolm (2000), Bach, Master musicians (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-514222-5
- Geck, Martin (2005), Bach, London: Haus Publishing, ISBN 1-904341-16-0
- Geck, Martin (2000). Bach: Leben und Werk (in German). Reinbek: Rowohlt. ISBN 3-498-02483-3.
- Haupt, Hartmut (2000), Stauffer, George B.; May, Ernest, eds., Bach's organs in Thuringia, J. S. Bach as Organist: His Instruments, Music, and Performance Practices, Indiana University Press, pp. 25–30, ISBN 0-253-21386-X
- Hiemke, Sven (2007), Johann Sebastian Bach – Orgelbüchlein, Kassel, ISBN 978-3-7618-1734-6 (German)
- Jones, Richard Douglas (2007), The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach: Music to Delight the Spirit, Volume 1: 1695–1717, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-816440-8
- Orgelbüchlein: BWV 599-644: Faksimile nach dem Autograph in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz; mit einer Einführung von Sven Hiemke. Laabe: Laabe Verlag c2004 ISBN 3-89007-570-3
- Rose, Stephen (2008), Reiview of The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, i: 1695–1717. Music to Delight the Spirit. By Richard D. P. Jones, Music and Letters 89: 618–620, doi:10.1093/ml/gcm124
- Schweitzer, Albert (1911a), J.S.Bach, Volume I, Breitkopf & Härtel
- Schweitzer, Albert (1911b), J.S.Bach, Volume II, Breitkopf & Härtel
- Spitta, Philipp (1899), Johann Sebastian Bach: his work and influence in the music of Germany, Volume I (transl. Clara Bell & J.A. Fuller Maitland), Novello
- Stinson, Russell (1999), Bach: the Orgelbüchlein, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-386214-2
- Williams, Peter (2003), The Organ Music of J. S. Bach (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 227–316, ISBN 0-521-89115-9
- Wolff, Christoph (1991), Bach: essays on his life and music, Harvard University Press, pp. 297–305, ISBN 0-674-05926-3, Chapter 22. "Chronology and style in the early works: a background for the Orgelbüchlein"305
- Wollny, Peter; Maul, Michael (2008), The Weimar Organ Tablature: Bach's Earliest Autographs, Understanding Bach 3: 67–74
- Part 1 and Part 2 of scanned images of the autograph manuscript of the Orgelbüchlein at IMSLP
- Orgelbüchlein: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free scores on Mutopia of the whole collection of 46 chorale preludes from the Orgelbüchlein.
- Free scores of the complete Orgelbüchlein on the Arno Rog website.
- Free downloads of the complete Orgelbüchlein recorded by James Kibbie on historic German baroque organs: either search for individual works or download the whole collection
- Example of 'Ich Ruf Zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ' by Nariné Simonian